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I love it when I hear a song that I immediately become so obsessed with that I have to play it non-stop for a few days. That's the case with Dutch singer Camille Jones' incredibly danceable track, "Difficult Guys". It's been in heavy rotation on my iPod since I came across it on Christmas Day. What a wonderful Christmas present this song is proving to be.

I've been a fan of Jones' music since discovering her last year via the incredible Fedde Le Grand remix of her song, "The Creeps". That tune was a mega-smash in the dance/electronica world, and she meets the high bar set with "Difficult Guys," a tune which every woman who has been interested in the "wrong" kinds of guys can relate to. Jones is quite gorgeous so it seems hard to imagine her having a hard time finding a guy. But we all know the difference between finding a guy and finding the "right" kind of guy.

One of the things I enjoy about Jones is that she doesn't over-sing her songs. She belts out just enough energy, purring her way through convincingly. If "Difficult Guys" doesn't make you move your feet, it might be time for you to go in for a check-up to see if you still have a pulse.

I know, it's been awhile. But no worries, I haven't stopped listening to music and my love for Depeche Mode hasn't died.

It's a long night tonight. I feel slightly heartbroken for more reasons than can be named. So, I'm listening to "Surrender" by Depeche Mode. It's a b-side to the 1998 single release of "Only When I Lose Myself" and it feels quite appropriate for today's mood.

I've been hooked on the latest Rhianna song, "Disturbia" for the past two weeks. It's catchy, danceable and great for running too. It's dark-pop bass line has me once again believing that Rhianna is awesome. Her stylist and her production team are obviously pretty on top of things too, but, having seen her in concert on Kanye West's Glow in the Dark tour, she was pretty good. She sounded better live than I thought she would. I don't remember her performing "Disturbia" at the show though but I imagine this is one of those tunes that would be fabulous live.

I've been listening to my vinyl of Depeche Mode's 1986 album, Black Celebration quite a bit lately and I keep replaying the song "Fly on the Windscreen". The song was originally the B-side to the 1985 track, "It's Called a Heart". It wasn't considered single material because any song that starts out by saying, "Death is everywhere" is surely destined to be controversial. Unexpectedly, the song became an instant depress-o-matic classic. Mode fans went wild over it. So, "Fly on the Windscreen" got remixed and put on 1986's Black Celebration album, cementing the dark vibe of the rest of the record.

Yes they are indeed singing about there being lambs for the slaughter and all that but then the chorus kicks in:

"Come here
Touch me
Kiss me
Touch me

How could you resist such directness? Yes, death is always lurking right around the corner in this world of ours, so we've got to take every moment, seize it to live and love. The song reminds me to live life and appreciate what's going on my life now because it could be all over in a heartbeat.

Plus, the musical arrangement and lyrics still sounds fresh, like the kind of song that could get played on an NPR station at night. Here's a "video" of it so you can hear it if you haven't before. It's not, of course, an official video but one that some fans made up. Enjoy.

Years ago I read "Jemina J" by Jane Green. It was a "chick lit" book and I enjoyed it while reading it. But it wasn't so good that I was just dying to read more stuff by Jane Green. Over the past eight years, I've seen other novels of hers on the shelves at bookstores or in the library but I've never been inclined to pick one up. But, a trip to Santa Barbara and a realization that I needed something entertaining to read on the beach made me decide to give Jane Green another go with her novel, "Second Chance".

The book follows four former childhood friends, Holly, Olivia, Paul and Saffron, who've been brought together by the death of their friend, Tom, who's been killed in a terrorist attack. Holly is bored and in a loveless marriage to a successful divorce lawyer named Marcus, so she starts up a fling of sorts with Tom's younger brother, Will. Olivia's been dumped by her longtime lover, runs an animal shelter, wants to get laid and ends up sleeping with an American named Fred. Paul is married to an internet fashion maven named Anna but they can't get pregnant, and Saffron is a sort of successful actress, who's also a recovering alcoholic and having an affair with a top movie star.

Sounds like a good recipe for some great, page turning conflict, right? Except that "Second Chance" was really hard for me to get into and it failed to hold my interest. It's been two weeks since my trip to Santa Barbara and I just now finished it. I found the characters a tad predictable and I didn't really care deeply about any of them.

Infidelity plays a huge role in the stories of two characters, Holly and Saffron. Saffron's cheating with a married man but it's OK because he's in a loveless marriage. Holly starts cheating too, but it's also OK because she's in a loveless marriage. So, I'm left to wonder if the message is that if you're in a loveless marriage, go ahead and cheat.

I really didn't care enough about Paul and Anna and whether they were gonna have a baby, and Olivia just seemed desperate and in need of a safe sex chat. Towards the end, I got bored with all of the characters especially with all of Holly's whining. I started skipping pages.

So, will it be another eight years till I once again read a Jane Green novel? It might. I didn't feel that spark you feel when you've just closed a really, really great book and can't wait to read more of the author's work. At the end of the day, the teacher in me gives this chick lit installment a grade of C.

Even though the synth-pop duo Erasure has it's ties to Depeche Mode (Vince Clarke was a founding member of Depeche Mode), I'm not exactly a huge fan of theirs. They're not dark enough, not edgy enough for me to really be a hardcore fan. But, one of the few Erasure songs I actually really like is 1991's "Love to Hate You".

