Monday, 14 July 2014

July 14: Something sexy - Abbe May covers Ginuine's "Pony" & Toni Braxton, "You're Makin' Me High"

Pretty sure everyone remembers this song from such times as 1996, when it was all kinds of hit. In 1996 I was 11 so I did think it was an actual song about riding ponies.

But that's ok. Abbe May covered it for triple j's Like A Version last year and put it back on the radar. I like this version more, because it's maybe taking itself a little less seriously than Ginuine (seriously, what kind of name...?) while still being a little bit sexy.

"I'm just a bachelor
I'm looking for a partner
Someone who knows how to ride
Without even falling off"

Speaking of sexy, did anyone else have this on their radar?

Again, 1996 - but unlike "Pony", I figured out what this one was about. Probably because of the use of the phrase "private parts". Hot.

Seriously though, go Toni Braxton - slipping multiple sexual references including masturbation into a popular r&b song is no small feat. Although perhaps things were different for women back in '96. I just think if we're going to get all up in arms about Miley, let's remember this has been going on for a while, women making it clear they're sexual beings. I know it's offensive, but women have been having the sex for as long as men have. Hate to break it to you.

"Can't get my mind off you
I think I might be obsessed
The very thought of you
Makes me want to get undressed
I wanna be with you
In spite of that my heart says
I guess I want you too bad

All I want is
Moonlight, with you there inside me
All night, doin' it again and again
You know I want you so bad
Baby, baby, baby, baby"

Sunday, 13 July 2014

July 13 - Willow Smith, "Whip My Hair"

I played this song so. many. times. in 2010. It was my jam. It was good to blast while getting ready to go riding during the 09/10 season in Whistler (even though my housemates weren't quite as stoked on hearing it 3 times in a row as me). It was fucking awesome to ride to - it made me brave for the moments when you know you're going to need extra speed even though a slight miscalculation will result in a fall that makes all the things hurt almost immediately. The film clip is also awesome, energy packed and defiant, sexless (apt for a girl of 10) but tough.

Now my snow days are over, I tend to blast it in my van on the way to work and feel badass for those 3mins 54 seconds. Sometimes that's all the badass you need.

I feel like this song captures a moment in time for me, a moment when I was a strong and fearless boarder, when I didn't care about anything more than when the next snow was coming, whether my board was waxed and my iPod charged, who was riding with me and where the freshest lines would be.

I wax lyrical about this because it was pure happiness. But it did teach me something: that there can be pure happiness just about anywhere.

So some mornings, on my way to work, with this song playing and a cup of coffee precariously balanced by my side, with things to look forward to both in the work day and outside of it, with awesome friends and warm toes, I am pretty damn pleased with myself.

And Willow Smith is right there with me, putting fire in my belly.

"Hop up out the bed, turn my swag on
Pay no attention to them haters
Because we whip 'em off
And we ain’t doin' nothin' wrong
So don’t tell me nothin'
I’m just trying to have fun
So keep the party jumping
So what's up?
And now they don't know what to do
We turn our back and whip our hair and just
Shake em off, shake em off
Shake em off, shake em off

Don’t let haters get me off my grind
Keep my head up, I know I’ll be fine
Keep fighting until I get there
When I’m down and I feel like giving up"

July 12 - TLC, "No Scrubs" & Destiny's Child, "Say My Name"

 These two go together like peas and carrots in my musical memory, so they get to share a post.

I don't know anyone who wants no scrubs. While I'm certain that TLC's double negative has caused confusion for some, for most others, this song's statement causes vehement agreement. A scrub is basically the type of guy I've dated til now, despite listening to this song almost daily for that period of time back in 99, probably a month's worth. I imagine 99's TLC shaking their collective heads in disappointment at my inevitable choice of the very scrub types they were warning me off.

