Mixtape Monday: Music From The Big Screen

By: Ashton May

Bonjour and greetings from France! Mixtape Monday doesn’t stop for anything, not even international travel. I hope you enjoyed the delightful New Wave jams last week. If you were super into it, here’s a direct link to that playlist here.

So, yes–for the next 2+ weeks I’ll be in Cannes, France for the Cannes Film Festival. As such, I felt it would be appropriate for this week’s Mixtape to feature original songs written for feature films. There are some real gems in this list; some songs are super powerful, and others are some of the cheesiest songs out there. Some of these films are fantastic, and others are…not. Either way, these songs were all written for a major motion picture and really enhanced the film’s success.

Mixtape Monday, 5/15, “Music From The Big Screen” Listen while you read here!

  1. “Drive It Like You Stole It” – Sing Street: We’re starting off with probably the least known song and movie on this list. 2016 Irish film Sing Street is both a gritty showcase of realism and also feel-good film full of positivity and teenage wish fulfillment. As the film is set in 1980s, the original music in this film fits right into the new wave genre we discussed last week. There are some GREAT songs in this time, but “Drive It Like You Stole It” is sort of the overarching anthem. Sing Street (2016) directed by John Carney.
  2. “Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor: Originally, Sylvester Stallone wanted to use Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” as the theme song for Rocky III, but he was denied the rights by the band. So, Survivor wrote “Eye of the Tiger” at his request. The song was specifically written to line up with the boxer’s punches in the scene for which it would be used. This song was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1982. Rocky III (1982) directed by Sylvester Stallone.
  3. “Fight The Power” – Public Enemy: When Spike Lee started working on his film Do The Right Thing, he knew exactly what he wanted in “theme” song- “I wanted it to be defiant, I wanted it to be angry, I wanted it to be very rhythmic. I thought right away of Public Enemy.” Lee approached the group about writing a song for his film– and the result was an incredible, politically charged, kickass songs about standing up to injustice. Do The Right Thing (1989) directed by Spike Lee.
  4. “Can’t Stop The Feeling” – Justin Timberlake: Justin Timberlake served as the executive music producer on Dreamworks 2016 film, Trolls. Timberlake said the film was like “one big, trippy disco experience” but didn’t have a disco song. So he, along with producer Max Martin, wrote this funky disco-pop tune. Debuting at #1 on the U.S. Billboard chart and becoming the best selling song of the summer, “Can’t Stop The Feeling” was arguably more popular than the movie for which is was created. Trolls (2016) directed by Mike Mitchell.
  5. “Independent Women, Pt. I”- Destiny’s Child: Although the group already had a demo of the song when they submitted it for the producers of Charlie’s Angels to review, the song was tweaked to fit the movie. This song was a huge hit for the group, staying for eleven consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard, and getting an Oscar nom. Charlie’s Angels (2000) directed by McG.
  6. “Mrs. Robinson” – Simon & Garfunkel: Mike Nichols, director of The Graduate, was obsessed with the young duo’s music at the time of filming. He commissioned the group to write an original song for the film. Simon & Garfunkel brought Nichols and the producers two new songs soon after, but the team wasn’t feeling either of them. During a break in this meeting, the duo went outside and soon returned with an early outline for “Mrs. Robinson,” which Nichols was immediately gleeful about, and which became one of the main themes songs for the film. The Graduate (1967) directed by Mike Nichols.
  7. “Falling Slowly” – Glen Hansard Markéta Irglová: Another gem from a John Carney indie film, the film was based around a handful of songs Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (also known as a duo as The Swell Season) had written. However, “Falling Slowly” was written after production had already started. This beautiful duet earned the band and the movie an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Once (2007) directed by John Carney.
  8. I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” – Aerosmith: Written by the queen of movie soundtracks, Diane Warren, this song became Aerosmith’s biggest hit ever. It was one of three song on the Armageddon soundtrack by Aerosmith. A slow dance staple, many people feel song’s cheesiness is irredeemable. As such, this song is notable for being both nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song. Armageddon (1997) directed by Michael Bay.
  9. “Young and Beautiful” – Lana Del Rey: Although the majority of the song was already penned before Baz Luhrmann commissioned Lana Del Rey for the film’s musical theme, Del Rey completed the song with Luhrmann and producer Rick Nowels. “Young & Beautiful” became the lead single for Luhrmann’s film adaptation of the novel The Great Gatsby, and was written from the perspective of Daisy Buchanan. The Great Gatsby (2013) directed by Baz Luhrmann.
  10. “Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees: The Bee Gees wrote quite a few songs for the 80s disco film Saturday Night Fever. Although at the time, other tracks from the soundtrack were more popular overall, “Stayin’ Alive” has perhaps had the longest life in terms of popularity. The band wrote “Stayin’ Alive” over the course of a few days while at the Château d’Hérouville studio in Paris. The soundtrack made history, as it became the best selling soundtrack album of all time. Saturday Night Fever (1977) directed by John Badham.
  11. “Everything Is AWESOME!!!” – Tegan & Sara, The Lonely Island: This silly song was written as a tongue-in-cheek parody of creeping fascism. The single version of this song was performed by Tegan & Sara with The Lonely Island, who, despite wanting to maintain credibility as a serious band, felt the song was just too cute and fun to pass up. Their version was produced by former Devo member and producer Mark Mothersbaugh. The song was nominated for both an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe. The Lego Movie (2014) directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
