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!
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 20
"The Middle" by Zedd feat. Maren Morris & Grey
I have my five-year-old to thank for bringing this song back onto my playlist. I listened to it almost incessantly when it first came out, then got tired of it, and then started listening to it again (and not just when he was in the car!) after it popped up on a mix we were playing and he kept asking me to play it again, over and over again. At this point, I think we both probably know all the words - at least to the chorus - by heart. It's a really catchy song, and one that I think benefits from artists of different disciplines coming together to collaborate. And I have to admit, these kinds of collaborations also get me to check out artists I wouldn't normally discover on my own. I had no idea who Maren Morris was until I heard this song, let alone that she's a fairly accomplished country artist.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 19
"Here With Me" by Marshmello feat. CHVRCHES
I first discovered CHVRCHES a few years ago with "Recover" and "The Mother We Share," and I think I found this song when I was surfing for other CHVRCHES songs to see what else was out there. And I already recognized Marshmello from a few other collaborations (most notably with Kelly Clarkson on "Broken & Beautiful" from the UGLYDOLLS soundtrack, and this song didn't disappoint. The indie vocals of CHVRCHES are a great fit with Marshmello's dance/electronic musical style, and this is another great combination that I've added to my playlist alongside the likes of tomorrow's song, "The Middle" by Zedd feat. Maren Morris.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 18
"Girls Like You" by Maroon 5 feat. Cardi B
Maroon 5 is one of those bands I really want to hate, but I also have to begrudgingly admit has catchy songs. Most Maroon 5 songs are perfectly okay, if not particularly memorable, but every once in a while they'll release one that I just can't stop listening to. That's definitely the case with this song, off their sixth studio album, Red Pill Blues from 2017. The song spent 33 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10, tying "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran and "Sunflower" by Post Malone and Swae Lee (and also one of my SOYL picks this year) for the longest Top 10 run in the chart's archives.
I do have to laugh about the fact that the song was negatively received by critics, with Vice's Shad D'Souza calling it "god awful" and describing it as an example of "horrid, weird, marshmallow-soft songs sung by dudes pining after a ‘good girl’ who will finally fix all of their problems through the power of love." Ouch! I guess Maroon 5 will have to console themselves with the fact that it reached number one in twelve different countries, and set a number of chart records in the process.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 17
"The Archer" by Taylor Swift
I had a hard time picking this song, mostly because I knew it was going to be a Taylor Swift song off her latest album Lover, but I wasn't sure which one. It's easily one of my favorite albums of last year, and with few exceptions, I love all the songs on the album. I picked this one as my Soundtrackers entry because I think it has some of the most memorable lyrics and has been one of the songs I've most often found myself listening to on repeat or going back and playing again as soon as it's over.
I'm strongly considering using this album as my "Musicology Anthology" entry this year, but I'm still not 100%, as there are a few other albums that I'm considering. But this is one of the few albums where I can clearly envision entries for each song, and I wouldn't mind listening to each of these songs on repeat for a few weeks at a time as I come up with the stories, so we'll have to see!
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 16
"The Flame" by Cheap Trick
For some reason, Cheap Trick is never a band that I immediately think of when I think of great bands of the 80s. Even though they have some iconic songs that I instantly recognize (like "Surrender"), they just don't enter my head when I'm trying to come up with rock bands from my childhood. It's usually only after I've heard them on another source ("Surrender" re-entered my playlist after being featured on a segment of Conan O'Brien's late night show, and this one after being used on The Goldbergs).
I also, for some reason, always thought Cheap Trick was a British band, but apparently they're actually from Rockford, Illinois in the good old U-S-of-A. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016, after more than 5,000 live performances, 20 million albums sold, and multiple resurgences in popularity over the decades.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 15
"Can't Hold Me Down" by GRiZ feat. Tash Neal
I found this song on a video game trailer of all places. There was a trailer for Borderlands 3 last year and it was set to this song, which I instantly fell in love with. There's just so much going on, from an electric guitar to a soulful saxophone to funky electronic beats. GRiZ actually self-describes his sound as future-funk, which I suppose is appropriate, and he's known for putting saxophone instrumentation into his songs.
