Song Review: The Night We Met

This post contains possible spoilers of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.  This blog contains some specific details about episode 5, Tape 3 Side A, as well as a clip from said episode.

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Before last week I had never heard of the band Lord Huron, let alone their song “The Night We Met”. I first heard the song while I was watching Netflix’s adaptation of Jay Ashner’s novel 13 Reasons Why. I loved the show overall and one of my favorite parts of the show was its soundtrack. I felt that the music that they played matched not only the scenes, but the overall feel of the show very well, but that is for another post. “The Night We Met” was played in episode 5, Tape 3 Side A, the song is played in flashbacks to the night of the Winter Formal where Clay and Hannah dance to this song. While this is not the night that these two first met, other parts of the song are very fitting and relevant to their relationship.

 

Lord Huron is a Los Angeles based indie folk band that formed in 2010. The band is made up of Tom Renaud, Brett Farkas, Mark Barry, and Ben Schneider. They are currently signed with IAMSOUND Records and have released two albums-Lonesome Dreams(2012) and Strange Trails (2015)- and three EPs- Mighty(2010), Into the Sun(2010), and Lord Huron and Friends(2011). While “The Night We Met” is not their only chart topper, it is there most popular song right now, which most likely has to due with widespread popularity of 13 Reasons Why. Ben Schneider has says that he some of his songs were inspired by nature and that is definitely obvious.

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“The Night We Met” is from Lord Huron’s second and most recent album, Strange Trails. The song overall can only be described as haunting, beautiful, and nostalgia. In the scene where Clay and Hannah are dancing to this song Clay mentions that the song sounds like something out of an old movie. And he is absolutely right, there is a very nostalgic quality about the song, which likely is due to the combination of the reflective lyrics and the dreamy haunting melody. The vocalist’s voice is very dreamy, he does this by alternating from strong to soft and by “ending” each line by stretching and rolling the last words. The instrumental of the song is also important and amazing, the band uses their instruments to create a mellow and hypnotic background that balances very well with the vocalist’s lilting voice. The vocals, instruments, and lyrics all combine to give the song a very nostalgic and haunting sound, its almost as if you are strolling down memory lane with the singer.

 

The lyrics of the song are very fitting for Clay’s situation. Throughout the series Clay is listening to the tapes in the hopes of understanding why Hannah killed herself and how he was involved her her decision. The song pretty much chronicles Clay’s journey and struggle throughout the whole season, he, like the vocalist, is lost in the present and wants to go back to the past when he still has time to right wrongs and change things for the better. The third verse of the song is a good example of how Clay’s experience is parallel to the singers, “I had all and then most of you, some and now none of you/ Take me back to the night we met/ I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, haunted by the ghost of you/ Oh take me back to the night we met“. While listening to the tapes Clay is forced to reminisce about his times with Hannah, which leads him to realize all that he missed. It also forces him to recognize that there where in a sense two Hannahs; the one he “knew” and the one he didn’t know, his cool and funny schoolmate/work buddy and a young girl who was constantly suffering through bullying, loneliness, and depression. On top of that Clay is also haunted by Hannah’s ghost, in the form of the tapes and his memories of her.

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In conclusion, this song is awesome in just about every way and I think that its worth a listen or too. If you loved “The Night We Met” as much as I did, I definitely think that giving the band’s other songs a listen will be very beneficial. I think that many of the other songs on their album have that nostalgic woodsy sound that drew people to The Night We Met.

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Artist Profile: Fall Out Boy

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Fall Out Boy is one of the most iconic emo-pop bands around. Even when they were not active, they still were able to maintain their level of relevance when the time came for them to re-emerge themselves into the music scene.While the band has been around since 2001 they took a hiatus in 2008 because of tension between Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump. Fortunately, five years later in 2013 the band reunited and started making music together again. Not only are they still making new music, after being around for more than a decade, they are still making great music.

The band is made up of four members; Pete Wentz, Joe Trohman, Patrick Stump, and Andrew Hurley. With the exception of Andrew Hurley all the members of Fall Out Boy have been part of the band since 2001. Andrew Hurley, who is the current drummer, has only been the band’s drummer since 2003. Before Hurley Ben Rose (2001-2001) and Mike Pareskuwicz (2001-2003) were the drummers. Besides drummers Fall Out Boy has had a couple of guitaritst that no longer play with them, Brandon Hamm (2002- 2002) and TJ “Raccine” Kunasch (2001-2002).

As of 2015 Fall Out Boy has released 8 albums; Fall Out Boy’s Evening Out With Your Girlfriend(2003), Take This to Your Grave(2003), From Under the Cork Tree(2005),  Infinity on High (2007), Folie à deux (2008), Save Rock and Roll(2013), American Beauty / American Psycho(2015), and Make America Psycho Again [remixes] (2015). They also have one live album, 28 singles, and appear on album/soundtracks.

