Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Billboard's 100 All-Time Biggest Hits

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/hot-100-turns-60/8468142/hot-100-all-time-biggest-hits-songs-list

What a weird list this is! Okay, I'm gonna break it down this way: Bad, Not for me, ??, Okay, Good, Great, and HOLY SHIT I LOVE IT.

Bad - songs I NEVER WANT TO HEAR AGAIN

Macarena (remix) (8) - I know why this is here, but I don't have to like it.
Shape of You, Ed Sheeran (9) - This boring piece of crap is the #9 song of all time. This was written in like 20 minutes and HOLY HANGNAILS does it show. Plink plonk, plink plonk, kill me. The song I most never want to hear again.
Closer, Chainsmokers ft. Halsey (13) - Oh goody, two of the least likeable artists in current pop music! And the Chainsmoker guy literally CAN'T sing, at all! That sure sounds deserving of the #13 song of all time, doesn't it? Maybe 13 is an unlucky number...

Truly Madly Deeply, Savage Garden (39) - How, just how? Utter pap.
Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen (50) - She seems okay, but this song is dreck.
Blurred Lines, Robin Thicke (51) - *gagging noise*
Boom Boom Pow, Black Eyed Peas (56) - ...at least it isn't "My Humps?"
All About that Bass, Meghan Trainor (67) - Nachos aren't nearly as good coming up as going down :(
Because I Love You, Stevie B - ???? Holy shit, are we getting the worst of the 90s here. I only barely remember this, how was it such a big hit? I guess a lot of these are played at weddings. Well fuck you weddings, get better taste.
Rockstar, Post Malone (88) - I'M NEVER EATING NACHOS AGAIN 🤮


Not for me - boring AC ballads and residual grandma music

You Light Up My Life, Debby Boone (11)
Endless Love, Diana Ross and Lionel Richie (18) - EVERY SINGLE hit the Supremes ever had was great. But none of 'em are here, nope, just this boring pap. Weddings strike again, I guess.
Everything I Do, Bryan Adams (21) - The "I never want to hear this again" of the early 90s. I'll listen to "Ice Ice Baby" 20 times before I listen to this.
A Summer Place, Percy Faith (23) - this is literal grandma orchestra music, how
Battle of New Orleans, Johnny Horton (37) - what? #37? how?? Was this like a grandparents' meme back in the day or something?
That's What Friends are For, Dionne Warwick (78) - yawwwwwn
Perfect, Ed Sheeran (91) - People sure like boring music. This and "Shape of You" are here but not the rousing "Castle on a Hill." STOP BEING BORING.
Say You Say Me, Lionel Richie (94) - OMG I'M GOING TO DIE nm I feel asleep.

?? - I have never even heard these songs. WTF?

Too Close, Next (30) - The #30 biggest hit song of ALL TIME, apparently. I have never heard of it or the artist, and it came out in 1998. Okay? Doesn't seem like anything special. What were people doing in 1998?
Let Me Love You, Mario (58) - Just listened to this and holy crap is it generic. Why? Why this? There are no Rolling Stones, Elvis, Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, or Jimi Hendrix songs on this list. There aren't even any Journey songs. But this nobody? Mario?? Did people mistake this song for a Nintendo game or something? I'm so confused.

Okay:

Party Rock Anthem, LMFAO (6) - Close to "bad," but the beat is okay. #6 is ridiculous though.
I Gotta Feeling, Black Eyed Peas (7)
We Belong Together, Mariah Carey (14) - Mariah's great, but this song isn't very interesting.
Un-Break My Heart, Toni Braxton (15)
Tonight's the Night, Rod Stewart (19) - Why this Rod Stewart song, exactly?
You Were Meant for Me/Foolish Games - Jewel (20)
I'll Make Love to You, Boyz II Men (22)
We Found Love, Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna (27)
Low, Flo Rida (28) - Maybe I should have made a "so bad it's good" section for this one.
I Just Want to Be Your Everything, Andy Gibb (29)
Somebody that I Used to Know, Gotye ft. Kimbra (32) - I see why people like this but it just doesn't hit me.
Despacito, Luis Fonzi & Daddy Yankee ft. Bieber (33)
Silly Love Songs, Wings (40)
How You Remind Me, Nickelback (45) - I can't stand Nickelback, but this song is fine. Then they made it 40 more times and it got worse with each iteration.
Tie a Yellow Ribbon, Tony Orlando (46) - LOL this list is so random
Shadow Dancing, Andy Gibb (49)
No One, Alicia Keys (53)
I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston (54) - Her voice is unmatched, but this song is too much for me. It's like a boulder being dropped on my head every time.
Lady, Kenny Rogers (60) - A boring AC ballad saved by Rogers' warm vocals.
Gold Digger, Kanye West (63)

Apologize, Timbaland ft. One Republic (64) - One Republic sounds more like a clothing company than a band, like United Colors of Benetton.

The Boy is Mine, Brandy and Monica (70)
Whoomp! There it Is, Tag Team (74)
Moves Like Jagger, Maroon 5 (75) No Stones songs, but this is here. Oh joy.
Ebony and Ivory - Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder (76)
Rush Rush, Paula Abdul (77) Really? Paula Abdul is here and it's not even "Opposites Attract?" Poor MC Skat Kat, lost to the ages.
Happy, Pharrell Williams (79)
Just the Way You Are, Bruno Mars (82)
Dilemma, Nelly ft. Kelly Rowland (83) - Goody, I'm so glad Nelly hasn't been lost to the ages. 🙄
Abracadabra, Steve Miller Band (90) - I seriously can't believe how random this list is. "Abracadabra, I wanna reach out and grab ya" is apparently something that needed to stay in the public consciousness.
All Night Long, Lionel Richie (96) - For Lionel Richie, this is a damn jam. This is Lionel Richie's "Uptown Funk." That's a depressing sentence.
I Swear, All 4 One (98) - An r&b remake of John Michael Montgomery's country classic? It pales in comparison to the original, but it's not bad.


Good:

The Twist, Chubby Checker (1) - As outdated as this is, I'm just glad this spot hasn't been taken over by Post Malone or something. Yet.
Smooth, Santana ft. Rob Thomas (2) The #2 hit of all time was recorded by Santana IN THE 90S and the guy from Matchbox 20. And it's good.
Mack the Knife, Bobby Darin (3) - Timeless cool.
How Do I Live, LeAnn Rimes (5) - Okay this is a boring AC ballad, but I love her voice and I'm glad she's here. "Blue" kicks this song's ass though.
Physical, Olivia Newton-John (10)
Yeah!, Usher ft. Ludacris and Lil Jon (16)
Bette Davis Eyes, Kim Carnes (17)
Le Freak, Chic (24)
How Deep is Your Love, Bee Gees (25) - I like the Bee Gees.
Flashance What a Feeling, Irene Cara (34)
Tossin and Turnin, Bobby Lewis (36)
One Sweet Day, Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men (38) - A much better Mariah song, but "Vision of Love" would have made the great section.
Let's Get it On, Marvin Gaye (41)
Night Fever, Bee Gees (42) - I still like the Bee Gees.
It's All in the Game, Tommy Edwards (47) - This is one of those "old timey" ballads I like, like "The Great Pretender" by The Platters. It has a warm, inviting sound.
Candle in the Wind '97, Elton John (52)
End of the Road, Boyz II Men (55)
Tik Tok, Kesha (61) - Almost so bad it's good, but I decided it's just good. I'm not above a dumb, catchy pop song.
Starting Over, John Lennon (68)
Royals, Lorde (69)
Centerfold, J. Geils Band (66)
Upside Down, Diana Ross (80)
Sugar Sugar, The Archies (81)
You're Still the One, Shania Twain (85)
Hot Stuff, Donna Summer (87)
Gangsta's Paradise, Coolio (89)
You're So Vain, Carly Simon (92)
Nothing Compares 2 U, Sinead O'Connor (97)
Family Affair, Mary J. Blige (99)
Waiting for a Girl Like You - Foreigner (100)


Great:
Uptown Funk, Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars (4)
Every Breath You Take, The Police (31)
Rolling in the Deep, Adele (35)
Say Say Say, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson (44) I'm not sure how well remembered this song is but check it out, it's got a great groove.
I Want to Hold Your Hand, The Beatles (48)
I'm a Believer, The Monkees (62)
The Sign, Ace of Base (65)
Aquarius, the Fifth Dimension (73)
I Heard it Through the Grapevine, Marvin Gaye (84)
Play that Funky Music, Wild Cherry (93)
My Sharona, The Knack (95) - I used to go out with Sharona's brother's friend. That is the most L.A. sentence ever written. And no, I never met her. The relationship wasn't "meet Sharona" level serious lol.


HOLY SHIT I LOVE IT - awesome songs that mostly speak for themselves

Hey Jude, The Beatles (12)
Eye of the Tiger, Survivor (26)
Another One Bites the Dust, Queen (43)
Call Me, Blondie (57)
Stayin Alive, Bee Gees (59) - The greatest beat EVER. Hey, I said I liked the Bee Gees.
I Love Rock N Roll, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (72) - My faith in humanity is somewhat restored here.
Billie Jean, Michael Jackson (86)

Well, that was a thing. I still can't believe there are no Elvis songs, WTF? Especially considering some of the weird random crap that made it. "Mario," FFS.

Best song: Hey Jude
Worst song: Closer, because of that non-singing fucker
Personal fave: I Love Rock N Roll

Friday, August 17, 2018

Top 60 fave songs + hon. mentions breakdown

Okay, let's commentary this bitch! First, some stats. These apply to the top 60 only.

Oldest song - A Lover's Concerto, 1965
Newest song - I Can Feel it Calling, August 2018 (!)

Songs by decade:

60s - 3
70s - 8
80s - 11
90s - 10
2000s - 18
2010s - 10

Well, that was interesting. I was always "80s pop girl," then "90s country girl," but I seem to have settled into "2000s indie girl." Progress? Or maybe that's just the mood I've been in for the last... two or three years. I know I will never be "2010s girl," unless I decide I just wanna listen to Creeper forever. Which is possible, actually. There are the same number of songs from the 2010s as the 90s though, so that's something!

I wanted to break it down by genre too, but so many songs fall into a gray area, where would I even put them? "Indie?" Under the general umbrella of "rock?" What are the New Pornographers, or the Shins? What is Fleetwood Mac? What is Tom Waits? What is love, baby don't hurt me no more?