For your future reference:

"If you don't have a car and you're walking
Oh yes son I'm talking to you
If you live at home wit' your momma
Oh yes son I'm talking to you
If you have a shorty but you don't show love
Oh yes son I'm talking to you
Wanna get with me with no money
Oh no I don't want no scrubs"

Recently I decided that the next guy I date must be able to buy his own breakfast. I am sick of buying boys breakfast just so I have someone to come out to breakfast with me. No more, and no scrubs neither.

I know Queen Bey has already had a song in this week's posts, but you know, Destiny's Child in the year 2000 were a force to be reckoned with.

I'm particularly partial to both these songs because of Lydia, who was one of my best friends in the middle highschool years... she loved both these songs and I'm pretty sure owned the singles, when singles were a thing. We listened to them countless times, talked about boys we liked, but also always did our homework. I'm pretty proud of 14 to 16 year old us.

This one is about boys cheatin'. It's bad news. This much my teen self did work out.

It's also about when boys are all talk. Still learning that lesson.

"Say my name, say my name
When no one is around you,
Say baby I love you
If you ain't runnin' game
Say my name, say my name
You actin' kinda shady,
Ain't callin' me baby
Why the sudden change?"

So much wisdom in the late 90s and early 00s.

July 11 - Miley Cyrus, "We Can't Stop"

Seen here with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots, Miley Cyrus's "We Can't Stop" is now a guilty pleasure for me to cover with varying degrees of competency on my guitar. I cannot twerk, but you know, I can play the 4 chords of which this pop classic consists.

While I acknowledge that Miley is doing some things that make some of you angry and uncomfortable, or maybe just hate her outright, or maybe wonder whatever happened to Hannah Montana, I still pick this song. You should hear me sing it in my van on the way to work.

The thing with pop music is, I just can't not. I'm quite ok with being slightly susceptible to catchy tunes carefully formulated with hooks to sell records or generate views or however success is measured for musicians anymore. I'm ok with allowing the part of my brain that identifies with the lowest common denominator to have some candy now and then, even if said 'candy' is full of the musical equivalent of red food dye and chemicals I can't pronounce.

Not even sorry.

"And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
We run things, things don’t run we
Don't take nothing from nobody

It’s our party we can do what we want
It’s our party we can say what we want
It’s our party we can love who we want
We can kiss who we want
We can see who we want"

I think Miley has actually got a little talent, as seen here in her cover of 'Jolene' by Dolly Parton.  

Also, I don't hate this cover of Lana Del Ray, either.

July 10 - Barden Bellas, "Finals Medley"

How about that motherfuckin' choreography, yo?

I'm well aware this is the second Pitch Perfect reference in a week, and I wish I could find it in my heart to be even slightly sorry/embarrassed, but I am just not. This movie is pretty much everything I love about American college movies, with added acapella and incredibly quotable quotes.

This particular performance, though. It's victorious, it's poppy, it's got sass. It's got Fat Amy, who is pretty much the best character ever. It makes use of Jessie J's "Price Tag" which I had on solid rotation for a good month back in 2012 (yes, a good 2 years after its release... what of it?). It also has a section where Anna Kendrick, who is awesome, sings Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me" from 1985's "The Breakfast Club" to tell Skylar Astin's character through the power of song that she is sorry and she is in love with him. I not-so-secretly pine for a boy to make the face Skylar Astin's character makes (when his little heart melts and all the love rushes in) about falling in love with me. A great love like the love of the movies.

If that's not a guilty pleasure then I just don't know what is.

Aca-believe it.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

July 9 - Sheryl Crow, "Strong Enough"

I'm learning this one on guitar after realising how straight-up awesome it is care of Haim's Like A Version cover.

I think I sort of ignored/soaked up Sheryl Crow through osmosis in the early to mid 90s when she was really kicking ass with songs like this, and "Run Baby Run", "All I Wanna Do" and "If It Makes You Happy". So I was learning all the words and I didn't even realise.

I put this in the guilty musical pleasure category of the July Challenge because there's something about the 90s that feels like comfort food for me. Musical comfort food.

She's a really tough and awesome woman, who I believe when she sings things. She has credibility and authenticity. And I like that, a lot. Also, she is a total babe, in the most kick ass way.

