Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Quarterly State of Music ~ Spring 2017

It's been a while since I've done one of these, and it might be a while again, so let's get into it!

Mainstream "country":

YAAAAAAWN. One great song, "Tin Man." One awful song, "Body Like a Back Road," which will be my number one worst hit song of the year just on general principle. Though I can't imagine anything worse coming out, anyway. *tempts fate* Aaaand a bunch of boring songs by interchangeable dudes with interchangeable names. Luke Combs? Yeah sure, why not, throw a pair of jeans on him and put him out there. I feel like most of these songs ended up on the charts by default, rather than anything special they did. If you're hungry you'll eat whatever they put out at the buffet, even if it's generic Ritz crackers and unidentifiable Jell-O mold. "Oh well," you say, as you take a bite of cold hot dog. "It's here, so I guess I'm supposed to eat it."

Two of my least favorite "artists" of all time, The Chainsmokers and FGL, recorded a song together, because of course they have. That's how the world works. I have made it my life's mission to never, ever hear this song. Keep me in your prayers.

For the record, I hate the Chainsmokers a million times more than FGL. For everything bad you can say about FGL, I don't find them especially cynical. Their dumb music at least comes off as genuine, and the douchier-looking guy does actually sing. The Chainsmokers make no effort and have no talent whatsoever, and they know it, and that's infuriating. The Chainsmokers are counting their money and laughing at us. FGL actually think they're making good music. I still hate them, but it's a distinction I appreciate.

Pop charts:

"Lil Yachty." "Lil Uzi Vert." I'm just gonna accept the fact that the world has passed me by here, and get to the good stuff.

Bruno Mars and The Weeknd. I had no idea how much I missed 80s r&b, but for how much I've been listening to "That's What I Like" and "I Feel it Coming," apparently it was a LOT. This music feels nostalgic in the best way, and both songs are shoo-ins for my best hit songs list. As well as Lady Gaga's wonderful "Million Reasons," which only briefly hit the top 20 thanks to the Super Bowl, but I'll take it. Of course her best album yet is her least commercially successful. *sigh* Though they made an awful first single choice IMO, they shoulda come straight out of the gates with "Million Reasons."

Linkin Park now sounds like the Chainsmokers. I'm gonna say that again. LINKIN PARK. now sounds. like THE CHAINSMOKERS. Complete with soulless, droning pop chick. I was never a big Linkin Park fan or anything, but damn, this is why the phrase "sell out" exists. And in the end, it doesn't even matter.

I wish Future was in the future so I never had to listen to him HAHAHAhahahahahA

Umm... this Harry Styles song actually isn't bad. I'm hearing an almost Beatles-esque melody in there. It's nothing earth-shaking, but in 2017 I'll take it. Curse you for making me have to learn another of the One Direction guys' names, though. :(

"Bad and Boujee" - Nope. Nope nope nope nope nope. Why do people care about this "raindrop drop top" thing? It doesn't even flow, too many "p's" and "d's," it's clunky. And stop listening to songs just cause they have stupid words like "boujee" and "juju" in them! We are regressing as a culture you numbnuts!

I've already talked about the Chainsmokers WAY more than they deserve to be talked about, but now they're getting their stink all over Coldplay, for some reason. I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

And finally, "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran, which has been number one for 10,000 weeks or some ungodly number. Ed Sheeran is not a bad artist, he's done a couple songs I've liked. But I DON'T GET the appeal of this. The lyrics are awful. He describes what sounds like the most boring date ever, which ends in sex for some reason? (I know boring conversation always makes me horny, yeah baby!) And then you get gross lines like "my bedsheets smell like you" and ewwwww, unhygienic is not sexy! Launder that shit! God that line squicks me out every time I hear it, which is a lot, since they play this thing everywhere. It basically sounds like safe, innocuous background music until it hits that line, and then I have to go home and clean stuff that's not even dirty! *cries*

And, "your love was handmade for somebody like me?" Wow, that's a clunky line. I mean, it's Shakespeare compared to nasty bedsheets, but... "handmade?" Like, I'm picturing Betsy Ross sitting and sewing a love flag. And "somebody like me?" That's a little vague, isn't it? "Well, maybe not me, exactly, but somebody like me. Someone who shops at the same stores, at least." Maybe I'm nitpicking, but this guy's known as a songwriter. Come on.

And then there's the sound: safe and boring, like everything else. Not even the lowest common denominator, more like the... middlest common denominator. I've seen it compared to "One Dance" and yup, it's just that dull. Apparently this is called "Tropical House," and excuse me, but since when does tropical = boring?? I mean, I hear "tropical," I think this:

God, I miss the 80s. But now we're in 2017, when the Rhythm is Gonna Bore You. It's gonna wear you down into a dull nub... look out, it's coming for you... oh never mind, it's taking a nap. Being a rhythm is hard work, I guess. It needs its rest. *pats*


Okay, well speaking of the 80s, there's a new Paramore song and it is 80s pop perfection! And the video... they really nailed the whole aesthetic. I am loving this, and I can't wait for the album!

So, albums. I've been slacking this year, big time. I have two albums I'm gonna try to get to before Paramore drops, one of them being The Maine. I love the Maine, but they released their album too close to the new MST3K, which has completely taken over my life. So sorry, The Maine, but I will get to you. I also want to hear Aaron Watson's album, which I've been putting off because I liked his last album so much. *blinks* That was a weird thing to say, I know. I just hate when an artist releases a career-defining album and you know nothing else will ever be that good.

I have listened to Creeper, Sunny Sweeney, Jaime Wyatt and a lot of Miranda's monster album (albumzilla?) which I will save for my albums of the year list, because they're all really good! It's only April and I'm enjoying a lot of new music this year, so we'll call it a net positive even with the constant specter of the Chainsmokers looming over us. I'm sure their fans have really short attention spans, so we've got that at least. I hope they disappear after spending all their money stupidly and go as bankrupt as their talent and their souls. But knowing how infuriating they are, they probably invested in some nice safe stocks and put a big chunk in a savings account and will live in comfort off the interest the rest of their lives, the snotty assholes. God how I loathe them. BYEEEEE!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

tbt ~ Fastball

This band is underrated. And FYI, if you catch me humming this melody it's THIS version, not that current abortion of it.

I miss those 90s power pop/rock bands... Fastball, the Gin Blossoms, Semisonic, Del Amitri, Sister Hazel. I just miss melody-based music, a lot. But if there's one thing the 90s taught me, it's that something can be gone in an mmmbop. :(

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wicked Good Wednesday ~ Miranda Lambert

Aww yeah, that's my girl!

Gorgeous song and vocals, and just the direction I hoped she'd go in. One of my favorites of her career, and that's saying something. This... this erases the memory of "Somethin' Bad," and I think that's all that needs to be said.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday LOL... and rant

This is gonna sound like an Onion article, but it's not. This is real life. People like this are out there, and while it's scary to realize, it's better than living in a total bubble, I guess. (I strive to live in a partial bubble.) Knowing is half the battle! And the other half is wine. Anyway...

I used to be involved in the graphics-making community on livejournal, back when such a thing was a thing. I'm still friends on FB with a couple people from that community, and one of them is friends with someone I knew slightly back then. Which is how I discovered said person has gone full crazypants. (Which is a shame, cause she was always very nice.)

1. She believes the earth is flat, so anything else can be taken with a grain of salt. I have no idea why people believe this way or what they get out of it. I try to be respectful of people's opinions as long as they aren't discriminatory, but denial of fact cannot be called an opinion. She also believes 9/11 was perpetrated by the gov't. Hoo boy. Again, what do you gain from such beliefs? What is the pull? Boredom? Just flat out dumbness?

2. Nothing pains me more than someone who seems like a genuinely devout Christian supporting this madman in the White House. You KNOW about the devil being the deceiver, you know it like you know your own name, yet you can't see the deception when it's right in front of you? What have you been studying for your whole life?? That's like going to medical school for eight years and then applying to be a zookeeper. That's like studying for a driving test and showing up in a helicopter. HOW DO YOU MISS THE POINT SO BADLY???

And does it even need to be said that if he were "someone else" doing incredibly immoral things, talking about women that way (i.e., someone on the other political "side"), you'd be denouncing his immoral ass so fast his unholy head would spin? But nope, since he's saying some shit you wanna hear, it doesn't matter if he's the most ungodly person to ever live. I don't even wanna know what kind of mental gymnastics it takes to get there, but I'll give it the gold medal in uneven parallel stupid.

This is why religion and politics should not mix.

Last point here... I don't usually condone cherry-picking Bible quotes to make a point, but this one is so obvious and all-encompassing, I don't think it could be seen that way. It's not like trying to find a specific quote stating your personal belief that gay people shouldn't eat blueberry pancakes on Sunday, or something.

Romans 16:18

For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

Matthew 7:15

"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

2 Corinthians 11:14

No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11:3

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

In other words, the deceiver will not appear to you as an enemy, he will not be a "damn dirty liberal," he will be trying to appeal to YOU, facebook conspiracy theory lady, to lead you astray. THAT'S WHAT DECEPTION IS. Now I'm not saying the orange shit demon is the literal devil, though he is kinda the right hue. But an instrument of evil? Absolutely. So just be watchful, folks. That's all I can say. Now on to the funny!


3. So yeah, while points one and two make me range in emotion from head-scratchy to impotent rage, this last bit is hilariously Onion-worthy. Keep in mind, this is a real person, under age 30, who is being serious, or at least serious in her beliefs if this is an attempt at "humor."