For me, this is along the lines of my first song of this year's Soundtrackers, "Highway Tune" by Greta Van Fleet. This is a song that I don't often listen to in the course of playing my daily current playlist, but it's definitely a song I keep around when I want to get pumped up. Whether that's staying alert while driving, or while exercising, it's got a ton of energy to it and I often find myself playing it in times where I need a little pick me up. I've also found quite a few other songs by GRiZ that also fit that bill; he has such a unique sound that I find myself if not outright enjoying then at least appreciating the artistry in his work... which is not something you can always say about DJs and electronic music producers.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 14
"Cut To The Feeling" by Carly Rae Jepsen
If you had asked me to bet money on whether Carly Rae Jepsen, of 2012's "Call Me Maybe" (and the resulting video by the Team USA swimmers at the Beijing Olympics) fame would still be relevant almost a decade later, I would have bet against it. But she proved me wrong when she came up with another bonafide hit in "I Really Like You" in 2015, and this song from 2017. I discovered this song on the soundtrack to Leap! (called Ballerina in its native France), a surprisingly good animated movie about an orphan girl who dreams of dancing at the famed Paris Opera Ballet. This song was written for the soundtrack (Jepsen also voiced a character in the film), and released as a single to promote the film's stateside release. While the song didn't exactly set the charts on fire, it did appear on "Best Songs of 2017" lists by Billboard, The Guardian, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair.
If you get a chance, watch Leap! and experience this song in the medium it was created for. I believe the film is currently on Netflix and it truly was a surprising animated movie. Not perfect by any means, but really, really enjoyable. It's definitely worth a watch, and this song is definitely worth a listen. It's one of the better pure pop songs I've heard in the past few years.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 13
"11 Blocks" by Wrabel
I discovered this song in one of those weird situations where you go to a concert and end up liking the opening act better than the headliner you bought tickets to go see. He was one of the opening acts for Ben Platt's Sing to Me Instead tour and, honestly, my wife and I were a little disappointed by Platt. His rapport with the crowd was great, but the songs on the album just... aren't that great. To be fair, he was just coming off sky-high expectations thanks to his stunning performance in Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, but still, the songs just didn't hit home for us.
This song from his opening act Wrabel did, though. There's something so melancholic and soulful about it; I immediately had to pull out my phone and download it so I could listen to it again on the way home. As I looked into more of his background, it turns out that there's a reason this song is so catchy; he's a really talented songwriter. One of those that, like Lady Gaga, spent a whole lot of time writing songs from other people you'd readily recognize before striking out on his own. Over the years, he's written songs for P!nk, Kesha, Kygo, Marshmello, and The Backstreet Boys.
Of all the artists I've discovered this year, I think Wrabel might be the one to watch. I'm not fond of all of his music, but he's always trying something new, always pushing boundaries, and has the talent to really establish himself as a household name.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 12
"Every Breath" by Boyce Avenue
This song is at the opposite end of the spectrum as yesterday's entry; this is a song that I still really like, but I find myself skipping over whenever it comes up lately because I've played it so many times since I first discovered it. Which doesn't make it any less of a great song, just one that I need to take a little bit of a break from in order to keep appreciating it.
Boyce Avenue first hit my radar for a number of covers of hit songs they did on YouTube. This song is from their 2010 album which predates all of that stuff, but it's sometimes funny how people have to come back and discover older stuff later on. Their biggest and most popular covers (which are definitely worth seeking out on YouTube if you have the inclination) were a cover of Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" and Ed Sheeran's "Photograph" featuring Bea Miller, the Chainsmokers' "Closer" featuring Sarah Hyland from Modern Family, and my personal favorite and the one that I discovered first, Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" featuring Kina Grannis. They're actually one of the most-watched independent bands on the internet, with apparently over 4 billion (with a b) views on their channel.
If you enjoy cover versions songs (especially acoustic covers), Boyce Avenue has one of the best channels for that. You can easily spend hours clicking through their renditions of hit songs with a variety of guests. And, if "Every Breath" and a few tracks can attest, their original songs ain't too bad either.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 11
"May I Have This Dance (Remix)" by Francis and the Lights feat. Chance the Rapper
I discovered this song (or the original song, rather) on the soundtrack of the Netflix original movie Always Be My Maybe with Ali Wong and Randall Park (which I highly recommend if you're a fan of romantic comedies). I'd never heard this song, or even of Francis and the Lights at all up until that point, but they're quickly becoming one of my favorite new artists to listen to, and I think that Chance the Rapper adds some interesting additional depth to this song. I'm not usually one for remixes over originals, but every once in a while a remix finds the right balance of preserving what was great about the original and managing to add a little extra something.
Overall, this is probably one of my most-played songs from last year. There are quite a few on my playlist this year that I listened to a whole lot and then kind of lost interest in or were starting to feel played out, but this one is consistently in my regular playlist, and I never get tired of it when it comes around again. It just hits all the right notes for me and really cheers me up whenever I listen to it.