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i do music things with my butterfly wings.

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Longer Written Pieces

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

I (luckily) stumbled upon the cinematic masterpiece that is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri one night about a month or so ago… and it’s now one of my all-time favorite movies. As someone who stays on top of pop culture, I was aware this movie and the actors were nominated for Oscar’s but was indifferent to seeing it, which is how I usually feel about Oscar nominees. Side note: how that DISASTER of a movie, The Shape of Water, won top honors is beyond me. Waaaaay beyond me.

Anyways, now, having seen TBOEM, I have to say that both actors – Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell – highly(!!!) deserved their awards. Frances McDormand, in particular, was so freaking phenomenal as the fierce, grieving Mildred Hayes that I often found myself clapping along to all of her memorable quips. Woody Harrelson, Peter Dinklage and Caleb Landry Jones were all excellent as well.

Aside from the acting, what really set the tone for me (as it always does when it’s right) is the music and original score. Carter Burwell’s work for this movie has an appropriate underlying theme of solemnity to it, yet beautiful twinges of hope and bad-assery seep through to highlight various characters at various times. It’s all just so fucking fantastic.

In addition to the phenomenal instrumental music,  both versions of the song “Buckskin Stallion Blues,” as well as “His Master’s Voice” by Monsters Of Folk were perfectly suited for the movie. TBOEM is a stunning work of art all around that I’m fortunate enough to have seen by chance. So, if you happened upon my blog by chance, I highly recommend checking out the movie for yourself.

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Schitts Creek is “The Best” Show on TV

As someone who suffers from severe anxiety and has been struggling lately to find her place in this world, I’ve felt a little bit better lately since discovering the wonder that is Schitt’s Creek. When the real world around me (often) feels likes it’s crumbling to pieces, it’s nice to know I can turn on an episode and almost instantly feel a sense of comfort. That may sound stupid to some people, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I find more happiness in a fictional town than in my own city, that I find more humanity in fictional characters than in most people I’ve actually encountered. Schitt’s Creek is my happy place and if given a one-way-ticket to the rural landscape with it’s quirky-yet-heartfelt characters, I would gladly accept.

Obviously, David Rose is my favorite character on the show. I say obviously because if you’re an avid fan of the show like me, I 100% assume that he’s your (or one of your) favorite characters. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am. So, besides the fact that I’m obsessed with literally every. damn. thing. that David says and does (“Have a blessed day!”), it’s the relationship between his character (played by the show’s BRILLIANT creator/writer Dan Levy) and Patrick (played by the charming Noah Reid) that really gets me. Watching them interact is the most heartwarming, beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed on TV. I’m in awe of how perfect the acting and writing is for those two characters and I applaud it, fondly.

In Season 4, currently airing on the POP channel on Wednesdays at 8pm, we soon learn the unofficial anthem of David and Patrick, which is Tina Turner’s “The Best”. While I’ve been indifferent to that song in the past – my TT song of choice was always “I Don’t Wanna Fight” – thanks to Schitt’s Creek, every time I hear it, I smile. After belting it out to the original version, I highly suggest taking things a bit slow with Noah Reid’s ridiculously gorgeous rendition (below) that his character Patrick sang to David on Episode 6: Mic Night. What I’d give to have someone masterfully cover an 80’s pop song for me!

The main point I’m trying to get across here is that if you haven’t seen Schitt’s Creek yet, I highly recommend you go do that now. Trust me, your mind and heart will thank you for it.

Just some really good songs from the 90’s/early 00’s I forgot about

I’m of the (pretty common) opinion that there has never been (and will never again be) a better time for music than the 90’s and early 00’s. This was a time when pop songs were actually fun and full of life and not afraid to be catchy. This was a time when *NSYNC stole my teenage girl heart. This was a time that brought us female power in the form of the Spice Girls, family power in the form of Hanson, and, of course, a shitload of GOOD music.

