“Dancing On My Own” by Robyn: This song has had me hooked ever since I downloaded volume one of the soundtrack to HBO’s Girls. Originally I purchased the compilation for the fun. single “Sight of the Sun” (because I am a full-fledged, bona-fide fun. fan, much to the annoyance of my co-workers who have heard every song from their two albums played at least one gazillion times), but this song caught my attention and it has been on the playlist rotation ever since. Aside from the catchy synth beats that cause an involuntary dance spasm (seriously, the head just starts moving, followed closely by the feet, and then you’re in a full body paroxysm grooving to the techno-rrific track), the lyrics definitely hit upon something I am sure most girls, and yes, even men, have felt. She is singing about seeing a guy she likes and realizing that no matter what she does, he is not going to choose her to go home with him. It’s a bit heart-wrenching, but the musical choice of a poppy rhythm only emphasizes her lyrics. Any girl in any club could be dancing to the song and feel the meaning behind the words as she watches that guy pair off with another woman. The combination creates a delicious twist of being a power ballad for the hopeless romantic girl dancing on her own.
“Beta Love” by Ra Ra Riot: I remember the first time I discovered Ra Ra Riot. It was the summer of 2009 and I could not stop listening to “Can You Tell” from their album The Rhumb Line. The sound has changed somewhat, moving from a more full band sound to a produced electro-pop culmination of instruments, but their genius for catchy melodies and beats combined with simplistically deep (I know, I know, how can something be simple AND deep, but they use simple language to discuss complex ideas and emotions) lyrics is still present. The band has a difficult history, which can account for some of the changes a listener can detect between earlier albums verses later ones. Additionally, vocalist Wes Miles had a side project with Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend (band name Discovery, which I suggested in this very blog!) and the similarities are there in more recent singles. Whether it was Wes Miles who influenced Discovery, or Rostam Batmanglij that influenced Wes Miles in Ra Ra Riot, it’s hard to tell, but either way the sound is alluring and addicting.
“Halfway to Heaven” by POP ETC: I have taken the pill and become addicted to these guys. I loved them as The Morning Benders when they had a more Dylan-esque appeal, but I can also say that they have me with their revamped sound. Moving from the West Coast to Brooklyn sure does change a person, if the complete tear down and rebuild of this particular band is any indication. Electro-pop (a common thread running through these recommendations) combined with overlapping vocals riding the wave of R&B and you have yourself a little slice of heaven (pun intended). Repetition of sound and lyrics makes this song easy to get stuck in your head. I often find myself singing it at work, and in the process getting strange looks. I blame it on not many people knowing about these guys, so I am spreading the word. Even though it might be because I am walking down a hall sans headphones singing.
“Submarines” by The Lumineers: This track is off of the self-titled album, The Lumineers (which is you follow the link you can buy from Amazon for just $3.99). Many people know this band for earlier singles “Ho Hey” and “Stubborn Love” (two songs I happen to adore), but I want to push this particular song because it might be my favorite on the album. A very rustic sound, and somewhat coarse recording, but it adds a certain appeal to this band, giving it a generic song. Every time I listen to their album I always find myself cruising their website for tour dates aching to see them live. Vocals and piano dominate this particular track , with a very clear-cut melody flowing through it. A hint of military march touching the music helps to add oomph to the lyrics. It is the story of a man who sees a submarine and no one believes him. They laugh or tell him he is seeing things. The story is a simple one, discussing credibility. It’s a contained story, which can make it easily overlooked. But trust me, it’s something you want to give a listen to.
“Sweet Nothing” by Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch: If you have ever read this blog, you know I have a small obsession with Florence Welch (of Florence + the Machine). Maybe small is the wrong word. I love the woman. I love her voice. I love the music. And though people may call her overrated, I simply say the heart wants what the heart wants. This particular track is found on Calvin Harris’s album 18 Months. He is a wiz kid with techno beats making his mark in the EDM scene producing track after track of above par dance music. It seems that everything this guy has touched in the past twelve to twenty-four months has turned to gold. First stepping into main stream attention being the beats behind Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” Calvin Harris scored high-profile artists to collaborate with him for his debut album. This track was one such collaboration. The music, if possible, reminds me of a Quentin Tarantino movie. Try and figure that one out. Aside from making me want to dance, the lyrics of this particular song spoke very strongly to me. It is a love story, or I should say a story of unrequited love. Being so enveloped by someone who gives you nothing back, but not being able to tear yourself away from it you beg for sweet nothing. The chaotic rhythms of this song help to appreciate the words, mirroring the emotional confusion and devastation of such a situation. Though I typically only post snippets of lyrics to drive home my point, I am going to post the full song:
“You took my heart and you held it in your mouth, and with a word all my love came rushing out, and every whisper, it’s the worst, emptied out by a single word. There is a hollow in me now. So I put my faith in something unknown (I’m living on such sweet nothing), but I’m tired of hope with nothing to hold (I’m living on such sweet nothing), and it’s hard to learn, and it’s hard to learn, you’re giving me such sweet nothing, sweet nothing, sweet nothing, you’re giving me such sweet nothing. It isn’t easy for me to let it go, cause I’ve swallowed every single word, and every whisper, every sigh, eats away at this heart of mine. There is a hollow in me now. So I put my faith in something unknown (I’m living on such sweet nothing), but I’m tired of hope with nothing to hold (I’m living on such sweet nothing), and it’s hard to learn, and it’s hard to learn, you’re giving me such sweet nothing, sweet nothing, sweet nothing, you’re giving me such sweet nothing. And it’s not enough to tell me that you care when we both know your words are empty air. You give me nothing, nothing… sweet nothing, sweet nothing.”