Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Musical Taste And The Eternal Search For Popularity

[I mean absolutely no offence to Cool Kids or Popular Kids, two of my best friends are stereotypical Cool Kids, and 99% of the time, I wish I was one of them. Bro, I don’t care if you listen to Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake or Justin Bieber, I’m simply wondering why liking Coldplay makes me uncool.]

Be it consciously or unconsciously, we all crave popularity. No matter how old you are, don’t even try to pretend that you don’t wish you were the person that everyone else wanted to be. The cheerleader, the footballer- the Cool Kid. Like it or not, taste in music plays a part in popularity.

I’m not a cool kid, I never have been, and I’m under no illusions that I ever will be. I’m a concert kid, a music kid, basically, I’m a fangirl, and that’s not cool at all. Whilst normal people my age listen to the likes of Usher, Enrique and Lady Gaga, I’m perfectly happy to exist on a diet of indie rock, alternative rock, and normal rock- that is, of course, until I crack out my collection of oldies and country, but we won’t talk about that…

It probably all started when I was about nine. I don’t even know what Cool Kids my age listened to in the late 90’s, but I’m willing to bet that it was Britney, The Spice Girls and TLC, as opposed to my favourites, which included Savage Garden. I mean really now, what kind of nine-year-old is into rock bands?

But back to Cool Kids. Cool Kids simply adore dance music, but why? Why is it that liking Pitbull is cool, but liking Muse is odd? What is it that separates the two? My own humble opinion is that I’ve already answered my own question: it’s because Pitbull makes dance music. Cool Kids are always at clubs- dancing- and their lives could basically be summed up by any number of popular dance songs on the radio. They can associate with lyrics such as “hey baby, you look so good on the dance floor, baby, you’re amazing, on the dance floor baby, let’s dance baby, take your clothes off baby”, because that is what a Cool Guy says to a Cool Girl! Ha! I’ve figured it out! And the reason that un-cool people don’t like dance music is because we can’t relate to the lyrics…no guy has ever asked me to take my clothes off on the dance floor, baby!

There are exceptions, however, and I can think of one in particular. I met a girl, about four years ago, who is undoubtedly a Cool Kid. So much so, that on first impressions, I thought she’d never be friends with me. However, she has impeccable music taste: she loves Death Cab For Cutie and 1940’s jazz music, no one judges her for her it!

I am almost certain that I exist in a constant state of being judged. People ask what kind of music I listen to, and as soon as I tell them that my favourite bands are Coldplay and The Killers, I can almost feel them deciding that I’m not cool. Perhaps before answering, I should make a judgment call as to the popularity of the person asking, and if the person is a Cool Kid, I should answer “David Guetta, bro, he’s legit”. The day before I saw Coldplay live, I bounced into my lecture, squealing with excitement. My classmates’ reactions ranged from ‘I hate Coldplay’ to ‘Coldplay are terrible’ to ‘they make me feel like killing myself’. I’m not going to lie, my feelings were slightly hurt. If I had been a Cool Kid, excitemed about seeing Deadmau5, for example, they would have most likely jumped up and down squealing with me.

Whilst considering my favourite bands, I must acknowledge that even some Cool Kids were jealous that I went to see Kings of Leon live. Upon a quick Facebook creep, I find out that over 70 of my Facebook friends ‘like’ Kings of Leon…and some of these 70 are Cool Kids! However, I am soon able to deduce that Cool Kids don’t actually like Kings of Leon- Cool Kids like Sex On Fire. Sigh, there go my last hopes of ever being cool…

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fangirl Favourites of 2011

With the year drawing to a close, I thought I’d share my most played tracks, artists and albums of the year, as well as my favourite newly discovered artists. Bear in mind that very few of these albums/songs actually came out this year…I have weird taste, alright? These stats all come from my account, and some of them even managed to surprise me! They were, however, slightly skewed by the fact that I listened to Kings Of Leon almost incessantly for several weeks before seeing them live, in an attempt to learn every single word of every single song that they would play (and I was successful).

