Archive for the 'Pop Culture' Category

Chiddy Bang: Clarification

November 19th, 2010 | Category: Concerts, Pop Culture

Thank you for your comments regarding SAB events. We are always interested in our fans‚Äô ideas and feedback. Typically with this blog, the Student Activities Board tries to encourage and influence critical thought about the popular culture we both consume and create at Messiah College.¬† However, being that there are some current issues and distasteful ideas being spread throughout Messiah‚Äôs campus and beyond, we‚Äôve decided to take the time to clear up any misconstrued thoughts floating around.¬† This past weekend, on November 13th, SAB hosted¬†the Philadelphia based indie hip-hop group Chiddy Bang in Brubaker Auditorium. During the show,¬†local police confronted two individuals in the parking lot, questioned them, and eventually towed their car.¬†While the individuals were friends of the artist, the incident did not have a negative impact on the show, as it occurred in the parking lot during the¬†performance.¬†Messiah College Campus Safety and SAB had no involvement in this confrontation,¬†as the local police¬†initiated¬†contact with the vehicle’s owner.¬†SAB will remain committed to bringing culturally relevant artists to campus. As always, we¬†encourage¬†students to critically¬†engage¬†with¬†popular culture and¬†to use discernment in making choices regarding what they consume.

We discuss bands for spring shows on a daily basis, if you have any suggestions, please complete a band recommendation form found at the following link. [http://tinyurl.com/28fmcpa]

SAB

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Published in The Swinging Bridge Campus Newspaper, November 10, 2010:

As I hope you’ve heard by now, SAB will be hosting indie-rap duo Chiddy Bang in concert on Saturday, November 13th, with local rockers Kingsfoil opening. We’re very excited for the show, and we hope you are too! Since releasing several free songs and mixtapes online in 2009, Chiddy Bang has rapidly developed a rabid fanbase and performed at major festivals such as Lollapalooza and Glastonbury. The group is comprised of 20-year-olds Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin, who have put their studies at Drexel University on hold after receiving a record deal from major label EMI. Chiddy Bang is one of the first, if not the only, secular hip-hop group to perform at Messiah College, so students who attend the concert will truly experience a unique event for this campus.

One of the most frequently asked questions SAB receives about concerts is why we select certain artists in lieu of others. Discussing the value we see in Chiddy Bang will hopefully not only shed some light on our process, but also provide some excellent reasons to attend the show. The criteria SAB uses to evaluate potential performers are, in line with Messiah College’s statement on pop culture, artistic merit, cultural significance, truth communicated, and appropriateness, with the goal of helping students engage pop culture in a conscious, critical manner.

Because of the difficulty in finding clean hip-hop artists, the first thing we looked at with Chiddy Bang was the appropriateness of their lyrics and image. While even the most vulgar of performers can have value and truth to their messages and music, such an artist would not be a good choice for our audience or setting. Fortunately, Chiddy Bang’s lyrics, minus a few relatively small exceptions, are essentially spotless, though certain guest rappers on their mixtapes and remix releases do contribute some vulgarity and heavier themes. Lyrically, Chiddy often promotes positivity and self-confidence, interspersed with social perspectives. “Sooner or Later” dedicates itself to Nigeria, discussing land-mines, government, and broken families in a way that empathizes with struggle everywhere. Even in a rare song that focuses on problems far more than hope, Chiddy highlights that he’s “still happy to be alive” and leaves us with symbolic images of kites ascending to an open sky.

Chiddy Bang’s cultural significance can be partially summed up by the details of their success in the first paragraph, but another portion of their importance comes from the style of music they create. With prominent samples of MGMT, Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens, and Passion Pit, Chiddy Bang has strong roots in both alternative music culture and the thriving remix scene online, the latter propagated by blogs and sites such as The Hype Machine. What elevates Chiddy Bang above their indie-rap contemporaries, however, is probably what falls under “artistic merit.” An important component in any rap song is the beat, and DJ-producer Xaphoon frequently ties seemingly absurd samples into a cohesive, powerful, and slick unit. His work spans a broad swath of styles, from the fervently hyper electro-dance of “Truth” to the smoothly enhanced boom-bap on “Nothing on We” and the ringtone-esque whistle hook in the background during “Fresh Like Us.” The distinctive vocals and consistently well-timed flow of Chiddy give a level of royal authority to his wide-eyed youthful emphasis on hope, dreams, and future success. When the powers of the two combine, Chiddy Bang makes impossibly fun music with a fascinating complexity underneath the catchiness.

Perhaps the most integral part of analyzing popular culture is the attempt to find intrinsic truth or meaning. There is plenty of value to be found in how Chiddy Bang presents a fresh look at the world, one where hope can transcend struggle even within the complex environment of life. Some of the sentiments shared in “Opposite of Adults” particularly should ring true for anyone on the road to responsibility, adulthood, and life-decisions: “reminisce the days of innocence”; “mo’ money, mo’ problems”; “can I please just get a little bit of knowledge?” In line with our focus on critical thought about popular culture, I would be amiss if I didn’t admit there are times when Chiddy Bang falls short, when their samples are more novelty than quality, when the lyrics are a little too simple for the message they are trying to send. But as 20-year-olds who have only just honed their signature style, the two members of Chiddy Bang demonstrate an impressive maturity more often than not, and the number of their great songs far outweighs the number of their unsavory moments. Those two factors alone make Chiddy Bang a must-listen now and a great act to follow in expectation of future success. I highly encourage you to come out to the show on Saturday and see what you think.

Written by: Ryan Faus [SAB President and B-Sides Executive]

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We Asked, You Answered…

May 12th, 2010 | Category: B-sides, Concerts, Pop Culture

So a few weeks ago we decided to mass email the campus and offer free B-Sides and SAB t-shirts to anyone who emailed us their favorite song and why.¬† Turns out a lot of people liked that idea.¬† We have collected all the submissions in this blog entry for your viewing pleasure. Please feel free to comment and add your own if you weren’t included in the post! We’re looking for a few sentences as to why you treasure your favorite song.

What Faith Can Do – Kutless
This is one of my favorite, all-time songs. This song seems to give me hope. It talks about how sometimes, things can be bad but don’t give up. It’s saying what faith can really do, the miraculous things it produces and the hope that it brings. My favorite part of the song is “Don’t you give up now, the sun will soon be shining, you gotta face the clouds, to find the silver lining”. I replay that part over and over in my head when I’m having a bad day because I know that once I get through the bad, I’ll find that silver lining.

Emily Strait

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“Is This Love?” by Bob Marley is my favorite song of all time. It reminds me of sitting in my room as a young teen and listening to my brother’s Bob Marley Classics CD while laying on my bed and hearing the crickets outside my window. It is an essential summer song and it always eases my worries.

Heather Burchnall

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I often say that my favorite song is “somebody’s baby” by Jon Foreman – It is simple story of a woman living on the street, a bleak account of her perceived invisibility – ¬†yet somehow it serves to demonstrate her dignity and worth, and becomes curiously hopeful.
I also cannot help but be perpetually addicted to “she blinded me with science” by Thomas Dolby, because it represents everything – everything – good about 80’s Brit pop. And that’s a lot of good.

Cody Miller

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My favorite song is “You and Me” by Dave Matthews Band. I love the idea of just disappearing with someone. The band playing with the orchestra is just awesome and so is Dave’s voice.

Jacqueline Keefer

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My favorite song (at least for right now) has to be “Wake Up” by the Arcade Fire. For one, I love the tune and how they’ve built so many different instruments into the song; but more than that, I always love the way the Arcade Fire and all its members really own every word and song they sing or play. Also, this song always reminds me of pure joy. When they start screamin/singing “oh oh” I cant help but think of someone scoring a winning goal in the world cup or a kid walking home from a date, having just had his first kiss.

Trey Overholt

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My favorite song is “Two Hearts, A Snake And A Concubine” by Hoots and Hellmouth. ¬†They actually have played at B-sides twice since the dawn of my time back in 06. ¬†This song is well liked by me because essentially it is a tale of two hearts that intertwine for a time in life and then part ways. ¬†The song is very narrative in fashion and that quality causes me to come-a-running. ¬†It is a very simple acoustic piece but packs a powerful punch in the meaning that it holds and the feeling it conveys. ¬†It speaks to the risks that are present in any life that is lived in the fullness of fresh air and an adventuresome spirit.

Wicks

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My favorite song is “Code Name: Raven” by House of Heroes. It is a song about the French Resistance in WWII. I like the song for its awesome rock, but also because I recently went to Normandy and met man, Jacques Vico, who had been in the French Resistance. “Code Name: Raven” could have been written just to fit Jacques’ story.

Kelly Warner

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My favorite song is Mr. Roboto by Styx. ¬†It’s the greatest because it mixes complicated rhythms, dense harmonic textures and unique instrumentation, all woven together to create an awesome 80’s song.