If this list made one thing clear, it's that I like big, anthemy-feeling songs. I like wistful, hopeful melancholy. I like songs I'd get tattooed on my body, if I had the slightest bit of pain tolerance (srsly, I might as well be made of tissue paper). I like the "carry on, we'll carry on" of "Welcome to the Black Parade," the "it's just a spark, but it's enough to keep me going" of "Last Hope," the "everything will be alright in the end" outro of "Foolish Father." I like the chills I get from "House on a Hill," particularly "I am not afraid, I won't burn out in this place. My intention is to fade, and I will." I like the righteous "fuck you" of "forget your high society, I'm soakin' it in kerosene." I like the comforting yet heartbreaking "what a beautiful face I have found in this place." I like to yell "let's get hexed, let's hang out!" to no one in particular. These songs are all iconic to me, and I can't imagine life without them.

A few more notes -

9. The hardest choice for this list was between Tom Waits' "Time" and "Take it With You." I could have easily picked either one.
12. This is actually "Pizza Cutter" by Letters to Cleo, not "Little Rosa." Spotify oopsed up. "Little Rosa" is also great through.
13. I think "Hotel California" and "Welcome to the Black Parade" are the two greatest rock songs ever written. That shit sets MOODS.
18-20. Some Boston band love. Also, how many times can I include my girl Kay Hanley while still sticking to my rule? The answer is three.
24. Yes, my favorite Green Day song is from Uno! Sorry? rofl.
25. Yes, a song released this month made my top 60 of all time. This isn't something I'd usually do, but sometimes you just know, y'know? This has so many of those anthemy-feeling moments I can't even narrow it down to one. This is the best Killers song the Killers never made.
27. The second-hardest choice was between "My Maria" and "Neon Moon." I went with the upbeat one, but it could have been either. There isn't a lot of country on this list for two reasons. 1, it got hit hard by the one song per artist rule and 2, no Garth on Spotify.
35. There's only one hip hop song, and it's Macklemore. Sorry? rofl. But "Downtown," damn. This is a hip hop song with a glam rock chorus about buying a moped and riding it through the streets of Seattle. That is a thing that exists, and it's gloriously weird and I can't imagine it not existing. This is the "Bohemian Rhapsody" of the 2010s. Mow yer damn lawn and sit the hell down!
47. This song calls back to my #22 song, "Crimson and Clover." That's awesome.
52. I used to joke "ALL songs are about death," because of "The Way." Like, what a happy-sounding song! Where are they going, Disneyland? To have a picnic? Yay! ...oh, wait. This is about death. They're not coming back from this picnic, ever. So, any song can be about death. "It's a Small World?" Yeah, we all share the fact that we're all gonna DIE. And I never explained the joke, so plenty of people probably think I'm crazy. Yay!
57. If your favorites list doesn't include at least one ABBA song, you're not living your best life.
60. And we end with more Boston love, a song specifically about the Red Sox. This song has the most personal meaning for me than any other really. I moved to New England in 2004. I was already a big Sox fan. This song also came out in '04, and I basically adopted it. When the Sox eventually won the World Series that year, I took partial credit (for being there, y'know) and gave the rest to this song. I kinda blended the two together. Am I the reincarnation of Tessie? Maybe! I used the name "Tessie" on social media for years. This was my shit. Damn I miss the Sox.

Hon. mentions -

2. "Hotel California" was an easy pick, but if it didn't exist, "Take it to the Limit" would have easily made the main list.
3. Same deal with "Strawberry Fields" and "Blackbird." Some bands just write too many amazing songs.
7. "The House that Built Me" is probably a better Miranda song than "Kerosene," and it's also deeply meaningful to me, but "Kerosene" is such a huge song in my life. I might never have gotten back into country after 9/11 if I hadn't heard it.
11. I also managed to fit Kay Hanley in twice on the honourable mentions, teehee. I probably should have included the Dropkick Murphys' "Dirty Glass" to make it another three.
19. "After Hours" has some of my favorite lyrics and yeah, I'm pretty sure this one's about death too. "If you close the door, the night could last forever." But "Science vs Romance" was MY song for years and it got me through some tough times. So many hard choices!

This was a lot of fun to put together and make. Long live music. Peace!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Top 60 Favorite Songs EVER! (1 per artist)

Been working on this for awhile, super excited to have it done! One song per artist for the sake of my sanity. A solo member of a band counts as a different artist. I'll do some commentary in a new post. Enjoy!

https://open.spotify.com/user/emperorcupcake22/playlist/4pOfmu4suTRXgDPNlhkWPR

Honourable mentions, the toughest songs I had to cut:

https://open.spotify.com/user/emperorcupcake22/playlist/5HFNkxErdOGIVGRKJ5pwJf

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

New music Tuesday ~ Halestorm, Trash Boat, Trophy Eyes, and Houndmouth


I think I've listened to four new albums since the last one I mentioned, which was Gorillaz. (Side note: I decided to relisten to Taylor Swift's Red and man, that album is so much better than I remembered. Just skip the pop singles and enjoy.) Okay, let's talk new music!

First we have Vicious by Halestorm. If you like good, straightforward rock n roll with killer vocals, this is an easy listen. To me, Halestorm has always been good but only made great by Lzzy Hale's vocals. They're not doing anything new and the songs aren't the most standout or creative, but that's kind of the point. With that comes consistency. Sometimes you just wanna rock, and you can rock right out to this. Definitely recommended - I think it's my favorite of their albums - and I'll be spinning it a lot come Rocktober. That's what this is, an album made for Rocktober. You want that vibe, you got it.

I don't dislike any song here, but a few favourites are "Killing Ourselves to Live" (great 80s singalong chorus), "Black Vultures," "White Dress," and "Vicious" ("what doesn't kill me makes me vicious" YUSSSSSSSSSSSSS)

Next up is Crown Shyness by UK band Trash Boat. I'd seen this name pop up in relation to Creeper, but only checked them out after positive buzz about their new album. And yeah, I dig the hell out of this. Pop punk that rocks, or rock that... pop punks? Despite my love of some of the older pop punk and emo bands, I haven't gotten into a lot of the newer stuff. Maybe my tastes have just matured since then, though I do still listen to the old stuff. Just not much was clicking with me on that front - until Trash Boat. They're not that "standard" pop punk sound which can get old and samey pretty fast. They're also not that screamy hardcore sound which makes me feel like someone's trying to jam large pieces of furniture in my ears. There's an element of that, but it's not overdone. I really like the balance they strike here - easy to listen to, but enough edge to keep it from being boring.

Again, this is a good listen all the way through for me, but a few favourites are "Undermine," "Old Soul," "Inside Out," and the slower, very feel-y title track if you want some old school emo vibes.

I continued in a similar vein with another buzzy band, Australia's Trophy Eyes. These guys hit me upside the head (in a good way!) with the opening of their song "You Can Count on Me" - "Some of my friends sell drugs, but I just sell sad songs" they shout, in one of the most singalong, anthemic choruses I've heard in awhile. So I checked out The American Dream hoping to find more of that attitude and well, on the whole this album isn't for me. It has too much of those modern poppy touches I don't like, the gang vocals and the "whoa ohs."

However! In addition to "You Can Count on Me," there are two songs here I really love and want to shout out. Continuing with the "sad song" theme we have "Autumn" - "Keep your home in your heart, keeps you out of the rain, don't let those sad songs rot your brain." Yeah, that's about as emo as it gets but it's also GREAT. And it references The Killers' Sam's Town which I've been playing the hell out of all year, so yeah. THEN there's "I Can Feel it Calling," a six-minute fucking rock n roll anthem I've been listening to almost nonstop. Seriously, if you like big, arena-ready songs, check this out. It has the crashing guitars and drums your little rock n roll heart has been craving. Also, this Killersesque kind of song suits the singer's voice way more than the poppier stuff does. I hope they go more in this mature direction in the future, because they are way too talented to just pander to "the kids." This is a legit rock band that I hope is in the process of coming into their own.

Last we have Golden Age by Houndmouth and ummm... did no one tell these guys MGMT already released an album this year? Pop production strikes again. :( It's worse than kudzu. Look, this is not a band I want to be snarky about; I want to support smaller bands and I still have their song "Sedona" in heavy rotation. It's also fine that they changed their sound. They weren't an easy band to label in the first place. But... I couldn't get through most of this album. Several songs, including the opener, are just a distorted mess over an electropop beat. The song "Golden Age" literally sounds like a straight MGMT rip. I like MGMT in small doses, but I don't need another one. And that's one of the more listenable songs. "This Party" gave me horrible flashbacks to Weezer trying too hard in the 2000s. Like Raditude, who is this album even FOR?

HOWEVER! There's one song on this album I love, and another I like, so let's end on a positive. "Modern Love" is a lovely, hooky guitar song with an easy summer vibe, and when the hints of distortion come in they really work in contrast to the more organic sound. If the album had been more like this, I would have loved it. "Waiting for the Night" is also pretty interesting. You have a catchy chorus that sounds straight out of the late 70s or early 80s, a riff that really reminds me of early Belle and Sebastian for some reason, and fuzzy, distorted guitars that again work in contrast to the rest of the song, rather than swallowing it whole. This is a cool, layered track that shows what the band can do when they're trying. I really don't know what they were doing on most of this album though.

So overall, the past month has been pretty great for me. Three full albums I dig (including Gorillaz), and a handful of cool songs from albums I was middling-to-negative on. I'm generally a full album person, but when I can mine even a few new songs from an album I'm pretty happy. I just want fresh music.

Here's a summer playlist featuring all this* and more! A few of the songs are from last year.

*except "Autumn." I can't put a song called "Autumn" on a summer playlist, my aesthetic will explode into a black hole.

https://open.spotify.com/user/emperorcupcake22/playlist/7pW57VXuMCYSs3PX5g0vy6

Thursday, August 02, 2018

tbt ~ My Favorite Year

You'd think picking a favorite year in music would be really hard for someone who has heard and loved so much music over four decades, not to mention all the great years before I was born. But nope, it's really easy - 1994.

I don't wanna hear about that awful Jason Aldean song that sounded NOTHING like 1994, but he's right that it was a good year for country and an even better year for alternative rock. 1994 was the first year I heard what would go on to be three of my favorite bands to this day - Weezer, Letters to Cleo, and Green Day. I like to take myself back and think about the first time I heard "Buddy Holly," or "Here and Now," or "Basket Case." Songs I played so to death that year and the ensuing years that I'd be fine with never hearing them again. But the legacy of those three songs... damn. They, and the albums containing them I immediately rushed out to buy, and all the albums that came after, made me the music listener I am today more than anything else. That all three bands released new, quality music in the past couple years says a lot. It says, "dang girl, you've always had good taste." And then I feel good because I love my music. :)

So while those three albums alone would cement 1994 as "my year," what else of note to me came out?

