The Most Beautiful 12 Seconds of My Life

Last week, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Let it Go,” from Frozen.  When I saw Idina Mezel perform the song live during the Academy Awards, I was taken with her incredible vocal ability and the power of the song.  And naturally I had the chorus of “let it go, let it go” stuck in my head.  I then decided to download the song, and what a good decision that was.  “Let it Go” performed by Idina Menzel is #PhillipsSongOfTheDay.

After downloading “Let it Go” from iTunes and it started playing, I got shivers from the opening music.  The piano is just beautiful.  So beautiful that I actually put a loop on it just to listen to that piano.  It’s just…ah, take a listen:

These twelve seconds suck you into listening to the rest of the song, which isn’t a bad thing.  I know what you guys may be thinking right now, “Phillip, really?  A disney show tune?  You need to man up, dude.”  Well, I think this song is pretty catchy, but more important, it’s empowering.  It doesn’t matter if you male/female, masculine/feminine, young/old, these lyrics emphasize that you can get through any struggle and all your problems/mistakes in the past are just that, the past.  For example:

“Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door

I don’t care
What they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry

Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on”

“I’m never going back,
The past is in the past”

Perhaps I just enjoy songs whose narrators overcome some obstacle or hold a high level of confidence, but I find this song truly inspiring and uplifting.  Even after a stressful week of midterms and craziness, it feels good just to get lost in such a song that makes you realize that everything will be alright, things will work out….eventually…

Side Note: If you get a chance to look up Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez's acceptance speech after winning their Oscar, I would totally suggest it, it was so adorable!  They rhymed/sang their speech and dedicated it to their daughters (they're married!).  I just thought their speech was one of the highlights of the Oscars… I tried to find a clip of that and a clip of Idina Menzel performing at the Oscars, but YouTube is taking down such clips down so fast that even if I found one, it'd be gone by tomorrow...

Maybe Next Time He’ll Think Before HE CHEATS!!!!

So midterms are almost over.  Spring Break is next week.  I’m making it through this semester (barely).  I’m just incredibly tired and don’t want to do anything but watch tv and sleep (holla).  In this honor, “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood is #PhillipsSongOfTheDay because it embodies the feelings all college kids have towards studying and college this point in the year.

“Before He Cheats”  was released from Underwood’s debut album, Some Hearts following her win of American Idol, and has subsequently won her a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance (it also won Best Country Song and was nominated for Song of the Year, but Underwood did not receive those honors as she was not one of the writers).  I personally believe this song is the reason Carrie Underwood is Carrie Underwood; it catapulted her into one of the most successful country acts today.  I remember it “spilling over” (borrowing T. Swift’s term) into pop radio, and it being one of the most played songs of the summer.  This is probably because it showcases Underwood’s amazingly aggressive vocals (she does an incredible job with her scream/growling/grunting words like “right now”), but also because the lyrics are unbelievable catchy.

In particular, I find the second verse just clever from a songwriting perspective:

“Right now, she’s probably up singing some
white-trash version of Shania karaoke.
Right now, she’s probably saying, ‘I’m drunk’
and he’s a-thinking that he’s gonna get lucky,
Right now, he’s probably dabbing on
$3 worth of that bathroom Polo”

Just the phrase “$3 worth of that bathroom Polo” is such an incredible descriptor/visual.  We just get an image of the jerk this guy is, him primping himself for his date with the other woman (and overindulging in wearing too much cologne).

Listen/watch the music video for “Before He Cheats” (don’t you just want to beat up a car with Carrie Underwood?):

No, but the real reason “Before He Cheats” is today’s #PhillipsSongOfTheDay is the fact that I’ve just been listening to it on repeat for the past hour and it just encompasses how I feel.  Have I been cheated on?  No.  And I’m not really pissed off at the world.  Again, I’m just coming to the end of midterms and it is almost Spring Break…so I’m done with school.  I just want to sleep…

Your Midterm/Finals Study Playlist.