Dan Stoddard

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My favorite song is “A Long December” by Counting Crows, because it was written by a great band and can be found on one of the best alternative rock albums ever made, Recovering the Satellites. A more personal reason I love it is because this album and song was a sort of soundtrack for me while I was on a service trip in Chicago last spring. This song in particular means a lot to me because it reminds me of my phone conversations with a certain person while on the trip as we were at a difficult point in our relationship. Everyone should give it a listen.

Chad Goodling

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Ants Marching by Dave Matthews. This song always puts me in a happy, relaxed mood. It is fun to listen to and great live. It also has great lyrics that make you think about how you live your life everyday.

Kevin Wile

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“Guilty Pleasure” – Cobra Starship.¬† Not only is it by my favorite band but the song is a lot of fun.¬† It’s a song you wish you could sing for those people who just don’t know how to let loose and have fun.¬† Plus there’s a really awesome and crazy dance created for the song that helps shake you out of any funk you’re in.

Christiana Schuchert

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Those Nights by Skillet.  I love this song because it reminds me of my friends who were there for me when life was hard. It is a great song by a great band!

Sara Grove

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One of my new favorite bands after the Owl City concert is Alpha Rev, especially their song “New Morning.” It’s becoming more popular now and i literally watch the video or listen to the song at least once a day, it’s so good! The song is inspiring and just the right kind of music to lift up your spirit when you’re overloaded with work and stress. I think Alpha Rev is one of those bands that really puts a lot of thought into the lyrics of their songs. Not only is the music phenomenal, but the words are creative and attention-grabbing as well.

Amanda Blank

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My favorite song is “Can’t Go On” by Group 1 Crew. I first heard this song on a WOW CD and was impressed so I looked up the artist. I have been hooked on Group 1 Crew even since. Their music in general and this song in particular is God honoring and has rhythm.

Pamela Kirkpatrick

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My favorite song is Program Director by OAR. It’s fun and has a good beat and it reminds me of my younger brother because he gave it to me on a mixed cd :)

Jane Tabone

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I like the song “live like you were dying” because I think its very powerful in its message. Alot of people don’t live like they were dying and they put stuff off like hanging out with there family or friends or not doing something fun because they “dont’ have time” but we don’t know how much time we have left and I think its important to live everyday like its your last.

Leah Laird

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One of my top favorite songs is “Where is the Love?” by the Black Eyed Peas. I like songs that question things. And it has some sweet rhymes and vocals.

Sheba Samuel

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My absolute FAVORITE song is “Far Away” by Nickelback. Back in high school, I had a really close group of girl friends who were pretty much my sisters. So during the summers, whenever we were split up and weren’t able to hang out, we’d all take turns writing each other letters in a circle and would record ourselves singing “Far Away” on cds to the person we were writing to. Each person had to sing for someone. It was a ton of fun. :)

Kelsey Colvin

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One of my favorite songs is “Let Down” by Radiohead.¬† It’s a song about disappointment and failure, but also hope and determination.¬† It’s really empowering, and filled with emotion.¬† It’s unlike any other song I’ve ever heard.

Matt Elton

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My favorite song is She’s a Lady by Tom Jones.¬† I love it because my dad used to sing it to me all the time when I was little. ¬†He still calls me his only lady

Hannah Lacadie

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My favorite song at the current moment would have to be “Hello Seattle” by Owl City. It is exciting to think Owl City actually performed at Messiah College’s campus in concert! However, before I even found out that Messiah was going to host Owl City I fell in love with the song “Hello Seattle” due to its upbeat nature and it’s fast-past beat. “Hello Seattle” is one of those songs that has your feet tapping, head bobbing, and the words just flow right out of your mouth. Definitely a catching tune for the road.

Megan Taylor

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My favorite song is Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. It is my favorite because you can never get tired of it and can always find multiple people who will be more than willing to belt it out. Besides the great melody and catchy tune, the lyrics sing about overcoming obstacles to get to someone you love.

Anne Trap

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One of my recent favorite songs is called Take a Minute by K’Naan. This song is inspiring for me because it shows the attitude of service coming from a guy that grew up in the hardest of situations in Somalia and was able to rise up out of it. It’s all about giving back to the community and how it makes a big difference in peoples lives. Here is a little blurb from the song:

And any man who knows a thing knows
He knows not a damn, damn thing at all
And every time I felt the hurt
And I felt the givin’ gettin’ me up off the wall

I’m just gonna take a minute and let it ride
I’m just gonna take a minute and let it breeze
I’m just gonna take a minute and let it ride
I’m just gonna take a minute and let it breeze

How did Mandela get the will to surpass the everyday
When injustice had him caged and trapped in every way?
How did Gandhi ever withstand the hunger strikes and all?
Didn’t do it to gain power or money if I recall

It’s to give, I guess, I’ll pass it on

Peter Grames

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Well, I really like John Mayer’s City Love. I saw him perform it live, it was amazing.

Kristen Patterson

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My favorite song this past year would have to be “Postcards from Italy” by Beirut.¬† For the classic Indie lovers, this song is just so good.¬† It always calms me down, allows me to reminisce on life, and reminds me of some of the coolest kids on campus, Mammoth Rebellion.

Luke Hostetter

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Right now my favorite song is Soundtrack to My Life by Kid Cudi because it expresses how real his life really is. It makes the point that money, fame, drugs, and the things of this world aren’t actually going to make you happy.

Chelsea McInturff

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I am into the song “Manhattan” by Kings of Leon at the moment.¬† It is a low key song but with an up beat feel to it.¬† It also reminds me of my sister since we listened to their cd last summer. Good memories.

Danielle Veacock

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This is my favorite song:  Love of  A Lifetime by Firehouse.  I like this song, becuase it was the first song, my boyfriend and I listened to , and now it is our song that we will dance to at our wedding someday.  I like this song to becuase I has a great meaning to it.

Megan Heintzelman

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Mighty to Save.¬† ‚ÄúEveryone needs compassion…Savior, He can move the mountains…MIGHTY TO SAVE…Jesus conquered the Grave…Shine your light and let the whole world see!!¬† This song rings forth of the hope that we have.¬† He took us in our state of sin and he was willing to face death for us, he rose again for us and now we need to do share that salvation and compassion with the whole world!‚ÄĚ There is no greater message than this!

Sarah Harehood

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Okay, my favorite song generally changes every month or so cause i constantly stumble into new music that i like, but a song that i have always come back to and declared as my favorite is “what o got” by sublime. I first heard this song while play Dave Mirra’s BMX on PS1 with my bro (PS1 was a long time ago!!! lol). So even when i make a playlist of my favorite current music i shuffle “what i got” into the deck of cards, in memory of the good old PS1 gaming days with my little brother.

Brian Bilbrough

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My favorite Song is Enter Sandman by Metallica.  I played baseball my whole life and always wanted to come in to pitch with Enter Sandman playing in the background as a slowly strolled to the mound.  Unfortunately this never happened but Enter Sandman is a great song that will always make me think of entering a game in the bottom of the 9th.

Matthew Fenton

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I’d like to tell you about my favorite song, which is “1, 2, 3, 4 (eins zwei drei vier) by Stephan Remmler.¬† This is a completely ridiculous song that I bought on iTunes, thinking it was something different.¬† Most of the song is in German, with only a few words in English.¬† I play it with my friends all the time and we all get a good laugh out of it.¬† Some of my friends and I actually spent time trying to learn the German words so we could sing along and make it even more goofy. We also made a dance for the chorus, we get some weird looks when we do it but it makes it so much better.¬† You probably haven’t heard it, but you should most definitely look into it and you will understand the randomness of this song, especially when I had expected it to be a love song. J

Katherine Panczner

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One of my favorite songs is Walk of Life, by the band Dire Straits.¬† It’s upbeat and fun, with fantastic lyrics and a jazzy sound.¬† The whole album is excellent, by the way.¬† Could you make my t-shirt size be small please?

Matthew Tomitz

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My favorite song currently is “You Kill Me (In a Good Way)” by Sleeping With Sirens. This songs repeats the line to “hold on” and is such a good reminder for anyone going through something difficult.

Brianna Johnston

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I love TobyMac’s “Funky Jesus Music” off of his latest release “Tonight!” because it is rocking, fun, and, of course, FUNKY!! Toby is consistently bringing great music that appeals to a wide range of audiences, and FJM brings the fun of jamming to purposeful lyrics about enjoying diversity and the love that Jesus brings. Give me that soulful jumbo!

Philip Martin

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My favorite song is “Wonderful” by Everclear. ¬†It became my favorite song when my aunt died my senior year of high school and it was playing on my mp3 player a day or two after she passed away. ¬†Lines like “I want things to be like they used to be” “How can you smile with all those tears in your eyes” and “Don’t tell me everything is wonderful now” hit really close to home to me because my mom and grandfather were a wreck and people were just like “oh everything will be okay because it’s all in God’s control.” ¬†As a Christian I believed that, but it didn’t take any of the hurt away and I felt so lost as my grandfather and mom were so sad. ¬†So the song still sparks all of those emotions up.