"...women were using the pink yarn to create hats so that the women who are going to march tomorrow will be able to wear a pink hat to show that they are united and are standing up that they don't support Donald Trump as their new president. I bring this up not to anger anyone but to point out the silver lining. Donald Trump is already making America great again and this is why:
1. Women are accepting their natural roles in society by knitting pink hats for other men & women.
2. They are purchasing pink yarn from their local shops which thus turn into profit for that local shop. Some shops have gained nearly $6,000 in sales just off of selling pink yarn!
3. Women are working harder than they ever have to get these pink hats finished by tomorrow (their words not mine) which in turn shows that they can work hard if they really want to accomplish a goal.
So scoff at Donald Trump, hold your "not my president" signs, go out and protest his inauguration tomorrow but you can not deny that Donald Trump isn't already creating new jobs and bringing in profit for businesses whom usually wouldn't have made that much profit before hand. I can't wait to see what else Donald Trump can do for this country if he's already creating jobs before he officially becomes the President of the United States."

Got that? A majority-hated person is actually doing good by being so hated. Protesters create business so we can all thank him for that... somehow! Thank you for being so repulsive people are spending their hard-earned money on hating you! Think of all the posterboard being sold for protest signs! All the markers! The PUFFY PAINT and GLITTER!! Boy howdy, if you've ever wanted to invest in an arts and crafts store, now's your chance! MAKE JOANN FABRICS GREAT AGAIN!

guys... THAT'S LIKE THANKING SATAN FOR BIBLE SALES CAUSE HE'S MENTIONED IN IT! How do you even twist your brain into such a crazy-stuffed pretzel? I'd award a mental gymnastics medal for that feat, but such a maneuver can't possibly exist in our reality. That's some Matrix level shit right there.

And with that, I've used up my entire quota of capslock and exclamation marks for 2017. So enough politics and religion, and back to important things like music! (Well ok, I do think religion is important, but not to talk about on the damn internet.) It's funny though, cause I was thinking this morning about why, specifically, the events of the last year have made my brain shut down, aside from the obvious that it's awful. Lots of things are awful, why does this affect me so strongly? The injustice, the cruelty, the everything-about-it is enough to trigger the strongest person, but I think what really got me is the stupidity. The in-your-face, unwavering, double-down stupidity of it all. That's just something I can't deal with. But then I read that little piece of brilliance, and I actually laughed. I was able to laugh at stupid again, instead of burying my head in the sand. ...Progress?

Oh, and this woman has two kids and will probably have more. Sleep tight folks!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

tbt ~ me and Frankie Avalon

This song still cracks me up. And Mezmerize is one of the best albums of the 2000s. Endless replay value, even now. Maybe especially now.

Monday, March 06, 2017

New music Monday ~ Jaime Wyatt and Creeper

Some great country and rock to start off the week!

Jaime Wyatt's Felony Blues blew me away. I knew I needed some new music while waiting for Creeper's album to drop in a couple weeks, but I had no idea what, and this turned out to be exactly "it." I was really wanting to feel the country vibe again and there was a lot of buzz around this album oh and hey, it's only 7 songs! Which would probably explain why I fully delved into Felony Blues over the weekend and still haven't listened to all of Miranda's album yet. Sigh. (I've liked some of what I've heard though - more on that later.)

As Felony Blues is only 7 tracks I found myself getting into each one, from her gorgeous cover of one of my favorite Hag songs "Misery and Gin," to the rollicking "Stone Hotel," to the thoughtful "From Outer Space," which I related to quite a bit. For as short as it is, it feels very satisfying. It's the Snickers bar of albums! I have a special love for California based country, for obvious reasons. This will definitely make my favorite albums of the year list; we'll see where it ends up! (I've hardly listened to any new music so far this year. Umm. I've been listening to a lot of Tom Waits, System of a Down, 90s stuff like Liz Phair and Letters to Cleo, sort of all over the place. I expect that will change come spring, when I come out of hibernation and turn into a butterfly and all that good stuff.)

This album might be just the thing to pull me back into country after a very rock-oriented year. As I said once, I tend to listen to rock more when I'm sad/pissed off and country more when I'm happy, so with how the past year has gone it hasn't looked good for country. Felony Blues is a pretty rock and roll country album though, which isn't to say it sounds like rock, it just has the right sound and attitude for where I'm at. And I do think it will appeal to more than just country fans.

Of course rock and roll continues to save my soul, and this 3rd release from Creeper's upcoming Eternity in Your Arms LP might be their best yet. Powerful, theatrical but somehow down to earth?* with a chorus built to shout at sold out arenas. These guys are gonna be big, or at least as big as rock can be anymore, which is to say "considerably less big than mumble rap and pop songs that sound like they were written by two year olds**," but I digress. Mainstream music can go off the rails all it wants, why would I listen when there's stuff like this?

*pretty much how I'd describe Creeper as a whole

**seriously, "I Hate U I Love U," fuck off with that. Who actually listens to that?? How does that speak to anyone? Yet more people will hear that piece of crap than anything by the two artists I mentioned here. Also fuck the Chainsmokers, for no particular reason except fuck them. *shrug* What're you gonna do. Just keep on supporting what speaks to you and it'll be okay, I think.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Feel the Love Friday ~ Daryle Singletary

I tried to not overload my "love songs" list with too much 90s country, but this was an unforgivable oversight.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Here, have some love songs.

Okay, love songs aren't really my thing. I tend to prefer songs about different things, and most love songs I like are either about heartbreak or have lines like "I wanna die holding hands." Hey, that's romantic, dammit. But here are some actual love songs I do like!

How 90s country can you get? This is just so darn pretty and sincere sounding, I can't resist. "Me and You" and "Fall in Love" are good too, but this hits my heart just right.

So this guy's seen some weird shit, bro. He's seen "old men crying at their own grave sides, And I've seen pigs all sitting watching, picture slides." Damn, 1972! But he's never seen anything like you, woman. That's not a bad pick up line, at least in the context of the 70s. I'm sure I would have been flattered. Also, catchy as all hell.

Alison Krauss covers the Beatles, and it's pure otherworldly beauty. I've heard this a million times and it still gives me chills.

This might actually be my favorite Green Day song, off of Uno of all things. This is just pure 60s-esque pop rock perfection, a love letter from Billie Joe Armstrong to his wife. I can't even imagine all the shit they've been through over the years, but she'll always be his sweet 16. Awwww, you guys.

Classic. Classic classic classic classic classic.

I love the Ronettes, and this is one of the most evocative songs I've ever heard. It sounds like walking in a cool, refreshing rain with the one you love and laughing and the rest of the world not mattering and all that good stuff. D'awwww. Okay, that's about as mushy as I get. Back to songs about death!

You know I had to include the "I wanna die holding hands" song, right?

"The world says they'll never make it, love says they will." This song always struck me with how real it sounds, like these are actual people you would know. What I don't like about so many love songs is how fake and plastic lovey-dovey they sound. This is more the reality, and it's still pretty darn romantic. This is the kind of song that actually makes you believe in love in the face of, y'know... life.

This song is what love sounds like. Love in its purest form, like if love was a bird soaring above a mountaintop. I don't think the Toys ever had another hit, which is a real shame.

And finally...

It's been a rough start to 2017, and I've been listening to a lot of Tom Waits. He's probably not the first name you think when you hear "love song," but here it is, my favorite romantic song of all time. Of course it sounds melancholy as all hell, but oh man is it beautiful.

"Ain't no good thing ever dies
I'm gonna take it with me when I go."

Monday, January 23, 2017

Music Monday

Thing that makes me happy 100% of the time: finding new music I love.

Seriously, what else makes a person happy 100% of the time?? Even beer has its downsides. But music... I went through a period not too long ago when I didn't get into much new stuff. It can be daunting; there's so much out there. Sometimes too much choice actually works against you, cause it's so overwhelming. It can be disappointing; often things just don't "click" with you. Things that other music people are raving about and you wonder, what am I missing? But that's the beauty of music, if it hit everyone the same way it would be boring. So my advice for this Monday is to just keep looking, keep trying everything. When something hits, it's well worth it. There's not another feeling in the world like it.

And new music doesn't have to be "new." Some my favorite stuff I found the past year is from the 70s. It's kind of like the thrift shopping of music. I'M GONNA POP SOME TAGS. So yeah, I've found that a mix of new-new, old-but-new, and old-favorite music is the way to maximum happiness.

I know it's a pretty sad time right now, but this is the time we're on this planet and it's all we've got, so don't let the world take your joy. There's no shame in being joyful and celebrating the good. No one thinks on their deathbed, "I wish I'd spent more time being pissed off!" Life is a gift, in a much greater perspective than some stupid political or cultural shit of the time.

This isn't a new song but it's one that fills me with pure joy. I liked it right away, but it's just grown on me more and more. I think this was only an honorable mention on my 2015 songs list and NOPE, this is top 10 all the way baby. Damn is this thing underrated, even by me. :( It was a hit, but I feel like it's one of those underappreciated hits that will go on to become a classic. You've just got to listen to it a few times to let all the different parts gel together. Then it stops sounding messy and starts getting into your bloodstream, all your major organs, even your spleen. Every part of this is amazing, from Macklemore rapping about mopeds, to the old-school dudes sounding fly as hell, to the sample of SAFETY DANCE, to the GLORIOUS voice on the chorus that turns this thing into MOTHERFUCKING GLAM HIP HOP, and if that doesn't sound like the coolest thing ever then you can just cut the bullshit and get off my mullet. Cause I'ma keep it hella nineteen eighty seven.

This is the Bohemian Rhapsody of hip hop. I think this is my favorite song of 2015, honestly, or at least tied with Exes and Ohs cause that song's dope as shit. See, this thing is contagious. And I'm not even much of a hip hop fan, but this is what hip hop should be. Nary a mumbler to be found here, just pure energy. This is #1 on my "Happy Songs for a New Year" playlist. You know what's so great about it, besides everything? It's a feel good song, but not in the standard way. This ain't "Fight Song" or its ilk. It comes at you sideways, like -- mopeds?? What? And then the vibe hits you. And then you want a moped, too. And you wanna carry that singer around in your pocket so he's there whenever you need him.