I am a college student, and as such there are two things I have to do on a regular basis:  study and procrastinate.  I say this because I have a midterm tomorrow and I really would rather do anything but study.  In all fairness, it’s for an international business management class and, like, all the concepts of that class are just common sense and things you just learn in life/other classes.  Like, I know that different countries/nations/cultures are different and thereby have different standards and customs.  I know we are becoming a more global world…argh….but it’s required for my major, so what can you do.

Anyway, the way I deal with getting through the monotony is, of course, by listening to music/listening to a tv show (like you play the tv show but you don’t actively watch it…it works if you’ve seen the episode before…you college students out there know what I mean…).  Recently, though, that has not been helping me focus and study because then I get caught up in the music (I end up creating some type of remix or mashup…#DJPhillipProblems) or end up just flat out watching the show.  The one song that has helped me snap my focus and actually have made me productive has been the mashup done by the Piano Guys (youtube sensation) of “Love Story” by Taylor Swift and “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay:

I love both of these songs, and putting them together was not only genius, but it’s perfection.  I commend the Piano Guys for making such a stunning song and being such an inspiration to us musicians out there (side note: I had a friend in high school who played piano, and we decided we wanted to do this for our school’s talent show (I play cello), but we both realized we weren’t as good as these guys…like we both were playing our respective instruments for like 10+ years and were considered quite good, but we couldn’t wrap our brains around sounding like the Piano Guys…I guess the trick is to not sound like them and make it our own…).

Also, not to brag, but this song has been a #PhillipsSongOfTheDay…so, you know, it’s good…

Anyway, so I have this “Love Story Meets Viva La Vida” on repeat and I’m off studying away….Best of luck on your midterms (if you’re taking them)!

P.S. The Oscars are on tonight!!!  Who's watching?!  I am!!!  Rooting for JLaw and all those nominated from American Hustle (Amy Adams totally deserves the Oscar even though Cate Blanchett probably will win…)

I KNEW IT!!!!!

In my last post I argued that “Glory and Gore” should be Lorde’s new single from Pure Heroine and I have two important updates.

First, the song, when I wrote about it, was number 40 on iTunes, now it’s number 23!:

"Glory and Gore" at number 23, as of 2/27/14

“Glory and Gore” at number 23, as of 2/27/14

 

Second, “Glory and Gore” is actually going to be the next single from Pure Heroine!!!  Not to gloat, but I KNEW IT!!!

"Glory and Gore" will impact radio March 11th (keep your ears peeled).

“Glory and Gore” will impact radio March 11th (keep your ears peeled).

 

Perhaps when I was writing about this, Republic and Lava Records knew/was keeping track of the success of “Glory and Gore,” just as I was.  

When I was driving home from school today, I was actually planning on writing a post entitled “The Real Reason for the Failure of the Music Industry,” in which I would shame Republic and Lava Records for not taking “Glory and Gore”‘s recent success and growing it.  In all fairness, I read in multiple sources that Lorde’s next single was intended to be “No Better,” a left over track that is on the extended version of Pure Heroine.  

Listen to “No Better” here (could be her next single for the summer…it’s totally a summer song):

While I adore “No Better” and certainly believe it will be a #PhillipsSongOfTheDay in the near future and should be a single eventually, I was going to write that it doesn’t make sense to undercut the success of “Glory and Gore,” success which was garnered from the fans and the promotional use (see my post Lorde’s New Single for more details).  Like, there would be no ROMI (Return On Marketing Investment…learned about that today in class…) by choosing a different single that had less promotion than “Glory and Gore.”

