Thursday, December 10, 2015

My Grammy Awards Prediction: Final Verdict

The nominations for 58th Grammy Awards just came out at last Monday. As usual, there are some shocking nominations and snubs. Courtney Barnett, for example, who's out of nowhere getting nominated for Best New Artist. Chris Stapleton  takes Sara Bareilles' random slot in Album of the Year nomination. Indonesian jazz-virtuoso Joey Alexander snatches two nominations away. No Drake's "Hotline Bling". Not enough Justin Bieber (I surprisingly defend, but to be fair, his comeback single and album are one of the finest this year). And the most sacrilegious thing that Grammy committee ever committed is no Carly Rae Jepsen whatsoever. Do they have any hidden agenda with Canadian artists? 

As you all may have been aware before, I have made some predictions for several Grammy categories in here and there. So, let's see how good my premonition is. 

1. Album of the Year
My predictions:
1. Taylor Swift - 1989
2. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly
3. Kacey Musgraves - Pageant Material
4. The Weeknd - Beauty Behind The Madness 
5. Mark Ronson - Uptown Special or James Taylor - Before This World

Final nominations:
Alabama Shakes, Sound and Color
Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
Chris Stapleton, Traveller
Taylor Swift, 1989
The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness

Correct Prediction: 3/5

In my defense, I've never heard Chris Stapleton's Traveller before. I thought the country nomination will come from Kacey Musgraves or Little Big Town or Sam Hunt's Montevallo. I'm not surprised with Alabama Shakes' Sound and Color. In fact, I feel so ashamed I didn't include their album on the pool. 

2. Song of the Year
My predictions:
1. Taylor Swift - "Blank Space" (no question)
2. Ed Sheeran - "Thinking Out Loud"
3. Kacey Musgraves - "Biscuits" (it's a long shot, but why not)
4. The Weeknd - "Can't Feel My Face"
5. Kendrick Lamar - "Alright" or Paul McCartney, Kanye West, and Rihanna - "FourFiveSeconds" or Mark Ronson - "Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars)"

Final nominations:
Kendrick Lamar, "Alright"
Taylor Swift, "Blank Space"
Little Big Town, "Girl Crush"
Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, "See You Again"
Ed Sheeran, "Thinking Out Loud"

Correct prediction: 3/5

I admit I cheat by adding three songs on my predictions. However, from those three songs, Kendrick Lamar's "Alright" is the only one I'm sure of because the committee will find a way to cram Kendrick Lamar's songs on little space. Surprised to see "See You Again" as it is too Billboard-y for Grammy Awards. Not too surprised to see "Girl Crush" because it's battle between Little Big Town, Sam Hunt, and Kacey Musgraves from country genre. 

3. Record of the Year
My predictions:
1. Mark Ronson - "Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars)"
2. Paul McCartney, Kanye West and Rihanna - "FourFiveSeconds"
3. Taylor Swift - "Style"
4. The Weeknd - "Can't Feel My Face"
5. Jack U - "Where R U Now (feat. Justin Bieber)" or Carly Rae Jepsen - "Run Away With Me" (my wildest dream)

Final nominations:
D'Angelo and the Vanguard, "Really Love"
Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, "Uptown Funk"
Ed Sheeran, "Thinking Out Loud"
Taylor Swift, "Blank Space"
The Weeknd, "Can't Feel my Face"

Correct prediction: 2/5

This one is such a messy category. While I think "Style" is definitely has better production value than "Blank Space", Swift's team doesn't send it for Grammy. D'Angelo's acclaimed comeback album should've been nominated for Album of the Year, but they appear in Record of the Year. Not happy with Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud". Is it a good song? Yes. A good record? Nada. "Thinking Out Loud" is really forgettable. 

4. Best New Artist
My predictions:
1. Meghan Trainor
2. Sam Hunt
3. The Weeknd 
4. Years & Years or Fetty Wap
5. Walk The Moon (a really long shoooot) or Charlie Puth (possible, but I don't think so), or FKA twigs.

Final nominations:
Courtney Barnett
James Bay
Sam Hunt
Tori Kelly
Meghan Trainor

Correct prediction: 2/5

Bye, FKA twigs. Apparently Grammy has found more edgier best new artist than you. Not in a million years, I dare to dream to see Australian singer, Courtney Barnett, to be nominated in Grammy Awards, let alone in Big Four category. But, yeah, I'm startled to see her name on the category with the other predictable nominees. 