Erik Sollenberger

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Song: “Elias” by Dispatch, Album “Silent Steeples”

This song combines English and Shona to voice a prayer of hope for a friend who one of the band members met in impoverished Zimbabwe.  I like this song because it expresses friendship across nations and in the midst of difficult realities.  The lyrics and beat together articulate the pain of wanting to reach out to a friend, which is often hard to describe in plain words.

Lauren Popeck

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Favorite song at the moment is “After the Storm” by Mumford and Sons just because they are an awesome band and it has great lyrics about overcoming difficulty.

Adam Sheir

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“Do you like Huey Lewis and the News?”

“Their early work was a little too new wave for my tastes, but when Sports came out in ‘83, I think they really came into their own, commercial and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He’s been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far much more bitter, cynical sense of humour.”

“In ‘87, Huey released this, Fore, their most accomplished album. I think their undisputed masterpiece is “Hip to be Square”, a song so catchy, most people probably don’t listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it’s not just about the pleasures of conformity, and the importance of trends, it’s also a personal statement about the band itself! HEY PAUL!”

-Patrick Bateman from “American Psycho”

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I never have analyzed “Hip To Be Square” as deeply as Bateman, but I will always remember hearing it as a kid on saturday morning cartoons. And, seriously, it is ridiculously catchy.

Matt Sakow

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My favorite song is the song Autumn by All The Day Holiday.  I remember this song because it was the first song by the band in their set and their performance was the best b-sides concert I have seen.

Colin Riddle

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My favorite song is “If Work Permits” by The Format. ¬†It is wicked amazing mainly because my best friend gave it to me and it has great lyrics (especially the minute starting at 2:30). ¬†It has a funky chorus to sing along to and makes a great answer to “how are you doing?”

Mary Childs

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My favorite song right now is Horchata by Vampire Weekend because it makes me think of fun roadtrips freshman year with friends during the Spring at Messiah to DC and Philly. Its got steel drums and and a mellow feel to it that helps me to destress when I’m mad or anxious.

Frederick Behnke

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Picking my favorite song is a toughie, like choosing your favorite grandparent.¬† Even if you do have one, you don’t want to actually say it aloud, to avoid hurt feelings.¬† So don’t tell the other songs, but my favorite is Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss by Built to Spill.¬† The beginning goes, “I know you’re making accidents and stars for everyone.”¬† I like the idea of making mistakes and great things simultaneously everywhere you go.¬† And I’ve always rather wanted to be someone’s pretty little miss.

Emily Hampton

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My favorite song is “A Bird’s Song” by Ingrid Michaelson

It’s a song about recognizing space between two people for the need of personal growth.¬† It speaks of missing someone, yet knowing that that space is needed for each person.¬† It also shows pure, selfless love as she sings about moving on, but also the hope that she can meet the other person again in a beautiful and poetic way.¬† Not to mention, the metaphors she uses as well as the instrumentation are just beautiful and hopeful as well.¬† Give it a listen!

Danika Foster

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My favorite song is “Glorious” by the Newsboys. I just really like the lyrics.¬† Last summer I loved to listen to this song when I would go on jogs during sunrise, which matched perfectly with the lyrics.

“And if I sing out in the dark of night
Or praise You in the light of dawn
Hear my song and lift me on Your wings.”
“into your arms I come running, I come running.”

It just really shows that God is with us through everything- all our struggles and in our busy lives.

Emily Stehman

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My current favorite song is most definitely “Would it Matter” by Skillet.¬† The song’s somewhat emo melancholy reflects on the simple idea, would it matter at all?¬† I often struggle with what kind of impact am I having as an individual here at college.¬† Is mine a presence that would be missed, especially when I’m well aware that life goes on whether we want it to or no.¬† I want to make it matter.¬† It HAS to matter, or what have I been doing all year?

Elizabeth Nickerson

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One of my favorite songs is “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercyme. I love this song because it is so powerful and easy to relate to. I often wounder how it will be to actually come face to face with our creator and this song expresses those thoughts.

Katie Blosenski

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I would say that one of my all time favorite songs is “Forward Motion” by Relient K. It adequately describes my life and where I am right now. With prepping for the MCAT, which I take in 29 days, getting homework done, trying to sleep, and have somewhat of a social life, is very exhausting. Once I think I have something under control, something else pops up and demands to be taken care of. I feel as if these next 29 days will be very much like the lyrics, “Well every time I gain some ground I gotta turn myself around again.” But, I do know that it is all worth it, and God is in control. He is the one stable thing I can cling to.

Alicia Brown

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My favorite song currently is ‘The Fight’ by the Classic Crime – it is their first song on their first CD ever, Albatross. ¬†THe song consists of a driving drum rhythm and passionate lyrics, as well as a solid guitar solo in the bridge. ¬†The song is both energizing and inspiring.

Brian Turner

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Favorite Song: I Should Go
Artist: Levi Kreis

The theme for this song is simple; before this night goes too far or we do something we shouldn’t, i should go. On a surface level, this song me smile a great deal because it clearly supports Messiah College’s visitation hours and community covenant (ha! does that sound as sarcastic to you as it does to me? whoops!). However, much deeper than visitation, Messiah, or it’s community covenant this song resonates with me because of its deep understanding of intentions and desires. Sometimes in life, we’re just a little scared to talk about those thoughts and intentions with the very people to which we should vocalize them.

Meredith Gross

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My favorite song is “Oh Africa” by Akon. I heard this song right after I returned from spending my J-Term in Ghana and I am reminded of my trip everytime I listen to it. Another reason why I like this song so much is because all the proceeds of the song go to underpriveledged children in Africa. Some of my favorite memories from my time in Ghana was playing games and getting to know the kids.

Ashley Dearstyne

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My favorite song is I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe. I like this song because it talks about the amazing feeling that we will have when we see Christ for the first time and how we are just going to be in aw of Him. Great song!

Mitchell Martin

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One of my favorite songs is Dota by Basshunter mostly because it reminds me of my days in high school and one of my favorite people in the world that introduced Basshunter to me. Those were good times, and even though the song is not in English, it’s great because its soo fun, upbeat, and just makes me happy. “Don’t worry, Be happy!”

Lindsa Seyfriend

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Favorite song would have to be 100 Years by Five for Fighting. I like the cheesy, piano-heavy sort of deal with the catchy, timeless lyrics. It’s just an all around decent song that everyone has heard at least once in their life, which is enough to be able to sing along the rare times you hear it on the radio. It’s good stuff.

Christopher Samaniego

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Brett Dennen ‚Äď Ain‚Äôt No Reason.¬† I think that’s how you spell his name.¬† Anyways the song basically talks about things that are wrong in the world and there is this one section where he says:

People walk around pushing back their debts,
Wearing pay checks like necklaces and bracelets,
Talking ‚Äėbout nothing, not thinking ‚Äėbout death,
Every little heartbeat, every little breath.
People walk a tight rope on a razors edge
Carrying their hurt and hatred and weapons.
It could be a bomb or a bullet or a pen
Or a thought or a word or a sentence.

This is my favorite! It’s just so true how we value possessions and materialistic things and put so much value into them.¬† And my absolute favorite line is people walk around carrying their hurt and hatred and weapons, it could be a bomb or a bullet or a pen or a thought or a word or a sentence.

We make such a big deal out of suicide bombs, (well because they are) but it’s a hate crime.¬† Shouldn’t we make such as big of a deal when someone is called fat or ugly?

People hurt people left and right even if it just in our thoughts and humanity as a whole should be much more compassionate and loving.

I just really like this song cuz it reminds me of the way things are and our duty not just as Christians but as people in general to show some love!

Patricia Abdelmalik

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My Favorite Song is “The Trapeze Singer” by Iron and Wine.¬† There is a good portion of this song that I don’t claim to understand, but all in all it is a good metaphor for life, mine in particular.¬† All good things come to an end, and all we are left with are memories and questions about why things happened the way they did.

Alyssa Levengood

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My favorite song:Between the Buried and Me – Selkies: The Endless Obsession
Why: It’s variable (smooth, hard, loud, soft, distorted, clear, screams, sings, etc). It goes through every emotion in the 7+ minutes they play, and you can almost imagine all sorts of different colors flowing through your body as you listen. I experience nirvana every time I listen to it.

Naomi DeYound

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My favorite song is “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Chris Tomlin. ¬†I love this song because it reminds me of the good old days when me, my mom, and my sister would rock out to it in the car on the way to my soccer games. ¬†I also love it because it reminds me of how amazing God is.

Sarah Schwamb

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Pieces, by the band RED, is an amazing song. Strings and piano provide a beautiful backdrop for deep and meaningful lyrics: “You call my name/ I come to you in pieces/ so you can make me whole.” The combined effect is a powerful, rockin’ worship song that never gets old.

Joel Davis

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My favorite song is Praise You in This Storm by Casting Crowns. I love this song because it reminds me that I should continually praise God, through the good times and the bad, and also that God is always there for me, no matter what I am going through.

