Welcome back, readers! We’ve got another guest playlist this week, bringing you a different perspective with some brand new songs! This week, our guest author is no stranger here: Miss Kiana Corley.
A little about our author…
Hi! My name is Kiana Corley, and I’m a 20 year-old student in Millersville University’s Music Business Technology program. I play the guitar and the bass, but my main instrument of focus is the voice. I listen to literally anything and everything, but I tend to be more drawn to soul and R&B music. My main goal is to perform, while simultaneously writing original songs for myself and others. If just one of those things happens though, I’d be super happy! I’d also be pretty content in artist management, A&R, or something else on the business side of the music industry.
1. “Location” by Khalid
So when I first caught word that this song existed, I thought for the longest time that it was by DJ Khaled… you can only imagine my confusion when I found out otherwise! Thank goodness someone clarified that it was actually by this up-and-coming artist who calls himself “Khalid,” and hoo boy is he one to look out for. I’ll easily be playing this on a consistent repeat throughout the summer. In case you didn’t know, I’m such a sucker for slow and smooth R & B tunes, and this is certainly one of them. The muted guitar strum sound, as well as the distinctiveness of Khalid’s voice, really help to bring character to this gem. This also seems to follow a brewing trend of simplified production (which can be heard in songs such as “Love Yourself,” “Issues,” etc.), that I definitely don’t hate.
2. “26” by Paramore
Wow, this song… just wow. (Also wow, this album…wow.) The appropriately-titled album After Laughter sheds light on how real and human it is to feel negative emotions. All of the songs on this album touch on that subject in their own brilliant ways. This is probably my favorite track off of the album (although it was so hard to choose). I recommend listening to this while laying on your bed and staring at the ceiling to let it all sink in.
While the melody is absolutely gorgeous, the lyrics are what did it for me. Everything about this song is just…beautiful.
3. “Carolina” by Harry Styles
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I hate any 1D song, but I’ve never been a huge fan of them either. I found a lot of their stuff catchy, and “Drag Me Down” was my jam. However, I just never really felt the desire to buy their concert tickets, or their albums, or anything like that. When I saw them slowly break apart, I wasn’t all that surprised, due to the fact that they were all originally solo artists with plans of careers of their own. But, even though I was never really all that invested in them as a group, I decided to check out each of their own individual sounds as they released their solo music. Boy, was I glad I did.
While there are songs on this album I’m not necessarily floored by, there are songs that I absolutely love. The instant I heard this song I couldn’t help but smile and dance around in my bathroom in front of my mirror, like the self-obsessed millennial that I am. This song has already made me unapologetically late to a handful of places, and it hasn’t even been out that long.
The almost whiny-sounding guitar at the beginning instantly draws me in, and Harry’s smooth and easy vocals help to make sure I don’t pull away. The contrast between the verses and the upbeat chorus is also something I appreciate.
I personally feel like most of the songs on this album have a very autumn/winter feel to them. As a whole, I do like this album, BUT, I would like it a lot more if it weren’t released at the start of summer (on this side of the globe). That being said, “Carolina” is definitely a summer-appropriate song, which is probably one of the reasons I’m obsessed with it in this specific time of the year.
4. “Calypso” by Jackson Lundy
Speaking of smooth and easy vocals, let’s move onto probably one of my biggest obsessions for the summer (and probably for the rest of my life)! A good friend of mine showed me this beautiful song, and I was hooked the instant Jackson Lundy caused his golden vocal folds to create sound. This song has everything I love: a smooth R & B feel, jazzy chords, simplistic production, a keyboard setting that reminds me of gospel music, and friggin horns!!! I can also chill in my room with a candle burning while this song plays in the background, which is a plus. So, yeah. I’m gonna stop here and let this song do the rest of the talking.
5. “Talk To Me” by Marian Hill
Marian. Hill. Underrated artist. The first time I heard one of their songs was in the background of a Vine of Leonardo DiCaprio. While looking at Leo’s face was a nice experience, as it always is, I couldn’t help but be caught by this song. Their song “One Time,” off of their album Act One, was what got me hooked on this duo and their velvet-voiced singer.
Their songs remind me of those songs you’d hear in the background of compilation videos pre-teen fans make for the YouTubers that they idolize. Aspects of their sound that listeners can usually pick out include some type(s) of horn(s), and lots of vocal manipulations in production. Their songs are just very trendy, very “now.”
None of the subject matters are all that deep, so if good lyrics are a requirement for you, then their stuff may not be your thing. If you can look past that, then I strongly recommend listening to all of Act One and jamming out!
