Posts Tagged ‘Songs’

30 Day Challenge: Songs Pt. 5

August 24, 2020

25 – A song you like by an artist no longer living

A relatively recent death, Dr. John was a legit jazz and blues artist in every sense of the word. He was rightfully labeled a legend and can be listed among the greats for all time. However, I did not even hear his music until I was almost eighteen in the year 2000. Yes, because a lot of what I take in is through television and movies, the first time I saw Dr. John sing and play piano was in Blues Brothers 2000. He was part of the legendary superband The Louisiana Gator Boys among such lumanaries as BB King, Eric Clapton, and Bo Diddley among many more great musicians. If Blues Brothers 2000 did one thing right, it was to form that band. That was not the only movie that Dr. John was a part of. Any time something was set in New Orleans, there was a chance that his music is somewhere on the soundtrack. Case in point, the above track opens up Disney’s Princess and the Frog. It was the perfect song to set the scene and introduce the magic of the setting before the characters are properly introduced.

26 – A song you like from the last decade

This song is a great song that definitely gets me pumped and it is really fun to sing along to. I had heard of Bruno Mars before (how could you not?) but this was actually my introduction to Mark Ronson. A funny family story actually stemmed from this song. As I have mentioned before, my brother did a TED Talk years ago. While he was backstage, he was introduced to Mark Ronson because my brother’s talk had been about sound and Ronson was intrigued. This was around the time this song was hitting the airwaves. My brother told us the story later and we thought it was cool. Cut to my mom doing a calisthenics class and the song that the instructor played that she liked the most was Uptown Funk. She went to my brother and asked if he had heard of the song. Not only had he heard the song, he had met the singer. My mom was hardly embarassed that she had failed to make the connection but we all laughed pretty hard.

27 – A song that breaks your heart

I am pro-choice for sure but even so an abortion is rarely something anybody looks forward to and is often not a happy moment. Ben Folds and drummer Darren Jessee wrote the song about an experience Ben Folds had accompanying his high school girlfriend getting an abortion. I can feel the anxiety, grief, and angst so much emotion in the performance. It was a departure for Folds who had mostly had uptempo and silly songs as hits. This was him growing as an artist.

28 – A song by an artist whose voice you love

I absolutely fell in love with Halestorm because of Lzzy Hale. She has such range for a hard rock singer and every song has such smooth vocals with a sharp edge. Pretty much every song they have done has been a hit with me and I use to listen to their music a lot in the car on the way to gaming. I am also particularly fond of how they put their albums together. For example, their hit Mz. Hyde slides right into I Miss the Misery in the next track through the sustain of a guitar. However, the real appeal is the vocals that always blow me away. There is something a little blues and a little punk rock to it. Halestorm also does a lot of covers including covers of pop songs adding a rock flair.

29 – A song you remember from your childhood

The first time I heard this song was in my mom’s car on a Raffi tape. Raffi and the Rise and Shine Band was a godsend for parents everywhere. He released good recordings of a lot of classic songs but broke it up with some more exciting songs. That way, mom did not have to hear us sing along to Wheels on the Bus and then some other repetitive song. Instead, she sometimes got a De Colores or this song originally recorded by the legend Harry Belafonte. Of course, his recording has a very prominent place in Beetlejuice. He did not write the song as it was a traditional Jamaican work song from the point of view of dock workers working at night to load ships.

30 – A song that reminds you of yourself

I just had to pick this one. I have loved Weird Al so much since I first heard his silly parodies in the nineties. I feel like he has gotten better and better as a performer and a songwriter since. This song really fits with my life. Particularly, it makes me think of my high school years when my horizons were starting to expand. I was obsessed with Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Video Games, Comic Books, and so much more. I was very white but I was just starting to get into rap music and less white forms of entertainment. I felt out of place and kept my NWA, Pharoahe Monch, Jurassic 5, and Busta Rhymes albums hidden. I went to a private school and I was self-conscious. I am a fan of so many things that Weird Al lists in this song. It always makes me smile.