  12. “I Believe I Can Fly” – R. Kelly: Space Jam was a HUGE hit with kids and adults like in the mid-90s, and the soundtrack was just as successful. Going double platinum within two months of its release and featuring the hit singles like “For You I Will” by Monica, “Fly Like an Eagle” by Seal, “Hit ‘Em High (The Monstars’ Anthem)” by B-Real, Busta Rhymes, Coolio, LL Cool J and Method Man, R. Kelly’s smash “I Believe I Can Fly” was one of the top songs of 1996. The song earned three Grammy awards and was easily Kelly’s biggest hit. Space Jam (1996) directed by Joe Pytka.
  13. “My Heart Will Go On” – Celine Dion: Yes, this is probably the cheesiest song of all time, but let’s also remember it was the top single in the world for the entire year of 1998. This is ironic as 1. James Cameron didn’t want a pop song to promote his movie and 2. Celine Dion didn’t want to record another song for a movie soundtrack. Her manager, and the film’s music producer both insisted that Cameron give it a chance and Dion give it a shot. The result– hands down Dion’s biggest hit, and one of the best selling singles in music history. Titanic (1997) directed by James Cameron.
  14. “I See Fire” – Ed Sheeran: Ed Sheeran was commissioned to write a song for the soundtrack of the 2013 film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, where it played over the closing credits. Director Peter Jackson, asked Sheeran to write a song for the movie, after his daughter suggested Sheeran. Sheeran agreed, and when he saw the film, he wrote the song and recorded most of the track elements on the same day. Jackson was aware when he first asked, by Sheeran is a huge Tolkien fan and was absolutely stoked to receive the offer. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) directed by Peter Jackson.
  15. “Lose Yourself” – Eminem: Eminem wrote “Lose Yourself” early on during the production of 8 Mile during breaks on set. The song became the rapper’s most successful single to date– both in commercial and critical terms. “Lose Yourself” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2003, making it the first ever rap song to have received this award, and also was awarded with a couple of Grammy awards in 2004. 8 Mile (2002) directed by Curtis Hanson
  16. “Gangsta’s Paradise (feat L.V.)” – Coolio, L.V.: Coolio co-wrote “Gangsta’s Paradise” with producer Doug Rasheed after hearing and being inspired by “Pastime Paradise” from Stevie Wonder’s album Songs in the Key of Life. After recording a short demo, Coolio’s manager shopped the song around to film studios, and the producers behind the Michelle Pfeiffer starring movie Dangerous Minds (a film about a high school teacher in a poverty-stricken, racially segregated, economically deprived city) paid big for the song. The early tests of the movie weren’t going well, and producers wanted a big musical single to help boost the film’s marketing efforts. Coolio and co. developed the song further with the movie in mind. Coolio received a handful of Grammy’s for this song, and it became one of the the best selling singles of all time. Dangerous Minds (1995) directed by John N. Smith.
  17. “Moon River” – Audrey Hepburn: This is the oldest song on the list, and might seem like an odd addition; however, I think the song is absolutely beautiful, so I wanted to include it. Composer Henry Mancini and lyricist Johnny Mercer wrote the song for Audrey Hepburn to sing in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Mercer’s nostalgia lyrics are reminiscent of his childhood in Savannah, Georgia. The musical theme is present throughout the film, but the lyrics are first heard in a scene where Paul “Fred” Varjak discovers Holly Golightly singing the song outside their apartments on the fire escape. Before the film’s release, a Paramount Pictures executive suggested removing the song from the film after a lukewarm Los Angeles preview. Hepburn’s reaction was apparently rather extreme varying from her saying, “Over my dead body!” to her using more “colorful language” at the producers. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) directed by Blake Edwards
  18. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” – Bill Medley, Jennifer Warnes: Singer-songwriter Franke Previte was approached by producer and head of Millennium Records, Jimmy Ienner about writing some music for “a little movie called Dirty Dancing”. Previte, along with some other songwriters, wrote the song and hired Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes for the final product, after Donna Summer and Joe Esposito turned down the offer. The song was a huge hit on the airwaves, and also obtained the Academy Award in 1987.
  19. “Come What May” – Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor: Although “Come What May” was the big love song from Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, it was originally intended for an earlier Luhrmann film, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, but wasn’t used in the end. It is the only “original” song that is sung in the musical film. Sadly, the song was ineligible for an Academy Award, since it was intended for a different fim. Moulin Rouge! (2001) directed by Baz Luhrmann
  20. “Exit Music (For a Film)” – Radiohead: We’re ending with another song written for William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. Luhrmann approached the band about writing a song for the film, and proceeded to give them the final 30 minutes of the film. Yorke said, “When we saw the scene in which Claire Danes holds the Colt .45 against her head, we started working on the song immediately.” The band wrote and recorded “Exit Music (For a Film),” and the track plays over the film’s end credits but was not included on the soundtrack album at Radiohead’s request, because they intended to include on their next album. Yorke later said “Exit Music” helped shape the direction of the rest of their highly successful album OK Computer, and that it “was the first performance we’d ever recorded where every note of it made my head spin—something I was proud of, something I could turn up really, really loud and not wince at any moment.”