5. Best Pop Vocal Album
My predictions:
1. Taylor Swift - 1989
2. Kelly Clarkson - Piece By Piece
3. Carly Rae Jepsen - Emotion
4. Mark Ronson - Uptown Special or The Weeknd - Beauty Behind The Madness
5. Florence + The Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Final nominations:
Kelly Clarkson, Piece by Piece
Florence + The Machine, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Mark Ronson, Uptown Special
Taylor Swift, 1989
James Taylor, Before This World

Correct prediction: 4/5

I know I am awesome. If only it weren't for James Taylor, I will perfectly predict this category. But seriously though, who really considers Taylor's Before This World a pop album? This makes Emotion's omission feels more tragic. 

6. Best Pop Solo Performance
My predictions:
1. Taylor Swift - "Blank Space" or Taylor Swift - "Style" or Taylor Swift - "Wildest Dreams" or the committees go berserk and nominate all three Taylor Swift's songs.
2. Ed Sheeran - "Thinking Out Loud"
3. The Weeknd - "Can't Feel My Face"
4. Justin Bieber - "What Do You Mean"
5. Rachel Platten - "Fight Song" or Carly Rae Jepsen - "Run Away With Me"

Final nominations:
Kelly Clarkson - "Heartbeat Song"
Ellie Goulding - "Love Me Like You Do"
Taylor Swift - "Blank Space" 
Ed Sheeran - "Thinking Out Loud"
The Weeknd - "Can't Feel My Face"

Correct prediction: 3/5

There goes my wish to see Jepsen's "Run Away With Me" gets some recognition it deserves. Happy to see "Love Me Like You Do", though it makes me curious if the committee actually enjoys watching Fifty Shades of Grey. The other three nominations are so predictable that it doesn't make me happy.

7. Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
My predictions:
1. Taylor Swift - "Bad Blood (feat. Kendrick Lamar)"
2. Mark Ronson - "Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars)"
3. Wiz Khalifa - "See You Again (feat. Charlie Puth)"
4. Maroon 5 - "Sugar"
5. Paul McCartney, Kanye West, and Rihanna - "FourFiveSeconds"

Final nominations:
Florence + The Machine, " Ship to Wreck"
Maroon 5, "Sugar"
Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, "Uptown Funk"
Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar, "Bad Blood"
Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, "See You Again"

Correct prediction: 4/5

"FourFiveSeconds" is so Grammy-bait and the committee decides to omit it and switch it with "Ship To Wreck". I mean this is the same committee that awards millions of Grammy to The Beatles. Why not give another one to its last standing man? 

8. Best Dance/Electronic Album
My predictions:
1. David Guetta - Listen
2. Madeon - Adventure
3. Jack U - Skrillex And Diplo Present Jack U
4. Major Lazer - Peace Is The Mission
5. The Chemical Brothers - Born In The Echoes

Final nominations:
Caribou, Our Love
The Chemical Brothers, Born in the Echoes
Disclosure, Caracal
Jamie XX, In Colour
Skrillex and Diplo, Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü

Correct prediction: 2/5

This is the only category where I'm feeling happy with all the nominations as it combines critical darling and popular musician. Caribou's Our Love and Jamie XX's In Colour are critical darling, and the other nominations are popular artists whose rating is not that bad either. 

9. Best Alternative Album
My predictions:
Blur - The Magic Whip
Bjork - Vulnicura
Death Cab For Cutie - Kintsugi
Wilco - Star Wars
Tame Impala - Currents

Final nominations:
Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color
Björk, Vulnicura
My Morning Jacket, The Waterfall
Tame Impala, Currents
Wilco, Star Wars

Correct prediction: 3/5
Not surprising at all, though I hope to see Courtney Barnett's latest album here. 

