13 October 2014

Listening to…

On Facebook there have been various 'viral chain threads' - The no make-up selfie and ALS bucket challenge being more notable examples. One that I particularly loved, however, was the top ten books list. I was tagged in this a couple of times, but confess to failing with the 'follow through', due to life just getting a bit in the way/ struggling to come up with a list on the spot like that!

However, after a bit of thought I've decided to do a small series of lists, including literature and possibly branching out into quotes, photos and so forth… but starting now with music! Why music? I'm not exactly your 'edgy music girl', and have never been a festival goer… in my defence my mum's (and my) paranoia over diabetes medication plays a role in that! Nonetheless, music is where I want to start.

Particularly with life being a tad temperamental right now (in terms of the last week that is putting that very lightly indeed!) music has been a wonderful escape. It always is. Sometimes it's the words, other times the melody, but usually both are a strong prerequisite and reason for being among my favourite songs. I do like occasional cheesy, 'motivational' lyrics, but being a writer a degree of poetic skill is also a necessity! Sorry Cheryl…

I detest the charts; some songs I hear and I just think… "really"?! Your life's work is producing this generic, self-indulgent and re-hashed rubbish… I cannot see the fulfilment in this. The millions in the artists' bank account may suggest otherwise, but I digress… my musical taste is rather sporadic. I'd try to describe it as "easy listening", which encompasses a lot of film soundtrack music, a sprinkle of country and dare I say "indie"… the type of indie that 'true indie fans' would say is mainstream… essentially!

My current favourite thing is to go in the "iTunes recommends". I used to swear against it, but recently visiting this little section, based on artists such as Birdy, Ed Sheerean and Ingrid Michaelson - not to mention my beloved TFIOS soundtrack - I have discovered some songs that are now a constant feature on my iTunes.

So without further rambling, here is the top 10 i've cobbled together… although this would likely change in a few weeks!

1. Not about Angels - Birdy.

When I first listened to this song, I cried. When I heard it during the TFIOS film, I cried again. On occasion, I still cry when it comes on. It's just one of those songs. Melody. Lyrics. No more needs to be said! T-Shirt is also a lovely song, just not quite as moving for me. I am a bit of a Birdy fan, Words As Weapons and The District Sleeps Alone Tonight are up there on my "most listened to" playlist.

2. The Greener Side - Morgan Taylor Reid

One of the main reasons for my newfound love of "iTunes Recommends", this song has truly beautiful lyrics - maybe a tad cliche, but the melody counters this; the most beautiful piano accompaniment that made me instantly google the sheet music! Learning it is still as work in progress... towards the end it builds, the guitar comes in, and it really comes to life, but then right at the end it suddenly moves back to the gentle piano tune;  this contrast completes the song to perfection. If, for whatever reason, you're having a rough day, this is a song I really recommend downloading!

Brighter and Where do I Even Start? are my two other favourites by him.

3. LilyWhite - Luke Sital-Singh

Another iTunes Recommends find… I think this was one based on Birdy! This song is mostly based on melody for me, especially the chorus,, but the idea of the "LilyWhite" is so lovely and creates such a wonderful image. It is quite a slow song, but the addition of the drums halfway through gives it the strength and momentum to be a stand-out song.

Other great songs by him are Nearly Morning and Benediction, lyrics below

"Don't want to be the ones caught hidingWant to see the sky when it hits the ground" 

4. Open Hands - Ingrid Michaelson

I discovered Ingrid Michaelson about three years ago, and her song Keep Breathing is one of the few that hasn't slipped off a rather (very) selective playlist a few months after purchase! When her new album was released, I was like an excited child and rushed to listen. I ended up not buying the whole thing, as in all honesty a lot of it was too "poppy" for my liking - I missed the gentle and stripped back nature of "Be Ok". Nonetheless, this song (dare I say) exceeded any of her previous, I was quite taken aback when I first listened, and I have a feeling it will remain a fixture on my 'top songs' for a while yet.
A few other must-listen songs by her are Breakable and Corner of Your Heart. 

photo credit: iTunes

5. Even my Dad Does Sometimes - Ed Sheeran

Like with Not About Angels, I cried. Enough said.