30 Days Challenge Songs Pt. 4

August 17, 2020


19 – A song that makes you think about life

This song made me think a lot about my depression and my anger problems. I used to listen to the song and hurt, feeling misunderstood. Eventually, I realized how much of it was a choice that I was making and that I could choose to be happy (with the help of anti-anxiety drugs). I did not want to feel like the villain anymore and so I worked to change my life. Listening to this song makes me think of those days and how I do not want to slide back into them. I would have been interested to see the rock opera that this was supposed to belong to as the villain Jumbo sounded like a sympathetic character.


20 – A song that has meaning to you

Honestly, this was probably the first song I can remember that made me weep. People can hate on this song all they want but it came at right the just moment in my life. I had been working at a job that I hated and did not feel appreciated at. My mental health was deteriorating quickly and then they let me go and I agreed to go at about the same time. Still, I was devastated because I had never been asked to leave a job before. I had always been the one who made that decision so I felt lower than low. I went to visit my folks for Easter and I left there feeling down but a little bit hopeful. This song started playing on my car speakers and I just lost it. I had lost the good news in all of the bad news. I was free! Sure I had no paycheck but I also did not have to go to a job that had me depressed and anxious and was negatively affecting my health. It made me think of how I needed to find something that suited me better. I have now found that job and I will move on from my current job and find something that equally suits me. At that moment, I learned to “Let it Go” and I felt so much better after a good cry.


21 – A song you like with a person’s name in the title

This is the first song that popped into my head that met the criteria and it still cracks me up as a song. Abbey Road remains my favorite Beatles album and I used to listen to this song on repeat. I love the juxtaposition of the dark subject matter with the bouncy music backing it. The lyrics actually remind me of rap music with their internal rhymes and the way it plays with language. I used to say this was my favorite Beatles song as a joke but, honestly, I still love this song for real. People are down on songs like these because they are silly and have little meaning but sometimes the Beatles were great when they were being silly. Songs like this, Octopus’ Garden, Yellow Submarine, and more really did not seem to mean much but were just fun to listen to.


22 – A song that moves you forward

When I am low on energy, I will often listen to pro-wrestling themes. It makes sense as they are usually designed to fire up the crowd and the performers. This band, Downstait, has written a few that I listen to for Miz, Dolph Ziggler, and now Cody Rhodes. I am also a huge fan of the bands that work with WWE’s CFO$ like Code Orange and Incendiary. I am really fond of “The Root of All Evil” (Aleister Black) , “Real Deal” (Emma), and “Limitless” (Keith Lee). I also like some of Jim Johnston’s new stuff like “New Day, New Way” (The New Day). I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the music department of All Elite Wrestling as well which seems to be using different artists instead of an in-house crew. Stuff like “Superkick Party” (Young Bucks), “The Best Friends Theme”, and “I Fell” (Darby Allin). All of the music is designed to get people hyped and it is why I often use it as my alarm in the morning.

23 – A song you think everybody should listen to

I just picked a song at random from on my phone but I have loved this track since I first saw the music video ages ago. While being dangerously close to being an X-Men reference, he X-Ecutioners were actually a DJ/Turntablist trio that did a lot of work with other artists. They embraced the spirit of the old turntablists but with original compositions. Linkin Park is a group that I have loved since their inception even though a lot of their songs sound similar to each other and blend together. The mix between electronic, rap, and rock is pretty fun to listen to. This plays up the turntable strengths of both the X-Executioners and Joe Hanh with the strong style of Mike Shinoda’s rapping.


24 – A song by a group that you wish were still together

Jurassic 5 was one of the groups that first got me into rap music and they remain a benchmark that I judge a lot of rap groups by. One thing that I respected was that the group never had to go dirty or violent with their lyrics. There is nothing wrong with violent or sexual lyrics but it made J5 stand out among the pack when I was also listening to NWA, Wutang Clan, and Busta Rhymes. As you can hear in this track, they also sampled some really fun stuff. (The Muppet Show!) Their lyrics were always mind-bendingly complex and most songs changed rhythms and melodies several times throughout the song as different members stepped in. I have since heard a lot of good things from the former members on other tracks but they were always so good together.