Final Verdict: Not bad at predicting. Yay!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

50 Bests Songs of 2015 (#10 - #1)

10. Joanna Newsom
Drag City

"Anecdotes" is like a song that you can imagine from a Disney princess will sing. Its song structure, its harp pluck, and Newsom's hanting voice are exactly what Snow White will do to please her seven dwarves. You may even start to wonder whether the song will be able to resurrect the dead or not. But, "Anecdotes" is so mellifluous that you can't help but ponder if it possesses such magic. It fits as the opening track of Divers as she sings, "Sending the first scout over", like a cartographer or a sailor who wants to start her new adventures in an unknown realm before. In fact, "Anecdotes" is filled with references from your childhood tale. "Camp", "kid with Rufous Nightjar", most of "Anecdotes" tell us about Newsom's nice chat with a bird. It's like what Snow White does, doesn't it? "Anecdotes" feels so fantasy and surreal, it begins a new journey, it's just so pure and wonderful and beautiful and enchanting. The fact that I'm lost at words when I describe this song proves how amazing this song is. 
Listen to this song here after a few seconds of annoying buzzer. 

9. Drake
"Hotline Bling"
Cash Money

When I was a child, I used to love calling "103", a hotline to learn the current time. It's like my guilty pleasure back then, and every month my parents pay for the bill, I trembled in fear. But, calling "103" is so intriguing for a child like me. I was astonished and wondering if there is any real woman who answers the phone. I was wondering if the woman feels lonely if there's no phone for her. That's also probably what Drake feels too. When his lover only calls him when she needs something, Drake is like, "Girl you got me down, you got me stressed out." "Hotline Bling" is incredibly catchy, even for a Drake. It is also supported by meme-able music video with Drake dancing ecstatically and flashy colors. "Hotline Bling" may not be Drake's best song, but it is the most influential song he ever sings.

8. Kurt Vile
"Pretty Pimpin"
b'lieve i'm goin' down

"Pretty Pimpin" at first sounds like having silly lyrics. "I woke up this morning, didn't recognize the man in the mirror. Then I laughed and I said, "Oh, silly me. That's just me." Most of "Pretty Pimpin" is filled with confusion and daze as Kurt Vile picks his guitar. It's about an identity crisis and confusion. In "But it was a Monday, no a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday", Vile is not trying to recall the name of the days. It shows how he lost track of time while he tries to find the real him. "Pretty Pimpin" opens the much acclaimed album, b'lieve i'm goin' down. Vile himself stated that his b'lieve i'm goin' down will have everything: finger-picking, electric songs, piano songs, banjo songs, and etc. "Pretty Pimpin" proves that this ambitious concept can work and it doesn't feel cluttered at all.

7. Miguel
"Coffee (F**king) (feat. Wale)"

Leave it to Miguel to make sex into something... well, beautiful. "Coffee" is full of allegories and details. Miguel adorns the song about, well, f**king and transforms it into an art. I'm not exaggerating of course. Miguel sings, "I wish I could paint our love" showing his artsy side. Miguel isn't trying too hard to make his song sounds sensual and steamy. He doesn't need to provoke his listener by whispering or something. The words he uses are enough to make girls melt. Wale's rap is honestly like a cherry on top added to the song. It's of course talking about morning wood and corny song, but what can you expect from a sensual song like this?

6. Thundercat
"Them Changes (feat. Flying Lotus & Kamasi Washington)"
The Beyond/Where The Giants Roam

Stephen Burner's latest album, The Beyond/Where The Giants Roam, seems so RPG-ish. There's something tranquil and fantasy insinuated on the album. Listening to The Beyond/Where The Giants Roam is able to teleport you to another realm where the giants roam and the magic is real. Produced by the cold hand of Flying Lotus, "Them Changes" is an example of that magic. It samples 1970's "Footsteps In The Dark" by The Isley Brothers for the opening drum, bringing its funk and rhythm to the year 2015. "Nobody's move, there's blood on the floor. And I can't find my heart!" Burner sings at the beginning of the track, so gloomy and melancholy accompanied by brassy bass line. As if it can't get any better, Kamasi Washington polishes it by adding his sax at the end of the song, making this song more otherworldly amazing.

5. Kendrick Lamar
To Pimp A Butterfly

A list of best songs of 2015 won't be complete without Kendrick Lamar's song. But To Pimp A Butterfly, one of the highest rated albums this year, is really influential. It's the strong contender for Grammy's Album of the Year, and as much as I really want to see Taylor Swift grabs that second Album of the Year Grammy, this is Lamar's Grammy to lose. You can take a sample from any single song from this album, you still can get pure awesome. "Alright", for example, begins with stutter, but it flows afterward. Lamar's voice sounds rough, but that's what makes this song more authentic. In "Alright", Lamar embraces his inner jazz and implements it on this song. Collaborator Pharrell Williams, who sings the chorus part, "We're gon' be alright" irresistibly matches with the music, and "Alright" is a perfect rap song.