I very nearly put Alfire Love down as my number one choice here, but the sudden gospel-element 3/4 way through bugs me. The lyrics are INCREDIBLE, so this song is a real dilemma for me! Same with Give Me Love - I afore the first half, then he starts screaming his head off and I have to say a speedy goodbye and move on!  Even my Dad Does Sometimes does therefore pip them to the post for being the "complete package" (god I sound like Louis Walsh…). As for Ed's foray into rap - no shame in stating that I simply don't get it…!

6.  Old Money - Lana Del Ray

Given my wider music tastes, this one might come a bit field left. I am not the kind of person to like Lana's music, but I do - I shocked myself! It's the lyrics - this girl can write. But also the tunes are so catchy, almost hypnotic, when you put her voice to it. I picked this song as my favourite, mostly for the melody - I downloaded it within a few seconds of listening.

photo credit: youtube
What I do find with her music, is that with both albums I only initially bought a couple of songs. With "Ultravoilence" it was this and Black Beauty, but I now have six in my iTunes! Then with Born to Die I now have practically the whole album - I kept going back and more and more of the songs jumped out at me. My top have to be Without You and Radio - purely for the chorus melody! This album also reminds me of Mississippi, as I downloaded it just before going there to visit my sister, who was doing her year abroad. So it makes me think of America, open roads and the chilled feeling of that part of the world. Whenever I listen, I go back to there and that is such a wonderful feeling in itself.

7. Oblivion - Indians

This is my other favourite song from TFIOS, and *possibly* edges Birdy… possibly! I love listening to it right before going to bed. It's just… listen. That's all I will say. It is the perfect song for the story. Just perfect. I also love Wait, for the guitar melody - one of the things that made me finally decide I wanted to learn guitar….

So for my 20th birthday my childhood dream came true!
The actual learning is still a work in progress...

8. The Letter That Never Came - Thomas Newman

….aaand onto the film scores! I adore film scores; I don't care how nerdy and "un-studenty" that is, I love them. Thomas Newman is incredible; the definition of how music can move emotions so much, as this song from "A Series of Unfortunate Events" does. When I found out he was doing the soundtrack for Saving Mr Banks, I was beyond happy. Celtic Soul is my favourite from that; he definitely has a style, but each soundtrack is distinguishable.

9. Sober - Kelly Clarkson

A rather old song, but like Keep Breathing one that has stayed with me. I love Kelly Clarkson's lyrics, and she has an amazing voice recorded and live; as a real artist should Katy Perry….  My sister and I (and my mum!) have been a fan for probably a decade now; since we heard Breakaway on The Princess Diaries, to be exact!

"Three months and I'm still sober/ Picked all my weeds but kept the flowers" 
"This could break my heart or save me… at the end of this road I might catch a glimpse of me" 

In terms of lyrics, and melody… and overall amazingness, I also love Dark Side, Save You and Breaking Your Own Heart.

10. The Breaking of the Fellowship - Howard Shore 

No apology-student statement needed. No real justification needed. This was legitimately my alarm song for all last year of uni. Life doesn't get cooler than that… It was a toss up between this and Leaving Hogwarts, but this just edged it. 

I defy you not to cry at this moment
photo credit: deviantart

So yes, this is just a handful! I also have a love for Bastille's Laura Palmer, a good few Taylor Swift songs - I do like the slower ones, such as Treacherous and Begin Again. Disney will have a lifelong spot in my playlist, especially Mary Poppins. When Happy and Trumpets come on in Arena nightclub, my face lights up with a Cheshire Cat grin. My housemate also has All about the Bass in my head on a loop! However, for me it's currently all about these few songs above.

I realise that my musical tastes probably have no relevance to anyone's lives, but I've enjoyed doing this - hopefully also showing that being a student (and hopefully a student who isn't a complete social outcast!) doesn't mean being a Top 10 fanatic. Just like what you like - don't compromise the important things in life, which in my eyes includes your iPod song selection. 

I also doubt I'm edgy enough to write for Exepose music… 


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