“Cosmic Love” by Florence + the Machine. I recently posted a review of Lungs. At the end of the post, I recommended several of songs that I believe are the best from the album. “Cosmic Love” was one of those songs. It showcases Florence Welch’s vocal abilities, along with her musical and lyrical genius. Every time I hear the song I get chills. Every aspect of the track combines to bring forth this religious experience. The use of harp creates a dream quality, like twinkling stars, that her lyrics cash in on (the song opens with a falling star that lands in her eyes). The drums punctuate the lyrics in the right spots, making the song an anthem. The word choice and the way her voice sounds as she sings, “No dawn, no day, I’m always in this twilight, in the shadow of your heart,” echoes a heartfelt hymnal with an almost tribal feel. You can practically see the words floating heavenward. The effect is mystifying, just like a cosmic love would be.
“Forever and Ever” by He is We. I found this band through iTunes. Their single “Happily Ever After” was the free download of the week awhile ago, and I was so taken with it that I downloaded their album. From there I began listening to other singles, and found that this track is by far my favorite. The band consists of Rachel Taylor on vocals and Trevor Kelly on guitar. The music itself has a commercial feel with refined acoustic guitar backed by synthesized beats. Rachel’s vocals are airy and light, something that acts to showcase the lyrics. The songs are often radio friendly and would fit well as a leading track on the soundtrack to a chick flick. And I say that with absolutely no negativity. The songs, and specifically this song, are fun to listen to and sing along. The lyrics show the positive moments of relationships and the desire for love, and this song has a chorus I love: “You’re my air when I feel I can’t breathe, catching me when I’m tripping over my feet, we’ll get through this together. You’re my smile when I just want to cry, make it all better when you kiss my sad eyes, I’m giving you my forever, forever and ever, forever and ever.” It really encourages you to celebrate love, in all it’s sappiness.
“E.T.” by Katy Perry. I know, I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Are you kidding me?” But I recently heard this in what I assume is its natural habitat. That is to say, in a bar. The beats are from producer Mr. West (yes, I mean Kanye). They are by far the best thing about this track. If you remove the vocals, and therefore lyrics, completely (which happens in a bar as the din of the crowd will cancel them out) the song still stands on its own. But let’s assume that not everyone will be listening to this track in those circumstances. The lyrics themselves are common of Katy Perry; somewhat ridiculous, but still something easy to sing along to. The idea of a lover as an alien is a bit scary, but it can translate into a relatively understandable feeling. It is not an “out there” idea of someone being too good-looking or too perfect. It is a spin on the “too good to be true” ideal. Ms. Perry just takes that a step further by calling her lover an extraterrestrial. Great beats, okay lyrics, and definitely worth a download if you plan on throwing a killer party.
“Born This Way” by Lady Gaga. As you all know I am a huge fan of Gaga. I am a little monster through and through. Her new single was at first a bit jarring to hear. It is Gaga-esque, but it still felt very different from her earlier releases. But that was the point. She even said as much in the interviews she gave in the past year. It has an 1980s feel to it, and has often been compared to a Madonna single. Marketed as the new gay anthem, it is easy to see the influence (with techno beats, it’s a definite dance club single). I feel that it is also an anthem for all of those fans who feel unrecognized. She has become the mother to the disenfranchised. This song helps propel positive thought, she sings: “I’m beautiful in my way, because God makes no mistakes, I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way. Don’t love yourself and regret, just love yourself and you’re set, I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way. Ooh, there ain’t no other way, baby I was born this way, baby I was born this way.” The song celebrates humanity by recognizing the differences in all of us but reinforcing the inclusiveness of being a human. It’s a brilliant song. And the video for it, machine gun birthing and weird artistic vaginal shots included, is a beautiful addition to Gaga’s art. Don’t judge, which is one of the messages, and it’s true of this song and the video. It gets better and better.
“Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)” by Patrick Stump. This song is from Fall Out Boy‘s lead singer’s solo effort. It is an interesting combination of genres, ranging from pop, soul, and rock influences. Stump’s vocals have always been something of a conversation piece. He is by far one of the most entertaining singers, as he often throws his voice, combines words, and generally uses his pipes as instruments. His voice is just as important as the guitar, the drums, the synth beats, and the organ that is heard in this song. There are moments where he repeats the lyrics over and over, but it works to have a culminating effect. I guess the common denominator of all the songs I have chosen to write about this entry is the anthem quality they each own. This song is no different. It encourages self-awareness and positive thought. He is telling his listeners that they can be a star and shine, they are their own spotlight. I also feel like this is a jab at ex-Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, who was the main lyricist for the band. Stump sings: “Every wound can be forgotten in the right light. Oh nostalgia I don’t need you anymore, because the silent days are over and the beat is at my door. They might try to tell you how to live your life, but don’t forget, it’s your right to do whatever you like, cuz they might tell you how to live your life, but don’t forget it’s your right to do whatever you like, because you could be your own spotlight.” Well, Patrick, you are in the spotlight! This song is definitely worth the download.