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 10
"And We Danced" by The Hooters
First, can we take a moment to appreciate the full 80s-ness of this video? Feathered/permed hair, a drive-in, a car with a trunk that only opens with a key... this video is an amazing time capsule of things that existed thirty years ago.
I thought I was pretty well versed in the rock bands of the 80s, but I have to admit that I had never even heard of this band, much less any of their songs, before I stumbled across this track late last year on a streaming radio station. Not only was I surprised to discover a great song I hadn't heard before, but I was even more shocked to find that the band, formed in 1980, is still performing. I almost used a video of one of their live performances from 2016, but frontmen Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman are looking a little old these days and the tepid call-and-response of the smallish, mostly elderly crowd was kind of sad... so I decided to show them in all their 80s glory.
This song was the first single off their second album, and their first major hit, although it peaked at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, so maybe the fact that it was outside the Top 20 nearly 30 years has something to do with why I didn't discover it until now. Still, I'm glad I found it because this is one of the songs that I've had in constant rotation on my "Current" playlist for several months, mostly because it's a fun, upbeat song that I really enjoy blasting on the way home when I get tired of podcasts and audiobooks.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 9
"Undrunk" by FLETCHER
Is it blasphemous to follow up a Christian music entry with a song that makes blatant use of the f-word and references to masturbation in the chorus, as well as frequent references to drugs and alcohol?
Oh well, I'm doing it anyway.
FLETCHER is an artist that I found on one of those random "new music" iTunes playlists early in 2019, and this song immediately caught my attention. There's a certain elegiac quality to her voice and this song's beat and lyrics that just kind of flows together. This was her first breakthrough single and her first single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, and I can definitely understand why. The language and the content make it difficult to really hit as one of those universally-applicable breakup songs, but I think it's specific enough that the tone and the emotion of the song will really resonate with a more specific audience.
To date, FLETCHER has only released a handful of singles and two EPs, and I'd definitely be interested in seeing what a full album from her sounds like. I think she has the talent to make something really special. Am I basing that off of one song? Yes. But do I believe it? Also yes.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 8
"Sinking Deep" by Hillsong Young & Free
While we're on the topic of Christian music, this is the song that I'm currently listening to most often. I'm kind of in awe of the sheer number of amazing songs that Hillsong United (and their youth group offshoot, Hillsong Young & Free) have generated. They've created literally dozens of iconic songs which are performed in churches all over the world every week... and they just keep. coming. up. with. more. hit. songs. It's kind of crazy to me that, at this point, Hillsong concerts are on par with non-religious musical acts in terms of ticket sales and influence.
I know that Christian music is normally aimed toward a very specific audience, but I find Hillsong worship songs to almost transcend the "faith-based community only" arena that most worship and gospel songs fall into. They have catchy beats and good lyrics, and they feel like pieces that would - if not for their content - be otherwise categorized as traditional pop/rock songs. Hillsong isn't a bad way to go if you're looking to dip your toes into the Christian music scene but don't want to go full charismatic religious conversion.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 7
"Gotta Live" by Tedashii feat. Jordan Feliz
I'll be the first to admit that the genre of "Christian hip hop" is a bit unorthodox, but every once in a while a song comes along that just kind of works. This is one of those songs for me, where it's not too hit-you-over-the-head religious, but is nonetheless inspiring and actually kinda works as a hip hop song. This particular song is off his 2019 album Never Fold, and I'm definitely planning on checking out more songs off that album, as well as his 2014 album Below Paradise which was recorded as part of his spiritual struggle and experiences dealing with the death of his one-year-old son the previous year.
