- Haim-Days Are Gone
- Janelle Monáe-Electric Lady
- Arcade Fire-Afterlife
- Childish Gambino-3005
- M.I.A.-Come Walk With Me
- Beyonce-XO/Drunk In Love
- Cults-We’ve Got It
- Best Coast-I Don’t Know How
- Paramore-Ain’t It Fun
- Sky Ferreira-You’re Not The One
- Kanye West-Black Skinhead
- Semi Precious Weapons-Look To The Stars
- The Julie Ruin-Ha Ha Ha
These are thirteen songs, in no particular order, that I danced, sang, or listened to on repeat last year that still require your immediate attention.
When I hear a song I usually associate said song with an emotion, image, or person. The song immediately becomes a memory to me, cataloged and stored in the jukebox that is my brain.
I don’t discriminate against music but I am critical of artists and their creative decisions or lack thereof. These songs are from artists I am mostly familiar with and a couple I’ve only come to discover recently.
I first heard Haim on the radio last summer. Forever was the single they were pushing off their first EP. These girls, sisters actually, sound like angels with leather jackets on leaving behind a trail of broken hearts wherever they go. Their husky voiced harmonies slay and would make Wilson Phillips green with envy.
I chose Days Are Gone because when I hear it I can’t help but sing-along. This song is perfection. It’s dramatic, catchy, and, like the rest of the album, isn’t about being dumped or heartbroken. This album is about wising up and moving on.
Janelle Monáe is a weirdo and I love her. While her previous efforts were ambitious, they also seemed highfalutin and inaccessible.
Electric Lady is a true achievement capturing her creative spirit and featuring some of her best work, both retro and soulful. The title track is smooth and irresistible, a funky Soul Train inspired shakedown featuring the incomparable Miss Solange Knowles. Shock it, shake it baby!
Arcade Fire’s Afterlife is heartbreaking and unnerving. This track, from their double LP Reflektor, is a haunting lullaby pondering the loss of life and love. And oddly enough might remind you of Greta Gerwig in an elaborate modern dance number, if you are lucky enough to have stumbled upon the YouTube music video. I’m currently learning the routine.
Donald Glover’s Because The Internet is polarizing, nerdy, moody, and sometimes even enjoyable. I’m quite partial to 3005 because, ironically enough, it sounds futuristic. I mean what is popular now is derivative of what everyone “agrees” sounds pleasing to the ears.
This sounds like an evolution, leaps and bounds ahead of the bitches and hoes rap/hip-hop bullshit. 3005 sounds like everyone’s new favorite song. Childish Gambino is looking for future sounds.
M.I.A. is one of my favorite shit talking, ass shaking, pot stirrers and Matangi is just another notch in her belt. She’s master of her craft and still full of ambition and creativity.
Come Walk With Me is a psychedelic groove morphing into a funky world beat. You might get confused dancing to this but that definitely won’t stop you from trying.
Beyoncé Knowles has silenced her critics and naysayers with the surprise release of her self-titled “visual” album complete with seventeen music videos. 17, seriously. This risky endeavour has turned out to be the biggest milestone in her career to date.
I had to pick two songs for you to indulge in as I have over and over again. This isn’t just some of her best work, Beyoncé is one of the best albums released last year. A slow jam, stripped down, in your face musical experiment that oozes with passion, sex, and charisma.
XO is a super sonic love song for the ages. A sweet melody slowly building into a bombastic stadium anthem. Drunk in Love is a sultry snake charmer flute song working everyone into a frenzy. Beyoncé does not play some cheap NSFW video vixen, she’s a goddess. Bow down bitches!
Cults are my favorite creepy cool indie retro rock duo. Their unique sound is part doo wop 60s girl band and grungy garage rock. Despite the dissolution of their own romance, Cults has thankfully continued on as a band with the release of their second album Static.
We’ve Got It is one of my favorites and somehow reminds me of black and white horror movies and cemeteries. Madeline’s vocals tip toe across tambourines and cymbals clashing back in forth with the slow strum of menacing guitars. Her haunting vocals have always left a huge impression on me and I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying them live.
I have tirelessly worshipped at the altar of Bethany Cosentino and 2013 was no different with the release of their EP Fade Away. True to form this lo-fi surfer rock duo has perfected their craft and offered up another stellar selection of confessional pop.
I Don’t Know How is Best Coast’s Wrecking Ball and Bratty B is always on point when it comes to bringing on the heartbreak.
This is what it feels like to have your heart stomped on. And this is what it feels like to watch the stomper carelessly walk away like they never even knew your name. Classic and timeless, I’ll never stop praising Best Coast for their honesty and effortless musicality.
Call them what you want, Paramore have transformed themselves. The trio’s self titled release defies genres and defines the band on their own terms. Besides the ukulele interludes that frame the album perfectly, gospel choir guest spots, and killer hooks Hayley Williams and company have always provided, there is also something different this time around.
