When I’m Bangin’ On The Radio

Usually I say that I don’t have much time to post, then I end up writing two or three paragraphs anyway. This week I seriously don’t have time thanks to my generosity in helping my friends move, so I’ll just share a bangin’ summer tune that I can’t seem to get enough of: “Bad Girls,” by M.I.A.

I’ve been a big fan of M.I.A. since I first saw the video for “Galaang” oh so many years ago, but her latest might just be her greatest, in my opinion. Not only does the song have a cool tempo with a world music flair, but the video is just as awesome. I’m not even the type to be impressed by flashy car tricks, but something about this song mixed with these visuals seems to be the epitome of badass. And M.I.A. herself is thirty-seven, can you believe it? Amazing. I hope she keeps cranking out excellent tunes for a million more years to come if they can all be as great as this one.

And that’s it from me for July. See you in August, little earbuds!

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Come Dance With Me ‘Cause Now We’re Free

Recently I was treated to a viewing of Mirror Mirror, otherwise known as that other Snow White movie that came out earlier this year. I had wanted to see it at the cinema because not only do I study (and adore) fairy tales, but I’ve also been a fan of director Tarsem Singh’s incredibly lush and detailed style of filmmaking since The CellThe Fall has been, in my opinion, his undisputed masterpiece, but no matter how colourful and vibrant his visuals are, his films all have a dark undertone to them. That actually works well in fairy tales, as the original stories were far more gruesome than the Disney concoctions that we know today. The Grimm Brothers brought fairy tales into the nursery, but before that they were lewd fables of bloodlust, sex, and death, told (or even enacted) as amusement for adults. However, the previews for Mirror Mirror alluded to a film geared for the younger set, rampant with childish physical humor and dwarf jokes. Because of this, I wasn’t terribly fussed when I became too busy to make it to the cinema when it came out.

In retrospect I wish that I had taken the time to see Mirror Mirror instead of Snow White & The Huntsman, as the former is far, far, far superior to the latter. Mirror Mirror was rife with the Tarsem visuals that I was craving, but it also had elements of darkness and as well as deep magic. Gone were the childish jabs seen in the previews, and what remained was an enthralling and endearing film that would be tame enough for children but nonetheless thoroughly enjoyable for adults. The funny parts were actually funny, the beautiful parts were stunning, and the overall feel of the film was warm and wonderful despite the fact that most of the story takes place in a downfall of snow. I was so enamored of this version of Snow White that I decided to share the Bollywood-inspired song from the film, “I Believe In Love,” sung by Snow White herself, Lily Collins.


If fairy tales continue to remain in vogue (fingers crossed!) and directors make more versions as gorgeous as Mirror Mirror, then I’ll be certain not to miss any future outings to the cinema for them.

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We’ve Only Just Begun

Hello again, little earbuds. Once again I’m dreadfully behind on, well, pretty much everything this past week. I recently got the news that not one, but both of my best friends are moving, and that’s thrown me for a bit of a loop. Though neither is moving terribly far (just to the next state over) the news has put me on a roller coaster of emotions. My goal is to keep it together, at least until they leave, because I want to be supportive, but selfishly I’m devastated. These are pretty much the only two people I’ve consistently hung out with for the past five years, and not having them close by (or at least as close as they have been) really, really just flat-out sucks. I see these folks on a daily basis: we talk on the phone, we go to movies, play video games, go shopping, attend concerts, have deep talks, eat long dinners… And all of sudden I won’t have that anymore, at least not every day. It’s been rough, I’ll say that. There were a couple of days filled with tears, but now I’m just focusing on helping them pack and supporting them both as much as I possibly can.

