CeeLo Green is currently spending his weeknights mentoring and coaching aspiring artists on season 5 of NBC’s “The Voice,” back after a one-season hiatus during which Usher filled his shoes. But the singer/songwriter/producer has never been one to do just one thing at a time.
He performed a Las Vegas Residency earlier this year entitled CeeLo Green is Loberace, which is now available on DVD.
His hip-hop group, Goodie Mob, reunited this year and released their fifth album, Age Against The Machine at the end of August, and his forthcoming fourth solo album is slated for a 2014 release. There’s also a possible new Gnarls Barkley album in the works, so suffice it to say he’s a busy man.
CeeLo took time out of his crazy schedule to team up with iHeartRadio when he was in New York City recently to Guest DJ a radio station that represents his eclectic musical taste. Check out his top ten tracks below.
1. Prince, “Darling Nikki”
“I’m a big Prince fan,” CeeLo tells iHeartRadio. “I could have picked any one of his songs, but ‘Darling Nikki’ is one of my favorite Prince songs of all time. I got a chance to perform it twice with The Foo Fighters; once at the MTV Video Music Awards, and also at a festival that I was performing with The Foo Fighters. It’s one of those records that’s really interesting sonically and stylistically.
“It really represents a time in my life,” CeeLo addas. “He used backward masking at the end of it, so there’s a whole section where some audio was played backwards. This was around the time when I was going to church and they had these backward masking seminars about messages they use, so it really reminds me of that time where I was the most impressionable: fearful but yet excitable and intrigued about music and the power of it.”
2. Iggy Pop, “Sweet Sixteen”
“Iggy Pop. I mention him almost every time they ask me who my favorites are,’ CeeLo says. “I like his commitment. Iggy Pop has not worn a shirt for 30 years. There’s something to say about that.”
3. MGMT, “Electric Feel”
“Great song. When this song came out, it just sounded like something so new and refreshing, and they haven’t been able to match it since. I liked it because I could tell that there was rock infused — that alternative, psychedelic vibe to it, which was their thing. But the melody reminds me of a Maxwell song [“Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)”]…I don’t know if they pulled that from him, but sounds like it, which made it all the more relatable to me.”
4. Michael Jackson, “Earth Song”
“You know how songs have a sweet spot? That entire hook is a sweet spot,” CeeLo tells iHeartRadio. “It’s a hook that isn’t a hook — there’s no words. The pain and despair that he’s depicting in the lyric… by the time the hook comes along, there’s nothing else to do but just cry out. I get the chills just talking about it, because it genuinely affects me in that way, when there’s just nothing else to say. I know for him it was completely sincere.”
5. Earth, Wind & Fire, “I’ll Write A Song For You”
“This is one of those songs that was also really sweet when I was young. The falsetto of Philip Bailey, it’s soothing but strong at the same time. This is one of the few occasions where he just had a solo record — ‘I’ll Write A Song For You’ is just him singing. It’s a great song and I remember hearing it when I was a child. A lot of the melody has this ullaby, fairytale kind of vibe to it.”
6. James Brown, “The Best I Can”
“I only realized in retrospect how many of his songs were just freestyles. So this song right here is him just singing. I’ve felt this way so many times as a man, ’cause the lyrics say, ‘I’m doing the best I can, I’m doing the best I can. I’m only a man.’ How real is that?
“He’s just pleading with his woman. I can relate to it and I discovered the song when I was married – the ups and downs. You’re not the best version of yourself everyday, and once you have to commit to character in marriage and try to be a hero as often as you can for those people that you care about… It’s difficult and all you can do is the best you can, and at the end of the day, that’s all that anybody can ask anybody.”
7. The Clash, “This Is Radio Clash”
“They represent fusion in the most fantastic way. Punk/Sca/Reggae/African/Tribal/Electronic Dance, and of course English Pop. Even though they were anti-establishment… their own classic compromise. I enjoy being a fan.”
8. Goodie Mob, “Amy”
“‘Amy’ is the new [Goodie Mob] single, the second single off of Age Against The Machine. An album that’s taken 14 years to make, but right on time apparently, and we’re very proud of the album. We’re very proud of the single – it’s very strong with a sensitive subject, about unconditional love and interracial relationships. These things kind of sound so dated, but technically they still remain as taboos amongst people. We’re here to abolish it, make a mockery of it, address the subject veiled with some sense of humor and a lot of style.”
9. Billy Idol, “White Wedding”
“I’ll put it like this. I’m man enough to say it. Billy Idol was the poster boy for rock and roll ’cause he was young and attractive and he was committed. I don’t remember anybody else. He’s the first representation of rock and roll I saw, I was attracted to him. You can tell he had the total package, you could tell he had the ladies and he also could kick your ass.
‘White Wedding’ is a song that I just enjoy– he’s like a rock and roll crooner too. It’s kind of old school. Even though he’s a white guy – he’s still got soul. When I was young that song came out, but I’ve always had this kind of antenna for soul music. I just get it.”
10. The Police, “Spirits In The Material World”
“There was something very enchanting about this song. I like the mix on the song. I like how the vocals sit in the track. The lyric says, and it has a lot to do with, the social commentary that Goodie Mob has spoken on on many occasions. ‘There’s no political solution for our troubled evolution. I have no faith in constitution, there is no bloody revolution.’ It’s like we’re spirits in the material world – you know what I’m saying? Just like damn you know like how real is that?
“It’s that heart, it’s that homeland kind of vibe. A lot of black people who don’t know The Police, they don’t see their perfection in rock and roll. I do, and with me having a platform that I have like this gets a chance to let people know where I come from.”