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My Soul Food

This post was inspired by listening (crying) to Sam Smith’s most recent work of art, The Thrill Of It All. I’ll admit that I wasn’t blown away by his first single off the album, “Too Good At Goodbyes”, however I consistently find that I like non-singles better (for all artists) and this time was no different. Highlights of the album for me were: “Pray”, “Nothing Left For You”, “Scars” and “The Thrill of It All”. But the song that made me weep like a baby was the album’s final track, “One Day At A Time.” Any adjectives I write here would not do the song justice so I won’t even try to describe it. But aside from the cigarette mention in the chorus lyrics (because smokers are jokers), it’s a pretty perfect song.

ANYWAYS, I was inspired to listen to my Soul Food playlist on Spotify after hearing Sam’s album and I gotta say, sometimes you need to add a little soul to your musical diet. I often find this playlist too intense to listen to because of the emotions it forces out of me, but the music and raw talent of these artists is worth the emotional pain. Below, are some of the most lyrically touching and vocally mesmerizing songs I’ve ever heard.

Parson James “Waiting Game” – Those first few piano notes and I’m already done. Listen to this song with tissues. You’ve been warned.

Joss Stone “Free Me (2017)” – Joss’s (Joss’?) voice is one-of-a-kind.

Sam Smith “Nirvana” – My favorite song of Sam’s.

Samm Henshaw “Only Wanna Be With You (Unplugged)” – I stumbled upon this song recently and have never looked back. The epitome of a love song, this has become one of my all-time favorites.

Tobias Jesso Jr. “How Could You Babe” – Doing a complete 180 here, this is the epitome of a heartbreak song. I mean, the painfully beautiful way Tobias belts it out is so good it’s almost unfair.  Like, can you throw some of your talent my way, babe?

CeeLo Green “Fuck You” – Some may not classify this honest, to-the-point song as soul but this is my blog and I DEFINITELY do. I mean, I play this song and I’m instantly feeling better about everything. The same thing happens when I eat chocolate chip cookies… or cheese fries. Hands down one of the best songs to ever happen to pop music.

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No Words

As a race, I think we’re failing ourselves and the future. This planet, this place that we call home, is so precious and we’re just making everything harder for ourselves as a whole. We humans overthink everything, fight about everything, and make a big deal out of everything. At the end of the day, none of us have forever, so why can’t we all just be kind and learn to live with one another in peace now? I know it’s wishful thinking but we’re all thinking it… or at least many of us are.

Anyways, when it gets too noisy and busy out in the world I like to listen to music that puts me in a more relaxed and calm state of mind. Instrumental music, in particular for me, creates that sense of zen. Songs don’t need words to tell a story, after all.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite instrumental pieces:

I Got Troubled Thoughts And The Self-Esteem To Match (What A Catch)

For the past six or so months I’ve been trying to keep a positive/happy facade during a time of personal struggle in my life. But you know what? I’m fucking done with that. I’m pissed off and frustrated. If this is growing up, I think Peter Pan had the right idea. So today, I prescribed myself a dose of loud music and a spoonful of head-banging-whilst-lip-singing songs. This was today’s playlist:

Bleachers “I Wanna Get Better”

All American Rejects “Gives You Hell”

Fall Out Boy “What A Catch, Donnie”

Quietdrive “Rise From the Ashes”

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus “Face Down”

The Used/My Chemical Romance “Under Pressure”

Farewell American Idol …For Now

American Idol sang it’s final tune last night. I was an avid viewer and fan of the first 8 seasons, half-watched 9, came back for 10 & 11, but kind of fell off the Idol wagon when Simon Cowell left the judges panel. I stuck around another year or so but was never as engaged after Season 11. Last night, after watching many past contestants perform on the Idol stage one last time, I thought I’d take a look back and re-watch all of my favorite performances throughout the series. Here they are!

Jason Castro “Hallelujah” – Looking back, the soft-spoken dread-locked singer-songwriter was my favorite Idol contestant of all time. His voice wasn’t spectacular by any means but if you watch his interview bit before this performance, that’s basically why he was my fave.