This song really resonates lately as I start to wonder what the guy I fall in love with is actually going to be like. He's going to have to be strong enough, that is for damn sure. While I don't agree that it's the man's role to be the strong one, I also don't see the harm in two strong people being together. Otherwise one of them always has to do the carrying, and I ain't talkin' 'bout groceries.

"God, I feel like hell tonight
Tears of rage I cannot fight
I'd be the last to help you understand
Are you strong enough to be my man, my man?

Nothing's true and nothing's right
So let me be alone tonight
Cause you can't change the way I am
Are you strong enough to be my man?"

Also: holy shit, this version with Stevie Nicks. Fucking A.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

July 8 - Beyoncé, "Flawless" [feat Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie]

I don't even feel I need to say a lot here, do I? Don't we all love the shit out of this amazing lady?

I think the thing about Beyoncé is that she is just badass. I listen to her in the car when I'm on the way to work and the other stuff just won't cut it. Actually, probably fair to say that of all the ladies I'm going to write about this week.

She is all power and lack of apology. She gets what she wants because she believes she deserves it. She may be a complete asshole in real life, although I like to think that she just sasses about the place telling people things and being 100% right. I basically do not want this imagining to be proven wrong, ever.

"Flawless" is a particularly awesome track for its "I woke up like this" factor. I am buying a tshirt with this on it to sleep in. You cannot stop me. It is already in the mail.

I feel like saying "I woke up like this" is one of the most feminist artful ways of saying 'fuck you, beauty things'. Admittedly I am sure Beyoncé looks amazing a lot of the time, but maybe sometimes she forgot to take off her makeup and mixed $5 house red with Campari shots the night before.

Oh wait, that's not Beyoncé.

Here's the kick ass feminist bit for you, also:

And just because I'm feeling all Beyoncé tonight, here's the other one that rocks:

Now go home, learn the dance, meet me out at the club in 3 weeks (that's for you, Chris).

July 7 - Bec Laughton, "Number One (Heartbreak)"

So many feels.

I was lucky enough to see Bec Laughton play a few weeks ago now at the Armidale Club. That night goes down in the books as A Night When Things Happened, but it was also just an amazing night for the music. She played this song towards the end of the set - shortly afterwards she had us dancing to a fuck-off amazing medley of 90s hits, but not before blowing me away with this soulful piece of heartbreak.

I know how it feels, exactly, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I don't mind feeling all the feelings, but sometimes it's a tiring process where it's not so much glamorous melancholia as it is having your tiny heart stomped upon, over and over.

Her voice is ridiculous live - she has perfect control over it; she puts her heart into it in a way that the record kind of captures - but listen, anything this soulful really needs to be felt all around you and ingested in a way that only a live situation can make happen.

It's definitely worth checking her our on Soundcloud. And probably buying her EP.

"They say that heartbreak makes the best songs
I'd know I'd rather not have written this one
And I don't care even if it were to be a number one
Because I can't escape loving you".

Monday, 7 July 2014

July 6 - Julia Stone, "Bloodbuzz Ohio"

This piece of gorgeous and delicious brilliance is a cover of a song by one of my favourite bands, The National. This version is beautiful too, but the clip above one is the one that I found via another favourite YouTube channel, 3eme Gauche.  It reminded me of both my love of The National and my love of Julia Stone.

Not everyone likes her voice; it's a sort of ethereal fairychild's voice. I find it really honest. I find her songs to be pretty lovely too, and I really enjoy her cover choices a lot. Like when she covered "You're the one that I want" from Grease. Amazing. 

The song itself creates this amazing space around it, like a lot of The National's songs. I feel as though Julia's take on it offers a little something different, perhaps makes more of a story of it. It's special when an artist you know can make you fall in love with a song you already loved by another favourite band.

