SONG OF THE DAY (SUNDAY FUNDAY): Junior Sanchez & Sultan & Ned Shepard – Deeper Love

Here’s a perfect record for big room floors during Pride season.  It’s an understatement to say that the LGBT community has embraced Clivillés & Cole’s “Pride (A Deeper Love)” as an anthem.  Originally performed by Deborah Cooper and covered by Aretha Franklin a few years later for Sister Act 2, the lyrics about Pride giving you the “strength to survive” and defining it as “love” and “respect for yourself” are universal, but when applied to the struggles of LGBT people it really hits home.  Junior Sanchez and Sultan & Ned Shepard team up for a massive and modern tribal electro workout – sampling just the title line “Pride (A Deeper Love)” and layering it with buildups that will make any dance floor go nuts.  While this version is absolutely incredible, I can’t help but wonder how amazing a full vocal version with this same production would sound.  In case you are looking for a modern tribal vocal version, do a search for the DigiMark mashup which deftly blends the vocals over a tribal instrumental track by DJ Escape and Tony Coluccio.

Image Courtesy of Size Recordings.

SONGS OF THE DAY: Funkagenda vs Sultan + Ned Shepard – Astana and Funkagenda – One Day At A Time

During the Winter Music Conference, a question I asked a few people was ‘how do you come up with the name for a track with no lyrics?’ The response was often that titles are inspired by the emotion or meaning of the track. When you listen to two recent releases by British producer Funkagenda, that makes perfect since. Collaborating with duo Sultan and Ned Shepard, the result is Astana – a mix of big room electro with tribal overtones that leads to an almost spiritual, progressive melody in the break. The melodic tones are deeper and feel much more full than other similar tracks in this genre. Named ‘Astana,’ which is the capital city of Kazakhstan, the translation of the word is ‘portal,’ as if the track is a portal into the world of progressive – leading listeners and clubbers back to what is true progressive and not the commercial hybrids that have been saturating the scene over the past few years. While not a completely new track, the original was released back in 2011, the new MainStage Mix feels of the moment and like a track that will be big for the upcoming summer festival season. Funkagenda’s forthcoming track “One Day At A Time” is a hauntingly beautiful and uplifting progressive track. Though the vibe is chilled, there is an emotional movement that feels almost like a spiritual catharsis. The title is most likely a reference to the famous prayer for positive living by Reinhold Niebur adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery groups. Although it doesn’t necessarily need lyrics to get the message across, a topline emphasizing the message would be a welcome change (and response) to the overabundance of negative messages often espoused in EDM tracks (i.e. “Wasted”).

Images courtesy of Harem and Trice Recordings.

2014 Dance Grammy Nominations

Here are the 2014 Dance Grammy Nominations:

Category 9 – Best Dance Recording

Duke Dumont ft A*M*E & MNEK – “Need U (100%)” – Downtown/WIN
Calvin Harris ft Florence Welch – “Sweet Nothing” – Columbia/Ultra
Kaskade – “Atmosphere” – Ultra
Armin Van Buuren ft Trevor Guthrie – “This is What It Feels Like” – Armada
Zedd ft Foxes – “Clarity” – Interscope

Category 10 – Best Dance/Electronica Album

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories – Columbia
Disclosure – Settle – Cherrytree/Interscope
Calvin Harris – 18 Months – Columbia/Ultra
Kaskade – Atmosphere – Ultra
Pretty Lights – A Color Map of the Sun – 8 Minutes/20 Seconds

Category 79 – Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical

Delerium ft Michael Logen – “Days Turn Into Nights” (Andy Caldwell Remix)
One Republic – “If I Lose Myself” (Alesso vs One Republic)
Bruno Mars – “Locked Out of Heaven” (Sultan + Ned Shepard)
Bob Marley and The Wailers – “One Love / People Get Ready” (Photek)
Lana Del Rey – “Summertime Sadness” (Cedric Gervais Remix)

Looking over the 2014 Dance Grammy Nominations, it is refreshing to see nothing completely embarrassing (Al Wasser, Baha Men), but rather a pretty accurate summary of what DJs played, people danced to, and what we bloggers wrote about. Sure, there are some notable absences: major festival records (Martin Garrix, Hardwell, Showtek, Audien, Cazzette, Passion Pit, Martin Solveig), the pop crossover (Krewella), and the most notable – where is Avicii? On the bright side, there are nominations for independent and import releases (Duke Dumont, Armin van Buuren, Pretty Lights) which shows how the cutting edge dance music scene is changing the sometimes stodgy Grammy mentality. It’s also great to see Cedric Gervais get recognition for a remix that started in the festival scene and crossed over to become a massive pop hit globally. On the bigger scene, Daft Punk also got nominations for Album of the Year and Best Pop/Duo Group (bringing their cumulative lifetime total to 13 nominations).

My predictions – “Sweet Nothing” / Daft Punk / “Summertime Sadness”

My personal favorites – “This Is What it Feels Like” / Disclosure / “If I Lose Myself” and “Locked Out of Heaven”