Sunday, January 1, 2017

United States of Pop 2016 (Into Pieces)

Happy New Year!

United States of Pop 2016 (Into Pieces) by DJ Earworm

If you're not familiar with DJ Earworm, he's a DJ and producer who is famous for his mashups. I've been following him since he did his first "United States of Pop" video almost a decade ago, and my favorite part of every year is listening to what he comes up with.

As you can probably tell from the video embedded above, DJ Earworm's creation mashes up the most popular songs of the year into a single track. The result is something entirely new.

I know when I first started listening to these things, it was hard to think of it as its own song because, of course, we're all familiar with the original songs. But just wait until you have it stuck in your head, and you'll realize it has its own melody.

It also has its own lyrics. Again, at first I could only hear the individual clips, but DJ Earworm weaves them together in such a way that the lyrics tell a new, complete story.

DJ Earworm - or Jordan Roseman - says he start by collecting the lyrics of the year's pop hits into a single document.

"I'll sort of scan through the document and try to identify my main thesis. If the sentences don't exist, I try to build them from the individual phrases and see if I can get something that creates the sentiment so that it goes from darkness into light, it gives you an emotional journey" (x).

He always hopes that it "conveys the general feeling of the year" (x).

2016, of course, has been a wild ride, so I was curious to hear his take on it. He calls this year's mashup "Into Pieces."

"I liked it because it was about my artistic method — I cut things into pieces," he says. "But also, it very much feels like our world is fracturing" (x).

This was this only track I could choose tonight.

a) It covers all the most popular songs of the year, including 6 (out of the 25 used in the song) that I covered previously on this blog. What a perfect recap.

b) It's all pop music, which - after listening to songs of myriad genres throughout the course of this year and my 366 (it was a leap year) blog posts - is still my favorite. I like not having to think too hard. I like being able to sing along after listening to a song for 30 seconds.

c) Per tradition, I was going to listen to it anyway.

I hope y'all have enjoyed this experience as much as I have, and I hope I introduced you to a few new songs. I know I found a bunch of artists that I never would have discovered without this blog. Thank you for sticking with me :)



helped this year (and this blog) end on a good note (no pun intended)

Special thanks to my biggest contributors:
- Manny A.
- Michelle K.
- Kim C.
- Robert E.

I couldn't have done it without you!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Come Down

Come Down

Come Down by Sylvan Esso

Recommended by Skye D.

This quirky North Carolina duo is always impressing me.

Lead singer Amelia Meath has a beautiful voice with a folksy tone that expresses emotion like no other. The band have talked about how they use the voice as an instrument, so that it's difficult to separate the lyrics from the background; Meath's voice is one with the twang of the guitar.

In this particular song, she sings slowly, each syllable distinct, and it's full of sadness.

The lyrics talk about growing older. It's about how one day you're at home and your parents are still bathing you, and then suddenly you're going away with your brand new husband who you think loves you so.

That's not even cynical, but it's such a good lyric. I'm sure your spouse will love you, and you're sure, or else you wouldn't be marrying them. But still, no one does unconditional love quite like family.

And anyway, it's always bittersweet to be moving out and relying less and less on the people who used to do everything for you. But that's life.




Favorite Lyrics:
There's a man I know.
I think he loves me so.

real talk, not my favorite song by this band, 'cause it's not as feel-good you know? but still into it

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Fade Away


Fade Away by Mac McComb (YouTube Channel)

Recommended by Michelle K.

"Mac is from Marietta and a self taught musician. He writes all music and lyrics for 99% of songs. His cousin Jack plays the guitar and trumpet in this, and they both are amazing. They recently played in my house for about 50 of his friends. He's so good and wonderful live. I know he's going to be on the big stage some day."

We all know Athens, Georgia has a rich history of musical talent, ranging from R.E.M. to The B-52's to, more recently, Reptar. Not to mention, we have some of the best music venues anywhere. 

Check out Wikipedia if you don't believe me. Or, better yet, come pay us a visit.

(Go to a concert. You might run into the next big thing.)

Speaking of which, the song today is an original by Mac McComb, who performs in Athens and hails from my very own Marietta, Georgia. Great guy, so I've heard. Also great music, so I've heard. And now you've heard.

The first thing that stuck out in this piece is that the trumpet is great, dude, very cool. Unexpected. Horns are generally under-utilized, to be honest.

My favorite thing, though, is the way the instrumentals are sometimes stripped down to nothing but sparse guitar chords. Like here. There's something haunting about the way McComb's strong, deep voice is laid bare in those sections. Makes you shiver.

I'm into the general vibe of the song and the atmosphere created by the video. Will be watching out for new stuff.

So glad I got slipped this recommendation before the end of the year! This is the kinda stuff I had in mind when I started this blog in the first place. Hope y'all enjoyed :)



gotta support local

Sunset Soon Forgotten

Chiller Than The Weather

Sunset Soon Forgotten by Iron & Wine

Lovely song.