Peter “Pete” Lewis Kingston Wentz III is a well know 37 year old musician and Fall Out Boy’s bassist. Wentz developed an interest in music at an early age where he was heavily influenced by musicians like the Smiths. This love of music lead to him learning to play piano and eventually the bass. His lyrics are also a direct result of his early life. One of the things that fans love the most about Fall Out Boy is the…lyrics in there songs. Pete Wentz draws from his troubled repressed past to write, ” the highly personal nature of his lyrics and his clever wordplay” which… with fans. While Pete Wentz might have made his claim to fame as the stereotypical emo bassist-he famously wore eyeliner, dark clothes, and skinny jeans- for “emo-pop”  band Fall Out Boy, he has made his mark outside of the band. Currently Wentz is a husband, father, entrepreneur, and he does some solo work.

Joseph “Joe” Trohman is a popular musician at 32 years old and he is Fall Out Boy’s lead guitarist. Trohman grew up with Wentz in Chicago and that was were they meet Patrick Stump and formed fall out boy. Outside of Fall Out Boy he is a husband, father, actor, and he is associated with other musical groups. He also has the iconic long curly hair.

Patrick Stump is 32 years old and a guitarist for Fall out Boy. Besides being the band’s guitarist, Stump is also their frontman. A frontman is just another way of saying that he serves as the band’s lead vocalist. What is ironic about Stump having this position is that he did not really want it, it was not something that he sought out because for the most part he is a pretty low key guy even though he is a famous musician. In an interview with the New York Times he elaborates this by saying, “I got really lucky in Pete. He’s such a personality that I don’t have to be a character, really. It’s selfish that I let him get thrust into that, but it was awesome for me“. Stump met Trohman at a borders book store and then he later met Wentz at Trohman’s house and while he eventually became the guitarist and frontman of Fall Out Boy Stump was originally a drummer. Patrick Stump also acts as a songwriter for the band along with Pete Wentz. This partnership is the perfect example of what good can come about when opposites attract. While Wentz tends to write deeply personal lyrics, Stump balances this out by writing the “catchy melodies” that everyone knows and loves. Like his band mates Stump also has a life outside of Fall Out Boy and is a part of several projects, musical and otherwise. On top of being a father and a husband Stump works with several big names in the music industry. He’s produced with Cobra Starship, Tyga, Gym Class Heroes, Lupe Fiasco, and more. Patrick Stump is an incredibly  talented singer, songwriter, guitar player, and producer.

Andrew “Andy” John Hurley is Fall Out Boy’s 36 year old drummer. Hurley was inspired to play the drums because of Metallica’s drummer Hurley was the only member of the band that was not present at the band’s birth, he joined the band in 2003 after they already released their first album.

Fall Out Boy’s sound is usually labeled as emo pop, pop punk, or pop rock. Personally I think that their sound is varies too much to just be emo pop. Just by listening to all their songs over the years you can hear how their sound has evolved just as much as their image has and this is largely due to Patrick Stump’s musical genius and phenomenal vocals, Pete Wentz’s lyrical genius, and the band’s abundance of talent. What’s also note worthy is that a wide variety of artist who are associated with a wide range of genres feature in their songs. They have done songs with Demi Lovato, Big Sean, The Foxes, Elton John, and so much more.

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The Phoenix was actually the first ever Fall Out Boy song that I heard, and I have to say it is still in one of my favorites to this day. Its impossible for me to choice my favorite Fall Out Boy song because there are a lot of really great ones, but I guess I can try to narrow down my top favorites to ten. My top 10 favorite Fall Out Boy Songs are Young Volcanoes, Jet Pack Blues, The Phoenix, Novocaine, Save Rock and Roll, The Kids Aren’t Alright, Just One Yesterday, Death Valley, Twin Skeletons, and A Little Less Sixteen Candles A Little More “Touch Me”.

In conclusion, if you are looking for some great music to listen to give Fall Out Boy a chance and you’ll thank them for the memories.

Artist Interview: Fred Cayemitte

The artist that I chose to interview is my older brother Fredner Cayemitte. Fred, the oldest of four siblings and a twin, is 23 years old and he works as a Web Producer for Voice of America in Washington DC. He graduated from Bloomfield College in 2016 with a Bachelor of Sciences and is currently working on his masters degree. Fred and his family are originally from Haiti, but immigrated to the United States. Haitian music and culture have a great influence on his music. While music is not his career or main passion it is a huge part of his life and his number one hobby. On top of doing some solo work he is a part of Maranatha Youth Choir (MYC) and God’s Messengers.

The following is my interview with him.

  • Who influences you musically?
    • “To be honest I would say that my main influence was listening to the radio back in the day in Haiti.”
  • What kind of music do you listen to?
    • “I listen to many type of music, mostly Gospel, Compas, R&B, Zouk, Jazz, and Classical. The only type of music I hate is the kind song by groups like One Direction.”
      • [So basically he hates almost all of the music that I like]
  • What kind of music do you play?