 

 

 

Posted in Mixtape Monday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mixtape Monday: Catch The New Wave

By: Ashton May

Welcome to another Mixtape Monday! If you really liked last week’s “Cover to Cover” mixtape, here’s a direct link to that playlist here.

This week I’m hitting another definitive decade-based genre; my favorite sector of music from the 1980s– new wave and post-punk.

mixtape58.

80s new wave incorporated characteristics of 70s punk, but added a distinct pop-style element that included the use of synthesizers and electronic production. It was also distinctive from the punk influences of the day through a greater complexity shown in lyrics and instrumentation. This genre is still extremely relevant today, as alternative rock bands such as The Killers, the Strokes, Interpol, etc, have been exploring new wave and post-punk influences in a resurgence of sorts since the early 2000s.

Mixtape Monday, 5/8, “Catch The New Wave” Listen while you read here!

  1. “Head Over Heels” – Tears For Fears: A quintessential new wave tune by a quintessential new wave band, we open with the shimmering “Head Over Heels” that sounds like the soundtrack to a hazy dream sequence. It’s an anxiety-ridden, romantic love song that “gets a bit perverse” according to Roland Orzabal.
  2. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Joy Division: One of the earliest new wave/ post-punk bands to hit the scene was Joy Division. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is probably their most popular song with it’s up-tempo melody and memorable synth riff. It’s definitely a great example of the punk influences it derived from.
  3. “Tainted Love” – Soft Cell: Originally a motown/ soul song by Gloria Jones, synth-pop duo Soft Cell created a drastically different arrangement of the song in the early 1980s. This of course went on to be one the biggest hits of the new wave era (and unfortunately propelled Soft Cell into the one of the top-ranked one-hit wonders of all time).
  4. “The Killing Moon” – Echo & The Bunnymen: This song isn’t as well-known as the others on this list, which is a damn shame, as it’s probably one of the best songs on this list. Echo & The Bunnymen didn’t reach the level of notoriety in the US as many other British new waves acts. However, this song has absolutely beautiful lyrics, a soulfully sobering melody, impressive guitar work and a delicate use of strings that amplifies the elegance of the tune. Another interesting tidbit about this song: The chord progression were created from reversing the chords to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”
  5. “Take On Me”- a-ha: Another relative one-hit wonder, a-ha delighted the public with their upbeat, octave shifting hit “Take On Me.” Also helpful was the cool and unique music video that got the band a ton of press at the 1986 MTV Music Video awards.
  6. “Enjoy The Silence” – Depeche Mode: This song technically came out in 1990, but it sounds no different from their 80s endeavors, and a new wave list without Depeche Mode is unacceptable. So, I picked my favorite, and arguably their most well-known hit.
  7. “Don’t You Want Me” – The Human League: This is seemingly fun, wistful song about lost love with an incredibly poppy karaoke-appropriate chorus that everyone knows. But the rest of the lyrics to the song are a little…creepy? Thankfully, they were written with a purpose, as lead singer Philip Oakey designed the song as a meta-commentary. In his words, it’s a “a nasty song about sexual power politics.”
  8. In Between Days” – The Cure: The Cure is one of my top 5 favorite bands, and it was a struggle picking what song to include. “Just Like Heaven” is my favorite, but I will probably use it on another playlist at some point. So I went with this classic tune, their first big hit, released in 1985, just after the band expanded to a five-piece.
  9. “This Charming Man” – The Smiths: Another of one my favorite bands of all times, “This Charming Man” is hands down one of the best Smith’s songs, and one of the best songs to emerge in the new wave genre. The jangly guitar, the upbeat, poppy rhythm, the killer bassline, the ambiguous and mysterious lyrics, the smooth vocal stylings of Morrissey…this song has it all.
  10. “Rio” – Duran Duran: British new wave superstars Duran Duran burst onto the scene in 1981 after having worked throughout the end of the 70’s on their stage performance and public image. Because of this, by the time they reached the airwaves, Duran Duran seemed like they were made for the realm of music video, and became one of the first bands to really ride the MTV wave towards mega-stardom. “Rio” was the title track off of their second album of the same name– the album that also included “Hungry Like The Wolf” and became one of the standards of the new wave genre.
  11. “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” – Dead or Alive: This was Dead or Alive’s breakout single of 1985 and earned them No. 1 in the UK and No. 11 on the US Billboard charts. The song became a fixture of many British dance club playlists. If you haven’t heard this song before, it probably sounds familiar to you…probably from Flo Rida’s 2009 single featuring Kesha “Right Round,” which uses many elements of the song, most notably the chorus.