"I still owe money to the money to the money I owe
I never thought about love when I thought about home
I still owe money to the money to the money I owe
The floors are falling out from everybody I know"

July 5 - Iggy Izalea, "Fancy" [feat Charli XCX]

Erryone's talking about Iggy Izalea lately - maybe because she's a white Australian woman rapping in an American accent. There are bulk haters, let me tell you that.

While I agree that the appropriation of black culture is problematic (Miley Cyrus is another one copping regular criticism for the same sort of stuff) I have to say I find her incredibly interesting. The attacks on her are on everything from the fact she doesn't write her songs by herself (if Beyonce is allowed to get help from Sia I don't see this criticism as particularly fair, I don't see music as being any less true or real if it's written by someone and performed by someone else) to her ass. I'm very interested in women in hiphop in any shape or form and so I will continue to keep my eye on her, as well as her haters.

I find this song to be rather catchy, and I find the clip's 'Clueless' theme to be particularly awesome. That is all.

"First thing's first, I'm the realist (realist)
Drop this and let the whole world feel it (let them feel it)
And I'm still in the Murda Bizness
I could hold you down, like I'm givin' lessons in physics (right, right)"


Saturday, 5 July 2014

July 4 - Bic Runga, "Sway"

A lot of things happening in 1997. I turned 12. I lived in France for 6 months with my family. I had started to get into music as my own person beyond what my mum (with, admittedly, impeccable taste) put on the mix tapes that accompanied us on the long car trips we were often taking (more on my mix tape reminiscence here).

In 1997, New Zealand artist Bic Runga released "Sway". It got used in 99's American Pie, but we won't hold that against it.

"Sway" is a very very simple tale of being out of control in love with someone. At 12, I was so close to thinking I knew what love was. The kind of love where you hold hands sometimes, and share your lunches. The kind of love where you have private jokes, save seats for each other, write their name over and over and over in your school books.

I still want that kind of love.

"And here I go
Losing my control
I'm practicing your name
So I can say it
To your face it doesn't
Seem right
To look you in the eye
Let all the things
You mean to me
Come tumbling out my mouth"

Thursday, 3 July 2014

July 3 - Sia, "Elastic Heart" [feat The Weeknd and Diplo]

I have so many reasons to love this one in particular, but it's really about Sia - as I recently observed on Facebook, she is my spirit animal. Of course I currently can't stop with "Chandelier" either, and have pre-ordered the shit out of her upcoming album '1000 Forms of Fear'. She's written ALL the songs, too - not only her own albums, but money-makers for Rihanna, Beyonce, David Guetta ... she's lent hooks to Eminem and Hilltop Hoods, plus more, I'm sure of it.

I also just recently found out she's actually an Aussie - you may well scoff at my lack of knowing of things, my housemates did - but I think it's because Sia started to get better known while I was overseas and stuck in the "hiphop/dubstep/stuff I could steal from my friends" musical loop. That's my story. Anyway, all her being Australian means is that I can include her in my 'Local'-themed Week 1 of this challenge.

"Elastic Heart" is part of the 'Catching Fire' soundtrack. I am part of the Hunger Games fanbase. It's entirely possible I saw it twice at the cinema in the space of a week, I can neither confirm nor deny. The soundtrack definitely didn't suck, and I probably own it.

I really truly got into this tune early this year (I believe it was around the 10th of January, actually) as I collected my van from the mechanic in Gloucester (I don't want to talk about it) and started my way up the hill in the summer heat. It was just me, which I see as a green light to turn up the volume and bellow away to my heart's content. So I completely owned this song by the time I got to the top of the hill, sweaty with a lack of air conditioning and a slightly uneasy feeling about whether I'd make it home.

I like how epic it is - it takes up a lot of space, vocally and emotionally. And the lyrics... so many feels.

"And another one bites the dust
Oh why can I not conquer love
And I might have thought that we were one
Wanted to fight this war without weapons

And I wanted it, I wanted it bad
But there were so many red flags
Now another one bites the dust
Yeah let's be clear, I'll trust no one"

Love stinks. But the chorus is basically like, I've got an elastic heart, so I'll be fine. Which is how I also feel. It's a partly sad inspirational tune. I feel I believe it more when there's a touch of melancholy. Gives it grit and credibility.