What I’m suggesting may seem like common sense, and rather foolish that a record company would pull such a stunt of releasing a song as a single when a different song had more attention.  BUT IT HAS HAPPENED.  Let’s not forget Taylor Swift’s album Speak Now and her song “Sparks Fly.”  This song happened to be a huge fan favorite.  Swift played this song at one or two of her shows (apparently she wrote it for Fearless and played it at the live show to test it with an audience, but decided to scrap it for a different song), and a very rough live version could be downloaded online or listened to on youtube, such as:

Really rough quality, probably because it was recorded from a cellphone or cheap camera.  Regardless, us Swifties found this and loved it.  After much demand, Swift obliged her fans and put the studio version on Speak Now (insert tears of joy…our hard work paid off).  Once Speak Now was released, “Sparks Fly” rocketed to #1 on the iTunes Top Singles.  And what song did Big Machine Records release as her next single? “Back to December.”  I mean, it wasn’t a bad decision, given the fact the song was released as a promotional single weeks before as part of the “Count Down to Speak Now” campaign and had some exposure.  But still, I personally felt that anticipation grew for the release of “Sparks Fly,” and such anticipation could have be used to impact radio.  And I think Big Machine did know of this anticipation and knew it was radio friendly, given the fact that they released it practically a year later as a single. While “Sparks Fly” did manage to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, it only went to #17 on the Billboard Hot 100.  I fear if it was released in the first week of November 2010 like “Back to December” was, it could have broken through the top 10 (it would have also made for a better pop radio version than “Back to December”); the fact that they waited so long to release as a single I think hurt it’s chart and commercial performance.  And let’s not forget “Back to December” only went to #3 on the Hot Country Songs and #18 on the Hot 100…so, there…

But, back to Lorde and “Glory and Gore:”  Republic and Lava Records are off the hook…for now…

 

P.S. I admire Big Machine Records for the fact that their business model puts music before business; they work with their artists and see their artists as partners, not employees (cough, cough….why they are one of the most successful independent labels…cough, cough….).

 

Lorde’s New Single.

Glory and Goreshould be next single from Pure Heroine.  While “Team” is currently burning up radio here in the US, it is starting to fall on the iTunes top selling singles and the Billboard Hot 100, an indication that the single’s life is coming to an end.  While it is still in the bottom of the top ten in both iTunes and Billboard, it is time to think ahead.

“Glory and Gore,” while being a fan favorite, has started to gain traction with a wider audience.  I think perhaps it’s because it was used in a promotional campaign for the History Channel’s show Vikings:

I’m not entirely sure if that’s the only reason for it’s popularity (I don’t know if “Glory and Gore” was used in any other ads or promotions…I’m good, but not that good), but it has gone to number 40 on the iTunes Top 100:

"Glory and Gore" is currently #40 on iTunes, as of 2/25/14

“Glory and Gore” is currently #40 on iTunes, as of 2/25/14

The only other Lorde songs on the iTunes Top 100 are “Team” and “Royals,” her two hit singles.  Yesterday “Glory and Gore” was at number 41, so it’s position has been rising on it’s own accord (i.e. without any radio airplay or live performance promotion).  Given the fact that the History Channel, while a brilliant network, probably doesn’t serve a lot of viewers within Lorde’s target market (i.e. teens and college kids (although I know a lot of kids my age love the History Channel, so maybe it’s wrong to assume only older men watch the History Channel…)), if “Glory and Gore” is given the promotions within the given target then Lorde may have herself another Top 10 hit.

I also base this on the fact the song is one of the catchiest and more listened to songs on Pure Heroine.  With her usual dark and mystical vocals, “Glory and Gore” charms the listener within the first five seconds.  More specifically, during the chorus, Lorde and producer Joel Little added a background vocalized “oh, oh” which really draws the listener in.  Even her imagery within her lyrics of “gladiators,” “battles,” and “saviors” evokes this kind of brave fighter attitude that my generation espouses.  Don’t believe me this song is worth a listen?  Just listen to the clip in the Vikings commercial in the above YouTube clip and you’ll be listening to “Glory and Gore” on repeat!

***UPDATE***

“Glory and Gore” is now #28 on iTunes (cough, cough):

"Glory and Gore" is now #28 on iTunes Top 200, 2/26/14

“Glory and Gore” is now #28 on iTunes Top 200, 2/26/14

 

 

Quick poll for my fellow Lorde-ites:

 

What College Has Done to Me.