Can we have Macklemore & Ryan Lewis back, please? They're exactly what popular music needs right now to wake the fuck up from its coma.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Feel Good Friday

The triumphant return of feel good Friday, when we need it the most! On this sad, confusing day, let's celebrate finding common ground.

for reference

MST3Ks I've rewatched so far this year:

Women of the Prehistoric Planet
Stranded in Space
Attack of the Eye Creatures
Brain that Wouldn't Die
Teenage Strangler
Alien from LA
The Dead Talk Back
The Creeping Terror
Incredible Melting Man
Terror from the Year 5000
Future War
Blood Waters of Doctor Z
Track of the Moon Beast

Will update as I go along. This year I'm gonna finally try to get through the season K episodes. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

One thing that occurs to me in this new year is how bloody sick I am of everything on the internet except this blog, youtube, and Rifftrax. I'm sick of twitter, sick of facebook, sick of all the same games I've been playing for the last 10 years. I need some new shit. I'm not sure what, but there's no time like the new year for a new start. I'll probably still use twitter, just not as much. I don't need to read 47 takes on the latest Trump outrage that will amount to nothing. It just fills me with hate and fear, and I don't want to be filled with hate and fear, I want to be filled with delicious caramel.

There's no point in following current events because nothing's about facts or fairness anymore, just "sides." We've sequestered ourselves into oblivion. Maybe there's still a coming-back point from this, I don't know. Right now it just seems to get scarier and scarier. Internet comments-section vitriol has become reality, maybe not in everyday life but in the very last place it should be, government. This is what years of people saying "but it's just the internet" in response to very real claims of harassment has wrought. It's bled into real life because, gasp! it turns out the internet was real life and real people all along.

So yeah, I need a complete mental cleanse. And lots of Rifftrax. And caramel.
You know, of all the pop "artists" I wouldn't expect to dedicate a post to, it's this Daya chick. The most notable thing about her, other than how she seems to be a sentient form of autotune, is that her album title rips off my favorite pop-country album, The Wreckers' Stand Still Look Pretty. Yes, I have a favorite pop country album. No, pop country ain't all bad. BUT I DIGRESS. And really, why wouldn't I. You can just stop reading here and go listen to the Wreckers; you'll probably get more out of it.

But here's Daya, and her song "Sit Still Look Pretty," the latest attempt at faux feminism from the Meghan Trainor School of well, Faux Feminism. Fauxminism, if you will. This woman is the less talented Meghan Trainor. Let that sink in. There's a line in here about how Snow White got the seven dwarves to do her chores, "cause that's not what a lady's for" - but that is what a dwarf is for?? What the hell? I'm not even gonna unpack all the downright uncomfortable stupidity in that lyric. Like Meghan Trainor's "Nah I'm just foolin'" bs, it's probably meant to be a joke. These people have no idea how humor works. Or Snow White. Or men. Or Women. Or music. Also, everyone has to do chores. It's like brushing your teeth; some shit you just gotta do. Can we maybe, idk, not say terrible cringey things in songs that are supposed to empower women? Cause you're not really helping the cause.

"I'm just a pretty girl in a pretty world." Okay, it's pretty lame to call yourself pretty, especially in a song about how you don't want that image, but whatever. "Pretty world" though... where are you living, the Disneyland Hotel?? That would explain the Snow White thing, but damn. Pretty world my ass.

And then we get to the chorus, slamming some guy for dreaming of "picket fences and trophy wives" and umm... you DO know it's not the 50s, right? While I'm completely cool with traditional gender roles, if it's what both people want, it's not exactly what's expected in 2017. I mean, maybe if you're dating a 60-year old. But "trophy wife" isn't really something that's out there being presented to young women, like by a world leader or someth---

OH WAIT. Oh God. Oh shit. In eight days the US is gonna have First Lady Sit Still Look Pretty. In eight days the planet might also go kafoom and we won't have to worry about any of this, but whatever.

You know what, you just carry on, Daya. Give 'em hell, or at least heck. Get some singing lessons though. Autotune is meant to be a band aid, not a life raft. And let's not encourage dwarf enslavement either.

I do apologize for all the political references lately, but, y'know...

That sign is my spirit animal.

And here's a good song to go out on.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Okay 2017, we need to have a little chat.

Yes, already. Why? Because this. THIS.

That is the number one song this week. NO! don't click on it, you will most certainly get at least a mild STD. Apparently this song hit number one because of a meme and guys, really. Is this really how we want to start off the year, with more of this bullshit? I'd ask why the hell the charts can't keep meme/vine "hits" off and only count real songs, but maybe it's the same reason the US can't keep narcissistic lunatics out of the white house. Clearly, there are no adults in charge, and nobody cares. "Oh well!" They say with a collective shrug. So we get Trump and WHATEVER IN THE LIVING FUCK a "lil Uzi Vert" is. Is it anything like a "Lil Yachty?" I don't know, but I'm gonna make my own rapper and call him, say, Lil Banana Plug. I'm going to build him out of clay. And a banana. He will be HUGE.

Because people are stupid, no matter how many calendar pages you turn. *sigh*

Also, WTF is this crap? Didn't we send this kind of "country" packing about two years ago? I'd rather listen to The Weeknd sing about Brantley Gilbert. Damn.

No, don't click on that either. You'll get an STD and a meth habit.

We're not off to a great start here, 2017. It's kind of a cross between 2016 and 2014, and NOBODY WANTS THAT. Man, 2015 was a good year. I should have appreciated it more.

But it's still early! You have plenty of time to turn it around, 2017. That's why I'm talking to you now, before it's too late and you go full 2016 on us. No more meme shit. No more bro country, of all things. No more songs built on funny-sounding words like "juju" or "boujee." What are you, 6? No more lowest common denominator. Let's aim higher. At least, let's not pick the rappers with the stupidest names, cause I'm pretty sure they're just trolling us now.

Y'know, sometimes I look at the charts of yesteryear, and there's dated stuff, of course, and the occasional weird novelty hit that couldn't possibly be understood 40 years later, like "Disco Duck." But most of it, you can either say, "hey, this is still good!" or "well, it's of its time." This meme/vine crap has a shelf life of like, nothing. Not only will it be forgotten and met with a genuine "huh??" in 40 years, it'll be forgotten by the end of the year. (By all except those who make worst lists, anyway.) And sure, pop music by nature can be disposable. But it doesn't have to be. And this goes beyond even disposable; at least most things you dispose of were once things. They didn't start out as garbage. These meme songs are the only product I can think of to be actually manufactured as garbage. I can't imagine what people looking at these charts in the future will think. There's just no context to it; there's no context now. Just, "whee! garbage!" *throws banana peels around*

I hope this ends soon, or music charts are going to lose any meaning they might have once had. "Good," you might say, but honestly, looking back at the charts of the past can be kind of fun. I'm glad they exist. The same can't be said of today. So, Save the Charts, or something. It's basically a permanent record of music, and is this really what you want on your permanent record? Lil Bicycle Seat? Lil French Toast? Lil Paddle Boat? Okay, I could do this all day. Instead I'll go do something productive like pet my cats.

EDIT: "To be fair," I think if the internet was around 30-50 years ago and the charts counted meme shit, there would have been just as much garbage then as there is now. I'm not saying "the good old days" were better, I'm saying the charts shouldn't count internet shit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Favorite albums I heard in 2016, part 2 ~ blame rock and roll

Before I get into the honorable mentions, a couple notes.

1. My list is weird, and not like the critics' lists. I don't listen to hip hop, or much pop beyond singles, so that stuff isn't on my list, no matter how good it might be. I don't have time to take in all the rock and country I want to, let alone genres that don't really speak to me.

2. "Um Melissa, you have Blink-182 on your list and not David Bowie, you are the shittiest music person in all the land!" When I say I'm a David Bowie fan, I mean it. But I'm specifically a fan of his 70s work - Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs. I love those albums. When an artist has a long career, not everything they do is gonna resonate with you. In the case of Bowie, he moved away from the glam rock I enjoyed and into a more jazzy sound, which is not my thing at all. I tried to listen to Blackstar, as it was the last album from a great artist and very critically acclaimed, but I just couldn't get into it. I like melodic rock and country; jazz and other dissonant music is not for me. So I'll enjoy his legacy in my way, and I'm glad that so many people with a wider musical palate than mine enjoyed his final work.

Okay! Honorable mentions, in no particular order.

