The following is a guest post from my friend and assistant DJ, Candi Becker.
Taylor Swift’s song “Blank Space” takes the crown as the best composition and best pop song of 2014 to me, not to mention that it is a record breaking song for the artist that has been replayed by many music lovers. The song is personal to Taylor Swift, but universal. Passionate, but self-aware. It has opened up the doors of her camouflaged talent that fans have been waiting for. This song is unique because the majority of the songs she sang before this one display her obsession with dudes and love, to the exclusion of most other topics. Her musical emotional response and lyrical fascinations have been steady all along, while progressively improving with time and becoming distinctly appealing with the hit song.
“Blank Space” is the best song Taylor Swift has released so far in her career. Taylor’s life has been very active especially in social media and gossip blogs with regard to her love life, as fans and critics analyze her previous hits and express them as taking a dim view of her previous relationships. However, “Blank Space” changed the course of gossip winds as the song portrays her as funny and fully aware of herself. It shows her awareness about being a letdown for romance, because she has had an adequate amount of disastrous relationships over the years. The song reveals that she has developed into a mocking lover, but is still hoping at every chance to bump into her dream man. Swift is almost turning 25, and the blossoming of such a pop star at her age and her spontaneous ability to turn these sort of shared epiphanies into greatly appealing songs is more than half the reason why she is so popular and cherished.
Some of the best thought-provoking lines in the song is when she sings that “Boys only want love if it inflicts torture”, maybe onto their other half through immoral conduct or mutual torture in a toxic relationship. I love listening to this song as I reflect on my past relationships. Such thoughts are further triggered by Taylor’s voice during the course of the song as it sounds like that of an insecure, despairing woman who doubts her exes in a state of emotional settlement. The song contains some sadness, but not anger towards them.
“Blank Space” also carries some pieces of advice both to an ordinary person and celebrities who recoil from their private lives turning out to be too public, but Swift realizes that given the state of affairs of her life, public opinion will never be an alternative. She uses the gossip to her advantage by opening up to the critics and adding some spur and strain to her tunes. She understands that there is a long past of soap-opera trickery in pop culture and the tabloids. Her sucker punch is obvious when she brings out watchwords such as “I can make the bad boys good for a weekend” or, I’ll write your name” and “I’ve got a blank space, baby.” This is satirical, self-condemnatory, and inviting protest. When all is said and done, the song is still entertaining especially because it contains a volatile tale and the chorus flows with solid rhymes. The song might not seem “Swifty” but I am truly mesmerized with what she has achieved.
I know it’s a few years old now, but “Midnight City” by M83 is still one of my favorite songs to listen to in the evening and relax after a long day’s work. Before I was on the air, I worked in a stuffy office environment. I spent countless days looking at spreadsheets, listening to consultant-speak, using my VOIP phone to take calls from clients even when I’m on the road, and listening to my boss talk during corporate meetings.
When I came home from work, I just wanted to relax or go out for some fun. “Midnight City” by M83 is the kind of song that lifts my spirits after a rough day. Shoegazing is a fun genre of music, and “Midnight City” would have to be considered its anthem.
Waiting in a car
Waiting for a ride in the dark
The night city grows
Look and see her eyes, they glow
Waiting in a car
Waiting for a ride in the dark
Drinking in the lounge
Following the neon signs
The lyrics are all about having a fun night out, which is exactly what I want to do after a long day of work. This song does get some air time at clubs, but only at certain places. Indie-pop bands like M83 generally don’t get played at the same places where you’ll hear Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.
Next time you head out to the club, keep your ears open and you’ll probably hear “Midnight City.”
In my last post, I talked about what a great song “Happy” by Pharrell is to wake up to, because of how positive it is. Another song that always brightens up my day is “On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons.
I love to play this song when I’m feeling down, because it always puts a smile on my face. I was talking with Candi about “On Top of the World” a couple days ago, and she felt the same way. Candi was telling me that when she hears this song she doesn’t even bother to use her whitening cream or makeup because the good mood of the song brightens up her complexion.
Most people, I think, will just listen to the chorus and the upbeat melody. And that’s fine. It’s certainly a positive song! But I think that looking at the lyrics reveals a deeper song than it might appear at first glance. Take a look:
I’ve tried to cut these corners
Try to take the easy way out
I kept on falling short of something
I coulda gave up then but
Then again I couldn’t have ’cause
I’ve traveled all this way for something
This song is about someone who never gives up, despite the obstacles that life places in his way. He just keeps on moving forward with his plans, because he feels on top of the world. This song reminds me a lot of “Try” by P!nk, which is another of my favorite motivational songs. No matter what happens, you have to keep on pushing forward rather than making excuses for your failure.
Songs like “On Top of the World” are what I wish I’d listened to when I was younger, rather than depressing emo stuff. I’m a big believer that the music that you listen to has a big influence on your daily moods and your overall worldview. Keeping a playlist full of motivating songs like this can be really helpful when you’re working on something important and you’re tempted to give up when it gets frustrating.
“Happy” by Pharrell is one of the hottest songs of 2014 so far. I love to wake up to this song; it puts me in a good mood after a good night’s sleep. I sometimes have trouble getting up in the morning because of my sleep apnea. I bought some devices to help me stop snoring, like GMSS and ZQuiet. Sleep aids like these help a bit, but with sleep apnea it seems like I’m always tired when I wake up in the morning anyway. The truth is, nothing helps me wake up like a good song. I like “Happy” because it’s very positive and upbeat, without being too cheesy…something that’s increasingly rare in today’s music.
“Happy” is off of Pharrell’s second album, “Girl.” You can also find it on the “Despicable Me 2″ soundtrack. It’s hard to overstate how big of a hit this song is. As of the time of this writing, it’s sold over 10 million copies worldwide, making it one of the 20 or so best-selling songs of all time. Before this song, I hadn’t really heard a lot of Pharrell’s stuff. I mostly just knew him from his featured appearance in “Drop It Like It’s Hot” by Snoop Dogg and “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. But this song most definitely puts Pharrell on the map as a major star in his own right, and I’ll be waiting for his next big hit. He’s got a Weird Al parody of his song now, called “Tacky.” As Kurt Cobain once said, he knew he’d finally made it when Weird Al started parodying him. (If you haven’t already heard the Weird Al parody, head over to YouTube. It’s available on Weird Al’s VEVO channel.)
Pharrell does have some upcoming concerts, but alas, none of them are near London this year. You’ll have to travel across the pond if you want to see him live. He has concerts in Los Angeles on November 8 and December 5, then one in Rosemont, Illinois on December 6. There are rumors that he’ll be touring in 2015, but no definitive schedule has been published yet.
Fun fact: Did you know that Pharrell Williams is 41 years old?! That’s just crazy…he has such a baby face. I thought he was in his 20s. I’m 30 years old, and I definitely look older than him.