No band personifies winter more for me than Sigur Ros, and not just because they are from Iceland. Their sound is an atmospheric mix of dreamy vocals and avant-guard sounds just remind me of falling snow and winter landscapes. This clip is part of a documentary, Heima, that features footage of the band from two outdoor concerts. Don’t let all the wool sweaters and pale sunset fool you though, they were filmed in Iceland at the end of July and beginning of August.
I’d say The Spice Girls are a guilty pleasure of mine, but that would imply I feel some sort of shame for listening to their music (I don’t). If I had to pick a favorite song, it would be their 1997 hit Too Much, which just turned 20 years old this past December. I stumbled upon this acoustic version by Danny McEnvoy, a busker in the UK, and I love it. I also adore his quirky taste in mismatched socks. https://www.facebook.com/DannyMcEvoyMusician/
NPR has been recording Tiny Desk Concerts at All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen’s desk since 2008. The idea was conceived by Boilen and NPR music editor Stephen Thompson after attempting to watch singer Laura Gibson at a bar and leaving because they couldn’t hear her over the din of the gathered crowd. The unusual setting is up close and intimate, and the artists featured belong to a wide ranging mix of genres from indie rock, to hip hop and pop music. One of my favorite performances is by Chance the Rapper, who wrote a poem just for his Tiny Desk appearance and laughs off an interruption from the office PA system mid performance.
I have a huge amount of respect for any singer that can accompany themselves on the piano while they perform. I was pleasantly surprised to discover Skylar Grey is one of those singers while watching SNL last weekend. Here she is accompanying herself while performing Coming Home live last April.
There are a lot of traditions I enjoy on Thanksgiving. Consuming as much turkey, pecan spinwheels, and cranberry sauce as possible with my family, drinking copious amounts of red wine, and strategizing my online Black Friday shopping with my sisters is typically how I️ spend the day. There is one particular tradition we enjoy that doesn’t involve complete gluttony, and that’s listening to Arlo Gunthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant Massacree, on the radio, at noon. Originally recorded in 1967 and detailing real events in his life (for over 18 minutes!) it became a Thanksgiving tradition to play the song on rock radio stations. Growing up my family arranged our travel plans for the day so we could listen to it on the car on the way to wherever Thanksgiving was hosted, and I️ still make a point to be by a radio every year to hear it. https://youtu.be/W5_8U4j51lI
When I first discovered Panic At The Disco, it was not love at first sight. I found their over the top theatrical style a little off-putting, and it wasn’t until their Pretty. Odd. album that they started to grow on me. Michael Urie may be the only original member left, but they are still making good music, and he sounds fantastic live. Here he is in February 2016 on Ellen with an Art Deco styled performance of Death of a Bachelor.
I watch a lot of different horror movies, but the ones I usually like the most feature a reflection of some sort on fears and taboos held in society. In a sense, Marilyn Manson’s video for Running to the Edge of the World is a micro example of such a movie. Manson’s earlier videos are frantic, lurid take downs of religion and societal norms featuring his signature ghoulish grin and booming rock hits. Manson is usually surrounded by a crowd of gleeful participants, proving to the world he is not alone in his tastes and philosophies. Running has a much slower pace, acoustic guitars, and the strains of a single violin. The trademark grin is gone, and Manson is alone, singing mournfully into the camera for the first two minutes of the video. It has almost a confessional effect. The final minute of the video takes an abrupt and violent shift, following Manson as he essentially films a snuff film in a hotel room and leaves a battered ingénue behind. Unlike many of his past videos, which have a surreal, …
I’ve written before about how I used to write Miley Cyrus off as a trivial former Disney star who tried too hard, and have since done a complete about face. This is the video that changed my mind about her, and made me take a second look at a lot of entertainers I had previously written off. Filmed for the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, it takes her megahit “We Can’t Stop,” and turns it into a simple acoustic version. Her singing is fantastic, and her genuine smile wins me over just as much as the spot on vocals. I find more and more that I appreciate any artist/entertainer who shows honest enthusiasm for what they do, and she is one of them.
I first discovered Margaret Leng Tan‘s unique musical style in a compilation of dark classical music. Mixed in with Danse Macabre and Night on Bald Mountain was her recording of Philip Glass’s Mordern Love Waltz, included in the mix because it was performed on two toy pianos. Margaret bought her first toy piano in 1993 (for $45 dollars!) after meeting and working with avant-garde composer John Cage in the 1980s. She first performed on the toy piano at Lincoln Center in 1993, recorded her album The Art of the Piano in 1997, eventually performing at Carnegie Hall. Below she rehearsing with The Present Music Ensemble, performing Nightmare Rag. Nightmare Rag was written and arranged for two pianos for her by Toby Twining, another experimental musician. https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/popular/
For a long time, I considered One Direction’s to be nothing but a silly boy band that fully earned my disdain. When I was still working in Boston in an office above Quincy Market, there was a One Directions pop up shop in the end of the square. I spent every lunch break dodging bulging shopping bags emblazoned with brooding boy band faces and glaring at the giggling teens welding them. That all changed when I innocently Shazamed a song I liked on the radio. It turned out to be Story Of My Life. I was stunned my new discovery was a teen bopper One Direction’s song. I downloaded it anyways, it was a good song that forced me to acknowledge that they might be a talented group. This cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn serves as further proof.