This is a point that I’ve likely made on this blog before but it bears repeating. The greatest part of the modern music renaissance is the way that traditional genre lines are being completely annihilated. Kanye West can make hip-hop that is equal parts anthemic indie rock. Frank Ocean is the R&B artist of the internet generation and one only needs to listen to “Pyramids” once to see why. Almost all of the buzzy bands of last year achieved their success at least in large part because they blew away the notion that music has to be formulaic or fit into one easy definition. I’m not that familiar with the rest of R&B star Miguel’s work but I instantly fell in love with his single “Do You…” for how it fused classic slow R&B with psychedelia. It’s a gorgeous, catchy tune. Enjoy.
Like I said everybody, I’m back. And although I’ve been spending an extreme amount of time working either on my screenplays or my actual paying job, I haven’t stopped loving music and staying on top of some of the best tunes around right now. So without further ado, let’s start off 2013’s series of “Songs of the Day” (side note: I’ve decided to stop numbering them because the numbers were getting ridiculous).
Words I never thought I’d say. Usher had one of the best songs not only of last year but of the 2010’s so far. Long-time readers know that I’m a big R&B fan although I don’t listen to very much modern R&B. Usher and Justin Timberlake are two of the only mainstream modern R&B artists that I ever listen to and the latter hasn’t released new music in ages. For reasons that I don’t really understand, I hadn’t had the chance to listen to Usher’s perfect jam “Climax” until a couple weeks ago. And jesus is it good. Usher essentially made a James Blake song and for a fan of indie-influenced electronica/minimalist dubstep, it’s astounding. I’m just going to stop talking and just insist that everyone listen to one of the best tracks of the year. Enjoy.
I’ve had a terrible fucking hangover all day. Since I’m 23, most of my friends in college have graduated even though I’m still an undergrad. Sadly, this means I don’t have that many friends left in Morgantown. It’s my fault, but that’s how it is. Anyways, this week, I made a new friend who’s in my Campaigns and Elections class. We were both so stoked about the President’s stellar performance during Tuesday’s debate (which earned a shout out on here via the Boss) that last night we went out and celebrated. We probably celebrated our Democratic pride a little too hard. I spent the entire morning throwing up, and I’m still a little hung-over. She isn’t feeling much better. So what better song to use after I over-indulged in beer, vodka, and jaeger, than “Blame It” by Jamie Foxx feat. T-Pain. I don’t actually know if I think this is a good song (probably not that much) and the first time I heard it was in the alcohol episode of Glee, but it fits my mood right now which is essentially “I’m never drinking again (until the next time I drink).” But seriously. Fuck alcohol. It was a fun night though. I just hate the price I paid today.
I love movie musicals. Long time readers probably know this even though I haven’t had the opportunity to review very many of them. I’m a very theatrical person so maybe the pageantry and extravagance of Broadway musicals and film musicals (although 9 out of 10 times, the latter are based off of the former) speaks to that part of my personality. Here’s an embarrassing fact though. The first time I ever heard “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from the movie Dreamgirls was in the first Sectionals episode of Glee where Amber Riley knocked it out of the ballpark. I get chills every time I hear her sing it (as well as when Lea Michele sings “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl). So, obviously after that performance (as well as Charice’s wonderful version of “Listen” in Season 2), I had to hear the genuine article. God, Jennifer Hudson sings the hell out of this song. I mean just damn. I’ll let her performance speak for itself. Enjoy.
Since I wrote about music in NYC for an entire semester, it shouldn’t be surprising that I’m a big believer in the power of music. Hearing specific songs without fail generates specific emotional responses and always triggers specific memories. Hearing “Truly, Madly, Deeply” by Savage Garden always makes me think of middle school dances and the first times I ever slow-danced with a girl. Every time I hear “Your Song” by Elton John, I think of the night I sang it to an ex-girlfriend (she definitely seemed to appreciate). And “Kissing the Lipless” by the Shins, well I really don’t want to share my specific memory there but it’s a good one. When I have girlfriends (those rare, rare occasions), I’m a big believer in using music to enhance our most intimate and personal moments. I will spend way too much time making the perfect playlist. I’m not sure if 2012 has had a better song for one of those mood music playlists than “Share My Love” by R. Kelly. He’s become a bit of a joke these last couple years, but on this tune, he’s in full-on Al Green/Teddy Pendergrass mode, and it is wonderful. It’s a shame the music video is awful. The song is fantastic though.
In an era where far too many albums are centered around finding that one right single, Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE managed to find that cohesive “album” feel of yesteryear while simultaneously managing to deliver a ton of great singles as well. That’s probably why channel ORANGE is one of the top contenders for Album of the Year so far. It’s definitely my choice. The only album behind it is Bruce Springsteen’s last record, Wrecking Ball (which I reviewed for Baeble). Here’s a testament to how great the album is. He has a song called “Crack Rock” that’s about crack addicts that is one of the best and catchiest tunes on the record. I’ve already used “Thinkin About You” from the album, and neither of these songs are even my favorite on the record (that award goes to “Pyramids). Seriously, if you’ve somehow managed to not listen to channel ORANGE yet this year, you need to do so immediately. It remains one of the best R&B albums of the last 10 years.
It is “Santigold” these days right? She used to be Santogold, and she changed it to “Santigold?” I don’t really care that much. All I know is that “Disparate Youth” is a brilliant tune, fusion enough (ironically) disparate genres together to make something entirely new and fresh. It’s weird how much I like this song because the first time I heard it, I didn’t get what all the big deal was. She was performing it live on the Jimmy Kimmel show and maybe the acoustics were bad or maybe she was just having a bad night, but I couldn’t get into the song. I’ve listened to the studio version countless times now, and god, it’s fucking good. Combining IDM, some elements of indie pop, as well as R&B, Santigold creates something that can only be defined as sounding like Santigold. I haven’t actually had the chance to listen to all of Master of My Make Believe yet, but it’s been one of the more celebrated albums of the year. So I’ll have to give it a chance some day. Anyways, enjoy.
I found myself forced to take a break from my older music phase for my Song of the Day series because a damn good album was just released and it’s been consuming my attention like no other album of the year. Frank Ocean, the resident crooner of Odd Future and a dude who is way to fucking talented to be in that group of kids, just released his debut studio album, channel ORANGE, and it’s good. It’s really good. Like, best album of the year so far good. The only thing that’s really come close is the new Beach House album (although to be fair, I have heard Fiona Apple’s new CD). I’ve listened to the album like four times in the last two days. And you can damn well guarantee that I’m going to end up listening to it another twenty times before the week is out. I didn’t know which song to pick off the album cause there are so many great ones. “Sweet Life,” “Pyramids,” and “Thinkin Bout You” were the big three options, and the latter won out. I can basically promise the other two will end up here eventually. Anyways, this song is just a killer R&B tune that takes on even new layers of intimacy and power when you realize that it’s part of the bigger coming out story that Frank Ocean has recently been telling (as one of the first major figures in the hip-hop/R&B industry to come out of the closet). Enjoy.