The artists today are too serious, as is this entire world. Maybe I’m seeing it that way because I’m an adult or whatever but still, the pop music today blows in comparison to when I was younger. Also, technology kind of took the excitement out of music. It’s great to stream songs and what not but there was something special about catching your favorite song on the radio, or your favorite band on TRL. Also, social media has made it far too easy to know what musicians are eating for breakfast. There’s no mystery to any of it anymore and I miss that.

It’s sad that this generation of teens will never get to fully experience the wonder of hearing Sisqo’s “Thong Song” on the radio for the first time. Or taking sides as to whose boy it really was in Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine”. Or dancing (awkwardly) to the sweet reggae-infused sounds of Tanto Metro & Devonte’s “Everyone Falls in Love” at EVERY school dance. Oh to be young and awkward. Anyways, here’s a list of some songs from the time that are AMAZING yet I completely forgot existed.

Enjoy!

Cher “Song For The Lonely”: Oh man. This chorus. Such a brilliant jam for us singletons. 100% forgot about this one. I’m glad I re-discovered it.

Candlebox “Far Behind”: I FREAKING LOVE 90’S POP/ROCK MUSIC OMG!!!!!

Paula Cole “Me”: An absolute stunner of a song that I didn’t listen to nearly as many times as I should’ve when it was actually released. I owned This Fire, the album this song came from, but focused more on the singles at the time (“I Don’t Want to Wait”, “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?”)

Los Umbrellos “No Tengo Dinero”: Holy throwback. This recent re-discovery made me very happy. Also, I remembered every single word (even though I have no idea what I’m saying or if I’m even saying it right.)

Sugar Ray “Falls Apart”: Of course I remembered “Fly” and even “Every Morning”, but I totally let this jam slide from my memory. Just a fun band that released fun songs.

Snoop Dogg/Justin Timberlake/Charlie Wilson “Signs”: Ya gotta love the Dogg. This was a total jam that should definitely be brought back into dance clubs today. If people still go to those. I don’t know – I’m thirty.

Son By Four “A Puro Dolor”: Wow. So, this time period was when a lot of Latin artists were entering the pop scene. Hello, Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias and Marc Anthony. Anyways, there was a big focus on artists releasing songs in both Spanish and English and this particular one hit wonder was a HUUUUGGGGEEE hit at the time. I like the Spanish version better.

JC Chasez’s Schizophrenic: I admit it – I wasn’t a huge fan of this album at the time because I was heartbroken over the break-up of *NSYNC. Also, JC was my favorite of the group and I always loved his crystal clear voice that was MILES better than every other member (sorry not sorry). That said, I was used to JC belting it out on beautiful ballads, so when I heard “Some Girls Dance With Women” and “Blowin Me Up (With Her Love)”, the singles from this album, I was NOT happy. I thought he was trying to be someone he wasn’t. It was all too sexual for me at the time (he says “horny” in one of the songs and I was a late bloomer…), although I still liked a handful of the songs. Anyways, I listened to the majority of this album the other night and, yeah, me being upset over *NSYNC’s break-up was definitely the issue, not the music, because this album was underrated and actually pretty damn good.

Avril Lavigne as a pop artist in general. Yea, so I obviously didn’t forget about Avril but what I did forget was how good her songs were. Her entire Let Go album was exceptional and I had it on replay for a very long time. One song I did forget about though was “Don’t Tell Me” and it’s the one I chose to highlight here.

Cover Girl

Here’s a list of some solid cover songs I’ve landed on recently plus a Boyce Avenue one I’ve loved for some time now.

Such a beautiful, slow-downed version of the original.

LOVE me a good, solid Boyce Avenue cover. This take of MJ’s “Will You Be There” (from the 90’s Free Willy movie, ah nostalgia!), is probably my favorite of all his covers. And he has a lot.

This is such a gorgeous song to begin with and when you throw Brett Dennen’s unique voice on top of that, you have yourself a brilliant cover.

Just lovely.

A fun, acoustic version of one of the most fun songs of all time.

I’ve always thought this song had such a great tune – the version I’m most familiar with is the Stars On 54, dance version – and this subdued version proves that this song is timeless.