David Archuleta “Imagine” – This may be the single best solo performance on Idol in all its 15 years. Not only is Archie’s voice crystal clear but he sings with such natural conviction that a lot of contestants just don’t have.

Carrie Underwood “Alone” – I just always liked this song and her take on it. I forgot Simon predicted her to win & sell more records than any other previous Idol winner. And that she did.

Carrie Underwood & Rascal Flatts “Bless The Broken Road” – While this isn’t technically a performance that got “judged”, this is when I was first introduced to my future wedding song.

Alison Iraheta “Alone” – For me, no one has ever covered this song as well as Alison Iraheta (not even Carrie).

David Cook “Always Be My Baby” – Watching this again, I got chills. What David Cook did to this song is mesmerizing.

Hayley Reinhart “Bennie & The Jets” – She was probably my favorite female contestant throughout the course of the series. The girl’s got pipes.

Adam Lambert “Tracks Of My Tears” – Oh my Adam. This gentle take on the timeless Smokey Robinson song is breathtaking. That last note, are you kidding me? Praise.

Trent Harmon “Chandelier” – I admit, I didn’t watch many episodes of the last season of Idol. However, I did catch this particular performance and while re-watching it, I cried. A lot. Trent’s take on Sia’s pop hit is incredible. After crowning him the winner of Season 15, I think it’s safe to say that American Idol ended on a VERY high note.

I Regress

Oh the 90’s. The pre-9/11 era of innocence. When I had all the friends in the world and no cares aside from homework and choosing which *NSYNC member I wanted to marry (FYI I believe that honor ultimately went to JC)… There was and will always be something special about the music from this decade. Running home from school to watch TRL with my friends, recording our favorite music videos on VHS tapes and rewinding and then replaying them 10 times in a row to practice the dance moves, calling in to Z100’s 9 at 9 when it was still cool, making cassette tape mixes, going to The Wiz to buy new singles (literally, one song on a cassette or CD). Ah it was amazing and I’m super happy my childhood and pre-teen years occurred before social media took over. Everything is too easy to consume now. We had to work for it. Go 80’s babies!

Anyways, from the height of the boy band era, to the ultimate pop princesses, to sweet r&b and hip-hop, here’s a list of some of my favorite classic 90’s jams (ok most are from 1999 because apparently that was the best year for music but still):

Backstreet Boys “The One” and “I Want It That Way” – Millennium is arguably (but not really because it is) their best album. “The One” is an intergalactic upbeat love song, and no one on planet earth can decipher what’s going on lyrically in “I Want It That Way”(and believe me they’ve tried), which makes it even more special.

Boyz II Men “I’ll Make Love To You” – I saw these lovely men live in concert 2 years ago for the first time and damn, they’ve still got it. If you want to please any crowd, just throw on this song.

Brandy “Almost Doesn’t Count” – Brandy’s 1998 Never Say Never album was on constant replay in my CD player. This song always sounded good but the lyrics and message started to mean more over the years.

Britney Spears “…Baby One More Time” – My best friend and I choreographed our own dance to this song and performed it dressed up as Ginger and Baby Spice for our family. Because that’s how we entertained ourselves back then. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Celine Dion “My Heart Will Go On” – 90’s kids, we’ll never let go.

Christina Aguilera “Genie In A Bottle” – This is when pop started getting a bit more “edgy”, a bit more “sexy”. Her debut album was always one of my favorites.

Chumbawamba “Tubthumping” – Who doesn’t want to piss the night away to this jam?

Destiny’s Child “Say My Name” – Ugh, I love the all-female, girl-power groups of the 90’s. These ladies were the perfect amount of fierce.

Hanson “MMMBop” – No explanation needed.

Jessica Simpson “I Think I’m In Love With You” – I had like 20 crushes in the 90’s and I dedicated this song to all of them.

Jordan Knight “Give It To You” – One of the many songs way too sexual for us at the time but we had no idea what the hell was going on so no harm done.

K-CI & JoJo “All My Life” – Pure r&b perfection. I mean, people were obsessed with this song. Myself included.

