We’ve got another playlist this week! Check it out, and let me know what you think!
1. “Manhattan” by Sara Bareilles
Though I feel like she’s had enough songs popular on the radio to make her a more well known artist in the industry, Sara Bareilles seems to fly under the radar more often than she should. “Manhattan” comes off of her Grammy-nominated album The Blessed Unrest and is, in my opinion, one of the best songs about unrequited love since Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”. With a relatively simple, yet gorgeously written piano line full of disgustingly good 7th chords, and an emotionally damning brass accompaniment, this song brings you up as much as it brings you down…because sometimes you have to let someone have the city so you can have the beach. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but sometimes, it’s the best thing to do for your relationship.
2. “This Is Gospel (Piano Version)” by Panic! At The Disco
No matter what anyone tells me, this version will always be better than the album version, hands down. Brendon Urie is one of my personal heroes, as a male singer who can really wail up into the higher range of his voice. And though this song doesn’t really extend too far up into those kind of notes like, say, “Death of Bachelor” does, the stripped down version of this song really brings out the painful truth in the lyrics of the song that you may not pick up on initially if you’re just banging your head along to the album version. Similar to “Manhattan”, it’s not easy to hear, “If you love me, let me go” and talking about “the fear of falling apart”. And yes, it hurts me to see all of that stuff get dumped on that stunning white piano, but it does give the video a sort of light-hearted feel since the song can get kind of heavy broken down like this.
3. “Stay” by Zedd and Alessia Cara
Oh come on, I couldn’t just serve up an entire playlist of somber songs, even if that IS mostly what I listen to on a daily basis! This collaboration could not have been better for me since I’m a pretty big fan of both Zedd and Alessia Cara. After “Here”, I gave Alessia’s album Know-It-All a listen and have not regretted it since. It’s full of some really catchy pop songs that display an intriguing spectrum of influences, and some really creative and mature writing. I’ve also really loved Zedd, but was kind of disappointed by his last album True Colors, if I’m being totally honest. This to me came as his comeback single and DELIVERED! That hook! That drop! That little run at the beginning of the song! Everything about it, really! Every time I hear it, I have to start jamming out, and I hope you guys get that feeling too when you hear it. Definitely going on the Summer Playlist for the beach.
4. “Mad Love” by JoJo
If you were wondering if the mention of JoJo just transported you back to 2006 without you consciously aware you were time traveling, I can understand. Sadly, you were not, because apparently Google hasn’t gotten that far yet. After years of battling her former record label and getting signed to a new label, JoJo returned in 2016 with this powerhouse of an album Mad Love. and let me tell you, her voice hasn’t faltered since she first came to prominence when she was singing “Get Out” and “Too Little, Too Late”. The title track of the album is an old school ode to being head-over-heels in love with someone so much it hurts, that it drives you insane, but you HAVE to love it. The throwback feel along with the soul that has been infused into her voice now that she’s matured so much since her earlier days in the industry make this a straight up JAM.
5. “Pushin’ Time” by Miranda Lambert
For those of you out there that aren’t fans of country music, don’t get this twisted here: I am among you. I’ve listened to almost every genre of music in an attempt to see where I draw lines, and I’m sorry, very few country songs get past that preliminary listen. But the first time I heard this Miranda Lambert song, she was performing it live at a charity concert on TV, and I was really drawn in by the lyrics. In a time when most music categorized as country is so clearly being marketed to become a crossover hit (just look at the amount of pop artists being recruited to join today’s most prominent country singers for hit duets), this song kind of brought me back to what I’ve always respected about country music, though it’s never been my go-to genre: the storytelling. This song talks about wanting to love someone while you’ve got them in front you, because life is short. Sure, a well-trodden road, but it’s gorgeously written, the way classic country music should be. For some reason, this song really got to me emotionally, and it’s stuck with me in a different way than many other country songs have.
6. “Worry” by The Vamps
Pop is such an expansive genre that a lot of the time it’s hard to nail down what classifies a song as pop. That being said, that can make it difficult to make a solid pop album because the genre bends. However, both albums that have filtered their way over to the US released by UK band The Vamps have been SOLID pop albums. Hey, that could be that they come from the UK. Let’s be honest, the raw natural talent coming out of the UK outweighs the US more often than not. However, they too fly under the radar a lot more than they should in my opinion. This song “Worry” off of their sophomore album Wake Up is a great example of this. Whereas all of the band’s members are all 19 and 20, but give the appearance of being 16 and 17, this song is much more sonically mature than you’d expect, especially if, say, they were an American band? Though they could be classified as a boy band, they don’t really give off that vibe, and don’t perpetuate that by trying to carry that image promotionally. With a soaring chorus and a head-bangable drum line throughout the climax of the song till it’s final chord, this song is solid proof that The Vamps are a band that deserve a little more recognition here in the States.
7. “Wild (XXYXX Remix)” by Troye Sivan
Undeniably one of the most pleasant surprises of my 2015-2016 was really delving into Troye Sivan’s music. His haunting baritone voice, his thought-provoking lyrics and the perplexing degree of production on his album threw me for a loop that I was glad I decided to impart upon. “Wild” was the first taste I got of what was to come, which was his crazy good record Blue Neighborhood, filled to the brim with intelligently crafted electronica tunes. As a bonus track, this remix took what was already a pretty great song that would soon become a decent radio hit, and give it a bass drop I didn’t know I needed it to have. I loved the original, liked the version with Alessia Cara, and was even further thrown for a loop with this off handed remix that was too good to pass up.
8. “All The Pretty Girls” by Kaleo
Kaleo is a really great find I discovered listening to Radio 104.5 while driving around randomly, because yes, I enjoy doing that at times. “Way Down We Go” was my first experience with their music. It was dark, brooding and really alt-rocky, paired with a growly vocal delivery that had me making that stank face we all make when we hear something that just GRABS us. So, after jamming to that for a while, I found their next single, which was this song, “All The Pretty Girls”. The first time I heard it, I thought it was a Lumineers song, with it’s much folkier feel, but I was surprised to find it being Kaleo again. Though the lyrics are still quite sad, the folky beat and the jump down from falsetto into the raspy chest voice I recognized from “Way Down We Go” had me tapping my hands and feet along to the rhythm. Another new act I’m very excited to hear more from.
9. “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles
This list could not, and I repeat, could NOT be complete with what was possibly the single most surprising song to come across my way this week, and that is Harry Styles’ first solo single, “Sign of the Times”. Highly anticipated from it’s announcement, hyped to Hell, the usual pomp and circumstance. However, let me tell you: one of the few songs that has EVER lived up to the amount of hype that was given to it. With timely lyrics that don’t necessarily narrate the slightly negative attitude the whole world feels in general currently, it’s equal parts throwback Bowie as it is modern day pop-rock in it’s own lane. Not since Adele’s “Hello” and Beyoncé’s “Formation”, in my opinion, has such a hotly awaited single lived up it’s expectations. I was never a vehement fan of 1D, but as I learned of Harry’s apparent writing prowess, and as I heard him grow as a vocalist, the idea of him straying out on a solo venture seemed promising. This song, the whole way through proves that to be entirely true. He used the long break he took between 1D’s announcement of hiatus up to the release of this song and it’s impending album to really work on his voice and make sure the music he put out was quality. Very impressed, and excited to see what comes next!
That’s all for this week! Check back next week for some more playlist picks!