Friday, February 27, 2009

Mel's Weekly Top 20 - 2/22/09

This week's chart of current singles playing on my iPods and iTunes.

1 Get On Your Boots - U2 - 3
2 My Life Would Suck Without You - Kelly Clarkson - 4
3 Gives You Hell - The All-American Rejects - 1
4 Working On A Dream - Bruce Springsteen - 9
5 The Fear - Lily Allen - 5
6 The Sun Ain't Shining No More - The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - 7
7 My Lucky Day - Bruce Springsteen - 13
8 Lovers In Japan - Coldplay - 2
9 Dont Trust Me - 3OH!3 - 10
10 Miles Away - Madonna - 11
11 Boys With Girlfriends - Meiko - 6
12 Still Have My Heart - Caitlin Crosby - 14
13 Poker Face - Lady GaGa - 17
14 Time Lapse Lifeline - Maria Taylor - 16
15 Lost+ (with Jay-Z) / Viva la Vida
(Live At the 51st Grammy Awards) - Coldplay - 19
16 Just Dance - Lady GaGa - 8
17 I'd Come For You - Nickelback - 12
18 Trouble Is A Friend - Lenka - 15
19 The Rake's Song - The Decemberists - new
20 People Got a Lotta Nerve - Neko Case - new

This week's featured track: "Time Lapse Lifeline" by Maria Taylor - This is a nice alternative song done in a folk rock style. It's #14 on the weekly top 20.

(song only, no moving video)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Music Tech: iPod Shuffle

This post starts a new series focusing on music delivery devices: stereos, radio, media players, more. First up, Apple's iPod Shuffle.

iPod Shuffles

A friend recently asked what kind of media player can one get for under $50. Coming quickly to mind is Apple's iPod Shuffle media player. The Shuffle is a no-nonsense, bare-bones player that plays music or audio content from a built in flash memory card to tiny earbuds or an external listening device. It is small, the newer ones "tiny" and is ideal for the active music fan who engages in walking, jogging, running and other activities. It is the perfect player to take with you almost everywhere.

The current models come with either 1GB or 2GB worth of flash memory, enough to hold 240 to 400 songs. All iPods come with a non-replaceable, rechargeable battery. The iPod Shuffle is the low end model and currently retails for either $49 or $69 depending on the flash memory size.

Being Apple's low end model, the Shuffle lacks most of the features you'd expect to find in the average media player. There is no screen to tell you what songs are currently playing. You cannot make more than one playlist. The list of songs you download from the required iTunes software is what you are stuck with until your next synchronization between the player and the software. The default play position is :"shuffle" which scrambles the play order of your playlist. Some people may not like this, for others this is fine.

The two iPod Shuffles I own are the white, first generation, chewing gum pack sized model (pictured at the top of this post). They came with earbuds that deliver decent sound and a USB cable for synching with your Mac or Windows XP or Vista PC. Leaving the unit plugged into the computer also recharges the built-in battery, which for this model lasts about 12 hours per charge. I'm not very sure. The iPod Shuffles sound great and give a nice in-ear or external audio sound performance. I'd recommend connecting good quality headphones to this or any other player to listen to the best sound your music can deliver.

My iPod Shuffles are aging gracefully and still holds a long charge to make them a practical on-the-go player. The first generation models sold for about $129 brand new. They are no longer available unless you buy one in the used market.

Today's 2nd generation models, shown above, are smaller, cheaper and come in a variety of colors.

Overall the iPod Shuffle is a good value for the money spent. You get a solid, bare-bones basic player that can play many songs.

  • Small
  • Long Battery Life
  • iTunes software required - easy to use, load, manage playlists
  • 2G models come in different colors
  • Sounds good
  • 2G model has built-in clip
  • Affordable
  • Music file formats: MP3, AAC, Protected AAC, WAV, AIFF
  • Built in battery not user replaceable
  • iTunes software required - cannot load device without it
  • Small - can easily be lost or stolen
  • No screen that displays songs
  • No multiple playlists
  • Earbuds tiny and may not be comfortable for some users

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Super Oldie of the Week

I've been a music fan for nearly all my life. It started when I got my first transistor radio from an uncle. My Dad also had a friend that ran a jukebox business. Every once in a while (this was back in the mid 1960s) he'd unload a bunch of old 45s at our house, which I promptly listened to on our old phonograph stereo.

Those old 45 rpms included tracks by Elvis Presley, Shirley Ellis, The Beach Boys, Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs, Brenda Lee, Clarance Carter, The Four Seasons, Gene Chandler and many others. The old Sony radio that I got from my uncle opened me up to a whole world of rock n roll music by those screamin' old disc jockeys on top 40 radio. It was fun listening to the old thing back in those days.. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and many others from the British Invasion, Motown and the rest of the pop music world blared out of the tiny AM radio speaker.

As I grew older and into the early 1970s, I became a regular purchaser of 45 rpm and 33 1/3 record albums. I amassed a large collection of singles and record albums that continue on to this day with CDs and digital music.

I like listening to many of the old songs that were played on the radio and 45s. Since I grew up in Hawaii, many songs in the 1960s and 70s were unique hits to the islands... we had traditional Hawaiian music, contemporary Hawaiian music and a lot of regular rock n roll records that came in from the mainland and abroad which became hits on local Hawaii radio stations. Often what would be a hit in Hawaii were unheard of on the mainland.

To start of this series of Super Oldies of the Week, I will feature a track that was a minor hit in Hawaii and in other places on the mainland.

Back in 1973 a little known group called Circus released "Stop Wait Listen" on Metromedia Records. It was a minor radio hit. I recently found this track posted to YouTube from "Music Mike's Flashback Favorites" page. Here is Circus and "Stop Wait Listen" for you to listen to in its entirety complete with commentary from the video's creator.