Paramore have become more adventurous and grown much too big for the pop-punk sandbox they have been holed up in and are finally stadium rock ready. Ain’t It Fun is a clap your hands fancy free sing along about how shitty it is to have to grow up.
Williams’ vocals are always sugary sweet and delectable but bittersweet lyrics, thrashing guitars, and throbbing drums have always grounded the band somewhere accessible for everyone to enjoy. Not to mention the gospel choir in the bridge, take em to church Hayley.
Sky Ferreira is a beast. Her chameleon fashion sense is enviable and her music varies from indie-pop, folk, and grunge. She’s as talented as she is unpredictable and I impatiently await her every move. I’ve been smitten and apparently so has Miley Cyrus who has invited her to join the BANGERZ world tour she is about to embark on.
You’re Not The One is an 80s riff revved up and pulsing over Ferreira’s aching vocals. The ultimate kiss off. Her siren song is vicious and her latest videos are all love letters to David Lynch. :swoon:
I don’t care what you say about him, Kanye West is not going anywhere. And believe it or not, music would not be the same without him pushing buttons and breaking the rules. His ego is simply a result of the popular culture we have all perpetuated and he is one of our tamer creations, suck it Bieber!
Yeezus sounds like a big mess, but it’s a calculated move from a meticulous and maniacal genius. And there’s a staggering list of producers, samples, and collaborators to prove it.
Black Skinhead is Yeezy’s big black middle finger pointed in every direction. A battle cry full of pomp and fury as he charges against the masses. The unapologetic hellion is far from finished crafting his legacy.
Semi Precious Weapons will finally see the release of new music in 2014 and hopefully, finally, the recognition they deserve. Justin Tranter is an androgynous and electrifying frontman that is equal parts, Freddie Mercury, Iggy Pop, and Elton John. The energy on stage when he performs with the band is unmatched, raw, fierce, and unforgettable.
Look To The Stars is just a tease off their next full length release and I’m already salivating for more. While their kinky and edgy previous albums have never felt half baked, this isn’t the band I’ve heard before. Look To the Stars is new and different with a star vocal turn by Tranter reaching incredible new heights. A beautifully crafted earworm ready to be your new obsession.
Kathleen Hanna is a rebel queen but, unfortunately, you probably don’t even know her name. I thought I knew who Hanna and now I really get it. She’s one of the lone voices of feminism this generation has seen and mostly forgotten. She has a knack for speaking her mind and lucky for us she has still a lot to say.
Last year her new band, The Julie Ruin, released the album Run Fast. The Julie Ruin is some happy median between Le Tigre and Bikini Kill and equally as vicious. Ha Ha Ha is manic and synth laden laughing off an impending apocalypse. Rattle and hum brought to you by the original upstart.
It is a sick sad world that we live in that a woman still can’t catch a break.
40 years after Roe vs. Wade the government is still trying to regulate reproductive rights, mostly in the name of religion and a God given right to be self righteous. According to AmericanProgress.org, in 2010 women who worked full time still only earned 77 percent of what men earned. And here comes the kicker, somehow Fifty Shades of Grey is supposed to be some kind of treat for you to enjoy while you are subjected to this culture of injustice.
Look alive ladies!
American culture has basically created industry after industry based on misconceptions of the female form.
Hey ladies, while you are and have always been considered historically inferior to men, advances in science and cosmetic products have presented several opportunities to mask your flaws to better provide you with the perfection you and your partner deserve. You can’t be loved if you don’t look like you’re worth loving.
So how does the expression of that oppression manifest itself in our popular culture?
Before celebs were 40 million twitter followers strong, they still had some shred of dignity and privacy left. 2006 was the dark ages for social media but news outlets were well on their way to the bullying subculture that has become reporting slash gossip mongering.
News outlets like TMZ and E! were offered unfettered access to celebrities thanks to photographers and paparazzi eager to make a not so honest buck. Pictures of celebrities without makeup quickly became celebrities without panties. Websites began posting NSFW photos offering a glimpse into crotch after celebrity crotch giving us a tour of the waxed vaginas of the stars. Everyone went down the vagina shaped rabbit hole and then there was nothing left to hide.
Perez Hilton in his infinite wisdom once told ABC News there was still hope for modesty.
“I think some people are still modest and respectful. There’s a reason we’ve never seen Jessica Simpson’s bits and pieces,” Hilton said. “Amanda Bynes, Scarlett Johansson. There are girls who keep their private lives private and their private parts private,” he said.
Hilton has gone on to make a name for himself chronicling the exploits of said females modest and not so modest for over a decade mainly focusing on their missteps and misfortunes. Taking cheap shots at women in Hollywood became chic and little by little it became commonplace to give up every bit of your privacy.
If there are no taboos then no standards can exist for what is appropriate.
There is no desire for a tease or foreplay just a demand to expose yourself. Prying minds turned into prying eyes and then the clothes started coming off, everyone went nude for magazine spreads, album covers, and music videos. Jailbait photo shoots and sex tapes of the stars blurred the lines of what was once off limits.