30 Days Challenge Songs Pt. 3

August 10, 2020


13 – A song you like from the Seventies

I have liked the Ramones since I first heard them as a youth. I was exploring beyond my parents’ musical tastes when I discovered Punk as a genre. It is the perfect thing for a preteen misfit to stumble upon. I loved the Ramones because they were high energy and their lyrics sounded crazy and exciting. They were counterculture, slacker weirdos and with their long hair and leather jackets, they felt like they were on a similar wavelength to me. What is interesting is that this song and many of their songs from early albums did not even chart. However, now I hear this song everywhere. It is in plenty of movies, television shows, commercials, and video games. Everything goes commercial eventually. That used to annoy me more. The Ramones were my happy introduction to the land of Punk, somewhere I still love to visit.


14 – A song you like from the Sixties

Jimi Hendrix was my jam for a long time when I was in high school. One of my friends was a total music snob but we could connect through our love of Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix transcended a lot of boundaries because just about anybody I knew loved at least one of his songs. I remember listening to this friend’s coffee house version of All Along the Watchtower and just really enjoying it. Hendrix was a consummate performer who had a strong creative mind. His stage antics and stunts are well known (ie smashing or burning a guitar on stage) but he was also known for changing up how he played and sang songs while on tour which gained him the ire of his more purist fans. My youngest brother was actually the one who really taught me about the guy. He played a right-handed guitar upside down because he was left-handed, for example. My brother first learned guitar by watching Jimi’s fingering in videos of live performances.


15 – A song you like that’s a cover by another artist

It is hard to pick just one song, actually. I picked the above GWAR cover of Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son” because their performance before and during the song is just legendary. Covers are really hit and miss but that does not make them inherently bad. Many times a band can really nail another band’s song and make it something new and fun. Sometimes they simply make a safe copy of the original song with just a few tweaks and that’s alright. Other times they seem to miss the point of the original completely or make it into something unfun. For example, I am not a fan of bands that turn modern, upbeat songs into dirges or stripped-down slow versions. Some of those bands’ sole purpose is to change the genre of the original song. At the same time, I am always in for a good Metal, Punk, or Dubstep cover of a slow song that speeds it up. I guess I just really like uptempo music more.


16 – A song that’s a classic favorite

I am not sure what ‘classic favorite’ means here but I figure it is another throwback to what folks would consider falling under the classic modifier in musical genres. I am actually going to say a bit about classical music because I am sure it is underrepresented in these sorts of lists. This is one of the tracks that I would listen to in the afternoons after attending high school while I rested my eyes so I could do my night owl thing. Also, I would turn it on low when I had a migraine and drift off to sleep with the help of a handful of acetaminophen. Mozart has always been my favorite classical composer because he has such complex compositions that are rich in different sound textures. He also wrote a lot of symphonies and operas which are more fast-paced than slower composers. This particular composition, Jupiter, always made me think of both the Roman God and the Sailor Scout at the same time.


17 – A song you’d sing a duet with someone on karaoke

This is a song that does not really feel like it is not that hard to sing. It is slow enough to get the words in but fast enough to be fun. I like a lot of Creedence Clearwater Revival but this is probably my favorite. I used to sing it to myself a lot when I worked and lived in New Jersey. It has a simple, jangly tune and there are not that many lyrics to it. Come to think of it, that may be why people gravitate toward so-called classic rock. It has the less complex composition that they are used to while modern music adds a lot more noise to the signal. I like either, myself. Also, it would have to be a duet because there is no way I am going on stage to do karaoke by myself. I just do not see the appeal.


