13: A song by a musician that has passed away.
Some weeks ago I watched Amy, the documentary about Amy Winehouse, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since then. I just can’t stop thinking about the tragedy that was her life. I found three scenes particularly painful to watch:
- An interview with Amy after her debut album Frank was released. Someone asks her if she thinks she’ll become famous, and her answer is that she’s sure she won’t because she’s a jazz singer and that is not a commercial genre. Hearing this was just painfully ironic, knowing the influence her work would end up having in the music industry and knowing fame would end up playing a big role in destroying her.
- A brief moment about 1:22 into the movie. Amy’s standing by a car. A few paparazzis are circulating around her. They are all hidden behind their camera lenses and constantly taking photos. Amy doesn’t look at them even though they are inches away. This scene resembles predators approaching their victim, except this is grown up human beings. Approaching another grown up human being, who they know is in deep trouble and in desperate need of help. I cannot emphasize this enough: they know about her situation. Yet they keep disturbing her, comfortably distansed by their cameras. How can a paparazzi photographer sleep at night or even spend money they’ve earned without feeling sick to their stomach? They are literally – in many cases such as this one – stressing people to death. You can never justify something like that by saying that you’re “just doing your job” or “if I don’t do it someone else will”. What also strikes me while watching this documentary is that all paparazzis are men. Enough said.
- The Belgrade concert. Despite having been in very bad condition for a long time, and despite currently being passed out at home, Amy is driven to the airport and put on a flight to Serbia to perform. The documentary shows Amy on stage. She’s apparently too drunk to do her job. Some people in the audience start booing. The look on Amy’s face is devastating. It is the face of a confused and horrified child. My thoughts watching are: “Seriously? They are booing a fellow human being who is clearly agonized and broken? Who does that?” Some people are even laughing at her. Everything about this scene is so tragic. What her life became. How people treat other people.
When you’ve got a couple of hours to spare, I would really recommend watching Amy. If you have a heart the movie might exhaust you, like it did with me. But it will be worth it, because improving your empathy is always important.
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
Filed under jazz, soul, watch
12: A song with a name in the title.
Only a few weeks ago, kent – Sweden’s biggest rock band – officially disbanded. Their final tour was one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen on a stage. Truly unforgettable. I went to three of the shows, including their funeral on December 17. Of course it’s sad that kent broke up, but I’m glad they stayed together for so long and made a lot of very good music. This is one of my absolute favorite kent songs:
kent – Ansgar & Evelyne
Filed under rock, swedish
11: A song that reminds you of summer.
MakeDamnSure by Taking Back Sunday gives me the chills. I remember one summer as a teenager – it must have been 2007? – listening to this song over and over again. Of course I listen to it during other times of the year as well, but since my teen years no summer is complete for me without blasting MakeDamnSure.
There’s also this acoustic version that is pure magic, much thanks to Matt Fazzi’s performance:
10: A song you wish you wrote.
There are no words to describe how perfect I find Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t by Brand New. Flawless.
9: A song you recently recommended to someone.
This spring Cymbals Eat Guitars are coming to Stockholm. That means I’ve recently been trying to get friends to buy tickets for their show by recommending tracks such as this one:
Cymbals Eat Guitars – Living North
8: A song you loved when you were a kid.
Aaah, the memories!
Two screenshots from my Last.fm page to sum up what I’ve been listening to in 2016:
kent decided to stop being kent which made me listen to them more than usually; I welcomed a new blink-182, Silvana Imam released one hell of an album; The Hotelier’s Goodness grew on me and became one of my favorite records of the year; Tiger Lou were finally playing shows in Sweden again and released their first full-length since 2008; I spent weeks listening to Promise Everything by Basement on repeat (mostly on CD, though).
More stats from Last.fm:
I found these quite interesting, because – as I’ve stated many times before – I like discovering new music and this is my receipt that I’m pretty good at not just listening to the same bands or records over and over again but seeking something fresh. Not necessarily “fresh” as in recently released, but fresh to me. Not sure whether 21 % new artists or 38 % new albums are high numbers in comparison to other people interested in music, but that’s not very interesting, is it? What will be interesting is comparing these 2016 stats with 2017 a year from now.
7: A song that is your guilty pleasure.
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. What’s the point of feeling “guilty” for enjoying a specific song or genre or whatever? Sounds are vibrations that your ears register, and upon that I guess your brain decides whether it’s fond of the sound or not. That’s it. Seems pretty useless feeling guilty about your brain reacting positively a melody or voice, right? If you think it’s a big deal that you find Justin Bieber’s Baby catchy, you’re wrong. This world truly has bigger issues.
