30 Days of Music Challenge Roundup: Days 8-14

Here are days 8-14 of the  30 Days of Music Challenge that I’m doing, thanks to Mr Knitter!

Day 8: Song from the ’70s

“December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” by The Four Seasons

How did a song about a guy losing his virginity to a woman whose name he didn’t even know in late December, back in ’63 become a #1 hit here?  A fantastic groove, a catchy piano riff, and the sweet verses from drummer Gerry Polci, that’s how!  Not to mention Frankie Valli’s classic vocals in the chorus.  I first heard this song during promo interstitials for what was then the WB Network (which later merged with UPN to become The CW), and I still get images of Michigan J. Frog in my head when I hear this song!

Day 9: Song from the ’80s

“Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats

I just love this song and all its quirks: the monotonous vocal from Ivan Doroschuk over such a bright-sounding backing track, the lyrics, and in the full version (posted here), you can hear Doroschuk spelling out the song’s title in his very obvious Montreal accent (and Anglophone Montreal residents have a very distinct accent to my ears, even more distinct than the model of all Canadian accents, the Toronto accent).. And of course, the line “We can dance / We can dance / Everybody look at your hands” makes me think of Z quoting Homer Simpson saying “Dance, dance, everyone look at your pants.”. And finally, only this song can get away with using the word “imbecile” in the lyrics.

Day 10: Song from the ’90s

“Too Close” by Next

Here in the States, the two music genres from the 1990s with the most lasting musical legacy are Grunge and Hip-hop/R&B.  This song was a pretty big hit here on both the R&B and pop charts.  In a decade that decided to throw all sorts of romantic and sexual subtlety to the curb, this is a textbook example of that.  This song is essentially the musical version of “Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”.  And yes, I do remember this song playing on the radio.

Day 11: Song from the ’00s

“Ms. New Booty” by Bubba Sparxx

Two reasons why I picked this song: 1. Most songs from the 2000s sound incredibly dated these days and don’t give me the feels, and 2. Epic Movie.  That is all.

Day 12: Favorite Song from a Cowboy Movie

“Blazing Saddles” by Frankie Laine (opening theme to Blazing Saddles)

The movie that this song appears in holds a special place in my heart: it was the first R-rated movie I ever saw (with my parents’ permission, too, as my dad was the one who bought the DVD) and it also sparked my love of Mel Brooks movies.

Day 13: Favorite Song from a Western

“Django” by Rocky Roberts (theme from Django and Django Unchained)

I first heard this song in Django Unchained, which is Quentin Tarantino’s tribute to spaghetti westerns, but the song originally appeared in the 1960s spaghetti western classic, Django (and that film’s star, Franco Nero, is the one to whom Django in the latter film informs that “The ‘D’ is silent”).  My dad is such a huge fan of both Quentin Tarantino and western films, and his fandom of Tarantino may have rubbed off on me.  One thing I love about his films is his incredible skill in selecting music that not only enhances a film, but in some cases also advances its plot (“Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” in Pulp Fiction, “Stuck in the Middle with You” in Reservoir Dogs, “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” in Kill Bill, “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” in Inglourious Basterds).  He was able to take a song from the film that inspired Django Unchained and capture the essence of what Jamie Foxx’s Django is after: freedom and the woman he loves (“Django, after the showers the Sun will be shining.”).  And the original Django is a legendary film itself, having spawned many sequels and spiritual sequels.  Next to The Man with No Name (Clint Eastwood’s character in the Fistful of Dollars trilogy), Django is one of the most legendary characters in the Western and spaghetti western film genres.

Day 14: Favorite Song from a TV Show

“MST3K Love Theme” by Har Mar Superstar (theme song for Mystery Science Theater 3000)

I am relatively new to this fandom (the original run aired in the 1990s, usually late at night, so I was too young at the time to watch it), but so far I have really been enjoying it.  I’ve watched episodes from the original and new runs and I love how it plays into one of my favorite things: snarking on stuff.  From the episodes I’ve seen on Netflix, my favorite episode from the old run so far is Eegah!, and my favorite from the new run so far is Starcrash (the former being a caveman/teen romance movie featuring the creepy and, as a fellow Raveler put it, “cantilevered” hair of Arch Hall, Jr., and the latter being a gloriously bad knockoff of Star Wars starring Christopher Plummer, a former child preacher, a future video vixen, a young David Hasselhoff, and some redneck robocop).  The song was a no-brainer, as I usually find myself singing along in the intros.