LFO “Summer Girls” – This super popular song was like nothing we’d ever heard before and we consumed it like scavengers.

Mariah Carey “Always Be My Baby” – This sweet song is a staple in any 90’s music collection. And if it’s not in yours you should be ashamed of yourself! (Just kidding but seriously)

Monica “Angel Of Mine” – They just don’t make jams like this anymore.

Every *NSYNC song that came out in the 90’s – Praise. Here’s “I Want You Back” since it was the first single.

Real McCoy “Another Night” – The quintessential 90’s dance track.

Robyn “Show Me Love” – Today’s pop stars should just bow down because you can’t compete with this masterpiece of a song.

Sisqo “Thong Song” – Enough mushy love songs. I want to go back to a time when the hottest song on the radio was about thongs dammit!

Spice Girls “Wannabe” – My favorite girl group of all time. What 90’s girl didn’t sing along to this song with her friends and feel like the coolest person in the world? None of them.

Epic

I haven’t posted in a bit because I haven’t heard anything worthwhile in about a week or two. So I decided to write this post instead…

I firmly believe that every one of us wants to hear something epic every now and then. A song that moves us to the point of stillness. A song that captures a moment in our lives so perfectly yet we’ve never even crossed paths with the artist singing the words. So, how would they know how we’re feeling?

Music, as said time and time again, is a universal language. And when you hear lyrics that resonate with you and melodies that travel deep down into your veins, it kind of makes you feel not so alone. That someone out there gets you and how you feel. And that’s powerful. That’s epic.

Below is a list of some of the epic songs in my life. What are yours?

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The Ben Taylor Band “Surround Me” – A hug in the form of a song.

Cary Brothers “Honestly” – This song reminds me of the fall, my favorite season. When the leaves are their most colorful and there’s a slight crispness to everything. When there is so much beauty around you, yet you can still be sad.

Chantal Kreviazuk “Time” – An anthem I’ve been in love with for a long time.

Delta Rae “Dance In The Graveyards” – The embodiment of joy and happiness.

Ella Eyre “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off” – Her voice. Those words. That passion. I’ve never met a cover song I’ve loved so dearly.

John Mayer “The Heart Of Life” – My favorite from my all-time favorite.

Kate Bush “This Woman’s Work” – A heartbreakingly beautiful song.

Kodaline “All I Want” – This one might be the most sonically epic on this list. And the video is one of my favorites.

Kwabs “Perfect Ruin” – Every time I hear this song I fall in love with it all over again. When it’s over, I get kind of upset until I realize, that’s what the back button is for. Repeat! And believe me, I do. Every time.

Lifehouse “Simon” – This song reminds me of a time when music was about the music itself. Some of my favorite live music experiences were watching this band live.

Mumford & Sons “After The Storm” – This one is epic in the most delicate form.

Sheryl Crow “I Shall Believe” – If you ever watched the episode of Roswell (RIP) where Liz dances with future Max to this stunner, and you were single at the time you watched it, and nearly twenty years have passed and you’re still single, then this one would get to you too.

Sia “Breathe Me” – Remember when Myspace had background music for your profile page? Remember Myspace? …Well, this was one of the first songs I chose for mine and I felt sooooo cool because it wasn’t a well-known song at the time. Plus the lyrics and piano beat were darker than anything on the 9 at 9 (Z100 reference). My profile page may be long gone but I still feel cool as shit when this songs lives on through my headphones.

It’s My Birffffday

…And here are a few of my favorite songs that make me happy all year long!

John Mayer “Your Body Is A Wonderland” – Gotta start the birthday off right with a favorite from a favorite. Classic Johnny right here. Plus it will forever remind me of The Office’s Michael Scott and Andrew Bernard “singing” to a pair of girls they just picked up from a local Benihana.

Adam Lambert “Nirvana” – My favorite American Idol of all time. And let’s be real, he won even though he didn’t.

Bastille “Flaws” – This is one of those songs I can’t just listen to once. I always ALWAYS listen to it at least twice in a row.

The Ben Taylor Band “Surround Me” – This song is what the one ring was to Gollum, my precious.

