Sunday, February 21, 2016

Favorite Songs A to Z...

...well, let's be honest. I don't have a favorite song that starts with either "X" or "Z." There just aren't that many songs that start with those letters, and of those I've heard I don't like any.

Anyway, there are people in the world who will judge you based on what music you listen to. I think that's silly, personally. Just because you enjoy a particular music genre, or even a particular artist, doesn't mean you're a bad person. Unless you're a huge Toby Keith fan. Just kidding. I think.

Anyway, I've done lists like this before, and I find it to be a fun exercise. I guess I could try and do a Top 25 or Top 10 song list, but this gives me an opportunity to explore what I like and defining what can go in the list makes me ponder the choice to make sure it's the accurate one. These are songs that either mean a lot to me at the moment or that I find amusing or fun. These are the songs that don't get skipped when they come one. In fact, they'll often get repeated. Three or four times.

Without further exposition, let's get to the list.

A. All About That Bass (No Tenors) by Straight No Chaser. You are probably more familiar with the original, Meghan Trainor version. This is the version I like. If you've ever sung in a choir, or know someone who sings, you might be aware that basses don't like tenors all that much. I'm not sure why. I'm a bass, and I tend to mock tenors. Anyway, Straight No Chaser has written new lyrics that speak to my experience in choirs. So much fun.

B. Better When I'm Dancin' by Meghan Trainor. I didn't expect to have a Meghan Trainor song on this list, much less two. You know, if you count the previous entry. Anyway, this was a song that was featured in the recent Peanuts CGI movie. I enjoyed the movie, partially because I am such a huge Peanuts fan. And I love this song. It's just so positive and uplifting. It brightens my day to listen to it.

C. Criminal from the movie Ra.One. Ra.One is a Bollywood movie. When it was made, it was the most expensive movie ever made in India. They ask a lot of their actors. They have to be able to act, be competent with action, sing, and dance. This song was the opening musical number from the film and it's a lot of fun to listen to. You should look up the video on youtube. It's a hoot to watch.

D. Defying Gravity by Idina Menzel, from Wicked. A song all about overcoming the expectations of those around you and becoming who you truly are. I've cried many times to this song. I find it to be personally inspirational and very important.

E. Ecos de Amor by Jesse & Joy. Jesse & Joy are a brother/sister duo from Mexico. I've loved their music from the first single of theirs that I heard. Each album is much more rich musically and shows the siblings' growth. After listening to this song, which translates as "Echoes of Love," I was left emotionally drained and dumbfounded at the intricacy of the music and the lyrics. The music was unlike anything I had heard from Jesse & Joy previously and the lyrics are packed with imagery and meaning. Each word works to make the whole that much more powerful. I've been working on translating the entire song. It's a tough task, but a labor of love.

F. Fuckin' Perfect by P!nk. This is the song I listen to when I get overly judgemental of myself. I have a tendency to hold myself to an unrealistically high standard and then, when I don't live up to my unrealistic expectations, I beat myself up and think less of myself. Listening to this song makes me remember that I'm a pretty decent fellow and don't deserve my own harsh thoughts. This is another one where, if you get the chance, you should watch the music video. It's incredibly powerful. There's a "clean" version, if that's something that is important to you. 

G. Gravity by Sara Bareilles. Sara has three songs on this list. I love her music. I find this song to be beautiful and moving. It's all about finding the strength to overcome those aspects of your life that hold you back or down. This is another song where the music video is amazing. It's done in one long shot, gradually showing a galaxy created by practical effects. It is really cool.

H. Hold On by the University of Illinois Rip Chords. This is an a cappella rendition of the Wilson Phillips hit. I love this arrangement. I also really like the song itself. The lyrics have made me cry on more than one occasion. 

I. I'm Going to Go Back There Some Day by Gonzo. Yes, the Muppet. For me, this is all about the sense of longing you feel as you try to find your place in the world. I also particularly like the line, "There's not a word yet for old friends you've just met." It doesn't happen very often, but there have been times when I've met someone who instantly becomes a friend I've had all my life. It's a powerful moment, one that's captured really well by this song.

J. Just Give Me a Reason by P!nk and the lead singer of Fun.(yes, the period is part of the band's name for trademark reasons). P!nk is on my list a total of four times. I love her music. This is just a great duet. If you wish to see a video, search for the performance at the Grammys. They do a great job live. Sidebar, P!nk could break the guy in half if she so chose. 