Lauren Phillippy

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So, naming my favorite song is a ridiculous challenge…there are hundreds of worthy components. BUT, one song that always makes me happy is 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. Seriously, it’s catchy, the lyrics are just adorable, it’s sung by Scottish dudes, and it is perfect to drive to with the windows down. And that is why it wins “favorite song”. At least for today.

Laura Fenstermacher

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Currently my favorite song is “Dance Anthem Of The 80s” by Regina Spektor. This song makes me laugh and want to dance. Regina is passionate and real with her music. It is becoming increasingly difficult nowadays to find musicians that stay true to themselves and so I appreciate Regina for continuing greatness.

Adriana Gonzalez

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Conversation 16, from The National’s new album High Violet, opens with the line “I think the kids are in trouble” and reads like the mantra of a concerned parent wondering about the direction of the disaffected youth. ¬†The shock that comes with the chorus then is all the more jarring given the song’s inauspicious beginnings, as singer Matt Berninger gently croons, “I was afraid I’d eat your brains/ cuz I’m evil.”

Count me amongst those who used to think The National were a boring, overrated band; songs like Conversation 16 only serve to show me over and again that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Peter D. Corning

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It’s “All Day” by Hillsong United. I first was introduced to this song by my best friend when she found out that I was having problems at school while I was in middle school. I remember falling in love with this song the first time I heard it and I listened to it everyday for two years right before I got off the bus to walk into school. This song gives made me realize that it doesn’t matter what this world thinks about who I am and what I do. The lyrics explain it perfectly on what this song does with my attitude. “I love you and I’ll follow you; you are my..my life……and I will follow you all day” These lyrics helped me make it though my rough days in middle school and now in college it helps me through those weeks that never seem to end. Not counting the beat is pretty awesome to that puts a little bounce in my step.

Laura Serbin

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Be My Escape by Relient K is one of my favorite songs because it has a sweet instrumental introduction that always gets me pumped before my soccer games. It has some really good lyrics too that really make you think about life.

Rachel Loya

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My favorite song is “All for you” by Sister Hazel. Sister Hazel was my first concert and my favorite band growing up. This was the first song they played at the concert and I fell in love with it. It’s also a great song for the summer!

Rebecca Colligan

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Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights)

Reality check. Sometimes we forget the times we feel inspired.

Bryanna Gederberg

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I love “Word of God Speak” by MercyMe. I listen to when I feel hopeless and alone–when I need God to give me direction and hope. It’s so simple and sweet, and so moving.

Hillary Snyder

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‚ÄúIn For The Kill‚ÄĚ La Roux

The instant popularity of their third single, ‚ÄúBulletproof,‚ÄĚ has placed electropop duo La Roux in the limelight. ¬†‚ÄúIn For The Kill,‚ÄĚ the first track from their self titled album, embraces the overarching falsetto-style vocals that are found in most of the tracks. ¬†The 80‚Äôs inspired beat and synth combo gives this song a unique flare amidst monotonous hip-hop grooves that are often heard today. ¬†Overall, this petty love song presents a revived pulse in the music industry that makes you want to dance!

Valerie Kilgannon

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One of my favorite songs, I don’t know if its my all time favorite but it’s definitely up there is “The Other Side” by Brendan James. I like it because it’s different and the song changes a lot, sometimes I forget that it’s still the same song. It’s up beat and makes me happy when I listen to it, you should definitely check it out.

Michelle Kowalczyk

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“Three Cheers for Five Years” by Mayday Parade is one of favorite songs because of the powerful vocals, the harmonies and the counter-melodies.

Miranda Hulsey

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My favorite song to listen to is “The Only Exception” by Paramore. I really like to listen to this song for a few reasons, one being that I really like the sound of the song. The music is very relaxing, yet in some parts it has bursts of emotion that you can hear and feel in the music and in the singer’s voice. I also love this song because part of it tells a story. The story is about a girl who doesn’t believe in love anymore because her parents got divorced. But despite of what she believes about love, she finds herself in love with someone, and they are her only exception to what love is.

Rachael Capeci

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Favorite Song (as of right now): “What I’ve Overcome” by Fireflight

Why: I think it is a great song with a great message. I feel it is talking about life before and after asking Jesus to come into your life. It is not about what you have done, its about what you have overcome!! My favorite line says, “I’ll make mistakes and I might fall, but I won’t break. I’ve got someone saving me!”

Miranda Kutz

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The Killers “All These Things That I’ve Done‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI’ve got SOUL but I’m not a soldier‚Ķ‚ÄĚ nuff said.¬† It has a southern gospel flair to it when it hits the chorus.

Josh Loffredo

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I like Skies so Blue by The Rockey Summer!  I started liking it my senior year of high school and would rock out to it on my way to college classes in the afternoon.  High school is super stressful for everyone and this song is just so happy and would always lift my spirits.  So every time I hear this song I get super happy!

Ariel Shuhart

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My favorite song is Stay or Leave by Dave Matthews Band. I love the chords, and of course Dave’s vocals add a special something to it. I also really enjoy the storyline to it, because it’s kind of a love song, but it is talking about lost love, and it’s Dave Matthews so its not overly sentimental or anything. If it makes a difference, I like the version with Tim Reynolds the best.

Caitlin Landis

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Stars by Switchfoot — This is one of my favorite songs because it’s a fun tune and really relates to how I feel sometimes when I wonder….Plus the music video is pretty cool too!

Amber Balsbaugh

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My favorite song at the moment is “I’m so gone” by Lil Wayne…why? Because Weezy is the man.

Hugo Sanchez

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My favorite song ever would have to be somewhere down in fullerton by Allister. It’s a really great song, but it’s more than that. I have a lot of memories that I’ve attached to that song. The song was on a drive thru records mix that my older brother gave to me in 7th grade, and I listened to it every day on the bus rides back and forth from school. My friends and I would always listen to that song before long skate sessions too. It is really one of the first songs that really got me interested in music It will always be my favorite song though.

Caleb Liddick

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My favorite song in the past week or so has been Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By”. The song itself was actually written by Burt Bacharach and has been notably performed by others such as Isaac Hayes. But Dionne’s version is where the song reaches its fullest potential: sublime soul-pop with inventive melodies, careful orchestration, a nice touch of 1950’s vibraphone, and many subtle surprises. First of all, Dionne’s voice is just heavenly, and never turns the song’s central heartbreak to sap. One of my favorite little pieces is her agile phrasing with the sweeping melody on “foolish pride, is all that I have left, so let me hide…”. On another level, the song’s central message of an ex-lover’s cruel detachment is delightfully contrasted by the careless and smooth jazz refrain, as the light “walk on by” vocals are punctuated by trombone. Then the triplet piano rhythms in the next section of the chorus and “don’t stop!” from the backing vocalists refresh and restructure the song once again. Perhaps the most creative part lies in the final repeats of the chorus, as a nasty funk drum break-beat is added to underscore the sudden vocal rap of “now you really gotta go so walk on by”. As far as pop music goes, “Walk On By” is about as catchy, memorable, inventive, and well-orchestrated as a song could be, and it hasn’t left my head all week. Hats off to Warwick and Bacharach!

Ryan Faus

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My favorite song is “River Flows in You” by Yiruma.¬† It’s my favorite song because it’s so relaxed, connected, and uplifting. It makes me think about God’s love and how it can flow through me when I’m aware of His love and seeking Him.

Timo Nivala

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My favorite song is “The Beginning” by the Classic Crime.¬† It just reminds me of how simple things can start but then how big and spectacular they can become.¬† Just like our time here at college, it starts out small but it has the potential to become something big!

Matthew Martinez

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My favorite song is Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Greenday.  This song never gets old to me and you can tell by the lyrics that they are clearly searching for more in life.

Alex Lawson

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One of my favorite songs is “Dokkoise House” by Anathallo. Its unique meter and unabashed instrumentation of not just guitar and piano but also bells and claps all meld together with occasional half-English, half-Japanese lyrics to craft a memorable song. Anathallo’s layers of sound swell and suspend listeners, then fade away as new layers enter and delight. I was privileged to see this song performed live at Messiah a few years ago; the band’s energy and movement gave even greater understanding of the freedom in music.

Kinley Zook

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It’s hard for me to narrow it down to one favorite song, because different songs have their own place for specific moods and certain days. That being said, one that I always love to listen to and sing along with is Drops of Jupiter by Train. I have lots of wonderful memories attached to this song, most of them simply just rocking out with different groups of people to its feel good melody that we’ve heard and loved for years.

Chloe Hockley

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My favorite song, wow that is a tough one. However I have to say my favorite song is definitely “She Got Over Me” by Saving Abel. It is a really upbeat rock song that makes me think of when I would drive to work at 7 in the morning in my old beat up pick-up truck blaring this song on a sunny day. It just makes me smile whenever I listen to it.