Listen to more Sia. Listen to this version of "Breathe Me" and this awkward shower-scene acapella version of "Titanium" ... because every post needs a touch of Pitch Perfect.

You're welcome.

Wondering what I'm up to? Here's the 'why'.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

July 2 - Courtney Barnett, "Avant Gardener"

It's an interesting experience to listen to the epic Australian accent on this lady. Perhaps you'll even be little uncomfortable for the first listen, like I was: part of me thinking "holy shit, is she even allowed to do that?" and part of me being like "fuck yeah this chick is just totally and unapologetically being herself".

I wasn't sure I liked her at all until suddenly she was all I wanted to listen to. I actually came across her through her amazing NPR Tiny Desk performance (this is where I get all my new musical loves lately). Courtney Barnett appears to be taking America on and winning in all the ways that it counts, and I fully support that.

Her songwriting is on another level all together. There are so many gems worthy of quotation I almost hesitate to choose one:

"Halfway down High Street, Andy looks ambivalent
He’s probably wondering what I’m doing getting in an ambulance
The paramedic thinks I’m clever cos I play guitar
I think she’s clever cos she stops people dying"

Each song is a story (I completely and absolutely advocate buying her album, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas - get it here), carefully crafted in a way that sounds slightly familiar, like a friend telling you a story about something that happened to them on the way to the party.

She's a poet and a master, and I bow down.

Wondering what I'm up to? Here's the 'why'.

July 1 - Jen Cloher and Mia Dyson, "Save Me"

Besides the super cute haloumi joke at the beginning of this clip, the song itself is beautiful.

"Save me from what I want" is a refrain that could possibly be my life, and I don't doubt many of you might feel the same way. It's tough to want things that you know you shouldn't want, whether it's haloumi or bad news lovers. Those men that never text you back, you know the ones?

I love women vocalists with deeper voices - they seem to ground a song in something a bit more earthy and solid, making their words instantly grittier and more likely to resonate somewhere in my soul.

I came across Jen Cloher a lifetime ago, when it was summer and I was breaking free of an abusive relationship. I drank beer and sat on my tiny balcony while she sang me love songs and other songs, smelling the city in big gulps to try and drown out my apprehension. Her songs are simple; the chords are ones that even I could play. Her voice is strong, yes, but it's also a bit about the way she strums a guitar with such certainty.

"We were made for ecstasy, we were made for pain. We were made to risk our love and find our way again."

Wondering what I'm up to? Here's the 'why'.

My July Challenge 2014: Women in Music

Last year after being rather put out about triple j's hottest 100 of the last 20 years being men-heavy to the point of a mere 8 songs in 100 being fronted or written by women, I spent a month focusing on women-made musics. You can read all about it over here.

I have been rather busy with my life and feel as though I've been missing out on both music listening time and blogging time, so I've set myself a challenge of writing every day of July about a song or a female artist of the musical persuasion. It means I can catch up on all the recommendations made by both friends and the taste-makers on the Internets, spend time in my room listening to fine things (and sipping whisky, if you must make yourself a mental picture) and generally enjoying myself.

July is a cold month in Armidale and so I think the company of talented ladies singing me all manner of things will warm me up no end.

A post a day. You may have noticed it's the 2nd that I'm starting this challenge, or at least posting about it. My defense is this: Canada Day is July 1st, and I had to drink delicious cocktails and watch a lovely Canadian movie with other appreciators of all things Canadia. But I do have a belated July 1st post for you.

I'm not being particularly political about this, although I guess in the face of many men, listening to and actively seeking female musical companionship may be an act of rebellion, or radicalism, or whateveryoumay. I just think small and amazing things can happen if you put your energy into them.

So this month it is all about the ladies.

Let's go.

Oh, also, by the end of the month I will have made a spotify playlist to share with you. In case you're into it. Alternatively, write me a letter and I might just post you a mix CD.