Whip-Smart by Liz Phair - This album was so on heavy rotation I could have put it up with the top three, but it was not my introduction to Liz. Just a fantastic follow-up to one of the greatest albums ever.

Rubberneck by Toadies - WHY couldn't these guys stick around? This has been described as "Southern gothic doom" and oh my lord, am I all about this album. Any rock fan today should listen to this immediately, it will sound so fresh and sick and not "90s dated." Truly its own beautiful, unique little piece of music history.

Sixteen Stone by Bush - Okay, this thing sounds 90s af, but that's part of why I love it.

Mellow Gold by Beck - Honestly, I don't love this album. It's a little messy and weird for my taste. BUT it did introduce me to Beck, a favorite artist to this day, and I was right on top of the classic Odelay! when it came out thanks to this debut.

Definitely Maybe by Oasis - Oasis' first album and their second-best. These guys fell off, but man were they great in 1994.

American Thighs by Veruca Salt - The introduction to another of my staple 90s bands, and still my favorite of theirs.

Purple by Stone Temple Pilots - My second-favourite STP album (after Tiny Music). They were my favorite of the grunge bands cause they had more of a, classic rock mixed with grunge sound? I dig it.

Okay. I brought up the Aldean song, so where's the freakin' Joe Diffie, huh?? It's okay, I got your Diffie. Let's get into 1994 country. Well, here's the thing about 90s country. As much as I love it, I never had a whole lot of albums. It was more of a singles thing. Oh I had some Garth and Alan Jackson, but it was more about the radio. And oh yeah, greatest hits albums. I had a lot of those, actually. Are they even a thing anymore?

Was 1994 the best, or even an especially good year in 90s country? No, not really. But that's not putting it down; it's just that every year of the early-to-mid 90s was a great year. 1990-97 all kinda run together for me, y'know? But it was a very good year for Joe Diffie. This was the year of "Pickup Man," "John Deere Green," and "Third Rock from the Sun." Oh Lordy, that is Peak Diffie right there. They named an entire tv show after one of his songs! It ran for five years! #rememberthediffie

So before I get into my favorite songs of the year, here are a few notable albums I remember owning.

Garth Brooks - The Hits. Yeah yeah, a greatest hits album, but you don't understand, man. This was THE greatest hits album. This thing was like an event. This had ALL the big songs on it, and I played the hell out of it. This is a must-have for every country fan, in my totally not humble opinion.

Who I Am by Alan Jackson - Still the definitive Alan Jackson album for me, featuring "Livin' on Love," "Gone Country," and "Song for the Life." Classic. Maybe this was an especially good year.

Waitin' on Sundown by Brooks and Dunn - Maybe a somewhat overlooked entry in their catalog between Brand New Man and Borderline, but a darn good one. Featuring the classics "She's Not the Cheatin' Kind" and "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone."

And some favorite songs that I didn't already mention -

"Callin' Baton Rouge"
"Every Once in Awhile"
"Fast as You"
"Hangin' In"
"I Just Wanted You to Know"
"Life #9"
"State of Mind"
"That Ain't No Way to Go"
"Trying to Get Over You"
"When You Walk in the Room"
"Wish I Didn't Know Now"
"You Will"

1994. An unmatched year in alternative rock, and part of a string of great years in country. So many artists that helped form my taste and I still love to this day. It was a bad year for Tim McGraw though, yikes. Oh, not commercially, but... "Indian Outlaw?" "Down on the Farm?" Yuck! No, he'd have to wait til '95 for that pure 90s goodness, with songs like "Can't Be Really Gone" and "She Never Lets It Go to Her Heart." Eh, not even the best year can be perfect.

You'll notice I didn't say anything about pop music. Well I didn't listen to it, I was all rock and country. Okay, I love "The Sign" by Ace of Base. There, I said it.

EDITED TO ADD: The #50 song of 1994 was "Loser" by Beck. Of the YEAR. On the POP CHART. That alone proves my case, 1994 was COOL AF. You know what the #50 song of 2017 was? That braying goat song! 2016? A dull, already forgotten whinefest by Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez. 1994 will murder you in your sleep, 2016! Oh! And #51 was "Found Out About You" by the Gin Blossoms. Remember when you could get big making melodic guitar songs? 1994 does.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

And, if I wasn't on social media, I'd be blissfully unaware of all of this. It has nothing to do with my everyday life. I think about that a lot, yet I still go back every day in some attempt to stay connected, I guess.
I wonder how many other Gen-Xers feel the way I do rn. We're caught between these two EXTREME sides, the pro-Tr*mpers in our parents' generation and the "cancel culture" of teens and college kids. And I'm like, I just wanna wear flannel, listen to tunes and chill, y'know?

Don't meet (or tweet) your heroes

Social media + fan culture = toxic stew.

The phrase "don't meet your heroes" has existed for as long as I can remember. It's not something to take 100% literally, more of a caution. If you're gonna meet your heroes... be prepared.

Fan culture has also existed forever but hoo boy, has social media made it awkward. And intense. All the scary, tribal ways we process politics now is happening in pop culture too. Most people don't see it because it tends to be very young people. I only see it because music youtubers I follow occasionally point it out. And it's a problem, folks.

We have become so unbelievably homogeneous as people, just in the last 10 years. Must every single thing in our lives match up to our personal beliefs? What kind of narrow-ass way is that to live? Social media is clearly the catalyst here, but I'm not blaming social media itself. We can still learn to think for ourselves and not join the mob.

Social media essentially lets us "meet" our heroes every day. This is not a good thing. This is why I only follow two of my favorite musicians on twitter, Kay Hanley and Hayley Williams. These are people I've been familiar with for years and feel comfortable letting into my home via computer. Hell, Paramore even does a great song on this subject called "Idle Worship." I think some of their fans need to listen to these lyrics.



But social media is just the tool. How you use it is up to you. I choose to follow a small amount of people to keep the noise level down. It seems a lot of high school and college kids just get into a band and start following every member. You see the problem here? What are the odds that every member of a band you like is gonna say only stuff you approve of? And then you're gonna stop listening to them when they don't? It's almost like a trap. Human beings are not perfect, and they don't all agree. It's called fucking life.

I'm a pretty progressive person and I'm not coming from the "LOL TRIGGERED SNOWFLAKES" perspective. I HATE that shit. But I bet a lot of people would I assume I am coming from there, simply because I disagree with "cancelling" someone over one dumb tweet. I think people have become so sensitive because of our awful cultural/political climate right now - and I mean, rightly so - that they're having these extreme reactions over everything. And that doesn't help, it only serves to alienate us further from each other.

There are cases where I would stop supporting someone over "one tweet." If they used bigoted hate speech, or threatened violence against a person or an animal. But here's what happened yesterday. I've never heard either of these bands and again, I only know about it from music youtubers, so I'm not naming names. I don't care. One guy in a band on Warped Tour said something about another guy in a band on Warped Tour who I guess had spoken out about his performance anxiety. First dude basically said "We're out here doing what we love every day, why is this guy complaining about it, suck it up." Yeah, he actually said suck it up. It's a bad tweet and a bad look and as someone who suffers from anxiety, I sure as hell wouldn't follow someone who's so intolerant of it.

But would I stop listening to his music? No. No I wouldn't. Because that would imply I have to stop listening to everyone I don't agree with. I read a couple months ago that Shania Twain was all pro-Tr*mp, and I rolled my eyes and moved on. I didn't delete her songs. The two things have nothing to do with each other for me. As for what this guy said - it's insensitive, but it sounds like he doesn't understand anxiety and is just coming from a "count your blessings" kind of place. It's ignorant, but does it make him a bad person? I don't think so. And does it really even matter, if you like the music?

Don't meet your heroes, and if you accidentally meet them and they step on your foot, just let it go man. There are more important things to worry about. Don't get so caught up in these people's lives. I mean, think about it. Unless the only bands you follow are straightedge and deeply religious, your favorite musicians probably do some fucked up shit. Drugs, sleeping around, excessive drinking, etc. But we don't judge that stuff because we don't see it. We don't want to see it. But then we follow them on social media and expect them to be perfect angels?

Let's contrast this with two bigger things that have happened recently. First there's the case of Roseanne. While I found her racist tweet reprehensible, at first I wasn't sure if she should lose her whole career over one tweet. Like wow, that seems a little witch hunty. But here's why an actual bigoted tweet is different from one insensitive tweet. If you make a mean-spirited racist joke, you're probably a racist. And if you're a racist, there's probably a pattern of it going back years that just wasn't made public. I don't think Roseanne was fired over one tweet. I think it was a public catalyst to get rid of someone who's been toxic for years. I mean, if you're a bigot, you're a bigot, you know? It's not limited to twitter. There's no evidence the guy who made the dumb tweet is actually bigoted against people with mental health issues over that one comment. He was saying focus on the positive and stop complaining, in that wrongheaded way that people who don't understand mental health issues do. But ignorance and being actively bigoted are two different things.

My second example has nothing to do with social media, but still serves to contrast. Roberto Osuna, the Jays' former closer who (allegedly) physically abused his wife. I say allegedly because he has not been convicted yet, but there's no gray area here, he obviously did it. Anyway, as soon as I realized "yup, this guy I had so much stock in yesterday actually did this thing" I wanted him gone from my team and life. I didn't know if I'd be able to root for them anymore if he was there. THAT'S the kind of situation where you stop being a fan - or "cancel" to use the annoying AF lingo. It's very important we make these distinctions between actual violent crimes, or actual hate, and someone just making a bad tweet, or down the slippery slope we will go. Best case scenario, this dude was misunderstood, misspoke, or will learn from his mistake. Worst case, he's just an asshole. Imagine if we stopped listening to all rock stars who are assholes. OMG.

Don't meet your heroes unless you're prepared to know they're human. Some humans are assholes, but can still do great work. This is part of life. And unless it's an extreme case - like the kind of thing that would make the news - let's keep music, film, art, sports, etc. about what they are. They're some of the few purely enjoyable things we have out there. Let's just accept that the people involved aren't perfect and take the gift they've given us anyway. Otherwise, we're all gonna be living increasingly narrower lives. And that scares me.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Feel Good Friday ~ best musical moment of 2018 so far!

Where else are you gonna find a "feel good" post dedicated to a song from an album about the plague? Nothing but Quality Content™ here, folks.

But seriously, is there a more cathartic moment in music this year than at 1:39? *drums* THIS IS THE MOMENT OF JUST LETTING GO! That's how music is supposed to feel. I'm glad someone still gets it.

Another thing I was thinking about - I don't think musical tastes have actually changed much, if at all. What's changed is how we listen to music and how it gets popular.