Joshua Steward

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One of my current favorite songs is “Breakeven” by The Script. ¬†I enjoy this song because I like that this is a type of song I can belt out while in the shower. I also like that even though the girl broke his heart, he can still write a song about it and make lots of money. This song is a testament to whomever gets the last laugh.

Keith Perrotta

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My favorite song is Yahweh by Needtobreath. ¬†Pretty much I love this song because it describes the Yahweh we worship so well. ¬†Overall, its a pretty fly song by a pretty good band. ¬†If you haven’t heard it…check it out!

Brian Clapp

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So one of my favorite songs right now is The Reeling by Passion Pit.  Its just great, it always lifts my spirits whenever I listen to it (even though I listened to that album mostly while doing homework in the library).  Thats all.

Joshua Zimmerman

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My favorite song is Northern Plains by George Winston.There is no technical musical reason behind my choice, but it is a slow, quiet, short song that has a sad, yet peaceful sound to it. It is a gentle acceptance of emptiness, yet a celebration of the beauty that it brings. George Winston is an excellent pianist and plays the song beautifully. I would highly recommend it.

Dave Conrath

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Song: Boston by Augustana

Before coming to college, my friends and I decided that this song would be our “going to college” song. I mean, just imagine stepping out of a taxi onto campus for the very first time. Scan your surroundings, then breathe a sigh of relief knowing you’ve made it thus far. Pick up your suitcase and start venturing into your new life. The piano intro from “Boston” is totally playing in my imagination. Totally.

Jean Zipagan

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My favorite song is Gavin DeGraw’s “Meaning”. It is my favorite song because it has a great message. Through out the song, DeGraw suggests love is the meaning humanity searches for in life, love is our purpose. Along the same line, the lyrics also suggest that we, as people, need to love each other. As much as this is a secular song, it also draws the same conclusions and bears the same message as Christ. Loving one another is the answer.

Jacquelyn Glessner

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My favorite song is Bebot by Black Eyed Peas and the reason I love it is because they are embrassing their culture. Everytime I hear that song I start dancing no matter what part of the song its in. Also the song is in tagalog and that language is very similar to spanish so I can understand the meaning of the song. It trully shows that though we are different filipinos and hispanics have some similarities.

Lydia George

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My Favorite Song: Train: When I look to the sky.

This song reminds me of my granddad who went to be with God almost two years ago. I have never listened to this song without tears in my eyes but it still brings me comfort. “When I look to sky, something tells your here with me.” My granddad was like a father, mentor and a best friend to me. I will miss him dearly until that day i see him again in heaven.

Ashley Flood

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My favorite song would be “I had a Dream” by Ordinary Dreamers. I like how up beat it is and the meaning of the words. I like to listen to it when I am stressed out.

Chrystal Deshner

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I like the song Gone by Jack Johnson because it talks about how the pleasures and possessions of this world is useless because nothing is going to matter down the road. Everything in this world is temporary and will be gone one day.

Yi Liu

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So one of my favorites is Dont’ Stop Believing because in High school we used to blast Journey in the auditorium as the tech crew and dance and sing to it. One time we had a disco ball up hanging above the stage and I walked into the theater to find the sound guys dancing to it on stage in the dark with only the disco ball on. So funny and such a good memory.

Bethany Kline

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Song: Stop This Train by John Mayer

Life will keep moving forward without your consent, so live life to the fullest and enjoy it!

Lauren Buckwalter

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American Love by Haste the day is my favorite song.  It was the first metal song I’d ever heard and the first song I ever learned to play on the guitar.  Whenever I play it it reminds me of all the fun times I had as a teenager at hardcore concerts and I always smell the scent of the moshpit; essence of sweat mixed with axe body spray.

Elise Pure

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Jason Reitman panned by Slate

April 07th, 2010 | Category: Lost Films, Pop Culture

Interesting debate going on about the films of Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air).¬† Dennis Lim at Slate charges Reitman with pandering and not having enough to say. Blogger S. T. Karnick at Pajamas Media interprets Lim’s critique as Lim being mad that Reitman doesn’t assert the progressive political agenda in his films.

What do you think? Looking at Karnick’s list of blog entries, I don’t think there is much that I agree with him on. But I do think he’s right in his defense of Reitman. Or maybe he goes too far, and mischaracterizes Lim’s argument as political when it is not. I really do want to know what you think.

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Jazz is Dead! Is it?

March 08th, 2010 | Category: Pop Culture

A few posters over at the forums on http://rateyourmusic.com/ have an interesting discussion about the relative death of soul and jazz since the mid 1970’s, and there was a point made that interested me:
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richiedressedlikeacop said:

Jazz, however, is sadly dead. It’s gone the route of classical music – another all-instrumental genre that values musicianship originally enjoyed a period as popular music (Classical era/20s jazz), then as “art” (Romanticism/Bebop), then going into the avant-garde (Atonalism/Free-Jazz), then becoming dead.

Colum said:

Seriously, this is what happens with near enough every genre of music – and when taking into consideration more modern styles, it happened to metal and hip hop too. Just the way it goes. Phase 1, the music is fun, light-hearted and entertaining. Phase 2, the music is taken very seriously as an artform, usually seen as the classic or golden era, lots of great, expressive, romanticist, serious works. Phase 3, the genre goes avant garde, we experiment with noise and dissonance and genre-hopping and being ‘open-minded’ and the genre eventually dies. The modern equivalent of phase 1 gets shunned off as untalented and commercial, the modern equivalent of phase 2 releases quite a few albums that could be classics but are often ignored or missed out on as they swim in a sea of 100,000 other albums every year, and the modern equivalent of phase 3 is for some reason what everyone is looking up to to sprout out one new, revolutionary classic to lead the genre into the non-existent phase 4.

It comes for us all.
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Though I don’t agree with all the points made above, I think this concept of genre life cycle, from birth to popularity to art to experimental to death, is fascinating. It parallels the marketing concept of a product life cycle, where products go from introduction to growth to maturity and eventually decline. This similarity would seem to mesh with the modern commoditization of music. However, jazz died before the current eras of conglomerate radio and overcommercialization, so perhaps these popularity-controlling forces will sustain genres like rock and hip-hop longer than their counterparts. Or perhaps rock has seen a larger lifespan due to its link with the large baby boomer generation, and hip-hop has yet to reach beyond its popularity phase. In any case, I think this idea of a genre lifecycle makes far too much sense to be mere conjecture. Thoughts?

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Janelle Monae’s new songs

February 17th, 2010 | Category: Concerts, Pop Culture

Many of us who saw Janelle Monae perform at the Homecoming Dance were won over. Became fans. (A small minority – maybe those that got paint on them – were not as impressed.) But those of us who did become fans will want to check out the two new songs that have been released from her upcoming album (out May 18th). Both have a distinct “Hey Ya” vibe to them, with one featuring Big Boi from Outkast. Check them out and let us know what you think.

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The Death of Mistakes = The Death of Rock

January 22nd, 2010 | Category: Pop Culture

I missed it while it was going on, and am just catching up now, but back in November NPR did a series of blog entries about the last decade in music. So many of the entries are fascinating. One in particular caught my attention, first for the provocative title, but then for the informative essay on how changes in the way music is recorded (Protools, autotune, compression) which are meant to improve the quality of music is actually having adverse effects. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

You can browse the entire list of topics they covered, and choose one that seems more interesting to you. The list includes American Idol, how indie folk beards are effecting rock music, downloading music, and the decades most important recordings.

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Haiti

January 19th, 2010 | Category: Pop Culture

Certainly, many of us are preoccupied with the news of the earthquake in Haiti this week. Some of my friends have been blogging about it lately, and there are a few links that they pointed to (thanks David and Byron) that I thought were worth sharing.

Regine Chassagne is a member of the band The Arcade Fire (a band you should know about). Her parents are from Haiti, though she grew up in Montreal. The band has a song titled “Haiti” which is about the Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti, and her relationship to a country where she has lost family members, but which she had never visited. Someone put together a nice montage of images of Haiti set to the music here. The lyrics to the song are here. Finally, check out the live version of the song to see the energy The Arcade Fire bring to the stage.

Since writing the song, Regine has visited Haiti, accompanied by Paul Farmer to learn about the work of Partners in Health. She has written an eloquent piece about Haiti’s history, her relationship to the country, and her visit and impression of Paul Farmer. I recommend it.

Please consider what you can give to the relief efforts in Haiti. There are of course many ways to give. SAB will be collecting donations at B-Sides on January 20, and at Coffeehouse on January 24.

