Well, damn. I just listened to Dean Fields’ song “Not Again” from his Any Minute Now – EP, and I can’t take it off repeat…you guys know what that means….#PhillipsSongOfTheDay.
So, one day I got an email notifying me that someone named Dean Fields (@deanfields) followed me on Twitter, and when I noticed he was a musician I followed him back; I have this weird mentality where I’m like “us musicians need to stick together.” I immediately got notified that I could download five free songs by him, except I didn’t download them because I’m lazy and, well…to be honest…I didn’t think I’d like them . I really don’t have a good enough excuse as to why I didn’t jump into his music once I found out about him (believe me, I sat here for ten minutes writing and rewriting a sentence trying to explain why I didn’t bother listening to his music only to conclude I was being stupid…but to be fair, I’ve been incredibly busy with school, so…). Anyway, I’m working on a new playlist for the site and I decided to search for Mr. Fields on Spotify to see if he could add to the playlist, only to discover “Not Again.” And, damn, what an incredibly beautiful song, especially the first thirteen seconds.
Listen to Any Minute Now, especially “Not Again:”
The mix of guitars (acoustic and electric, I believe) and the cello (I’m like 85% it’s a cello, it could be a violin/fiddle/viola deal) pulls at your heartstrings and gives you goosebumps. In fact, when I started listening to “Not Again,” I literally sat back and said “well, damn.”
There are very few times when I hear a song and I realize that I’m not paying attention to the words the person is singing in the song because the song as a whole transcends the emotion and feeling. I’m not suggesting that Dean Fields’ lyrics are pointless, but rather his soothing vocals and the music let you know exactly what he’s feeling. Put it this way, he could be singing in a different language and we could understand him. That is something that is incredibly hard to achieve, it takes an incredible musician to pull that off. This may just be me because I’m the person who needs to analyze everything about the song and I need to have the lyrics memorized, but when an artist captivates me without making me think or want to analyze their song, then you know the song’s good. On my first listen of “Not Again,” I made a connection to it, which made my day a little bit better. That’s what it takes for a song to become a #PhillipsSongOfTheDay.
Today I’ve been listening to Sheryl Crow’s music. On repeat. There’s just something refreshing about her music, something Spring-like. With the sun shining and and the warmish air, I needed the heart soothing sounds of Sheryl Crow. But in particular, “The First Cut is the Deepest (Country Version)” is #PhillipsSongOfTheDay.
I’m like 93.24% sure Sheryl Crow covered “The First Cut is the Deepest,” but I honestly could care less. Sheryl Crow’s version was the first that I heard, and the story line resonates with me (I prefer the country version because it gives it a clearer form of rawness and is more soothing to listen to, in my opinion).
The honest reason “The First Cut is the Deepest” is #PhillipsSongOfTheDay is because of the lyrics. They are stunning and just really struck a chord with me, specifically:
“I would have given you all of my heart
But there’s someone who’s torn it apart
And he’s taken just all that I have
But if you want to try to love again
Baby, I’ll try to love again, but I know…
The first cut is the deepest
But when it comes to bein’ lucky, he’s cursed
When it comes to lovin’ me, he’s worst”
“Try to love again”
I think after you’ve had your heart broken in any circumstance, it’s hard to “love again.” Maybe you’re holding out hope, thinking that things can work out…but deep down, you know they probably can’t. We don’t want to give up, but you’ve got to. You’ve got to “try to love again.” And I learned in my psychology class last semester that love and relationships are really the only way we can be truly happy or have a better well being.
This is the baby playlist that I’ve been listening to today on repeat:
A while back, I was searching YouTube to watch the music video of “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele, when I stumbled across this:
I was immediately taken by the fact that this person, whoever she was, was playing every single instrument. I thought the video was clever and inspiring, not to mention she sounded great (“Rolling in the Deep” is a pretty hard song to sing, especially around the chorus…it takes a pair of steel lungs and a lot of anger). And it was one of the few times that I actually watched a cover video on YouTube from start to finish.