Growing up in the 90’s and early 00’s, I’ve sure spent a lot of time listening to top hits from those years. Owning few albums that I listened to on repeat for weeks, my walls covered in pictures of pop stars, patiently waiting by the radio to record a favorite song, reading Sweden’s biggest pop magazine at the time front-to-back as soon as I received it in the mail – fascinated by the lives of my idols and other musicians. I’m aware that most people would consider commercial pop from this period embarrassing, lousy and/or soulless, and therefore refer to it as a “guilty pleasure” if ever admitting to like it. Or perhaps they’d clarify that they do like it, but they like it ironically. The hipster way.
My brain appreciates pop music from the 90’s and 00’s – among much else – whether I am comfortable with that or not. I don’t listen to my former pop idols very often anymore, but when I do stumble upon them I have no problem embracing the memories those songs evoke and enjoying them for what they are: vibrations that my ears register and that my brain has decided to like. Here’s one of those songs that is not a guilty pleasure, by merely a pleasure:
6: A song you can always relate to.
While thinking about which song to pick for this one, I spent a lot of time considering the word “always”. I ended up with two possible definitions:
- always relate to = a song I can relate to no matter what mood I’m in
- always relate to = a song I’ve been able to relate to for a long time
Pepper by Millencolin was one of the first songs I came to think of when trying to combine both these definitions:
5: A song in a foreign language.
I’ve already expressed my love for Laleh in this blog. She is one of the most popular pop artists in Sweden and has released music in Swedish, English and Persian. Der Yek Gooshe is one of her Persian songs:
Listen to it while reading my earlier post about Laleh.
4: A short song
Badly Drawn Boy – I Was Wrong
I’ve loved this since I first heard it. Just perfect.
I always hoped I’d build my world around you
And it’s a miracle I ever found you
Do the colours of the rainbow radiate to everyone
Now I don’t know how I could live without you
But certainly I know I’m not about to
I don’t believe in anything I see unless I can feel it too
3: A song with no lyrics.
The first song that came to my mind was Raein by Ólafur Arnalds. Definitely one of my favorite instrumental songs. (By the way, it seems like it’s still possible to download the whole Found Songs record for free here.)
But as I kept thinking about instrumental music I’ve been into over the years, I also recalled how I listened quite a bit to Mulatu Astatke a few years ago. Yègellé Tezeta is probably his most famous song, as well as my favorite:
Yet another instrumental track I am very fond of is Sometimes I Just Go For It by The Used. I like it because it’s different from other music they have released. Most likely because it was released as an “idea” rather than anything else, and I’m glad it was left like that. Just a demo, neither more nor less.
2: A one hit wonder that you like.
… and I might even like this cover a tiny bit more:
So I’ve put together my own “30 songs” challenge. It’s been inspired by various “30 days 30 songs” lists, but I don’t dare promising I’ll actually post daily, so I decided to skip the “days” part. Anyway, here’s the list:
1 – A song by a band/artist that isn’t very famous
2 – A one hit wonder that you like
3 – A song with no lyrics
4 – A short song
5 – A song in a foreign language
6 – A song you can always relate to
7 – A song that is your guilty pleasure
8 – A song you loved when you were a kid
9 – A song you recently recommended to someone
10 – A song you wish you wrote
11 – A song that reminds you of summer
12 – A song with a name in the title
13 – A song by a musician that has passed away
14 – A song you like hearing live
15 – A song people wouldn’t expect you to like
16 – A music video that you like
17 – A song from your favorite album
18 – A song from a movie
19 – A song you’re currently obsessed with
20 – A song that reminds you of somewhere
21 – A song you want to dance to at your wedding
22 – A song that describes you
23 – A song that reminds you of your parents
24 – A cover song
25 – A song that reminds you of a former friend
26 – A song that you love thanks to someone in your family
27 – Your favorite song 15 years ago
28 – A song that reminds you of your boyfriend/girlfriend
29 – A song by a band/artist you didn’t like at first
30 – Favorite song from the current charts
Today is number one: “A song by a band/artist that isn’t very famous”. Since I was a teenager and found out about MySpace, looking for new, unknown bands and artists has been a great interest of mine. Many of those I listened to early on in their careers have made it quite far, others are still working to make it. Some don’t strive for success at all; playing music is merely a hobby for them. Even others quit, parted ways or just gave up. I want to dedicate this post to a band that broke up before a possible break-through. They’re called Italian Edition and I first heard of them in a blog maybe six years ago. Someone had written about their records Ludditudes and The Fable of the Mouse and the Frog just like I’m doing right now and I was instantly hooked on their sound. Have a listen:
Italian Edition – Show Me Yours
Italian Edition – Battles
Italian Edition – Miss Demeanor
They deserve to have three songs featured here, right? The vocals, the melodies, the warm guitars. I guess I just truly want more people to listen to this band.
Italian Edition currently have 234 listeners on Last.fm. They’re not on Spotify.
This music video is stunning.