18 – A song from the year you were born

Of course, it is not what I was listening early on in life but mainstream Rap music was really being born during the same year that I was. Sampling was becoming more of a thing and we were experiencing a new explosion of culture in the United States. Thanks to the Hip Hop movement, new innovations and influences were brought into mainstream music. The original DJ work will never be commercially available because of the rights issues with sampling and record companies shying away from any sort of lawsuit. There is some work being done on platforms like YouTube and Soundcloud but even those are not safe spaces from legal challenges (legitimate or not). However, the music underground still exists offline at least here in Baltimore as I have been exposed to Club and House mixes that were pretty spectacular done. I used to do some remixes myself but stopped when I lost access to better equipment and software.

30-Day Challenge: Songs Pt. 2

July 27, 2020


7 – A song to drive to

When I was living in New Jersey and driving my broken down white Saturn, I used to love to listen to this one as I drove. It has the perfect mix of calm and upbeat to really get me into a groove. It is also really fun to sing along to. I actually first listened to it on the road when I worked for the circus. Sitting shotgun in a mack truck, dozing a bit from exhaustion and listening to easy listening classic rock. The Eagles rock but they never really rock too hard and it was always pleasant to listen to them on the road. I remember listening to them on the long drives from Northern Jersey home to Baltimore when I was furloughed or for the holidays.


8 – A song about drugs or alcohol

Buckcherry was the music that I would play loud in my room during my middle school and high school years when I was angry. I would sing along and get it all out of my system. In retrospect, it was not so healthy to stew in it like that but teenage angst paired with an anxiety and anger problem is not pretty. The driving guitar and metal-style singing reminded me of a mixture of heavy metal with hair metal with a garage band edge. The band is very good at churning out problematic lyrics (see their song “Crazy Bitch”) but their songs are definitely bangers.


9 – A song that makes you happy

Ninja Sex Party is a band that I discovered on YouTube just as they were starting to really take off and thus the production values of their videos were getting better. Music Videos kind of died a while ago but some artists have kept the flame alive. All of NSP’s videos tell a story visually and lyrically. Danny Sexbang (Danny Avidan) is just so joyful with his lyrics and plays an obliviously happy character. I love the bouncy composition that Ninja Brian (Brian Wecht) came up with for this one as well. It is so catchy and easy to sing along to. I will always be a fan of this band and I remember well seeing them live before they really started touring. I also met Brian Wecht briefly once.

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10 – A song that makes you sad

In my opinion, the most overrated song in the history of music so far. I have really grown to dislike this song. It is slow and pointless and has never been fun to listen to. It made me hate Led Zeppelin for years until I learned to listen to their more upbeat and uptempo songs. I do not even consider it a rock song because it does not rock.


11 – A song you never get tired of

When the Gorillaz came on the scene they were a revelation. I was instantly a fan and the more I learned and listened, the more of a fan I became. They are a supergroup made up of many top musicians in rock, electronic, and rap. It had a punk rock feel to it and that was definitely supported by the animation style furnished by Jamie Hewlett (of Tank Girl fame). Because the band was made up of fictional characters, any musician could enter or exit the band for any song and create without being tied to their particular style. Their first album was probably the first that I listened all the way through without ever skipping a track. It was basically a perfect album and this was my favorite song off of it. Part of that is due to Del tha Funkee Homosapien’s rap breaks. The music just comes together so well.


12 – A song from your preteen years

I was a bit of a bigot when it came to music as a kid. I dismissed rap music but during my preteens and teens, I suddenly saw my folly and embraced rap and hip hop culture. I had bought into previous generations’ racist and classist take on rap. However, I was raised better than that and during this time I started to rebel against everything I thought I had believed. Part of that process started with Tupac Shakur, a fellow Baltimorean who had made it big out in California. His style was the quintessential style in rap that I would grow to love. His samples and flow were upbeat and just what I wanted to hear. His lyrics were brilliant the way they fit together like puzzle pieces so tightly. Tupac led me to artists like NWA, Busta Rhymes, Pharoah Monch, and so many more.