After watching this video, I needed to know more about this girl. According to YouTube, her name was Jayme Dee and she had a bunch more covers. All of them were pretty unique, but it wasn’t until I stumbled across her MySpace that I found an original song entitled “Love Whiplash.” After listening to this song, I was a fan. What was more, I found that she was an unsigned artist. This thrilled me because ever since Colbie Caillat, I always wanted to watch an artist transform from unsigned to getting a record deal to releasing an album/playing on radio.
Colbie Caillat had uploaded her song "Bubbly" as an unsigned artist to MySpace, which apparently became the number one most listened to song on MySpace by an unsigned artist. She then got a record deal with Universal Republic Records, and "Bubbly" was released as her first official single, which then went on to Chart number five on Billboard's Hot 100.
At that moment, I hoped the best of Jayme Dee, wondering if I might just hear “Love Whiplash” on the radio one day. I logged offline and forgot all about her for like four months (in all honesty, it probably was like two days, but two days feels like four months when you’re in college).
Take a listen to the original version of “Love Whiplash”:
Then, one day, rather randomly, I decided to check back on Jayme Dee and see if she posted any new music. Again, I could only find “Love Whiplash,” but I found out that Jayme Dee had gotten signed by Universal Republic Records! Let the countdown to a stellar album begin!
Well, a year passed by. And then like another. I might be exaggerating, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2012 that we got her first official single, “Tip Toes,” an upbeat song about falling in love or, rather, having an intense crush on someone.
Check out the official music video for “Tip Toes”:
This certified me as a fan. “Tip Toes” is the only song I ever heard that is 100% pure happiness and joy, and perfectly embodies the summer and sunshine. And, on July 30, 2013, we finally got her debut EP, Broken Record, which featured a new version of “Love Whiplash.” Honestly, I prefer the original version (see/listen above); I think that version has a warmer, natural air to it, whereas the version on her EP is a bit overthought and too-complicated. The main problem I have with the Broken Record version of “Love Whiplash” is that Jayme Dee sang it in a completely different way. For instance, listen to the way she pronouces the first line “I never know if you’re seriously” in both versions, and it’s like she has two different accents….it’s weird. I do have to commend her vocals on the EP version because they are a bit bolder, especially around the chorus.
Regardless of the version, “Love Whiplash” is #PhillipsSongOfTheDay because I think it is a incredibly clever idea: the guy is sending her so much mixed signals that she has “whiplash.” It’s a simple idea that I can relate to. Plus the lyrics are pretty snazzy/intriguing:
“Are you just trying to play with me?
Do you get joy from my misery
I’d like to think
It’s just a phase and we’ll work it out
But you keep jerking my heart around
Now I’ve caught a bad case of love whiplash
You push me off and then you pull me back
Please could you tell me if you’re being sincere
Cause darling I can’t stand to cry another tear”
“It’s not a long conversation
Don’t waste all your precious time
It’s not a difficult equation
A simple yes or no will do just fine”
*This whole post and idea of naming "Love Whiplash" #PhillipsSongOfTheDay was inspired by the fact that I sneezed today (I'm incredibly sick...yay) and thought "that sneeze just gave me whiplash," which reminded me of "Love Whiplash"...#random*
Listen to Broken Record:
The whole EP is worth a listen; Jayme Dee’s music overall may be sugar-sweet pop music, but she subtly infuses jazzy/bluesy elements into her music that’s rather intriguing. Songs that stand out in the EP include “Tip Toes,” “Love Whiplash,” “Broken Record,” and “Till I Fall Asleep.”
Do you know how many songs there are entitled “Stay?” A lot. There’s that Rihanna song, the Lisa Loeb one, and the Grammy Award Winning one by Sugarland. I decided to make another playlist, but with all songs titled “Stay.”
My favorite is Lisa Loeb‘s version (it also was a #PhillipsSongOfTheDay). That song to me is rather refreshing; she’s admitting she was wrong, and is pleading with her loved one to come back. There is a rawness in that song that conveys a relative deep level of hurt that I really connect with. A close second to Lisa Loeb’s “Stay,” is “Stay” by Sugarland. The guitar in that song is phenomenal, and Jennifer Nettles is an incredible songwriter (she won many awards for writing that song, including the Grammy for Best Country Song), but I find Nettle’s vocals rather…um…harsh. I mean, Jennifer Nettles is an incredible vocalist and has an intense passion for making music, but I feel like “Stay” by Sugarland is supposed to be a softer than the way she actually delivered it.
