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What I'm Listening to

Academy members--and one outlaw--open up their CD players for a peek. What kind of taste do taste-makers have? Listen up.

February 25, 1996|Steve Hochman | Steve Hochman writes about pop music for Calendar

QUINCY JONES: The musician-producer-arranger-executive's 26 Grammys rank second only to conductor Sir Georg Solti's 30. And he's the all-time leader in nominations with 76.

"I listen to everything--from classical to Third World, Brazilian to what's going on now, like Tha Dogg Pound, or whatever. 'Waiting to Exhale' is great. Babyface! I adore Babyface. He'll be here a long time because, on top of his talent, he's really together. And I like Me'Shell NdegeOcello a lot. My own 'Q's Juke Joint' album is like a miracle to me. The people playing on it are my favorite people of all the genres of my 50 years of work.

"Of this year's album nominees, I like Joan Osborne and I like the lyrics of Alanis Morissette. Michael Jackson, well, I produced half of that [the best-of disc of the "HIStory" collection], so I plead the Fifth. Having Alanis and Pearl Jam nominated means the academy membership is expanding, which I like a lot."

JIMMY STURR: Winner of six Grammys for best polka album, most recently in 1993. His nomination this year is his 10th in that category.

"I listen to polkas 24 hours a day! Not really. I listen to all kinds of music--polkas, Tex-Mex, Cajun. My most recent purchases are country recordings. I liked the Asleep at the Wheel album a lot last year and a new collection of Bob Wills, and I like George Strait and George Jones a lot. I didn't vote for album of the year this year. You can only vote in so many categories, and I wanted to vote in the ones I knew about."

PAT BOONE: Boone, 61, is currently working on an album of heavy-metal songs remade in his soothing pop style.

"I'm listening to what I think is the best of contemporary country. Collin Raye is knocking me out, and anything Vince Gill does. And of course I love Reba McEntire. She keeps finding terrific songs. And also I'm listening to contemporary gospel, which I think is sensational.

"I try to listen to all the Grammy nominees. Alanis uses a lot of profanity and sexual explicit lyrics, right? I got familiar with one song that was pretty raunchy, so that's not my choice. And not Carey or Jackson. I think Osborne is my choice. I don't quite get the message of Pearl Jam."

CHRISTOPHER CROSS: Swept the 1980 Grammys with five awards. Follow-ups have faltered, but he released his seventh album, "Window," last year.

"I'm probably not as current as I should be. 'Wildflowers' by Tom Petty is a nicely made record. And Joni Mitchell's 'Turbulent Indigo' is great. She's my single biggest influence ever. I've listened to Alanis and Joan Osborne and there are elements I like, but I don't listen over and over. I have to say that to me, Joan Osborne is the most interesting of the nominees. Alanis is really talented, but her record seems a little contrived, and Joan's seems more honest."

LL COOL J: His song "Mama Said Knock You Out" was Grammy's best rap solo performance of 1991. He has continued his music career while branching out into acting.

"I've been listening to a lot of hip-hop--Mobb Deep, various 'blend tapes' made by the street deejays in uptown New York and Queens. I was also listening to the Solo album with a couple of cool Sam Cooke remakes, and Monica's album. But I even like [country singer] Shania Twain. She's having a great year. I can't listen to only one type of thing. It limits your thinking.

"I'm not voting for the Grammys at this point. I'd like to. They send me a ballot, but I've been so busy. I like a few of the [best album nominees] for different reasons. Personally I'd have to go with Mariah Carey 'cause I really enjoy her 'Fantasy' record. But I respect the other people. Pearl Jam is a fantastic group--really challenging."

CAROLE BAYER SAGER: Co-wrote "That's What Friends Are For," the 1986 Grammy song of the year, and co-wrote "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," which won the 1981 Oscar for best song.

"It seems that for this month I've listened to Alanis Morissette a lot. I just love that album, both the lyrics and her presentation. And I got hooked on the 'Waiting to Exhale' soundtrack because it's like nonfat frozen yogurt--delicious and it doesn't hurt you. The whole album has a kind of vibe to it, creates a mood. Other things I'm listening to are Don Henley's greatest-hits album, Seal and TLC. I thought 'CrazySexyCool' was a really good album and 'Waterfalls' is a great single. But you can surmise that I voted for Alanis."

STEVEN CURTIS CHAPMAN: Winner of the 1991, '92 and '93 pop gospel album Grammys; nominated this year for "The Music of Christmas."

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