Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

Hello all!  Welcome back to another Songs of the “Week,” though at this point, I think it qualifies rather as a ‘Top __’ thing than a weekly update.  I really underestimated how long I get stuck in music ruts when I started this thing.  Ah well, the show must go on.  This week’s theme, going a bit into the vault and my old Doctor Who days, the best of Murray Gold, composer for the 2005 reboot of Doctor Who!

1 – Song of Freedom and Captivity (2008)

Of all the songs on the Doctor Who soundtrack, this one has been my absolutely favourite from the moment I first heard it.  It was heart-wrenchingly sad in ‘Planet of the Ood,’ magnificently triumphant in ‘Journey’s End,’ but my favourite performance of it comes from the Doctor Who at the Proms concert in 2008.  Very beautiful, always worth a listen.

2 – This is Gallifrey, Our Childhood, Our Home (2007)

What a brilliant piece of music.  Even without knowing the story, it calls to mind ancient alien civilizations, a sad, wistful nostalgia, a lonesome longing.  Excellent use of the instrumentation as well, I love hearing the melody come through in the percussion and bass instruments.

3 – Vale Decem (2010)

Possibly the saddest music for the Doctor to regenerate on.  I mean, ‘The End of Time’ itself is pretty sad, but this song!  It’s like rubbing salt onto the wound.  In a good way though.  Impossibly sad, absolutely perfect.

4 – I Am The Doctor (2011)

It’s quite a nice little introduction song for the Doctor, especially after the show itself ‘regenerates.’  Watching that first Matt Smith episode, this song playing as he stepped through the faces of the previous Doctors really legitimized him as the Doctor.  It’s full of confidence and drama, and paired with the scene, it’s a nice assertion of Doctor-ness.

I think that’s enough nerding out for now, so this is where I’ll leave you all.  Do give these a try, they’re all great pieces, and they come out of great soundtracks too.  Even if you’re not a Doctor Who fan, they’re pretty good musically, I think, and you could just appreciate them for their orchestration.  That’s my pitch done, see you all next time!

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Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

At this point, I probably shouldn’t even be calling this “Songs of the Week,” more like “Songs of the Month,” but I live in hope that the title will continue to shame me into following a schedule.  What’s the theme this time?  I’m feeling some movie magic, let’s go John Williams’ songs.

1 – Leaving Hogwarts – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

A lot of people would name Hedwig’s Theme as their favourite or most iconic song from the Harry Potter movies, but for me, this song has always been the clincher.  It ends the story in such a complete way, encapsulating all that has happened and the spirit of the story without words.  Every time I watch the movies, I look forwards to hearing this song play at the end.

2 – Star Wars (Main Theme) – Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

I mean, this is probably the most iconic movie theme of all time (John Williams does have a habit of writing these fantastic, iconic pieces, doesn’t he?), and it is so grand.  Not so fun on the piano, but as a trumpet player, playing it is great fun, and that opening trumpet fanfare?  Beautiful.

3 – Force Theme (Ben Kenobi’s Theme) – Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

That mournful melody line, so simple yet so grand?  John Williams has a real talent for capturing so many emotions and entwining them into simple musical themes.  Long before I started being an active fan, I loved the music, and apart from the Main Theme, this song always stuck with me.

4 – Harry’s Wondrous World – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

What a great song, it really make you feel like you’re right in the middle of this wonderful magical world.  Swooping melodies, grand harmonies, a touch of childish whimsy and wonder.  It really is quite spectacular.

5 – The Imperial March – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

What John Williams list is complete without the menacing beat of The Imperial March?  It’s Darth Vader in a song, not just the perfect accompaniment, but as notorious and foreboding as the character himself.  You can practically hear the rasping breath as it plays.

I didn’t intend for this to turn into a Best Of Harry Potter/Star Wars, but they’re what comes to me when I think about John Williams’ music.  Give them a listen on YouTube or iTunes or what have you, they’re easy enough to find.  If you’ve heard them before, they’re always great to visit.  If you haven’t, give them a shot!  The man is a legend and his music is legendary.  I’ll leave you with that, see you all next time!

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.

Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

Sorry I missed last week’s post, I was occupied the entire day and then I never got around to doing it in the days after!  There’s been quite a bit of music this week, though not many recurring songs, mostly whatever comes to the mind in an idle moment.  So to switch it up, I thought I’d do a non-English songs post this week, get a bit of variety from the usual musicals bonanza.

1 – Aya Ngena – Traditional Zulu Folk Song

I learned this song with my school choir and it’s easy to learn and great fun to sing.  As an alto, I usually go for Part 2 harmony, but soprano part is pretty fun too.  Nice little song to sing, and sounds amazing when all the parts are singing in harmony.

2 – Echoes of the Rainbow – Echoes of the Rainbow (2010)

A really sad song from a really sad but excellent movie.  When Aarif Lee sings it in the movie, it’s heartbreaking.  The movie is in Cantonese, but there are English, Cantonese, and Mandarin versions of the song.  Whatever language you hear it in, it really tugs at the heartstrings.

3 – Le temps des fleurs – Dalida (1968)

This song holds a special place in my heart for its fond memories of French class, unlikely as that statement might sound.  Fun rhythm to dance to, nice tinge of fond remembrance in the lyrics, lots of lovely la’s to sing out.

4 – Always With Me (Itsumo Nandodemo) – Youmi Kimura

I’ve loved this song ever since I first heard it in the credits of Spirited Away.  It’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever listened to, and it really defies description, you just have to listen to it.  Absolutely beautiful, I never get tired of listening to it.