So that explains my tardiness, at least this week. I’m doing better now, though I’m trying to only think of the fun road trips in my future instead of how much I’m going to miss having them close by. Part of keeping it together, is, you guessed it, music. By sheer coincidence I had purchased The Wanted’s self-titled album on a whim just before the news broke. It was a $.99 download special, as was Beach House’s Bloom, so I treated myself to both. I assumed that I would listen to the latter the most because it’s dream pop, which is usually more my speed than mainstream pop. However, I’ve barely given Beach House a listen because I’ve been so enamored with The Wanted. I thought that I would get a couple of fun songs to add to my workout mix, but I never imagined that the entire album would be filled with undeniably uplifting dance tunes. Right now that’s exactly what I need to keep my head above water, so that’s what I’m sharing with you today: The Wanted’s infectious single “Chasing The Sun.”

I kind of figured that my boy band days were over by this point in my life. I mean, sure, I still have some choice ‘N Sync and Backstreet Boys floating around on my iTunes for nostalgia’s sake, but I rarely make it a point to listen to them. When it comes to over-the-top pop I usually go for the divas: Lady Gaga, Rhianna, Madonna, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, and yes, even Britney. However, The Wanted have been a pleasant and welcoming surprise. What I like even better is that I’m not caught up in their looks or their biographies. I could care less who was born where and which one is growing a goatee. Hell, I don’t even know their names. I just enjoy their music, it’s that simple. This song in particular has that great mixture of peppy beats and hopeful lyrics that feeds my soul when I’m down and really in need of cheering up. And that, dear reader, is what I think music is all about.

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I Like American Music Best

Hello and happy Independence Day, little earbuds! I’ll keep today’s entry short and sweet, as I have food to make, family to hang out with, and fireworks to watch. However, I couldn’t let a holiday pass by without adding a musical spin to it. There are ten tons of songs about America, some from Americans, some from other parts of the world. I’ve always been quite partial to David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid Of Americans” because it’s brooding and cool, but I can dance my socks off just as hard to “The Great American Nightmare” by Rob Zombie. Then you’ve got classics such as Don McLean’s “American Pie” and “America” by Simon & Garfunkel, and of course there’s always good ol’ fashioned rock such as Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and “American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz. However, my song of choice on this particular 4th of July is from my childhood, though technically I didn’t hear it until I was a teenager: “American Music” by the Violent Femmes.

I enjoy the Violent Femmes in general, but this song in particular (from the album Why Do Birds Sing?) always makes me feel warm and fuzzy. It’s carefree and jovial, and the lyrics can be a bit nonsensical, but that’s part of the fun of it. I especially love the recreations of various eras of American music depicted in the video. So watch, listen, and enjoy, and I wish you a happy 4th of July!

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A Chorus So Sublime: Summer 2012 Movie Soundtracks

Summer is upon us, and one of the best parts of summer, in my opinion, is getting to spend a hot afternoon in an air-conditioned theater watching a summer movie. What always makes those movies even better are the killer soundtracks. I spent last weekend catching up on my summer flicks, and I have to say, already we have some excellent music to fill our ears with thanks to the current crop of blockbusters at the cinema.

For instance, Snow White and the Huntsman, which was nowhere near as good as I had hoped it would be, still proved to have some merit once the credits rolled.  (It had such promise at the beginning thanks to Charlize Theron’s awesomely evil Queen performance, then it just devolved into Chris Hemsworth’s strange muddled accent with Kristen Stewart flitting around the woods as some sort of fairy Jesus.) Despite being fairly bored and disappointed with the film as a whole, Florence + The Machine’s dramatic closing song, “Breath of Life,” was almost good enough to make me not feel cheated out of a movie ticket.

Luckily other movies have far exceeded my expectations, such as Pixar’s Scottish fairy tale Brave. The film was funny, moving, and incredibly lush, and what made it even better was the sweeping score by Patrick Doyle. The bagpipes, strings, and drums do a fitting service to both the story as well as Scotland, and “Touch the Sky” by Julie Fowlis is genuinely grand and uplifting. You can almost feel the highland winds in your face when you listen to this ebullient tune. It’s a fitting theme for a modern yet timeless heroine such as Merida.

