One blog to rule them all
Welcome to my blog!
I would make some sort of clever introduction here, but most of us already know how blogs work; if you like me and like my writing, you might also enjoy my personal ramblings and assorted thoughts. If you don't like me, you're probably not reading this anyway. And if you're undecided in your opinion of me, I invite you to read as much or as little as you like and decide for yourself.
Please read on and, if you find something worth discussing, don't be shy about submitting a comment!
Written in connection with "Note: 48-HOUR CHALLENGE : Media Prompt Deadl..." | 241 words (excl. lyrics)
I've been a fan of Ryan Tedder and OneRepublic for a number of years. I like quite a few of their songs, and Tedder is an accomplished songwriter who has written chart-topping songs for both his own projects and some of the biggest musicians in the world. I know this particular track is off their upcoming album to be released later this year and they've released a couple of singles over the past year, but this is the first opportunity I've had to really listening to some of their new stuff. Overall, I think it has the same good qualities as so many of their other songs, with a catchy melody and clever lyrics.
The theme of "better days" is one that I think we can all identify with right now, especially with so many of us practicing social distancing, self-quarantining, either home from work or out of work, etc. All of this coronavirus stuff seems to really be taking a toll on the whole country, maybe even the entire world. Like so many emails from our employers, local businesses, random vendors that we bought something from using the Square App that one time, "we've never seen anything like this." It's hard to tell where things are going to end up or even how long it's going to go on, but if one thing's for sure, it's that we've definitely seen better days before. Hopefully we will again one day soon!
Written in connection with "Note: 48-HOUR CHALLENGE : Media Prompt Deadl..." | 466 words (excl. lyrics)
For some reason, this song is making me think about my recent efforts to get back into writing after spending the last year a half buried in work at multiple jobs and adjusting to life with kids. I've really struggled to get back into my writing habit (probably even before that, if I'm being honest), and there have been a lot of stops and false starts along the way. I don't know if that's because I truly run into insurmountable obstacles or if it's because I was looking for an excuse not to do the hard work of actually sitting down and getting back to the page again.
Ultimately, after completing "The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" last month and signing up for "Wonderland" this month, I think I might have finally shaken the rust off. I'm finding myself excited by the Wonderland writing challenges, as well as the idea of blogging again and even (gasp) getting back to work on my screenplay and my novel which have been sitting idle. For far too long I fear I've been one of those writers who isn't really writing but rather thinks about writing all the time, and I really want to get back to being the kind of writer who actually writes things again. I promised myself that 2020 is going to be the year that I take my writing really seriously and make an effort to get published and get back on track, and that's never going to happen if I don't get off the sidelines and get back into the habit.
One of the things I really love about the Writing.com community is that there are activities like SOYL and Wonderland that are smaller, bite-sized opportunities to accomplish something. A lot of writers turn their nose up at these activities (or contests and other writing challenges) because they're not furthering the author's specific writing goals (their current work-in-progress, whatever that may be), but I've always found a strength and encouragement in being able to tackle these smaller challenges and get a jolt of confidence that comes from actually finishing something. Maybe other writers don't have the same fear of failure, and sense of impostor syndrome that I often struggle with, but as someone who does struggle with those things, it's nice to have a low-stakes, friendly community of fellow writers where I can stretch my wings, get my feet under me again, and experiment with some things without worrying that it's going to have a catastrophic effect on my writing career.
I don't know why this song brought out all of these emotions (or maybe they just bubbled up today naturally as I was thinking about what to write about), but that's what was going through my head as I listened to this song today.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 28
"Shut Up and Dance" by WALK THE MOON
For my final entry of "The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" this year, I thought it only fitting to put down the song iTunes tells me is my most listened-to song of all time. Just like my last entry, I'm not entirely sure that I've listened to this song... checks notes 452 times! I mean, the song is 199 seconds long... times 452 spins... that's 89,948 seconds total... or 1499.133 minutes... or 24.985 hours... have I really listened to this song for an entire day of my life?
Okay, maybe. I do really love this song and I know I had it on repeat for a good long while, so perhaps there's a small, outside chance that I really have listened to this song 452 times over the years. And you know what? I probably added another 10+ or so times listening to it over the past month as I prepared for this challenge because the song is just that catchy!
Well, that does it for my playlist for the 2020 edition of "The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" . Thanks for reading along and following me on my musical journey. Next stop? "Musicology Anthology" in a few months! Maybe I'll even finish it this year!
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 27
"Problem" by Natalia Kills
I rediscovered this song looking through my iTunes "most played" songs. It's kind of a wild playlist, to be honest, because there are a lot of songs on it (like this one) that I don't even like all that much. But for various reasons (falling asleep at the computer with the song on repeat), forgetting to stop playing a song on repeat when I step away from the computer, etc., there are a bunch of songs with literally hundreds of plays that I don't recall ever listening to that much... at least not as much as indicated by iTunes. For example, iTunes tells me that I've listened to this song 219 times, and I'm pretty sure that's about 175-200 times more than I would have guessed I listened to it. Still, in the course of looking for tracks for this challenge, I did technically rediscover it, so here it is!
