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.
For the past couple weeks I’ve been slightly obsessed with the song “Don’t Let Me Down” by the Chainsmokers featuring Daya. It has such a great dance beat, and the synths/dubstep are perfect. It’s the perfect song to blare and dance to (or, if you’re like me, bike to).
My favorite part is the bridge to the end of the song, particularly when Daya hits that note around 2:55. The way she sings that part of the song has this heart-wrenching vulnerability to it and it really defines the song. There’s a sense of urgency, a pleading for this person not to let down or hurt the narrator. It’s magnificent, particularly because this is an EDM song brought to you by the guys who created “But first, let me take a #selfie” (remember that song?). It’s almost a complete 180, emotionally.
Because I was so impressed by Daya’s vocals, I decided to check out her other hit song “Hide Away.” I remembered it made some waves on radio, but I never gave it a full chance. So I listened to it, and it’s been on repeat. Damn, she’s hooked me.
I wouldn’t say “Hide Away” lives up vocally to “Don’t Let Me Down,” but Daya does have this old soul quality in her voice. It’s intriguing to listen to, plus the chorus is incredibly catchy.
While I would overall give this song a thumbs up, I felt it had some minor problems structurally with it. I actually ended up making my own edit of the song (for my own personal listening) to improve it as much as I could. The main thing I did was I got rid of the bridge. The drum beats were great, but I thought on the whole it was a bit awkward. They could’ve gotten a way with doing some sort of instrumental with the drums and synths and then worked back into the chorus. It would’ve flowed better. They also should’ve left the outro out…I mean, it doesn’t really hurt the song, it’s just not really necessary. But as I said, it’s great as it is…could’ve been better.
So keep your ears out for Daya, she seems to be making quite an impression and it appears her new single “Sit Still, Look Pretty” is starting it’s climb up the charts.
I was out driving, flipping through the radio stations, when I stumbled across “Lost Boy” by Ruth B. I heard about the song – it was inspired by Peter Pan, causing it to go viral and thus land Ruth B. a record deal – but I never actually heard it in it’s entirety. And my gosh, the girl can sing. Her vocals soar soothingly over the piano, perfectly hitting the unexpected high notes.
The song has struck chord with me particularly because I think she’s speaking about the importance of imagination. The character in her song appears to be lonely and quite lost in life, so he escapes into Neverland with Peter Pan. He turns to the power of imagination to live and to be free. Just an important reminder to all us that deep inside all of us is our childhood self and the power of imagination.
I’ve been slightly obsessed with “New Americana” by Halsey. Yes, it has a great beat and catchy chorus, but I think it’s lyrically such a clever song (the song starts at 0:29 in the video below).
My favorite part of the song has to be the two verses. The song starts with the line “Cigarettes and tiny liquor bottles/ Just what you’d expect inside her new Balenciaga.” I think this is a clever line because it tells so much in so little words: a Balenciaga is a rather expensive handbag but the character puts self-destructive items like cigarettes and liquor bottles in it to show that while she’s on the top of success she’s still flawed. But she’s part of this new Americana – the next generation of people who have flaws but who work hard. The second verse is similar, with lines “Young James Dean, some say he looks just like his father/ But he could never love somebody’s daughter/ Football team, loved more than just the game/So he vowed to be his husband at the alter.” I honestly think this is the cleverest part of the song because it’s an ode to the legalization of gay marriage (part of the new Americana lifestyle) without outright saying it. The character she’s singing about in this part of the song looks like James Dean, who was a young heartthrob (and, apparently, some people thought he was gay…rumors, though). He’s the type of guy every girl wants to date, but instead of being interest in sports (like most straight men), he’s more interested in the guys playing the game. This, along with the last line in the verse, alludes to this guy being able to marry someone of the same sex.
Production wise, I think the song is a pretty solid alternative/electronica song. If you listen closely during the chorus when she sings the words “Americana” and “Nirvana,” she has this slight lilt in her vocal that’s perfection. It’s very minimal, but so cool.
I just picked up a copy of Halsey’s debut album Badlands which features “New Americana,” so I’m sure I’ll be writing more about her album. From what I’ve heard so far, I think she has a new fan (aka, me).
So I’ve been having somewhat of a bad week. Just a lot of stressful things going on, one after another, when I’m sitting in dreadful traffic flicking through the radio and “Can’t Stop The Feeling,” Justin Timberlake’s news song, comes on the radio. My head starts nodding along, my foot starts tapping along (obviously the one that’s not on the peddles controlling the car…that’d be dangerous), and my day is instantly better.
The song has a great, optimistic beat coupled with a fantastic bass line that drives the song, causing one to stop what he/she is doing and start dancing. My favorite part of the song is during the chorus when he sings “so just dance dance dance dance.” Normally I would find the repetition of the same work a bit irritating, but here I find it catchy. It keeps me, well, dancing.
You’ve probably already heard “Can’t Stop The Feeling,” but if not, here’s to hopefully cheering up your day!
Joy Williams is perhaps best know for being one of the members of the country duo The Civil Wars. Despite the group disbanding in 2014, Williams continues to create and release music as a solo artist (I actually think she did that before and during The Civil Wars era).
I stumbled across her single “If You Wanna Go,” – which I don’t believe was released on any album, it’s a stand alone single. Regardless, it’s a beautiful and timeless song.
The piano-driven song features Williams’ soaring vocals as she effortlessly delivers a heartfelt performance. There’s something fragile and real in it that sinks in and grabs at the heart strings. I find the song to be quite refreshing as it delivers a clear perspective to an end of a relationship. It’s a rare song because while the lyrics convey a breakup message, you don’t need to listen to what she says to feel the emotion. It’s all tied together perfectly.