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The Twilight Buzz

November 18th, 2009 | Category: Pop Culture

Love it or hate it, there’s a good deal of noise surrounding the Twilight series, especially with the upcoming release of New Moon on November 20th. The latest claim is that the Twilight series is the equivalent of female pornography. Although outright ridiculous at first, I can, after some thought, understand why such a claim would be made. Considering the fact that women don’t generally respond to the same stimuli as men, it would make sense that our definition of pornography should morph when crossing the line between sexes. The truth is that pornography for women tends to fall into the category of romance and fantasy fiction. But don’t get your pitchforks yet, folks. First of all, being a fan of the vampire genre, I know firsthand that the fascination with Twilight is just another link in the historic chain of fascination with vampires in general. Women are always going to be drawn to the male vampire love interest because he’s so powerful, but of all vampire novels, the Twilight series is probably the least pornographic. Consider, for a moment, The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris. Not only is there casual sex in almost every other chapter, it’s meticulously descriptive as well. The only sexual experience alluded to in Twilight is, most importantly within marriage vows, and secondly, hardly even actually described! Stephenie Meyer is careful to leave the intimate out. The only danger that I see in Twilight is that it’s targeting a very influential and emotionally-charged audience: teenage girls. When you introduce a character like Edward Cullen, you unleash a flood of unrealistic expectations and far-fetched fantasies. Anyone with a Facebook has seen the ‚ÄúI <3 Edward,‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúWhere's my Edward,‚ÄĚ bumper stickers. But, if you ask me, this problem isn't Twilight exclusive. Women have been swooning over fictional characters for a long time, and will for a long time to come, I'm sure. So is Twilight pornographic? I don't think so. What do you think?

By: Justine Frizén

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The Best 25 Albums of The 2000’s

November 02nd, 2009 | Category: Pop Culture

Since Pitchfork and many other online newspapers and blogs have preemptively begun publishing their lists of the best albums from this decade, I thought it might be a good time for an SAB blog post to tackle the project too. This list reflects my tastes and the music I’ve been exposed to, and it was difficult to whittle it down to only 25. With the large amount of variety in popular music this decade, its easy to understand why others might have a vastly different composition for this list, and so I hope this can breed some discussion over my choices. Understandably, many people probably haven’t heard all of these albums, so I inserted a link or two in each review to a song that hopefully is representative of the larger work. So, check out this list if you dare, and be sure to reply with your own top album picks and arguments!

25. The Killers: An unabashedly 80’s-centric take on modern alt rock, Hot Fuss winds up being a perfectly constructed synth-rock album. Although the songs aren’t lyrically as deep as some other entries on this list, the majestic, driving music coaxes any word fumbles along, and vocalist Brandon Flowers is so sincere in his unabashed delivery that it hardly matters. It’s hard to hate songs as catchy as “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine” or “Smile Like You Mean It”, which surround memorable choruses with whizzing synth hooks. Where many other albums this glossy would contain multiple filler tracks towards the end, Hot Fuss’ later content is as relentlessly strong as the beginning, as “Andy You’re A Star”, “Change Your Mind”, and “Believe Me Natalie” continue the bright glow and glam rock from before. The overblown excesses of “All These Things I’ve Done” and “Somebody Told Me” can be forgiven in light of the consistency, sweet danceablility, and killer melodies on the rest of Hot Fuss.
The Killers Hot Fuss

24. The Tallest Man On Earth: As much transcendental as it is natural and earthy, Shallow Graves is a collection of simple rustic folk songs from Swedish artist The Tallest Man On Earth. His ancient acoustic strumming channels the bygone folksters of yesteryear (Dylan, Guthrie, et. al), but casts a fresh dew over those dusty influences. Every song is a story, several of which are simply flawless (“Honey Won’t You Let Me In” and “The Gardner” especially). Another reviewer speculated that if Dylan had released Shallow Graves, it would have been termed the comeback of the century, which I’d say is a fair point, even as someone who respects Dylan’s output in the past 15 years. And though the lyrics on this album are sometimes more obscure than meaningful, the strained vocal delivery and passionate guitar play of The Tallest Man On Earth redeem even those moments.
The Tallest Man on Earth

23. The Flaming Lips: Continuing in the psychedelic art-pop vein of their prior release The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots weaves layers of synths, fuzzed-out bass, and space rock guitars together into a loose concept album of freakouts, jams, folk and bubblegum pop songs. Yoshimi is as heavily stylized as Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films, building upon simple core songs with sleek electronica and groovy effects. Though somewhat weaker than its risk-taking predecessor, Yoshimi still contains some brilliant tracks, including “One More Robot/Symphony 3000-21″, the first title track, “Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell”, and the album’s pinnacle, “Do You Realize??“. At their weakest moments, The Lips’ inane and off-beat lyrics detract from their groove, but in most of Yoshimi’s gloriously upbeat material, these parts are minimal.
The Flaming Lips

22. The White Stripes: Although many critics have held their earlier releases (De Stijl and White Blood Cells) in higher regard, it was with Elephant that The White Stripes fully captured the stomping garage-rock blues audiences ached for. “Seven Nation Army” is one of the most brilliant rock songs produced this decade- so simple that millions of kids have tried to recreate it in their basements, yet inimitable with its snarling vocals and lightning-strike power chord riffs. Their other rockers- “Black Math”, “The Hardest Button To Button’, and “Hypnotize”- are also blistering, howling blues riots. Notably, Elephant also includes many changes of pace, the best of which include their cover of Burt Bacharach’s “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” and “In The Cold Cold Night”. These slower, more careful songs are refreshing amidst the buzzsaw guitar charges, but are crafted with the same sense of yearning. Born into an era littered with musical revivalism, The Stripes exceeded their backwards-aping brethren, but also placed themselves in the highest echelon of classic rock and back-country blues.
The White Stripes

21. Bright Eyes: I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning is the Bright Eyes release where songwriter Conor Oberst finally unleashes his full potential over an entire album. Oberst’s captivating lyrical style consists of wading through dozens of words, images, and scenes in search of epiphany, and I’m Wide Awake has him landing on those mundane revelations countless times. One of my favorite examples is found right on the first track, “At The Bottom Of Everything“, accompanied with some far-off harmony:

While my mother waters plants
My father loads his guns
He says death will give us back to God
Just like this setting sun is returned to this lonesome ocean

“We Are Nowhere”, “Lua”, and “First Day Of My Life” also share plenty of wonderful insights and contemplative portraits to ponder. Oberst’s continual roll through his concoctions is certainly unique, and the relevance of his folk music is strange, when many folk artists try to portray truth as irrelevantly as possible. Vocally, Oberst trembles and shakes; even his strongest passages seem on tenuous ground, but this feature adds a distinct vulnerability to his ramblings. A valuable look into the mind of a fertile artist at the peak of his talents, I’m Wide Awake will touch any listeners who like to think along with their music.
Bright Eyes Im Wide Awake

20. Kaki King: Dreaming of Revenge is as varied a guitar-based soundscape can be. Going between splendid acoustic ditties (“Life Being What It Is”), instrumental jams based on her percussive fingerstyle play (“Bone Chaos in the Castle”), and well-constructed rock songs (“Pull Me Out Alive“), King presents her stellar guitar ability and songwriting acumen. Though the focus is instrumental, King’s vocals, sometimes soft and sometimes snarling, nearly steal the show. While many guitar virtuosos would rather mindlessly shred to demonstrate their talents, King wisely incorporates her skill into a broader work of art. Dreaming of Revenge is as fine a collection of atmospheric songs as one can find.
Kaki King

19. My Morning Jacket: Previously known for their alt-country and folk-rock, My Morning Jacket abandoned their former styles for the sonic layered pop of Z. With great hooks, melodies blissful (“What A Wonderful Man”) and downcast (“Into The Woods”) succeed in displaying simple but poignant sentiments. “Into The Woods“, particularly, has some strikingly powerful lyrics, enhanced by the swooping vocals of Jim James:

A riddle: I went over the river
And into the woods- Where did I go?
Where a wood burning stream flows up through the trees
Like the soul of the hottest kind of lover I’ve ever seen:
One who lives to choose another fool’s dream.