4. Deafheaven
"Brought To The Water"
New Bermuda

Deafheaven is supposed to be not the band I usually listen to. It's too tough and fierce for my taste, I can't enjoy the lyrics, basically I don't enjoy song like this. Usually. But, surprisingly I really enjoyed their "Dream House" from Sunbather two years ago. I can listen to something like this. It's probably why Deafheaven is never classified as metal band by some metalheads. Is it because of peasant people like me able to enjoy it? Deafheaven's songs are definitely not songs you can pleasantly sing in a bus or a karaoke studio. In fact, I still can't listen to their songs on daily basis. Sometimes? Yes, I don't mind. When Deafheaven releases New Bermuda, I can't be more indifferent. I try to listen "Brought To The Water" and it's ridiculously long. However, it's the same case with Prurient. As I force myself to listen to this song until the end, I am surprised. "Brought To The Water" starts with killer guitar of course, and Clarke's vocal sounds so slurry, just like what you expect from a metal band, talking about passion or something. Thanks to Deezer, I know that "Brought To The Water" has such wonderful lyrics. At the middle of the song, the song grows quieter and I begin to realize how amazing this music is. I pleasantly like this song. It's the ending of the track, though, that blows my mind. I won't be spoiling anything, but man, you won't expect that kind of ending from a song like this, but that's what makes Deafhaven more "progressive" than any other metal band.

3. Carly Rae Jepsen
"Run Away With Me"

I can write 500-word essay to prove how great Carly Rae Jepsen's "Run Away With Me" is, to prove how this song is what a perfect pop song should be. Not including the best pop song of the year in best songs of the year list is a blasphemy. Not making it to the top three of the best songs of the year is more blasphemous. That's how much I praise this song. When Jepsen comes in 2012 with her smash hits, "Call Me Maybe", everyone hates her. It's not her fault to make a catchy bubblegum pop, though. So, when Jepsen decides to increase Metacritic rating for her next album, everyone's skeptical of this pretentious desire. But then, music critics are proven wrong. Jepsen's Emotion is perfectly crafted. It's even better than 1989. "Run Away With Me", the first track of the album, plays a huge role in that. It starts with a sax, the reason why I am digging track with sax these days, like a war trumpet as if Jepsen tried to start a war with anyone who dares to question her talent. "Run Away With Me" is a 1980's pop song that is well produced and it brings Jepsen's vocal at its best. When she twists her voice at the chorus, that's when you realize that Jepsen is in her own world. That this song owns any other pop songs released this year. In a way, just like what "Call Me Maybe" did three years ago.

2. Sufjan Stevens
"Should Have Known Better"
Carrie & Lowell
Asthmatic Kitty

Carrie & Lowell is where Sufjan Stevens strips naked. It's the rawest and the most heartbreaking record Stevens has ever done where he finally lets out of his forlorn, anger, pain, grief, and depression. "Should Have Known Better" shows us a delicate side of Stevens who tries to recall and remember his past experience with his mother who "left him at the video store". Stevens may be livid at the time, but as he and his mother rekindle their relationship, his heart begins to be filled with regret. He lets out all of his grief and regret, making "Should Have Known Better" the most emotional song ever. But, at the middle of song, when he shifts the note, and his whisper gets louder, you start to sense there's some hope that wraps the song. At the middle, he shoves his black shroud away, and find a new light, like a crepuscular ray of sunlight that tries to go through thick clouds and create a breathtaking scenery. 