Green Day - Revolution Radio
Probably nothing will ever live up to the glory days of Green Day for me - that's Dookie, Insomniac, and Nimrod. But this album is still damn good. I'd put it on par with 21st Century Breakdown, which I think is super underrated. Like Weezer, I've been into this band since the early 90s. I guess their "trio" was kind of the equivalent to Weezer's bad period, though the uneven Uno actually has some of my favorite Green Day songs on it. But yeah, basically the trio would have made one really good album, not three. So this is Green Day back in form - not revolutionary, but an overall solid album from a veteran band I hope never goes away. Favorites - Forever Now (an all time fave), Ordinary World, Bouncing Off the Wall, Somewhere Now, Outlaws, Revolution Radio

Blackberry Smoke - Like An Arrow
Following up Holding All the Roses was a tough task. It was my favorite album of last year, and destined to be a classic. That said, this is a really good album. BBS has a way of capturing that classic 70s country-rock sound and making it sound fresh, not derivative. They feel very comfortable, in the best way. My only "complaint" about this album is it doesn't have tracks that reach out and grab me in quite the same way as Woman in the Moon, Living in the Song, No Way Back to Eden, and the title track from Holding All the Roses. But I'm not sure that's really a fair complaint. So just taking this album on its own, it's a catchy, ear-pleasing, rockin' collection of songs, and probably the first thing I'd put on at a barbecue or tailgate. I'll be playing this a lot next summer. Favorites - Let it Burn (can't stop listening to this!), Like An Arrow, The Good Life, Ain't Gonna Wait, Waiting for the Thunder, Sunrise in Texas

Blink-182 - California
This was my surprise of the year. I like these guys ok, but I was never a huge fan. I only have one other of their albums, the self-titled one with "I Miss You." But this - this is pretty much like a new band. Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba replaced Tom Delonge, which of course was controversial for longtime fans, but for me it's an improvement. This album is just one hook after another, and I gotta say I love the production. I've heard some criticism of it being too "slick," but to me it sounds clean and well-suited to the music. *shrug* So yeah, I like Alkaline-182. Blink Trio. Whatever. Best set of songs I've heard from these guys. More mature, but not boring at all. Actually, more interesting. Favorites - Los Angeles, Left Alone, Bored to Death, Teenage Satellites, Cynical, California

The Struts - Everybody Wants
Another UK band I got into this year, this one has the distinction of a frontman who sounds like he is enjoying every single second of his life, to the point he must roll his r's from the pure joy of it all! There's one word to describe this album: fun. Fun and glam. If you want a dose of just unabashed rock for the sake of rock, put this on. Crank it. Favorites - Rrrrrroll Up, Kiss This, Could Have Been Me, Put Your Money On Me, Young Stars

Bleached - Welcome the Worms
Another dark horse late entry! Well this one was released in April, but I discovered them late in the year because of Honeyblood. Bleached is an LA trio of kickass women who clearly grew up listening to Joan Jett. Good old fashioned hooky 80s-esque rock. I needed this in my life. Favorites - Wednesday Night Melody, Sour Candy, Hollywood We Did It All Wrong, Sleepwalking, Keep on Keepin' On, Wasted on You

Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter
I loved this when it came out, and while it didn't stay with me all year, I think we can blame rock and roll for that more than any shortcoming of the album. Rock pretty much took over my year, especially in October with its four big releases. This might have fallen by the wayside in the latter half of 2016, but it's definitely one I'll return to in the future, with Margo's beautiful pure vocals and Loretta Lynn-esque sharpness and sass. A fantastic debut, to say the least. Revisiting this album to make my list was a pleasure, and I feel inspired to listen to more country this year. Let 2017 be the year of balance! Favorites - Hurtin' On the Bottle, Tennessee Song, About to Find Out, This Town Gets Around, Hands of Time, Since You Put Me Down

A few more notes before I put 2016 behind me for good. Well, not these albums obviously, but the rest of it!

While that isn't everything I heard and enjoyed in 2016, it is what I think I'll return to the most. For instance, while I liked Sturgill Simpson's album, it isn't one I've gone back to a lot. Maybe that will change in time, who knows. (I have to shout out "Sea Stories" though, for having crazy Tom Waits-like lyrics set to a country sound. Amazing.) I also enjoyed Lydia Loveless' surprising, upbeat pop-rock album, but I listened to it late and it hasn't sunk in enough for me to know where it stands.

I also wanna quickly shout out three albums from 2015 that I didn't listen to until last year - Elle King's Love Stuff, Best Coast's California Nights, and The Maine's American Candy. These would have all made my 2015 list if I'd heard them.

Finally, some 2016 albums I missed and still want to listen to - Miranda Lambert, William Michael Morgan, Whiskey Myers, Dolly Shine, Mark Chesnutt - yeah, I really fell behind on country last year. I'm probably forgetting some too. And lots coming out this year, both country and rock, starting with Creeper next month!

Anyway, here's to a 2017 filled with good music and good vibes. The world is a mess, but there's still plenty to be thankful for. You can't control the outside, but you can control how you think, what you say, how you treat people, and what you choose to let in. Let's do good, and think positive. Remember - any change that comes with a new year is only psychological, but that doesn't mean it can't be real. ✌️❤️🤘

Monday, January 09, 2017

Favorite albums I heard in 2016

Just titling these lists is hard. Best? Favorite? Like, with hit songs there's a finite number, so it's pretty easy to say which I think are "best" and "worst." Outside of hits there's like a million different things, and even "favorite" sounds weird, as if I listened to a huge body of work like a real critic and went, "yeeees, these are my favorites." When in reality I listened to but a teardrop in the ocean. Though I did listen to more last year than I have in many a year, so heck it, let's just get on with it. Here's what I heard and liked, top 6.

My number one is a tie between two EPs. Yes, we're off to a rollicking start. But I figure, two EPs kinda equals an album, and these are my two favorite releases I heard all year, so pshaw to convention!

1. Letters to Cleo - Back to Nebraska, and Creeper - The Stranger

I love every single song on these two EPs, for a total of ten songs I love! For some reason melodic alt-rock is what I craved most this year, maybe because I was missing it so much and didn't even know it. Like, I've spent the last 10 years missing 90s country, and I guess this year I finally got around to rock. Back to Nebraska is classic LTC - they literally sound like they didn't miss a beat since "Here and Now." Every song is tight and catchy as hell. Four of them are pure fun, and the title track, my favorite of the year, will break your heart.

The Stranger was my introduction to up and coming UK band Creeper, and of course I immediately checked out their other two EPs. Everything they've put out has been good, but The Stranger is their most solid yet, which has me salivating for their upcoming LP. All five songs are brilliant, with "Astral Projection" being my top favorite. I'd say their style is kinda early-mid 2000s rock - fans of MCR and AFI will probably like them. But I don't really like comparing them to other bands, because their sound and aesthetic is so unique right now. I feel like I found a gem here, and if they blow up after their album drops, I'll have an opportunity to be quite smug. Hooray!

2. Brandy Clark - Big Day in a Small Town
A country concept album, performed by one of my favorite singer/songwriters. This pretty much couldn't fail, but it actually exceeded my expectations, right down to the album artwork. The cover art immediately pulls you into the world of this small town and its inhabitants, with each song being a stop along the way. I genuinely feel like I got to know some forgotten people after listening to this album. I had a similar experience with Don Henley's wonderful album last year, but this one takes the concept a step further. It's like driving through a small town and getting a glimpse behind the curtains, but in a non-creepy way. And I love her voice so much, it's just so natural sounding, everything she sings sounds 100% real. I can't overstate how refreshing this is in our world of artifice and faux "reality."

Favorite tracks - Since You've Gone to Heaven, Love Can Go to Hell, Three Kids No Husband, Soap Opera, Homecoming Queen, Girl Next Door (Brandy Clark does Carrie Underwood-esque rock country. If that sounds bad, I assure you it is not. It kicks ass).

3. Weezer - White Album

I'm gonna talk a little bit about Weezer, a band I got into at the very beginning, 1994!

Since LTC reunited, I can no longer say Weezer is my favorite band. But they're close, especially considering I once wrote them off about 10 years ago. Yeah, I can't stand Weezer's biggest hit, "Beverly Hills," or pretty much Make Believe as a whole. Which was disappointing as their previous release, the catchy, hard rock-edged Maladroit, was and still is my favorite of their albums. It was a startling contrast, and in the following years, I drifted away from this band I once loved. (I also got back into country big time, and kinda drifted from rock in general.) Which is a good thing, because I only like a couple songs in total from their following three albums. ("Ruling Me" and "Trainwrecks," both from Hurley, are amazing. The rest of their material from 2005-2010 is skippable, imo.)

Which brings us to 2014 and Everything Will Be Alright in the End, which has turned out to be my second favorite Weezer album. What a stunning return to form! I think there are only one or two tracks I skip, and everything else is a major standout. So when I heard they were releasing a new album in 2016, I was STOKED. I didn't care for the first single, but then I heard "Do You Wanna Get High" and "King of the World," and YESSSSS! And those aren't even the best songs on the album.

The White Album - and yes, I love that they had the balls to call it that since it actually delivers quality, unlike "Black Beatles" - shows that Everything Will Be Alright was no fluke. Weezer is back, making the catchy, quirky, melodic guitar rock they were born to make. And this one has a California beachy vibe, which makes it extra appealing to me. There are maybe two tracks on here that are "eh" for me, and the rest I love. I can't wait to see what they do next! I'd love another harder-edged project like Maladroit, which is possibly the most underrated album by a popular band ever, seriously.

Favorite tracks - California Kids, Endless Bummer, LA Girlz, King of the World, Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori, Do You Wanna Get High

4. Eric Church - Mr. Misunderstood

THIS ALBUM WAS "ACTUALLY" RELEASED IN NOVEMBER 2015. There, got that out of the way. I'm including it because 1. November, seriously. 2. All the singles impacted in 2016. 3. I listened to it in 2016.

So, Eric Church. An artist I had forever pegged as having "potential," until I heard this album and went, "Oh. Potential realized!" It took so long I was actually kinda surprised. This album is a love letter to music in many ways, with songs like "Record Year" the title track, and "Mistress Called Music," and it had absolutely no business being as big as it was in the awfulness that was 2016, but somehow it struck a chord. I credit Eric Church every bit as much as Chris Stapleton for the return of quality in mainstream country. Oh we have a long way to go, there's still a lot of boring dreck and inane pop, but I see the scales gradually balancing. And I'm really curious to see where Eric Church goes from here, now that I know he can do this.

Production-wise, this is the second appearance on this list for Jay Joyce, who also produced Brandy Clark's album. Looking at his previous work, he also did Cage the Elephant's first three albums, i.e., three of my favorite albums. So well done, Jay Joyce! In my reading I also learned that Eric Church was once kicked off a Rascal Flatts tour for playing too long, and that is rock and roll as hell so respect, man.