James’ echoing voice is a major key to Z’s lasting effect. Few pop albums are as deeply felt and sonically dressed up as this.
My Morning Jacket Z

18. Outkast: The psychedelic funk of Stankonia was one of the most creative directions taken in the last ten years of hip-hop. “Ms. Jackson”, “So Fresh, So Clean“, and “B.O.B.” all reached different levels of mainstream success while representing various degrees of Outkast’s distorted but classy beat-making sense. While “Ms. Jackson” and “So Fresh” are amazing songs, even more surprising is the mangled pop music of Stankonia, found notably on “I’ll Call” and “Slum Beautiful”, and the freaky space samples on tracks like “Snappin & Trappin” and “?”. Outkast has a fascination with gangster images and hedonistic symbols on Stankonia, which rather than detracting from the work, create a tangible setting of high-life hip-hop dreams. While those with a stricter view on profanity and blatant innuendo should beware, Stankonia still is a great piece of dynamic hip-hop and its flexibility in diversely implementing divergent styles.
Outkast

17. Wolf Parade: Chock full of jangled rock and Bowie-esque vocal wails, Apologies To The Queen Mary manages to be both bizarre and purposeful. Each song is a mini-epic in scope, almost as if Wolf Parade is inventing an indie version of glam rock. Apologies To The Queen Mary is a letter written hot in rebellion against the flawed modern world and broken relationships, as songs from “Modern World” to “Fancy Claps” and “I’ll Believe In Anything” all relate to this feeling of disillusionment. A sliver of hope is found buried beneath the bleak lyrics of “Shine A Light“:

Some folks float, some are buried alive…
Some ghosts sink, some will get called to the light

So while ATTQM is almost frightening in its message, there’s enough depth and complexity in Wolf Parade’s sentiments and musical arrangements to keep any listener satisfied.
Wolfe Parade Apologies to the Queen Mary

16. Sigur Ros: ( ) or Untitled is a sprawling work of delicate ambience and precious atmospheres. As unassuming as the title and song names (also untitled) suggest, the music is also majestically emotional. Sigur Ros’ only real gimmick is their use of “Hopelandic” lyrics, a language of the band’s own invention, but on Untitled the nonsense words convey a depth and musicality usually lacking in English. While Untitled is a post-rock album in theory, its organic timbre and crescendo styles are truly original and unprecedented. This album is a slice of zen, refreshing the soul and the mind, and though that sounds a touch too New-Age, Untitled really washes over like a clean wave in a sea of musical trash.
Sigur Ros Untitled

15. Franz Ferdinand: From the first breakdown in “Jacqueline”, Franz Ferdinand’s self-titled album, sets its course to be a blast of art rock fun. With a pinch of devious mischief, songs like “Tell Her Tonight”, “The Dark of the Matinee”, and “Darts of Pleasure” have a classic pop sensibility rarely recreated, especially in the guise of seductive underworld miscreants. The off-kilter guitar grooves found in the lead single “Take Me Out” segue perfectly into the songs’ several breakdowns, and the frenzied make the song. On most of Franz Ferdinand, angular single note riffs plucked from post-punk predecessors are dressed up in their finest clothes and tangoed into the dimly-lit night. Neither art rock nor post-punk were ever simultaneously this dance-worthy and self-assured. Invincible in attitude and unabashedly fun, Franz Ferdinand’s joyful glow and darkly sensual sheen never vanish from this album.
Franz Ferdinand

14. Tom Waits: The 2000’s were littered with aged artists and their carcasses of classic bands- The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, The Police, KISS, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, and The Who all touring, releasing albums, and making loads of money off of fans nostalgic for their early days. Standing in stark contrast to these artists is Tom Waits, the wickedly bizarre and innovative singer/songwriter who turns 60 this fall. His triple-album Orphans ranks up with his finest work at the peak of his career in the late 70’s and 80’s, a refreshing breath amidst the garbage of his old peers. Subtitled Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards respectively, each album captures Waits at his finest- experimental, tragic, worldly, and always with his trademark rusty shovel of a voice. After producing tracks like “Low Down“, “Bottom of the World”, “Widow’s Grove”, and “Dog Door”, Waits surely has not lost any of his famed creative abilities. On Orphans, every song is a classic, and Waits is an artist eternal.
Tom Waits Orphans

13. Immortal Technique: Revolution Pt. 2 reads like a mad man’s naked rant at his last breath. The rapping on this album is some of the most intense, involved, and passionate speech I’ve heard anywhere. Immortal Technique spares no words and bears what’s inside of him, and what he unleashes is politically-charged and paranoid, and naturally profane. Every song hits just as heavy as the last, Immortal Technique relentless in the attack against reality and fear. Here’s a few telling lines from the first song, “The Point of No Return
(be prepared for heavy language):

A suicide bomber strapped and ready to blow
Lethal injection strapped down ready to go
Don’t you understand they’ll never let me live out in peace
Concrete jungle, guerrilla war out in the streets
Nat Turner with the sickle, pitchfork and machete
The end of the world, mother—- you not ready
This is the point of no return and nobody can stop it

For its blunt, sweat-powered force and lyrical portrait of a man feeling trapped by life itself, Revolution Pt. 2 stands as one of the most impressive albums of the decade. In contrast to many other political artists, Immortal Technique doesn’t have a lofty, aspirational tone, but a gritty and real one, and although many inconsistencies are present in his politics, the message of fear does not suffer.
Immortal Technique

12. Leonid Fedorov: The first plastic keyboard notes of “Muzika Moya” might hint at some potentially horrifyingly bad music, but when the large acoustic chords strum in and Fedorov’s voice wanders in, swaying like a ship in a stormy sea, it’s already apparent that Liloviy Den’ is an album of bleak redemption. Using the crummy keyboard samples for underlying rhythm winds up creating an almost modern apocalyptic atmosphere, which is just the first sign of Fedorov’s genius. “Pol Neba” uses a twirling flute melody for similar sonic purposes, not as a prominent melodic line but as texture, then brings in an orchestra, some synths, and other voices, not to obscure his humble guitar play, but to give it company. Though he sings all in Russian, Fedorov’s rustic voice and melodies convey plenty about his thoughts and expressions, an example of words as a mere finality in the process of human communication and understanding. Liloviy Den’ is nothing like the normal folk album we’d hear in the U.S., but it easily outclasses almost all of the American output in any genre this decade. For fans of world music or of folk music, Liloviy Den’ is a strongly recommended listen.
Leonid Fedorov

11. J Dilla: J Dilla’s death in 2006 from a rare blood disease sent shock waves through the world of underground hip-hop. Only 32 years old, Dilla had become one of the most influential producers in hip-hop, easily evidenced by the voluminous number of tributes his contemporaries recorded after his death. Donuts, released 3 days before he died, features 31 short songs of Dilla’s unique mashups of beats and samples, drawing from not only funk and soul but jazz and classical music. Like a series of memory snippets, the songs are brief and constantly in flux- two samples in, one out. Dilla’s songs on Donuts are eternally evolving, growing new shoots, shedding leaves, sometimes jerking about in the breeze. As if it’s looking back on life, Donuts represents the full gamut of human experience and emotion, from somber (“Last Donut of the Night”) to strange (“Lightworks”), tender (“Don’t Cry”) to tired (“Mash”), energetic (“Glazed”) to aggressive (“Twister”), contemplative (“Waves”) to content (“Time”). The continual variety and wonderfully ingenious selection of clips are what earned Dilla the respect and acclaim from his peers, and what make this album a lasting document of Dilla’s impossibly creative beat-making. Donuts sounds not like an album but like the mix at a heavenly party, commissioned by God.
J Dilla Donuts

10. Interpol: The first guitar notes of Turn On The Bright Lights soar right beyond the atmosphere, like echoes bouncing in a subway tunnel, timeless and unreachable, and entirely ethereal. Until the high-hats interrupt and the bass begins pumping, when we’re dropped straight back down into city life and its own mysterious appeals- streetlights, rainy sidewalks, grimy corridors, and relentless transportation. This strange urban ambiance flows throughout TOTBL, and Interpol’s prominence in the New York indie rock scene is thus only sensible. But it’s the strong rhythmic interplay between the tight drums and danceable bass that propels this album into rock and roll nirvana. Paul Bank’s understated and contemplative vocals contrast the music, but complement its drive and sonic depth. In this sense, TOTBL is both horizontally and vertically focused- Interpol wondering where they are going musically, while appreciating the moment they are at. Past this babble, the songs themselves are excellent, with “Obstacle 1” and “Say Hello to the Angels” as two of the finer tracks this decade, both dark, pounding, and exhilarating. Although Interpol is frequently described as a modern-day Joy Division, I don’t think that comparison works beyond Banks’ vocals- Joy Division preferred to wallow, while Interpol and TOTBL would rather dance-rock away their afflictions.
Interpol Turn on the Bright Lights

9. Panda Bear: Collecting nostalgic pop melodies and making them fresh has been a common endeavor for bands since The Beach Boys, but Panda Bear stumbled upon a secret recipe to psychedelic pop glory- self-harmonization, looping samples, and adding a ton of reverb. Largely the work of a single man (Noah Lennox of Animal Collective) and his laptop, Person Pitch is like a colorful hot-air balloon slowly wafting up to greet a blue big-clouded sky- weightless, eternal, and beautiful to behold. In a period when lazy throwbacks to bygone eras became common, Person Pitch draws its rear-view mirror psychedelia from modern constructs- electronica, sampling, and even the repetition of dance music. An experimental album that’s heavy on melody and easy on the ears? Wonderful!
Panda Bear Person Pitch

8. Wilco: Experimentation and alt-country weren’t mixable entities until Wilco unveiled Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Leaning heavily on studio trickery and creative rhythmic instrumentation, the shifting sonic atmosphere subtly supports the songs rather than drowning them out. The songs themselves range from the careful folky revelations of “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” to the curious tender love and dissatisfaction expressed “Reservations”. The finest standout is “Jesus, Etc“, an orchestrally-embellished pop-country tune featuring delicate phrases (“I’ll be around, you were right about the stars, each one is a setting sun”) and enough strange imagery (“tall buildings shake, voices escape”) to keep listeners guessing at the story underlying the song. Also notable is “Pot Kettle Black”, which features vague but excellently-structured songwriting from lead singer Jeff Tweedy- “empty out your pockets,
words without a song” and “I’ll keep you in my locket, a string I never strum” as two of the finer couplets. Several years ago, I would have had this album much higher, but it hasn’t aged terribly well with me, probably due to the reserved tempo featured throughout. However, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot still contains some of the finest folk-country seen this decade.
Wilco

