Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

Continuing the tradition of not updating on schedule and having a themed post, this week’s post is going to centre on pop songs that I like to dance to.  Most of these may or may not come from watching too many YouTube fan videos and could possibly be described as pretty cheesy, but I like them all the same.

1 – Shut Up and Dance – Walk The Moon (2014)

I mean, ‘dance’ is in the title, of course it’s a good dance song.  I’m ridiculously fond of it and it’s got its charms.  Probably one of my favourite pop songs, or in the top few, at any rate.

2 – Anything – Hedley (2013)

Not gonna lie, the official music video for it is pretty weird, and it’s something you should probably listen to with headphones if you’ve got the uncensored version on, but it’s pretty catchy.  Likely not for everyone, but it’s not bad to bop along to.

3 – Best Day of My Life – American Authors (2014)

I didn’t really think of this as a dance song first, since I first learned it in choir, but despite its unorthodox introduction into my life, I’ve gotten vaguely fond of it.  It’s got a good beat and a bit of harmonizing, and paired with expert fan editing, makes for a not bad dance song.

4 – Did I Say That Out Loud? – Barenaked Ladies (2014)

First heard of this song while browsing through Rooster Teeth videos, and it’s gotten stuck into my head since then.  Nice little romance-y type song, good rhythm, and the music video is a nice bit of production on Rooster Teeth’s end.  All in all, a pretty good song to dance to.

To clarify, I’m absolutely not a dancer, and these songs are all a matter of personal taste.  Being pop songs, most of them are probably pretty well known by now, so I don’t think the usual recommendation to give them a shot is needed here.  These are just the tunes that get me up and moving when I’ve been sitting at my computer too long.  See you all next time!

Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

Think I’m going to start doing more themed posts, instead of just songs of the week, since I usually tend to get the same few stuck in my head for months at a time.  Thoughts?  This week’s theme: classical (including but not limited to the Classical era) music.

1 – Hallelujah Chorus (Handel’s Messiah) – George Frederic Handel

The entire composition is a masterpiece of music, but I’d like to specify its most famous chorus in particular here.  There are lots of words to describe it: grand, majestic, rich, and as I like to sum it up, WOW, yet all these still fall short of truly defining it.  It leaves you speechless.

2 – Clair de lune (Suite bergamasque) – Claude Debussy

Perhaps a little clichéd, but for me, ‘Clair de lune’ is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever composed.  My piano teacher has described it as the Impressionistic era in a single song, which is pretty accurate.  Such a wide range and blend of dynamics and emotion in the piece, a lovely song to play and listen to.

3 – Symphony #5 – Ludwig van Beethoven

Normally, Beethoven and I are not the best of friends.  His piano sonatas frustrate me, and I’m just about ready to throw Fur Elise against a wall if I have to hear one more request for it.  But Symphony #5 is pretty spectacular.  It was one of my favourite pieces to listen to when I was studying for my music history exam, and having studied it in some detail makes listening to the piece all the more rewarding.  It’s truly a great piece, hats off to you, Herr Beethoven.

4 – Erlkonig – Franz Schubert

If the poem itself doesn’t send chills down your spine, the music and the vocalist will.  It’s one hell of a poem, and if sung well, one hell of a song.  The controlled frenzy of the piano sets an ominous background for the different voices to weave a strange tale of magic and fear and death.  Really eerie and gets your pulse pounding, and that ending will surprise you!  Just maybe have the English translation handy if, like me, you’re not fluent in German.

5 – Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – J.S. Bach

I gotta put this one up here, out of all of Bach’s compositions, because it really is such a flowing and beautiful piece.  Johann Sebastian and I are a lot greater pals than Beethoven and I, except maybe when it comes to harmony which I haven’t forgiven him for yet, and out of all his many, many pieces (he’s really earning that money to feed all those children of his), this one has got to be my favourite.  If I ever get married, I hope to hear this playing as I walk down the aisle.