Before I was in college I never checked my email.  What was the point?  Like, no one ever emailed me, unless I emailed them.  However, three years into business school later, I check my email like every five minutes.  Seriously.  It’s quite hilarious actually when I don’t check my email, because then I get like twenty-five unread emails, angry group members who are like “why didn’t you respond in time?,” and I find out classes were cancelled after I drove the twenty miles there.

I’m not complaining.  Seriously.  I actually think this has made me more responsible in my duties and more conscious of other people’s time.  But I just think it’s kind of funny how dependent I’ve become to email since starting college.  I’ve even figured out how to route out my email to different inboxes so an email from one particular class or group project will go into one folder, while emails from work will go to another, and so on.  This is me being #efficient and #prepared.

I decided to go to business school because business was the one thing I did not learn about in high school, and I felt I could do anything with a business degree.  Three years later, I have moments where I’ll be driving somewhere or I’ll be talking  to someone and I’ll say/think something business-like and kind of be like “where’d that come from?”  The other day, my parents and I were out shopping and we kept driving past nail salons, and I out of the blue thought “There must be a high demand for nail salons, at least I hope they’re aware of the market they’re in….I wonder if they’ve set up Google Adwords and verified their locations to help them stand out against their competitors.”  Then I stopped, took a moment to realize that I was thinking about what I discussed in my eMarketing class the day before and realize that I know stuff.

When I think about college and my experience thus far, my first inclination is to say I’ve learned nothing; I feel like the same old idiot I was three years ago.  But then I realize I’m really not.  I’ve grown, I’ve matured, I’ve become more confident (I recently just sang a presentation in one of my classes because I thought it would be funny (which it was)…something I would never have done three years ago).  I also check my email a lot more.  But I’ve learned a lot about business and how I would run my own company…I’m not as much of an idiot as I think I am…apparently…

 

 

Tomorrow Things May Change…

I think I’ve said before that I tend to listen to music that reflects my mood, but lately I’ve been in a really weird mood that I feel is only embodied in the song “Tomorrow” by Avril Lavigne (thereby making it #PhillipsSongOfTheDay, Lavigne’s first).

I used to be the kind of person that had to know literally what a song would mean; my dad and I would often go on car rides, listen to music, and analyze what a song was precisely saying (my dad is freakishly good at doing this).  Recently, though, I’ve decided that I can’t digest exactly what a song is supposed to say, but I know what the song means to me.  For example, I’m kind of obsessed with Lorde’s music right now; I loved the song “Team” from the first time I heard it, but I remember telling my dad on one of our car rides “I love this song, but I have no idea what it means.”  I then thought about why I loved the song – I felt it displays a strong sense of camaraderie and sense of belonging to people who are different and stand out (people like me).  I don’t know if that’s what Lorde intended, but that’s what I got from it (and that’s all that matters to me at this point).

Anyway, I digress whenever I talk about Lorde.  For me, “Tomorrow” tells the story of the feeling just before getting over someone/something and moving on; you’re in the process of accepting your situation:

“I don’t know how I’ll feel,
tomorrow, tomorrow,
I don’t know what to say,
tomorrow, tomorrow
Is a different day”

Clearly here Lavigne is espousing that she doesn’t know how she’ll get over this person or feeling, but she knows things will change in the future (as the future is a “different day”).  It’s kind of an unusual song in that it’s not about breaking up with someone and it’s not about having moved on about some; it’s like you’ve been wounded, but the scab just formed and you’re not healed just yet.  It’s a transitional song.