  12. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” – Simple Minds: Almost everyone recognizes this as “The Breakfast Club song.” And you aren’t wrong; not only was it featured in the movie, it was actually written for the movie. Simple Minds was already relatively successful in Britain, although they were virtually unknown in the US. The composers who worked on the movie actually wrote this song and called out to numerous musical acts asking them to arrange and record the song. After a few notable artists, such as Annie Lennox, passed on the song, Simple Minds agreed after seeing a rough cut of The Breakfast Club. This became their only No. 1 hit single, and all they are really known for in the US. But, hey, there are much worse things to be “remembered” for than the most influential teen movie of the 1980s.
  13. “Call Me” – Blondie: Another highly popular film-related tune of the 80s, Blondie wrote and recorded “Call Me”  for the Richard Gere movie American Gigolo. The main reason the band agreed was to work with their hero, Euro-disco producer Moroder. Moroder’s first choice for a vocalist was Stevie Nicks, but she passed. Moroder presented Debbie Harry with a rough instrumental track, and she developed the song further, along with writing the lyrics and melody. Harry’s New Wave edge helped make the song the biggest seller of 1980.
  14. “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” – The Police: One of the earliest post-punk/ new wave bands, and one of the most successful, was the The Police, fronted by Sting. During the late 1970s- early 1980s, they put out a ton of hits. There were plenty to choose from, so I picked my favorite (and “Every Breath You Take” is really too creepy for me, so I opted for a less creepy one…that’s still a little creepy, honestly). This song contains elements of Caribbean-style instrumentation, which wasn’t uncommon for Sting has always had musical inclination toward reggae and it’s derivatives.
  15. “Brass In Pocket” – Pretenders: When the Pretenders emerged onto the scene in the late 70s, they fell in line with the new wave sensibilities of the time. Although lead singer Chrissie Hynde didn’t much like this song, and didn’t really want to release it at all, it ironically became their first No. 1 hit in the UK and charted high in the US as well. Hynde’s voice reflects the sassy, confident lyrics, which really resonated with the public when it was released in January of 1980
  16. “Walk Like an Egyptian” – The Bangles: Calling The Bangles “new wave” is debateable, as they are generally regulated to the general “pop/rock” label. However, “Walk Like An Egyptian,” written by songwriter Liam Sternberg (who was involved with the beginnings of other new-wave absurdist acts like Devo), fits right into the bookshelf of new wave hits. This became the band’s most successful song, peaking at No. 2 on the US Billboard chart
  17. “Never Tear Us Apart” – INXS: The New Wave genre’s inclusion of straightforward rock music coated with pop sensibilities was perfectly encapsulated in Australian band INXS. “Never Tear Us Apart” is one of those songs that stand the test of time very well; a sensual ballad written in a waltz time signature, accompanied with beautiful orchestration, dramatic pauses, and a killer saxophone solo
  18. “I Melt With You” – Modern English: Another one-hit wonder out of this genre, “Melt With You” was a hit in 1983. It’s an upbeat, fun love song, which is a welcome reprieve in this moody genre. According to vocalist Robbie Grey, the song is about a couple having sex as nuclear bombs fall. That’s 1. Pretty badass, and 2. Very 80s
  19. “Voices Carry” – ‘Til Tuesday: Many people have heard of Aimee Mann, even if just in passing, but they likely are unaware that her first musical endeavor was 80s new wave band, ‘Til Tuesday. Apparently, this song was originally about a lover in an affair and was originally written and sung by Mann as to a woman. However, like all good things, their record company (Epic) was unhappy with the lyrics, as they thought the song had the potential to be commercially successful, and wanted to remove the lesbian components to appeal to the mainstream market. #Typical.
  20. “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” – Talking Heads: If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll recognize that an Iron & Wine + Ben Bridwell cover version of this song was on last week’s playlist. As such, I thought it’d be appropriate to include it on this week’s list, as Talking Heads and their frontman David Byrne were one of the most critically acclaimed new wave acts due to their very unique, artsy, avant-garde style. Byrne says of this song: “That’s a love song made up almost completely of non sequiturs, phrases that may have a strong emotional resonance but don’t have any narrative qualities. It’s a real honest kind of love song. I don’t think I’ve ever done a real love song before. Mine always had a sort of reservation, or a twist. I tried to write one that wasn’t corny, that didn’t sound stupid or lame the way many do. I think I succeeded; I was pretty happy with that.”