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 26
"Uncharted" by Sara Bareiles
I don't usually double-up on artists during the same Soundtrackers activity, but I feel like it's warranted in this case because I really did rediscover this song that I absolutely love during the past year. My wife and I went to a Sara Bareilles concert last November (I already talked about this briefly in "Eden" earlier this month), and in addition to discovering songs like that one and some of her tracks from the Waitress broadway cast recording, I was also reminded of how much I love this song and "King of Anything." I truly think Sara Bareilles is one of the most talented singer/songwriters of her generation and this kind of song is exactly why I think so... it's melodic and catchy and the lyrics are complicated and still catchy. She has a great way of layering her songs with a lot of things to appreciate and, for a challenge where we're supposed to write about (re)new to you songs, I thought it only fitting to include one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists, that I truly hadn't listened to in well over a year until I heard it again a few months ago. And it's been on my current playlist (again) ever since.
P.S. - This is also a really fun "can you name all the other celebrities singing along" type of videos.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 25
"Danca Do Canguru" by Aline Barros feat. Cia 3
Is a Brazilian children's song that roughly translates to "Kangaroo Dance" silly? Well, yes. But that's kind of the point. This is one of the first songs that they played for the kids in the favelas when I went on my first mission trip to Brazil with my wife. The ministry we volunteered with went into the favelas (slums) and put on day camps for the kids there; kids that, in some cases, had never been outside the few square blocks of crumbling, dilapidated urban decay they lived around. This ministry would come and set up camps for the kids where they could play music, sing, dance, do crafts, entertain the kids, play games, etc., and I don't think I've ever seen kids so happy as the ones that came streaming out of the run-down buildings to gather in the middle of an empty lot to dance like kangaroos and be silly and escape from the stresses and pressures of their daily lives for a few hours.
Fun fact, Aline Barros is also a multi-Latin Grammy Award-winning artist and has sold over a million albums around the world. While not all of them are silly kid's songs, clearly she knows how to compose catchy songs!
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 24
"Yes I Will" by Vertical Worship
Okay, last Christian song of this year's Soundtrackers, and this one is probably the most religious of the bunch. It's very similar to "Hills & Valleys" by Tauren Wells, which I used for last year's Soundtrackers, in that it's really about Christians humbling themselves and giving thanks and praise to God no matter what their circumstances. It's a posture that I think a lot of Christians (and human beings in general) aren't great about adopting... and that's understandable, because it's hard. But Christian theology teaches that God is good all the time and even in the hurt, even in the darkness, even in the low valleys of life, there's something beautiful to be found, even if it's the reassurance that God is with you during your low points. I usually have at least one song like this on my playlist at any given time, because I find they're great ways to really reorient myself and remind myself that I need to have gratitude for the things in my life, even when times are tough.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 23
"Even Louder" by Steven Malcolm feat. Natalie Grant
I've already posted a couple other Christian music songs that I've been listening to over the past year, and this is another one of them. For some reason, it just seems like there's been a lot of good Christian music coming out lately, which I define as songs that really transcend the religious overtones and can speak to everybody. Much like "Sinking Deep" and even more especially "Gotta Live" , this song really speaks to a larger emotional perspective than just what Christians experience. It could be about a whole lot of different aspects of faith, not just the Christian expression, which is something that I find refreshing.
This song has remained on my playlist for quite a few months, mostly because it's so uplifting and positive I find that that it really improves my mood when I put it on, no matter what's going on in my day.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 22
"Babe" by Sugarland feat. Taylor Swift
I discovered this song on a Taylor Swift playlist. I had no idea that Sugarland and Taylor Swift ever even did a collaboration, let alone one that I would enjoy so much. The video is a lot of fun to watch too; Brandon Routh does a great job of playing the lousy husband in the middle of the two women. I think it's interesting to hear Taylor Swift's vocals on a backing track rather than as leading vocals for a change, and it really works in this case. The song actually has an interesting history... it was written by Taylor Swift, originally for recording by rock band (well, rock-adjacent) Train on one of their albums but it never happened. Everyone assumed that Swift would then include the song on her next album (Red), but that never happened either for some reason. Swift, a fan of Sugarland, was excited when the band got back together and reached out to them about a collaboration. This song was in the offering, and it was included on Sugarland's sixth studio album. It's the only song on the album... and, in fact, the only song in Sugarland's history, not to be written by the band members.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 21
"Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus
My son has requested this song be played so often that I really don't enjoy it anymore, but I wanted to include it in my playlist this year not just because it was a fixture of my listening this past year, but also because I really enjoy the story behind this song, most notably the fact that it was rather controversially removed from the Billboard country charts for not being "country" enough (a problem that many black artists face when trying to record country songs that include elements of other genres), and prompted Lil Nas X to record a remix (the first of which included Billy Ray Cyrus and is the version I chose) to include more country elements. The song has since gone on to chart on multiple Billboard charts, and has a number of different remixes, and has absolutely exploded in popularity both online and on radio stations. It became so popular so quickly, that at one point several radio stations had to stream the song on YouTube to keep up with play requests.
After coming from humble beginnings and the initial controversy about the song not being "country" enough, it's really nice to see an artist like Lil Nas X enjoy so much success from an undeniably catchy song.