Welcome to 2016! As we journey into this coming year, let us not forget the plethora of music release dates that made up 2015. Let this article be a final nod to the best 2015 had to offer. Enjoy the favorites of a diverse crowd of Peabody High students, ranging from hits like Hotline Bling to ten minute folk epics like Garden of Lavender. With this final look into last year, let us bravely go into 2016, a year of 365 days of potential. There is music to be made and listened to. The playlist can be found here and the archival playlist here. Submit your songs on Facebook, to my email, or in the comments.
Drake - Hotline Bling
Because this past year I messed around with a boy who kept making my hotline bling then he just went missing in action and now he is back.
The Weeknd - The Hills
Because it is such a great song to turn up to and just listen to with friends and its an uplifting song with a good beat to pop your [body] to.
James Bay - Let It Go
Because its such a soft and nice song about moving forward and letting these little [boys] go.
Shawn Mendes - Stitches
Anyone who knows me, knows my obsession with Shawn Mendes. This song is just an amazing song. The beat in this song and his voice are just great.
Mike Posner - I Took A Pill In Ibiza
I love this song just because of how personal it is to Mike Posner. He made this son personal and even referenced his so-called "one hit wonder" that he had entitled "Cooler Than Me". It tells of how he was so distracted by fancy materialistic things and now he's relaxing all of that and seeing whats really going on.
Justin Bieber - Sorry
I am not one to like Justin Bieber and I know that a lot of you aren't either. However, this song is just way to catchy to ignore. I've seen guys dancing to this song in school and girls who only like Black Veil Brides jam out when this song comes on. Looks like everyone is starting out 2016 with a slight case of "Bieber Fever".
2015 wasn't an overly exciting year for music, but it certainly was productive. I've already written about some of my songs of the year - That Battle is Over, Pedestrian at Best, Bunker Buster - but there are a few more that are definitely worth mentioning.
It's probably apparent by now that I love songs that are very affective and do a good job of just radiating feeling, and I also love songs that feel sincere, raw, personal, and honest - for the most part, untainted by the ulterior motive of social or monetary gain and instead driven primarily by an artist or band's desire for self expression.
I guess that's why most of my favourite songs are usually sad: they're both affective and feel honest at the same time. Happy songs are nice and definitely do make you feel cheery or pumped up, but if they aren't done well and there's not some kind of sad aspect to them - maybe something like a not-so-joyful underlying meaning, or maybe the song overall is just ambivalent - they just don't feel very personal and sincere. Happiness alone doesn't seem to really "drive" people to create art that isn't solely humorous, and so, a solely happy work either isn't telling the full story or that story may be just a quest for money or fame. There are exceptions, of course: a person could be unhappy from seing others unhappy and work to remedy that, but even then, it's hard to be entirely happy.
solace, a 10-minute-long hip hop song divided up into different movements of alternating lyrics and instrumentals, is masterful at being all of those qualities that I described earlier. It's honest, it's raw, and it sure is depressive. In addition to that, it's unusual. solace, released directly and exclusively to YouTube on April 28th (uncommon for an artist as successful as Earl) is described by Earl as "music from when i hit the bottom and found something," and sounds very different from a conventional hip-hop track. According to an interview with him done by NPR (https://soundcloud.com/npr-microphone-check/earl-sweatshirt-im-grown, around 26:40), the song was a quick project, done "real real fast" and made for his mother, who wanted him to be honest and "transparent with [him]self."
Apart from the ominous introduction of a warped voice with very muffled and distorted ballroom music playing in the background, the song starts out seeming mostly normal. One thing that becomes quickly apparent though is that this song is actually not your mostly normal hip hop song - it doesn't sound very energetic. It sounds very tired - both in the vocals and in the sampling. There's not much energy in Earl's voice, and there's not much energy going on in the background, either; the instruments are again muffled and also mildly warped.
This feeling peaks in the second part of the song, starting around 2:07, where Earl is just mumbling over a very short, distorted piano sample that loops for the entire section. After that, the song cuts to another muffled instrumental before the last set of lyrics come through, a bit more energetic than the mumbling of the last part but still less energetic than the song's introduction. What's notable here is that Earl slips up on the lyrics, but the mistake isn't edited out, emphasizing that the song is a raw, honest look at his life that's very far from manufactured.
Lyrics-wise, the song is very depressive. They discuss the condition of and Earl's grim outlook on his life - "Late for everything, my face to the cement"; "I ain't been eatin', I'm just wastin' away"; "I'm fixin' to give up / I've been alone for the longest"; "I'm the youngest old man that you know" - and society - "Slip a fist up for my ... in chains"; "I've been watchin' every ... on Myspace / ...'s just lookin' different with age"; "It's trouble, the way that we're joggin' / Nothin' gon' save us or stop us." The lyrics emanate this very oppressive feeling of hopelessness, that everything is wrong and that there's no way to fix any of it, and that it's going to be that way forever.
Sun Kil Moon - Garden of Lavender
Not many songs capture the drill of average, day-to-day life as well as Garden of Lavender or even the rest of Sun Kil Moon's body of work. Garden of Lavender, a 10-minute-long folk epic, consists of four different parts: the first and third parts consist of Kozelek's not-very-emotional voice droning on on top of a repetitive acoustic guitar; the second part adds to this strings and a vocal harmony; and the last part is different from the other three, consisting of Kozelek simply talking - not singing - over a slightly higher pitched but still repetitive guitar that continues until the song switches to an outro dominated by a sparkling acoustic guitar solo.