 

 

Posted in Mixtape Monday | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Finds: Disney Treasures Funko Subscription Box

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a complete Funko fanatic. It got to the point where we actually had to install extra shelves in our house to hold all of the Funkos we’ve collected. There’s just something about the level of detail that goes into each figure and the way Funko celebrates fandom that just gives me the warm fuzzies.

I’m also a HUGE Disney fan, so when the Disney Treasures Funko box was announced, it was a no brainer that I sign up. Haven’t heard of the Disney Treasures box yet? Let me explain.

This subscription takes you through a map of imaginative themes, stopping at six different locations to complete a full year. Each location showcases a special group of Disney characters from Classic Disney, Pixar Studios, and Disney Theme parks, and includes special “insider” notes from the Disney Archives.

Sounds pretty cool, right? The first box just arrived yesterday and I’m so excited to share it with you guys.

The box this month was Pirates of the Carribbean themed. Well-timed since the new POTC movie comes out later this month. Disney doesn’t do anything half-way, so even the box was treasure themed. Each box will be coming with a sticker that you can stick the outside of this box to create a “passport” of sorts for your treasure box. IMG_2230.JPG

Even the inside of the box was detailed, with a graphic of the treasure map on the inside of the lid! The enamel pins were sitting on the first layer of the box, which was perfect for me because that’s what I was most looking forward to! This box came with a Pirate Mickey, along with a Disney Treausres Pioneer pin for those who signed up for the full year of subscription box (which we did, obviously.)

IMG_2232.JPG

Then on the inside of the box was where the real fun started! We unboxed to find….

IMG_2237.JPG

A Disney Treasures exclusive Smee Funko pop, a Dorbz Wicked Wench Captain with Pirate Ship collectible (if you haven’t seen the Dorbz figures, they are worth a look. SO cute!), a Captain Hook patch (perfect for my denim jacket, and a really cool aluminum tin themed from different scenes of the Pirates of the Carribean ride on each side. The aluminum tin housed the mini-Captain Jack Sparrow vinyl figure as well.

My favorite part of the box was the treasure map that was folded inside that revealed an “insider” notes about each item in the box.

IMG_2234

Bottom line is, if you’re on the fence about this box. Subscribe now! You can learn more about the Disney Treasures box HERE. The themes are only going to get better, especially the haunted box coming later this year. Everyone keep your fingers crossed for Haunted Mansion pops!

Posted in Friday Finds | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mixtape Monday: Cover to Cover

By: Ashton May

It’s Mixtape Monday! Apologies for missing last week. If you really liked the “Smells Like the 90s Vol 1” mixtape from two weeks ago, here’s a direct link to that playlist here.

This week I’m sharing some of my favorite songs covered by a different artist than the original. One of my favorite things about Spotify is the ability to easily discover tons of different versions of the same songs.

A few of these covers you might have heard before– some were popular enough to get radio play, some were from iconic live performances, and some have been present on movie soundtracks. There are sure to be some you haven’t yet heard, though, so let’s get going!

Mixtape Monday, 5/1, “Cover to Cover” Listen while you read here!