Imagine if streaming, memes, and viral hits were a thing in the 80s and 90s. I don't think people would have had any better taste, maybe it would have even been worse! But thankfully those of us who grew up then were spared, and presented with mostly music that took actual effort. Because in most cases, you HAD to make an effort to be heard then. Of course there are always dumb novelty hits and exceptions, but how many "Ice Ice Baby"s would we have had? How many Milli Vanillis? (That they even had more than one hit might be the biggest shame of my generation.) But that goes along with my point. People will always listen to shit, and there was probably a TON of shit we never heard back then because there was just no way for it to circulate. MTV mostly used its power wisely. Probably the worst thing they did was promote a lot of terrible late-stage hair metal, but I think they were as glad as everyone else when Nirvana came along.

So it's no wonder those of us who grew up back then, and still have a hunger for new music, are put off by today's scene. For kids it's just normal cause they've never known anything else, but I'm glad I remember a time when quality was still a factor, not just clicks. And I'm glad there was no Zombie Challenge or whatever dumb viral shit back then giving the lowest common denominator control over music. And children. I think that's the biggest reason for the change. Kids will click on any dumb thing, and they don't have to pay anything for it to count. And then we all pay for it. How many dumb things would I have uncaringly clicked on as a kid, if I'd had the chance? Probably a lot. System be broke, fix it, blah blah blah.

And now I'm gonna have a rockin' weekend with some Trash Boat, Halestorm, Killers and Weezer. Peace.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

"Music taste doesn't matter, listen to whatever you want!"

Sometimes I see comments like this, boldly proclaimed as if from a mountaintop, and you know, it's my job* to think about them and break them down.

*not actually

This is one of those statements that seems obvious on the surface, the "all lives matter" of music hot takes (without the baggage), but like that, it doesn't really stand up when you question it.

My knee-jerk reaction: of course you can listen to whatever you want in private, you can listen to Hitler's Greatest Hits (there's a pun in there somewhere) and ain't nobody gonna stop you. That's just a basic right we all have. How does it hurt anyone else? And have I already lost my own case by bringing up Hitler? Dammit. Well the answer is probably obvious - what you buy and/or stream affects what's popular and therefore, affects other people.

I already made a whole post about why what's popular matters. Unless you live in a bubble, you WILL hear it. In a shop, a restaurant, the gym, out of someone's car, whatever. I never once voluntarily listened to "Shape of You" and I heard it approximately 1635345 times the past couple years. Thanks, people with terrible taste!

Also, if one kind of music gets popular, it tends to push out a lot of other music you might want to hear. Like rock. Or actual country. Or hip hop that doesn't suck. Look what's happened just in the past 10 years. Rock has all but disappeared from the mainstream except for a boring Nickelback clone or two. If you hear a rock song in a public space today, it's probably from the 90s or before. Country radio pushed out women and more traditional sounds to court bro-country and a slew of interchangeable t-shirted and ballcapped dudes. Hip hop - okay, I don't know what hip hop sounded like 10 years ago, but I know it CAN sound good and not like this boring shit that's taken over today. Basically, your shitty taste actually CANCELS OUT music I like. Why am I supposed to not care, again?

So yes, musical taste matters because popular music is played in shared spaces. It can either be like secondhand smoke, or a really nice perfume. Of course that in itself is dependant on taste. Which brings me to -

The other main point I want to make: some musical taste IS measurably better than others. And no, I'm not about to say mine is better than yours. I've said before that one way to actually judge "good" and "bad" music is the amount of effort put in. If it sounds lazy, like rap that's nothing but the same words repeated three times for the whole song, then it's bad. That doesn't mean you can't like it, but I won't say that buying or streaming it doesn't harm our shared musical culture. I'm not saying you have to think deeply about all the music you listen to, but maybe think a little? Ask yourself if the "artist" is looking to make art, or just money? Lazy can apply to music listeners as well.

So yes, if you just mindlessly listen to whatever comes your way in the background and don't really care about it, then your music taste is worse than mine. And I like "MMMBop."

People are gonna listen to what they want to and in the name of freedom, they absolutely should. But it's not all equal. That's a dumb thing to say. Some possible solutions to this, other than calling the Music Police, would be making chart position mostly dependant on purchases, so the dumb throwaway trendy streaming stuff doesn't catch on outside its little niches. If you're actually buying something, you're probably gonna think about it more. But that probably won't happen. People stream now. And it's something I find so weird - having all this music available should be amazing, it should open up the mainstream to all kinds of varied artists. But instead it's made the focus SO MUCH NARROWER. One thing catches on, and then that's all you hear. I'm guessing that has to do with greed, as most evil things do. But man, does it suck. Such squandered potential of a medium.

The other possible solution would be for the music industry to not be greedy and LOLOLOL I can't even finish. I mean hey, you gotta make a profit. But maybe instead of doubling down on garbage you can put some different stuff out there? Because honestly, I don't like blaming some random person listening to music alone in their house for the woes of modern music, even if they are listening to Post Malone. But I'm also not gonna say their taste is equal to someone listening to a band that spent hours writing their songs and days rehearsing them rather than just slurring random nonsense over a beat and going out for a smoke. No.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Annoying pop song alert!

Man, it's been a while since I've talked about an annoying pop song. Most of what I've heard this year has ranged from good to boring, with little really sticking out as bad. And if you're not gonna be good, go all the way and be bad, dammit. Boring is the worst, and that's what so much popular music has been recently. (From what I've heard, anyway. I don't think I've heard that rapper who died and if I did I might disrespect the dead, so let's just move on.)

The annoying song in question is called "Friends." *deep breath* So no one told you life was gonna be- NO! *slap* We are NOT doing that. Simmer down. So what makes this song so annoying? First of all, it's a spelling song, which is pretty much universally annoying.* If you grew up in the 80s, chances are hearing the letters "M-E-T-H-O-D" will trigger some kind of P-T-S-D. And that was an actual decent band. Duo. Whatever. What happens when this "Marshmello" fellow tries it? (I'm assuming it's a fellow anyway, it's one of those EDM producers who presents itself as an amorphous blob. We'll just go by Ghostbusters rules and say it's a Marshmallow Man.)

And this is the form of destruction we've chosen - stupid pop song. Okay, maybe it's not New York-crushingly bad, but a lot of things about this tweaks my nerves. Full disclosure - I had a previous, fleeting familiarity with Marshmello with his song "Wolves" ft. Selena Gomez. That song is... okay. Yeah, it's kinda catchy, I don't mind it. But this. First of all, this "Anne-Marie" chick makes Selena Gomez look like she has a personality. I don't know how she pulls that off but it's impressive. We're talking Bebe Rexha levels of generic here, which I'm sure means she'll be on the next huge "country" smash with that guy who did "Singles You Up" or whatever. These are the times we're living in. (Hmm, maybe I wasn't so far off with the "choose your form" thing...)

ANYWAY, we've got some weird EDM dude and a generic female pop singer, that's just another Tuesday, right? But no, according to Anne-Marie, this is the "friendzone anthem," and the world NEEDED a friendzone anthem. Since most of the world is not in the 8th grade I assure you that no, no we did not. And what's the deep, impactful, anthemic chorus of this... anthem? She spells out the word "friends." Except... if you're gonna make spelling out a word the centrepiece of your song, maybe you wanna enunciate a little better so it doesn't sound like you're misspelling it?? "F-R-I-N-D-S!" she proclaims proudly. I just wanna be "frinds," which sounds like some kind of weird kids' food from the 90s, like frozen pork rinds. "Try Frinds! They're extreeeeeeeeeme!" and then some kid with floppy 90s hair shoots down a waterslide with one.

via GIPHY

(While also playing a video game.)

If you listen close you can kiiiiinda hear her slide into the "E," but I don't recommend listening to this thing close or even far away. It's the epitome of a vapid pop song. I was gonna wait and talk about it on my worst of the year list, but I'd probably have forgotten everything I wanted to say about it and maybe even the song itself. And oh yeah, how could I forget this questionable lyric - "You really ain't going away without a fight
You can't be reasoned with, I'm done being polite." Umm honey, I think he's gone past F-R-I-N-D and into S-T-A-L-K-E-R at this point. Maybe it's time to just cut your losses?

*D-I-V-O-R-C-E is a good spelling song, because there's an actual reason she's spelling stuff out. Oh and "Respect," because Aretha is so fire she burns the spelling bee down.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

W E E Z E R T I M E

So yeah, I like both of the Toto covers. Obviously I do. I love Weezer and I love 80s rock, you might as well ask me if I like sunshine and unicorns. DUH.

Of the two, I like "Africa" better. The "Rosanna" cover makes it a liiiiittle more obvious that Weezer's drummer is um, not quite on par with Toto's drummer. But putting that aside, I mean when you talk about Weezer you're pretty much talking about Rivers, and I think he brings the goods. This is what "Weezer covering 80s rock" sounds like all right, yup. It doesn't make me go "OMG BEST THING EVERRRRRR," but if they did a whole album of 80s covers I'd buy it. Oh yeah. Man, they'd do a mean "Surrender." I think that's actually a 70s song but w/e, same aesthetic.

How men and women can help each other out!

So I keep seeing this comment an actor made about flirting all bloody day and felt compelled to write about it. Pardon me, music lovers, let me get this off my chest and then I'll get back to talking about Weezer or whatever.

"I don't want to go up and talk to her because I'm going to be called a rapist or something."

No, the simple act of talking to a woman will not get you labelled a rapist, unless she has severe emotional issues. In which case she could accuse you of something without you ever even talking to her, and then do the same to your dog. That seems unlikely so you're probably safe, bro. If you flirt with a woman and she flirts back, that's okay and always will be okay. If she doesn't seem interested, step the eff off. That doesn't seem so complicated, does it?

Except maybe it kind of can be? I started thinking about how men and women have been socialized for so long and it's really kind of sick. A lot of discussion of this has fallen on men - men are socialized to feel they're entitled to women, to be persistent, to "break her down" til she says yes. Which can be true, and also really gross. But what about how women are socialized?

I wasn't personally raised this way, but a lot of women my generation and previous generations were - and that is to be coy. To say no or maybe when they mean yes, to string guys along because God forbid you actually act like you like a guy. Women must be pursued, or else be seen as forward, or desperate, or "not a good girl." Yeah, a lot of women were taught that being "good" means playing games with people. Being "good" means lying, or at the very least denial. All for what? To be a virgin, or appear like one? What century is this, anyway?? These old timey social mores kinda encourage stalking - and we wonder why things are so fucked up.

