Chicago rejects, Felix da Housecat, & more dance updates

by Doug Rule
Published on March 27, 2003, 12:00am | Comments

NOW IT CAN BE TOLD… In our long wait as the Oscar jury deliberated about pronouncing Chicago last year's best movie, practically every news outlet gorged itself, Mary Sunshine-style, on recreating step by step the show trial of the 20th Century. First Martin Scorsese declined to direct the movie based on the 1975 musical, followed by Baz Luhrmann. Robert De Niro, Kevin Kline and Kevin Spacey were among those declining to play Billy Flynn, Goldie Hawn and Toni Collette were passed over for Roxy, Kathy Bates and Rosie O'Donnell were dropped as Mama Morton, Madonna and Barbra Streisand declined to star as Velma, Britney Spears was resolutely rejected for even a tiny role, and so on and so forth. But none of the reporting marionettes could explain where Janet Jackson, who had been asked to write a song for the soundtrack, was when the curtain went up -- or more precisely when the curtain went down, since her song was to run during the closing credits. Well, now we know: Like so many of the artists mentioned above, Jackson was approached by hands-on Miramax Films co-chair Harvey Weinstein over the vehement objections of those more intimately involved in the movie's production. While Weinstein won out, thankfully, on the choice of Queen Latifah as Mama Morton, he lost Jackson because the musical co-writers John Kander and Fred Ebb -- and other “Broadway purists” in the production -- reached for the gun against Jackson, the New York Times reports. Inexplicably, they found Anastacia more to their liking with her non-Broadway, hip-hop-fashioned “Love Is A Crime.”

DANCE MOVES MAINSTREAM?… Could 2003 be the year that dance music moves into the mainstream? Fiercely devoted danceheads, at least those who desire such a thing, have made such grandiose statements for many years now, only to be beaten back to reality. No one has really made that claim -- yet -- this year, and for good reason, since a distressed U.S. economy and geo-political instabilities don't invite much optimistic prognosticating. But just look at what could bubble up in the next few months. Alaskan siren (diamond-in-the-rough?) Jewel will release her fifth album in June, for which Rolling Stone reports she's added “some psychedelic sounds and dance beats” to her usual guitar folk. She was inspired by last year's dance remix of her single "Serve the Ego," she says. “I like the hypnotic nature of dance music; there is something very primordial about it.” First up is her said-to-be danceable single, “Intuition,” set to hit radio this week. Yoko Ono is working with a slew of popular DJs on a remix album from Mind Train records to come out later this year. And one single to appear on the album, the 22-year-old “Walking on Thin Ice,” will be released next week as a maxi-single with remixes from Danny Tenaglia, Pet Shop Boys, Felix da Housecat, Peter Rauhofer and others. Billboard said the song, originally recorded just prior to John Lennon's death, was one of Lennon's personal favorites, a “provocative metaphor for the couple's pro-choice/anti-war beliefs.”

Felix is keeping himself plenty busy, as he's also remixed Madonna's long-overdue “American Life” single (bowing this week), and he's worked on a certain other artist's next album, said artist's foray into dance music. Of the aforementioned chances for dance music to move mainstream, the odds are greatest here. Have I piqued your curiosity yet? You may be as lukewarm about it as I, but I'm referring to none other than hip-hop Presario P. Diddy, whose full-length album of dance music will be out on his Bad Boy label later this year. Besides Felix, who has produced four tracks on the album, Sean “P. Do-Wa-Ditty” Combs has worked with Nellie Hooper (No Doubt) and D.C. duo Deep Dish, who've mixed Combs' first single, “Let's Get Ill.” Combs premiered the song last week in a Miami performance with vocalist Kelis. Why did he, Diddy, do dance? Billboard reports that he was inspired by summer visits to Ibiza.

DANCE MOVES II: A SISTAH, A SISSY… Also coming soon to a dancefloor near you is a cover of the Pretenders classic “Brass in Pocket.” I know what you're thinking: dance covers are a dime a dozen these days, giving us danceheads a headache at how bad most are, as well as a bad name among the general population. But our hopes are high for this Pretenders' cover not just because it's unlikely but because it's from huggable, lovable, danceable, Baltimoriole Ultra Nate. Expect to hear other singles (and hopefully an album) from her in the coming months. So sistahs are doin' it for themselves, while sissies do it for their self-proclaimed enemies: Britney Spears seems to have been bitten by the Anti-Britney bug, as Rolling Stone reports she's working with Avril “Anti-Smile” Lavigne's producers on her forthcoming album. No word on whether this means Brit has speared her plans to work with William Orbit (Madonna) or Daft Punk, as previously reported.

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