I imagine it is hard to say no if everyone else is saying yes.
More women being famously forced into a compromising position to further their success as an artist or actress. But I won’t portray these women as the eternal victim especially if you consider the number of times someone said yes instead of saying no, I won’t or can’t do that. Or being pressured by those who are supposed to be responsible for them, managers, assistants, and friends who should have said it was okay to say no.
The point I’m trying to make is that I agree with Lilly Allen, it’s hard out here for a bitch.
Allen has definitely had her fair share of successes and skewering from the press and fans alike and on Tuesday she released her first original single in four years, Hard Out Here. A comeback is no easy feat but Allen has come out guns blazing with a hot button single that already has the internet enraged.
Apparently there isn’t anything worse than being a feminist except for being outspoken and clever. So the appropriate response for a female trying to stand up and speak out against discrimination should definitely be to accuse her of racism and the exploitation of women, right?
I can’t remember the last time I heard a pop star sing a song about the glass ceiling and sexism in the industry. This is not a conversation anyone is willing to have. Rolling Stone and E! News would much rather ask you about your sex life or your sexuality in attempt to incite controversy with a scandal.
Guess what, that’s none of their fucking business.
An artist is responsible for promoting music not their sex or some unrealistic image of perfection.
All these “artists” begging for attention and Lily Allen steps out on a limb to make a statement and the genderists (1. genderist: a person that discriminates or is prejudice based on gender.) start lining up to tear her down. Her art only becomes more relevant when everything she is singing about rings true.
The video for her try and not dance to this single is just as brilliant as the song itself featuring a trip to the plastic surgeon, twerking, and a baggy pussy. Sounds just like a day in the life of a pop star to me.
You can swing words like cultural appropriation around all you want at Allen but the only person she’s really making fun of is herself. Oh and also the hypocrisy of video vixens and materialism in music videos which by the way isn’t exclusive to hip hop videos or any specific genre of music.
I hope when all the dust settles Hard Out Here will bring solidarity among her contemporaries instead of being another opportunity for trash talking and one upping. I can’t be the only one who sees there are already plenty of people bringing you down, why not make a conscious decision to lift each other up?
The complexities of human emotions are not for the faint of heart, but I believe Bethany Cosentino has a better understanding of them than I do.
The lovely Best Coast provides a special brand of stoner surfer rock that is nothing short of perfection. The duo are comprised of Bethany Cosentino, on vocals and guitar, and her better half Bobb Bruno, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist. Bruno handles a mean guitar on stage with Cosentino providing the lyrics and together they share their sunny disposition bringing good vibrations to the masses.
The voice of a post modern girl, admittedly scared and alone but not afraid to feel as such. More importantly the doom and gloom never wins because boyfriend or not Bethany will always have her beloved Snacks. While her lyrics detail the hazards and pitfalls of falling in love, she reminds us there isn’t anything a day at the beach couldn’t fix.
Her confessions are littered throughout remarkably honest and manic and both bitter and sweet. The kind of longing most people only feel comfortable admitting to themselves in the dark where they’re all alone, but Bethany stands on stage poised and pleased to share her innermost thoughts.
Cosentino is a hopeless romantic singing her heart out. She hypnotizes the crowd capturing the gaze of her adoring fans with a pair of wayfarers always on hand to hide behind.
Best Coast definitely share an affinity for their famed West Coast beaches, but they shine brightest when they are singing about heartache and her admissions of confusion and self doubt. She’s an open book wide eyed and searching for solace in a beach blanket. There is nothing to hold back and when Cosentino cuts loose who knows what she’ll say next.
After two previous botched appearances in Austin, Best Coast returned to play a solid set at the Mohawk May 26, 2013 . Cosentino admitted to having had a few too many on previous visits, but quick to say it wasn’t a big deal. True to herself, she doesn’t apologize as much as she offers an explanation where one is expected but unnecessary. She is never concerned with regret but eager and quick to make up for it with a stellar performance.
I’ve had the pleasure of attending three BC shows and I have never seen a more honest and gutsy performance by a female vocalist. Her sunny disposition is only rivaled but that of the lovely Mrs. Gwen Stefani, a fellow Golden State resident. Bobb Bruno strums a slow and steady guitar while Bethany rattles the mic with her lovelorn devotionals.
Do You Love Me Like You Used To, was the first song for the encore and definitely a new favorite of mine from their latest release, The Only Place. Relationships aren’t as easy as the crappy pop songs you hear on the radio make them out to be. They are messy and fun and Cosentino makes no qualms about that in any of her songs. This one in particular resonates with me and it seemed with Cosentino too as she smiled and strummed guitar before heading straight into a no brainer closer, Boyfriend.
Bethany Cosentino may not be your typical role model, but she’s definitely become a kindred spirit for all the other lonely hearts. She’s a voice of reason when it seems everyone else is lying to you about love. Cosentino has some understanding of the truth and like anyone else still succumbs to it for all the right and wrong reasons.