  • What musical groups are you a part of?
    • “I have been a part of several groups, but currently I am a part of two groups; a Compas band [The Brothers] and a Gospel band [God’s Messengers]. I am also working solo on some Rap.”
  • When did you first become interested in playing music?
    • “I became interested in playing music when I heard a good piece of Tremolo playing on the radio. Tremolo is a fast paced musical piece that is played on the guitar.”
  •  Where do you want to go with your music in the future?
    • “I don’t plan to turn music into a career, but it would be cool if I start making real money with music. I also want plan to be different then most artist now who sing with playbacks and voice changing software like auto tune. I want to use my real voice like I have been.”
  • What instruments do you play?
    • “I play the guitar, both electric and acoustic.”
  • Where did you learn to play?
    • “I learned to play the guitar from books, Youtube tutorials, and from my friends who played guitar”
  • What draws you to music?
    • ” I like the sounds that I make when playing an instrument. Those sounds just catch my attention and draw me in'”
My brother and I have completely opposing tastes in music and musical talent, so interviewing him and learning about him and his views as a musician was interesting.

Music Scene: Woodstock 2019

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The Woodstock Music and Art Festival took place on a weekend in August of 1969, between the 15th and the 18th. The producers of the festival (see picture below) were Artie Kornfeld, Michael Lang, John Roberts, and  Joel Rosenman. Originally the festival was supposed to happen in Wallkill New York, but after the citizens of Wallkill backed out the producers were forced to move it around until eventually a farmer named Max Yasgur rented out his land to the producers. So while the  concert was named after the city of Woodstock New York, it actually took place in the small rural town of Bethel New York. Woodstock was and is still culturally and historically significant. Not only was Woodstock the forebear of music festivals, it also is widely considered the “crowning jewel” of the counter culture.

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When you think about the circumstances which lead to the concert it is pretty astonishing that it was so successful. First of all, they did not have a set venue until right before the festival. Also way more then the anticipated number of people showed up, about twice as much as what they  were expecting. This huge amount of people drained their resources very quickly which lead to a lot of hungry and dehydrated people wandering about covered in mud and in desperate need of a bathroom. Surprisingly even under these conditions only a handful of people died that weekend. Even more surprising more surprising none of the deaths were a result of violence on the part of the festival goers.

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The music from Woodstock was also legendary. From the very beginning the producers advertised a lot of famous musicians that were set to play sometime over the weekend. “Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, the Who, Janis Joplin and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were among the line-up“. The performers and performances that weekend were unforgettable. One of the my personal favorite performances of the festival was Jimi Hendrix’s portrayal of the “Star Spangled Banner”. Its a very interesting interpretation of such a well known and important song. It was a pretty legendary performance and I can only imagine what it would have been like to actually be there hearing it live instead of settling for videos. A lot of the performances were commentaries on real world issues, specifically the Vietnam War which the counterculture famously opposed wholeheartedly. Country Joe and the “Fish’s I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixing-To-Die-Rag” was a pretty famous anti-war performance that happened at the festival. Under the catchy and seemingly upbeat  music the lyrics are actually dark and emotional.  The performances were varied, but nonetheless enjoyable and memorable. Overall, the music really fit with the overarching theme of peace, love, and freedom.

From everyone’s descriptions of Woodstock and from watching the movie I would say that the… of Woodstock was feeling contentedness, joy, and freedom even though you are dehydrated and hungry and muddy in a crowded mud/ feces-filled farmland surrounded by good music and drugged up youth. Woodstock had a unique atmosphere that other music festivals, including the Woodstock anniversary festivals, desperately tried to replicate.

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The reason that I am writing about Woodstock and not about another event or festival is because of Woodstock 2019. 2019 will be the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival. In honor of Woodstock turning 50 the producers are planing a festival. In several interviews producer Michael Lang talked about the fact that the festival was in its planning stages so they don’t even really know who will be on the line-up yet. I think that the festival has a lot of potential to be epic, regardless of who is on the set list. Though I definitely see why many people are skeptical of its success, Woodstock 1999-the 30th anniversary and the most recent Woodstock festival- was a total disaster. But I think that people should keep an open mind because now the producers no what  not to do in 2019 and there are countless great artist to choose from for the line-up.

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Woodstock 1994 did not quite capture the spirit of its predecessor, but there were some similarities like the fact that hundreds of thousands of mud covered people hung out in a muddy field all listening to music surrounded by drunk and high festival goers. And while the festival wasn’t by any means violence free it ultimately didn’t end in disaster. Also artist like Green Day and Bob Dylan were part of the set list. This was a pretty important milestone in Green Day‘s career.

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Woodstock 1999 was a total disaster. What was supposed to be a weekend about music, peace, love, and honoring the memory of a piece of American History became a full blown American history became a full blown riot with arson, rape, and destruction. The atmosphere was completely divergent from that of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. After having to suffer through some pretty bad conditions as well as being riled up by some of the acts festival goers became fed up and took out their outrage by setting fires, looting ATMs and stores, and performing in other instances of violence. Despite all of problems with Woodstock 1999, and there were a lot of problems, I liked the music overall. I thought that there were a variety of great or interesting acts.

In conclusion, Woodstock was really cool in the 1960s and it has potential to be really cool in 2019. I think that the original had a very unique atmosphere that people try to recreate time and time again with little success. Woodstock is significant in American history and it has left lasting impacts on American society and culture then and now.