Next week, it’s Days 15-21!

30 Days of Music Challenge Roundup: Days 1-7

So, I saw a post on a blog that I follow, written by my favorite blogger with a tricky-to-pronounce name of (presumably) Celtic origin, Eiain (better known by his blogging name “Mr Knitter”, and that’s with no period because he’s British).  He decided to take part in something called the ” 30 Days of Music Challenge”, where you post one song a day in accordance with that day’s theme.  I was so interested by it that I’ve also decided to take part this month.  The day-by-day version will play out on my Tumblr page, but Eiain also encouraged me to post them here on WordPress, too.  However, I’m not a daily poster here and prefer to do one or two posts a week.  So, for this blog, I’ll be posting my selections once every week or so in batches of seven (although the final week will actually have 9 posts instead of seven.  I hope you enjoy my selections and feel free to chime in with your own picks for whatever theme you like in the comments.

BTW, if you want to check out Eiain’s picks for this challenge (or just want to learn more about him), you can check him out at Mr Knitter.

So, here are my picks for Days 1-7 in this challenge.

Day 1: Your Favorite Song Right Now

“Your Love” by The Outfield

I love this ’80s classic, from its power chords, to its lyrics, to that rhythmic yet understated bass line.  This song about a guy getting a booty call while his girl is on a vacation far away was a pretty big hit here in the States but barely made a dent in the band’s native UK.  It’s still regarded as an ’80s arena rock anthem here in America.  Not bad for a British band named after part of America’s Game!

Day 2: #1 Song When You Were Born

“Lean on Me” by Club Nouveau

This cover of the Bill Withers classic is one of a handful of songs that have topped America’s Billboard Hot 100 twice (along with classics like “Lady Marmalade”, ” Venus”, and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”).  And according to Billboard magazine’s issue dates, this is the song that was #1 on the Hot 100 for the issue dated during the week I was born, on March 24, 1987.

Day 3: Song You Play When You Are Happy

“Zou bisou bisou” by Gillian Hills (and Jessica Paré…and Sophia Loren…and many others…)

This song may be in French, but its lyrics (if I read the translation correctly, an ode to sweet and secret kisses) are so fluffy and cutesy, and the music itself is reminiscent of so many early ’60s rom-coms.  How can you not be happy after hearing this song?  Even in English (called “Zoo Bee Zoo Bee Zoo”) it sounds happy!

Day 4: Song You Play When You Are Sad

“Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” by The Smiths

The first time I heard this song was in the movie Never Been Kissed, but I really only remember hearing the mandolin playing at the very end of this song as flashback scenes of Drew Barrymore’s character Josie getting humiliated on her first prom night years before the movie’s events take place play out on the screen.  When I actually heard this song in full for the first time, I really related to the lyrics in which Morrissey laments his terrible luck in life (and presumably in love; Morrissey was notoriously known for being celibate during his time with The Smiths, and according to most sources he remained celibate until the late ’90s).  Now and then, if I’m feeling a little down or moody, this song is certainly on my playlist.  I guess as the Elton John song says, “Sad songs say so much.”

Day 5: Song You Play When You Are Angry

“Cult of Personality” by Living Colour

Sometimes you want a songs that just screams “Screw the system!”.  This is one of them.  It is awesome.

Day 6: Your Favorite Classical Song

“Thaxted” (Gustav Holst)

This piece is known by several titles: “Theme from Jupiter” from The Planets (which is the orchestral suite of Holst’s in which this theme originally appeared), “I Vow to Thee, My Country” (a patriotic hymn in Britain, basically the United Kingdom’s answer to “God Bless America”), or “God Beyond All Praising” (if you’re of the church-going crowd).  I tell you, this is one of the few pieces of music that consistently makes me cry.  And not a lot of pieces of music make me cry.

Day 7: A Song That Makes Me Want to Fall in Love

“Angel Eyes” by The Jeff Healey Band

A little ironic that the first line of the song, “Girl, you’re lookin’ fine tonight”, is sung by a man who lost his eyes to cancer as a child (and would die in 2008 from a recurrence of that same cancer), but I should mention that this song was originally co-written by the (sighted) singer John Hiatt (of ” Have a Little Faith in Me” fame).  It’s such a sweet song, but not cloying or bubblegum.  I can see why this makes a great wedding song.

Stay tuned, next week is Days 8-14!