And even for those of us who weren't raised that way (and I really hope this next generation isn't), it's aaaaaallllll over entertainment. "Romantic" comedies can be poison. How many times has the plot of one of those things been "wearing someone down" til they get together in the end? This not only teaches women they can't be honest about being attracted to a dude, it teaches dudes that sometimes women lie about not being attracted to them. It encourages them to keep at it, which CAN lead to a woman feeling like she's being harassed. (Harassed, NOT "raped." Really wrong word to use there, Superman. Not one ya wanna throw around like a football.)

So while I think you should generally be able to tell if someone wants nothing to do with you and stop talking to them, there are gray areas here that need to be addressed. Let's stop playing games with each other. It isn't romantic, it doesn't make you "good," it just reinforces stereotypes that have done subtle but pervasive and long-lasting damage. Be honest and treat people the way you want to be treated. It's time to change the narrative. There won't be as many awful romantic comedies, but... yeah, there's really no downside to it at all! :)

tbt ~ Bush

Don't know if this is an unpopular opinion, since they're not talked about as much as some other 90s rock bands, but I think Bush's first two albums are really good. If you haven't revisited them for a while or heard them at all, check em out!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

RS top 100 songs, part 2

Let's do this!

49. Sign of the Times by Harry Styles - Wow. While this wasn't my favorite song on his debut, I'm happy and surprised to see him represented, and in the top 50 no less. I honestly think this former boy band member is a force for good in rock. (Watch, his next album will be all autotuned drum machine dance numbers lololol)
48. Happy by Pharrell - Pharrell is a super talented musician. He's made some great beats. But this? This is the kind of predictable, middle of the road pap I thought they'd want to avoid. I don't get what's so great about this song.
47. Redbone by Childish Gambino - YUSSSSSSSS! I love this song. When they get it right, they really get it right.
46. Cry Me a River by Justin Timberlake - This is a good solid pop song. I prefer "What Goes Around Comes Around," but no complaints.
45. Sorry by Justin Bieber - Nope.
44. Stan by Eminem - I'm not personally into Eminem, but this is iconic.
43. don't know it
42. Electric Feel by MGMT - Wow, not "Kids!" They're both good but this one is extra funky. I like funky.
41. Hurt by Johnny Cash - HELL yes. Such a heartbreaking song. Only reason I didn't include this on my covers list is it's too painful to listen to.
40. Beautiful Day by U2 - A predictable pick, but I can't complain about it, it belongs here.
39. No One Knows by Queens of the Stone Age - this is a band I've always meant to get into but never have. I don't know their songs by title, but I've probably heard this. I salute them keeping rock alive. Maybe one of these days I'll actually sit down and listen to them.
38. a Beyonce song I don't think I've heard
37. don't know it, but it's Leonard Cohen so I approve.
36. Gold Digger by Kanye West - Again, not a Kanye fan, but this is an okay song. Still overrated.
35. Blue Jeans by Lana Del Rey - I'm not a Lana fan, but there are three songs I really like on her debut album, and this is one of them. Kinda cool to see this here honestly.
34. Mr. Brightside by the Killers - Do I even need to say anything? Should I be a snarky bitch and say this should be MUCH higher, or just enjoy that it's here?
33. another post-OK Computer Radiohead song I just never got into. I've tried with Kid A, I really have. Just not my thing.
32. In Da Club by 50 Cent - It's ok for mainstream hip hop, I guess? 50 Cent seems dumb as a post, which probably isn't really relevant lol.
31. Wake Up by Arcade Fire - this is from Funeral, which is the only Arcade Fire album I really got into. I prefer "Tunnels," but sure, glad to see this here.
30. a Bob Dylan song I don't know. RS loves Bob Dylan, I can't really argue against him.
29. All Too Well by Taylor Swift - Wow, the only Taylor Swift song and it wasn't a single. That's a bold choice and a good one, cause this is one of her best songs.
28. Umbrella by Rihanna and Jay-Z - Yeah, this is a pop classic.
27. B.O.B. by Outkast - I miss this kind of energetic hip hop so much. Outkast was great.
26. Hotline Bling by Drake - loooool. I've come around on this song, but I wouldn't put it on this list and sure as hell not this high. Speaking of high, someone must have been. smh.
25. Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars - Well, obviously. Kinda surprised this isn't higher. Great song, one of the few times I'm in consensus with the masses lol.
24. Lose Yourself by Eminem - the best Eminem song I've heard. I'm not even a fan (Stan?) and I think this is awesome.
23. Ms. Jackson by Outkast - Awesome hip hop song. Take your Migos and Lil Whoever and blow them out your ass, long live Outkast.
22. Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand - HELLLLL YES.
21. Bad Romance by Lady Gaga - awesome song, another pop classic.
20. Rehab by Amy Winehouse - what can I say? Great song by an artist gone way too soon. I wonder what kind of music she'd be making now.
19. I don't know the song that's at #19? WTF?? never even heard of Robyn.
18. late period Bowie, not my thing but totally respect it being here.
17. Work It by Missy Elliot - Man, remember when popular hip hop had life, energy, and personality? This song is so catchy and Missy Elliott is probably the best female rapper I've heard.
16. 2nd song by LCD Soundsystem, a band I've heard of but never heard.
15. Crazy by Gnarls Barkley - Yup, classic.
14. Toxic by Britney Spears - NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO number 14?? Seriously???
13. Alright by Kendrick Lamar - don't know it but I like what I've heard from Kendrick. I'm actually gonna check this one out.
12. Get Ur Freak On by Missy Elliott - wow, they really like Missy Elliott. Can't say I disagree with either of these honestly. This beat is like, ingrained into the fabric of society at this point.
11. Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson - I never would have imagined this song would be so high but I really like it. Not #11-like it, but ehh? Okay I guess.
10. Last Nite by the Strokes - HELLLLLLL YEAH.
9. Royals by Lorde - not my favorite Lorde song, but this absolutely belongs here.
8. Rolling in the Deep by Adele - Classic, great song, great voice. Kinda surprised Adele only showed up once.
7. And speaking of people showing up more than once, here's more frickin' Kanye 😡 When I say over, you say rated! I haven't heard this song but it has Pusha T on it, who has impressed me the few times I've heard him. *shrug*
6. And in possibly the biggest surprise... Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs is at NUMBER SIX. I LOVE this song you guys, OMG. I might have expected it to show up, but this high? Mind blown. Awesome.
5. 99 Problems by Jay-Z - Yeah, this pretty iconic. I do like Jay-Z when he's on.
4. Hey Ya by Outkast - Hell yeah! Sure not gonna complain about Outkast showing up 3 times. If anything, they're generally underrated.
3. Seven Nation Army by White Stripes - HELLLLL YEAH and honestly, this doesn't surprise me. Is there a more immediately recognizable riff in recent memory?
2. Paper Planes by M.I.A. - really? #2? This is kind of a cool experimental song that somehow hit it big, but putting it here baffles me. Again - "Welcome to the Black Parade," my pick for song of the century, is not even on this list. I get that music taste is subjective, but some of these choices genuinely confuse me.
1. Aaaaand probably the most confusing choice of all... Crazy in Love by Beyonce at #1??? Um, at least it wasn't Kanye again, I guess? Don't get me wrong, this is probably my favorite Beyonce song I've heard and she totally deserves to be on the list. She's a superstar and she is actually talented. But putting a good pop song - and that's what this is, a good pop song - at number one for 18 years worth of music? I just don't get it. This would be like if they did a top 100 of the previous century and instead of putting The Beatles or Nirvana or Led Zeppelin at number one, they picked a pretty good Madonna song. "Crazy in Love" over "Welcome to the Black Parade" is like "Material Girl" over "Smells Like Teen Spirit." It's a good song, but does it belong in that kind of lofty space? I say no, no it does not.

Thus ends my take on this sometimes great, sometimes confusing list. I guess this really does show how subjective music tastes can be, so in that sense, it's a pretty good representation.

The biggest takeaway for me - in light of what I was talking about the other day, it's pretty cool that The Strokes, White Stripes, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs all made the top 10. Guess I'm not the only one missing that 2000s rock revival! Hint hint, folks.

I could make a whole long list of songs and artists I think should have been represented, but there are probably better uses of my time. Peace!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Rolling Stone's Top 100 songs of the century so far list

For the sake of argument, let's pretend Rolling Stone is still relevant and dive in to this list, song by song. There's some bad, but there's also some really, surprisingly good! Like songs and bands that are personal faves of mine, not just classics everyone likes. #s 74 and 75 are especially mind-blowing for me.

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/100-greatest-songs-century-so-far-w521935

100. Gasolina by Daddy Yankee - I don't know this song, but I know he was the rapper on Despacito. He was alright. Shrug? Yup, we're starting with a shrug.
99. No idea what this is, not gonna type it all out.
98. OMG, freaking Alvvays! I love Alvvays! This is from their first album which I'm not as familiar with, but how cool to see them represented.
97. don't know it
96. might know it? never got into Black Keys
95. Can't Get You Out Of My Head by Kylie Minogue - Yeah, that's a solid pop song. I wouldn't call it a song of the century, but maybe it's here for being an actual pop song in a time with so few of them.
94. blah blah Kanye West. Have never been a fan.
93. I'm Not Okay by My Chemical Romance - YEEEAH! I mean, it should be Black Parade and it should be higher, but I love seeing them here.
92. don't know it
91. Despacito - We're 10 songs in and that umm, great artist of our time, Daddy Yankee, has already been represented twice. Okay? I mean this song was massive, I guess I get it. It's nothing special though.
90. don't know it
89. Hate to Say I Told You So by The Hives - HELLLLLL YEAH I love this song!
88. don't know it, but I've liked some Vampire Weekend songs
87. We Belong Together by Mariah Carey - I will never argue against Mariah Carey. Classic.
86. I Love It by Icona Pop and Charli XCX - Really? Charli XCX is a great presence, but this song is nothing special.
85. don't know it
84. One More Time by Daft Punk - Yeah, this is a classic electronic song. Not my favorite genre, but I dig this.
83. Lost Cause by Beck - Not my favorite Beck song, I prefer his funkier side, but still great. Love Beck.
82. New Slang by The Shins - One of my favorite songs of all time. Respect.
81. Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani - pardon me, I can't say that with a straight face. Seriously?? I don't even hate this song, but whaaa?
80. don't know it
79. Drop it Like It's Hot by Snoop Dogg & Pharrell - Yeah, that's a classic, can't argue with that.
78. Young Folks by Peter Bjorn and John - AGH that earwormy whistle song! I guess it's iconic, but damn I don't wanna hear it again.
77. don't know it
76. Get Lucky by Daft Punk & Pharrell - Yep, great pop song.
75. The House that Built Me by Miranda Lambert - OMG! One of my favorite songs! I'm shocked this was recognized, but so happy.
74. Letter from an Occupant by New Pornographers - And even more amazing, it's one of the most underrated bands ever, and also one of my favourites. And wow, this is such a fireball of a Neko Case performance, it's glorious.
73. don't know it
72. Bad and Boujee by Migos - Ewww, this might be the worst song they picked. Blecch. Trap shit is the shame of the century.
71. Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen - Nah.
70. American Idiot by Green Day - Hell yeah Green Day! I prefer Holiday or Boulevard of Broken Dreams, but choosing the title track makes sense. It's a good song in its own right, and it's kind of like picking the whole album.
69. don't know it
68. Springsteen by Eric Church - Interesting. I like this song, but this over Record Year? I'll take it, I guess.
67. don't know it
66. Beez in the Trap by Nicki Minaj - Ugh, really? It seems like I'm hating on hip hop here but I'm not. I'm hating on bad hip hop. Where's King Kunta? Where's Downtown?
65. We Found Love by Rihanna & Calvin Harris - It's alright.
64. DNA by Kendrick Lamar - Okay, this is better. I still like King Kunta more, but at least this is hip hop that brings it instead of falling asleep.
63. Sugar We're Goin' Down by Fall Out Boy - Ah, back when FOB was a decent band. Back when they were a band, that played instruments. Yeah, I dig this one.
62. Teenage Dream by Katy Perry - Her best song and a nice little pop gem. Can't argue.
61. Don't know this one, but OMG Madonna? Seriously? Her best music was waaaaay back in the last century. I think RS just likes Madonna.
60. don't know it
59. Bodak Yellow by Cardi B - Nope.
58. don't know it, but it's Kanye so meh.
57. don't know it
56. Later period Radiohead, don't know it. I dig their 90s stuff but never got into their newer stuff.
55. don't know it
54. Portions for Foxes by Rilo Kiley - OMG! I wrote a while ago, am I the only person who still cares about Rilo Kiley? Apparently I am not, and I'm so happy about that. One of my favorite bands, and this is a great song.
53. don't know it
52. Chandelier by Sia - a little overwrought for me, not a fan, but I get why it's here.
51. Single Ladies by Beyonce - AGH get it out of my ear! Get it out! Okay, I get this was big and maybe it's iconic, but does anyone really... like it?
50. The Scientist by Coldplay - Beautiful song. I like Coldplay. I would have picked Viva la Vida or Clocks, but this is good too.