6. “Incomplete” by James Bay
Speaking of GROSSLY underrated artists… James Bay, ladies and gentlemen (or James Bae, honestly). Truthfully, I wish I could put all of The Chaos and the Calm on here. And I don’t think I can say “Incomplete” is my favorite off of the album, because honestly, I think I have an equal amount of immense love for each song. This one, however, just does something to me every. damn. time.
If you skipped my previous suggestion because good lyrics are something you need, then look no further my friend! This track in particular is one of those songs where it is imperative to listen to the words that are coming out of his beautiful mouth. Seriously, this song is essentially a poem set to an arpeggiated guitar line.
“Incomplete” is the last track on Chaos and the Calm, and it is the perfect conclusion to the journey that this album takes you on. I almost hesitate to recommend this song without recommending listening to the album first, from start to finish, so that you can end with this magnificent work of art.
7. “Molasses” by Hiatus Kaiyote
And now for something completely different! If you aren’t a musician or someone who deeply understands and appreciates the technical aspects of music, and you’re into these guys….major props to you my friend. Hiatus Kaiyote is a neo-soul quartet, composed of a vocalist that also plays guitar, a percussionist, a keyboard player, and a bassist. Tired of simple time signatures and I – vi – IV – V progressions? I certainly have the band for you!
Multiple stank faces and jaw drops came with each of my first impressions of their songs. They’re all so smart and innovative with each of their musical choices, and it always keeps you guessing. Also, their lyrics are so poetic and refreshing to listen to. “Molasses” in particular is one of my favorites. Some key things to listen for are their intentionally delayed rhythmic hits in the beginning of the song, and the badass way Naomi (the vocalist) says “well I do, I tessellate.” Those are just two out of many aspects of this song that I greatly appreciate. Please give them a listen!
8. “Melt My Heart To Stone” by Adele
Like the owner of this website, I too am a huge fan of this UK-based beautiful creature. 19 is my favorite album she’s ever done. Hell, it’s one of my favorite albums of all time. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love 21 and 25, but 19, for me, is just the album where she seems the most fresh, raw, and emotionally-invested.
This song is also super poetic lyrically, which is a huge plus for me (as you can probably tell by this point.) The first few opening sentences just hook you. I think the accompaniment underneath her in the beginning was made sparse specifically so that the listener could focus on the words being sung.
After the first verse, the accompaniment marvelously expands into a breathtaking orchestral arrangement, which matches the growing emotion in Adele’s vocals. I personally love her crack in the chorus, but I know that it does put some listeners off. I also obsess over the fact that when she sings “I’m the only one in love,” the word “love” happens on an unresolved chord. I kind of think this was done purposefully, to help further illustrate the desperation that Adele feels in that very moment.
112% worth the listen.
9. “Fly (FKJ Remix)” by June Marieezy
I was up until five in the morning on one occasion with two friends, and one of them showed me this song. While the day that followed this night wasn’t the best (as a result of the lack of sleep I got), listening to this song on repeat throughout that day made things significantly more bearable. The echo placed on the vocals at the beginning grabbed me, BUT THEN THE DROP. GUYS. I’m suuuch a sucker for minimalist-style drops.
I love the chords used in this song, and the vocals just make me feel like everything is gonna be okay in life, you know? Her voice is just so mild and glossy. I also really love how everything drops out at the end, except for the piano…and birds. You’ll have to listen to it to see what I’m talking about there.
10. “Hey, I Won’t Break Your Heart” by Corinne Bailey Rae
And now I close this post with my number one inspiration as a creative soul in general: Corinne Bailey Rae. Her self-titled album is my favorite album. Ever. Period. Many albums come as a close second…but I will never ever get tired of listening to that album, or anything in her discography really. This song is actually off of her most recent release, The Heart Speaks in Whispers, which is also a really great album.
One of my weaknesses is a slow, meaningful song in 6/8, where a guitar is a focal point instrumentally. Also, can we talk about the background vocals that come in after Corinne’s first verse? I just think they’re perfectly placed, in terms of song structure. There’s also this build that happens at the bridge that smacks you in the face, and continues to build until the very end. I love love love how she chose to end this, it’s almost like she’s defeated. It’s so human.
Please for the love of all that is good, listen to this song, especially if the topic is relevant in your life. I strongly recommend listening to this in solitude, with no distractions around you whatsoever. The lyrics in this song are key.
You can listen to this playlist on Spotify:
That’s all for this week! Big shoutout and thanks to Kiana for putting this eclectic mix together! I hope you enjoyed her picks for this week’s playlist, and as always, new playlists are posted every Wednesday, so check back for more each week. Next week, Miss Kelsie Baxter will be providing us with her choices for her guest playlist!