So there’s a pop song that sometimes comes on at seven AM when I’m driving to work/school and just Chock Full of Ennui…and it’s that song by Ellie something something, X’s and O’s and it’s from the point of view of this person who lives a fabulous live, just leaving lover after lover in their wake, and for some reason when that song plays I always have these really elaborate daydreams about the OTHER side of tha whole thing–a jaded pop star who’s been let down by so many people and so lives a kind of fabulous and frivilous life but they’re still in their head looking for Peace and Comfort and like that’s…Viktor
And like this probably isn’t what you were thinking for this because you probably wanted me to base it more off the title than of what I associate with the prompt but like this makes me think of an AU where Viktor is that pop star, let down over and over again by everyone he thought was a friend or a lover or even just a confidant (Except for a very small, limited group of people who Viktor secretly and in his head thinks of as My Family even though he isn’t sure that His Manager, His Drummer, and That Kid From The Band Who Opens For Me really think he’s all that special) and so he’s kind of given up but at the same time…at the same time he still hopes?
And Yuuri is this guy who does one hour slots semi-weekly at the local Panera and has a beautiful voice that curves around these soft, somber melodies like it’s what he was made for, like God put him on Earth to croon these sweet and melancholic songs directly into the hearts of millions.
And Viktor and Chris-My-Drummer are having a late afternoon Sad Panera after returning from a European tour during which Viktor got Kind of Sort of Arrested In Prague. Yakov has told him to lay low until the news cycle dissipates, and Viktor is for once following his direction.
Then A Beautiful Boy enters the Panera and starts setting up in the corner, with a microphone and an acoustic guitar. His hair is just a little too long to call kempt and his eyes are huge and cinnamon-colored, like staring into one of those fancy artisanal teas that Yuri drinks because he can’t abide by the cruelty and inhumanity of the coffee industry.
Yuri Plisetsky talks a big game and Viktor figures that somewhere deep inside of him, he actually does care about the plight of coffee harvesters in Colombia, but Viktor also knows that he talks like that because his publicist has crafted his image carefully around such ramblings in order to soften what would otherwise be an extremely off-putting personality.
Then Beautiful Boy puts his plush lips close to the mic and says, “Hi everybody. I’m going to get started this afternoon with a cover. I’m sure you’ll recognize it.”
And then he starts sweetly strumming the opening melody to Stay Close to Me, a song which is the title song for Viktor’s second studio album, has gone platinum three times, and which Viktor recognizes in any of its forms, even though this lovely man is playing it on a guitar and it’s traditionally done on a violin.
“Holy shit,” Viktor whispers, and Chris looks over his shoulder at the man.
“Don’t,” says Chris, and Viktor ignores him.
Yuuri, for his part, thinks that Famous Viktor Nikifoorv is just having his fun with him–and he’s totally alright with that. He is, frankly, having the time of his life being allowed backstage and eating at 400-dollar buffets and following Viktor up to penthouse hotel rooms. And yes, he falls in love with Viktor. but it was bound to happen. And sometimes when Viktor is holding him or kissing him or just touching him, he feels like maybe Viktor feels the same. But that’s impossible, because Yuuri is a dime-a-dozen wannabe singer and Viktor is a multiplatinum, ultra famous recording artist.
It takes a long time for Viktor to actually sit down and explain using his words that a peaceful, comfortable life with someone he loves is all Viktor has ever wanted.
“We could live anywhere,” Viktor tells him. “I have houses in LA, London, Saint Petersburg–we could go to Japan, if you waned. Or someplace totally new! I hear Cancun is great, or we could go to Australia, or New Zealand–”
And Yuuri is just dumbstruck, because Viktor Nikiforov is standing in front of him offering him the world, and all Yuuri has ever wanted is the man himself–this man who wears his hair long and his pants tight and has an entire wing of his house dedicated to his dog, and who once took Yuuri honest-to-God camping in the woods even though TMZ would implode on itself if they ever got wind of the fact that Viktor Nikiforov willingly removed himself from social media for six minutes, let alone six days.
And Viktor, because he’s Viktor, introduces Yuuri to the world by bringing him onstage with him at Madison Square Garden and singing an acoustic duet of Stay Close to Me with him.
