The inspiration for this themed show (which then turned into two shows) was the new Sufjan Stevens record Javelin and its return to heart-swelling choral parts that emphasize the emotion in Stevens’ lyrics. Who knew that songs featuring choirs could span so many genres and generations over two hours of your requests?
#ThematicStatic Playlist – 11/9/23
Pastor T.L. Barrett & The Youth For Christ Choir – “Like a Ship (Without A Sail)” – Vince and Phil both raised this one on Instagram. Did you know this was sampled in the 2020 track “All About You” by the Knocks with Foster The People?
Killer Mike ft. Young Thug – “Run” – Ellen loves Killer Mike’s newest, choir-rich solo album Michael, which Marquis Munson also covered for Record of the Week. We played the one without Dave Chappelle’s monologue, but here’s that full one (not radio clean) released in 2022:
Kate Bush – “Rocket’s Tail” – Great request, Kayb! Thanks for listening to Thematic Static and also describing this track so wonderfully, educating other listeners.
Devon Gilfillian – “Love You Anyway” – Destin came in with that local love for former WNXP Nashville Artist of the Month Devon’s title track to his new record.
Electrelane – “The Valleys” – Chiara recommended this track from now-defunct British band that enlisted a Chicago-based a capella group for this song on their 2004 record.
TSU Aristocrat of Bands – “Going Going” – Caroline on Twitter also celebrated some locals with this theme, requesting a song from the Grammy-award winning record The Urban Hymnal from Tennessee State University’s marching band. The HBCU’s incredible New Direction gospel choir supports the band and other featured vocalists on this track.
Faith No More – “Just a Man” – Sounds like 1995, hm? This was a request from Alias.
Childish Gambino – “This Is America” – The choir in this song is actually more key to the music video than the audio itself, requested by J. But the video was waves-making in 2018 and unfortunately still resonant today re: racial unrest and also gun violence.
Justice – “D.A.N.C.E.” – Adam’s request features a children’s choir on the spell-it-out chorus of this dance track.
Quindon Tarver – “Everybody’s Free” – This young singer wooed watchers of Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” in 1996, but he’d previously been in the music video for Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.”
Madonna – “Like a Prayer” – The video for this chart-topper also created a lot of controversy, especially among Catholics (it was condemned by The Vatican and Madonna famously struck back). The gospel choir on the track was recorded separately. Jenn requested this first!
Pat Benatar – “We Belong” – Sarah asked for this one.
#ThematicStatic Playlist – 11/16/2023
Coolio ft. L.V. – “Gangsta’s Paradise” – Micki blessed the airwaves with this Coolio tune, which was on the “Dangerous Minds” movie soundtrack.
Paramore. – “Ain’t It Fun” – These feel more like “gang vocals” in the singalong portion than full choir, but how could we exclude local heroes Paramore when requested by both Sarah and Carly? We couldn’t and we didn’t!
Peter Cotton Tale – “Together” – This track met the moment in 2020 and still sounds so uplifting and positive on a given playlist. Peter Cotton Tale is music director and producer for Chance The Rapper, who guests on this song along with the Chicago Youth Choir and Broadway star Cynthia Erivo. I love this version as performed on Colbert’s late show, also featuring Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Blur – “Tender” – Brett and Ana both asked for this on Instagram. The London Community Gospel Choir backs up the beloved Brits on this standout track from their 1999 album 13.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege” – Stephanie reminded me of this song from YYY’s 2013 record, Mosquito, featuring a gospel choir.
Elbow – “One Day Like This” – I had to play this for Jude Mason on her birthday!
Prince – “7” – I cannot find who requested this but I know I saw it somewhere.
Mary J. Blige – “No More Drama” – Amanda requested this R&B smash hit from 2001.
U2 – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – The Rattle and Hum live album and documentary included this performance from Madison Square Garden in 1987, where Harlem gospel choir The New Voices of Freedom turned U2’s The Joshua Tree song into something even more powerful. Lissa and Jenn both requested this version, specifically. Here’s a clip from the doc:
Caroline Polachek – “BILLIONS” – This album-ending track winds down with a children’s choir repeating “I’ve never felt so close to you.”
Frank Sinatra – “High Hopes” – Taking it back to 1959, here’s the Chairman of the Board as requested by Joe in Kentucky!
Rolling Stones – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” – Seth introduced this as the first song he ever loved, and one that taught him a valuable lesson.