I bring up this playlist of all songs named “Stay” because I think it emphasizes exactly what not to do as a songwriter: give your song a common title. If you search iTunes or Spotify for “Stay,” there are hundreds of songs, a lot of them are covers. As a musician, you want to stand out (from a business perspective). Why would you give a song a name that a hundred other songs are named?
One counterargument would be that, as a songwriter, you don’t write to the name of the song. You tell the story the way it needs to be told, and the name just kind of stands out in the lyrics (at least that’s how I do it). However, there is a way around this. For example, on her latest album Red, Taylor Swift had a song that clearly should be named “Stay.” Instead of falling into that trap, she named the song “Stay Stay Stay,” a very unique and original title. Another thing the songwriter could do is give the song a title that does not come from the lyrics. Lorde is a big fan of doing this; the phrase “400 Lux” does not appear once in the song “400 Lux,” and the phrase “buzzcut season” appears once in “Buzzcut Season,” like how “ribs” appears once in “Ribs.” I’m not telling other songwriters how to write their songs, but my opinion is that you want to give your song its own identity that people want to listen to that song as opposed to any other song. If I have a song “Stay,” then why would you listen to me over Rihanna? We’re both clearly demanding our loved one to stay, regardless of the situation.
The guitar melody that floats in the background of this song is what really makes this song. Sure, Lauryn Hill’s vocals are soulful and capture the listener’s attention, but I think the guitar adds a soothing wholeness to the song. This song, for me, is a healing song, one you should listen to after some personal turmoil such as heartbreak. Take a listen, pay attention to that acoustic guitar goodness (starts around 0:19):
I first read through the lyrics of “Tell Him” before I actually listened to the song, and I expected it to be a rather depressing song. Lyrics “Tell him I need him/ Tell him I love him,” would suggest the narrator is missing her significant other; I’m assuming she broke up with him and realized that she wants him back. However, when I actually listened to Ms. Hill’s performance, I was delightfully surprised by the mellow, soulful vibe of the song. I think of music and its emotions in terms of the weather, and this song is like the sun setting during the warm dusk after a beautiful summer day, unlike the dark, cold winter’s day I envisioned the song to be; there is a warmer glow in this song than I anticipated.
That’s the majesty of music. I think music is the best medium of telling a story because it provides three dimensions: the written lyrics, the vocal performance of the lyrics which transcend how the words should be taken (e.g. it’s easier to pick up on sarcasm when it is spoken/sung rather than it being written), and the music provides context to those lyrics and vocal performance. For instance, for “Tell Him,” I read the lyrics to be dark and cold. But then you add Lauryn Hill’s vocal delivery, and you get a more laid back, not so aggressive story. Then you take into the drum beat and the soaring guitar melody and you get that golden sunset previous mentioned. This just emphasizes that you shouldn’t go reading too much into a song until you sit back, relax, and listen.
I decided I wanted to try to embed playlist via Spotify, so here is the music I’ve been listening to today (please let me know if it doesn’t work, I’m new to this):
Over my winter break, I had decided to go see American Hustle with my siblings. As a broke college student, I probably go to the movies like once or twice a year; it’s just easier and cheaper for me to wait for the DVD release and borrow it from the library to watch. I was so pumped to see American Hustle because it was filmed around the Boston area – basically my backyard. I remember when they were filming it, there was a breaking news on the local news stations saying they spotted Jennifer Lawrence and Christian Bale dressed in ’70s attire; as it turns out, they were filming the final scene of American Hustle where they are picking up their son at school. Also, I had seen this clip on youtube where Jennifer Lawrence blew up a microwave (or as they call it, a “science oven”):
But then my friend tweeted that American Hustle was a big disappointment and “JLaw” was the only good part. This shocked me. Do I go see this movie? Or do I save my money? What to do?! I asked her to clarify, and she said JLaw had a dance/singalong number that was worth the ten bucks (if this sounds familiar, I wrote a similar post reviewing American Hustle that you can read here). That dance/singalong was set to “Live and Let Die” by Wings, and since seeing American Hustle, I’ve just been obsessed with this song.