I've been thinking a lot about using art to process through life experiences lately. Both Tedashii's early album and in a couple different podcasts I listened to this week, there's been a theme of writing (or creating art) in order to process through some sort of life event. I'm not sure I've ever done that, and it intrigues me. Writing, which is the only art form I'm even somewhat good at, has always been an outlet for me in terms of stress relief, entertainment, etc. But I've always written commercial, entertaining things. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've attempted to actually write something that helps me process something I'm struggling with in my personal life. Over the past week or so, I'm wondering if that's something I should actually try, and - if so - how to go about it.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 6
"Setting The World On Fire" by Kenny Chesney feat. P!nk
I'm not all that familiar with Kenny Chesney's music. The only other song of his I really know well is "All the Pretty Girls" (also off the same Cosmic Hallelujah album), which I liked, so I was excited to see that he teamed up with P!nk for another song on the same album. I've always liked P!nk's country-inspired tracks, and I wasn't disappointed by either one of them here.
There are pretty much two kinds of country songs I like; the upbeat party songs, and the more pensive, sad songs. This is more of the latter, and it has the added benefit of being about spending time in Los Angeles, so I can appreciate all the geographic references that are mentioned in the song.
One of the things that I found most remarkable during my research for this song was that Cosmic Hallelujah is somehow Kenny Chesney's seventeenth studio album, and that he's been releasing albums steadily since 1994. I fully admit that I'm not a huge country fan so there are plenty of popular performers that I'm probably not aware of, but it's weird to just now be discovering the songs of someone who has literally had hundreds of songs released over a career spanning 25+ years. It's a bit surreal, but also what I love about music (and the Soundtrackers) in general... there's always an opportunity to find something new, even if it's old.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 5
"Nobody Compares To You" by Gryffin feat. Katie Pearlman
See the previous post ("This Is Last Call" ) for context, as this is the other song from the To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You trailer that I've been listening to since the Valentine's Day screening I arranged for my wife. There was a little more information to be found on Gryffin than there was on the previous band (NineOneOne), so this entry is going to be a little more about the artist and the things that I found interesting.
Gryffin originally gained recognition doing popular remixes of well-known songs. He's a classically trained pianist and learned to play the guitar at a young age, then studied electrical engineering at USC. Combining his two skills/interests, he became a DJ, musician, and record producer whose style is often described as "melodic house music" which is most often accomplished by incorporating piano and guitar sounds into his remixes to create a sound that's a blend of electronic and analog.
I'll definitely be checking out more music by Gryffin, because I enjoy house/dance music but not the type that's really harsh and dissonant. Now that I know "melodic house music" is a thing, I'm definitely going to want to check out more tracks by this artist and in this subgenre.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 4
"This Is Last Call" by NineOneOne
For Valentine's Day this year, my wife and I wanted to go see a movie but there wasn't anything in the theaters that really screamed "date movie." However, I did know that she had been really wanting to see Netflix's To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, the long-awaited sequel to 2018's To All the Boys I've Loved Before. So I rented out the theater room we have in our apartment complex so that she could watch it on the big screen just the two of us and a bagful of snacks, while Grandma watched the kids.
While I can't say that I found the movie particularly excellent, while I was setting up the viewing I did get a chance to see the movie's trailer , which had a pretty great soundtrack. I actually started listening to both of the songs on the trailer's soundtrack and have had them in pretty heavy rotation all weekend.
I actually don't know a lot about the band or the history of the song, it's just one that I think has a pleasant beat and is just energetic enough to be something I can play in the background while I'm working to focus. I have a feeling this one will be in the rotation for a while.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 3
"Eden" by Sara Bareilles
This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I completely missed the release of Sara Bareilles' 2013 album, The Blessed Unrest. I was definitely aware of her hit single "Brave," but I guess I just assumed it was for a soundtrack of some kind or an EP release or something. And this is coming from someone for whom Bareilles' 2010 album Kaleidoscope Heart is an absolute favorite; it's one of the few albums that I can honestly say I love just about every song on it.
And yet, somehow, I was at a Sara Bareilles concert at the Hollywood Bowl late last year for her Amidst the Chaos tour and I listened to her perform a set of songs from both her collection of songs for the Waitress musical on Broadway (to be fair, I did know about that one, and almost picked the sensational "You Matter to Me" for this entry) and this album... and I didn't recognize any of the songs from this album except "Brave." She didn't even actually play this particular song at the concert, but I found it after I got home and went, "OMG she has a whole other album I've never heard!"