The lyrics of the song wholly consist of Sun Kil Moon's musings of mostly recent events in his life - his trips to Holland and England; small moments like seeing cats, going to restaurants, and going to concerts in the late 90's; and his miscellaneous thoughts ranging from not-too-significant things like the condition of his garden of lavender (which serves as inspiration for the name of the song) to more profound thoughts like the contrast between the permanent nature of his residence and the ephemerality of human life.
What I love about this is that it tells the story of life from an angle that, in general, doesn't too often serve as the sole focus for art. Most of the time, art seems to put great emphasis on a particular quality of life or a certain event and the feelings that arise from it, permeating a specific feeling, but Garden of Lavender, by contrast, does not. Instead, it recognizes, emphasizes, and appreciates the fact that, for most people, interesting, memorable moments in life aren't very common; they may be few and far in between. Most of life is fairly forgettable - putting on clothes, walking down the street, buying groceries, filling up gas, etc. But, even though most events in life aren't memorable, there are many forgettable events that can still make you feel temporarily more happy or sad to an extent, like seeing a happy squirrel nibbling on some nuts or seeing a dead bird on the road.
Kozelek's voice for the entire song and the guitar that accompanies it emphasize this by not clearly exhibiting any emotion - they're ambivalent. They're not particularly happy, and they're not particularly sad; they're a muddled mix of both. Not emotionless, but not entirely or even mostly set in any one emotion. Average, like day-to-day life.
If you enjoy songs like that - songs that tell very personal stories that may or may not be mostly ambivalent - the rest of Kozelek's discography, and this album - Universal Themes - in particular, are worth checking out.
Daniel Bachman - Won't You Cross over to That Other Shore
This is one mammoth of an acoustic guitar solo. Daniel Bachman's acoustic guitar strumming and plucking is the only thing that goes on in the entire song, which marches on for 14 minutes. The introduction is fairly calm with its fairly sparse and slow chord strums, but around 1:20, the song starts to pick up, slowly gaining energy and momentum until the notes fly by so fast in what sounds like separate, distinct recordings put together that it sounds like there's at least 2 different people playing different guitars. This persists for most of the remainder of the song, again picking up until around 7:40 where it starts gaining even more energy, building up to the climax of the song, somewhere around the 10 minute mark, after a short dip. After the climax is a brief, percussive segment leading into the outro. It really is a piece of work, and you'll be well rewarded if you can sit through the whole thing.
Wild Child - Bullets This is a good song that is unique compared to most of the music released in 2015. It has a catchy chorus, although it's hard to learn all of the words.
Milky Chance - Stolen Dance This is a VERY catchy song. I almost didn't enter it because I didn't want it to be stuck in anyone else's head, but then I was like "wait, no one listens to these songs anyway" so I did it.
Twenty One Pilots - Tear In My Heart
No matter how many times I watch the music video, I can not fully grasp the message Tyler Joseph (the weird singer guy) is trying to get across. Regardless, I find it very catchy. Fascinatingly, it follows the stereotypical mold for a pop song, but still manages to be outlandishly different, meaning this song will never be on the radio.
Fall Out Boy - Irresistible
Songs seem to speak for themselves sometimes and maybe this is one of those songs. It makes me want to kick over garbage cans in defiance and jump on hotel beds like a rebel. Not sure if that makes any sense. As a side note, I’ve only watched the music video once.
Drake & Future - Jumpman Off what may be the album of the year Future and Drake collaborated for an absolute hit. There many off the album "What a Time To Be Alive"
Migos - Look At My Dab* Off of their mixtape "Back to the Bando" Migos talks about their swag which they're now calling dab. After the popularity of the dance "the dab" the song has gained even more popularity.
Drake - Back to Back One of the greatest diss tracks of all time may have come from the most one sided battle in human history. Drake released two songs back to back, ergo the title of the track. The song which is nominated for a GRAMMY goes for the throat in this uptempo hit. Drake clowns Meek Mill for his relationship with Nicki Minaj, while basically attacking everything he stands for. This song will forever be remembered in the hip hop community.
Titus Andronicus - Fired Up
If you like this song, definitely check out the rest of Titus Andronicus' rock opera The Most Lamentable Tragedy. It's an album about mental disorders like depression and anxiety, due to the lead singer, Patrick Stickles', manic depression. It addresses other issues, such as proselytism, or forcing your religion on others. This song specifically focuses on a atheistic child sent to a Christian school, forced into following Christian ideals. There's a lot more to this song that is tough to understand without knowing the story, so I strongly suggest you look into the album, and learn about characters like Siobhan, the Lookalike and Mr. E. Mann, in addition to the hero of the album. Also, they recently released a super stripped-down version of the song that's very orchestral strings-heavy in instrumentation. You can find that version here.
Tigerman Woah! - Koopa
I was actually introduced to this song through my film school at Raw Art Works. The seniors last year made the music video and it turned out pretty awesome. The song is actually a sort of eulogy for Koopa the cat. It comes off as an upbeat song, but the message is a somber one. The guys from the band are some of the nicest people I've met, and work for a production equipment rental company that we've rented a lot from at RAW.
Heartless Bastards - Gates of Dawn
This song is about overcoming hardship. It's a pretty common message, but constantly being told with different metaphors. In terms of originality, this song is nothing new. The metaphor of night turning to day, or of cold winds giving way to a warm sun are incredibly overused, but still in this case make a song that I have a sort of love/hate relationship with due to it's unoriginality.
Spose - Nobody
Spose is one of my favorite artists that I found this year, I’ve already submitted one of his songs earlier in the year. Nobody is a great song about exceeding expectations and overcoming obstacles. A perfect message for the new year.
Mike L - G.T.F.U
Just one of my favorite trap songs released this year. No real reason beyond that.