Tuesday, January 17

Em's Music of 2011 Review


I meant to release this entry earlier, but because I was so sick, I couldn't.  Therefore I am going to release it now! 

Some of my favorite memories with Niki (both of them), Nina, and Cassie was the discussion of (secular) music.  Music is so essential in my life.  We all know that.   And I have my mom and other church awesome people to debate about the correct sounds on the organ or how liturgically sensitive is that reed stop, but today I wanted to do a review of music from the year 2011.

Looking through my iTunes account, I discovered this year I "obtained" more albums from 2011 than 2010.  The year 2010 was a pretty rough year for music.  However, 2011 was a good one.   I am optimistic about 2012 too.  This year was sure about breaking up and making up.  Bands like Paramore and Oasis split in half like a piece of paper while bands like Panic! At the Disco, Yellowcard and Sublime With Rome (originally Sublime) rebooted their game.  Solo artists such as Brittany Spears and Patrick Stump both released risque albums in 2011.  Katy Perry and Gaga never left the top 10 list...Indie Music is making a scene again on the charts.  Adele showed everybody how to cope with a broken heart.  The Beatles music was released on iTunes.  Glee was pretty absent from the iTunes chart (compared to 2010 when that's all that was on the top ten) and Justin Bieber did a song with Mariah Carey.  What a crazy year!  I'm looking forward to 2012!

10 Essential Songs of 2011 (Not in any particular order)

Rolling in the Deep-Adele: Thank you Adele for breaking the stereotype that all piano songs have to be ballads.   I'm teaching my friend Tim how to play the piano and the song consists of simple bass and the melody line.  I'm just insulted that it is that easy.  Adele is NOT the case.  Her musical components on the original sheet music do NOT consist of melody and an easy bass.  Instead it is full of crazy chords.  The piano isn't put on some high shelf and "sounds pretty."  The piano reflects Adele's feelings.  She's cocky: he could have had it all.  The piano is reminding us of it, at an unconscious level. 

Born this Way-Lady Gaga: In a world where depression, sex, alcohol (or a combination of the three) sells more than any other topic, Gaga defines music again through this self-loving anthem.  We haven't had a good "love yourself" song that really made a mark on our generation.  Let us not forget that Gaga's last single before that was the dark and twisted Alejeandro, from "The Fame Monster EP."  "Born this Way" is as opposite as it can get.  She tells us all that we are Born This Way!  Sure some homophobes are going to say it is for the "gay lovers," but I beg to differ.   If this song was released when I was bullied, outcasted or tease, I would have been a better adjusted person!  Some controversies surrounding the song did question the song's integrety.  (ETA: the bridge has some questionable labels), with little apologizes from Gaga herself.  I was quite disappointed in that.  I'm shocked Glee didn't jump on that bandwagon sooner... ;)

Monster-Paramore: Ahh...Paramore... you don't suck even though your two founding members quit over a record deal.  Haley Williams is at her best in this song "I'm only human/I've got a skeleton in me/But I'm not the villain/despite what you're always preaching"is channeled energy from their "Riot" album, which was their first album that received mainstream success.  While Haley tends to write long phrases to explain simple things, this song begins to focus her ideas.  Maybe she went to the Writing Center to condense some of the "fluff" that was found in "brand new eyes?"  Promising debut without the York brothers.  Paramore is recording so we shall find out what comes next.   Although I read in an interview that this is last of the "Farro Brother Era" and the new music will be more "upbeat, fun, pop and happy." Nothing wrong with doing happy music but POP...come on! You are called anti-Avril for a reason...you are NOT pop...and have better eye linear. Please don't pull an Avril and go all pink, love and bratty...because if you do, I as well as every other red/orange punk out there will cry in agony.  

The Ballad of Mona Lisa-Panic! At the Disco: I remember when these guys were losers.  The week "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out" hit big I was front row watching these guys open for The Academy Is...  Listening to Mona Lisa makes it hard for me to remember that Pretty.Odd.  was ever released.  With Mona Lisa I felt I was listening to a new and better example of "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out."  The complicated phrases, the quick spits of these phrases and the feeling you are in a circus is back.   This time, they know they are keeping their ! mark and their original signature.  Good for you guys, making progress!  In the song, Brandon explains about the convictions and issues he had leading up to releasing Vices and Virtues.  Surely with all the drama Panic! had over the past few years, no wonder the song is so complex as it is. And the rest of the album is just as complex.

This City-Patrick Stump feat. Lupe Fiasco: Wait...wait...Patrick Stump was in WHAT band? Yup, he was in the epic tongue and cheek band called "Fall Out Boy."  Patrick gets his whole "soulfunk" sound mastered in this song as well as the rest of his album.  In result, it is the best song about Chicago that was never made.  The electric sounds change throughout the song.  The bongo drums, the electronic synth beats and snap/clap combo make the instrumentation on the song unique.  What a nice change from all those electronic synth bands out there that just sound the same.   Then there is this little hearing change.  After the bridge and before we go back into the chorus, there is a little pause, where the song changes key.  Whoa!  Nobody does that unless you are in a chorale.  The rap doesn't really add anything to this song, so feel free to listen to the album version if you wish.  The one downfall of the song is the the classic FOB "stuttering" on several words.  In this case, Patrick stutters on the word I several times.  Makes me wonder if he forgot the words to his own song or if he thinks it sounds cool  As somebody who stuttered as a child, I hope it's not the ladder. 