1. Courtney Barnett
"Pedestrian At Best"
Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
Mom and Pop

There isn't any other record that is stronger and grunger than "Pedestrian At Best". At first, I think Barnett is a sweet girl who sings cute song (I love her "Pickles from the Jar" which describes a dysfunctional couple). If I have not known who sings this song, and you ask me to guess it, and you say it is Courtney Barnett, I will say you must be joking. But no. It is her specialty to make witty lyrics. When Barnett is confused about her relationship, she consults her dictionary and finds several entries to describe her lividity. She even tries to make rhyme to describe it: "erroneous", "harmonious" and "sanctimonious" on a same verse. She knows she is no good when she screams, "Put me on a pedestal and I'll only disappoint". "Pedestrian At Best" reminds me of grunge era where Nirvana once reigns. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

50 Best Songs of 2015 (#20 - #11)

20. FKA twigs
"in time"
Young Turks

Sometimes, I can't imagine what crosses Barnett's mind when she chooses her latest EP cover. But, sometimes art is creepy and eccentric, and to prove that, Barnett releases her EP called M3LL155X (read Melissa). Just like most of her songs, "in time" still talks about a relationship, this time is a fragile relationship. "in time" is still imbued with sensual lyrics and whispers. She starts the song with "In time, you'll learn to say sorry", another proof that women are always right--while of course, they are always right. She continues, "And I will play tender with you." She exactly knows what her man wants. In "in time" she and her lover are in torturous relationship, and she yearns for his "hands on my body" which "will resonate through me". That's what, she thinks, will make their relationship "better" and "stronger". "in time" is also unique musically. Barnett infuses this song with trip-electronic element, just like what she did in LP1. However, I don't find this song belongs to that album. "in time" is just like a whole new entity and it is another perfect song by her.

19. Jack Ü
"Where Are Ü Now (feat. Justin Bieber)"
Skrillex And Diplo Present Jack Ü

Most of Bieber's songs this year have been question, making him sound like a demanding mother--or a possessive boyfriend if you want to include "Sorry". But "Where Are Ü Now" is the best song that features Bieber's appearance. The production is so slick and clean, thanks to the flair of Skrillex and Diplo. Skrillex, Diplo, and Bieber are perfect for each other. This collaboration brings the best of each musician, and you will gawk that Bieber is actually amazing. "Where Are Ü Now" is a perfect electronic-pop song, with a hypnotizing opening. "I need you the, I need you the m-, I need you the most" is the most unkaraokeable thing in this song, but you will always want to follow it. When you want to sing every single part of a song, that's when a song is polished with a perfection. 

18. The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die
"January 10th, 2014"

When asked about "January 10th, 2014", TWIABP's vocalist, David Bello, said that "January 10th, 2014" is a song about retaliation. It is based on a real character, a woman from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, who avenged and prosecuted the bus drivers who did some sexual assaults. These crimes had been ignored, and she decided to be Diana the Hunter who hunted the bus drivers. "January 10th, 2014" is not just a casual emo song, it is filled with myth references and social messages. Diana, the Roman goddess of hunter and female warriors, is portrayed by Shanholtzer-Dvorak while David Bello acts as the predator. "January 10th, 2014" is not a song, it's more like a conversation recordings between a hunter and her prey, as Shanholtzer-Dvorak and Bello sing alternately. The most tensed part is definitely when he asks, "Are you Diana, the hunter?" while she replies, "Are you afraid of me now?" As if on his last breath, Bello tells, "Shouldn't I be?" I find this is cool and amazing. It's like you are still able to have casual talk with your killers, right before you're being killed.

17. Blood Orange
"Sandra's Smile"

Writing review about "Sandra's Smile" is not complete without mentioning the back story of the song. Dev Hynes heard the story about Sandra Bland, the 28-year old black woman who was found dead in a cell in Texas this July. This added yet another racial tension issues in USA (remember Ahmed and his clock?). Most of images online showing Bland's smile which inspired Hynes to write a song about her. This is not the first time Hynes write a song based on social issue. Back in July, he released a single, "Do You See My Skin Through The Flames?" which addressed racism issue in Charleston massacre. Contrary to that song, "Sandra's Smile" is more playful. It's a 80's R&B with upbeat funk song, yet you can feel how emotional this song is. "Who taught you to breathe, then took away your speech," Hynes starts the song gallantly. He also adds sax (more sax will be coming later) on the interlude, making "Sandra's Smile" an ode for Bland. Even so, "Sandra's Smile" is a form of protest about the unfairness of justice, and Hynes is one of the few who has bravery to state this.