Favorite tracks - Record Year, Knives of New Orleans, Mistress Called Music, Three Year Old, Kill a Word, Mixed Drinks About Feelings, oh hell all of them. (The title track is great too, but it's reached overplay status for me.)

5. Honeyblood - Babes Never Die

Ooh, a last-minute dark horse! Okay, this album was released in November. Of 2016. So by my previous logic it should actually be on next year's list but oh fuck it, when have I ever let logic stop me? I listened to this in 2016, so that's that. Not only did I listen to it, I binge-listened, I listened to the hell out of this album, if I may borrow a Rifftraxism. So, I started following some alt rock youtubers in 2016. Most of them are about 15 years younger than me but hey, they have good taste. I mean, they're like me 15 years ago, which isn't really all that different from me now.

So thanks to that, I found Creeper. And UK alt-rockers Honeyblood, a duo of Scottish women with the kind of harmonies that literally make you feel like honey is running through your blood. Seriously, good name choice guys. Also, in case you didn't know they were from the UK, one of them has the last name Tweeddale and you cannot convince me that isn't a character from some whimsical British children's book, likely featuring umbrellas. The Grand Adventures of Sir Edmund Tweeddale. He has a pipe. He's also a bear. Okay, I'm done.

Was I talking about music, at some point? Right, so I was watching a video of someone talking about records, feeling a bit jealous because I kinda wish I could be one of those people who collects vinyl, but I also enjoy not being broke. Anyway, one of the records was Honeyblood's single "Ready for the Magic" with the B side, "Babes Never Die." I heard a few notes of "Ready" and it was like I was back in the 90s. The nostalgia was overpowering, so off to iTunes I went. A quick listen through determined I wanted the album, and it kind of snuck up on me how much I've played this thing the last month or so. It had to go on the list. Your enjoyment of this may depend on how fondly you remember girly grunge rock from the 90s, but I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy this even without the nostalgia factor. It's all very catchy, buzzy, lush melodies and harmonies, and standout lyrics like "Walking at Midnight."

"No one dares to ask where you've been
Feared of what you might tell them
No one dares to ask where you've been
They can only dream

Walking at midnight, midnight
Sink into the evening tide
Walking at midnight, midnight
Let the nighttime be a disguise"

Favorite tracks - Walking at Midnight, Babes Never Die, Sea Hearts, Hey Stellar, Justine Misery Queen, Ready for the Magic

6. The Pretty Reckless - Who You Selling For
A more diverse outing for The Pretty Reckless, whose first two albums I also really enjoyed, despite occasionally falling into rock cliché. This album has touches of classic rock, Beatlesesque acousticness ("Bedroom Window"), and southernish rock on "Back to the River." This album, I'd say, goes less for shock than their previous efforts, and more for a personal, confessional tone. The rock bombast is still there on songs like "Prisoner," "Oh My God," and the gorgeously intricate, classic-rock feel of "Hangman/The Walls are Closing In." I love Taylor Momsen's voice, it has the ability to sound both rough and fragile, like Chrissie Hynde. And yes, the frontwoman for this kickass rock band once played Cindy Lou Who in The Grinch. Life is amazing and wonderful, really.

Favorite tracks - Back to the River, Hangman/The Walls Are Closing In, Who You Selling For, Prisoner, The Devil's Back, Take Me Down

And that's the favorites! Honorable mentions coming soon.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

OH, and my unofficial favorite song of 2016 is... from 1974, but I just heard it this year. That's right, it's the Dead Robot Song by the Pickled Babies from Rifftrax Swamp of the Ravens! I know, kinda an obvious choice, but sometimes the hits are hits for a reason.

*whispers* this one's actually my favorite.

I'm glad those crazy kids are gonna "stick it out." I was worried, with the implied threat of robot death and all.

Favorite (non-hit) Songs of 2016 ~ get right with the silence

Before I dive in, I wanna touch on "good" lists vs "bad" lists. Why do I enjoy watching/making "bad" lists? Don't I love music and want it to be happy? Yes, and that's why I enjoy the catharsis of ripping bad songs a new one SO MUCH. Maybe it's the MSTie in me; it's almost a new art form to rip on something terrible and turn it into something entertaining. Actually yeah, I'm gonna call it an art form. If I or someone else can write about a bad song and make it funny, or rant so hard it feels like JUSTICE, then a service has been done. A negative has been turned into a positive, albeit a twisted one.

"Good" lists are harder to do. Unless you have a personal anecdote, deep analysis, or just wanna rave about the amazingness of a song, how many ways is there to say "It's really good!" Good lists about popular songs are almost irrelevant. I make them anyway, because I'm a completionist and I like to give credit where it's due. But while the point of bad lists is mainly to entertain, I'd say the point of good lists is to educate. It's less about being wordy and more about putting music people might not have heard out there, and letting it speak for itself. So that's pretty much what I'll be doing for these last two lists. Less talk, more rock. (Except for number one, of course. :))

So with no further ado, my favorite song of 2016 is ---

Back to Nebraska, by Letters to Cleo!

Okay, I once said that all my favorite songs are about heartbreak or cancer, and I swear to God I don't know why this keeps happening, but yeah. This one's about cancer. I'm sorry. But it's really, really good. Like, remember when popular country songs used to tell stories that made you feel things and cry and stuff? This isn't a country song, but it tells a story in the same simple, heartbreaking way. Kay Hanley lost her best friend to cancer, and this is about the time they spent together before the end, and the silence after she was gone. It feels real because it is real, and it's strangely... not depressing? I mean it's sad, but something about her voice is also life-affirming. Making art from grief is one of the highest human achievements, and when done well, it always resonates. I lost my dad to cancer, but I don't think you have to have experienced that to really feel this song.

Letters to Cleo is my favorite band, and I think this is the best song of their career. I know I said the only widespread good thing to happen in 2016 was the Cubs winning, but LTC reuniting is at the very top of my personal list. I don't know how many people care, or have heard this song - considering there's only one live youtube video and no lyrics to be found anywhere, I guess I'm pretty alone here. But fuck it, this is a beautiful song, my favorite band got back together without missing a damn beat after sixteen years, and I'm gonna celebrate. The best part is, this isn't about nostalgia. Their new music is just as good, and in this case better, than their old stuff.

Trust 2016 to make me turn to a song about death to feel better, but like all good sad songs, there's a note of melancholy hope. Life goes on. Get right with the silence.

The EP is on iTunes and Spotify, and WELL worth a listen/purchase. I love this song, and I think a lot of other people would too, if only they turned off the droning noise of the radio.

2. Since You've Gone to Heaven - Brandy Clark
Is it 2016, or is it just me with all the death stuff? I don't know, but this song was my number one for most of the year, until Back to Nebraska came out. Any year that LTC didn't reunite... like the past 16... this would have been number one. I like melancholy songs if they pack a punch, and hoo boy, this is the Song of 2016 on multiple levels. The death of a patriarch... the death of a family... the death of a small town... hopefully not the death of America. Cause yeah, especially now, that note kinda hangs over the song, giving it another layer that might not have been intended. But even unpeeling that layer and separating the song from the year's events, it's still a damn good and heart-wrenching analogy. This is why country music exists, and Brandy Clark is one of its best, most incisive songwriters. Her voice is lovely and poignant too. "Since you've gone to heaven, the whole world's gone to hell." If that doesn't resonate, I don't know what will.

3. Astral Projection - Creeper
Best rock chorus of the year. Possibly many years. Melodic and catchy as hell.

Okay, those are the three that really stood out for me. The following can all be considered "honorable mentions." Some I like better than others, but I'm not numbering them. Rule is one song per artist/album, with a couple exceptions because I can. mnyah. I'll have a Best of 2016 Spotify playlist with all these + more up soon.

Hurtin' on the Bottle - Margo Price
Okay if I had to pick an unofficial #4, it's probably this. Cause damn, what a jolt of pure country goodness. Margo Price's voice should be bottled as holy water, it's that pure. I am not ashamed of that corny line, nope.

Knives of New Orleans - Eric Church
My favorite non-single from a great album. This album was "actually" released in November 2015, but who cares. Do you care? Good, cause I don't care.

Sweet By and By - Miranda Lambert
I hope some stuff on her new album is as pure and ear-pleasing as this gem from the Southern Family album.

Suzanne - Creeper
Another Creeper song, but this is from their upcoming LP, not The Stranger EP, so I'm counting it. "I wanna die holding hands." This band is pretty much exactly my aesthetic.

Good Right Here - Letters to Cleo
Yeah, same band, same EP, but it's not every year your favorite band gets back together after 16 years! I could put every song on the EP here, it's that good, but this one is just a burst of pure sunshine. And we all need that sometimes.

California Kids - Weezer
Speaking of pure sunshine, picking just one song from the California-drenched White Album was tough. It's classic, catchy Weezer. In the end I went with this, cause it makes me happiest.

Los Angeles - Blink-182
And more Californianess! Yeah, this was my surprise album of the year. Just one melodic hook after another, but this harder-edged song is my favorite, and a new sound for Blink. Must be the Alkaline Trio influence. "Los Angeles, when will you save me?"

Forever Now - Green Day
And finishing up the "glorious return of the 90s bands," it's Green Day with one of my favorite songs they've ever done! "From the edge of the world" damn, this thing feels epic. And I'm probably the only person on earth to notice this, but the guitar part at the beginning sounds SO much like early REM.

Dark Necessities - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Another great song from a veteran band. This just felt like a classic the first time I heard it.

Roll Up - The Struts
The way he rolls those "r's" - pure JOY!