 

Royals by Lorde

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Ella Yelich-O’Connor, famously known as Lorde, is a Kiwi singer and songwriter. In 2013, at the age of 17, she released “Royals” as her debut album and it became an international hit. The song spent 23 consecutive weeks at number one, which is already a big deal, but the fact that she was relatively unknown makes this an even bigger deal. She went on to release her first album “Pure Heroine” in 2013 and her second album “Melodrama” is set to be released later this year.

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The beat is pretty consistent throughout the entire song. There are slight variations here and there, but for the most part the same beat (sounds kind of like snap clap) repeats throughout the entire song. The only time you cannot hear the beat is before Lorde starts the chorus. When the chorus is about to start there is a brief pause. Personally, I like this seeming lack of activity in the melody. First of all, I think that it was an interesting choice for Lorde to make. I think majority of the pop songs you hear on the radio today has a lot going on musically, which people like because the goal is to get people to love the song and want to dance and sing along to it. A fair assumption to make about a song that doesn’t seem to have a lot going on is that it’s boring, and no one wants to listen to boring music let alone dance to it. The danceability of a song is pretty important, as can be seen by the countless club mixes made for popular songs. I also think that the song not being so busy highlights Lorde’s voice.Her voice just fits so perfectly with the song that you won’t even notice that the beat repeats itself for pretty much the whole song unless you are paying really close attention.

Lorde’s voice is kind of hard to describe in general because its so unique. Its kind of a contradiction of detached, throaty, and soft but strong. I also love how she annunciations specific words while holding others it makes for a very interesting and unique sound. Even as early as the first three lines of the song she is using that delicate balance, “I’ve never seen a diamond in the flesh/I cut my teeth on wedding rings in the movies/And I’m not proud of my address“. The backup vocals also add depth to the sound. When she sings the words “Royals” and  “Ruler” you can actually here the backup vocals.

This song is very fun to listen to fully, but when you break it up and analyze each individual part its even more fun and interesting. I strongly recommend listening to the song both ways to get the full experience. I found that when I listened to the whole song first, then just the instrumental, then just the vocals, and then the whole song again I got a new perspective of the song. Lorde is a very talented artist and that fact is really showcased in the song.

Badlands by Halsey- A track by track review

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To the people who mistakenly think that New Jersey is nothing more than a boring suburb of New York, think again. New Jersey has gifted the world with tons of awesome stuff and people, one of those people being Halsey. Ashley Fragipane, more commonly known as Halsey, is a 22 year old American singer-songwriter. One of her most recognizable songs is “Gasoline”, which is featured in Badlands Deluxe. Her most recent release is “I’m Not Afraid Anymore”, which is for the new movie 50 Shades Darker. Badlands is actually her most recent album and it came out in 2015.

I have been listening to this album long before I decided to write about it. I really like it, I think that its interesting, and inspirational, and just really fun. When I’m drawing I usually listen to a playlist that consist of Halsey and a couple of other artist because her music inspires me and really helps my creative process. So when I was thinking about what album to do a track by track on this seemed like the obvious choice. Badlands only has 11 songs-“Castle”, “Hold Me Down”, “New Americana”, “Drive”,  “Roman Holiday”, “Colors”, “Coming Down”, “Haunting”, ” Control”, “Young God”, and “Ghost” – on it, while Badlands Deluxe has 17 songs.

I really admire Halsey as a singer for a lot of reasons. First of all, I really love her vocals. She has a way of bringing the music to life with her voice. She really has a lot of control over her voice which allows her to manipulate it in an amazing way. I also love her lyrics, a lot of people write off her songs as the standard angst teen music, but I think that there is a lot more to her music than people see on the surface. By actually listening to her lyrics it becomes obvious that they are well thought out and poetically crafted. She uses a lot of metaphor, but at the same time her lyrics are mostly straightforwards. She works really hard on her music and when you listen to it you can tell.

The first song on Badlands is “Castle”. The melody of “Castle” is very rhythmic and something between gloomy and neutral, and you can definitely here the electric pop. I really love her vocals in this song. I love how she is able to sound neutral, but emotional at the same time.

The second song is “Hold Me Down”. This was actually the first song I heard by Halsey and it brought me to her music. I really like this song because even though it was about her own personal experiences with someone she was able to make it relatible. Everyone deals with issues that they struggle to overcome. The first 14 seconds of the song is just music, no vocals, and the tune is very suspenseful. It leads up to the lyrics really nicely. To me it emphasizes how well the music and lyrics blend together. Throughout the song the music stays relatively suspenseful, but rhythmic. Unlike some artist, Halsey does not sugarcoat her lyrics, she goes right into what she’s trying to say. The first verse of “Hold Me Down” is “My demons are begging me to open up my mouth/I need them mechanically make the words come out/They fight me, vigorous and angry, watch them pounce/Ignite me, licking at the flames they bring about”. She goes right into talking about her personal demons and how she struggles against them.

