“Just Say Yes” by Snow Patrol. This song is a-typical with the base (not bass) being more of a techno vibe than rock. If you have ever seen the movie Leap Year, then you may recognize “Just Say Yes” as the music used in the previews and advertisements. This Scottish band is most well-known for their single “Chasing Cars” which took over the radio in 2006, or possibly from the song “Chocolate,” found on the soundtrack to the movie The Last Kiss. I discovered this song during November 2009 when the band released a partial best hits compilation, along with a handful of new songs, this one being a newbie. The opening is what snow falling looks like, but for the ears (if that makes any sense what-so-ever), with notes that literally twinkle. As the song continues, Gary Lightbody, lead singer and original member, offers a plea: “I’m running out of ways to make you see. I want you to stay here beside me. I won’t be okay, and I won’t pretend I am. So just tell me today, and take my hand, please take my hand, please take my hand, please take my hand, please take my hand. Just say yes, just say there’s nothing holding you back, it’s not a test nor a trick of the mind, only love.” The bass picks up, and the tempo changes, and it is inevitable that you begin tapping your feet or fingers or bobbing your head.
“Beautiful” by The Firebird Band. I love this song. The lyrics are simple and unbelievably poetic (so much so that my web address even houses some of them). The music combines a garage band rock and roll quality with this other dimension. It’s almost as if someone has taken that flutter in your heart and stomach when you have a crush and turned it into a sound. The song is less than two minutes in length, but manages to convey a deeper emotion than some of its longer counterparts. Imagine seeing that person and all the flurry and excitement; your heart races, you feel all goofy and nervous, you want to reach out and touch them but are too terrified to. The music is able to convey all that. When you add the lyrics, the song expands. Chris Broach (of Braid notoriety) sings, “She rides on the clouds never touching the ground. She’s so beautiful, she’s so beautiful, she’s so… beautiful. She’s got the wind at her back, and the sun on her face; the stars in the sky are her eyes, she’s all right. She’s got no interest in anything at all, and everyone knows she’s so beautiful, she’s so beautiful, she’s so… She rides on the clouds never touching the ground, she’s so beautiful, she’s so beautiful, she’s so beautiful. Keep her eyes on us, keep her eyes on us…”
“For The Best” by Straylight Run. During my sophomore year of college I went into a music coma were I listened to nothing but Paramore, The Postal Service, and Straylight Run. This song became an anthem for me because I related to the crisis of faith John Nolan and Shaun Cooper were singing about. Lyrically this song is light years ahead of many of their contemporaries. Though the music is not bad, it did not offer that same “awakening” feeling as the words did. The most memorable part of the instrumentation is by far the drums, creating havoc over the piano, like an erratic heartbeat. To me, combining the lyrics and music creates an almost religious tone. It becomes sacred. My favorite lines: “And now faith is replaced with a logic so cold. I disregarded what I was now that I’m older, and I know much more than I did back then, but the more I learn the more I can’t understand. And I’ve become content with this life that I lead where I drink too much and don’t believe in much of anything. I lie to myself and say it’s for the best.” Added bonus, Nate Ruess is guest vocalist on this track.
“Something Good Can Work” by Two Door Cinema Club. What can I say about this song? To say it is fun is an understatement. The music is high energy, opening with small sounds and building until you can imagine a conga line dancing around a room. The lyrics and vocals are simple, but they exude so much energy that you can’t help but to begin dancing and singing along. With a positive message (“Let’s make this happen girl, you gonna show the world that something good can work, it can work for you, and you know that it will”) and dance worthy beats, this song is a perfect go-to on a crappy day. Sit down, put it on, and watch as the room comes alive with positive reinforcement and happiness. (Yes, peace, love and everything else. This is one of those songs.)
“You Are a Part of Everything” by Josh Kelley (I cannot supply a link because Amazon.com does not have this song available for purchase). I started listening to this track in the Spring of 2008. I had been on a recent run searching for more folksie pop acts, honing my sights on artists like Joshua Radin, Ingrid Michaelson, Schuyler Fisk and others. When I first heard this song, the lyrics struck me. If you have read this blog for a while, you must have found a common theme in my adoration of certain songs and artists, usually corresponding with the lyrics. I love words, and I especially love words when spoken or sung in tandem with great music and instrumentation. This song struck a very positive chord in me, coming at a time when life changes were imminent. I was graduating from the University of Iowa that May and was unsure of what lay beyond, my boyfriend (now fiancé) and I were discussing our future while navigating the dark waters of moving out-of-state and doing long distance, and the never-ending possibilities of where life could take me looked more like an overlarge pool I could drown in and not the positive belief that the world was my oyster. I needed affirmation, I craved positivity, this song offers that with the lyrics and the catchy acoustic folk-pop sound. To this day, the self-affirmed pessimist (me) uses Josh Kelley and his optimism to get through the ups and downs of life.