  1. “Closer (feat. Sarah Hyland)” – Boyce Avenue: Most people who seek out good acoustic covers know Boyce Avenue. These guys have hundreds of covers available on Spotify. This is one of their newer ones, and I picked it due the original song’s current radio relevance and because Sarah Hyland (who plays Haley on ABC’s Modern Family) is a featured vocalist. Original song: “Closer” by The Chainsmokers.
  2. “This Must Be The Place” – Iron & Wine, Ben Bridwell: Iron & Wine’s Sam Bean collaborated with Band of Horses front man, Ben Bridwell, for a compilation of covers in 2015. This is my favorite on the album– a cover of the Talking Heads song from the ‘80s “This Must Be The Place.” It’s quite a beautiful cover full of pleasant, bouncy, folky instrumentation and tight harmonies. Original song: “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads.
  3. “Billie Jean” – The Civil Wars: I almost didn’t include this cover on this list, as my band The Hearsay covers this version of “Billie Jean,” and I am pretty over it. However, I realize that many people still haven’t heard it, and it is a very VERY cool take on the insanely popular song from the height of Michael Jackson’s career. Completely throwing out the iconic ‘80s bassline, synthesizers, and driving drum beat, the duo creates a bluesy, folky, haunting version of this ‘80s hit that is almost unrecognizable. Original song: “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson.
  4. “Lean On” – Lennon & Maisy: Real life sisters Lennon and Maisy Stella play sisters Maddie and Daphne Conrad on the TV show Nashville, but they are fantastic young musicians in their own right. They duo has been putting out covers via youtube and beyond for almost a decade. They released this really well-done Major Lazer cover last year when they were 16 and 12, respectively. They may be young, but they make music like #grownwomen. Original Song: “Lean On” by Major Lazer, MØ, DJ Snake.
  5. “Your Song”- Ellie Goulding: If you haven’t heard Ellie Goulding’s cover of “Your Song,” you might be living under a rock. It’s so well-known that I almost didn’t include it on the list, but it’s decidedly too lovely to leave off. Stripping down the pop feel of Elton John’s classic, Goulding’s version is a bit more emotive and poignant, with light orchestral instrumentation backing the piano and voice. Original Song: “Your Song” by Elton John.
  6. “Same Drugs” – MisterWives: Indie-pop group MisterWives gave Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book track “Same Drugs” an indie-pop makeout, putting their pop vocals twist on the soul powered rap song. It’s an excellent take on the song. Chance himself even tweeted about it, saying that the cover “made [his] heart smile.” Original song: “Same Drugs” by Chance The Rapper.
  7. “Seven Nation Army” – Zella Day: Singer-songwriter Zella Day released this stripped-down, folky cover of “Seven Nation Army” in 2012 when she was just 17 years old. It was actually her first released single. Her voice is potent and as haunting as the rollicking guitar. Original Song: “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes.
  8. Free Fallin’ – Live at the Nokia Theatre” – John Mayer: Yeah, I know. Literally everyone and their mother has heard John Mayer’s version of “Free Fallin.’” But, I just couldn’t not include it. Despite the overwhelming arrogance Mr. Mayer exudes, you can’t deny his incredible guitar playing prowess and utterly beautiful, soothing, sexy voice. This is one of my favorite covers by anyone, ever. It keeps enough of the original to make it recognizable, but he also changes some major things, like the melody of the iconic chorus. We love you despite your terrible personality, John Mayer. Original Song: “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty.
  9. “Sex And Candy” – Maroon 5: I was surprised when Adam Levine & Co. resurrected this 1997 one hit wonder on their 2014 album V— not because I didn’t think Levine would be the perfect vocalist to cover it (because I do), but because Maroon 5 has become so unbearably pop-centric, I was surprised they went back to their roots in this way. Maroon 5 used to be delightfully different– they were a soul-funk rock band that came out of nowhere in time where bands like Nickelback unfortunately ruled the radio. But then they started getting “Moves Like Jagger,” and they sound like every other pop act out there. Unlike every single they’ve put out in the last 10 years, their cover of “Sex And Candy” is moody, downbeat, slow, sexy, and not over-produced. Original Song: “Sex And Candy” by Marcy Playground.
  10. “Dancing On My Own” – Calum Scott: In April 2015, Calum Scott’s life was transformed by Britain’s Got Talent and a heartbreaking stripped-down, piano rendition of Robyn’s electro-pop hit ‘Dancing on My Own.’ Now with over 160 Million streams on Spotify, he’s version of this song has earned him a place in the industry. Seriously, his voice is incredible, and this song certainly shows it off. He sings with so much emotion, this song has the potential to bring you to tears. Original Song: “Dancing On My Own” by Robyn.