And that’s this week’s post done!  I daresay all these pieces can probably be found on YouTube, though you probably want to be careful about which recordings you listen to.  My general rule of thumb is to go for more established orchestras or performers, though that doesn’t mean amateurs can’t also give a good performance.  I’d probably recommend even going to the library to find these on CD in the classical section – published recordings have a higher likelihood of good quality than Internet recordings.  Please do go and give these a listen, they’re absolutely magnificent pieces and they’re the backbone of Western music today.  Until the next time ❤

Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

Wow, I’ve really been bad at keeping up with these weekly posts, haven’t I?  What can I say, summer is a busy time, and dashing off a quick five minute post isn’t really my style.  In a continuation of departure from tradition, this week’s post is going to be themed, since I haven’t really gotten into any new songs in the past little while.  This week’s theme: not quite individual songs, but soundtracks and scores!

1 – The Lord of the Rings – Howard Shore

Lord of the Rings is probably engraved into my heart at this point.  Above all other stories or fandoms or what have you, Lord of the Rings along with Tolkien’s other works on Middle-Earth is my absolute favourite.  I was first introduced to it through the Peter Jackson trilogy, which I still love and have watched so many times I can recite half the thing from memory.  Even though I have some issues with how certain aspects of the films were handled, like any fan, one thing I’ve never had cause to complain about is the soundtrack, which is absolutely beautiful and perfectly accompanies, encompasses, and defines the story.  It’s my go-to study music, my casual listening playlist, my mental symphony.  Bravo to Mr. Howard Shore (a Canadian too!) for his amazing compositions that truly made the movies great.

2 – The Prince of Egypt – Stephen Schwartz and Hans Zimmer

One of the very first non-Disney musical films I fell in love with was The Prince of Egypt, and a large reason for that was the amazing songs.  The vocals, the composition, the lyrics, all of them come together to tell the story perfectly.  Moments of mighty grandeur, softer moments of faith and hope, so many of the great scenes in this movie are possible because of the wonderful songs and score.

3 – The Phantom of the Opera – Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart

In my opinion, for grandeur and skill, no musical surpasses the Phantom.  It’s the first musical I really fell in love with, and though the modified story for the stage is not the strongest I’ve seen, the music is perfectly sublime.  The technical skill alone needed to perform the songs is astounding, and the music itself just catches you up and takes you to a whole other time and place.

4 – Beauty and the Beast (1991) – Howard Ashman and Alan Menkin

The original, so of course it comes before the new live-action.  One of Disney’s biggest strengths in its movies has always been its songs, and in my personal opinion, Beauty and the Beast has the most iconic and timeless repertoire of the entire Disney collection (time will tell if Moana joins it there, but forecast is looking good).  Not just one or two songs, but every song is memorable, well-written, and well-performed.  My favourite Disney movie ever, and a huge reason for that is its music.

5 – Shrek – Harry Gregson-Williams, John Powell, et al

Ah Shrek, the movie that defined a generation.  I saw a tumblr post floating around once that said you know a song is good if it makes it onto Shrek, which has a large kernel of truth in it.  The ‘et al’ is for the original songwriters of the many pop songs that were incorporated into the movie and soundtrack, which really gave the film a relatable, familiar feel.  Since the songs are already known to the audience, they provide an emotional and situational context for what’s happening on screen, without having to explain anything in the dialogue.  So Shrek is on the list for twofold reasons – firstly its great and iconic playlist, and secondly its masterful selection and of songs.

Phew, I’ve finally churned one of these out!  Seriously though, soundtracks and scores are great.  They’re my favourite genre(?) of music, I love all those grand orchestral themes and memorable lyrics.  As always, I highly recommend each soundtrack, which are probably available at your local library or on YouTube.  That should probably tide you over until the next post, hopefully next week!  See you then 🙂

 

Happy 150, Canada!

All in all, you’re not a bad country to live in.  Sure, you’re every bit as problematic as other countries, and you’ve got a ways to go in getting better, but let’s hope that the next 150 years will take a large step in that direction.  That’s what today should be about, celebrating 150  years of you and working to always be better than we’ve been and are.

O Canada, our home and native land!  When I’m away, I remember you with utmost fondness, when I’m here, I appreciate your beauty, your quirkiness, your comfort.  There’s no place like home, there’s no place like you.  For all your faults, for all your charms, you are home, and I wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world.

Happy 150th, Canada.  Let’s make the next 150 years something to really celebrate about.