30 Days of Music Challenge Roundup: Days 22-30

Welcome to the final post on my take on the 30 Days of Music Challenge, inspired by Mr Knitter!  This post covers the final 9 posts of the challenge, and you can check out the day-by-day version on my Tumblr page, as well as all the other crazy stuff I tend to post on Tumblr.

Okay, here it goes…

Day 22: Song with a Number in the Title

“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinéad O’Connor

This song is most closely associated with Sinéad O’Connor, whose version became a #1 hit here in the United States, but its origins (and its quirky title) actually lie with the dearly departed and legendary Prince.  Prince, who wrote this song, was well known for using numbers and letters in his song titles (a couple examples being “I Would Die 4 U” and “1999”), and this was no exception.  Sadly, the controversy surrounding her Saturday Night Live performance in which she tore up a photo of then-Pope John Paul II as a protest against sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church (years before the allegations became widespread and accepted as common knowledge) derailed a promising career for her in the States, but this song remains one of the biggest and most-celebrated songs of the 1990s.

Day 23: A Summertime Song

“Cruel Summer” by Bananarama

Most summertime songs are supposed to sound happy and cheerful.  This one is not so happy and cheerful.  It’s one of a handful of summer songs written in a minor key, and I quite like the minor keys. (C-sharp Minor, if  I’m not mistaken.)

Day 24: A Favorite Rock ‘n Roll Artist

“Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin

I’ve talked a bit about my love of Queen on here, but Led Zeppelin is another favorite rock band of mine.  I love pretty much all of Led Zeppelin IV, and this song is no exception.  Just a classic song from a classic album.

Day 25: Favorite Old Country Artist

“Jolene” by Dolly Parton

I don’t listen to a whole lot of country music, but I actually don’t mind Dolly Parton.  I just admire how much moxie this girl who grew up poor in the mountain country in Tennessee had to get out there and share her songs with the world.  She’s legendary as both a singer and a songwriter.  What’s not to like about her?

Day 26: Favorite New Country Artist

“That Don’t Impress Me Much” (Shania Twain)

I’ll be honest with you: 1. I don’t really listen to any current country music, and 2. I initially wanted to put a Garth Brooks song on here, as he is one of the few country artists I actually get excited about.  Unfortunately, Garth Brooks is practically impossible to find on YouTube (I think because he has an exclusive deal with Amazon for streaming his music), so I went with my second-favorite here.  Shania was a pretty big deal here in the 1990s.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times we had her album Come On Over playing on repeat as a tween and teen.  I just found out she’s releasing her first album of new music in about 15 years pretty soon and that she’ll be touring, too.  I’m glad to hear, after her various personal events (that included a cheating husband who cheated with her best friend, a divorce from said cheating husband, remarrying to the former best friend’s now-ex-husband, dealing with vocal problems, stage fright, and Lyme disease) that she’s finally getting back to her music and I hope she does well in her comeback.

Day 27: A Song That Moves You Forward

“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

I must admit: I love disco.  How can you move on from whatever crap has affected you in your life and not include this song?  It’s both a dance classic and an inspirational song!  Not a lot of those.

Day 28: Newest Song Introduced to You This Year

“Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles

Well, I don’t think it was introduced to me, but it’s a new song, so in my mind it qualifies.  I remember watching Harry and the rest of One Direction competing on the British version of The X Factor, and I always thought Liam Payne was gonna be the breakout member of the group (since he usually got the first vocal in almost all their competition performances), but Harry was memorable to me because he looked just like a guy by the name of Lee Mead, who had won a musical competition show a few years earlier called Any Dream Will Do, which sought to cast a Joseph for a West End revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  So I usually referred to Harry as “Mini Mead” (a pun on the Austin Powers trilogy character Mini-Me).  I was surprised that Harry ended up getting the most fan attention in 1D.  Me, personally, I did listen to some of their music when it would come on the radio, but my days of being an obsessive boy band fan are long behind me, so it was more of a polite admiration for me.  When 1D went on hiatus, well having already heard former member Zayn Malik’s #1 hit “Pillowtalk” (and actually liking it), I got a bit intrigued about what kind of stuff the other members would put out in their solo efforts.  Niall’s debut was pretty cool and unexpected.  Louis and Liam’s debuts were just okay.  Harry’s was…surprisingly good.  I quite liked the Bowie-esque influence in the overall arrangement of this song.  I did not expect the glam rock influence, but it surprisingly worked.  And a ballad, at that.  I wish him well in his solo career.

Day 29: First Song You Heard Today

“Buffalo Stance” by Neneh Cherry

I kid you not, this was the song playing on the radio when I woke up one morning.  I think the station was doing a “Flashback Friday” playlist that morning.  It’s a fun ’80s song, and I think she and her half-brother Eagle Eye Cherry (the biological son of her adoptive father, Don Cherry) are the only brother and sister to have separate hit songs considered “one-hit wonders” in the United States (Eagle Eye had a Top 40 hit here in the late ’90s called “Save Tonight”, over a decade after Neneh had her one hit over here).

