SONGS! The teachers' edition has been postponed due to a lack of submissions. Shoutout to those who did submit songs, but please talk to your teachers about sending some more so that I can hopefully publish them next week! Submit here and listen here(Article Playlist) and here (Archive and Top Contributors). Get ready for the Teachers' Edition next week!
Watsky - Ink Don't Bleed feat. Anderson .Paak
San Fran rapper, poet, and writer George Watsky takes a look at the dark side of the entertainment industry from damaging stunts for publicity, behind the scenes contracts, and a general fake atmosphere where all morality is thrown aside for dollars. "Everything they say conflicts with everything I do but I must admit I did it so I guess it must be true." Fellow rising star out of California Anderson .Paak produces; delivering smooth backing guitar riffs, a heavy drum line, and the chorus where he states "I'd rather let the ink bleed." As a lyricist and writer, Watsky would rather let his pen tell the true story of his life, thoughts, and experiences even if it can be damaging to his reputation. Unlike other entertainers he'd rather not hide his past and other experiences that could turn many off, in the most compelling line "Mike says you gotta separate a person from their art
but if the art's about that person you can't pull em apart" he makes the claim that if your art revolves around people's investment in your life and story it's dangerous to deceive them.
J. Cole - Love Yourz
Jermaine Cole, North Carolina rapper, producer, and songwriter who shook the world with his breakthrough third album "2014 Forest Hills Drive" is never one to be too egotistical to avoid showing his innermost feelings and insecurities. Through his experiences rising above his small community that held so many back from greater ambition to stardom in the hip-hop scene he learned many lessons that he brings to his music in this 2014 album and none stick out more than the admission he makes towards the end on "Love Yourz." Over a light, backing piano chord and very subtle drum beat Cole shares that "there's beauty in the struggle, ugliness in the success." The hard work he put into his rise from the streets of Fayetteville is super gratifying but the stress and the new faces who appear now that he's rich get on his nerves to the point where he even claims he "thinks being broke was better, because what's money without happiness and hard times without the people you love?" He realizes the struggle of people living in poverty and barely getting by working incredibly hard are nothing compared to the pain he's facing but he uses his struggles to convey to his listeners maybe the most important concept of his album: if you live living yearning for what other people have you will never find true happiness because "there's no such thing as a life that's better than your's."
Pastor T.L. Barrett - Father I Stretch My Hands
A long gospel arrangement that has risen to prominence this year as the inspiration of the beginning portion of Kanye West's 2016 album "The Life of Pablo" whose promotion and release drama shook the hip-hop world earlier this year. What's most striking about the track is how generational music is, sounds are always passed down and as time goes on the lines between genres only continue to be blurred. These overwhelming gospel vocals about religious faith became a fixture to a hip-hop production job almost seamlessly and their prominence between the beats takes listeners back to a different era of music. This is a song I would have probably never heard if it wasn't for its use as a sample on Kanye's album but I can appreciate every bit of its harmonious verses thanks to hearing it and seeking the original track that served as inspiration, just as West continues to serve as inspiration for the new wave of artists today.
For added reference, here's how the track sounds as mixed by West on his 2016 track:
Haley Reinhart - Can't Help Falling in Love I heard this song in that gum commercial and I instantly fell in love. It is such a heartfelt and sweet cover. I'm not crying right now, I swear.
Phil Collins - In The Air Tonight I stole my mother's Phil Collins CD this weekend and have been listening to it all the time. Don't judge.
The cast of Miss Saigon - The Movie in My Mind This song is so heartbreaking. But I really like how much emotion is in it, especially in Rachelle Ann Go's voice. I personally think she's better than the original Gigi, as the original has a vibrato that reminds me of MirandaSings. They did change the lyrics for this revival, but I think it's better this way.