I find this song very melancholic but it’s one of my favorite Beatles songs and this is a great take on the original. FYI I highly recommend listening to more of Imaginary Future if you haven’t – he recorded some other covers worth checking out.

I don’t have much faith in friendship these days, but Joshua Radin is one of my all-time favorite singer-songwriters, bonus points for him being a really nice guy (at least he was the night I met him briefly back when I worked in the biz, as they call it), and this cover is super sweet like him.

SEAWAVES is another artist that not only has created some beautiful covers (like this one), but has some good, original tunes to listen to as well.

The Greatest Showman

You know when you watch a movie and it kinda stays with you days after seeing it? I saw The Greatest Showman on New Years Day (2018) and I can’t stop thinking about how perfect it was. And ironically, one of the main themes running throughout the movie is learning to embrace your imperfections.

While the story is beautiful, timeless, and often breathtaking, what really got me (as it often does) is the music. I was blown away by how amazing the music was – Every. Single. Song. I was reading something about how even though the movie takes place in the 1800’s, the music was purposely meant to sound contemporary to showcase how ahead of his time P. T. Barnum was.

There really is no stand out to the soundtrack as it’s amazing from beginning to end, but the song that I’m partial to is “A Million Dreams.”

 

My Year In Music 2017: According to Spotify

I’ve been a big Spotify fan since I personally dethroned Apple/iTunes years ago as the place to listen to and discover new music. I’m also a big fan of year-end lists, especially when they are related to music. So, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but an email with a link to a playlist of my top songs of 2017 (courtesy of Spotify)…  it was like Christmas came early this year.

Aside from compiling my Top 100 songs of 2017 playlist, the musical elves at Spotify also sent me some interesting facts about my year in music. My favorite fact? It’s 2017, which is 2 weeks away from being 20 years since *NSYNC appeared on the pop music scene and THEY WERE STILL MY TOP ARTIST OF THE YEAR. Twenty. Years. Later. That made me smile.

Some more of my personal, music trends:

According to Spotify, I listened to over 13,000 minutes of music: over 2,000 different songs from 940 different artist across 55 genres.

Aside from *NSYNC, my other top artists were Ed Sheeran, Charli XCX, Carly Rae Jepsen and The Goo Goo Dolls.

My most played song of the year was Hailee Steinfeld’s “Most Girls.” My other top songs included: “Flame” by Tinashe, “Dark Side” by Phoebe Ryan, “Call On Me” by Starley, and “Barcelona” by Ed Sheeran.

My top genre was pop (not at all surprising.) Other top genres included dance pop, post-teen pop (not quite sure what that is), neo mellow (not a clue), and pop rock.

If you like some of the music on my blog, here’s a link to my top 100 played songs from 2017:

Happy Holidays!!!

–Ashes

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.

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:

ROADIES (TV Show Review)

As someone who has personally spent 8 years working in the music industry and countless days and nights putting on live events and productions, I can tell you that Cameron Crowe’s Roadies (airing Sundays at 10pm on Showtime) has hit the right note in capturing the chaotic essence of the live music business.

That being said, the main difference between this show and reality is that these characters (Reg, Kelly Anne, Bill, Wes) are MUCH more likable than most of the production people I’ve encountered in real life. Side note: Rafe Spall’s performance as Reg is inspiring and adorable; his greatest line so far in Episode 6 was when he told (that bitch) Janine that he doesn’t understand show people. So true. They are definitely a different breed.

Aside from the brilliant acting (Imogen Poots), I’ve been loving the music selections chosen for each episode and the fact that real musicians (keyword: MUSICIANS) who write and play their own music, make cameos. My favorite so far has been Lindsay Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac) – his acoustic rendition of “Bleed To Love Her” was breathtaking. I was also happy to hear some of my favorites like “Come On Get Higher” (Matt Nathanson) and “Everything’s Embarassing” (Sky Ferreira.) And enjoyed discovering some new tunes like “I Wish I Was Sober” (Frightened Rabbit) and “Longer Days” (John Mellencamp.)

If music is a part of your life in any capacity, I’d highly recommend checking out this show.

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