Aquasun - Basement
Not a 90s band, but a reasonable facsimile. Pure melodic post-grunge bliss right here. This was a good year for UK rock.

Babes Never Die - Honeyblood
A really good year for UK rock. This band is my latest discovery, and I'm hooked... on hooks. Cause the songs are really catchy ok I'm done.

Million Reasons - Lady Gaga
Theory: if this had been the first single released for her comeback instead of the meh "Perfect Illusion," it would have been huge. My favorite vocal performance of hers I've ever heard. Too bad it wasn't a hit, but really, this transcends hits. Especially considering the lifeless dreck that topped the chart almost all year long.

In Bloom - Sturgill Simpson
You know, I wanted to pick one of the original songs from Sailor's Guide, and I really do like "Brace for Impact" in all its 70s rock haze, but this Nirvana cover has just stayed with me all year. It's so weird, but so good! Maybe it's not so weird, really. Good music is good music, and I really like genre-bending when it's done right.

Losing Ground - Aubrie Sellers
Here's an album I meant to go back and listen to, and never did. Well, this is a really nice song from Lee Ann Womack's daughter. She has a bit more of an edge, and I like that.

Don't Threaten Me With a Good Time - Panic! At the Disco
Okay, Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco, I see you've found a way to make me listen to your poppy dance rock. Just add a surf guitar sample! First Uma Thurman, now this. I guess you guys found my kryptonite. (Honorable honorable mention to their song "Victorious" for having one of the best lyrics ever, "Eyes like broken Christmas lights.") And hey, silly dance rock makes great walking music, so another point for that. You got me. I hope you're happy.

Let it Burn - Blackberry Smoke
And now for something that actually rocks, straight out of the 70s! If you want a good old-fashioned rollicking song, with a touch of kiss-my-ass to send this year on its way, crank this. It just feels good.

The Walls Are Closing In/Hangman, and Back to the River - The Pretty Reckless
I went back and forth, and in the end couldn't decide between these two powerhouses from the Pretty Reckless. Like Creeper, I'm so glad I found this band this year. Finding new music that speaks to you really helps break down the lonely barrier of only listening to older stuff.

Wednesday Night Melody - Bleached
Someone grew up listening to Joan Jett. Good!

Christmas Makes Me Cry - Kacey Musgraves
Yup, a Christmas song! A very 2016 one. Whether this year got you down, or you have seasonal depression like me, a song like this helps ease you into the cheerier stuff. Hearing "it's ok to not be cheerful" actually helps you to be more cheerful. Because sometimes shit gets real, and it's nice to have that acknowledged, y'know? I am... not a Christmas song person, and the only album I've really enjoyed is that old Phil Spector one (because the Ronettes are AWESOME), but yeah, this really trimmed my tree. That sounded kind of dirty, didn't it? It did. I'm sorry.

And on that glorious note, I think I'm done! There were a LOT of albums I didn't get around to this year, including Miranda's, so the chance I left out a possible favorite song is pretty high. But you can't listen to all the music. And I will get to Miranda eventually, it's just... November! 24 songs! Are you trying to kill me?!

2016 Songs I Missed

Since I don't listen to the radio, I have to seek out most songs to actually hear them. With the exception of the biggest hits you get subjected to at the mall or bars, pop music is pretty avoidable once you hit adulthood. Which is possibly the singular reason I remain sane. So my worst lists generally feature the unavoidable crap, or stuff I hear critics pan so much I listen to out of morbid curiosity. And usually the songs on my best list are ones I actively seek out, especially country. So, here are a few I missed or have heard since I made my lists... for better or worse.

One Direction - Perfect
I don't think I've ever talked about One Direction. I'm a grown ass woman, why would I? They're about as relevant to my life as paste or safety scissors. But after seeing this on a couple grown-ups' best lists, I gave it a listen. 1. It has the same cadence as Taylor Swift's "Style." This is clearly not an accident. 2. This is gonna sound really weird, but bear with me - the first thing I thought when I heard this is it has kind of the vibe of a mid to late 90s pop-country song. Keep the melody and lyrics, change up the vocals, instrumentation, and production, and that's pretty much what this sounds like. I guess it's their last hit. It's not great, but it's not the worst.

Future is possibly the worst thing that ever happened to music. "Mumble rap" has destroyed mainstream hip hop the same way bro-country destroyed mainstream country and Nickelback destroyed mainstream rock. I have a grudging tolerance for "Commas," simply because I associate it with a movie I really liked. (Keanu, which also has a fun George Michael bit that serves as a pretty cool tribute. And an adorable kitten!) It works surprisingly well in a comedic setting. But this "Wicked" garbage is inexcusable. You thought Rihanna's "Work" was word slurry, this sounds like a drunk infant trying to pronounce its first word with a mouth full of novocaine. And that word is "wicked," for some reason. Bottom of the barrel dreck, and another add to the dishonorable mention pile. I wouldn't put it on the list; that'd be like calling it a real song.

Chris Brown is still around... barely? Blecch, I'd rather have the combined anti-charm of Charlie Puth, Shawn Mendes, and Justin Bieber than this sociopathic, narcissistic, un-self aware, lying, misogynist - oh wait, I suddenly started talking about the president-elect in the middle of a music review! PARDON ME. Yeah, you basically just elected Chris Brown president, folks. Good luck with that. At least this horrible "fuck you back to sleep" song was only barely a hit, so we don't have that to worry about. Just, you know... all the rest of it.

This Daya person is pretty bad, sounds like she walked fresh out of one of those lower tier singing shows into the studio, but I can't get too worked up about her. Not interesting enough. That line about Snow White making the dwarves do her chores can go straight to hell, though. I see you went to the Meghan Trainor school of "feminism," Daya. I don't see that working out in the long run.

Drake ft. "The Throne" (WTF?) - Pop Style
OMG, this song makes One Dance sound like Uptown Funk! This is the most boring, tone deaf, droney thing I've heard since... that Future song. Yeah, you don't have to travel too far in 2016 to hit shit. Also, you do know "the throne" means toilet, right? Is that the point?

Ruth B. - Lost Boy
This song has literally no point. I mean come on, even Fight Song has a point. Even Wiggle has a point - a terrible, terrible point about a woman's ass being like food, or... planets, but still a point. Lost Boy is a first grader's book report, only not as interesting. And this is coming from someone whose blog title COMES FROM PETER PAN. It's also oddly earwormy for such a squirrel fart of a song, so fuck you music industry.

X Ambassadors - Unsteady
"Renegade" was a late add to my honorable mentions last year, and I still like it with its driving beat. Yeah, I get the whole "car commercial" thing, but it had enough life and energy to rise above that for me. This, however, is calculated, pretentious, and boring.

The Weeknd - In the Night
And here's the main reason I wanted to make this list. HOW THE HELL DID I MISS THIS SONG? This sounds straight off of Thriller! Yeah, I absolutely love this, and while it's too late to add to my list, consider it a very honorable mention. The first song I heard by The Weeknd was "Earned It," which was almost as bad as the movie associated with it.* So, besides "Can't Feel My Face," 2015 did not make me a Weeknd fan. 2016, however, seems just right for his catchy nihilism. I'm feeling it. Great song!

*as a bad movie connoisseur, yes I watched 50 Shades. It actually wasn't that bad, I thought it was a pretty effective horror movie!

Selena Gomez - Hands to Myself
Quick, where's "The Throne," I need to throw up!

Charlie Puth (sigh) and Selena Gomez (sigh) - We Don't Talk Anymore
How about, "we don't sing anymore?" Not since the "new Americana" chick hooked up with the "selfie" guys has there been such a powerhouse of tedium! It's like the monster truck rally of boring!

Florida Georgia Line - HOLY
Oh right, these guys had a song this year. They're so relevant, I forgot! The acronym is DAFF (dumb as flying fuck) and the chorus doesn't make sense (you're holy, so I'm high on loving you?? I guess saying "I'm holy" would have pissed too many people off), but this is just meh to me. I mean, at least he's not "rapping."

There was WAY too much Bieber on the charts this year, and none of it is even interesting enough to talk about. Just more of the drab wallpaper soundtrack of 2016.


There's a song called "I Hate U I Love U," which I can only imagine had its first draft smeared in fingerpaint. And what a dull, singsongy mess it is. People actually listen to this. People... somewhere... who?? The same ones who listen to the Chainsmokers? I don't know anymore.

Pink- Just Like Fire
I like Pink. But her comeback song this year, like Lady Gaga's, was extremely disappointing. Unlike "Perfect Illusion" it was a big hit, but also unlike Gaga, I don't know if she has killer songs like "Million Reasons" in her anymore. I hope so, because stuff like "So What" and "Don't Let Me Get Me" were pretty great. But this song is just like fire... extinguisher. This song is just like smothering a fire with a dish towel. This song is... okay, you get the point. It sucks.

There's a Future song with a Weeknd feature and nope, not even gonna listen. I don't wanna spend all my newfound goodwill for the Weeknd all at once!

"D.R.A.M. feat. Lil Yachty - Broccoli"
Yep, I copied that exactly as it was written, folks. I don't know what to make of it either. I'm not even sure which part of it is weirdest, but I guess I'm going with "Lil Yachty." Good luck, archaeologists of the future trying to figure out our culture, cause I can't even figure this out now!

Interchangeable purveyors of boredom like Bryson Tiller and Kent Jones - what do you even want me to say? Nothing. The answer is nothing.

DNCE - Cake By the Ocean
DNCE... DUNCE? Sure, let's just go with that. Decent groove, but ewwww. They literally made a song about someone having sand in their vagina. Why?? We GET it, former Disney stars. You're an ADULT, and you have SEX.