7. Modest Mouse: Though Good News For People Who Like Bad News was Modest Mouse’s true mainstream breakthrough, The Moon and Antarctica was the group’s greatest release this decade. Featuring Issac Brock’s distinctive vocals and self-depreciating lyrics, these tunes are notable for their continual development and experimentation. One of these linear-building rock songs, “Gravity Rides Everything” adds several guitar lines from out of nowhere that build until the song’s close. Along with these types of changes, The Moon and Antarctica features both disruptive folk punk (“Tiny Cities Made of Ashes”, “A Different City”) and slower, bleaker roots songs like “Third Planet” and “The Coldest Part”, all executed in unique modes that add to the album’s superb flow and intrigue.
Modest Mouse

6. Broken Social Scene: You Forgot It In People is to music listeners what the everything bagel is to indecisive breakfasters- a taste of many differing flavors gathered in one place. The upside is that YFIIP sounds a lot better than an everything bagel probably tastes. Broken Social Scene executes every single style on here with an innate sense of beauty, and the care they took in making each sound is obvious. On each song, not only is the similar aesthetic present, but a similar mood manifested in different ways and dynamics. For example, “Pacific Theme” has a tropical feel, but remains as detachedly somber as the strings on “Pitter Patter Goes My Heart”. The tender noise ballad “Lover’s Spit” and the steady but unsettling “Stars and Sons” are two highlights, but beautiful moments are interspersed throughout all of You Forgot It In People.
Broken Social Scene

5. Animal Collective: This year’s most hyped album turned to be one of those rare instances where the frenzy of escalating expectations is actually met. Animal Collective had been indie darlings for much of the decade, but their output was maddeningly inconsistent and prone to moments of sonic annoyance, the result of overzealous studio experimentation. A good example would be “Grass“, where a divine verse gets killed a bit by the succession of shouts in the chorus, which were gratingly recorded, but probably fantastic live. On Merriweather Post Pavillion, AC not only move away from the moments of annoyance, but bend their experimental tendencies into danceable jams instead of psychebilly freakouts. “My Girls“, for instance, couples electronica swirls with a booming bass line and well-timed hollers, using repetition as a way to move feet while sticking their catchy simple melodies into listener’s heads. The rest of the album shows a similarly mature sense of place, time, and space previously lacking in their music, while retaining their creative and innovative urges. MPP is a new brand of experimental dance-pop, both listenable in solitude and danceable in public, and hopefully the beginning of a trend bound for places beyond indie pop concert halls.
Animal Collective

4. Arcade Fire: For a seven-piece band, Funeral is an impossibly precise and heartfelt album, the shared sentiments of the entire group released through music. The album received its name from several deaths to relatives of the band members, and its not hard to see further influence of those events, especially on “In The Backseat”. Funeral is fully developed instrumentally, with featured parts for strings, xylophones, accordions, but these are all used to enhance the folk rock core, rather than as pointless flowery gimmicks. The strings and piano on “Laika“, notably, add so much to the swirling intensity of the song that its hard to image the music without them. Win Butler’s affected vocals never come off as anything other than sincere, as he whispers and howls of desolation. But the underlying music is not without a sense of hopefulness, especially in the numerous unexpected breakdowns at the ends of several songs, where a downbeat setting is suddenly catapulted into dark dance-rock, a faint glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.
Arcade Fire

3. Madvillain: Certainly the most creative hip-hop album I’ve heard all decade, Madvillany is the result of a collaboration between two underground heavyweights- producer Madlib and rapper MF DOOM (now just plain DOOM). Madlib samples heavily not only from jazz, soul, and classical, but from dusty old movie clips and sound bites, adding a theatrical sense to the proceedings. Both the samples and much of DOOM’s rapping center around the MC’s concocted villain persona for the album, a trick bolstered by DOOM’s real-life mask-wearing habit. But if classic samples and manufactured image were the only calling points of Madvillany, the album could be cast off as a creative gimmick. On the contrary, DOOM’s rapping is both phenomenal and memorable, as he deftly runs through insightful tidbits in a grand laid-back urban-Confucius style-

How Doom hold heat, and preach non-violence?
Shhh, he ’bout to start the speech, c’mon, silence
On one scary night, I saw the light
Heard a voice that sound like Barry White said “Sure you’re right” (from “Raid“)

Villain get the money like curls
They just trying to get a nut like squirrels in his mad world
Land of milk and honey with the swirls
Where reckless naked girls get necklaces and pearls (from “Curls“)

And Madlib’s production can’t be sold short as hustle, either- his beats are alternately curious and pounding, and his instrumentals “Sickfit” and “Do Not Fire” stand out as carefully boisterous jams. Mixed together, the fascinating beats and scintillating rhymes make Madvillany the best hip-hop album of the decade.
Madvillain

2. Radiohead: Much ink has been spilled about Kid A’s ground-breaking ambient electronica and its influence on both indie rock and electronica in the last decade. But other sources have already deliberated upon both topics, so I’d rather spend a few words on the strength of the material itself. To listen to Kid A is to enter into a strange psychotic world, bizarre in nature yet eerily familiar in its frequent hints of reality within the surreal. Chords bubble over themselves in new ways on the opener, “Everything in its Right Place”, and while “The National Anthem” stomps and “Idioteque” grooves, “How to Disappear Completely” slowly laments its sulky disillusionment. This diversity of emotion is found within the albums’ fantastically icy contents, and Kid A stays forever fresh due to its almost-relateable alien ways.
Radiohead Kid A

1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor: The greatest album of the decade (at least in my eyes), Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven is the kind of album no amount of spilled words or concocted phrases can truly describe. Comprised of 4 instrumental songs running at about 20 minutes each, LYSF not only epitomizes post-rock’s grandiose values, but exceeds the genre’s wildest dreams. LYSF features heart-throttling dynamics to dramatic effect, slowly building minimalist beauties into dense guitar storms. This album demands your full attention to its every waking moment, as each new note plays an important role in realizing the song’s overarching theme and eventual climax- like a subtle sci-fi thriller, if such a thing exists. LYSF conjures up images of bleak countryside and expansive outer space, quiet isolation and frenzied crowds, as it moves through a complete cycle of human experience and situation. Due to its size and demands upon the listener, LYSF can’t often be played in entirety, but each time it unveils a new and revitalizing magic found nowhere else in popular music.
Life Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven

By: Ryan Faus

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Tranformers: What Went Wrong

November 02nd, 2009 | Category: Pop Culture

As every boy who grew up in the 90‚Äôs knows, Transformers were freaking awesome. Therefore, it was only natural for the children who grew up with these ‚Äúrobots in disguise‚ÄĚ to see the first Transformers film when it hit movie screens in the summer of ‚Äô07. Like the original cartoon series, the film did not disappoint; in fact, it astounded audiences as evidenced by that summer‚Äôs box office.

But, as has become painfully obvious, the makers of Transformers did not stop with their smash hit. Instead, they chose to pollute their popularity by making a sequel, an idea that has harmed many movies in the past. This was no exception. Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen may have been one of the worst movie letdowns of the summer. Why? It followed a great movie, and the film makers had a lot to work with (Transformers are ridiculously cool, and the director had a $200 million budget). Instead of being something refreshingly new and charged with creative action, Transformers 2 came off as cliche as it attempted to mimic its predecessors success.

If one is looking for evidence of cliche, look no further. Romance abounds in absurdly common and corny ways. For example, Sam Witwicky battled with the those three little words that every love-struck schoolboy must say to their serious girlfriends: ‚ÄúI love you‚ÄĚ. And the girlfriend, Mikaela Banes played by Megan Fox, was a cliche herself. The makers knew an attractive female such as Megan Fox would pull boys in like a magnet.

The Megan Fox technique only hooks some men, though, and new strategies needed to be adopted to secure more of an audience. It was there that writers turned to humor. This film introduced two new characters, comedic twins by the names of Skids and Mudflap. While this may have worked for a comedy, the oily, spark-filled battles of the Autobots versus the Decepticons clearly call the genre of Action home. Comedy had no place among these steely aliens.

Of course, more can be said about the failures of Tranformers 2, but what lies at the core of these failures is that film makers really wanted to top their previous creation. Instead of taking care in engineering a new plot or constructing a more original love story, writers simply stuck comedy awkwardly in and took short cuts at every turn. And why not? Wouldn’t just one hulking, metal, destructive machine guarantee viewers? I mean, I went and saw it. But the fact remains that not even Optimus Prime could have saved this cliche movie.

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