Sia Still Swinging From Her “Chandelier”

A while ago I wrote about Sia’s song “Chandelier” and how it holds an air of freedom to it.  Since that time, it has become my most viewed post and has received three comments (thanks guys!!!).  And, since then, I have also managed to change my opinion about the song.

I still think it’s a powerful song and Sia’s vocals are incredible, but I don’t really think it’s as optimistic and joyous as I did back then.  The comments from you guys did fuel this thinking, all of which seemed to agree that there was a depressive nature and feel of suicidal tendencies in the song.  But the more I listened to the song and Sia’s delivery, the more I began to wonder and realize that Sia is really not as happy as I thought she was.  I thought the song was about her fighting off the demons and moving on…but I really think it’s about the struggle of still fighting the demons.

From the first time I heard the song, I always wondered what the first lyric, “Party girls don’t get hurt,” meant.  Originally I just wrote it off and thought it was irrelevant.  Then, I looked at the pre-chorus of “1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink/ Throw ’em back ’til I lose count,” and I realized that she is attempting to be a “party girl” because party girls “don’t get hurt.”  In other words, she sees those people who go out and get drunk and party, and thinks they just don’t have a care in the world, so she is going become one of them so as not to hurt anymore.  This now suggests that Sia has a deep pain that she’s trying to outrun, not a joyous moment of freedom that I thought.

With this in mind, I thought about the following lyrics and how I may have misinterpreted them: “Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down, won’t open my eyes/ Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight.”  She’s literally saying “help me” and that she’s “holding on for dear life,” which cannot be construed as being free.  She’s actually suffering and is just trying to make it through the night.  Especially the way Sia sings this part of the song, you can hear the pain in her vocals if pay close attention.

At any rate, I smell a couple Grammy nominations for Sia…she at least deserves Best Pop Solo Performance, if not Song and Record of the Year for “Chandelier.”

Living the Wait

For future reference…if you are making zucchini bread and decide to add in twice as much zucchini into the mix because it will “make it festive” (and, let’s be honest, because you spent like twenty minutes grating the freakin’ zucchini, so you’re going to waste the zucchini)…it will not…it will just make your bread, which was supposed to be done baking two hours ago, take ten times longer to bake.   Which makes sense given that the zucchini is mostly water…

Lesson learned: follow the friggin recipe.

Taylor Swift “Shakes Off” Another #PhillipsSongOfTheDay

For the past twelve hours I’ve been listening to Taylor Swift’s new single “Shake It Off” on repeat.  That may have been a slight exaggeration, but it does not hide the fact that this song is incredibly catchy, optimistic, and makes you happy to be alive.  #PhillipsSongOfTheDay.

Swift stated upon releasing “Shake It Off” that she wanted to create a song that she and her collaborators, Max Martin and Shellback, had not created before.  The result apparently was this song that features a fast tempo drum beat and an intriguing horn that makes you want to get up and shake your booty.  And if that wasn’t enough for you, it has this amazing chorus:

Cause the players gonna play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate
Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake
Shake it off
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break
And I think it’s gonna fake, fake, fake
Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake
Shake it off, Shake it off

It doesn’t matter what age you are, who you are, or where you are in the world, we all face criticism.  We all feel dejected at points, and, like Swift said in her Yahoo Livestream, you can let that get you down or you can just shake it off.  It’s also worth noting that it’s rather a rare song in that the singer actually sounds really happy and excited about life.  You listen to this song and compare it to other Swift hits or anything else being played on the radio, and you realize just how happy Taylor Swift really is.  And that happiness is infectious.

During her livestream yesterday, Swift released her new single and music video (see below…it’s fantastic), and announced her new album, 1989, will hit stores October 27, 2014, which is like sixty-eight days away!  She also revealed that she has shaken the country girl off of her and is now making a pure pop album. Which I have mixed feelings about.