It comes from Our Endless Numbered Days (2004). This was Iron & Wine's second full-length album and the first to be produced in a professional studio, the first having been recorded on only a four-track tape recorder at Sam Beam's home.

There's something super soothing about this song. I think it's mostly in Beam's gentle voice, the way he projects only enough to be heard over the acoustic guitar, so as not to lose the intimacy.

He sings like he has a secret, and you can't help but feel like if you listen closely, you'll uncover it.


Indie Folk

Favorite Lyrics:
We've learned to hide our bottles in the well 
And what's worth keeping, sun still sinking 
Down and down 


Wednesday, December 28, 2016


For My Cousins

Girls by The 1975

Recommended by Carrie D.

When I first heard this song, I thought they were saying ghosts not girls.

Obviously wrong.

I like this track. Carrie recommended like a zillion songs by this band, so I had to pick my favorites out of the seven. This is the third and final one.

I'm not sure what it is that I like about it. The guitar strum pattern is exactly what you expect from The 1975, and it's just as catchy as the other options.

I think it's the lyrics. I mean, the creepy obsession with 17-year-olds is not good, but at least it seems to be like "nah, don't go for that jailbait." Yeah...anyway, I was reading this blog talk about how the word seventeen itself is prettier than the other "teens" because it's the only one with three syllables. Plus, it rhymes with more words. And, listen, there's something to that.

It's a good post; it's better than mine. Plus it gives you 17 songs for the price of one, read that instead.

But yeah, good jam.


Pop Rock / Funk

Favorite Lyrics:
she can't be what you need if she's seventeen
they're just girls

all the best songs are about being 17

Monday, December 26, 2016

Tainted Love

Fatal Attraction

Tainted Love by Soft Cell

"Me and my STA team, including my college roommate Jim, got in a van and traveled all over the south to play tennis. During the drives, we played a bunch of road games, and all the wile, Jim was singing this song I didn't think he was that great of a singer, but he had no shame. I mean, he wasn't bad, but yeah, he really went for it. This song is just attached to some really good memories."

This song was originally a northern soul track composed by Ed Cobb and recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964, but it didn't hit its height of international popularity until the 1981 version by Soft Cell (x).

Jones herself has said that the Soft Cell version is the best. "I loved the emotion in [Almond's] voice. Their version was far better than mine" (x). Funny enough, the vocal track used was Almond's first take. It was just just a run-through so they could "tweak the settings," but they thought the emotion he delivered was perfect (x).

They transposed the original from C to G and slowed it down. It has some sticking power, let me tell you. You'll be singing this in your head for a good minute.

In 1000 UK Number One Hits, Soft Cell's vocalist Marc Almond called the song "A mixture of cold electronics with an over-passionate, over-exuberant, slightly out of key vocal."

The song is about a toxic relationship, very clearly. But given the time during which it was released, it took on a second meaning, which had to do with the AIDS epidemic. This was never something considered by Soft Cell before the song's release, and it certainly was not the intention of Cobb, but Almond has said that he accepts the interpretation (x).

When Soft Cell first recorded this song, they expected it to be a "throwaway cover song" (x). That's uplifting somehow. If you've got an idea, just go for it, 'cause you never know.


Synth Pop

Favorite Lyrics:
But I'm sorry, 
I don't pray that way.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

O Holy Night

Merry Christmas

O Holy Night by John Berry

Recommended by my parents

This suggestion has been sitting on my list for a really long time. When I first started this blog in January, my dad said I had to cover a John Berry song because he's one of the best artists to come out of Athens, Georgia...but at the time, he couldn't think of recommending something other than Berry's Christmas music, specifically O Holy Night. My mom's favorite was The Little Drummer Boy.

Either way, I figured it wasn't the time for it. Now, 12 months and 359 blog posts later, I'm finally fulfilling his wish.

(Full disclosure, I covered Berry's Your Love Amazes Me earlier this year. But anyway...)

Then, a few weeks ago, my mom went to a John Berry concert and her love for the guy exploded anew. She bought like eight copies of his Christmas album to give away as gifts. We listened to it in the car today as we headed to my grandparents' house.

John Berry's version of this traditional hymn charted at 55 and 63 in two separate years, earning itself a place on Wikipedia's "Notable versions" list on the official O Holy Night page (x).

It's also the title track for his Christmas album.

I love this guy's voice, smooth and strong. Even though he's a country singer, this song doesn't have much of a southern twang. It's pure and sweet, his voice filling vast spaces over poignant strings. I typically prefer fun, secular Christmas songs, but this is one exception that I enjoy very much.

I've always thought the chorus and the imagery of falling onto your knees in the presence of the angels was incredibly powerful.

Have a blessed evening if you're into that. If not, then to all a good night.



Favorite Lyrics:
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.

a great performance of one of my favorite serious Christmas songs