16. Julia Holter
"Feel You"
Have You In My Wilderness

I love rainy days, when you can stay inside your room, looking at the window as the raindrop falls from the sky, and enjoying a warm cup of tea. For Holter, who happens to love rainy days, rain is the source of romantic stories, where people run with an umbrella or trench coat, while a warm love is created under the water drops. "Feel You" is that kind of song that makes you reminisce such warm, fuzzy, and nice nostalgia. Holter pairs her harpsichord with a springy bass lines, to create a song that is bouncy that reminds me of Joanna Newsom (Spoiler alert: Newsom, will come in later). It makes your memories wander from one place to another place.

15. Destroyer
"Times Square"
Poison Season

Times Square is a place where everything is possible. It has been featured in million movies set in New York City, starting from Taxi Driver to Friends With Benefits. People say that you've never been to NYC if you haven't gone to Times Square. It is also the start of the 25th season of The Amazing Race. Times Square feels like surreal place. For Dan Bejar, Times Square is place that he loves. When I listened to "Times Square" for the first time, I was digging into jazz music and its saxophone, thanks to Carly Rae Jepsen's Run Away With Me (Spoiler alert again: Jepsen will come in later). I was instantly charmed by "Times Square". It has jazzy sax, thumping beat, and heavy drum beats; "Times Square" feels so intricate. Bejar combines paradoxes. He combines rock with jazz, he combines natural with artificial as he sings, "You can follow a rose wherever it grows. Yeah, you can fall in love with Times Square". It's because stepping into New York City's soil for the first time has multiple feelings. You will feel fear, anxiety, but excitement at the same time, and Bejar has successfully captured those mixed feelings in this song.

14. Jamie XX
"I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times) (feat. Young Thug & Popcaan)"
In Colour
Young Turks

In The XX, Jamie sounds so quiet and reserved. But, in "I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)", Jamie sounds so free, young, and wild. It's probably because of the collaboration with Atlanta-based rapper Young Thug, and Jamaican musician, Popcaan who force Jamie to make something that fits in their wild side. But, Jamie actually wanted to make song like this ever since he listened to Hot 97, a hip hop radio in NYC. When he sent the sample of the song to several artists, it was Young Thug & Popcaan who met with his expectations. It is a good decision of course, since Jamie's composition matches Young Thug & Popcaan's restless soul. There's soul-vibe imbued at the opening of the track. As the song starts playing, the wild party is inevitable. Young Thug feels tinge of nostalgia when he says, "Remember I used to grab on that ass. When it was bout that wood time?" The hook is incredibly is fun and messy in a good way, when both Young Thug & Popcaan scream, "I know there's gonna be good times" and it amazingly merges in with Jamie's music.

13. WOKE
"The Lavishment Of Lights (feat. George Clinton)"
Adult Swim Singles
Adult Swim Singles

WOKE, which consists of Thundercat, Flying Lotus, and Shabazz Palaces, is a deadly combo. The first song they made is "The Lavishment of Lights" which is used as part of Adult Swim Singles which brings us free music during summer. This project features virtuoso musicians, such as Owen Pallett, Swervedriver, and Chromatics. So, of course, WOKE belongs to this project. "The Lavishment of Lights" brings the best of the three. They invite George Clinton to fill the vocals, and right at the start of the song, you can already feel Clinton's voice delves into the subconscious mind of yours. "The Lavishment of Lights" is not easily digested, but once you start listening to it, you will begin to understand its complexity, but once you unravel it, you'll begin to enjoy it.

12. Deerhunter
Fading Frontier

The first time I heard "Breaker", I thought Bradford Cox says, "Cash or credit?" like a cashier on Wal-Mart. This isn't correlated to what I'm about to write though. Last year, when Cox was hospitalized after being hit by a car. Hospital is a familiar place for him due to his Marfan syndrome, but apparently it's also a fountain of inspiration for him. It reminds him of mortality, and that's what he's trying to deliver here as he sings, "My enemies, they're just trying, trying to kill me." "Breaker" lays down on infectious bass and groovy drum which proves that Deerhunter is also able to evolve, like your favorite Pokemon. 