So that’s this week’s special edition post!  Most of these songs are findable on YouTube, though I’m not sure about the last one, I don’t recall that I’ve been able to find a quality copy on YouTube in the past.  But if you want to listen to it (and I very highly recommend you do), you can do some Internet browsing, or borrow a copy of Spirited Away from the library, and it should be in the credits.  Happy listening, and see you all next week!

Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

It’s that time of the week again!  Going more old-style pop this week, with a dash of musicals.  Not much variety from previous posts, I will admit, but there are a couple of new additions to mix things up a bit, including this blog’s first French song!

1 – Your Song – Moulin Rouge (2001)

I think at this point, it’d be pretty redundant to keep going on about why I love this song, so I’ll just leave it here in top place.

2 – Sometimes When We Touch – Dan Hill (1994)

A classic love song, with just the right balance of melancholy sprinkled with a dash of cheesiness.  Still love belting it out though.

3 – Day After Day – Lyndzie Taylor

Back in the ye olden days of MP3 players, this was one of the preloaded songs that came with my MP3, and I was amused enough by it that I didn’t delete it.  Perhaps not a great classic of pop songs, but I’m rather fond of it all the same.  The lyrics have a relatable feel to them and the music’s pleasing enough to listen to.

4 – Le temps des fleurs – Dalida (1968)

A lovely song that was first introduced to me by some Quebecois acquaintances, and which I really love singing with my friends.  The music is quite unique, at least to my Anglophone ears, and the lyrics (en français!) have a wistful feel to them.  It’s also one of the few French songs I know that is not a silly language-learning one, and Dalida is quite a singer.

5 – Elephant Love Medley – Moulin Rouge (2001)

Aaaand to round out the list, some classic Moulin Rouge.  It’s a great medley arrangement, which I’ve espoused the value of many times over already, but which deserves every single endorsement.

There you are, some variety after all!  My fondness for old pop songs is starting to come through in these weekly selections.  Give them a try on YouTube if you please, I’ll admit that not all of them would belong to an easy listening set, but I am fond of them.  See you next week!

Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

It’s back to the old favourites for this week’s post!  By which, I mean most of these have shown up before on previous posts, with a focus on musicals and musical films.  Plus Shrek.  Because who doesn’t like Shrek?  The first movie, at least.

1 – Your Song – Moulin Rouge (2001)

I’ve been singing this song the entire week.  It’s a great piano song, and now that my printer’s working again, I’m going to try and find some piano sheet music for it.  It’s also performed by Ewan McGregor in the movie, and wow, that man can sing.

2 – Elephant Love Medley – Moulin Rouge (2001)

Another one for Moulin Rouge on this week’s list!  It’s a nice little medley of love songs, and I have a weak spot for sappy old love songs.  The actors sing quite convincingly too, and I enjoy the back-and-forth dialogue they have through the lyrics.

3 – How Far I’ll Go – Moana (2016)

I love the Moana soundtrack, it’s one of the best soundtracks for a Disney movie that I think Disney has had in a while, and this song was in my mind this week.  Auli’i Cravalho is a wonderful talent, and the song itself is really good.  It’s not really in the style of traditional Disney songs either which makes it all the more unique in my opinion.

4 – Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen (1984)

This is probably going to be a recurring feature since I’m using it as part of my ear training for piano, but it is a really nice song, and the lyrics are poignantly sad (I’m also a sap for sad ballads).  I also heard an amazing cover of it recently at a concert so it’s doubly stuck in my head.

5 – I’m a Believer – Shrek (2001)

Every time I watch Shrek, I have to get up and dance when this song plays during the last scene.  It’s such a fun song to dance around to, and I love Eddie Murphy’s take on it.  Also, as a forever Tolkienite, every time I hear the lyrics, I just think that this is basically the story of how Elrond met Celebrian 🙂

That’s this week’s roundup!  Have a listen to these songs if you please, they’re as always, readily available on YouTube.  I hope they brighten up your week, like they did mine!

Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

Going a little more (older) pop culture this week, though Les Mis still retains a place.  I just watched the Les Mis 25th anniversary celebration and that’s what I call a proper anniversary celebration.  Samantha Barks is really the definitive Eponine for me, and I think I found my favourite Javert (though I have admittedly only listened to three casts…)

1 – Hallelujah – Shrek (2001)

I’ve loved this song ever since I first heard it on the Shrek soundtrack, and I’ve been singing it all week since it’s one of the few songs I can sing as I play piano.  Really sad but beautiful.  alsoplsimaginethisasthesoundtrackforobikinangstsorrynotsorry

2 – Stars – Les Miserables (2010 Anniversary)

This is another song I really like to sing, and after hearing Norm Lewis sing it when I watched the 25th anniversary…WOW.  That really solidified him as my Javert.  It’s a great song that really shows Javert’s headspace, and it is intriguing to put yourself into the guy’s shoes and feel that self-certainty and self-righteousness that drives him.

3 – Sometimes When We Touch – Dan Hill (1994)

For some reason, this song’s been in my head this week.  It’s a wonderfully dramatic song, makes you want to do dramatic arm movements and exaggerated facial expressions when you sing it.  I did name a fic after it once, though it ended much more happily than this does.

4 – Queen of Hearts – Juice Newton (1981)

I first found this song on an Agent Carter fanvid by the fantastic sholiofic and fell absolutely in love with it.  Great beat, nice lyrics, that nice vintage-y pop vibe.  What’s not to love?

Lot more pop this week, but Les Mis is still holding its own.  Either way, you just can’t beat the classics.  As usual, all these songs are easily findable on YouTube, and I do recommend you give them a listen, despite my poor descriptions.  Enjoy, and see you next week for some more music picks of the week!