The cast of The Bridges of Madison County - One Second and a Million Miles I honestly had know idea what this musical was until I went to an Idina Menzel concert. Broadway in Boston was handing out these cards with a code to redeem songs on iTunes, and this was one of them. I love this song so much. Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale are so amazing. And the instruments are also really amazing too. Basically this song is amazing.
Lea Michele - On My Own from Les Miserables This song can give major emotions to anyone. And I love Lea Michele's voice. And I love the character who sings this, Éponine. Lea played her at the Hollywood Bowl, sang this song for her Glee audition, and sang it on Glee. Samantha Barks' version is also amazing too, but I just love Lea Michele's voice so much.
Aesop Rock - Fryerstarter
If you're unfamiliar with Aesop Rock's music and are a fan of hip-hop, you're in for a treat: Bavitz' music is in a very unique realm of hip-hop, typically extremely dense with content and literary devices. Bavitz' music is generally fast-paced and unrelenting, with each bar flowing directly into the next and referencing previous ones at all times. His songs are usually very long, run-on sentences with short pauses that provide the listener with little time to digest the seemingly never-ending torrent of oncoming wordplay, allusions, metaphors, and other devices; in order to fully appreciate his art, one must listen attentively with a lyric sheet in hand.
Fryerstarter is a song about a donut shop that serves as an oasis for an otherwise emotionally starved city, serving as a place where patrons, "raiders of the lost," can "navigate consecutive pastries like stations of the cross," forgetting their troubles for a while to "chew the eucharist in cruller form," alluding to the fact that Bavitz and other customers worship Bob's donuts, equating them to the Holy Communion in their importance; the dough is a "phoenix in the partially hydrogenated, equal parts flower, faith, healing, [and] might replace your previously nominated Jesus," continuing the allusions to religion and comparisons between the majesty of Bob's donuts and core elements of the Christian faith. Bavitz writes that the holy donuts attract people of all walks of life, such as "folk of opposing cultures, baby sitter[s], cop[s], thie[ves,] reverend[s]," and people with "body glitter, botched c-section[s], [and] bronze teeth."
All of this praise of what seems like a delightful place is contrasted against the song's very dark and ominous melodics which are a feature of Aesop Rock's music. An ominous wind introduces the bassy synths and lyrics, delivered by Bavitz' serious-sounding voice, backed by a repetitive mallet instrument and what sounds like a harpsichord that is brought in once in a while. In this particular song, the ominous tone may be a result of the time that the speaker is visiting Bob's donuts, hinted at as being late at night by "bright florescent heaven" and how the speaker is "in the company of similar believers, sleepless."
(if possible, include http://i.imgur.com/kWOkofW.jpg here, small but linking to the full size)
The way in which Bavitz writes about Bob's donuts in Fryerstarter is extremely well crafted and I've barely touched its surface here; a more complete delve into the song might take up several pages, as there's so much to talk about, so if you're interested, be sure to check out the lyrics. If you enjoyed the song, the Zero Dark Thirty and Ruby '81, songs that pad Fryerstarter on Skelethon and deal with a collapsing hip-hop industry and a dog's rescue of a drowning infant during a fourth of July party, respectively.
Andrea Polli - Taylor Glacier
Taylor Glacier, like the rest of Andra Polli's Sonic Antarctica, is a mashup of various sounds recorded during a stay with researchers in Antarcitca. Taylor glacier features glitchy sounds coming from radios and other equipment that are a bit less melodic than those on Tim Hecker's Radio Amor and interview with various Antarctic researchers. Among the people interviewed are what appear to be climate scientists and technicians. The music sometimes goes along with what comes up in the interviews, like a recording of wind playing when a climate scientist is talking about gusts of wind in Antarctica. Taylor Glacier is a bit droney, but the radio sounds do vary a bit over the course of the song and new clips are laid on once in a while to keep things interesting.
Current 93 - I Have a Special Plan for This World
"When everyone you have ever loved is finally gone / when everything you have ever wanted is finally done with / when all of your nightmares are for a time obscured / as by a shining brainless beacon / or a blinding eclipse of the many terrible shapes of this world / when you are calm and joyful / and finally entirely alone / then, in a great new darkness / you will finally execute your special plan."
