Category Archives: Music

A Swift Hiatus

For the past ten years, Taylor Swift has released an album like clockwork, every two years.  So, we were sure October 2016 we would see her sixth studio album.

And then we didn’t.

Then she performed on some Super Bowl pre-show thing (I don’t really follow such events), where she performed “Better Man,” a song she wrote for Little Big Town, for the first time.  When I heard Little Big Town’s performance, while Swift wasn’t singing in the recording, I could hear her because of her strong songwriting style.  So, needless to say, I was super excited to see that performance.

It was also at this show where she apparently stated that this show was probably her only one for 2017, and that the people in the audience was at 100% of her tour.

Before we get sad, I have a theory.

Whenever Swift releases an album, it’s usually towards the end of the year and she doesn’t tour or perform in the year the album was released – the tour tends to be the year after.  So, for instance, 1989 was released October 2014, and her associated performances all occurred in 2015.  So, if she releases an album October 2017 – which I sincerely hope she does, and it sounds like she’s making one – then her tour wouldn’t occur until 2018.

An absence of a tour does not mean an absence of an album.

Swifties, there’s still hope!

Most Listened Song

So I was updating my phone there other day, and I noticed you can sort the songs on your phone on iTunes by how many listens, thereby showing which song you listened to the most.  Interestingly enough, the song I listened to the most was “Hold Me Down” by Halsey.

I was rather surprised by this because I wouldn’t say this is my “favorite” song – I mean, it would be on a list of songs I really like, but it wouldn’t be my all time favorite.  I will say, though, the song has one of my favorite lyrics: “throw me in the deep end and watch me drown.”  There’s something about that line that I find rather powerful.

I encourage you to sort your music on iTunes and see your listening patterns/habits.  It’s rather interesting, it kind of tells you what mood you’re in.  When I first started #PhillipsSongOfTheDay – something that has sort of died out (I’ve gotten busier) – I would choose one song a day, and keep a record of it on my phone (then on this blog).  Looking through the list was interesting because I could see my emotional journey or, less cringe-worthy, how my emotions fluctuated over the months.

Song of the Year Prediction

Song of the Year is perhaps one of my favorite categories at the Grammys because they honor the songwriter.  Far too often, songwriters are not credited fairly for their work, which doesn’t make sense as there would be no song if it weren’t for the songwriter.

This year, the nominees are:

  • Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan, Beyoncé Knowles, and Michael L. Williams II for “Formation” by Beyoncé.
  • Adele Adkins and Greg Kurstin for “Hello” by Adele
  • Mike Posner for “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” by Mike Posner
  • Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin, and Ed Sheeran for “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber
  • Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard, and Morten Ristorp for “7 Years” by Lukas Graham

Who Should Win: Mike Posner for “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” by Mike Posner

The original version of “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” is incredibly beautiful.  It has the timeless sound to it, grabs at your heart, and you truly feel Posner’s pain.  Out of all the nominees, Posner crafted a world that his listeners travel into, and leave feeling feeling his emptiness and loneliness.  Yes, it’s not a fun experience, but it’s one that leaves me with goosebumps every time.

Who Will Win: Adele Adkins and Greg Kurstin for “Hello” by Adele

It’s not that I think Adele doesn’t deserve to win the Grammy – “Hello” is indeed a gorgeous song – I simply think “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” captured Posner’s pain a bit better.  However, out of these songs nominated, I believe “Hello” was the biggest of 2016.  Adele dominated the charts, and she is indeed incredibly talented.  She has a Grammy-winning streak – she’s won every Grammy she has won since she released 21 in 2011.  So, it seems inevitable that she will win again.

I Don’t Wanna Live Forever

Recently, Taylor Swift released “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” with Zayn (originally from One Direction) for the new Fifty Shades movie, and while I’m excited for the prospect of new T. Swift music, I find Zayn’s feature…intriguing (to put it nicely).  This is because I dislike when male singers go into their falsetto voice.  It’s not necessary and it’s rather irritating.  Right from the beginning, Zayn sings in a high register – if it was going to be that high, why wouldn’t Swift just sing it.  To me, singing in a lower register and hitting lower notes can be more authentic and natural – using falsetto sounds almost fake (which, depending on who you talk to, is).

Now, I’m not suggesting Zayn’s performance is bad or anything – he does have a nice voice, singing that high for a guy is a gift – I would have just arranged the song different if I were the producer. I would have probably had Zayn sing in a lower register and have Swift sing the major part of the chorus.

If you don’t listen too closely to the song, it’s not bad, but I think overall it could’ve been a bit better.