The next song was “New Americana”, which is really an anthem for the people who grew up in the era that she keeps mentioning. Unlike in the previous song New Americana starts with Halsey singing instead of unaccompanied music. The music starts off light and airy- I can’t help but think of it as twinkly. Its kind of like a false upbeat sound because the airy bell sounds in the background sound almost foreboding. The music eventually becomes upbeat, its like a chant or a battle cry. The melody of the chorus sounds like marching. I really loved the chorus, the lyrics are extremely memorable, catchy, and inspiring and the music is upbeat-though not too upbeat. My favorite part was, “They’re Monaco and Hampton’s bound, but we don’t feel like outsiders at all./We are the new Americana (ah, ah, ah)/High on legal marijuana (sky high)/Raised on Biggie and Nirvana (ah, ah, ah)/We are the new Americana (ah…)”. I also loved the social commentary and real life experiences included in the song, it makes it much more interesting and if you actually listen to the lyrics you can here the stories that Halsey is trying to tell.

The fourth song of the album was “Drive”. “Drive” starts off as sounds from a car and morphs into the music of the song. I thought that that was a very interesting choice to make. The song in general sounds melancholy and a little foreboding. Despite-or maybe in spite- of the melancholiness of the song I find it really enjoyable and catchy. I have never even been to California, but I can’t helping singing along to “And California never felt like home to me/And California never felt like home”.

“Roman Holiday” is the next song that plays and it is a very rhythmic song, that is also a little light. The song is nostalgic, but forward-looking at the same time. Halsey also reflects this concept in the melody of the music.My favorite part of the song is when she drags out the note of certain words in the chorus, it makes the song sound very emotional. “We’ll be looking for sunlight/Or the headlights/Till our wide eyes burn blind/We’ll be lacing the same shoes/That we’ve worn through/To the bottom of the line/And we know that we’re headstrong/And our heart’s gone/And the timing’s never right/But for now let’s get away/On a Roman holiday”. This technique emphasizes the control that she has over her voice.

“Colors” is the sixth song on the Badlands album. The melody of this song is kind of upbeat, I think that its because of the bells playing in the background of the song, they really lighten it up. About 2/3rds of the way through the songs Halsey stops sings and starts to talk instead. She says, “You were red and you liked me ’cause I was blue/You touched me and suddenly I was a lilac sky/And you decided purple just wasn’t for you”. This is very notable, because this is the only time that she does this in the whole album. Lastly, “Color’s” lyrics are very matter a fact, but there is also a lot of symbolism, which I think makes it fun to listen to.

“Coming Down” is the seventh song on the album and it is the song with the most religious metaphors and references. With the amount of metaphors and symbolism found in her songs, it is very apparent, that Halsey puts a lot of thoughts into her lyrics. The music of this track is mellow and a little melancholy. the guitar gives the song a very calm feel. This song definitely feels much more laid back then the other songs, only in terms of melancholy though, because the lyrics are still personal and metaphoric.

The title “Haunting”, the eighth song on the album, describes the track perfectly. The melody of this track is haunting and ominous, though it is still rhythmic and catchy. The lyrics are also pretty gloomy. Essentially what Halsey is trying to get across is that despite all the bad things she’s done and previously trying to get rid of whoever she’s singing about, she desperately wants them to stay in her presence. Despite all of this, it is still a pretty good song.

“Control” is the ninth track on the album and it is one of my absolute favorite songs on the album. I can listen to it dozens of times and it never gets old. The melody of this song is gloomy and haunting just like the last song. I also noted that Halsey is able to make her voice sound as haunting as the music, which is really cool. My favorite part of this song is the chorus, “And all the kids cried out,/’Please stop, you’re scaring me.’/I can’t help this awful energy/Goddamn right, you should be scared of me/Who is in control?”. This part of the song just gives me goosebumps, its so good. I also liked that she says a lot of positive stuff in this track. When she sings, “I’m bigger than my body/I’m colder than this home/I’m meaner than my demons/I’m bigger than these bones”, she’s inspiring listeners to take back control of themselves and face their “demons”.

The next track is “Young God”. Within the first seconds of this song you can tell that it is much lighter and upbeat than the other songs on the album. It is also very dreamy and rhythmic. Even thought the track is only three minutes long it feels much shorter than that.  I think that’s due in part to Halsey singing some parts of the song fast. And by fast I mean fast for her because she tends to drag out her lyrics down to the syllable in a way that feels very thoughtful and emotional.

The final track on the album is “Ghost”. What’s really interesting about “Ghost” is that Halsey actually wrote it first, long before any of the other songs, but it still ended up being the last song on the album. This song is pretty fat and the melody is rhythmic and dreamy. The lyrics are nostalgic and remind me of Haunting. I feel like it really sums up the album, but at the same time it leaves the listener with something new. I think that this song was a perfect one to end the album to.

Overall Badlands is a worthwhile album to listen to. I really recommend listening to any of the songs on there, or any Halsey song for that matter. Halsey clearly put a lot of thought and work into this album and it shows, so if you ever need music to paint to I strongly recommend giving this album, or the individual tracks on this album, a listen.

Street Music In New York

Whenever I go into the city, New York City specifically, I always look forward to seeing the street performances. There is a certain unpredictability  in them, because you never really know what you’ll see or where you’ll see it. Personally, I feel like that inconsistency adds to the experience as a whole. It’s so much fun to be part of the crowd and part of the performance at the same time. The performers really know how to create a performance that brings the audience in. It’s not uncommon to see people singing and clapping along to the music and just interacting with the performers. It’s a very interesting and interactive experience.

