Paramore - "Ain't It Fun"
Hey look! It's every teenage girl's favorite quasi-Christian rock band Paramore! I've never listened to one iota of Paramore before I heard this song, but during the summer this song really got caught in my head. The song bounces along and I while I like it I can't really relate to the message, that being: "Isn't it fun to be an adult now that you're old enough!". But what really makes the song memorable in my book is that Paramore have run with the Madonna playbook and deployed a black gospel choir beginning about halfway through. While the message the choir sings is a bit silly, I just can't help but get caught up in the gospel fervor of it. You'll notice I've linked to the "lyric video". I did this because the official video is the same as the radio version where some genius thought that the perfect place to fade out the song is right when the choir kicks in. Great job there, buddy.
Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Izalea - "Problem"
Ariana Grande is some Nickelodeon star turned ahem (clears throat)... musical artist. Everything about her screams entitled over-privileged diva whose parents probably paid her way to fame. And everything in this song is full of things that annoy me: the way she's not even trying to hide that she's lip synching, the misappropriation of the mod look when her song is clearly trying to be a throwback to doo-wop girl groups, the whispered rapping that forms the chorus, and Iggy Izalea who arguably has the most irritating voice I've ever heard on a human being.
Yet somehow I can't get this song out of my head. But if that were solely the case it could be just another All About That Bass, but I guess what I'm trying to say is... I like this song. Some sort of diabolical alchemy has occurred where all of these horrible elements have been mixed together and out comes this song I like. Also, Ariana Grande is ridiculously cute, though I feel awkward saying that because though she's 21 she looks like she's just turned 12. I also like the saxophone work, but then I always like saxophones. She could stand to work on her dance moves more (the quick cuts try to hide the fact that she's basically just standing around most of the video) and as others have said, she really needs to work on her enunciation. Her other songs "Break Free" and "Love Me Harder" are also pretty good if you're into that modern club sound (also: good luck trying to decipher what she's saying).
Taylor Swift - 1989 (the whole album)
my favorite song from last year.
It seems that Taylor Swift has decided to completely reinvent herself, no longer an ostensible country artist, she's now gone the pop music route. And while I'll have to turn in my goth-industrial membership card upon completion of this sentence, I really like her new album. If you want to hear what pop music sounds like in 2014 look no further than 1989. With the help of Max Martin she's gone ahead and made a great pop album.
Supposedly styled after what Swift considers music sounded like in 1989, the album does have a slight 80s feel to it (there's a hint of New Wave there too, though that was pretty much over by '89). I can listen to the first eight tracks without skipping any of them - even Madonna albums can't do that. I listen to a song, like it, think "okay, well the next one's gotta be filler", prepare to skip it, and then find that I've listened all the way through to the next song.
You might have noticed by this point that I haven't linked to any videos. Well, the album is fairly new and most of these songs aren't on there yet. Also, since she's currently the hot music industry property, there's a crackdown on unlicensed uploads. The only thing I can find are uploads where they've slightly sped up the song to avoid Big Brother's copyrighted musical detector, and I don't want you to suffer through a Chipmunks-sounding (Chippettes?) version. So far you can only watch the videos for "Blank Space" and "Shake It Off", neither video of which I'm a huge fan. My personal favorite song off the album, "Style", doesn't even have a video yet (though it's rumored to be the next single), but you can find various cover versions on Youtube.
I've only got one chance for redemption so let's make it a good one:
I seem to have a thing for including songs not from the current year on my best of the year lists, so I suppose this song is this year's entry. I'm been familiar with The Chameleon's "Swamp Thing" because it is a staple, no, perhaps the quintessential song, at my local goth club. I've heard this song played on the dank, sweaty dancefloors for 15 years, and it wasn't until this year I bothered to ask "What's the name of this song?". Now that I know I'm just plain old obsessed with it.
Let's just talk about that opening, I could just listen to it on repeat again and again. My favorite part is right at 1:37 where it sounds like the intro is over and the lyrics are going to kick in and they just let the music linger for another 10 seconds and I love it. And then the lyrics begin and they're just pure poetry:
I can already hear your tuneThen the drums come crashing in and I just lose my mind completely. The old man in me is telling you they just don't make music like this anymore!
Calling me across the room
When the world and his wife
Are on my back again
Not enough pleasure
Too much pain
Well, another year down. What will 2015 bring? Considering the Back to the Future Part II vibe in the air, here's hoping Huey Lewis and the News make a comeback. You heard it here first!