“Judas” by Lady Gaga. If you have read this blog, then you know I have a very large obsession with Lady Gaga. This is the second single from her upcoming album. In several interviews over the past eighteen (or so) months, Lady Gaga mentioned that Born This Way is “her” album. Gaining popularity and a following from her LP The Fame, and her EP The Fame Monster, she vowed that the next project would consist of songs that mean something more significant to her. This song deviates from traditional radio “pop” music. In my opinion it kicks “Born This Way“s ass. I have always been a fan of songs that have biblical imagery and hit upon religious undertones. Add in equal parts techno, rock, textured beats and dance rhythms, shake well to combine, and you are left with “Judas.” There is one thing I must say, though: upon first hearing this song, many will want to turn it off. It comes across as loud, slightly obnoxious, and derivative, however, upon further listening you begin to hear how the various parts come together to create an ingenious pop song.
“Hang You Up” by Yellowcard. It has been years since Yellowcard has released a record. When I was looking through iTunes and found this song, one of the comments was “it has been too long, thank God the violin is back.” I have to second that opinion. When Yellowcard first hit the scene, it was like a breath of fresh air to hear a classical instrument in pop punk. It helped to elevate this band above its contemporaries because it was different from what was becoming all too familiar. It has been about four years since Yellowcard released anything new, leaving their fans waiting. Yellowcard released When You’re Through Thinking Say Yes this past March, and this is their lead single from the album. The track is slow-paced rarely deviating from the constant drum beat. The vocals take center stage as the violin weaves in and out of the words, emphasizing the sentimental lyrics. Ryan sings of a relationship that haunts him. The song reminds me of a ticking clock, and time is definitely entwined in the lyrics. My breath caught when I first heard the track. It has been a constant on my iTunes for the past month because it hits home for me.
“A Day In the Life of a Poolshark” by Idiot Pilot. This track is definitely off the beaten path for me. Idiot Pilot combines electronica and atmospheric guitar with a more hardcore/post-hardcore sound. There are moments in this song where the vocalists scream the lyrics. Typically I do not like this type of music. I am open to it (I rarely close the door to different genres of music), but it is not something I actively search for. However, this song kicks some serious ass. My ex introduced me to this song. When we first met we decided to make “favorites” CDs and exchange them to get a better grasp of what the other liked. We had several of overlapping bands, but where I went for more of a folk rock and pop punk sound, he found favor with electronica and post-hardcore. The way this song manages to be very melodic and chaotic at the same time was what attracted me to it. It begins with an almost Mario Brothers electronic beat. The vocals come in, rise with the music and when the chorus hits, instrumentation, voice, and atmosphere distort and fall into helter-skelter. Another thing I like about this track are the lyrics. They hit me with a sense of irony and deviance. It’s definitely an eclectic song, and I don’t believe it is for everyone. It strikes me as an all or nothing track. You either love it, or you hate it.
“Action/Reaction” by Choir of Young Believers. As is typical of me, I go into these moods where I feel possessed to search and search for new music. The other day I made the joke that I had “constant vigilance” for the music scene, and then was subsequently called Mad-Eye. I found this band in the summer of 2009 after plopping down with about twenty issues of Rolling Stone and a pad of paper (yes, this is one of my secrets to finding new and interesting groups). It has a memorable opening with vocals acting as the dominating instrument. As the rest of the song comes to life, the music creates a very light, poppy sound, focusing on drum beats, claps and what sounds like someone tapping on wooden blocks. It definitely carries a hippie vibe (notice I did not say extended rhythm guitar à la jam bands) throughout the song, which the lyrics cash in on. I have used this song several of times to elevate my mood throughout the day, because the truth is, it is very hard not to sing along. You’ll see what I mean.
“Hoppipolla” by Sigur Ros. I cannot say enough positive things about this track. I know of at least three different versions of this song, but this is by far my favorite rendition. What can I say, I have a thing for Jonsi‘s falsetto. The words that come to mind anytime I hear this track often correlate with the ethereal sound. The use of strings and piano create an ambience. As the song builds, vocals and horns create this climax that would be at home in any highly emotional moment whether it is in true life or the world of movies and television. The song is relatively minimal while maintaining elements of classical and ambient post-rock. But above everything else, this track is just heartbreakingly beautiful.