Okay, I'll get to the other 50 tomorrow! Good game.

Feel Good (Inc) Friday

This long weekend, you could listen to 25 Drake songs, or you could listen to this fun, funky, fresh new album from Gorillaz, The Now Now. I know what I'll be doing.


Thursday, June 28, 2018

I suppose this is as good a time as any to discuss the one album I've listened to since I moved, Panic! at the Disco's Pray for the Wicked. Man, that is a cool ass title wasted on a pretty mediocre album.

Why does it seem like most music now is either severely underproduced or overproduced? You've either got that droney, tinny stuff that sounds like a gnat cursing in your ear, or you've got this thing, which sounds like a bomb going off. Panic! at the disco, indeed.

Why did I listen to this instead of probably 50 more deserving albums that came out this year? Well, there's that cool title. I liked the first two songs I heard, "Say Amen" and "Silver Lining." And honestly, I have a pretty good history with this band. Pretty. Odd. is a beautiful Beatlesesque album that fits nicely on a playlist with early of Montreal. A Fever You Can't Sweat Out has that classic mid-2000s emo vibe, complete with ridiculous song titles you'll never remember. It was kind of a silly, over the top time, but by God it was something. There were guitars. There were live drums. There was a sense of deranged fun, which could almost make you forget that the songs were called things like "There's a Rock In My Heart and a Hole in My Shoe and You Put it There, Darling."*

*not a real song but I bet you had to look it up to be sure.

I wouldn't say I loved their (or I should say his, it's just Brendan Urie at this point) album Death of a Bachelor, but I liked a good half of it, maybe a little more. It had a good vibe, and while the pop production was definitely there, it didn't rub me the wrong way. I called it dance rock, and I think that's accurate. It's fun. This new album, I think, is trying to be fun but... that's just it. You can feel it trying, straining at the seams to be noticed. It's loud, but it doesn't say anything and it sure as hell doesn't rock. This is the first PatD album that hasn't felt organic to me, and I don't just mean instrumentally. Ultrapop production aside, there's just no there there.

I don't think Brendan Urie had much to say this time.

That might be okay, if more of the songs were like "Say Amen" (or "Victorious" from the last album). Songs that make you want to stand up and shout out their meaningless anthemic choruses, because you are drunk and happy. But I don't find the majority of this album infectious, and it definitely doesn't forward the cause of rock. They/he isn't rock anymore, and yeah, they were always pop rock at best. But they put out some good pop rock. Memorable. And while I wouldn't call this album "trendy" or "selling out," it somehow manages to be just as forgettable as if it was. I wasn't expecting this one-man "band" to save rock and roll, but by moving farther away from it, nobody wins. It's too pop for the old fans and not pop enough for the trend eaters. In the end, it just kinda makes me scratch my head and wonder why these bands don't even try to rock anymore. Music doesn't have to say anything, but it does have to make you feel something, even if it's just "wheeee this is fun!" And when the music is empty, making it louder does not make it seem bigger. Just the opposite, really.

I guess we'll see where he's at next album cycle, cause I feel like it's time for a change.
I wonder if we'll ever have another mainstream rock revival like in the early-mid 2000s with bands like The Killers, The Strokes, White Stripes, etc. (which probably led to later bands' success, like MCR and Paramore). What happened? Why did rock's relevance completely disappear with the new decade? Is this just another music "cycle," or has the current generation lost interest in rock? I feel like it's timeless and we'll have another revival in a few years, but I guess we'll see. Which isn't to say that rock is dead, by any means. A lot of these bands are still making good music, as well as newer bands like Creeper. It's just waiting underground til it becomes cool again, I guess. I'm sure eventually people will realize every trap song is actually the same damn song, and they'll get bored and be all, "what's that? a guitar? Hey, I haven't heard one of those in a while..." I swear that's all music trends are, just waiting for people to get bored with whatever's popular. Next! (And the good stuff usually comes back.)

Edited to add: Why does it matter if music I like is "popular," when I can stream or download and listen to whatever I want, whenever I want? Because I'm not a hipster. I like to feel like part of a society. Sure, there's some unusual stuff I like that I wouldn't expect to hear in the mainstream, and I like having some "on my own time" music. But I also like hearing music I connect to when I'm out in the world, at restaurants, shops, bars, etc.

Obviously no one wants to be constantly pummelled by shit they hate - for me, this droney trap rap trend has been misery - but it's more than that. You can somewhat tune that out. But - I don't want to tune out music. I want the "hey, that's my song!" feeling. The shared music experience. It's not like I hang out at places that are all teens and 20s, where I might not expect to relate to the current trends. These are shared spaces with people from all walks of life, yet they're still being controlled by these lowest common denominator trends. A little more variety would be nice, is what I'm saying. A little more organic music that some of us still relate to. And not just on 90s night! I love 90s night, but I hear that shit all the time. That's what I already have on heavy rotation. Play some NEW music that evokes the 90s or early 2000s, if that's what you're so hungry for, you know? I don't know why 90s ROCK = COOL, but any rock put out this decade is no longer relevant. Nostalgia has its place, but it's nice to feel you belong in the here and now*, too.

*Of course, that won't stop me from sneaking in a Letters to Cleo reference. :)

tbt ~ The Killers

This album may be from 2012, but the sound is rooted firmly in my childhood.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

*a tumbleweed blows by*

So, I appear to have bought a house. Wait, how did that happen?? This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife. How did I get here? Letting the days go by, water flowing underground.

So. There's that. Hence the large tumbleweed population 'round here. I will resume blogging after we're settled in and my cats stop hating me. I haven't really listened to much new music lately. Stuck in the 90s and 2000s, doop de doo. There's an Oasis song FIRMLY lodged in my head right now. Those new FGL songs? Haven't heard em, can't say I really care. However, I did listen to my first ever Ghost song, "Dance Macabre." It's 80s AF and I dig it. Like, we're talking right out of one of those old Metal Mania videos.

Here's the thing. I like some harder rock, but "metal" is one of those musical descriptors that makes my brain shut off, like "trap" or "k-pop" or "industrial." I just associate it with screaming and noise. But what can one song hurt? And yeah, I guess it's "metal" in the 80s sense, not that current hardcore screaming shit. It's very melodic, and that's what I look for. So I'll probably check out the album, but for now at least I have a cool "new nostalgic" song in heavy rotation. It kinda feels like the right thing to start this new chapter in my life with, you know? Something that reminds me of the comfort of the past, while still being fresh. Old and new.

Total side note: I'm pretty sure IKEA is one of the circles of Hell.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Top 10 favorite cover songs

In no particular order, except maybe the top 3 or so. Enjoy!

10. Not Fade Away ~ The Rolling Stones, originally by Buddy Holly

Both versions are great. Holly's is a bouncy bop, while the Stones grunge it up a bit.

9. Crimson and Clover ~ Joan Jett, originally by Tommy James and the Shondells

This is one of my favorite songs, so why not higher? While I love the cover, nothing beats the Tommy James version.

8. All Along the Watchtower ~ Jimi Hendrix, originally by Bob Dylan

Yeah obvious choice, but it fucking shreds, so what else can I do?

7. In Bloom ~ Sturgill Simpson, originally by Nirvana

THIS is how you play around with genres. This is a musical breakthrough, not the mere chasing of a buck.

6. Daydream Believer ~ Shonen Knife, originally by The Monkees

A bit of an obscure one, but give it a listen if you can find it. It's rockin' and fun.

5. Who's Cheatin' Who ~ Alan Jackson, originally by Charly McClain

I love the original as much if not even a little more than this cover, but... it's Alan Jackson. It's great.

4. You Better Run ~ Pat Benatar, originally by The Young Rascals

I could make a top 5 of just Pat Benatar's covers, but I'm only doing one song per artist. She'll be back in the honourable mentions though!

3. The Dangerous Type ~ Letters to Cleo, originally by The Cars

This is probably only LTC's third most popular cover (and yeah, their versions of I Want You to Want Me and Cruel to Be Kind are awesome), but this one's my favorite. Maybe because I associate it with The Craft. Probably because I associate it with The Craft, yeah. Great song, anyway.

2. All I Have to Do Is Dream ~ R.E.M., originally by The Everly Brothers

R.E.M. took this beautiful, dreamy early 60s hit and somehow made it even dreamier by making it sound like it was recorded in someone's garage on a Saturday afternoon.