Day 30: Last Song You Heard on the Radio

“Copperhead Road” by Steve Earle

When we’re riding in Dad’s truck, he normally has NASCAR Radio (a sports talk radio station devoted to everything NASCAR) playing, so we don’t hear a lot of music playing unless we’re on a long drive.  This is the most recent song I remember playing on the truck’s radio.  It’s a song about a man telling the story of his grandfather and father as moonshiners and them dealing with the law.  Then, when he tells his own part of the story, the narrator volunteers to fight in Vietnam (“…they draft the white trash first ’round here anyway…”).  After returning, he takes some seeds he acquired while he was out of the country and starts growing marijuana near the title road, essentially doing what his moonshiner relatives did, but with marijuana instead of moonshine.  This song also has a mandolin riff (played by Earle himself), a thumping bass drum, and driving guitar power chords, the latter two being unusual features in a song that is otherwise an example of the country and bluegrass genres.

And there you have it: 30 Days of Music!  It was fun coming up with these songs (but a bit of a pain in the butt to draft, schedule, and publish).  If anybody else is inspired to do this, go right ahead!  Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Advertisements

30 Days of Music Challenge Roundup: Days 15-21

Here are days 15-21 of the 30 Days of Music Challenge I’m doing, thanks to Mr Knitter!  You can also watch the day-by-day version play out on my Tumblr page, but be warned: you may come across some adult language in my posts there (almost all the posts themselves are SFW, though).

Day 15: Favorite Song with a Person’s Name

“Jane” by Jefferson Starship

Jefferson Airplane usually gets most of the credit in influence, but its successor band, Jefferson Starship, had quite a few hits and memorable songs in its own right.  This song showcases the vocals of its then-new vocalist, Mickey Thomas, who had previously sung with Elvin Bishop’s band (and is in fact the singer heard on the guitarist Bishop’s biggest pop hit, “Fooled Around and Fell in Love”).  Thomas, after a lengthy legal dispute with Paul Kantner, became the co-lead singer (along with Grace Slick) to this band’s successor band, Starship in the 1980s, when they had their greatest pop hits from any incarnation of Jefferson Airplane, including three number ones: “Sara”, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, and the oft-mocked “We Built This City”.

Day 16: Song About Drugs & Alcohol

“House Rent Blues/One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” by George Thorogood & the Destroyers

There are so many great rock songs about drugs and/or alcohol (“Cocaine” by Eric Clapton immediately comes to mind), but this one is immediately memorable because of George Thorogood’s gravelly voice.  The first part of the song details the narrator’s troubles in paying his rent, and after his landlady kicks him out, he finds himself at his favorite bar, continuously ordering the title trio of drinks: one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer.  Only the last call ends his odyssey in getting drunk, getting high, and getting loose.  “Bad to the Bone” was Thorogood’s biggest hit, but this pair of songs remains on the song list of classic rock stations everywhere.

Day 17: A Song with Meaning to You

“Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

You may have seen me reference Harry Chapin in relation to my dad in a previous entry.  Well, if Harry Chapin makes me think of my dad, then Fleetwood Mac makes me think of my mom.  My mom loves Stevie Nicks and the sound of her voice.  This song, “Landslide”, is my mom’s favorite song.  Whenever she hears it, it immediately makes her face light up.  These last few years have not been easy on her.  I prefer to keep the exact details of her condition private at this time, but she was diagnosed with a degenerative disease last year (only my closest friends know the exact details), and I basically am the one caring for her, especially when my dad is away at work.  It hasn’t been easy, and at times it tests me, but at least I am getting time with her.  It is gonna hurt me beyond belief the day she eventually leaves this planet, but this song is a way for me to connect with her.  And I hope she can keep this song with her as long as she possibly can.  (/sad)

Day 18: Song from an Artist No Longer Living

“Fashion” by David Bowie

Bowie had a lot of legendary songs in his catalog, but I absolutely love this one.  It’s got a bit of a funk/disco rhythm to it (but was released in the early 1980s), and is just so much fun to listen to.  And of course, the line “We are the Goon Squad and we’re comin’ to town…beep beep” gets me every time.

Day 19: Song You Would Play at Your Wedding

“God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys

I’m about as nonreligious as they get, so I’m not picking it for the reference to the deity in the title, but more for the overall lyrics and that beautiful baroque pop sound.  It is one of the great enduring love songs of the pop era, and a legendary piece in the Beach Boys’ catalog (only “Good Vibrations” is a better song, in my opinion).  This instrumental version by the Vitamin String Quartet would make a lovely recessional piece to play if I ever get married.

Day 20: Song You Would Play at Your Funeral

“Tuesday’s Gone” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

I’ve been a longtime fan of classic rock music, and that includes genres like hard rock, early heavy metal, and Southern rock (which, for those of you outside the United States, is a subgenre of rock music that originated in the Southeastern U.S. that is best described as hard rock music combined with influences from country, blues, and gospel).  This song sounds more like a fond farewell than the band’s other goodbye song, “Freebird”, which I interpret as more of a heartbreaking goodbye than the sad, but wistful vibe conveyed in “Tuesday’s Gone”.

Day 21: Song with a Color in the Title

“Blue Monday” by New Order

I only discovered this song relatively recently.  I quite like its unusual structure as a song: no discernable chorus, barely discernable verses, and a very monotonous vocal.  It’s very unusual for a pop song.  The hook is very catchy, and is quite a gem from the New Wave era.

Stay tuned for Days 22-30!

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!