Mike Posner - I Took a Pill in Ibiza
One of the better pop songs of 2016 is by Mike Posner and yeah, let's just stick that in the time capsule cause it pretty much says it all. This song sounds as empty and downtrodden as everything else this year, but, like the Weeknd, it's actually supposed to sound that way. It's mood setting, vs sheer laziness. And if there's one thing I love it's self-awareness, so well done, Mike Posner. Not enough my style to make my list, but this is a case where I respect something even if it's not my taste.

"Needed Me" by Rihanna continues to be one of the most horrifying things I've ever heard. I shoulda put it on the list, dammit. I guess I was in denial about its existence, or at least its baffling popularity. THIS SOUNDS LIKE MACHINERY BREAKING DOWN! 😭😭😭

This "Desiigner" person is utter crap, I don't understand this ridiculous, pretentious, hipstery double "I" bullshit, but I don't see him being around in 2017, so I'm not gonna worry about it. Rae Sremmurd, on the other hand, that's something we've gotta worry about.

But for now, onto my best (non-hit) songs list! Then... eventually... after a break and some margaritas... albums.

Unpacking 2016, and where do we go from here?

Before I delve into my favorite songs and albums, I want to talk a little more about this year. I wasn't planning this post, but we lost someone yesterday who means a lot to me personally, and I have shit to say.

It's possible this blog would have never come into existence if it wasn't for Carrie Fisher. I read her book Postcards from the Edge when I was... 16, I think? and it hit me just the right way at just the right time. While I didn't have her struggles with addiction (and I partly thank the book for my never trying drugs), I related so much to her voice. Humorous and tragic - at the same time! Strong and vulnerable, confident and what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here. Her wit and absurdity in the face of not feeling like you fit into your surroundings was exactly what I needed. I started writing, using my own self-deprecating (and sometimes other-people-deprecating) humor. I've reread the book many times, as well as some of her other work, to the point it's become part of me.

When I started this blog in my twenties, at a time of depression and displacement, trying to make sense or at least some bittersweet laughs out of life, it was her voice I heard again. Her humor in darkness didn't only inspire me, it guided me. While I don't really write about myself anymore, I switched to pop culture topics years ago, that will always be the foundation of this blog. Sometimes I laugh at how "emo" I was, but hey, at least I mostly kept my sense of humor. There's strength in humor, in throwing your head back and laughing at the world and your problems. Carrie Fisher helped teach me that, and I don't even know how much I have to thank her for. I just know I'm truly thankful she touched my life. Her voice will be missed, especially now, dammit. RIP.

We lost a lot of wonderfully unique voices in 2016. Prince, David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Gene Wilder, Alan Rickman, George Michael. One of a kind people who will never be replaced. That's part of the reason why this year feels so damn heavy. So much loss. And when you add in the general climate of the world, the negativity and hate, the huge steps backwards culturally, it just seems unbearable.

Death is a part of life. Death of culture is not. While we can't replace the people we've lost - we're not meant to- their voices will live on. But... what of the new culture? Where's the next crop of unique voices? How have we come down to the Kardashians, Justin Bieber, Rae fucking Sremmurd? We're killing ourselves with mediocrity. Why? This isn't how it's supposed to work, dammit! The circle of life is broken.

We need to start making awesome people famous again, cause we're kinda running a shortage right now. This is why I feel 2016 is genuinely the worst year I've lived through. The mourning-to-celebrating ratio is ridiculous. Huge loss with so little gain. Regression, no progression. I mean, what happened this year that was good, on a wide scale? The Cubs winning is seriously the only thing I can think of. That's crazy. When this many bad things happen, we need good to help balance it out, and it's just not there. It's beyond frustrating that we've let ourselves get here, and each loss is a tragic reminder of where we are. Please, please let's do better. Support the things you love. Don't let them die. And for God's sake, don't just take what the media feeds you. It's been slowly poisoning our minds for a long time, and that's how we got here.

While I'm eager for this year to end, I know full well 2017 isn't gonna be great. No year could possibly be great with Trump and his vile cronies, in the US and overseas, in power. That only the most horrible people are happy right now is the most telling. I don't think even their happiness will last, maybe they're already starting to realize they've been duped (like, DUH).

We have little control over what those in power do. What we DO have power over is what we choose to click on. What we choose to read, watch, listen to. We can control a lot of what we allow into our minds, which in turn helps control our mood. I resolve to keep as much negativity out of my space as possible in the coming years, and to focus on music, humor, nature, all the things that make life a gift. I resolve to find new voices that resonate and help create, if not a 100% positive space, a real space. A liveable space.

But first, I'm gonna curl up and revisit an old friend.

Monday, December 12, 2016

New Music Monday

And on that note... probably my favorite thing in music is when you hear a brand new band that instantly makes you feel nostalgic. A few posts ago I mentioned 90s girly alt-rock, and a couple days after I stumbled across this UK band called Honeyblood. They're melodic, kinda grungy, and very 90s-inspired. If you liked anyone from Belly to The Sundays, these guys are well worth a listen. That said, this isn't a throwback at all, there's nothing gimmicky about this band. They're very much doing their own sound and I love it. I also love how it takes me back to what was a joyful time in music for me. The best of both worlds!

Music, depression, and nostalgia

A funny thing about music is the memories associated with it. Like, a song can take on an entire life of its own, completely apart from its original intent, simply from each listener's own experience. I've found myself in the odd position where I want to hear a song more if it's from a time I associate with happiness than one I don't, even if I technically "like" the other song better. It becomes almost ruined by circumstance. Or, a not so great song can be improved by nostalgia value.

The brain is such a weird, weird thing.

Music can also be transcendent, and that's the point I really want to make in this post, at the end of this awful year.

I've suffered from seasonal depression for a long time. I'm going through it right now. But there was one winter, I think it was late 2008 to early 2009, when it was the worst it's ever been. And there was a certain set of songs I listened to then, literally over and over. The main one, "Science vs Romance" by Rilo Kiley, had hundreds of plays on iTunes at the end of those 3 or so months. I feel like these songs genuinely kept me going, like a life support machine I couldn't turn off.

Some songs I remember playing constantly are "Science vs Romance," "Soul Meets Body" by Death Cab, "Over My Head" by The Fray, "Princely Ghetto" by Kay Hanley, "Girls Not Grey" by AFI, and "crushcrushcrush" by Paramore. (Yeah, I was really into indie/alt rock then.) You'd think I'd never want to hear any of them again, since I'd associate them with depression, but no! Something about these songs is so powerful that the magic still works, even now.

I don't remember how bad I felt when I listened to the music; I remember how much better it made me feel. And still does. That's the power of music. So while there are some songs I like I never want to hear again for whatever reason, and I can listen to the hell out of "Ice Ice Baby" because I loved the early 90s, some songs attach themselves to you in such a meaningful way that they always heal, at least a little.

I've heard a lot of great music this year, and I don't want to associate it with the rest of 2016. I don't want to lock it up because it makes me think of bad things. I want to remember it as what got me through 2016, and will help get me through the next bad time. I think I'm getting there, and it's a pretty powerful tool against depression, not to mention general the-world-is-terribleness. Maybe it's a sort of escape, but not really? Music is as real as anything else.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Completely random music post!

Before I get into the daunting task of relistening to all the albums I bought this year, here's a random little list! Why would listening to music I like be daunting? Well, it's kinda like studying for a test for something you're really into, but it's still a test. You have to have all your ducks in a row, and my ducks are usually all over the place. Also, this is a positive list to counteract all the 2016-induced negativity lately.

Top 7 Artists that LITERALLY Changed My Life:

1. Madonna
80s Madonna was my gateway into "real" music, i.e., songs not about choo-choo trains or sung by Smurfs. When I first heard "Borderline," I think I matured about 5 years in a day. I haven't been into Madonna for a long time, but I can still throw on any of her 80s albums and feel it.

2. REM
I was such a pop junkie in the 80s, and when I first heard REM's "Stand" it was the start of a HUGE musical shift. I still stayed connected with pop for a while, but the shift towards alt-rock (and later country, though unrelated) was permanent. Without REM, would I have later gotten into bands like Weezer and Green Day? They were a great gateway band, and just a great band (especially their early 80s stuff).

3. The Beatles
OMG so cliché! But clichés are clichés for a reason, and come on, every high schooler went through a Beatles phase (and also a Bob Marley phase.) What's great about those artists is they're not really a phase, they stay with you forever. The Beatles are significant for me not just for their own music, but how much they opened me up to other music of the 60s and 70s, which is a huge part of my library to this day. Another "if not for them, would any this have happened?" band that I'm eternally grateful for.

4. Garth Brooks
And ditto for Garth Brooks, except even bigger, because he opened me up to a whole new exciting genre! I grew up with country, folk and bluegrass because my parents were musicians and played those styles, but Garth made country into "not my parents' music." It was cool, it was fresh, it was exciting, and without him, would I have ever gotten into Alan Jackson, Brooks and Dunn, Patty Loveless and all my other 90s favorites? Would I be mourning the loss of quality mainstream country so hard today, if Garth hadn't helped ingrain it into my system? That's kind of a sad thought, actually. Okay, back to happy!

5. Letters to Cleo
Girly alt-rock owned my life in the mid-90s and I still love it SO MUCH. LTC actually reunited and made a kickass EP this year, and they're probably my favorite band of all time if I had to choose. When I need a go-to pick me up, I put on LTC or Kay's solo stuff. They also led me to bands like Veruca Salt, Belly/Tanya Donelly, Throwing Muses, etc.