Hold It Against Me-Britney Spears: This song gave the new album so much promise that the album never lived up to.   What I like about it is the change of tempos of this song.  We start fast, then do a huge breakdown, then get even faster! Lyrically, this is one of the better songs in Brittany's later career.   Britney plays it safe with this song, using her typical formula (invented by Max Martin, because all of his songs tend to follow the same pattern) while experimenting with new rocking sounds.  In result, we all get that classic Britney with a new twist!  Now...if you can get your "arch" rival Christina Auguilera to do the same, we'd be having ourselves a class of 2002 reunion!

Princess-Coldplay feat. Rihanna: After Viva la Vida, I didn't think Coldplay could ever out do themselves.  However this semi-earth feeling song really nails it into the wall.  Rihanna does a warrior cry in the beginning of the song, which makes me feel as if I'm in some spiritual gathering in a forest.  Then when the actual lyrics come out, the song changes to a nice warm typical Coldplay sound.   The blending of voices make the song.  Rihanna's voice normally annoys me (as her songs), but I find that the blending of Chris Martin and her's is a divine experience.   Makes perfect sense because Chris Martin actually wrote the song with Rihanna's voice in mind!  Question for Coldplay...WHEN are you going to release this as single?

Sexy and I Know It-LMFAO: Humor done the right way unifies people.  Humor done the wrong way makes everybody post angry FB status' for people to comment and debate on. Everybody likes a funny song, when done right.   Even my mother digs this song...this morning during Zumba she turned to me and said "this song is great!"  Shocking, because mom doesn't like anything before 1963. There are tons of songs out there that are created for the laugh.  If you don't believe me think of the song "I Just Had Sex," "Who Let the Dogs Out?" "The Thong Song," or "Dick in a Box."  There's nothing wrong with making a humorous song, after all Cobra Starship made a career out of it, but it has to be done right.  Sexy and I Know It hits you with the humor.  Using similar tunes (I believe the bridge melody came from a classic jump rope rhyme, but it escapes me at this moment) and corny lines shoots this song into my top 10 essential songs.

Pumped Up Kicks-Foster the People: Recorded in 2010, became popular in 2011... what a sleeper hit! This song makes me laugh too...not because it is supposed to be funny, but because of the debates on what this song is about.  Is it about murder? Suicide? School shootings?  Hipsters find this song cool, because it sounds like something that could be played at Urban Outfitters, but they shouldn't admit to liking this song.  Why? Well, the song is dissing them.  You don't think so, listen to the chorus.  All the kids with the pumped up kicks are supposed to run...faster than his bullet!  Maybe if he added the word away, kids might get it.  Then again maybe not.  Still great to hear kids go "oh I'm awesome" and list a bunch of Indie Bands to sound cool, adding Foster the People to the Playlist.  Ah kids and their pumped up kicks. Indie, keep on releasing great music.  Let's make Indie a mainstream genera. 

Judas-Lady Gaga:  I know what you are thinking...how DARE you add another Gaga song to this list without even hinting at Perry? (Sorry Perry did more of the same.) This song just got everybody upset.  I mean HOW DARE Gaga write about Christian's biggest traitor? Catholics were mad it was released during Holy Week, other Christians were angry about the video being all messed up, non-religious people were sick of the religious references and the devil was mad he wasn't included in the song at all.  Very interesting way to explain going back to your "darkside" (your "Judas") and I applaud her for thinking of it first.  I love music that refers to Church because well...I work in churches.  This song was a mash up of a few of her previous songs: Bad Romance, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say), Lovegame, and probably Alejandro.  All those songs we loved and adored, so do the math: All of Gaga Hits+Religious References= Judas!  Probably not a great idea to release it on Good Friday, that was rather cliche.  Want to be original?  You should have released it in Lent, where temptation is largely discussed, especially during the week Jesus is tempted by the devil.   To me, that would have made more sense, then again, not everybody understands what the heck Lent is in the first place so nobody would have gotten the reference anyways. 

Here's a list of bands that I'm waiting to release a new album (and PROMISED would drop one this year)

No Doubt
Black Cards (Pete Wenz's band)
The Academy Is... (the promised last year and that didn't happen... so they owe me!)
Marylin Manson
Green Day
Mumford and Sons
Pearl Jam
Soundgarden (will they stay together this time?)
Nicki Minaj
Alica Keys
The Killers
Linkin Park
Regina Specktor
Matchbox 20 (Every college kid will be celebrating the day they release new material!)

Like I said...2012 is going to be an epic year in music!!! 


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