I find “Live and Let Die” to be infectious and rather frantic. The energy makes you want to get up and dance or run or something. The intense level of energy that comes from that orchestral/horn melody is unrivaled; I have yet to hear such a frantic/panicked/intense song. Take a listen to this panicked-feeling melody (e.g. 0:46):
Anyway, “Live and Let Die” has been on repeat today and has inspired me as a musician/songwriter, plus it was motivating to listen whilst running on the treadmill. In honor of that, and the fact American Hustle is coming out on DVD in six days (March 18th!), “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney is #PhillipsSongOfTheDay.
I found the clip of JLaw’s dance/singalong, enjoy!:
This is perhaps one of the dumbest songs ever, but I have to name “#Selfie” by the Chainsmokers as #PhillipsSongOfTheDay for the sheer fact it brightened my day and made me laugh/smile for like an hour.
For the past week, I’ve been reading tweets from people complaining about this song, how stupid it is, and how people can’t believe it’s being played on radio (I believe more than one person commented that they “couldn’t believe what the world was coming to” from the fact that “that selfie song is on the radio”). Today, I noticed “#Selfie” was number six on iTunes top singles, and decided to take a listen to the preview. The electronic/dubstep/club music was kind of predicable and redundant, although electronic/club music like that is supposed to be structured that way (I took a music industry course in school that focused on each genre of music and it’s construction…so believe me, I know…). But then it got into the girl talking:
“Can you guys help me pick a filter?
I don’t know if I should go with XX Pro or Valencia
I wanna look tan
What should my caption be?
I want it to be clever
How about ‘Livin’ with my bitches, #LIVE’
I only got ten likes in the last five minutes
Do you think I should take it down?
LET ME TAKE ANOTHER SELFIE”
This casually got me to want to hear the whole song, so I strolled over to youtube to watch/listen to the music video:
Right off the bat, I would agree with the tweets and reviews on iTunes that this is a pretty darn stupid song. But, you have to hand it to the Chainsmokers, it’s actually a pretty clever song too. I kind of think this song captures an aspect of my generation quite well. I believe this song is a form of satire making fun of today’s youth for being shallow, scattered, and obsessed with taking selfies. Consider lines like:
“Sooo… like what do you think?
Did you think that girl was pretty?
How did that girl even get in here?
Did you see her?
She’s so short and that dress is so tacky
Who wears cheetah?
It’s not even summer, why does the DJ keep on playing Summertime Sadness?
After we go to the bathroom, can we go smoke a cigarette?
I really need one
LET ME TAKE A SELFIE”
“Oh my god, Jason just texted me
Should I go home with him?
I guess I took a good selfie”
This narrator cares nothing more than her looks, being considered cool, and getting approval from “Jason.” And this is not the only outlet mocking this aspect of my generation. Twitter accounts like Tweet Like A Girl (@TweetLikeAGirl), Common White Girl (@commonwhitegirl), and Anti-Joke Apple (@antijokeapple) have been popping up, tweeting in the same spirit of “#Selfie,” overall pointing out the flaws of our generation. For example, Anti-Joke Apple made this tweet:
some girls give each other the emptiest compliments I’ve ever heard “aww babe you’re just omg like I can’t” what the f*** did u just say
— anti joke apple (@antijokeapple) January 30, 2014
I personally have witnessed a conversation like the above tweet between two girls. This and the song “#Selfie” makes one just roll their eyes and think “how stupid,” but it’s also a signal to consider why these comments are being made. This would suggest that perhaps these tweets and this song are meant as a warning to force us to start reconsidering our priorities. Are we going to be a “common white girl” and only care about our selfies, or are we going to do something worth our while in the world? People cast this song off as a stupid song with no meaning, but on the contrary, there is a deeper meaning behind the rubbish. I’m not suggesting this song is Grammy worthy (although, you never know…I mean, “Get Lucky” won so many Grammys that it did not deserve, so who am I to judge), but I am saying this song does come with a message worth noting. If not, it’s worth a listen to get you laughing…the line, “I guess I took a good selfie” at the end always makes me smirk.