Hurts So Good

I found Astrid S’ song “Hurts So Good” in a list of “underrated” songs of 2016…I am now obsessed with it.  The song seems to have done well in Astrid S’ home country of Norway and other parts of Europe, but it has yet to gain traction in America (thus it’s “underrated” status).  The song, overall, has great beats and cool synth work.  I also love the way she sings the chorus of “When it hurts, but it hurts so good” – it’s full of such great emotion.


The other great thing about this song is it’s snappy lyrics.  The opening lyrics of “You’re fighting me off like a firefighter, so tell me why you still get burned” is so enticing and clever.  At first, I thought it was a bit of an unusual reference, but then I realized that if the person is fighting her like a firefighter, then she must be a flame or fire.  This revolves around the entire message of the song: when things get bad, do you run or do you “take it?”  If she is a flame, she can keep this person warm or burn them.  Are they going tough out the difficult time or are they going to only stay if it “hurts so good.”

Anyway, I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye out (or, rather, ear?) for Astrid S in 2017 – hopefully a full length album is on its way.

Speed It Up

I found this article on Buzzfeed listing the forty underrated pop songs of 2016.  Naturally I found it intriguing – I’m always up for new music to listen to.  I listened through most of them, and one of the songs they list is “Pretty Girl” by Maggie Lindemann (below).  When I went to the YouTube video, one of the comments suggested changing the video speed to 1.25 (you can do that by clicking on the little cog icon).  And, my god, what a good idea.  The faster tempo suits the song better.  Perhaps we know why it was “underrated” (more like unknown) in 2016.

Personally, I thought the best songs in the list were:

Hurts So Good” – Astrid S

Good As Hell” – Lizzo

Mayday” – Cam

The music video for “Mayday” is also breathtaking.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some songs to purchase from iTunes.

Stuck in the Middle With You

I find it interesting when a song gets reincarnated over the years and gets covered by so many different bands and artists.  We’ve seen it with “Angel of the Morning” and “Torn,” and so many other songs.

Recently, I stumbled across the song “Stuck in the Middle with You,” originally by Steelers Wheel,” and I love this song – the lyrics are so snappy and clever.

 

From my very brief research (the semester just ended, I’m a bit exhausted), Juice Newton, Michael Bublé, and Grace Potter all took stabs at covering this classic song – I’m sure there are more but, I think it’s interesting how they each took the song and did it rather differently:

Juice Newton:

Michael Bublé:

Grace Potter:

Grace Potter didn’t actually release a full studio version of the song – she sang the chorus for the theme of Grace and Frankie, but I think she needs to record a full studio version.

While I’m a purist and think the original is technically the best, I think Grace Potter had the best approach to the song.  It appears that in most versions, the song seems to have a slower tempo, but I think the song should be done at a faster tempo with a rock edge – it makes it so epic.

2017 Grammy Nominations!

So the 2017 Grammy nominations came out a few days ago.  Normally, I’m counting down the days, and then spend the whole next week after the nominations come out digesting the results, then I try to get as many of the nominated albums as possible and try to listen to it all.

This year?

I completely forgot about the nominations.  I’ve been so busy with work and school that I just haven’t had time to care.  On the whole, I still like the notion of the Grammys because, in my opinion, they celebrate music and they work to celebrate all kinds of music.  Indeed, they are always creating new categories to accurately reflect the new genres coming out.  While I may not always agree with the nominees, I think it is at least a good attempt to bringing recognition to the importance of music.

This year, I got to say there were a lot of nominees that I didn’t see happening.  I mean, it was no surprise that Beyoncé and Adele got so many nominations, but I didn’t think Justin Bieber would ever get an Album of the Year nod.  Purpose did really well for Bieber these past few years, so it’s not surprising, it just unlike the Grammys.  I was pleasantly surprised by Mike Posner’s Song of the Year nomination for “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” – the song, particularly the original, is incredible vulnerable and beautiful, and I would love to see it win.  However, my bet is it’s either “Hello” that will win or “Formation.”

Anyway, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see who will win – if I remember!

You can view the full list of nominees here.

2017 Record of the Year Nominations Prediction

The 2017 Grammy nominations announcement is just a few weeks away – December 14th – so here are yet more of my predictions, this time for Record of the Year:

  • “Hello” – Adele
  • “7 Years” – Lukas Graham
  • “Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Justin Timberlake
  • “Cheap Thrills” – Sia featuring Sean Paul
  • “Closer” – The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey

Hell NO

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, but I’m really digging Ingrid Michaelson’s new song “Hell No” (although, at this point, how new is it?).  The empowerment and attitude of the song is really what makes it stand out – you don’t need someone (specially a jerk) to feel validated.  The boldness of the chorus matched with the vocal accents of “I get it” and “whatever” makes the song pop.