Category Archives: Music

Chinese pop singer Wang Rong Rollin’s music video “Chick Chick” is, well, something.

Is this, as several on the internet have claimed, the most bizarre music video of all time? The video, which sounds mostly comprised of avian sounds and electronic bass, features so many odd objects it has to be seen to be believed. I especially like the dancing topless men wearing farm animal masks….

another amazing Sam Smith cover


I listen to Whitney Houston covers with a judicious ear. The only one I think improves on the original is Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You because I think it undersells the song in a gorgeous way.

But this cover by pop crooner Sam Smith who, thus far, appears to be able to do no vocal wrong is so elegantly spare, I think it might be an improvement over the exuberant original. Maybe. Both are pop music at its best.

Confessions of a life-long Barbra lover.

One of my first musical memories is listening to Barbra Streisand with my father. He’d fallen under her spell after seeing her on Broadway in Funny Girl in 1964. We had every album she’d recorded and, even though they were my parents’ music, I kept listening to them as I grew older. I went to movies and marveled at her in Funny Girl, Hello Dolly, and What’s Up Doc. To this day, I can’t watch the last scene in The Way We Were without sobbing so hard I can barely see. (The same is true of my husband–he doesn’t cry quite as hard–which is one of the many things I love about him.)

In high school, I performed Barbra songs when I sang for an audience–I once sang both parts of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” in front of my entire school. In college, I played her albums despite the scorn her pop performances drew from my punk listening peers.

So, it was a given I’d buy Partners, her latest album. It’s an album of many of her greatest hits all sung as duets with male singers. (There’s a rumor she plans to make a similar album with all female singers.) Not all of the remakes are fabulous. But, a few are wondrous: “What Kind of Fool” with John Legend, ” Somewhere” with Josh Groban, “How Deep Is the Ocean?” with her son Jason Gould, and “People” with Stevie Wonder. Her voice is still astonishing–she hasn’t sounded this good in several years and it’s a joy to hear her work her vocal magic.

 

It’s all about the bass… line. The song “Sweater Weather” has a great one.

Romance writer Carrie Lofty posted this video on Facebook with the the comment “One of the best pop hooks in years.”

I had to give it a listen and I’m glad I did. Indie band The Neighbourhood was unknown to me but I’ve since then watched a few more of their videos on YouTube and I really like them.

This video also showcases one of my favorite cars of all time: A 1969 Mercedes Benz. Plus the black and white film gives it a timeless sense.

Enjoy!

Dabney Grinnan

Lera Lynn knocks another one out into the stars

I’ve been a Lera Lynn fan since my sister Sarah first heard her perform in Athens, Georgia at a R.E.M. tribute concert in 2011. (My sister called me from the theater and said “Ben and I are listening to this amazing singer. She’s going to be big.”) I promptly looked Lera up on Google and fell hard for her. This video and this song both blew me away then and still blow me away today.

Since then, I’ve seen Lera play live four times–once at my husband’s 60th birthday party!–and she’s mesmerized the audience each time. And, as my sister predicted, she’s becoming big. Her latest coup: This article and featured video at Rolling Stone.

What do you think? Does Taylor Swift need to be worried?

 

Dabney Grinnan

 

 

This “Let It Go” video is a joy

http://youtu.be/DAJYk1jOhzk

The song “Let It Go” from the animated smash Frozen was written specifically for the prodigious vocal talents of Idina Menzel. And she rocks the song.

The song is so beloved that there are literally hundreds of versions of it on YouTube. Of them all, this one is my favorite. Not only does Alex Boyé get props for his ingenius Lion King-like vocal arrangement but the young girl who sings, Lexie Walker–she’s eleven–is a true songstress. (Check out her singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It made my husband cry.

I’ve watched this video about twenty times now and every time it makes me smile.

Dabney Grinnan

“Typecast is a smart, sharp parody of “Royals”

If you’ve turned on your radio anytime in the last year, you’re likely to have heard the song “Royals,” by the song recorded by a powerhouse teenager from New Zealand. The song won Song of the Year at this year’s Grammys and has spawned countless copies and parodies. This one, written, directed, and filmed by Tess Paras is funny and spot on.

“You can’t have two black friends.”

Sad but, on the big screen, almost always true.

Dabney Grinnan

Strangest Ear Worm Ever

babymetalSometimes I wonder about the originality of music – there’s a ton of great musical artists, but so many of them sound so incredibly similar (you can look at the confusion between Katy Perry’s “Roar” and Sara Bareilles’ “Brave” if you don’t believe me). Japan, however, has a different plan. When Suzuku Nakamoto got too old for the group she was in (too old = 16 apparently), her entertainment company decided to try something new – Jpop (Japanese Pop music) needed something a bit more intense, so why not add some heavy metal? (Sorry, can’t embed the video for some reason.

Someone wrote an article about it on The Daily Dot but this is the line that sticks out the most for me – “Babymetal is kind of like a magical, leather-clad, fire-breathing, sonic unicorn.” And it really is. I’m not sure if it’s the oddness of it, or the catchyness of the lyrics (my Japanese is a bit rusty, but it’s all about the tune anyways).

And what are those lyrics? Well, I found a translation for you!

“Check-it-out chocolate.  Can I have a bit of chocolate? But my weight worries me a bit these days. However, chocolate.  Can I have a bit of chocolate? But wait a while!  Wait a while!  Wait! Wait! Wait!”

Apparently I’m not the only one to think we need more songs in the world about chocolate.

What do you think? Ear-worm from hell, or the most ridiculous, catchy thing ever?

– Melanie AAR

PS – If you want to hear more, this is actually a better song. I just am highly amused by chocolate heavy metal…

The Story Behind the Carol: Silent Night

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87q5dmW6zDg[/youtube]

On Christmas Eve of 1818 the young priest of St. Nicholas parish church in Obendorf faced disaster. The organ had been incapacitated by mice. The chance of fixing the instrument before the evening service was nil. Father Joseph Mohr was not a man to just give up however. He pulled out a poem he had written several years before called “Stille Nacht”. Mohr took his poem to the schoolmaster and organist of a nearby town, Franz Xaver Gruber. He asked that Gruber write a melody to accompany the poem on guitar. In several hours, Gruber had the music done and the carol was played for the first time that night at the Christmas Eve service.

The song was not translated into English for another 50 years. Episcopalian bishop John Freeman Young published the English translation that is most frequently sung today in 1859. The writing of the song is unique enough but one other interesting factoid makes this carol special. In 1914, during the Christmas truce, the song was sung in French, English and German simultaneously. It was apparently the one song that all the soldiers on both sides knew.

What are your favorite Christmas Carols? Do you know the story behind them?

– Maggie AAR