This one is a bit different. A long, spoken-word track of 22 minutes, I Have a Special Plan for This World is meant to be mildly unsettling. According to Wikipedia, the lyrics, which deal with a disturbed person's narrative of the thought process leading to his Special Plan, are "taken from a poem of the same name by the author Thomas Ligotti," who was, also according to Wikipedia, "a contemporary American horror author and reclusive literary cult figure."
The lyrics explore the state of mind of the speaker and his various life experiences, like one with a shady man: "imagine, he said, all the flesh that is eaten / the teeth tearing into it / the tongue tasting its savor / and the hunger for that taste." In another instance, the speaker describes the man's encounter with a group of children, with the frantic repetition of phrases being indicative of the speaker's unstable mental state: "the children always followed him / when they saw him hopping by / a funny walk / a funny man / a funny funny funny man / he made them laugh sometimes / he made them laugh oh yes he did / he did he did he did he did."
Underneath the lyrics lie ominous, dark ambient noises like droning synths with heavy reverb and heavily distorted clips of human speech, meant to augment the lyrics in their portrayal of the speaker. At one point in the song, the droning synths are removed, disrupting the song's structure by leaving only the distorted speech. The speaker's voice itself is passed through a filter that sort of muddies it up, making it sound like a tape recording. In the last stretch of the song, the first verse is repeated by a voice that is no longer muddied up and distorted at first, but becomes increasingly glitchy and distorted until the song comes to a close.
11 Acorn Lane - Perfect (Electro Swing Remix)
A really upbeat remix from a new favorite of mine and can’t not have an electro swing submission. There is also a non remixed version which is just as good. They also have a remix of Ladies night which I almost used instead.
Frank Sinatra - That's Life
My favorite Frank Sinatra song and one I feel doesn’t get as much attention as it should. I feel that I can relate to this song more than others.
Hermitude - Golden A long time favorite. A really chill song with a really interesting sound.
Titus Andronicus - My Eating Disorder
Sorry for doing it again, but somehow I always get a very real, sincere vibe from songs about eating disorders. I suppose to open up about something like an eating disorder, the writer has to be sincere. It's not something one writes about lightly. Anyway, I'm writing about this song because I finally went to a Titus Andronicus show this past Saturday, and they were damn good live (and I met Patrick Stickles and got his signature, but that's beside the point). This song is partially set inside the head of someone with an eating disorder, playing the "inner demons" of sorts, telling the person with the disorder constantly to "spit it out, spit it out, spit it out." At the beginning, it's the victim talking about ADD or ADHD medication, and how his parents started him early "drug addict since single digits" and goes on to talk about the effects of his disorder on his life. Now that he's older, he finds it harder to explain why his eating habits are so strange, so he hides his insecurities "behind a hairy face," suggesting that he tries to appear more masculine and secure than he is. This would explain Stickles' shaving his beard in order to "stop hiding" (The Guardian, 2012). Excellent song from an excellent group that is also excellent live. I love their raw honesty.
Jeff Rosenstock - You, In Weird Cities
Pretty nice punk song about missing childhood. The speaker's friends all moved on with their lives, but he's still living like he always has, and he misses the good times hanging out with his friends, "in weird cities." I found this at #1 on the top albums of 2015 as selected by /r/punk, which I strongly recommend checking out if you're into punk rock.
Brendon Benson - Metarie
At first glance(or first listen), this seems like a song about a girl, but listening on reveals it's similar to You, In Weird Cities. It's about being stuck in the same place in life, and not knowing how to get out. The speaker fails at romance, and realizes it's because he's stuck. He essentially complains, blames it on his location, and uses it as an excuse for why his music lacks life. The honesty and reality of the song make me feel otherwise, but it is his lack of "a life" that makes this song sincere and believable.