Top 10 Tracks of 2013

2013 was a crazy year for music, as many musical artists defied typical convention within their music and the marketing of their music. Jay-Z released an album onto a cell phone, Beyonce released an album without any promotion, and countless artists leaked their own album as an attack at the label they were signed to.  There was a lot of quality music to choose from in 2013, but I managed to find 10 of my favorites, listed here in no particular order.

1)  Phoenix – “Bourgeois”

This is my favorite “arena-rock” style song of the year. The kind of song that sounds best while being blasted loudly in front of a large crowd on a summer night.

2) Local Natives -“Colombia

I had heard a lot of Local Natives songs I liked before, but none of them quite clicked like this one did. It’s haunting, but also distinctly powerful and beautiful.

3) Ellery James Roberts – “Kerou’s Lament

This song immediately sucked me in from the first time I heard it. Its the kind of song that’s either loved or hated, but the songs ambition and passion cannot be argued.

4) Lana Del Rey – “Young and Beautiful

Pretty sure this song will go down as a classic.

5) Vampire Weekend – “Diane Young”

Vampire Weekend’s album, Modern Vampires of the City, was my favorite album of the year. Picking a favorite song was difficult, but “Diane Young”  never fails to get me to sing along to it.

6) Pusha-T – Numbers on the Boards”  (Explicit)

This song was my favorite hip-hop song of the year. Its dark and aggressive, but also funky and smooth. The main character is simultaneously arrogant, paranoid, insecure, and confident, if that’s even possible.

7) Disclosure – “When a Fire Starts to Burn

One of my favorite sample-based songs of the year. Fans of the Avalanches will feel quite at home here.

8) Daft Punk – “Touch

It bobs and weaves, ebbs and flows, gets loud, then gets quiet, and simply goes where no Daft Punk song has ever gone before.

9) FKA Twigs – “Water Me

This song gets pretty full-on weird, but also full-on awesome.

10) Kanye West – “Black Skinhead” (Explicit)

Sits somewhere between rock and hip-hop, and was on the of the most bombastic, loud, and crazy songs of 2013.

 

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5 Songs You Should Listen To (if you want to, you’re allowed to hate them too)

This post is not to overshadow the suggestions/preferences of my fellow bloggers nor is this list meant to discourage the future posting of theirs concerning the vastly divergent topic of musical choice. For me, music has been a part of life from experience at home, performing, and “mirror” concerts that produce a brand of karaoke I wish to keep between myself and the man in the mirror. My mother’s career and education heavily involves music that deals with the preferences of older adults and the correlating genre/era of music they tend to enjoy and remember. My upbringing involved a heavy influence on church and, as a result, I participated in church choir for 14 years. I sang in school, in chorus and in musicals, as influenced by my two older sisters who did the same before me. All five of my family members sing and we have performed in family recitals, weddings, funerals, church, and so on. Growing up with so many talented musicians and especially vocalists I learned from an early age that the art and technique involved with producing music meant nothing if you couldn’t enjoy it or take something away from it. But, most importantly, all I could do with my family was sing and recreate what someone else already had. Loving music is appreciating how unique each of those creations are. Embrace the variety, keep your standards high, give the lyrics the credit that they deserve, and try to appreciate music as an art form not a product. You do not ask Van Gogh why the cloud swirl in Starry Night looks the way it does…I try to approach music the same way. I love these five songs for completely different reasons so that’s exactly why they are all on one list.

1. Alt-J Breezeblocks

2. Billie Holiday-I’ll Be Seeing You

3. Feist-Gatekeeper

4. Fleet Foxes-Montezuma

5. Radiohead-Jigsaw Falling Into Place

Top 5 Songs of the Week

In case you’re wondering what happened in music this week, I’m here to give you the 5 best songs released either as singles or as part of an album this week. Lets go.