Of course, what summer could be complete without a vampire movie? Some are good, some are bad, others are terrible, but luckily Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was every ounce as epic as I had hoped. (What do you get when you take one of the most awesome American presidents and add vampires to the mix? One hour and forty-five minutes of solid badass entertainment, that’s what.) The Linkin Park song “Powerless,” which is played over the credits, is decent, but lately I’m obsessing over Henry Jackman’s score, especially the tune “The Rampant Hunter.” If this music doesn’t put you in the mood to take up an axe and right the wrongs of the world yourself (or at the very least walk in slow motion while looking cool) then I don’t know what will.

It’s hard to believe that June is nearly over, but luckily July’s fresh crop of summer films is just around the corner. Let’s hope that Batman and Spider-Man prove good musical company by adding to the worthy summer soundtracks of 2012.

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I’m Gonna Watch You Shine, Gonna Watch You Grow

This week’s (belated) post is in honor of fathers. Y’know, it’s funny: when it came time to talk about Mother’s Day, I had several songs to choose from that praise moms. However, now that it’s Father’s Day here in the US, I couldn’t find as much selection praising the dads of the world. Apparently to make it in my music library (current song total: 20,973 and counting) you must have some major daddy issues. Almost every song with “father” or “dad” in the title was about pain, resentment, and abandonment. I think that this is a colossal shame, as I know some really amazing fathers. Most notable is my own dad: I am an unabashed daddy’s girl, and I know for a fact that my dad is one of the best people in the whole world. I still look up to him even though I’m (technically) an adult, and I hope that I can be as magical and full of wonder and joy as he is when I get to be his age. He’s one of the funnest people to be around, and every time we hang out we have a blast. Maybe that explains why I never followed my fleeting rock star dreams: I’m too well-adjusted, and I have a great relationship with my father.

If I can get back into songwriting (which I haven’t done in several years, but enjoyed briefly) I’ll certainly make it my goal to write a kick-ass anthem for great dads. Until then, I have at least two songs that always make me think of my father and smile.

It’s hard to go wrong with anything Paul Simon in my book, but this song in particular, “Father and Daughter,” really touched my heart. I remember the first time that I heard it: I was in my car, driving across a bridge, and I heard this song on the radio. I wasn’t paying much attention to it, but then the chorus came on: There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you. Suddenly I was listening intently. I loved the sentiment, and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that’s how my own father felt (and continues to feel) about my sisters and me. Now whenever I hear this song I think of my dad and feel really lucky and really, really loved.

Perhaps it’s unsurprising, given how close I am to my dad, but A Little Princess has always been one of my absolute favourite children’s books. I recall watching the Shirley Temple movie based on the novel and loving it as well, but then Alfonso Cuaron came out with his film version and took my breath away. I can’t watch it without feeling waves of super intense emotions, so when my favourite remix artist, Pogo, came out with this song, “Whisperlude,” based on the movie, I literally sat transfixed in front of my computer screen as tears welled up in my eyes. After that I immediately popped the DVD in and rewatched the whole film, then I went and spent the day with my dad. It’s pretty amazing how Pogo can recreate all of the drama and wonder of a gorgeous and complex film into a remix less than four minutes long. It’s yet another reason why I am in awe of him, and another song to add to my repertoire of feel-good father tunes.

Happy Father’s Day, and thanks to all the great fathers of the world for being awesome!

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Musical Grab Bag: Don’t You Ever Wish For A Pretty Pair Of Wings?

Today, little earbuds, I really don’t have a lot to say. I realize that this is shocking, coming from someone as wordy as myself, but, well, that’s how it is. I’ve downloaded some new music that I haven’t had a chance to absorb yet, the last film that I saw had no remarkable soundtrack to it, and even my beloved anime has left me a bit high and dry in the music department. Hence, I bring you another musical grab bag entry. Today my iTunes decided that I should share a slice of Alabama 90s alt-rock with you, and so I shall do just that via Verbena.