If you’ve ever read comments or opinions on Taylor Swift’s albums (don’t, by the way, they make you feel awful about yourself…that’s how rude people are), you’ll realize that as they go along, more people complain about her style of music.  In fact, I remember people being infuriated when “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” was logged as a country song on iTunes.  “It’s not country,” they cried.  Really, it was a country song that pushed the boundaries of what people thought was contemporary country and it challenged those stereotypes.  People, especially where I’m from, assume country music requires one to sing with a southern drawl, play the banjo, and lament in their songs about trucks or drinking while working for the man.  Yet people don’t realize that country music is a style of songwriting that requires the writer to speak their own truths and requires their songs to reflect a story.  Any kind of story…which is why you get songs like “Harper Valley PTA” where Jeannie C. Riley sings about “Mrs. Johnson” and her affairs with the “Harper Valley PTA.”  Swift did that with “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” She told the story of breaking up with someone, trying to get back together with them, and then ultimately being so frustrated that she got rid of them for good.  It’s just Swift didn’t sing it in a strong southern drawl and she didn’t have a fiddle or mandolin playing in the background.  She did it her way.

Transitioning into a full pop album like she has reflects that Taylor Swift is the kind of artist who grows and challenges herself.  She could’ve gone the way of other artists and continued to put out the same sounding music after her hits “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me,” but she continued to challenge herself.  She tried to work outside her comfort zone and push herself to make music that she hadn’t already made.  Which really has paid off for her.


“You Wanted” MoZella’s First #PhillipsSongOfTheDay

I heard MoZella’s song “You Wanted It” from her debut album I Will a couple of years ago, and I immediately liked the song.  I haven’t listened to the song in a while, and for some reason I decided to play it the other day and it has been stuck in my head and on repeat, making it #PhillipsSongOfTheDay.

The song has a rather slow, bluesy feeling to it, and it really isn’t a radio-pop song.  It’s not something you put on to jam to and headbang (which is apparently a favorite past time for me).  But I like it because each time I listen to it, I feel slightly more relaxed and at peace.  Like I will figure things out and get through this rough patch.

I’m not entirely sure what the “it” she is talking about in the song.    I take this song to be about brutal honesty.  The only real lyric that could indicate this is the first line, “Sweet and low and to the point.”  But I think this is what I like about the song, the ambiguity.  There is a strong sense of emotion in this song, but she doesn’t come right out and tell you “hey, I’m mad” or “hey, I’m crying my face off I’m so sad.”  She’s telling a story that makes you think and apply it to your own situation, which makes you think about your own feelings.  But she does this without losing you or creating a confusing song, which is rather a hard thing to do in music.

What do you think about “You Wanted It?”  What do you think the “it” is?  Let us know in the comments!

Pure Sunshine

I had a dream last night where I was a single dad and I had a seventeen year old son, and he was like “Dad, you need to do something for yourself and go out and date.” 

To which I responded “Listen, I know I’m pure sunshine and an absolute delight, but you are a handful…you’re kind of a lot for someone to take on full time.”

Well, at least I’m like cheese…I get sassier when I age…

Ella Fitzgerald “Gets Started” with her First #PhillipsSongOfTheDay

I Can’t Get Started” by Ella Fitzgerald is on repeat now, and I don’t foresee myself taking it off.  Yes it’s a very depressing song, but it’s beautiful, and it’s the only song that seems to help today.  I just get lost in Ella Fitzgerald’s vocal work and the music playing around her.  There’s just something so soothing to just listening to this jazzy/bluesy song.

I also think it helps to be reminded that everyone falls upon a time in their lives where things should be perfect, but nothing makes sense.  Where you should be going out, starting a life with the people you love.  But, for some reason, you just can’t.

Well, that’s what I take away from the song, at any rate.


I was watching an old episode of Gilmore Girls where Rory gets into an accident and has to go to the hospital.  When Lorelai rushes there to see her, she asks the doctor in the waiting room where Rory is, and when the doctor tells her to wait, Lorelai responds with “Hey, do you remember in Terms of Endearment that scene where Shirley MacLaine is in the hospital and freaks out because they won’t give her daughter a shot? She got that from me and she toned it down a little.”  I’ve always thought that was a clever line and thought if I’m ever in that position in a hospital I was going to recite it just like her.