1)  The Killers– “Shot At the Night”

I know you might be thinking that the Killers haven’t made anything good since their breakout album, “Hot Fuss”, but this song is a return that album’s 80’s feel and epic synth balladry.

2) The Royal Concept – “Gimme Twice”

This song has been a favorite of mine for a while, but was released this week on their EP entitled, “Royal”. For fans of The Strokes and Phoenix, for sure.

3) Ben Khan – “Eden”

An amazing little piece of electronic pop. Very similar to Jai Paul’s recent work.

4) Aloe Blacc – “Love is the Answer”

A bit of funky soul to end the week on a high note. The production from Pharrell has a great bounce, but gives Aloe the spotlight.

5) Phantogram– “Selling Nothing”

Seeing Phantogram live was pretty incredible. It’s been a long time since their first album, but this second track off the new album shows they are just as on top of their game as before.

BONUS TRACK:This track is not from this past week, but from last month, but its too great not too share. Enjoy!

John Legend – “Open Your Eyes”

 

I Can Wait to See You Again : Another Author’s Opinion on Hannah Erotica

Although I don’t disagree with the opinion voiced by my cowriter, Mr Madison, I would just like to expound on those thoughts while they’re still fresh in everyone else’s mind. Granted, this is all giving Miley Cyrus more attention than she is deserved, but what this writer writes about her isn’t going to affect her inflated ego one way or the other.

I agree with Madison about the fact that we need to be more conscious about the messages that crap Top 40 music is sending us as the listneners. In today’s day and age, it’s easy to avoid the Ryan Seacrest hosted music scene that comes with the garbage that is played over the radio on a daily basis. There’s XM radio, iPods, talk radio, or even CDs to listen to before you turn your radio dial to any popular music station. If you don’t want to be inundated with the trash flow that is played on the radio these days (irregardless of content, the music itself is bad), you have about another million options. And if you don’t want your kids listening to that music, set the precedent in the household that that is simply not the norm. Pretty easily done.

But then, how many of you actually sat down and intentionally watched the VMA’s? I know I sure didn’t, but I was still bombarded with images or news about what happened during them. I chose to watch a much better production in Breaking Bad on my Sunday night, but I was still made well aware of the happenings on MTV. Pretty much any internet news site or social network was completely exploding with VMA information whether you wanted it or not. Every memebase on the web started cranking out VMA related memes that hit the internet as fast as pictures of cats do. Which then leads to people talking about it at your work, or amongst your friends, or in your family. And it’s all part of a genius system, that attracts your attention to something so that it stays relevant.

And then what happens once you see and hear everyone talking about it? You get online and watch the performance yourself. And then, when you hear the song you realize it has a catchy tune you can’t get out of your head, which you hear the next time you accidentally turn on the radio. Which then leads you to turn on the radio more often, leading you to have your brain turned to mush by the dumpster bin quality of what is being played. And then when the moment of clarity comes when you realize what the catchy song is really about, you either don’t care enough to try and change, or you just stop listening to it. Either way though, you bought into The System.

One thing is certain, is that something needs to change. The System has gotten so good, so rich, and so powerful, that unless you literally live underneath a rock, you’re guaranteed to hear about the dunghill news that the entertainment biz cranks out on a daily basis. Whether you choose to invest any actual time and or money into it is a different matter, but it doesn’t change the fact that somehow, somewhere, you’re going to hear about it. And quite simply, that’s a huge problem. Blame it on America, capitalism, the FCC, the degradation of basic morals, whatever. But the fact will always remain that somehow, you’re to blame.

In a system based on greed, the person with the most wins. The most money, viewers, listeners, fans, stuff, etc. In a country where success is equated with excess, bigger is better as long as bigger means more. There’s even a television show based on people who do nothing but hoard things. We rank people and businesses based on the value of their assets, or what they have, instead of who they are and what they do. Album sales matter, not album content. Ratings matter, not what is being displayed on television. Quantity wins over quality every single day without contest.