New York City is known for being an incredibly culturally diverse city, and this fact can be seen in just about every corner of the city. In the cuisine, art, music, and citizenry of the city you can find traces of different cultures and influences. One of the well known phenomena of New York City is the street performances. Street performers come out in subways and street corners to display their talents, whether is be art, music, etc. In fact the street music of New York is kind of tourist attraction in its own right. Its pretty hard to go into the city and leave without seeing a single street performer…The experience is pretty incredible, because in all the hustle and bustle of the city there will be a performer or performers sharing their craft with random passersby who have the choice of staying throughout the entire performance, staying for a little, bit or not staying at all. Its a very interactive experience because the performers are right there in front of you and sometimes you can give them suggestions on what to sing and they actually sing it, which is really cool.

One of my favorite street performances occurred a little while ago in front of Metropolitan Museum of Art. After a fun morning wandering around the Met looking at all the art I went outside with my group ready to leave when we encountered a group of older men who were singing on the sidewalk. I couldn’t help but join the crowd in watching the performance. They were singing “My Girl”, by the Temptations. They were incredible! Not only did they sound really good, they got everyone to join in singing too, which made for a very light and fun atmosphere. Also I was very impressed because they were able to sound so good by using their voices and one or two instruments. I was drawn in by the music and the atmosphere. Unfortunately I was unable to film them, but I did find a video of the performance, and others, on YouTube.

Even though you can see street musicians in any city in the world, there is just something about seeing them in New York City that is special. Street musicians are so innovative, from buckets to their own voices they use whatever tools are at their disposal to showcase their talent. So next time you find yourself in New York City try to make sometime to watch some of these performances, it will be totally worthwhile.

Lady Wood by Tove Lo-Album review

Before listening to this album I never really listened to Tove Lo’s music. Of course I heard “Habits” and “Talking Body”, because how could you not, they were all over the radio. And to be honest, I really like the songs- though they were very, for lack of a better word, uncensored- they had a very rhythmic beat and catchy lyrics. As I was looking for an album to review for this blog post, I sort of stumbled upon Tove Lo’s newest album Lady Wood.

Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson, more famously known as Tove Lo, is a 29 year old Swedish pop singer and songwriter. Her best known songs are “Habits”- which topped as number 3 in the billboard Hot 100 chart- and “Talking Body”- which topped at number 12. Lady Wood is Tove Lo’s fourth album, including her EP and the soundtrack of Allegiant (the second Divergent movie). Lady Wood was released on October 28, 2016 and it features 12 songs-Fairy Dust, Influence, Lady Wood, True Disaster, Cool Girl, Vibes, Fire Fade, Don’t Talk About It, Imaginary Friend, Keep It Simple, Flashes, WTF Love Is-making the album  about 40 minutes long.

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The title of the album is pretty straight forward and it means exactly what you think it means, which is kind of interesting because it’s blatantness is artistic in its own way. In an interview with 92.3 AMP Radio Tove Lo explained exactly what the title Lady Wood means and why she chose it. She said that Lady Wood, “Has a lot of different meanings, but the most literal one stands for, me at least, like a female hard on. There isn’t really a word for that. I think Lady Wood is kinda the perfect way to say that and it’s kinda also like when you’re telling someone to be brave and have some courage you say ‘grow some balls’… It also stands for doing something that might scare you and excite you at the same time”. This album also has two short films attached to it. The first, Fairy Dust, has already been released and it corresponds to the first chapter of the album. She made the film for shock value and I can safely say that a lot of people will be shocked when they watch it. However, part 2-Fire Fade- is still on its way.

The album only had two featured artist, besides Tove Lo herself. Wiz Khalifa was featured in the second track, Influence, and Joe Janiak was featured in the sixth track, Vibes. It was pretty interesting to me that they were both featured in Chapter 1 (Fairy Dust), which “chronicles the initial hit of adrenaline or attraction what happens when those sparks start to cool,” leaving Tove Lo to sing all of Chapter 2 (Fire Fade), which was about “what happens when those sparks start to cool” by herself. I felt that each artist complimented the song they were featured in pretty well. Though they did not really have any major parts in the song, it was mainly Tove Lo’s own voice, their presence was noticed.

Image result for wiz khalifa  Image result for joe janiak

Her refusal to be censored both turns people away and entices people to listen to her music. She doesn’t let her label, critics, listeners, or what she feels is the conservative nature of American society to censor what she has to say. This is clearly seen in her songs, which she writes herself, because while they are song over fun EDM beats they are deeply personal. In the album she talks about issues with stardom, drug addiction, and wanting to feel free. Lady Wood is kind of a response to the critics who feel like she should get back into the lines and be “proper”. The similarities between this album and her last make a statement. That statement is basically a middle finger to the critics, it’s like she’s expressing ‘I am not doing anything wrong, so I’m not going to stop and I’m not going to change myself to fit into the mold of what you think is good and proper’.