  11. “Teenage Dream” – The Rescues: I’ve loved this dreamy cover of “Teenage Dream” for years. The LA-based foursome utilize their trademark impressive and intricate harmonies to the fullest in this cover. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Original Song: “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry.
  12. “A Case Of You” – James Blake: This is one of those songs that I have scoured every corner of Spotify to find different versions of. Joni Mitchell’s “A Case Of You” is such a great song, and I love hearing different artists give their take on it. But James Blake’s version is the most unique by far. There is a spareness to Blake’s delivery, a peculiar otherworldliness that is lonely and desperate, without being over-dramatic. Mitchell’s version is gorgeous, of course, but the musical simplicity of Blake’s version really allows the listener to focus on Mitchell’s brilliant lyrics, enhancing the song’s poignance. Original Version “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell.
  13. “Somewhere Only We Know” – Lily Allen: British singer Lily Allen recorded her delicate rendition of “Somewhere Only We Know” for a John Lewis Christmas advertisement. Although it didn’t surpass the success of the original song in the US, it absolutely did in the UK, topping the UK Singles Chart. Original Song: “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane.
  14. “Heroes” – Janelle Monáe: Kicking off three Bowie covers in a row is Janelle Monáe’s funky, peppy, dancy cover of “Heroes.” Before Pepsi was making terrible creative decisions with their major advertising, they made some decent ones, particularly in how they utilized musical artists in their advertisements. Monáe originally recorded this song as part of a Pepsi ad campaign in 2014 related to the World Cup in Rio. Original Song: “Heroes” by David Bowie.
  15. “The Man Who Sold The World” – Nirvana: One of the songs recorded in their iconic MTV Unplugged in New York performance, Nirvana’s cover of “The Man Who Sold The World.” Bowie’s original isn’t necessarily one of his most famous, and isn’t widely known, and many young people and fans of Nirvana were unaware that it was a cover at all. Additionally, the power in this cover is also related to the tragedy that struck very soon after it was performed–it hauntingly took on a new meaning after Cobain died. He was a man who had the world at his fingertips, and he gave it all up. Original Song: “The Man Who Sold The World” by David Bowie.
  16. “Space Oddity – Live Version” – Natalie Merchant: The oldest recording on this list, Natalie Merchant performed a rare cover of “Space Oddity” at a concert in 1999. Her voice is beautiful, captivating, and ethereal, like it’s floating around in outer space– which is certainly appropriate to the song. Original Song: “Space Oddity” by David Bowie.
  17. “Can’t Help Falling In Love (Recorded Live at Daytrotter)” – Ingrid Michaelson: Covered by many many artists since Elvis Presley’s original recording, Ingrid Michaelson’s version is my favorite. The original song itself is full of raw, vulnerable emotion– it’s a love song, but it’s more so a song about being lovesick. Michaelson’s voice is perfection while simultaneously presenting that deep emotion, almost to the point of breaking down– which is even more impressive as it was recorded live. Original Song: “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley.
  18. “XO” – John Mayer: Yes, I’m putting John Mayer on here again. “I can’t help falling in love” with his covers…(see what I did there?). But seriously, he wonderfully covered this beautiful song from Beyoncé’s 2013 self-titled album. It’s stripped-down, simple and sweet, and the harmonica perfectly adds to the singer-songwriter love song aesthetic. It’s one of my favorites on this list, for sure. Original Song: “XO” by Beyoncé.
  19. “Wish You Were Here” – The Milk Carton Kids: This cover of “Wish You Were Here” is really cool. The Milk Carton Kids transform the iconic classic rock ballad into a dark folk song. The duel guitars pair perfectly with the uninterrupted harmonies than will give you chills. It’s also recorded live, but is performed so flawlessly, you don’t realize until you hear the audience at the end. Original Song: “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd.
  20. “Time After Time” – Iron & Wine: And yes, Iron & Wine also appears twice on this list. Originally used in a McDonald’s ad campaign, Iron & Wine released the full version of his sleepy cover of “Time After Time” on Spotify last year. Sam Beam serenades us with his smooth voice and lovely guitar work. His cover is less high school slow dance and more high school mix CD for your love interest, but either way, it certainly does the original justice. Original Song: “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper.