So how do we avoid more Miley Cyrus controversy? It’s not by restricting what can or cannot be shown on television, or forcing strict morals on society, or issuing harsh statements from conservative watchdog groups. It’s by as a society on the whole, becoming less materialistic and greedy. Remember the old Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” Sure, banning Miley in your household is going to make a temporary difference, but instilling values that don’t consist of the need to accumulate things is what is going to make the lasting difference. When you no longer care about the inane materialism that is in most pop songs, not only will you stop listening to that genre of music and all it glorifies, but you won’t even care to tune into MTV anymore, or the VMA’s specifically for that matter.

Does this all mean that I think it’s okay for Miley Cyrus’ disgusting performance being so raunchy and on basic cable that it overshadows that of Lady Gaga, who chose to wear a thong on-stage? I certainly don’t think so, but I don’t think that the immorality is the inherent problem. Regardless of whether you care (watch) about the VMA’s or not, The System has learned exactly how to maniuplate people into getting what they want. It’s built by people who want or have fame and fortune, as they project that image onto millions of other people who in turn desire the same thing. And if those aren’t your priorities, then you simply won’t buy into the System. The more people that don’t buy into it, the less profitable it will be, and the less we’ll hear about it. It’s not a quick fix, but it certainly is not going to be, after decades of the focal point of this country being the accumulation of wealth and power. Everything in moderation, especially Miley Cyrus.

 

10 Songs I Love

A summary of my musical taste in 10 songs:

If I’m going to be writing about music, I think it’s best to give readers a background for my musical tastes. I figure that showing my taste’s will help you understand why I might not like something you like or vice versa. I’ll try to cover the whole spectrum of music I enjoy through 10 different songs, each covering a unique category of music I. Just to note, these aren’t exactly my 10 favorite songs, but more an overview of 10 songs I love. As always, thanks for reading.

1) Classic Rock

Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody

I was pretty close to picking “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, but I think “Bohemian Rhapsody” just edges it out. Every time I hear it, I can’t help but sing along to the line  “I don’t wanna die, I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all!” .

2) 80’s Era “Cheesy” Song I Love Anyway

Toto – “Africa

Any of my friends from senior year of high school can attest to my love of this song. My favorite part is the falsetto harmony “I bless the rain”. Look for that part at 3:32 on the video.

3) R&B Song

Frank Ocean –“Wiseman

This is a much newer song than the first two songs, as it was only released in late 2012. This song was intended to be in the 2012 film Django Unchained, but the director, Quentin Tarantino, couldn’t find a place for the song in the movie, and he didn’t want to dishonor it by throwing it in haphazardly. After listening, you can see why Tarantino cared for it so much.

4) Dance Song

Daft Punk – “One More Time

It’s simple, it’s a bit repetitive, but play this over huge speakers and see how long you can make it without dancing.

5) Hip-Hop Song

Kanye West – “Hey Mama” Grammy Version

Show this to anyone who hates Kanye West. They might still hate him, but they’ll now like one of his songs.

6)Alternative Rock

The Strokes- “Last Nite

The Strokes first album was so good, they spent the rest of their career trying to get close to it in quality, and have not yet succeeded. But man, was that first album great. This song, “Last Nite” takes its opening from Tom Petty’s “American Girl”.

7) Pop Song

Usher – “Climax

Usher is in top form in this 2012 hit song, produced by Diplo. Unlike current pop music, the beat is constantly rising and falling, without ever breaking out into a dubstep frenzy.

8) Old School 50’s Song

Bobby Darin – “Beyond the Sea

Yes, the original was technically written in 1946, but Bobby Darin’s 1959 version is my favorite.

9) A Little Off The Beaten Path Song

Animal Collective – “My Girls

Something about this song is just perfect to me.

10) Favorite live performance song/video

LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends

Though the quality of the video isn’t the best, the song is.

Please excuse the one s-word at the beginning of the video. The rest is clean.