K. Kaleidoscope by A Great Big World. I discovered this duo about a year ago and I've loved their music ever since. They only have a couple songs that I will skip when they come on. To me, this song is all about the colors and new shapes that come into your life with each new friend and loved one that you meet. It's a bouncy, cheerful song that buoys me up.

L. Let it Be from Across the Universe. I love this Beatles song, but I particularly love the rendition from the musical that uses Beatles songs. It's kind of a Gospel rendition of the song, and that adds a lot of soul to it. It tends to pull my heart along on an emotional journey. 

M. El Malo by Jesse & Joy. Joy usually does the bulk of the singing on their songs, but for this one Jesse takes the lead. This helps me as I try to overcome my tendency to feel guilt that I shouldn't. Helps me to feel better about myself. One of the lines I particularly enjoy is "Darkness isn't the enemy of light." I find that a fascinating concept. I think there's a lot of truth to it, that the two are only opposite sides of the same coin. 

N. Not Ready to Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks. I recently watched the documentary "Shut Up and Sing," which is about the years following the controversy over what Natalie Maines said during a concert in England. I won't go into it here, but it was an interesting documentary. I like the way this song presents those moments where you're willing to forgive what's been done to you, but you can't forget it. Whether you're going to use the experience to make yourself stronger or to try and avoid a similar situation in the future, bad experiences can be great teachers. I love this song.

O. Oasis by A Great Big World. I was lucky enough to find a woman who has become my safe place, who helps protect me from the world. She understands me and lets me know that it's OK to be me. I can be my introverted self. I can take some time to be alone and recover. She supports this. She also lets me know when those times arrive that I have to come out of my comfort zone. But when those times happen, she is there to support me and protect me. She makes me be a better me. She is my oasis. This song reminds me of that.

P. Pictures in My Head by Kermit. Yes, the Muppet. This song is about those times when you wonder what you could have done to change the outcome of a particular situation. Sometimes I regret the way things have gone in my life. It's OK to feel sad. What this song helps me remember is that, even with the sad feelings, there are good memories to hold on to. I need to treasure the Pictures in My Head.

Q. Qu├ędate Conmigo by Ha-Ash. It's a love song. In Spanish. I really enjoy listening to it. I like these sisters' voices. It's also fun to hear country-style music in Spanish.

R. Raise Your Glass by P!nk. This song is all about celebrating all that is unique and "weird" about you. Be who you are and don't be afraid of it. I particularly like the line, "If you're too school for cool..."

S. She Used to Be Mine by Sara Bareilles. From "The Waitress" broadway musical. The main character sings this song as sort of a letter to her younger self. Giving her advice, lamenting her bad choices, wishing she had done some things different. I have heaved huge, soul-rending sobs to this song. I have to change the pronouns, but so much of it applies to me. There is a beautiful music video on youtube. Here's one of the lines I relate, pronouns changed to match me: "He's imperfect, but he tries. He is good, but he lies. He is hard on himself. He is broken and won't ask for help." I could quote almost the entire song, because it really hits home, but I'll stop there. It's well worth the listen. Probably the most personally important song on this list.

T. Turn the World Around by Harry Belafonte. I know this song from Harry's appearance on the Muppet Show. It's based on some African creation myths. And it's all about learning who we are, who our neighbors and friends are, and coming together to help turn the world around. Great song.

U. U + UR Hand by P!nk. This song makes me smile. Plus it teaches the important lesson that no one is here to be used or possessed by someone else. We all deserve respect.

V. Vivre A En Crever from the musical Mozart, L'Opera Rock. It's a French musical. I love listening to the songs. This one is particularly powerful. It looks like the title means, "Live Life to the bursting point," more or less. Feel free to correct that translation. One of the early lines translates to, "No tears, no fear," and I like that. It's a male voice duet, sung by some beautiful voices. It's an amazing song. There is also a pretty amazing music video on youtube. 

W. Where Does the Time Go? by A Great Big World. All about living and enjoying life as it happens because time really flies by and if we're not careful, life can pass us by.

X. Yeah, I don't have an "X" song.

Y. You Matter to Me by Sara Bareilles and Jason Mraz. It's a beautiful duet from "The Waitress." Sometimes we all need reassuring that we matter, that someone cares about us. Some of us need it more than others. And it's so nice to find that person who makes us feel we matter.

Z. No "Z" song either, mostly because I refuse to include "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." I just won't do it.

So there's my list. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Feel free to make your own list, but you certainly don't have to. It's a lot of work.


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