Days 8-12 of the 30 Days of Music Challenge!

Daily rituals are hard to keep up, especially once you start slipping up. But this challenge will be done, one way or another! And this week I’m going to recommit myself to doing this daily, instead of playing catch-up. Last week was a long, crazy week, with one wonderful moment that I hope to write about later today. But we’ll see.

Okay. So where are we?

30-day-song-challenge-8-thru-12

You’ll notice that #12 has been changed. The original text was “A song from a band you hate”. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I don’t really enjoy dwelling on things I don’t enjoy. The world is full of brilliant, interesting music and our lives are too short to listen to all of it, so focus on the stuff that is enjoyable!

Day 8: A song that you know all the words to

I’m going to start this one with a fun story about me, and then give you an actual answer.

So way, way back in my middle school years (mid 90’s), I believed I had the key to one of the MOST ANNOYING PROBLEMS EVER. You know how pop radio loves songs that are ultimately earworms? The songs that you can’t get out of your head no matter what? Well. I was a genius. And I had the answer. The answer: Find one of your favorite songs. Listen to it a couple of times so that you know the lyrics, especially the chorus, and any time an earworm tries to get in your head, use the song you have purposely memorized to defeat the earworm.

For the record, it worked. My trouble with earworms has really only happened over the past few years, and even now it’s minimal. My song of choice? “Sheep go to Heaven, Goats….go to Hell” by Cake.

See? Even as a young ‘un, I was brilliant.

Okay, the actual answer. So a moment of confession: I’m the WORST with lyrics. the worst. Even on songs I think I know, I forget a line, or think I know but come up with something super bizarre. So the songs I know all the lyrics to tend to be the songs that were truly part of the foundations of my love for music. There are exceptions, of course! I’m going to share one of the exceptions, I think. I could share “Just a Girl,” by No Doubt or “Shatter” by Paula Cole or “You Oughta Know” by Alanis, but I’m going to share this song instead. It’s a track by Regina Spektor that you can find on her Live in London album. I love Regina Spektor and have for a great many years. Soviet Kitsch might be one of my favorite albums, partly because of the tracks “Ghost of Corporate Future” and “Your Honor.” She has of course gone on to release a lot of amazing songs, but those two songs are forever favorites. Anyway. Back to Live in London. So there’s a track that she sings called “Silly Eye Color Generalizations” that is absolutely beautiful. It’s unaccompanied, vocals only, and the message is simple, but important. When I first heard it, I listened to it on repeat several times over, and singing along to this track is a very enjoyable activity, I highly recommmend it.

Day 9: A song that you can dance to

I am not a dancer, so my form of dancing tends to be the awkward dance of bopping along to a song as best as I can, or in the case of frenetic punk rock doing the pogo thing or in the case of metal doing a super tragic headbang type of thing. Again: Dancing is so not my thing. That said, all music is inherently something you can experience through dance/movement. And I suppose one of my favorite examples of that would be “Y.A.L.A.” by M.I.A. This is a track that has jumpstarted many mornings and gets included on any party playlist I put together. And the power of the last line in this song makes it extra explosive. (Fun fact: MIA and Deap Vally are completely different artists in so many senses, but their music together? Just…..YES.)

Day 10: A song that makes you fall asleep: 

I disagree with the language of this particular entry. To me, “a song that makes you fall asleep” suggests that the song is either a)super boring or b)one of those songs that you listen to as you fall asleep and as such any time you listen to it, you fall asleep. I personally don’t like when art (especially in music or written forms) becomes part of that category. Art is meant to be appreciated.

That said, this category does have some merit in the idea that songs can be soothing and create that space needed to fall asleep on those nights where sleep seems so far away. Way back in the day, the album that would help facilitate sleep for me was Loreena McKennitt’s Book of Secrets. I just had to make sure I was asleep before her cover of “the Highwayman” because if I wasn’t the verses would settle in deep and I’d find myself in tears.

These days, the album that I’ve been listening to when I can’t fall asleep: Agnes Obel‘s album Philharmonics. This album is beautiful, and the soundscapes that are created are powerful and delicate.

Day 11: A song from your favorite band

My favorite band? Just one? Does anyone really have ONE favorite band? How do I choose this? Hmmm. I have so many conflicting emotions here, because I have so many favorites.

But since I can just choose one, I’m going to choose a song by the DC based band Priests. The reason? Since I discovered their album Bodies and Control and Money and Power, I have found myself listening to the album in full on repeat multiple times. Over, and over again. From start to end, this album is perfect.

Day 12: A song in a different language

As mentioned above, lyrics are easily forgotten for me. That isn’t to say I don’t believe good lyrics can help make a song, because oh do they ever. “Silly Eye Color Generalizations” is a perfect song to prove that. I do think music is powerful, no matter what language is used for the lyrics. Songs have an ability to create mood and atmosphere that transcends words. And the world is a huge place. To limit one’s enjoyment of music to their spoken language does the world of music a disservice. Just like one should travel beyond one’s state or country, so too should they do that with music. Keep your options open, and your musical playlists will be so much better for it.

I think I’m gonna cheat with this one and pick two. The first track is proof that rock and roll goes beyond american and british borders. The Mexican rock band Ruido Rosa has been rocking since 2005 and this track is one of my favorites. It’s intense, it’s loud, and if you love rock and roll, this song is for you.

The reason I really want to cheat on this category is because I will take any and every opportunity to share this next track. I am a military brat. I’ve been outside of the United States and during my high school years in Germany, I very eagerly looked into the popular German alternative artists and found some favorite songs that I’ll still go back to. But it wasn’t until I moved back to the states and was in college that I found a song that truly captured the idea I expressed above. The lyrics aren’t the most important. It’s the song. I believe when I found this song I was enrolled in college level Spanish courses. I made an effort to find Spanish songs and try to learn the lyrics where I could. During this period I discovered the Colombian rockstar Juanes thanks to his duo with Nelly Furtado, and then the Argentinian musician Federico Aubele. There are some songs that will live with you forever. Whether it’s the music, the vocals or just the atmosphere it evokes, they will be there. This song is one of them. “Postales” is a beautiful and haunting song and the video that accompanies it such a perfect piece of art, all on its own. I don’t really have the words to express my love for this song. So….listen to the track. And enjoy it.