1. I Will ~ Alison Krauss, originally by The Beatles

This cover is transcendent. I get chills every time I listen to it. As good as the original is ~ I mean, it's The Beatles ~ her version just takes it to a whole new level. It's like a band of angels covering The Beatles. I hope I'm greeted with this song in the afterlife.

Honorable mentions:

~If You Think You Know How To Love Me ~ Pat Benatar, originally by Smokie
~No You Don't ~ Pat Benatar, originally by Sweet
Pat has so many classic songs, I'm not sure if people realize what a COVER QUEEN she was.
~Take it Easy ~ Travis Tritt, originally by The Eagles
~Ol'55 ~ The Eagles, originally by Tom Waits
~Landslide ~ Dixie Chicks, originally by Fleetwood Mac
A beautifully harmonized version, but nobody beats Stevie Nicks.
~Strawberry Fields Forever ~ Candy Flip, originally by The Beatles
My fave Beatles song covered by some 90s acid dance band?? That should be SACRILEGE, but it's actually awesome. So was the 90s Manchester scene in general. Fun music, and I never had to take drugs to enjoy it! #PSA
~Always on My Mind ~ Pet Shop Boys, originally by Willie Nelson
Another one that should be SACRILEGE, but sounds awesome. Yeah, I have no issues with taking a classic country song and making it electronic. Just make it sound GOOD and don't call it COUNTRY (*cough*cough*KeithUrban)

And just because, the two WORST covers I've ever heard!

Cancer ~ twenty one pilots, originally by My Chemical Romance
Ghostbusters ~ Fall Out Boy, originally by Ray Parker Jr.

Dear God. Save your ears.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Think I'll start doing occasional, random top 10 lists, just to exercise the ol' blog muscle. Favorite songs by an artist or of a certain year, movies by decade or genre, etc. I think the first will be top 10 favorite cover songs. Coming soon!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Spring into horror! Part 2

They Look Like People -

Like Boys in the Trees, this was a surprisingly touching story about friendship, to the point they would make an excellent double feature. They're both looks at deep, intimate male friendship, without any of those "we're not gay tho!" moments that would have marred an 80s or 90s film. These are real, flawed people that never feel like movie characters. I highly recommend this movie and I think it's best going in reasonably blind, like I did, so I'm not gonna discuss many details. This is not a horror movie, but it's very suspenseful at times. It's what happens when the horror is in your mind... or is it?

That's what you're left wondering the whole movie. Just what is going on here? These characters are pretty screwed up, in different ways, but in ways that make them compatible with each other. You can see why these guys are friends. There's no judgment, only trust. And that plays into one hell of an ending that's about as perfect a wrap-up of a psychological film you can get. If you want a more action-oriented movie, skip this, because there isn't any. But if you want suspense, characters you root for, and compelling, well-resolved psychological pathos, check this out.

It Follows -

Holy. Shit. This movie has been on my to-watch list for a long time. While I heard how great it was, I think I avoided it because... a sex demon? Really? This is gonna be an excuse for softcore porn, isn't it? No, no it isn't. While sex is the underlying motivating factor, I found the movie to be surprisingly non-sexual. It is, once again, more psychological, though I'd put this one firmly on the horror side. This movie is SCARY. And I watched it before bed, because I never learn.

This could be called They Look Like People, Sorta, Really Gross Disturbing People Though. Because this demon that follows you around after someone passes it to you during sex (worst. STD. EVER.) was so disgustingly well done I actually had to turn away a couple times. In a shitty movie, the demon would be a fakey-looking CGI thing that jumps out and goes BLARGH! at you. In this movie it's just different people, but these grotesque half-naked people from your worst nightmare. Thank you for understanding that ONLY THINGS THAT LOOK REAL ARE SCARY.

Beyond the scary-ass demon, this movie is all kinds of weird in these amazing, subtle ways. I was so thrown by the atmosphere that I googled just what the hell was going on, and found this great article explaining it. https://thoughtcatalog.com/m-j-pack/2015/08/heres-why-you-missed-the-scariest-part-of-it-follows/. Basically, while the movie takes place in Detroit, that's the only constant you get. The time period seems to shift. At first I thought it was the 80s for sure, but nope, there are modern vehicles mixed in with the classics. They watch nothing but old black and white movies. There are no cellphones, but there's this weird sort of clamshell kindle reader that doesn't even exist. Seasons and weather shift. While the article doesn't mention it, I swear it went from day to night in at least one scene with no actual time shift in the movie. And it's all so well made that you KNOW it's intentional and they're fucking with you. It's like this movie doesn't take place in one parallel universe but ALL of them at once. It's so damn unsettling, I loved it.

Another interesting element is the Detroit backdrop with all the abandoned buildings. It looks like the level of decay that exists there today and wouldn't have 30+ years ago, which just adds to the dysphoria. Plus, creepy abandoned stuff is just awesome, especially in an effective horror movie. I've seen movies that were so dumb, the abandoned setting was the ONLY enjoyable thing. Here, it's just another element to savour. I can't possibly recommend this enough.

Wow, I am on a roll with these modern movies! 5/5 so far and all recommendations. Don't let anyone tell you the horror/thriller genre is dead, sheesh. I think it's the best it's been since the 80s.

Still to go -

1922 - A well-reviewed King adaptation. Can't imagine I won't like it, but we'll find out tonight!

The Ritual - I usually avoid foreign language movies, but this has so much buzz I have to check it out.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Spring into horror! Part one

I'm putting my Netflix membership on hold til the new season of MST3k comes out, so I'm watching my queued movies before it runs out. That means scary movies in May, baby!

Creep -

I watched this right before I went to bed. I make poor life choices. :( Seriously, this thing unsettled the SHIT out of me and I don't usually get that scared by scary movies, even ones I can objectively say are scary (like say, Conjuring 2). But Creep... holy shit. This is next level psychological terror, like this will get under your skin. Take the creepiness factor of The Gift, another awesome movie, and multiply it by 10. Definitely watch this if you're prepared to be disturbed on a psychological level, but not right before bed. Don't be like me.

Creep 2 -

I watched this one during the day. IT DIDN'T HELP. :( While this didn't unsettle me down to my toenails like the first one did, that's not because it's any less creepy. I actually think it's creepier in some ways with the psychological manipulation. But in the first movie, much of the tension comes from not knowing who the creep is, what he's capable of. That gets answered in movie one, so while what he's capable of is super fucked up, at least you're prepared for where things might be going.

That said, this movie still goes to some crazy places. This time, the creep approaches his victim as if he's trying to confess, maybe atone for all the terrible things he's done. And the actor is so good that despite seeing the complete mindfuckery he played in the first movie, YOU DON'T KNOW IF HE'S TELLING THE TRUTH THIS TIME OR NOT. Maybe part of him is. He's such a bizarre, unpredictable character that you never really know where he's coming from, and the acting in both movies is superb. I totally recommend these if you like that kind of twisted weirdness. They're not super violent, it's mostly about the mindfuck.

Boys in the Trees -

Well I am 3 for 3 so far, because this one was the best. This is not a horror movie or even a thriller. Despite taking place on Halloween night and having a lot of tension, there's only one actual "scare." I'd call it a supernatural drama. And holy crap, is this thing good. And deep. And weirdly beautiful. It takes place in the 90s, so you get to hear songs like "Lump" and "Glycerine." That won me over pretty fast for nostalgic feels, and then it just gets better and better. I'm not gonna go into much detail because everyone should watch this movie - it's suitable for pretty much anyone except young children - but I was very positively affected.

This had the kind of heart, sensitivity and realness that you don't often see explored in movies about teens. At first you think you're looking at the usual teen tropes but then it dives deep. Everyone here is very real; they let their guard down and you see the person behind the front. It shows the tragedy of how teens, and maybe everyone to some extent, has to front just to survive. And the beauty that happens when you... stop doing that. And even if you at least somewhat guess what's going on, like I did, there's still a lot of suspense and mystery that is a joy to explore along with the two main characters. You will come to know and love these boys like friends during the course of this movie. This will be a new Halloween staple for me. While it isn't really "scary," it captures the essence of Halloween with some beautiful shots and set design, as well as perfectly capturing that limbo between childhood and adulthood through the lens of Halloween.

I'm confident nothing will top Boys in the Trees, if I rated movies that would be like a 9.5 for me (only Beetlejuice and Pulp Fiction are 10s). But yeah, I liked it that much. So I'm gonna wait a couple days to continue my little marathon, but here's what else is coming up -

It Follows
The Ritual
1922
rewatch The Visit, if I have time
rewatch more old Buffy eps, if I have time

EDIT - I forgot They Look Like People

Monday, April 16, 2018

Update

Well my life is being... lifey again, except maybe in a positive way this time? So yeah, updates here may be few and far between. I'm glad I got that Kacey Musgraves post out. In case I don't update for months, here are a few points.

~ Ashley McBryde's album is fire and a half. I love it. A contender for my album of the year and song of the year for "Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega." I will talk about it more at length in my year-end review, if not sooner. Let's just say, when I heard "Dive Bar" it kinda felt like a "Kerosene moment." The first time I heard Miranda was that song, and it was... not really life-changing, but life-affirming? Reaffirming my love for country music that was kinda dormant at the time? Yeah, that's what happened with Ashley McBryde. And, like Miranda, her album lived up to my hopes.

~ I listened to Brandi Carlile's album a couple months ago. While I did like it, it didn't stick with me the way her last album did. I think part of it was the production. I will listen to it again with fresh ears towards the end of the year. Sometimes there are just albums where you go, "it's good," but don't feel compelled to listen often. idk.

~ The next album I listen to will be Blackberry Smoke. I haven't been in much of a new listening place lately, other than singles. Sometimes I really like the low commitment factor of singles lol. I'm digging the new Carrie Underwood and Drake. Having Carrie back just feels right. The new Weeknd songs aren't doing much for me, too downbeat and moody. "Pray for Me" is still great though.

What else is coming out this year? I had heard Best Coast at some point, but that info seems to have vanished. hmmm. Apparently something is going on with System of a Down, but I'm not gonna get my hopes up about that. Would be amazing, and timely, if they did release new music though. Oh! Pistol Annies later this year, I think? I hope so. Panic at the Disco in a couple months, that could be a fun summer album based on the two songs I've heard. Oh and Ashley Monroe soon, I think.

Other artists I really want new music from ~ Eric Church, Cage the Elephant, The Pretty Reckless, and um, Weezer, but only if it doesn't suck 😇

Movie-wise, A Quiet Place was AMAZING, and the trailer for Hereditary also looked amazing. Fresh new horror movies give me life.