Sarah McLachlan “Fear” – If I had to pick ONE song to listen to for the rest of my life on a deserted island, this would be it. Also, Roswell.

Collective Soul “Needs” – Because I asked them on Twitter to play this song at a show I went to and Dean Roland wrote back to me “We’ll see what we can do.” And they did.

Gavin DeGraw “Dancing Shoes” – I love this man. And I can say that because I met him for 5 seconds one night in NYC.

Lifehouse “Simon” – 2007. Starland Ballroom. New Jersey. One of the best nights of my life, concert-wise. Thank you, Lifehouse.

Goo Goo Dolls “Black Balloon” – Every time I see them perform this song live, a million balloons fall from the sky and for 3-4 minutes, it’s pure magic.

The Weepies “World Spins Madly On” – Because at the end of the day I may want the day to end. But there’s always tomorrow. And the world keeps spinning. And I’m alive. And with or without you, that’s good enough for me.

Ashes Love Notes

I’m single. And not exactly thrilled about Valentine’s Day this year (or any year) but I plan on working out, drinking wine and pampering myself so there’s that. Anyways, even if I’m not in love currently, I can still appreciate beautiful love songs. Here’s a short(ish) list of songs that you may want to cozy up to with whomever your valentine is this year, even if it’s yourself. Self-love is important people. But I digress.

Rascal Flatts “Bless The Broken Road”: For all the hopeless romantics, like myself, who still haven’t found love but imagine this song playing during the first dance at their future wedding.

Dave Matthews Band “Crash Into Me”: An essential pick for all of us who can’t get over the phenomenal music of the 90’s. Oh, and the TV show Roswell.

Marc Cohn “True Companion”: A song that has elicited many tears from my eyes sung by a man whose music is a little bit like heaven on earth.

Train “When I Look To The Sky”: For my grandparents. Always.

Amel Larrieux “Make Me Whole”: Because I don’t think enough people have heard the beautiful dream that is this song.

Ellie Goulding “Your Song: Cover song magic.

Ben Folds “The Luckiest”: For the love of the piano.

Lifehouse “You & Me”: Because Jason Wade’s voice is love.

John Mayer “The Heart Of Life”: For the love of life and living in general. ‘Cause that’s really what it’s all about, after all.

And last but never least:

Disney’s “A Whole New World”: This song, from Aladdin, can be sung by any one and I will like it. Even me. And that’s saying something.

Christmas Song Bliss

So yes, I admit they do start the Christmas music a bit too early these days – before the turkey is even on the Thanksgiving table. However, I’d definitely call myself a fan of holiday tunes (in moderation). And not those droopy, slow, boring ones from years of yonder but more modernized songs with the same Christmas spirit. Here’s a modified list of my favorite songs of the season, all of which can be found on good ‘ole Spotify!

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The entire *NSYNC Home For Christmas album. Always? Always. (Yes, that’s a Harry Potter reference.)

Half of the 98 Degrees’ This Christmas album. Their version of “Oh Holy Night” is still my favorite.

Amy Grant “Tennessee Christmas”. No, I’m not from nor have ever been to the state, but she makes it seem awfully inviting.

Britney Spears’ “My Only Wish (This Year)”. Kind of a sad song if you really think about it. Ah, #singlelife.

Dave Barnes “Family Tree”. This song should be a Christmas staple in all houses.

Harry Connick Jr. “(It Must’ve Been Ol’) Santa Claus. This one is actually a staple for my family when we go on our annual Cape May vacation.

James Taylor “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”. Gotta love Jamesy.

Jimmy Buffett “Ho Ho Ho And A Bottle Of Rum”. He’s the best.

Kelly Clarkson “My Grown Up Christmas List”. Lyrically, one of my favorite holiday songs.

Michael Buble “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”. The most polite Christmas tune.

New Kids On The Block “Last Night I Saw Santa Claus”. I mean, does this even need an explanation?

*NSYNC “You Don’t Have To Be Alone (On Christmas)”. Yes they are on the list again. What are you going to do about it? 🙂

Rob Thomas “A New York Christmas”. As a native NY’er, I’ve always loved this little ditty.

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