This is the song of hers I've been listening to on repeat the most since the concert a few months ago, and that includes "King of Anything" and "Uncharted," which are my usual go-to Bareilles songs. I'm not sure "Eden" will have the staying power of the other two (each of which has been listened to hundreds upon hundreds of times), but it's slowly climbing up the ranks of my leaderboard of all-time listens. Bareilles is a remarkable songwriter, a talented musician, and an entertaining performer. My wife and I had a blast at the concert, and I'm glad it prompted me to spend a little time delving into her back catalog where I was able to discover most of an album I didn't even know existed before 2019 (despite it being released six years ago ).
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 2
"Sunflower" by Post Malone feat. Swae Lee
I know, I know, I'm super late to the party on INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE. In my defense, when it came out I was working on a double-header of other Marvel movies (CAPTAIN MARVEL and then AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR a couple months later) and wasn't exactly going out to see new releases in the theater at that point in my life... or since, really. As a result, I didn't even hear this song until some point in early-to-mid 2019 and it's been featured on several of my playlists since. I'm not a huge fan of Post Malone in general, but there's something about this song that just ticks all the right boxes for me. Sony's head of music was quoted as saying, "Post and Swae have delivered a song that’s both heroic and emotional, which is exactly what a Spider-Man story needs. It’s anthemic, but also heartfelt — the perfect soundtrack for Miles to discover the Spider-Man inside himself" and I have to say that I really agree. There's something layered and multifaceted about this song; there's a lot of things going on and it blends a lot of styles that really work.
I'm also a bit partial to this song because sunflowers are my wife's favorite flower. Before her grandfather passed several years ago, he always used to call her his sunflower and as a result, those yellow flowers have always had a special meaning to her. She'd rather have sunflowers than just about any other flower (no roses, thank you), and she likes sunflower imagery on everything from home decor to office knick-knacks to items of clothing. Sunflowers have been a fixture in our home for years, and it was lovely to discover this song that in a way feels, as that Sony executive said, "anthemic, heartfelt, heroic, and emotional" and all while featuring imagery that's so meaningful to my wife. There are times where we'll just put this song on repeat for an hour and listen to it while we're driving or hanging out at home and it's always sure to cheer both of us up.
|"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | DAY 1
"Highway Tune" by Greta Van Fleet
I had never heard of Greta Van Fleet, let alone any of their songs, until I saw Trailer #2 for Ford v. Ferrari in mid-September of last year. The movie ended up being one of my absolute favorites of all of last year, and both trailers for the film are exceptionally well-cut. I'm sure my enjoyment of the movie and all the racing footage played a part in the appeal of the song, as that's usually how I find new music.
Greta Van Fleet is a band from Michigan that formed in 2012, and released their debut studio album in 2017. This was the debut single off that album. It rose to the top of the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart in just 14 weeks, the fastest ascent on that chart by an original band (i.e., not a solo musician breaking away from their original group) since 2001. Their sound has been called reminiscent of Led Zeppelin and, yeah, I can kind of hear that in this song and a couple of their others that I've checked out since discovering them.
At the moment, this song is in pretty heavy rotation on my driving playlist, which is mostly high-energy songs that I like to blast during the commute when I'm tired and the audiobooks and podcasts aren't doing me any favors with keeping my eyes open. During those times I'll crank some energetic music to wake myself up. The only problem is that after seeing it set against a racing movie, I'm usually disappointed when I ultimately have to accept the fact that I'm not racing a GT40 in Daytona, but rather cruising down a Southern California freeway at a blistering 15 miles per hour. Still, I really enjoy the song and it does a great job of getting me excited to be behind the wheel of a car, even if it's just commuting back and forth between home and the office.