I first heard this song back then because it was on an unfamiliar mixtape that was in my college dorm room. Turned out that the mixtape had been made for my boyfriend by the girl he was cheating on me with. He left it in my room and then could not explain where he got it from. Needless to say, I got rid of him but I kept the tape. In the weeks following that debacle, I'd listen to the song and yell the chorus as loud as I could, "I love to hate you!"

Juvenile, I know.

The song came back into my life a couple of weeks ago when I was going through a box of old belongings. Sure enough, that 17 year-old mixtape was in there. Gosh, bad memories, but this really is a great song!

The Cure is going to be here in Los Angeles in a month. I'm kicking myself that I didn't get tickets because I've been listening to one of their less well-known songs, "Charlotte Sometimes" quite a bit lately. The melodic, poetic atmosphere of this 1981 track sucks me in every time.

The song is based on the Penelope Farmer novel of the same title and is essentially about the process of deconstructing your identity in order to find out who you really are.

It's Depeche Mode Monday and the 1986 single, "A Question of Lust" has been stuck in my head for the past week. I was only 14 when this song was released and I never once heard it played on the radio. Instead, this is one of the Depeche Mode tunes that I discovered many many years after its release. Despite the title, it's not a song that's about sex. It's about relationships and the mistakes you make in them.

This is also the second song Depeche Mode released where the lead is sung by Martin Gore instead of lead singer, Dave Gahan. I always think Martin's voice sounds like an angel. Check it out for yourself:

I listen to Depeche Mode more than any other artist. I could turn this whole blog into a blog solely about what Depeche Mode records I'm listening to on any given day. Instead, I've decided I'm going to start a weekly feature called "Depeche Mode Monday".

Every Monday I'm going to share the Mode song I've been rocking the most over the past week. To kick things off in grand style, I figured I'd start you all off with 1987's Strangelove. This song is such a Mode classic and, 21 years later, remains in my top five favorite Mode songs. Plus, I wanted to be one of the girls in the video!

Because it's Friday and I feel like dancing...

You know what happens when you go to the local library and there's not much good on the shelves?

You end up picking up books like Phillipa Gregory's "The Boleyn Inheritance".

I thought the "Other Boleyn Girl" was a bit overrated and tawdry. It features a bunch of lying schemers with loose morals and a lack of conscience that are loosely based on the historical figures of Henry VIII, his wives and assorted mistresses. So what made me pick up the sequel? Curiosity, I suppose.

This story is told from the points of view of two of Henry's wives, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard and a despicable lady in waiting, Lady Rochford. Anne of Cleves is the only character I felt even remotely sympathetic for. The other two, not so much.

The book is super soap opera-ish. Lots of scenes of Anne of Cleves being afraid. Katherine Howard having sex with a smelly, 300 pound king, all while longing for Thomas Culpepper. Lots of Lady Rochford making backroom deals with the Duke of Norfolk. Lots of beheadings, or threats of beheadings. It's like a history book for the uneducated, a Da Vinci Code for those who know nothing about the Tudors.

What is really interesting to me is that the Howard family, the real-life scheme-o-matic family that two of Henry's wives, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, came from is still in existence today. The Duke of Norfolk's title still exists. In fact, they're the premier dukedom in the UK.

I guess all that lying and beheading paid off off after all.

Some people call Chip E. one of the godfathers of Chicago house music. But back in high school I didn't know anything about him. I just knew that I really liked to dance to his record, "If You Only Knew".

I used to get so excited when it'd come on one of the WBMX mixes. It was the house music version of a song by the Smiths. A bit dark, lonely and full of unrequited love.

Here's the track with some great footage of Chicago. Watching this makes me a little homesick.

Music for the Masses, Depeche Mode's sixth studio album, might be my favorite Mode album of all time. It's hard to choose one, but MFTM just might get the nod. And besides, I have four copies of it.

It was released in the fall of 1987, one month into my sophomore year of high school. I can remember huddling under my blankets listening to a bootleg Maxell cassette tape recording of it.

Sometimes things happened in my life that made me listen to one particular song more than another. And that winter of 1987, I had "The Things You Said" constantly playing in my dark bedroom at night.

The song begins with Mode's singer/songwriter Martin Gore singing, "I heard it from my friends about the things you said."

And my goodness did the tears run down my cheeks when I'd hear that line. High school girls can be cruel, mean even. One minute they're your friend and the next, they're stabbing you in the back and gossiping about you.

What gets less attention is that high school boys do the same things. That winter, I turned down the advances of a boy. He was a senior and very good looking. I really liked him but he'd made it clear he wanted to sleep with me. And I did not want to sleep with him, even when he'd tell me all the typical things high school boys say to try to get you to feel sorry for them.

And so, to save his reputation, and, I think, to get back at me, he went and told lots of people that he'd slept with me. I was shocked and absolutely outraged. So when Martin sang:

"I get so carried away
You brought me down to earth
I thought we had something special
Now I know what it's worth"

I could feel those words completely.

Looking back, I think I was even more upset that some of the girls who were supposed to be my friends believed him and not me and chose to spread the rumor behind my back.

I never forgot that experience, never forgot what it was like to have someone say something about me that wasn't true.

And today, when I least expected it, that memory comes creeping back into my present, and I remember the song:

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