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The first time I heard the Tom Tom Club’s song “Genius of Love” off their eponymous debut album I thought  “Hey, that’s Mariah Carey’s song.” Turns out I was only half-right.  Back in 1995, when I was twelve, Mariah Carey’s hit “Fantasy” was playing on every Top 40 station and I was choreographing dance routines to it with my friends. The rhythms in Tom Tom Club’s upbeat 1981 hit made “Genius” a hip hop sampling favorite too.  Public Enemy, Tupac Shakur and T.I. have all used snippets of the track. Mariah Carey created “Fantasy” as a remix and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five made “It’s Nasty”.

Fast forward 29 years and the Tom Tom Club is releasing a tribute to the tune, it comes out today, and it’s called “Genius of Live.” The album features select tracks from their “Live at the Clubhouse” album along with  recent remixes of the song created by lesser known  artists like the Latin-fusion band Ozomatli, the electronic dance musician Senor Coconut, and Money Mark — he’s the guy who came up with the familiar keyboard phrase that opens and underpins Beck’s hit “Where It’s At.” Money Mark’s  remix of “Genius” was, well, genius.  He somehow managed to make it even more uplifting, almost gleeful.  He adds random found sounds to his version like snippets of phone rings,  a harmonica track and a woman mumbling words in German.

Tom Tom Club’s  founding members, the husband and wife team of Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, spoke to Studio 360 a few years ago about the artwork of James Rizzi — whose artwork is on  the covers of three of their albums. They explain how Rizzi’s cartoonish and colorful drawings match perfectly with the sound and message of their music.

Tom Tom Club Fans were bummed when the band recently had to cancel some tour dates (it’s their first tour in ten years), but TTC is still set to play The Getty in Los Angeles on October the 9th. Check the rest of their tour dates here. Listen to all the “Genius of Love” remixes here.

-Julia Botero


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Last night, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announced that they would hold sort-of-but-not-really-competing rallies at the Lincoln Memorial on October 30th.

Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” will be the voice of reason countering Colbert’s alarmist “March to Keep Fear Alive.” It’s a real-life satire of Glenn Beck’s Tea Party demonstration called “Restoring Honor” held on the National mall this past August. And it brings Comedy Central’s continued lampooning of absurd punditry and broken politics to a whole new level.

The Lincoln Memorial is America’s soap box. Most famously, in 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech catapulted the efforts of the Civil Rights movement, and it helped make the memorial one of the country’s most powerful architectural symbols.  It’s without a doubt a solemn space for Americans, but not one the comedy world hasn’t touched before.  After all, Legally Blonde’s cartoonish “Elle Woods” and the actual cartoon Lisa Simpson have both found inspiration there.  Who knows if history will be made there on October 30th, but we can probably count on Colbert and Stewart being pretty funny.

A few years ago, as part of our series American Icons, Studio 360 devoted a whole hour to the Memorial, in which Kurt Andersen looked at what makes it the place to give a speech.

This fall, our Peabody Award-winning series returns.  Studio 360 will bring you stories on I Love Lucy, Jimi Hendrix’s “Star-Spangled Banner,” the Harley-Davidson, and that other piece of architectural Americana, Monticello (an episode that, coincidentally, features Stephen Colbert).  American Icons picks up next week with the premiere of our one-hour episode on The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  Don’t miss it!

-Stephen Reader

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When we made a documentary about The Lincoln Memorial for our American Icons series, one person captured two seminal moments in the Memorial’s history for us: Dorothy Height.  She was at the Memorial in 1939 when Marian Anderson sang triumphantly after being banned from performing at Constitution Hall.  And she was at the podium when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.

Height was the president of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, and is considered to be one of the most influential women of the civil rights movement. She died yesterday at age 98.

Height spoke to Studio 360 in 2005.  It was awe-inspiring to meet someone who considered Eleanor Roosevelt to be her friend. When Height talked about seeing Marian Anderson sing and Martin Luther King, Jr. speak, you felt like you were right there with her. She also wore a fantastic hat — apparently hats were her signature fashion statement. In this excerpt from the Lincoln Memorial episode, Height recounts, in crystal-clear detail, her memory of Anderson’s concert at the Memorial.

The day we talked to her, Height expressed concern to us that the civil rights generation might be a victim of its own success. She feared that the next generation had taken these groundbreaking achievements for granted. In remembering Dorothy Height’s life, we hope to help keep that legacy alive.

– Leital Molad and Eric Molinsky

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Finally, a YouTube time-suck guaranteed to delight you with repeated viewings.  If, by the end, your jaw is not scraping the floor, you will be sporting an ear-to-ear smile of gee-whiz amazement.

The band OK Go made viral video history back in 2006 with their goofy treadmill choreography. For one of their new tunes, “This Too Shall Pass,” they hired pals, who by day work for  NASA and the Jet Propulsion laboratory,  to execute a mechanical feat of genius inspired by Rube Goldberg contraptions. The vid was posted Monday after the band’s brief battle with their label EMI, which originally wouldn’t allow the video to be embeddable.

It’s extraordinary geekery with one potential setback: the mesmerizing visuals may just eclipse the music. As one commenter on YouTube posted today: AMAZING! but did anyone actually pay attention to the song?

– Michele Siegel

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I heart the front

I heart the front

Once in a while, a listener will write in to Studio 360 asking for a transcript of a story we’ve broadcast. Unfortunately, we don’t have transcripts of the shows (it’s just too time consuming and we have a very small staff), so we normally direct our listeners to the free streaming audio and mp3 downloads available on our website.

Last week, however, we noticed an unusual feature of the WNYC web site (our home station) – an automatic transcript generator. This sounds dull, but bear with us. The automated transcript generator listens to each week’s show and, through what we can only assume is a very complex bit of speech-recognition wizardry, produces a written transcript. One caveat – it warns that the transcript “may not be 100% accurate.”

And, no, it’s not 100% accurate. But as with Google’s translator, the mistakes can be entertaining.

At the beginning of last week’s show, bestselling author George Dawes Green says: “I love the fact that I write thrillers – mean, I just love that word, I love the effrontery of it.” According the auto transcription: “I love the fact that I write thrillers and I just love that word I love the front Korea.”

Then, where Kurt says, “if you spent ten years on one of the best sitcoms ever, like Lisa Kudrow, you’d think you’d have a favorite episode,” the transcription writes: “if you spend ten years on one of the best sitcoms ever likely to cool growth you think you’d have a favorite episode.” Phew, glad all that growing has cooled off since we started watching “Friends”!

Now, it may be asking too much to expect the transcription software to know Lisa Kudrow’s name. Still, the auto-transcriber did a pretty good job here – only a missed word or two. But perhaps our favorite auto-transcription mayhem turned up in the story about Andy Warhol’s soup cans (broadcast 8/8/09). At the beginning of the piece, we hear a series of voices tell us their favorite soup can. Here’s what the auto-transcriber made of it: “Chicken news disorders like excellent Ottawa spirals came out mansion. It’s going to be two minute.”

Come again?

(Listen to the original here:)

– Matt Frassica

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