11. Chairlift

It was already the start of the fall when Chairlift released "Ch-Ching". But, apparently Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly still lives in summer. "Ch-Ching" is a living experience in New York embodied in a R&B psycho-sensual song that somehow feels different than any Chairlift's previous songs. But, it's probably because they've been hanging out with Beyonce. Polanchek helped the diva write "No Angel"--which is originally intended for Chairlift themselves--which Polachek defends, "It would be incredibly sexy if Beyonce did it." "Ch-Ching" itself isn't a new song as it's been on their setlist tour for years, but it's nice to hear the studio version of it. As stated by Wimberly, "Ch-Ching" is about living in New York, ""Ch-Ching" is a sort of about that feeling of getting lucky and not realizing what just hit you, and rolling with it," said Polachek. But, living in New York City itself can be considered as a luck, and that kind of luck has mesmerized Chairlift. Maybe "27-99-23" is your lucky number?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

50 Best Songs of 2015 (#30 - #21)

30. Natalie Prass
"My Baby Don't Understand Me"
Natalie Prass

Men and women are designed differently. A fight due to misunderstanding is not something groundbreaking. Therefore, guide to understanding the opposite gender sells really fast. In her debut album, former member of Jenny Lewis' touring band, Natalie Prass starts it with the basic argument that often happens in relationship. "My Baby Don't Understand Me" is what happens when you are in a rocky and the turmoil you must go through. "I don't feel much. Afraid I don't feel anything at all," she sings in a brittle voice that the relationship leaves her numb. You can hear that Prass' Nashville roots really influences her in this song, using traditional musical instruments, but Prass can pull it through and change it into something so fresh. The problem is cliche, but there's a part of Prass' soul infused on this song. When she repeatedly says, "Our love is long goodbye" it may sound forlorn, but it's also the part of woman's strength. 

29. Jenny Hval
"That Battle Is Over"
Apocalypse, girl
Sacred Bones

Norway singer and multi-instrumentalist, Jenny Hval, loves to experiment things. Her first single from her latest album Apocalypse, girl, titled "That Batle Is Over", proves that. "That Battle Is Over" is full of weird noises, organ, synthesizers, murmurs, hushes, and purrs. Hval whispers at the beginning of the song, "What is it to take care of yourself?" which she wrote after writing her song "Take Care of Yourself". Hval means this song to be a sarcastic parody, like at one place this song feels intimate and fragile, while at the other side it sounds really sarcastic. It's proven by "Statistics and newspapers tell me I am unhappy and dying, that I need man and child to fulfill me, that I'm more likely to get breast cancer." "That Battle Is Over" has static tempo and linear melody, but it doesn't sound dull and uninspiring. Instead, as Hval spreads her philosophy, "That Battle Is Over" is the song that leaves you in ponder.

28. Westkust
Last Forever
Run For Cover

Sweden's main commodity is good musicians (and furniture store. IKEA, anyone?). The Radio Dept, ABBA, Roxette, The Knife, most of musicians you think from USA, well apparently have been imported from Sweden. Westkust is one of the latest product from Sweden. What makes Westkust intriguing is they share some members with another Swedish band whose work is also amazing: Makthaverskan. "Swirl", the opening track of Westkust's debut album, Last Forever, may sound like another shoegaze song you have heard before. While Makthaverskan sounds more gloomy and dominating, Westkust, especially "Swirl" sounds less gloomy, but it still retains its dominating power. "Swirl" is full of power and spark of fire, and this kind of track is what makes you want to dig this band more.

27. School of Seven Bells
"Open Your Eyes"

School of Seven Bells has undergone such a long journey. It begins as three members: Benjamin Curtis and twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza. And then Claudia Deheze left the band, making School of Seven Bells a duo. And then Curtis passed away in December 2013 because of rare disease T-cell lymphoma. Alejandra Deheza is left alone, but she insists on finishing what Curtis has left her. "Open Your Eyes", taken from School of Seven Bells is a journey of emotion, and it's impossible to hold back your tears because you can feel Alejandra Deheza's struggle and effort to pass on the last legacy of Curtis. It's not only song of full of social message, but somehow this is infused with Alejandra's hope to see Curtis open his eyes too. "Open your eyes now, cause you've been sleeping," Alejandra sings, probably missing his partner and best friend Curtis. Now, who can feel those damn ninjas cutting damn onions?