Okay, I think that's it! If something blows my mind I might pop in to talk about it, but this place will probably be tumbleweeds for awhile.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

New Music ~ Kacey Musgraves

Okay, I was gonna do a multi-album review later, but I think I need to talk about this one now. Not because of all the noxious internet bluster - noxious internet bluster's just another Tuesday - but because I keep listening to it. In fact, ima do myself a happy little mental health favour and ignore all the bluster entirely. Turn off the noise, turn on the music.


Because this album - I've been trying to figure out just the right way to describe it. "It sounds like spring" was my first thought, one that was echoed by ARTV on his review. (I really enjoyed his video on the album BTW - none of the toxic "country vs non-country" stuff, he just talks about the music.) My second thought, and one I'm a little surprised more people haven't picked up on, is that it sounds like a happier Rilo Kiley album. Maybe I'm the only person who still cares about RK in 2018, idk, they were a very meaningful band in my life. But I'd be shocked if Kacey wasn't somewhat inspired by Jenny Lewis.

My third thought, and the one I think best describes the album, is it's the living embodiment of one of those "no bad vibes" signs. Cause this album is good vibes, and the fact that it's making some people lose their shit (apparently) is kind of hilarious.

I will say this once, despite some country instrumentation I don't consider this a country album. I'll call it indie pop with Americana leanings, and mostly, I DON'T CARE. I'm done with the whole "this isn't country" thing. If I like it, I like it. If it has a drum machine on it it's probably not country, and I'm probably not gonna like it either, so who cares? This isn't that at all, this isn't a sell out, there's nothing on here that even sounds like a radio single. This is an album. One of my favourite Kacey songs is "Dandelion," so I've always been a fan of her airier side, and that's mostly what we get here. The main focus is Kacey's voice, literally and figuratively, and the instrumentation and production is nice and subtle in a way that lets her breathe.

When I discussed Pageant Material, I was generally positive but felt she was a little stuck in the same rut of Same Trailer. There weren't a whole lot of thematic differences, despite standout songs like "Dimestore Cowgirl" and the title track. Golden Hour doesn't have those real standout tracks to me, but it works better as an album overall. At the end of my Pageant Material discussion, I said I hoped she would go in a different direction on her next album for fear of growing stale. There are only so many songs you can make about small-minded people in small towns and mind your own biscuits. And she did it. This album is a departure, and it works.

My biggest fear with Kacey, despite her beautiful voice and miles of talent, was her songwriting would prove one-dimensional over time. This album reveals a new dimension, and somehow shows more depth in lighter, more transcendent songs than yet more snarky or dour material would. They're different, but still introspective. This isn't dumb, fluffy pop music. Nor is every song happy. "Mother" is a simple but affecting song about separated family members missing and thinking of each other, with kind of a cosmic vibe. "Lonely Weekend" isn't really a sad song, it's more about learning to be okay with being alone sometimes. "Happy & Sad" is an incisive and relatable look into Kacey's mind, "I'm the kind of person who starts getting kinda nervous, When I'm having the time of my life." SAME, girl, same. Damn, I feel that song.

She lets herself be fully open and thankful on "Oh What a World," a breath of fresh air I would call the biggest standout of the album. She just wants to take a moment to be happy and feel the magic of the world. Such a simple thing, yet how often do any of us really do it? "Rainbow" is another favorite, a quite beautiful song that assures us storms will pass and we'll be alright, there's always been a rainbow there. (The "rainbow" kind of seems like God, and faith? Maybe that's just how I took it. Maybe it's just about positive energy. Either way, it works.) Believe me, I know the feeling of being so deep in a rut, you don't even realize when you're happy cause you're so used to being sad.

This album won't have any "hits," but I do think it will resonate with people in this weary world. Because while it is uplifting overall, it isn't empty platitudes. Kacey knows how hard life can be, she clearly understands anxiety and depression, and while there are no easy answers sometimes the only answer is to just let yourself feel. Let yourself be happy, even if sometimes it's hard and we're our own worst enemy. As she says on "Slow Burn," "I'm gonna do it my way, it'll be alright." On her past albums there was kind of this theme of "the world is theirs" (the small-minded, conformist types) and we just have to roll our eyes and get high or whatever. On Golden Hour it's more "the world is OURS." Her perspective seems bigger, brighter, and more open.

While I wouldn't say this is my favorite Kacey album, at least not yet, I got a lot out of this. I loved seeing this different side of her and relating even more. It's a change, but as we saw with Paramore and Kesha last year, sometimes a change will do you good. Now that we've seen this more personal side of her music, I'm more excited than ever to keep following... I'm sorry I'm sorry... her arrow. Sigh. You know I had to do it.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

New music ~ Miranda Lambert & Panic!

I was gonna discuss Keith Urban's horrifying new Frankensong more, but meh. It's bad. Don't listen to it. The end. If you want a new take on "Mama Tried," listen to Angaleena Presley's kickass "Mama I Tried."

DO listen to Miranda Lambert's "Keeper of the Flame," which is not a new song but her latest single, and one of my favourites from Weight of These Wings. Not only is it good, it sounds like it could genuinely be a hit. (That is, if radio actually plays it.) It's catchy, anthemic, and the theme fits the Stapleton-led direction I think country is trying to go right now. While the song itself sounds much more modern than traditional, the sentiment comes across in the tasteful instrumentation and Miranda's always-impassioned vocals. It's a good look for 2018, and I hope it sticks around. (I should probably relisten to Weight of These Wings, but damn it's so long...)

Soooo I can't lie, I kinda like Panic! At the Disco, random punctuation and all. I know, I know. Their last album Death of a Bachelor was kind of a guilty pleasure for me, not because I think it's bad - in fact, Brendan Urie is an amazing vocalist - but because this band is kinda for teenagers, right? I feel a little silly listening to them, it would be like listening to my old Smurfs albums and wait I would totally do that, never mind.

Anyway, they released two songs from their upcoming album and I gotta say, they're energetic and infectious AF. Not the kind of thing I usually listen to, but that's the beauty of it. It's not organic, like at all, but it does interesting, creative things with the production and Brendan Urie is as dynamic as always. I guess I'd call it dance rock, if something so synth-y could be called rock at all. It just goes a little harder than anything I'd call "pop." I think this might be what Fall Out Boy was trying to do, once again proving that Panic is better. And now that I'm done rambling like a 13 year old on livejournal, I'll just say this music probably isn't for most people who'd be reading a country and rock blog, and that's okay. If I dig it, I'm gonna talk about it. I'm actually looking forward to this album, with the most intriguing title of Pray for the Wicked.

2018 has been a decent year for music so far, and it's primed to get even better. Don't let me down.

tbt ~ 2000s country (Warning: unintended rant)

I've been having serious 2000s music nostalgia lately. It started with indie stuff like The Shins, New Pornographers, of Montreal, etc., and eventually drifted into country. I still listen to a lot of these songs, but there were also some half-forgotten gems. Lady Antebellum's early stuff sounds so pure and good. Catchy, well-produced pop country at its best. Randy Houser used to have grit and swagger to complement his vocal chops. And, because I'm the queen of bad timing, I was all set to praise Keith Urban's old stuff for actually being a cool mix of pop sensibilities and country instrumentation. Then he released something that can only be described as an atrocity, a desecration of the sacred "Mama Tried." With the "Issues" chick, of all people! Not just a pop singer, a TERRIBLE one! Don't go looking for it, I beg you. It's unholy. It will haunt you forever. But hey, that early stuff's still pretty decent.

A link, since the mythical "embed playlist" option has never shown up for me.

https://open.spotify.com/user/emperorcupcake22/playlist/41R14VqvoS5Zbc2mMIvlDU

A few notes on the playlist. It's mostly in order by year, with a few exceptions of songs I forgot. Why you can't reorder songs is beyond me. We sent people into space 50 years ago but I can't have the technology to move a Chris Young song up a playlist. Okay, sure.

...I think that Keith Urban song made me a little salty. Can you blame me?

The list is not necessarily "the BEST country hits of the 2000s!" but the ones I know and remember most fondly. Nostalgia plays a part in some cases, but they're all songs I like. Mostly just the hits, though I did include a few album cuts from certain artists.

Notable exclusions:

As I've stated many times, I left country music almost completely behind in the early 2000s, due to the post-9/11 divisiveness. I started to come around in the mid-2000s but didn't fully come back until I heard Miranda Lambert the first time. So NO songs that remind me of the awful "stick a boot in yer ass" era of country were included. Not even Alan Jackson's comforting, apolitical "Where Were You," the only one of those songs I like. Nor the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice," which I also like but reminds me of bad vibes I don't need in my life. I'm a forgiving soul so I did include Toby Keith's "Beer for My Horses," an actual good song. (The same cannot be said for "She's a Hottie," which should by all decency be Toby Keith's worst song, but isn't.)

This last one hurts. One of the first songs that drew me back into country was Buddy Jewell's "Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey's Song)," a beautiful, simple song based around a child's questions about death, the afterlife, and God. This could be overly sentimental if done wrong, but it was done just right, with a beautiful melody and instrumentation to go along with it. The kind of song you come to country music for.

Cue a few years ago when I heard the song and was like, "HMM, I WONDER WHAT BUDDY JEWELL IS UP TO, HE WAS PRETTY GOOD," and BIG MISTAKE, guys. Maybe don't look up people from the past unless you wanna be disappointed, cause... look. I'm not gonna shun an artist for having different beliefs than me. I hate politics, and when you let it get in the way of music, politics wins, not you.

That said, I can't stress enough that bigotry is not a belief or political stance. White supremacy is a mental illness, as far as I'm concerned. So if you must, google Buddy Jewell "This Ain't Mexico," but I recommend you don't. I'm careful to not throw the word "racist" around like a football, but if this song is any indication, the man is an honest-to-God racist. I can maybe forgive "stick a boot in yer ass," but I can't forgive outright racism. Dude actually talks about loving fajitas and margaritas but DON'T SET FOOT OVER THE BORDER, AMIGO. So... how are they supposed to deliver the food you wanna shove in your taco hole without actually being there, genius? Chuck it over the border and hope someone in Texas catches it? "We like your food, but we don't want you here." FUCK. YOU. IN. YOUR. TACO. HOLE. So yeah, that's why a song I like isn't on my playlist. I can't even listen to it without thinking that the little girl must be white or he wouldn't be singing about her, and all the sentiment goes out the window along with your margarita puke, you fat redneck fuck.

Okay. That felt kinda good. I'm done now. :)

You know, I considered skipping the early years of the decade and starting in like, '04 to avoid all these ugly feelings coming back. But there were just too many good songs to leave out, so I'm gonna end on that positive note instead. I'd say overall it was a pretty good decade for country music, especially the mid-to-late part. Definitely worth revisiting.