Except, I’ve never seen Terms of Endearment, so I don’t know what scene she’s talking about.  And I can just see me reciting Lorelai’s line to a nurse in a hospital and the nurse not reacting and still being like “well, wait still.”  Then I’d actually have to freak out like Shirley MacLaine.  So, I looked up the clip on YouTube to prep myself, and embedded it below…now I have a desire to run through a hospital waiting room shrieking “GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT!!!!”

Zoodles: Zucchini Pasta

Every year my mom’s garden explodes with an excess of some crop.  This year it’s zucchini.  So much zucchini that we have no idea what to do with it.  I’ve made like a hundred loaves of zucchini bread, we’ve made zucchini fries, and yet we still have this abundance of zucchini.  What’s a guy to do?

I was complaining about having to each all this zucchini to my friend one day when she told me how her mom made zucchini pasta once.  She explained that her mom had made strips of zucchini, and cooked and served it like pasta (i.e. cooked with tomato sauce).  So I gave it a try, and it actually turned out really well! I don’t really like eating zucchini and squash, but this is something I’ve made twice for my family, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it, and there were no leftovers!

So I decided to add a new segment to my blog I’m going to call #PHood, where I’m going to pretend to be a star of the Food Network and cook some PHood for you!  WARNING: I’m not a professional chef, I’m just a college kid who likes to cook/bake and eat…I very well may have no idea what I’m doing ;-P

Continue reading

Ariana Grande May “Break” Grammar Rules, but She Still Gets a #PhillipsSongOfTheDay

Given the fact that I am a writing tutor, I should probably be more of a snob and write how horrible I think “Break Free (feat. Zedd)” by Ariana Grande is.  I mean, there is a line in the song that reads “Now that I’ve become who I really are,” when it should read “who I really am.”  But I’m proud to say I am not a snob of any kind…at least, I try not to be.  I still think “Break Free” has a great beat, a dynamic performance by Grande, and rather empowering lyrics (sans grammar) that should make it #PhillipsSongOfTheDay.

I initially bought this song because I thought it was good to bike to…I was going through a rather dry spell around July, and I needed a song to keep up my pace (in case you’re wondering, I bike like twenty miles a day…because I’m crazy).  “Break Free” certainly is a great song to dance, bike, basically do any sort of physical activity.  You really can hear Zedd’s work – the man that brought us “Clarity” and “Stay the Night” – given the fact that “Break Free” sounds rather different than Grande’s earlier hits “Problem (feat. Iggy Azalea)” and “The Way (feat. Mac Miller).”  “Break Free” actually reminds me a little of Ellie Goulding’s song “Burn” during the verses…it has the same kind of dubstep/synth going on…

The real reason I have been listening to “Break Free” on repeat today is the following lyrics:

“I only wanna die alive
Never by the hands of a broken heart”
“This is the part when I say I don’t want ya
I’m stronger than I’ve been before
This is the part when I break free
‘Cause I can’t resist it no more”

I just find these lyrics rather refreshing and powerful.  I feel like I have this tendency to really like songs where the narrator is more of a fighter; like Grande is not letting this person break her heart anymore, she’s going to leave him.  Like Grande, I’d rather be the heart breaker than the heart broken.

Now to the grammar issue.  So the lyric reads:

“I only wanna die alive
Never by the hands of a broken heart
Don’t wanna hear you lie tonight
Now that I’ve become who I really are”

Now, I never noticed Grande was singing “who I really are” until I read an article from Billboard about the mistake.  I actually thought she was singing “Now that I’ve become who I really am.”  According to Billboard, Grande fought with her co-writer Max Martin about the rhyme, but he insisted on making in “who I really are” to force the rhyme with “heart.”  However, as a songwriter, I believe they could’ve gotten away with writing “Now that I’ve become who I really am” because the “am” would rhyme naturally with “hands” from two lines up.  Even if it didn’t rhyme well, I personally choose not to force rhymes because they make the lyrics rather jagged.

However, you can’t bag on Max Martin; he’s the god that brought us hits like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble.” by Taylor Swift, “Who Knew” and “U + Ur Hand” by P!nk, and many more (see his full discography/songwriting credits here).

Anyway, I just wanted to give you my two cents…because that’s what I do…