According Tove Lo the album is supposed to be empowering and I actually do see what she means by this as I listened to the album. It’s about embracing your wild side and partying and most importantly not feeling ashamed. Tove Lo does not try to hide her sexuality, in fact she embraces it in her lyrics when she writes about it. The most well-known example of her raunchy lyrics actually don’t come from this album, it comes from her most popular song Habits where she sings, “I eat my dinner in my bathtub/Then I go to sex clubs/Watching freaky people gettin’ it on/It doesn’t make me nervous/If anything I’m restless/Yeah, I’ve been around and I’ve seen it all”. In an interview with 92.3 AMP Radio she talks about the fact that there are double standards for men and women when it comes to sex, which is ridiculous. She also seemed baffled that critics would tell her to tone it down when her male musical counterparts are talking about the same exact things. Many people might not want to acknowledge it, but her views are very feminist and progressive. Generally society, pushes the idea that women shouldn’t be openly sexual and they should hide their desire- or else they will be labeled as whores. In this album instead of toning it down Tove Lo just keeps doing what she’s doing with lyrics like; “Hiding in the crowd; we’re making love without a sound” (Influence), “You got body and my knees—they go weak/Lie awake and read your sex, I can’t sleep”(Keep It Simple), and “Yeah, you give me wood/Give me lady wood/Dirty on the inside, damaged goods with nothing but pride” (Lady Wood).

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My favorite song on the album was Flashes. The first time I listened to flashes I immediately loved it because I just loved how it sounded. Tove Lo’s voice and the music just melted together in a way that I found memorable and fun. I just couldn’t stop bobbing my head in tune to the music and then I looked up the lyrics and I realized that the lyrics are kind of sad, but it doesn’t take away from the fun of the song. When listening to Tove Lo, you have to expect lyrics that are personal and raw even if the music is super rhythmic and fun. The song is about her life in the spotlight and having to come to terms with the fact that being in the spotlight means that everyone sees your moments and have something to say about you as a person, sometimes these people can be people who you care about. The lyrics are very conversational, in the sense that is sounds like she is actually speaking to someone in real-time, this just highlights how personal her lyrics are.

On of my favorite things about the album is how smoothly the songs transitioned. I never really cared about how songs on albums transition from one to the next until I heard how smooth the transition was on this album. It was almost like listening to one song, except each song has its own distinct elements. Most of the songs just picked up right where the other left off which was really interesting. When I was listening to the album I didn’t even realize that Lady Wood had ended and True Disaster started until I heard the different lyrics. I think that to really appreciate the album you have to listen to it in its entirety to catch those little things.

Overall, I think that this album was definitely a win for Tove Lo. I especially liked that she ended it WTF Love Is, because it doesn’t really feel like an ending- it’s like the party is still going strong with the really rhythmic dance music. I kind of stumbled upon this album while I was looking for albums to review and I am glad that I did. The album was fun to listen to because it has a lot of cool beats and catchy lyrics. So while it’s not my favorite album I would recommend giving it a listen if you ever just want to dance around the house in socks.

Pictures from:
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https://www.google.com/search?q=joe+janiak&tbm=isch&tbs=simg:CAQSlQEJggZrwo6_1TE0aiQELEKjU2AQaAgg9DAsQsIynCBpiCmAIAxIonRyyH8YaxRrtEOoQpBCmEPEfhhz5MI883CXCMZMx_1DCMPJYx5TH_1MBowXm-ocZ7Yfxpun3TUnwxDyO6qBDe_18kxcJzbjvPSxZq7VKkSladDqZfr9io8vFDNbIAQMCxCOrv4IGgoKCAgBEgQntgF4DA&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwio0-2nsPTRAhWGWSYKHUNJDrUQwg4IGSgA
https://www.google.com/search?q=ebba+tove+elsa+nilsson&tbm=isch&tbs=simg:CAQSlwEJbwzdXH80PpwaiwELEKjU2AQaBAg9CEMMCxCwjKcIGmIKYAgDEiiGHIcciRyNH4gcix_1-G4wf8RunG4gxhjGHMbIxhDGTPMoxkDz5O488GjDgmTNwT-Z30oXNzkRfRlz6E0OjL7fnC_1nwnjsrEYfup3GWw4hFIwufjoksp873GuogBAwLEI6u_1ggaCgoICAESBOUun9UM&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiSiMO3sPTRAhWD6CYKHcIiDVEQwg4IGSgA
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Hidden In Plain Sight

This is my first post on this blog. It took me so long to come up with a good, and what I feel is interesting, topic that I thought that I wasn’t going to ever think of anything worthwhile to write. And weirdly enough the answer suddenly came to me as I was making a new Spotify playlist. I noticed that a couple of the songs that my friends and I like to sing and dance along to actually are less carefree than they sound. Many songs have deeper meanings when you look past the happy beats and catchy phrases and actually take a closer look at the lyrics. The fact that this phenomenon was occurring wasn’t enough for me, I was fully captivated by the subject so I decided to  investigate why songs that have dark meanings and that address subjects people try to avoid are chart toppers and sung by the very young and the not so young. Because the musician does such a good job blending the cheery rhythmic beats and the deeper meaning behind the lyrics are often lost on most people.