Also here are the songs that I voted for this week to Plannine's Classic Top 30 page.
  • 1. The Lord's Prayer - Sister Janet Mead
  • 2. La La La La La La - The Blendells
  • 3. Beyond the Clouds - The Poppy Family
  • 4. New Year's Day - U2
  • 5. Jennifer Eccles - The Hollies
  • 6. My Hawaii - The Rascals
  • 7. You're Only Lonely - J.D. Souther
  • 8. All the Tea in China - Susan Jacks
  • 9. The Name Game - Shirley Ellis
  • 10. Stop, Wait, Listen - Circus

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mel's Weekly Top 20 - Feb. 15, 2009

Starting this week, Mel's Weekly Top 20 will become a regular part of this blog. I'll feature the list of my favorite current iPod singles ranked in order from #1 to #20. Anyone who wants to listen to the songs of the week need only to press the big button on the Power Tracks player located on the right hand column of this post. I will occasionally also feature a video that is current to the list.

This week's Top 20 for the Week of February 15, 2009.
  • 1. Gives You Hell - The All-American Rejects - 1
  • 2. Lovers In Japan - Coldplay - 3
  • 3. Get On Your Boots - U2 - 8
  • 4. My Life Would Suck Without You - Kelly Clarkson - 10
  • 5. The Fear - Lily Allen - 6
  • 6. Boys With Girlfriends - Meiko - 2
  • 7. The Sun Ain't Shining No More - The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - 7
  • 8. Just Dance - Lady GaGa - 4
  • 9. Working On A Dream - Bruce Springsteen - 13
  • 10. Dont Trust Me - 3OH!3 - 11
  • 11. Miles Away - Madonna - 12
  • 12. I'd Come For You - Nickelback - 5
  • 13. My Lucky Day - Bruce Springsteen - 17
  • 14. Still Have My Heart - Caitlin Crosby - 16
  • 15. Trouble Is A Friend - Lenka - 9
  • 16. Time Lapse Lifeline - Maria Taylor - 18
  • 17. Poker Face - Lady GaGa - new
  • 18. Take Back The City - Snow Patrol - 14
  • 19. Lost+ (with Jay-Z) / Viva la Vida (Live At the 51st Grammy Awards) - Coldplay - new
  • 20. Everything I Ask For - The Maine - 15
The numbers appearing to the right of each song & artist title indicate the chart position the track was in last week.

This week's featured music video is Bruce Springsteen's "My Lucky Day", from his newest album, Working on a Dream. Sit back, watch and enjoy!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Plannine's Classic Top 30

One of my favorite web chart sites that I go to every week is Plannine's Classic Top 30 page. It is one of the few if not only weekly oldies chart site on the internet. People who visit the site can view the current weekly chart, listen to the chart's song list and vote for their favorite oldies either once in a while or every week.

The weekly list is singles oriented and leans toward popular songs that were on the radio and top 40 charts during the 1950s to the early 1980s.

I usually send a weekly vote of my top 10 oldies and 3 top albums. Here is the most recent list that I sent in:

Top 10 Oldies 2-14-09

1. The Lord's Prayer - Sister Janet Mead
2. New Year's Day - U2
3. Boys - The Beatles
4. Beyond the Clouds - The Poppy Family
5. All the Tea in China - Susan Jacks
6. Jennifer Eccles - The Hollies
7. My Hawaii - The Rascals
8. You're Only Lonely - J.D. Souther
9. Only the Lonely - Roy Orbison
10. The Name Game - Shirley Ellis

3 Top Albums

1. Ram - Paul & Linda McCartney
2. Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
3. Abraxus - Santana

I grew up on top 40 radio of the 1960s and 70s, and most of the songs I send in to Plannine are from that era. I'll be writing more about oldies and top 40 radio on this site in the weeks to come.

In the meantime I'll also post Plannine's Finetune player, where you can listen to many of the songs that are posted to his chart. Give it a listen. There are a lot of obscure oldies that you may not have heard in a long time.

Finetune is a music service that I will also be writing about in the near future. You can listen to my finetune player featuring current hits on the right hand column adjacent to this blog post.

New Finds of the Day from The Sixty-One

Here are some new tracks that I added to my growing roster of Sixty-One favorites:


Friday, February 13, 2009

Playing on The Sixty-One

The Sixty-One is a fairly popular new music website where many unsigned artists publish independent music for people to listen to and vote on. Every song posted to the site is a full length version. All genres are available at The Sixty-One including rock, pop, alternative, jazz, hip-hop, classical, instrumental, country and more.

While there are some very well known songs and artists on The Sixty-One website, most of them are people and groups that you never heard of. Some are very good, others are not. If you are adventurous and want to listen to fresh new music, this is the place to be. Some of my favorite undiscovered artists at the Sixty-One site include The NuRu, Meiko, Chairlift, Joe Sibol, Tegan & Sara, Rebecca Ann and The Nobodies to name a few.

Lastly songs that you discover, listen to, favorite and share are compiled into a point system that are part of a "game" that I really don't keep up with. Some people like the game aspect of The Sixty-One where the only aspect of the game is to pile up points and achieve certain levels of coolness and possibly respect among your peers at the site. I don't go to the site often enough to make my measly collection of points matter.

Besides listening to free streaming music, the features that I like about the Sixty-One are free downloads of some tracks. links to to purchase other tracks, favorite lists and the ability to share tracks on other websites and blogs. I have my own page at The as well as a Sixty-One Jukebox page at my music charts page. There is also a Hawaii Ning site where people can go to discuss The Sixty-One and share tracks there too.

Here are a few tracks that you can listen to right now by clicking on the song links below:

I will be featuring more songs on this blog from The in the weeks and months ahead. Stop by my Sixty-One page and jukebox to listen to more music.