Over a month ago, Iggy Azalea released her new single “Team” from her upcoming album Digital Distortion. At first, I wasn’t chuffed. I do enjoy some of Iggy’s songs (they tend to have good beats to bike/work out to), but I wouldn’t call myself an Azalean (a giant fan of Iggy Azalea). When I heard the preview of “Team” on iTunes, it didn’t initially grab me. But judging a song based on the forty second preview (or however long they are these days) is like judging a book by its cover, so I listened to the below YouTube clip.
After I heard the song in it’s entirety, I immediately bought it. The thing I like about this song is that you can just blare it on repeat and dance (or bike) and lose yourself (also, my biking playlist was getting kind of stale, so I needed new tracks). It has a great beat and some interesting synth work.
This song also got me to think about a debate that started when Iggy Azalea was nominated last year for her Grammys: is she a true rap/hip-hop artist or is she more in the pop genre? There were many debates whether “Fancy” was more of a pop song than a rap song (I was confused why “Fancy (featuring Charli XCX)” was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance – I had thought it would fall under the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration). Personally, I think she’s distinctly rapping in that song – Charli XCX is obviously singing a pop melody, but the verses are not sung. They’re clearly rapped.
But if I compare “Team” to “Fancy,” “Team” sounds more like a pop song. I mean, she is rapping in the verses, but it’s more of a fierce sung rap (if that makes sense). They’re not like the traditional fast chant of a rap.
I bring this up not to discredit Iggy Azalea as an artist, but to point out that genre labels don’t really matter, especially in this current climate of music. Genres are crossing over, styles and elements of each genres are fusing together and we’re getting new sounds. I personally am all for this breaking down of musical rules and artists creating what’s true and honest to them. I grew up taking music lessons since I was five, and it always bothered me that there were so many rules, that music had to be played a certain way.
If it sounds good, who cares if it’s done the right way?
I’d consider myself an audiophile. I mean, I had to buy the maximum allowable storage for my phone so I could store the entirety of my music library – you never know what musical mood you’ll be in when you’re on the go – and even then it doesn’t fit everything. So when I was setting up my music library on my new computer (which took a long time), I decided to weed through it and get rid of songs/albums I haven’t listened to or won’t listen to anymore. I have this habit of collecting as much music as possible, so it creates a giant library and then it causes setting up the library a huge project.
So, I was going through my collection and I found The High Road by JoJo, particularly her song “Too Little Too Late.” I honestly don’t remember how I obtained the song or the album, but it’s becoming one of my favorite songs. It has a infectious and irresistible chorus that’s been stuck in my head and struck a note in my soul.
When I first heard the chorus, I felt a kinship to JoJo. One of the best moments you can have is when you finally find a song that says exactly how you’ve been feeling. That’s the power of music: it can capture our emotions and moods and unite us in an almost magical process. I can’t say the specifics JoJo provides in the song are exactly what’s going on in my life, but the overall emotion of being fed up with someone and moving past them because they’re not making much of an effort is something that I totally relate to.
So now I’m digging through the rest of my music library to see whatever gems have been hiding away.
For a while I’ve seen Mike Posner’s new song “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” rise on the charts on iTunes. I never listened to the preview because, yes, I judged a book by it’s cover (or a song by it’s title). I figured based on the title and Posner’s previous work that it probably was about doing drugs in a foreign land. And while it kind of is about that, it’s actually the complete opposite than I expected.
So, there I was, scrolling through iTunes trying to find something new to listen to…I’ve kind of been a music rut lately…and I kept seeing “I Took a Pill in Ibiza.” So, I finally caved and I hit the preview. And then I searched for it on YouTube to listen to the whole thing. And then I bought it from iTunes. Because holy crap I was completely wrong thinking it was some party anthem. It’s incredibly beautiful and moving.
Yes there is a dance remix that is climbing the iTunes charts, but the original version from his The Truth – EP is amazing. It starts off with this folksy guitar and it has warmth and soul in it. The beauty of the song comes from his raw, honest truth (probably the inspiration behind the title of his EP).
Mike Posner was big a few years ago with his hit “Cooler Than Me,” and then I believe he produced or cowrote (or both) a song for Justin Bieber and he was a big/in-demand synth pop producer. So this is a complete 180 from what I’m familiar with. I don’t know where Mike Posner has been in the past few years or what exactly happened to him, but from this song you know he’s been through a lot. You can feel his struggle as he tells his truths. It’s both heartbreaking and heartwarming to experience someone being that honest in music.
It snowed today. Well…slushed is more like. Like, it started out as snow, then it rained, then it froze. So, when I went to shovel my driveway, it was incredibly hard, heavy, and awful. I could’ve thrown my shovel down and had a meltdown (which was very likely to happen…I hate the cold and the snow…I really need to move to a warmer climate), instead I turned up “New Bohemia” by Transviolet and moved that snow around.
I discovered “New Bohemia” rather by accident. I downloaded this free game on my phone which was great except it forces you to watch three commercials (always the same three) every time you start a new game (I know, annoying). I usually would ignore the commercials, but there was one that played this song and I really liked the fifteen seconds I heard. You would not believe how hard it was to figure out what the song was, but after extensive research (more than I am actually proud to admit), I figured out it was “New Bohemia” by Transviolet. Instantly I bought the song from iTunes.
“New Bohemia” is incredibly catchy, and I love the youthful, care-free nature of it. You could literally put it on repeat and get lost in it for hours and it would never get old. I’m such an old fart that I usually don’t dance when I hear electronic dance music, but this song really gets me moving (in fact, I’m dancing in my seat as I write this…it’s also good when biking/exercising). My point is that if you’re looking for new music that will aid you in your snow shoveling or just to freshen up your playlists, check out Transviolet.
"Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve." – JK Rowling