30-Day Challenge: Songs Pt. 1

July 20, 2020


1 – A song you like with the color in the title

Paint it Black may well be my favorite Rolling Stones song. It has a faster tempo than a lot of their songs driven by a killer drum beat and a great guitar riff. It also features a lot more toned down vocals form Mick Jagger than he usually sings. One of the funny things about this song is that it really gets me going even though it is about grief and depression. This is a song that I have heard since I was a kid because my dad was way into the Rolling Stones. However, my passion for it was reignited after its prominent use in the video game Twisted Metal Black which really fit the tone. I also really liked the french version used in Talladega Nights. Runner up (since black is technically not a color) is Mr. Blue Sky, a great upbeat tune.


2 – A song you like with a number in the title

I have to go with Seven Nation Army because of the Ravens. The song was not written for Baltimore (although a lyric mentions my hometown) but we certainly adopted it as our own. The signature guitar riff has grown from Ravens games to Orioles games and has taken over as an almost soccer-like chant. It has also recently been used as a chant in support of pro-wrestler Keith Lee (“Oh, Bask in his Glory!”). Independent of sports, the song is just a lot of fun. Like the above song, it has a driving beat that fires me up. I have no great love for the White Stripes but they do have some fun uptempo bangers. Part of that with this song is the fairly simple seven-note riff mixed with Meg White’s “heartbeat” tempo. I also like the vocals that Jack White uses here. They are distorted and, as much as I respect a pure singer, the sound designer in me loves filters and distortion used musically.


3 – A song that reminds you of summertime

I picked this song because of the summer I spent outside doing labor as a campaign staff member tasked with helping to put up 4X8 campaign signs. It involved a lot of carpentry but even more swinging of sledgehammers (which I already had experience in from the circus). We rode around in a big pickup truck and tried to beat the heat. One of the ways we kept our spirits up was listening to pop music and my mind keeps drifting back to that particular year in music. This was the summer that I fell in love with Katy Perry’s music and this song, in particular, reminds me of summer. The song is bouncy, fun, and has a great little rap insert from the legendary Snoop Dogg (before he became Snoop Lion for a bit).


4 – A song that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget

I mean, I do not want to forget the man who I called my father since I was two years old. However, there is a version of him that I would love to forget. He is an alcoholic and that version of him never felt good. Now, I still love this song but there was a time when all it did was remind me of my father’s demons. Plenty of people are able to drink recreationally without issue but I never really got into songs that glorified excessive drinking. I hold out hope that my father will exorcise his demons again but I remain realistic. As to the song itself, I particularly love Nicki Minaj’s rap portion of the song as this was my introduction to her style.


5 – A song that needs to be played loud

I was tempted to write in NWA’s “Fuck the Police” here but you probably should not do so without backup and a sturdy recording device. Instead, I have to give love to a band that I have loved since I could pick my own music. I did not give them love during last Wednesday’s trivia night but I can give them a bit of love now. Pretty much any AC/DC song can be and should be played just below the threshold of pain. I listened to a lot of their music on repeat (on headphones) during high school (mostly Greatest Hits and Stiff Upper Lip). I think I will go with Highway to Hell because the song has played such a part in amusing me and firing me up through the years. There have been so many times that I have been driving toward something and the song starts playing and I have to chuckle. Sometimes the title is accurate and sometimes it is not at all accurate but it never fails to get a reaction from me. The driving guitar riffs and wailing vocals are hard to deny.


6 – A song that makes you want to dance

I mean, I do not really dance. Not in public but I do bop a bit and the most dance-like movements I make are usually in the shower while I am listening to upbeat music. As a huge Disney fan, I fell in love with the lore, style, and especially the poppy music of the Descendants franchise. Steven Vincent has been on board as a songwriter for all three Descendants movies (but strangely not the TV Show) and he has only gotten better with each movie in the trilogy. Part of his success is he has some of the greatest young performers that Disney could probably have gotten their hands on. I have become especially enamored of Sofia Carson’s vocal style (although China Ann McClain is the better singer). This song is probably my all-time favorite of the whole franchise. The lyrics are extremely relevant to both the fairytale setting but also the apprehension that all young couples face. The bops in the Descendants franchise seem almost scientifically designed to get your toe tapping so it is no wonder it makes me wiggle.


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