A lot of people miss out on the full message behind songs because they are distracted by the carefree or soothing melody which keeps them from focusing on the lyrics. This is why songs like; “Pumped Up Kicks”, “Chandelier”, and “Take Me To Church”, who’s lyrics are blatantly dark or deep aren’t always seen as such. These songs all mentioned a subject that is often skirted around because a lot of people find the subjects of gun violence, alcoholism, mental illness, school shooting, personal pain, human rights, and homosexuality to be sensitive topics. Yet these songs topped the charts for weeks on end.

Pumped Up Kicks” is a song by LA based alternative indie-rock band Foster the People, the band is made up of Mike Foster, Cubbie Fink, and Mark Pontius. The song debuted in late 2010 and it was written by Mark Foster who was the founding member of the band. The melody of the song is made up of what sounds like light guitar strums and soft drumming, which is very mellow and calming. This is why people often don’t realize what the song is really about right away. “Pumped Up Kicks” is about an adolescent male, Robert, who  has been driven to a dark place mentally because of his neglectful home life and not fitting with, and likely being bullied by, his classmates. What the light hearted catchy chords are hiding is that a troubled boy has violent fantasies about taking revenge on the people who’ve made him feel like an outcast. The chorus, which is the most recognizable part of the song, in my opinion is the darkest part of the song. The chorus repeats “All the other kids with the pumped up kicks/You better run, better run, outrun my gun/All the other kids with the pumped up kicks/You better run, better run, faster than my bullet” According to Mark Foster when he first wrote the song it was “a confidence song” and the gun was purely metaphorical, but as he was recording the song he added some verse which completely changed the direction of the song.  In an interview Foster explained that, “I forced the public to have a conversation on not only guns and gun regulation, but also about art itself and where the line is, what should be edited and what shouldn’t be edited…and in terms of pushing the envelope of culture and forcing people to have those conversations. I think that was a really healthy thing for my country“. Though a lot of people were outraged with Foster the People’s decision to release such a “controversial” song, Foster stuck with his position on the importance of the song.  The melody of this song is deceptively upbeat and carefree, a total opposite to the dark and violent lyrics- yet it was a top rated song that a lot of people were singing even though there were still major issues with gun control and gun related violence that people didn’t feel comfortable talking about.

Sia is an Australian singer songwriter whose most recognizable feature is her blonde bobbed wig which she wears backwards to cover her face. Her hit song “Chandeliers was released in 2014. Similar to “Pumped Up Kicks” “Chandeliers” lyrics blatantly describes someone’s most likely Sia herself, dark experience trying and failing to avoid their personal demons. Yet this song spent months on Billboard’s top 100 chart and it was and still is a party anthem. Most people are so distracted by the fast paced rhythmic beats and the repetitiveness of the lyrics that they don’t notice how dark the song actually is. “Party girls don’t get hurt/Can’t feel anything, when will I learn/I push it down, push it down…1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 drink…I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier/I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist/Like it doesn’t exist/I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry” The lyrics are actually a bit haunting  as Sia describes binge drinking until she loses control of herself and struggles to forget her problems. But even with all the drinking she never really gets away from her problems because they are always there waiting for her when morning comes and the party’s over. Ultimately, and unfortunately for Sia, the sun always rises to shed light on her “shame” and revive the demons she dried to drown the night before. “Sun is up, I’m a mess/Gotta get out now, gotta run from this/Here comes the shame, here comes the shame “. What’s also interesting is that the formation of the verses highlights the fact that Sia is in this seemingly unending loop of drinking and partying to hide from her problems only for them to catch up to her and instead of facing them she repeats the process of drinking and partying to run away from them only to have the same results. Though this song is about someone’s fall into alcoholism as they struggle to fight off their personal demons this song was a party anthem that got everyone dancing and often drinking along.

Andrew Hozier-Byrne, who goes by Hozier, released “Take Me To Church” in 2014. I personally believe that this song has to be analyzed in layers because there are several different interpretations depending on how you look at it. On the surface it’s just fun to sing along to even though the melody doesn’t sound upbeat, its actually quite melancholy, but in a good way. It is calm almost like a lullaby- even at the most intense parts of the, like the chorus. Despite its surface appearance as a solomon love song a preliminary inspection of the lyrics will present a radically different message. Many listeners thought that Hozier’s lyrics were a direct attack at religion, mocking it and exposing the rampant hypocrisy and other internal issues. The chorus “Take me to church/I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies/I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife/Offer me that deathless death/Good God, let me give you my life” is likely why people see it as an attack on organized religion. However if you were to dig even deeper and look at the symbolism behind the lyrics as well as Hozier’s own explanation of the lyrics you would see that the song isn’t really attacking religion and churches. In an interview Hozier explains that “Take Me To Church” is actually a love song, but it’s more than that. Also his intention wasn’t to directly single out churches for some of their views that are intolerant, he is “attacking” institutions-including churches- that he feels “Undermines some of the natural parts of being a person, undermine humanity in some point, shape, or form”. One of the institutions that he singles out is Russia for their harsh LGBT policies that are taking away basic rights, such as freedom of speech/expression from people who want to or oppose the policies.

Next time you listen to a song be sure to look at the deeper meaning. You might just be surprised what you find.