On this day in music history: October 14, 1982 - “Friend Or Foe”, the debut solo album by Adam Ant is released. Produced by Adam Ant and Marco Pirroni, it is recorded at Townhouse Studios in London from Early - Mid 1982. Progressing from their punk rock roots to achieving major pop stardom in the UK and across the rest of Europe within five years, Adam & The Ants disband only four months after the release of their third and most successful album “Prince Charming” in March of 1982. Ambitious to strike out on his own, Adam Ant (born Stuart Goddard) takes guitarist Marco Pirroni with him and the pair begin working on Adam’s first solo album. Building on the musical template than made Adam & The Ants a huge success, they also incorporate brass instruments into the mix. The duo write eleven of the twelve songs on Ant’s solo debut, producing and playing guitar and bass respectively, and are supported in the studio by musicians Bogdan Wiczling (drums, percussion), Martin Drover (trumpet, flugelhorn), Jeff Daly (saxophone), Jude Kelly (vocals), Sam Brown, Sonia Jones and Vicki Brown (backing vocals). European fans get their first taste of Adam Ant as a solo act in May 1982 with the release of the first single “Goody Two Shoes” (#1 UK, #12 US Pop). Co-produced with former Ants drummer Chris Hughes (Tears For Fears), the song is written about Ant’s run ins with the British tabloid press, invading his privacy in attempts to dig up dirt on the pop star. Issued in the US in tandem with the album, it becomes Adam Ant’s breakthrough and biggest hit. The original UK single release of “Goody Two Shoes” differs noticeably from the album version which is issued in the US as a single. The UK single features Hughes on drums, and the album version/US single includes a re-recorded drum track played by Wiczling. It spins off two more singles including “Desperate But Not Serious” (#33 UK, #66 US Pop) and the title track (#9 UK). “Friend Or Foe” becomes a major success in the US and propels him beyond the cult following garnered stateside with Adam & The Ants. Originally released on CD in 1985, it is remastered and reissued in 2005 with twelve additional bonus tracks including the UK single version of “Goody”, demo recordings and outtakes. “Friend Or Foe” peaks at number five on the UK album chart, number sixteen on the Billboard Top 200. and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 23, 1981 - “Tom Tom Club”, the debut album by Tom Tom Club is released in the UK (US release is in November 1981). Produced by Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, and Steven Stanley, it is recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas from November 1980 - April 1981. The album is a side project by Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz and bassist/wife Tina Weymouth, following the recording of Talking Heads’ “Remain In Light” album. When the band decide not to tour in support of the album, keyboardist/guitarist Jerry Harrison records and releases his own solo album “ The Red and the Black”, while lead vocalist David Byrne completes “My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts” with collaborator Brian Eno. The group take their name from a dancehall in the Bahamas that they visited during their previous visit to the islands. Expanding on the Funk and African rhythms used on “Remain in Light”, Frantz and Weymouth are also influenced by the underground Hip Hop culture in New York incorporating it into their project. “Tom Tom Club” also features King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew and Weymouth’s sisters and brother on backing vocals. Frantz and Weymouth’s US label Sire Records initially passes on releasing the album. Taken aback at the decidedly pronounced R&B/dance vibe of the record, they are unsure how to market it, feeling that it will alienate Talking Heads largely white fan base. The album is initially released in the UK through Island Records. Club DJ’s in the US discover the second single “Genius Of Love” (released in September of 1981), quickly making it a sensation on the dance floor and generating a huge demand for it. It’s only after the single sells over 100,000 copies as an import, that Sire schedules it for release later in the year. It spins off two singles including “Wordy Rappinghood” (#1 Club Play, #7 UK) and “Genius Of Love” (#2 R&B, #1 Club Play, #31 Pop). The albums innovative and distinctive cover art as well as the animated music videos for both singles are designed by famed pop artist James Rizzi (directed by Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton, and animated by Cucumber Studios in London). “Genius” only grows in popularity over the years as it is repeatedly sampled and interpolated into other songs, including forming the basis of Mariah Carey’s chart topping single “Fantasy” in 1995. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2009 as a two CD deluxe edition (UK & Europe only). It is also remastered and reissued as a limited edition 180 gram vinyl LP on pink swirl (Newbury Comics exclusive) and translucent green vinyl, by Real Gone Music in 2016. “Tom Tom Club” peaks at number twenty three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
I had the opportunity to shoot Chris Johnson for a project I’m doing centered around musicians. Chris is an AMAZING drummer who’s played for artists like Stevie Wonder, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, and Lady Gaga. He was in town playing for Goapele and we had some time to hang out and connect. Here’s a few shots from my time with Chris. I hope you enjoy them!
On this day in music history: October 8, 1980 - “Remain In Light”, the fourth album by Talking Heads is released. Produced by Brian Eno, it is recorded at Compass Point Studios in The Bahamas and Sigma Sound Studios in New York City from July - August 1980. The bands third and final collaboration with producer Brian Eno, many of the albums songs are inspired by experiments with African polyrhythms and recording the basic tracks in pieces then looping and editing the final results. Talking Heads also bring in outside musicians such as King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew and singer Nona Hendryx. The final product is a genre defying and innovative work that receives great praise from fans and critics alike. The albums distinctive cover artwork, features photos of the four band members with red computer rendered masks obscuring their faces (except for their eyes, noses, and mouths). The design is created by drummer Chris Frantz and bassist Tina Weymouth in cooperation with Walter Bender from MIT (Massachusetts Institute Of Technology). The process involved in creating the computer generated rendering, proves to be very arduous and time consuming, due to the limited amount of computer memory available. It spins off two singles including the classic “Once In A Lifetime” (#103 Pop). In 2006, the album is remastered and reissued with four unfinished outtakes from the original recording sessions in 2006. The same year, it is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Rhino Records. “Remain In Light” peaks at number nineteen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
Vampire Weekend’s Chris Tomson on Dams of the West and Being a Youngish American
Vampire Weekend is an ambitious crew. Each member of the respected indie-rock outfit has pursued side projects during the band’s recent hiatus, including drummer Chris Tomson. His debut, ‘Youngish American,’ is credited to Dams of the West, but it’s literally a solo record — Tomson played all of the instruments. Vital input came from the disc’s producer, Patrick Carney of the Black Keys (and it was released on Danger Mouse’s label, 30th Century Records). Standout tracks like “The Inerrancy of You and Me” and “Flag On the Can” are clever and charming. In this new Vevo interview, Kim Taylor Bennett connects with Tomson, who discusses his affinity with Animal of the Muppets, the process of being “adultish,” the proper cooking time for pasta, and other subjects.