6. Miranda Lambert
I've written here umpteen times about how I strayed from country post-9/11 and the whole Dixie Chicks fiasco, and how Miranda brought me back into the fold with her amazing debut album. Kerosene is one of the best debut albums I've ever heard, and it led to a string of other mostly great albums. (I didn't love Platinum, though there's enough good material to keep me going.) Getting back into country at this time also led me to Kellie Pickler, the Zac Brown Band, and of course Miranda's own Pistol Annies, which got me into Ashley Monroe, and so on. Yay!

I thought about ending the list here, but then a totally new thought occurred to me. When I inevitably lost interest in country again due to the sudden, staggering drop in quality and Luke Bryanification, there was an artist who once again helped bring me back in.

7. Kacey Musgraves
When I first heard "Follow Your Arrow" and fell in love, I didn't realize how deeply I missed new country music. I'd turned off the radio in disgust when "Country Girl Shake it for the Shrubbery" was in heavy rotation, and never turned it back on. While "Arrow" was a hit, Kacey was clearly not a slave to radio trends. And her spirit of independence opened me up to other artists, like Brandy Clark and Sturgill Simpson. I'd never really ventured outside mainstream country, because I liked most of it, so why would I? But this is a different time, and you have to be more open to find new stuff you like, and Kacey helped set me on that path. Also, she has the best aesthetic of any artist pretty much ever. Her costumes and staging are an art form almost on par with her songs, and I love the concept of "visual music." Very cool. She even made a cool Christmas album, for pete's sake!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Worst Songs addendum: "What is that horrible noise?!"

A few days after I posted my worst songs list, I watched someone else's list, the first of approx. 1502 such videos I'll be watching this month. And I heard a song so rancid, so vile, so spit-in-the-face of all that's musical, it deserved its own category. A category that a couple songs on my own list belong to as well. *clears throat*


Yes, 2016 decided to push all sorts of awful things on us in its 2016-ness, but an especially odd one is the sounds in some popular songs. It's like they're testing the limits of what can be called "music" and what should be called "an industrial accident." Here's the song in question:

Now wait!, you say, as you start listening to the song. This sounds like pretty standard pop fare, maybe even better than most! What's your problem, you just hate everythi-- OH DEAR GOD IS THAT A FERAL CAT PLAYING A DIDGERIDOO???

And the only answer I can give you is yes, yes that is a feral cat playing a didgeridoo. Badly. Why this song with apparently not just one but two producers features such a sound, I have no idea. Maybe they placed a bet on who could put the most ear-bleedingly repulsive noise in the song and still have people buy it. Some hipster ass producer is eatin' steak tonight! 2016, ladies and gentleman. That sentence actually sums up the year quite well, except the hipster ass producer is probably a vegan.


That song is now on my dishonorable mentions, obviously. (Excuse me, my "less shitty shit" list.) Too late to add it to the list, but I have to do something. As for songs I did mention, there are a couple that fit this category. The first made my less shitty shit list, and listening to it I'm not sure why I didn't put it on the worst list. Maybe because my poor, addled brain refused to accept it was actually a song.

WTF is that??!! That's an accident, not a song! What planet am I living on! AAAAAAAGGGGHHHHH!!! And why do these idiotic extra "i's" keep popping up in people's names? Is this some hipster thing I don't understand? Whatever it is, it drives me into a senseless rage every time I see it. God, I hate annoying, pretentious crap.

*deep breath* Okay. Just one more and I'm done cause this is actually making me angry.

I mentioned this one when I talked about "wa wa wa wa wa wa," and I probably should have included it too because seriously, the entire "song" is one long, horrible noise.

If that isn't the ugliest "chorus" (?) you've ever heard, I don't know what is. This sounds like some kind of broken-down carnival nightmare all the way through. Who would listen to this? Who would do that to their ears? I refuse to accept that in the space of ONE generation people's ears have mutated to the point where they enjoy listening to this. So what is going on?? Because this is utterly skin-crawling and yeah, I'm going back and adding it. Though calling it "less shitty shit" is way too complimentary.

Here's what Rihanna used to sound like, btw.

Like it or not, at least it sounds like a pop song. I'm not saying an artist should be stuck on one sound their whole career, but I am saying they should keep making actual songs. She went from "please don't stop the music" to DEAR GOD MAKE IT STOP, and that's pretty sad.

I really hope this trend doesn't bleed into 2017. Just let it die, please.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Top 10 Best HIT Songs of 2016

Let's get the other easy list out of the way, the top 10 best HIT songs of 2016! Most of today's hits suck, but at least there's a limited number of them for easy pickin'. BRIGHT SIDE ACHIEVED!

So, this list is gonna be REALLY boring, in that it's almost all Eric Church and Chris Stapleton songs. Not that they're boring, I guess predictable is a better word. And... lacking in variety. Cause yeah, this year really sucked.

The usual crap: I haven't heard a lot of this year's charting songs, because why would I do that to myself, so these are only the ones I have heard. Songs must have first hit the top 20 on the billboard pop or country chart in 2016. Otherwise, I'd just put Prince's "When Doves Cry" down ten times and go get a coffee.


Tim McGraw - Humble and Kind
Zac Brown Band - Castaway
Adele - When We Were Young
Carrie Underwood - Church Bells

Oh yeah, one more note. If Lady Gaga's GORGEOUS "Million Reasons" had hit the top 20 instead of the mediocre "Perfect Illusion," it would be at #3. Instead, it will be on my other favorite songs list, the one that doesn't rely on the general music listening public having a brain. Sigh.

10. My Church - Maren Morris
Same artist at #10 on my best and worst lists. This girl needs some focus.

9. Starboy - The Weeknd ft. Daft Punk
Wow, here's an artist that's grown on me. I loved "Can't Feel My Face" last year, but his other stuff left me kinda cold. I'm not much into electronic music, but this song just hits a groove, and I think it's opened me up to more of his music. Catchy, beautifully spacey production and his voice doesn't stick out like a sore, um, voice, like it does sometimes.

8. Stressed Out - twenty one pilots
This song might have been a little higher if I ever wanted to hear it again the rest of my life. Yeah, overplay isn't really the song's fault, but by God am I sick of this. It's good though, and such an unlikely hit. Where did this even come from?? Their other two hits this year didn't do much for me. Instead, I'd recommend "Tear in My Heart," "Ode to Sleep," and the beautiful poetry of "Car Radio."

7. Mr. Misunderstood - Eric Church
I can't say much more about this album at this point. I love it, I'm thrilled it's connected with people the way it has (not just critics), and it's elevated Eric Church from sort of "eh" to one of my favorite country artists in the space of a year.

6. I Met a Girl - William Michael Morgan
As I said in another post, this would have been a good song in the 90s. One of many with this rich, warm tone and vocals that wrap around you like a hug. A hug made of chocolate. In 2016, this is a small miracle. Please, let mainstream country continue in this direction, and please let WMM's stellar current single "Missing" make my 2017 list. This is a good song; it's an even better omen.

5. 24k Magic - Bruno Mars
I feel like the only two pop artists who'll make these lists with any regularity are Bruno Mars and The Weeknd. Maybe because they're making catchy, interesting music in the time of "wa wa wa wa wa wa." This isn't quite up with Uptown Funk, but that's like saying steak isn't quite up with lobster. Eat 'em both. Don't even put on a bib! Yolo, bitches. This is just pure pop sunshine in an utterly dreary year. 2016 needed Bruno Mars, and he delivered.

4. Kill a Word - Eric Church ft Rhiannon Giddens
"And I'd hang 'hate' so that it can't be heard
If I could only kill a word"
A pretty perfect song for our current climate. I hope people listen to what he's singing. Also, thank you for bringing Rhiannon Giddens to our attention, because she's wonderful.

3. Nobody to Blame - Chris Stapleton
This sounds almost straight out of my car radio in 1995. I don't think I have a better compliment than that.

2. Parachute - Chris Stapleton
Two top 20 hits for Chris Stapleton this year. You'd almost think 2016 didn't suck. But these songs should have charted higher, and also the rest of the year sucked. Anyway, this song is fantastic, maybe my favorite off of Traveller, which is one of my favorite country albums in many years. It didn't chart as high as some of the year's forgettable fluff, but I guarantee it will be remembered much, much longer. Honestly, who will remember "Came Here to Forget" or anything by Kane Brown or Dan + Shay in a year?? Nobody but diehard fans, I'd guess, while the soulful "Parachute" will quietly become a classic.

And speaking of classics...

1. Record Year - Eric Church
A song that in celebrating the classics becomes one itself. This was actually a HUGE hit, and I have no idea how, but I'm so happy! This song sounds like it was written for me. That it struck a chord with so many people makes me wonder if I'm not so alone after all. *listens to Old Dominion and Thomas Rhett* Yeah okay, I'm pretty alone. But at least I have Eric Church for company.

Yeeeeah, that was pretty boring. I'M SORRY. This year was just so awful. But on the positive side, I'll take the success of Eric Church, Chris Stapleton, and William Michael Morgan as a sign country might be returning to some semblance of sanity. I didn't listen to much country this year, outside of these specific artists I know I like. I'm really hoping 2017 rekindles my interest in the genre, because it's so very good when it's good.

And... that's it! Favorite non-top 20 songs and albums post will be next. This will require more research and relistening, so it'll be up when I'm feeling it. I also haven't listened to one VERY important album yet, so hopefully I can squeeze that in before I make my list. Considering it's a double album, it's gonna take a lot of squeezing. Cause, I'll be honest here. The last new album I listened to was The Pretty Reckless' Who You Sellin' For, which was released in late October. After the horrific event of November 8th, I haven't listened to any new music. I retreated into my safe little bunker of 70s-90s music and transported myself to another time. Because that's what I do. This time, I think I'm pretty justified, because who the hell wants to be here right now.

BUT ANYWAY. I wanna listen to that Miranda album, but I also wanna do it in the right frame of mind, so the albums list might be delayed til next year.