Top Played Artists of 2011:

1)      Coldplay
2)      Kings Of Leon
3)      The Killers
4)      The Gaslight anthem
5)      The Script
6)      Taylor Swift
7)      Hey Monday
8)      The  Vaccines
9)       Paramore
10)    Brandon Flowers

Oh goodness me, I only discovered The Gaslight Anthem in August! Imagine if I’d been listening to them all year, they’d definitely have been number one!

Top Played Songs of 2011:

1)      The ‘59 Sound- The Gaslight Anthem
2)      Paradise- Coldplay
3)      Even Cowgirls Get The Blues- The Gaslight Anthem
4)      Fans- Kings Of Leon
5)      Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall- Coldplay
6)      Back Down South- Kings Of Leon
7)      Pyro- Kings Of Leon
8)      Charmer- Kings Of Leon
9)      Film Noir­­- The Gaslight Anthem
10)   Meet Me By The River’s Edge­- The Gaslight Anthem

Wow! This kind of makes it look like I have no variety in music taste and simply listen to a few favourite bands. I assure you, I’m really very diverse! I do, however, have a couple of obsessions.

Top Played Albums of 2011:

1)      The ’59 Sound­- The Gaslight Anthem
2)      Come Around Sundown- Kings Of Leon
3)      Mylo Xyloto- Coldplay
4)      Only By The Night­- Kings Of Leon
5)      Because of the Times­- Kings Of Leon
6)      Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends­- Coldplay
7)      Science  & Faith- The Script
8)      What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?- The Vaccines
9)      Flamingo- Brandon Flowers
10)   Hold On Tight- Hey Monday

I think I’ve re-enforced my borderline-OCD Kings Of Leon obsession…

Favourite New Bands of 2011 (in no particular order):

I don’t care if they didn’t form in 2011, these are bands that I discovered this year. I’ve left out The Gaslight Anthem, I’m pretty sure that by now you realize that I love them a lot.

·         The Vaccines
·         Foster The People
·         Mumford & Sons
·         Hey Monday
·         Most Thieves

Favourite Live Performances of 2011:

1)      Coldplay at FNB Stadium- Without a doubt, the best live band I have ever seen. Explosive, stunning, perfect.
2)      Kings of Leon at FNB Stadium- I’d have preferred to have been pressed up against the barrier, but who really cares? It’s Kings Of Leon, for goodness sake, they’re rock gods!
3)      The Script at the Grand Arena, Grandwest- A beautiful performance, for which I had possibly the best barrier spot that I’ve ever had at a concert.
4)      The Parlotones at FNB Stadium (with Coldplay)- I’ve seen these guys live three times, and they just keep on getting better!
5)      Freshly Ground at East Coast Radio Durban Day- This band was definitely the highlight of my day! Extremely entertaining and beautifully executed performance.

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? I feel like my music taste has definitely changed this year, and become a lot more alternative. Last year’s top albums included Taylor Swift, Mika, and Owl City, all of whom I still appreciate, but no longer listen to quite as often. In addition to all of the artists mentioned, my love of country music has strengthened by a great amount, but that will be the subject of a whole other blog post…

Album Review: Daughtry- 'Break The Spell'

I became a fan of Daughtry in early 2007, the first time I heard ‘It’s Not Over’ on the radio. Their style is slightly heavier than my usual taste, yet they remain one of my favourite bands, and so needless to say, I was eager to give their latest album, ‘Break The Spell’, a listen.

Although I’ve only listened to the entire album about three times so far, my first impressions are very positive. This is a Daughtry album, through and through, there’s no mistaking the music and Chris Daughtry’s extremely distinctive vocals. I’m proud of the band for staying true to themselves; in a world where rock is a dying genre of music, they feel no need to go mainstream or to engage in things like duets with commercial artists in an attempt to sell more albums. And why should they? Daughtry clearly have a winning formula, as proven by their delivery of a third spectacular album.

My personal favourite tracks so far are ‘Louder Than Ever’, ‘Spaceship’, the extremely catchy single ‘Crawling Back To You’ and title track ‘Break The Spell’. Fans will not be disappointed in this album, I’d recommend buying it immediately, and seeing a live Daughtry show as soon as possible, I was lucky enough to attend their concert in Cape Town last year (a show which the band later referred to as their best show ever), and they put on a fantastic performance.