I remember seeing this video for Verbena’s “Baby Got Shot” on MTV (back when they actually, y’know, showed music videos). I loved it instantly and ran right out to purchase their album Into The Pink. After a few listens I found a couple of songs that I liked a decent amount, but none as much as the single that prompted the purchase. This is a great tune that hearkens back to 90s alternative music, when banging on a guitar and growling into a mic was the highest form of rebellion. As this song came out in 1999, it’s also a fitting farewell anthem to the decade of flannel and grunge, Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine, post punk and Doc Martens and hair so long you could sit on it. Now that I think about it, the alternative scene of the 90s had a lot in common with the hippies of the 60s, just a little darker and a little angrier. I know that I, for one, didn’t really appreciate the 90s as I lived through it, wishing fervently that I could have been a teen in the 80s with the Brat Pack and Jennifer Connelly and the sounds of new wave filling my ears. But now, more than a decade later, I can appreciate the 90s for its cultural contributions as well as being the time of my own teenage years. That’s when I discovered 85% of the things that contribute to my personal taste and make me the cool character I am today. And so, farewell, 90s. You are missed, but you will always be remembered, at least by this music fan.

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Songs Of Summer, Part I: Sunshine From Finland

Memorial Day has come and gone, which means that summer is fully upon us, at least here in the USA. Every year I find myself craving new summer anthems to distinguish this season from the rest as well as mark each year’s passing. My summer anthems don’t need to be newly released, just new to me, and I prefer poppy, breezy tunes that meld well with driving with the windows down or just lounging away in the seasonal heat. By designating a particular song, songs, or album my “summer music,” I can instantly return to that carefree state of mind long after it’s become too cold to wear short sleeves, or even revisit a particular summer many years after the fact.

The summer before I moved from my family’s farm in the South to Boston for college was filled with an oddly fitting mixture of Radiohead’s OK Computer, Sarah McLachlan’s SurfacingLoved by Cranes, and Four-Calendar Cafe by Cocteau Twins. “Know Who You Are At Every Age,” indeed. Now, many years later, whenever I listen to any of those albums, I can vividly remember the feelings of hope and trepidation and excitement that swirled around me all summer long. A couple of years later I wanted to transfer to a different college, and that summer was spent with Mazzy Star’s glorious shoegaze album So Tonight That I Might See as well as Madonna’s infectious pop single “Beautiful Stranger” on constant repeat. I can clearly remember whiling away the days dreaming of the new adventures that were to come. Even today those songs fill me with a sense of anticipation.

Unfortunately summer loses some of its glamor as we get older. No longer is there the luxury of doing absolutely nothing; when you’re an adult you’re expected to keep going, keep working, keep taking care of things. Life doesn’t stop just because it’s hot outside. I must admit that I miss those days of low expectations and being left to my own devices, even when my devices were as simplistic as watching crappy movies on cable, or lying on my parents’ bed for hours while staring up at the ceiling fan because it’s just too hot to move. Despite being considered an “adult” by society at large, I still try to invoke those carefree summers of old by finding new summer songs year after year. Luckily one such song has already landed in my ear, and I can’t stop playing it: “Tapaa minut aamulla” by Regina.

I was instantly drawn in by this Finnish indie pop outfit’s mellow sound as well as the beautiful trill of lead singer Iisa Pykäri on the chorus. I have no idea what the lyrics are, but the feeling is breezy and hopeful, making this a perfect song for summer. Regina’s song “Unessa” has an even more summery video accompanying it and is quite lovely to boot, but it’s “Tapaa minut aamulla” that grabbed my heart and got me primed for sweltering heat, ceiling fans, sundresses, and mid-afternoon naps. Viva la summer!

More songs of summer will surely follow as they make their way to my headphones, so stay tuned!