I’ve just been getting lost in this song because of it’s beauty and the fact I honestly relate to it.  What stands out to me is when she says she wants to “believe” in this person, but feels that she can’t; there’s a breach in her trust of this person:

“And I wanna believe you,
When you tell me that it’ll be ok,
Yeah, I try to believe you,
But I don’t”

I don’t really know why I’ve been feeling exactly like this, but I think I’m in a transitional moment in my life where I want to believe in everyone and everything, and trust that everyone is my friend, but I’ve had a lot of friendships/relationships that did not pan out.  This is not a “oh, poor Phillip moment,” this is me stating how music really brings out different emotions in me and makes me reflect on my life; that’s the magic of music.  For example, if you asked me before listening to “Tomorrow” if I was happy with my life, I would probably have said yes.  It’s not exactly perfect at the moment, but it could honestly be a whole lot worse.  But upon listening to “Tomorrow,” I’ve realized that there is a big thing missing from my life, which is why I know I’m not at the top of mountain of life…if that makes sense at all…

Furthermore, I find “Tomorrow” to be such a beautifully composed and performed song.  In particular, I think the acoustic guitar is so warm and, want for a better word, fulfilling.  It just adds the right tone, a sort of rawness.  Also, I think the “hey yeah yeah”‘s during the bridge are just perfect.

Another reason why I’m in awe of this song is the fact that it was never a single, but it’s as though it was.  I kind of feel like Avril Lavigne’s album Let Go is my generation’s album.  I just remember growing up and everyone having a copy of that album and singing along to it.  Whenever you mention this song or play it, people tend to know it.  It’s odd, usually that only happens with singles.  Like you know all Beyoncé’s or Rihanna’s hits (songs that were singles), but can you name a song  of theirs that wasn’t a single but still a well known song?  I can’t.  It just goes to show how much success Lavigne had with Let Go, and it marks her as a great musician (at that time).

So, yeah, “Tomorrow” by Avril Lavigne is #PhillipsSongOfTheDay, and here’s to hoping tomorrow things may change!

Vivere Una Vita Bella

You know what’s weird?  If you go to Google Translate and type in “vivere una bella vita,” it translates from Italian as “live a good life,” but “vivere una vita bella” translates from Italian as “live a beautiful life.”  Like, literally one word was moved and it changes the definition.

I’ve only had two years of Italian in high school, so I barely know any Italian, but I like to pretend I know a lot (I’m not crazy, I’m just an Italian-American who is very proud of his ancestry and family roots).  So today I was listening to Coldplay’s song “Viva La Vida” and I was like “hey, that’s Italian or something” (of course it’s not, but it sounds like it should be).  I did a Google Translate to see what language it is and what it means (I was assuming it had something to do with life).  According to Google, it is apparently Spanish for “live life.”  So then I decided to translate it to Italian, ’cause you know I’m Italian.  I then decided to change the Italian to say “Live a beautiful life” instead of “live life,” because, whatever.  Anyway, when I was playing around with this I remembered the adjectives in Italian go after the subject they are describing, instead of in English where our adjectives go before our subjects (I think…it’s been like four or five-ish years since I’ve taken an Italian class).  Whilst I was playing with my adjective, I noticed the translation changed from “beautiful” to “good.”  And I have absolutely no idea why.  If you know, let us know in the comments below (again, play nice children)!

My googling efforts

My googling efforts

One day I will go to Italy and recite the very little Italian I know: “Fa mi uno sconto?” (“can you give me a discount”), “la creme solar (“sunscreen”…I don’t know why I would randomly say that to someone in Italycan you just imagine, me walking up to a random stranger at a piazza and being like “sunscreen!”), and “ho mal di gola” (“I have a sore throat”).

So, yeah…this is just a random fact/thing I learned today on my Friday and thought I’d share…a #PhillipsSongOfTheDay might be coming up soon, so look out for that!  And remember, “Vivere una vita bella!” (live a beautiful life!)

 

I’m Not Beyoncé

When I was a junior in high school, we had a  project where we had to make some sort of satire (just like the movie Mean Girls, which is coming to its tenth anniversary…jeez, I’m getting old).  There were many forms of satire we could attempt, but I ended up choosing to “mock” a popular song.  Basically I had to take the melody and rhythm of some popular song and make fun of something.

Obviously I chose to utilize Beyoncé’s “Halo.”  Like, how hard would that be.