26. Unknown Mortal Orchestra
"Can't Keep Checking My Phone"

In this modern era where cell phone has become an extension of our palm like today, people always check their phone either for chatting or checking their email or calling their mother or playing Candy Crush or waiting for someone to call. Our eyes are set on the screen of our cell phone, waiting for our fling or crush to call. We grow anxious, but we become addicted. Unknown Mortal Orchestra knows that feeling, and makes a song about it. Ruben Nielsen starts the song with "Aurora Borealis, me for her for real it's lust". "Can't Keep Checking My Phone" sounds less psychedelic than Unknown Mortal Orchestra's songs before, but you'll feel some familiarity from this song. Is it probably because this song suits our life? "I'm sure you'll come back; till then I can't keep checking my phone" elaborates our anxiety and our assurance whether our crush will call or not perfectly. 

25. DIIV
Is The Is Are
Captured Tracks

DIIV is known with their dreamy songs, and "Dopamine" is no exception. After waiting for almost three years, this Brooklyn-based band teases us the first song from their sophomore album, Is the Is Are, which is all written by Zachary Cole Smith. And just like what DIIV usually treats us, "Dopamine" is capable of teleporting the listener to another realm. A nice and strong guitar-riff starts the song, and it blends perfectly with the Smith's vocal. "Dopamine" somehow can hypnotize me as the chord doesn't shift and and Cole sings the verses, "Shots wringing out, I'm soaking eardrums shaking and years start weighing me down" over and over. But, that's what makes "Dopamine" one of DIIV's best songs. It's like what real dopamine does to your body.

24. Grimes
"Flesh Without Blood"
Art Angels

Boucher's latest album could've been released earlier if only Boucher's not being perfectionist. But, of course, perfectionism is important for her--her previous album Visions is well-received, and she wants to repeat that achievement again. "Flesh Without Blood" which is surprisingly released in form of music video first (with "Life In The Vivid Dream") sounds less heavy than Boucher's previous effort. The synthesizers and the psychedelic feeling that you feel on her songs are still there, but "Flesh Without Blood" sounds more pop. It is really catchy, and you will be instantly hooked on first listen--something that Boucher's songs are not supposed to be. However, this doesn't make "Flesh Without Blood" a typical pop song, just like Grimes is not a typical pop musician.

23. The Weeknd
"Can't Feel My Face"
Beauty Behind The Madness

Abel Tesfaye can't be more surprised of his accomplishment this year. "Can't Feel My Face" is supposed to be not popular on radio if we are still in the beginning of 2010's when EDM rules the chart. But, honestly, "Can't Feel My Face" is not a song you will call radio friendly. Indeed it has catchy tune, but the lyrics about having some drugs and obscure instrument are not supposed to rule the chart. It's only Tesfaye and Max Martin combination that can accomplish such thing. "Can't Feel My Face" has a sensual intro with that bizarre female voice. "Can't Feel My Face" has multiple meaning. It can talk about a realtionship or it anthromorphizes the experience of taking drugs into something so catchy. And for that multi-interpretation, I think The Weeknd deserves those number ones.

22. Fetty Wap
"679 (feat. Remy Boyz)"
Fetty Wap

Fetty Wap is an interesting case study. His breakthrough single, "Trap Queen" actually has been released in March last year, but it just gains popularity this year. In a way, it kinda reminds me of Baauer's "Harlem Shake". But, once Fetty Wap earns his popularity momentum, he utilizes it and releases the follow-up singles. His next single, "679" is as ratchet as "Trap Queen". Listening to his songs reminds me of the beginning of the 2000's when healthy sum of hip hop and rap rule the mainstream chart. In "679" Remy Boyz joins him to make "679", a song of full of Glock and funks and such as, making it yet another great summer jam from him.

21. Tame Impala
"'Cause I'm A Man"

Tame Impala releases several songs to tease their new album, Currents, this year. All of them are great, but "Cause I'm A Man" captures my attention. After having fun with Mark Ronson in his Uptown Special, it seems like Kevin Parker does not want to stop exploring his talent. "Cause I'm A Man" is different than Tame Impala's previous materials, and that's probably what makes fans frowned upon this song. "Cause I'm A Man" sounds space-y and distant; it's like an otherworldly song. When Parker hits the chorus and sings, "Cause I'm a man, woman. Don't always think before I do", he tries that acknowledge even a man can do wrong.