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Break My Heart Again: Songs For Love Gone Wrong

Hallo once more, little earbuds. Miss Pink has actually been doing pretty well lately. I’m feeling healthy, and slowly but surely I’m getting through my huge backlog of projects and general stuff-to-do, such as catching up on emails with friends. In doing so, I discovered that one of my pals is going through some heartbreak right now. Of course I was sympathetic (because who hasn’t experienced that in some form or other?) but words just don’t feel like enough when it comes to matters of the heart. So In honor of my friend, today I’m bringing you another playlist: Top 5 Songs For Love Gone Wrong. Warning: Here there be F-bombs, so if adult language offends you, better skip this week’s post.

5.) Peaches – F**k The Pain Away

Who can resist Peaches and her electroclash-punk aesthetic? She tells it like it is, and even when her words are tongue-in-cheek, they leave a sting. What’s even better is this fan video of Miss Piggy singing “F**k The Pain Away,” because both Piggy and Peaches are total badasses.

4.) She Wants Revenge – True Romance

The name of this band alone should clue you in to the fact that a song titled “True Romance” might not be what it seems. “I know that you never loved me, I know that you never cared at all…” There are so many vengeful gems from She Wants Revenge, but this one takes the cake for love that’s gone sour.

3.) Dandy Warhols – We Used To Be Friends

Back before Veronica Mars was on the air I found myself in the most upsetting roommate situation of my life to date with someone whom I once considered a close friend. Since I tend to invest as much of my heart into my friendships as I do into romance, it was a very scarring moment in my personal history. Luckily, during this period I caught the Dandy Warhols performing this song on SNL, and instantly I had a theme for my pain. Just listening to this tune on repeat automatically made everything a bit better.

2.) Future Bible Heroes – I’m Lonely (And I Love It)

Even though this song is over a decade old, I miraculously discovered it on the same night that I was replying to the very friend who inspired this playlist. As much as I adore Stephin Merritt, I must admit that I haven’t explored his side projects as thoroughly as I have Magnetic Fields. Since previously I only had two Future Bible Heroes songs in my musical library, I’m delighted to have an entirely new catalogue to explore (small as it is, being a side project and all). As soon as I heard the plethora of electronic beats urging me to dance I was in love, but the beyond awesome lyrics take this song over the top. If there’s a more joyful song about heartbreak out there, I haven’t heard it. And I’ve heard a lot.

1.) Nine Inch Nails – You Know What You Are

As much as I’d love to end on a positive note like song #2, when it comes to pains of the heart, the guy I always turn to first is Trent Reznor. This entire list could have been populated with Nine Inch Nails, so extensive is his repertoire of anger and disappointment. What I really love about this particular song is how it takes pain and sadness and channels it all into pure unadulterated rage. In my personal experience, there is no song that can trump this one when it comes to the primal desire to scream “F*** YOU!!!” at whoever has lied to you, cheated on you, or let you down in your life.

There are obviously many, many more songs out there of every genre that cover this topic extremely well. J. Geils Band’s “Love Stinks” is always a classic choice, as is any version of Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.” (My personal preference is the upbeat 90s cover by Saint Etienne, because nothing gives melancholy the middle finger quite like being peppy.) Then there’s the newer indie classic, Gotye’s ode to faded romance, “Somebody That I Used To Know.” The Kills provide great, crunchy tunes that always make me wanna take a road trip and stay in run-down motels, and their ditty “F**k The People” is excellent not just for heartache but any ol’ time you feel like you’re surrounded by stupidity. Along those same lines, Combichrist’s “What The F**k Is Wrong With You?” is an industrial/emb version of the same feeling. And who could forget Amy Winehouse (rest in peace), the gal who seemed to truly understand when life gets messed up, with her song, “Love Is A Losing Game?”

The list goes on and on, and will continue to grow every year, because heartbreak is universal. I take solace in all of the great music created to cope with such harsh and uncomfortable emotions. How about you? What’s the song that you keep in your back pocket, the tune that you know will be the first to beat on your eardrums when your heart gets chewed up and spit back out? The choices are out there, and as vast as the channels of the human heart. As it should be, because great art is one of the only benefits to great sorrow, or so this music lover believes.

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