As it turned out, incredibly hard.  As a male with a deep voice, singing any kind of Beyoncé, let alone “Halo,” is not an easy accomplishment.  The funny part is that I did not realize this until the night before the project was due.  I had decided to record the song to see how I sounded before I would “perform” my hit in front of the class.  When I listened back to my recording I was all:

YIKES!!!!

I’m not a terrible singer or musician, I’m just not Beyoncé (sad face…sort of), and I was trying to be…make of that what you will….

Needless to say, every time I hear “Halo” I’m reminded of that disaster and I always cringe.  Which is why I can only listen to Beyoncé’s music in small dosages…any prolonged listening session reminds me of the night I decided to become Beyoncé.

Tonight, however, I decided to listen to “Halo” on repeat.  Apparently I’m a masochist.

Actually, no.  I’m tired of running from my fears or my mistakes.  I’m tired of being embarrassed of things that may or may not have happened.  I know life is too short to worry about things, but until now I never lived with that PHILosophy (see what I did there…my name is Phillip…philosophy…PHILosophy….hehehe).  I’ve just decided in the last five seconds that I’m not ever going to hide myself again or avoid being myself in the company of others.  A group of idiots may have had a problem with that when I was in high school, but you know what, I don’t care anymore.  It’s like what Hagrid says in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:

“There’s some who’d always hold it up against yeh … there’s some who’d even pretend they just had big bones rather than stand up an’ say — I am what I am, an’ I’m not ashamed.” (HP4)

So, I may not be Beyoncé.  Who cares? I’m Phillip.  And I think he’s pretty awesome.

P.S. I decided to name "Halo" by Beyoncé as #PhillipsSongOfTheDay because of the above story, but also because I think Ryan Tedder did a #fab job with the production…the drum beat and piano really make the song, in addition to Beyoncé's vocal performance.

Rihanna’s Russian Roulette

It’s creepy.  It’s dark, perhaps even sinister. But “Russian Roulette” by Rihanna is #PhillipsSongOfTheDay.

This song is incredible and awful at the same time.  I say that because while the songwriting and performance is phenomenal, the overall theme of the song is just too dark for my taste.  I first want to commend songwriters Shaffer Smith and Charles Harmon for their ability of telling such an in-depth story.  While it is simply a story of a person (or persons) playing a game of russian roulette, it captures the terrified emotion of the narrator, and it brings in the ideas of the meaning of life  and how one’s actions have consequences.  For example, the character in this song starts to realize while they are playing this game that they may actually die, the ultimate loss:

“I’m wondering, will I ever see another sunrise?

So many won’t get the chance to say good-bye

But its too late to think of the value of my life.”

The fact that this song has so many layers that are so intricately woven in themselves is just incredible, and I really admire that as a songwriter.  I personally find when I write songs that my songs need to convey the specific emotion or feeling while, if possible, telling a story, which “Russian Roulette” does.  I find poorly written songs tend to be so broad that it’s impossible to connect with or understand what the song is conveying.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, if a song is too detailed or has too much in it, it may deter listeners as it may be overly complicated or suggest a behavior that is not desirable.  “Russian Roulette” may possibly do this.

At the very last second of this song, a gun shot is fired off, suggesting that the character pulled the gun and died (sad face).  That, to me, is an example of how this song is inspiring and disgusting.  The gun shot furthers the story and causes the listener to paint their own mental image, but at the same time it’s not really a delicious image to envision.  This may be how Smith and Harmon put too much info into the song; like, we get it, Rihanna’s character is freaked out…does she really need to die?

I also want to commend Rihanna’s vocal ability of evoking such dark emotion.  Specifically, at the parts where she sings:

“And you can see my heart beating

You can see it through my chest.

Said I’m terrified but I’m not leaving

I know that I must pass this test

So, just pull the trigger”

It’s at moments like these where Rihanna’s vibrato is prominent and sheds the almost perplexed fear of the narrator.  I honestly think the song would not work if Rihanna’s vocal performance was not as strong as it is here.

Check out this lyric video of “Russian Roulette,” listen for Rihanna’s incredible vibrato/vocal delivery:

"Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve." – JK Rowling