 

 

Posted in Mixtape Monday | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Treat Yourself Tuesday: Giveaway Time!

I’ve been really stressed lately. Between the work stresses & a packed social calendar, I haven’t had a lot of time to practice any form of self-care. One thing that always makes me feel good is making other people happy, so I’ve decided to put together a package of my favorite things for a giveaway!

First things first, here’s the rules.

  1. You must be following my blog. To do that, just hit the “follow button” on the right side bar of the page & enter your email address.
  2. If you go follow me on Instagram (@baconandhashtag), you get a bonus entry.

That’s it! It’s that easy. Now for the fun part! Let’s break down what’s in this giveaway.

IMG_2084

An adult coloring book & daily intention journal for a mental health break, an exfoliating face mask, a keratin protein face mask, a coconut oil, sea salt, & coffee scrub from Trader Joe’s (this stuff smells DELICIOUS!), a Sleepy (Twilight scent) lotion from Lush Cosmetics, a delicious smelling Blackberry & Sage soap from a small business, a coconut and papya lotion from Nubian Heritage that’s perfect for summer, and 20+ wax melts from a variety of indie vendors & Yankee Candle.

I put a lot of love into choosing the best products for you guys and I can’t wait to see what you think! The winner will be drawn & notified on May 9th! In the meantime, share with me your favorite ways to practice self care in the comments! Remember, be nice to yourself!

 

 

Posted in Treat Yourself Tuesday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mixtape Monday, 4/16, “Smells Like the 90s Vol. 1″

By: Ashton May

It’s time again, for Mixtape Monday! If you really liked the “Spring Drive” mixtape from last week, here’s a direct link to that playlist here.

As we’re pleasantly (miserably) working through Mercury Retrograde at the moment, I thought it’d be apropos to dive into the depths of some comforting musical nostalgia–which for me, being born in 1989, is the unparalleled realm that was 90s Alternative Rock.

The late 80s saw some great musical artists–but also a lot of terrible ones. The musical landscape was definitely in need of a sea change. Enter the “alternative” scene: although I’ve never found a clear definition of what really makes a band or artist “alternative,” whatever it is, the ’90s is the decade that brought it to the mainstream. And thank the musical gods that it did!

*Side note, I do have a list of favorite songs of all time. Four songs on that list are present on this list. I am a true 90s kid, after all.

Mixtape Monday, 4/16, “Smells Like the 90s Vol. 1” (yes, there will eventually be a Vol. 2, 3, 4, etc. because there’s just too much fantastic 90s music to cover) Listen while you read HERE.

“Just a Girl” – No Doubt: Kicking off her 20+ year musical career as a pop/rock icon, ‘Just a Girl’ was No Doubt’s first single that truly garnered mainstream success. Previously known as a Ska band directed by Eric Stefani’s songwriting, once he left the band, Gwen and the guys were forced to recreate themselves. Spoiler alert: It turned out very well, because no one really likes Ska (sorry, Ska fans). Released in 1995, Tragic Kingdom was one of my very first CDs, and this particular song was my original introduction into the frustration of gender inequality. Also, this guitar riff is super fun. Appearing in quintessential 90s movies, Clueless and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, this song is an absolute staple of 90s culture, and still translates.

“Hey Jealousy” – Gin Blossoms: In true musical fashion of the times, a song could be hopeless and depressing yet sound as upbeat and enjoyable as ever. ‘Hey Jealousy’ is one such sunny soundtrack to one’s depression. Stuffed with delightful hooks from start to finish, this song is one of the true gems of the early 90s.

“Lovefool” – The Cardigans: This is one song I distinctly remember dancing around my room and singing at the top of my lungs to when I was in 3rd grade. I LOVED this song with all of my 8-going-on-18 angsty heart. It’s also one of the earliest songs that I attribute to my love of the bass; seriously, the bassline in this song is killer. Tons of people over the last two decades have covered this song, because it’s f*cking great. Also adding to it’s 90s cred– it appeared in the killer Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet film, as well as 1999’s Cruel Intentions–the seminal song of which is also included on this list…we’ll get there later.

“The Way” – Fastball: Another song I loved to blast my boombox to, I never quite understood what the hell was going on in this song until I became older and realized it was about an older couple saying “goodbye forever” to their boring, routine life and gaining back the freedom and excitement from their youth. That’s actually a romanticized version of the actual sad story that inspired the writing of song, which you can read about here. Regardless, I was a sucker for the fun western/ latin influenced riffs and rhythms, and the mystery of the story.

“Special”- Garbage: Much like Gwen Stefani, Shirley Manson was one of my female rock idols growing up–she, too, had a badass style, a rebellious attitude, and a unique voice. The second single off of Garbage’s critically acclaimed second album, ‘Special’ became the group’s most commercially successful single, and earned the band Grammy nominations in two categories. Manson has spoken about the idea behind the lyrics, that they concerned the end of a friendship after that person lets you down in a major way. She said, “Ultimately it’s about those feelings of betrayal you have for people when you set your sights too high and expect too much and how that can lead to disappointment in the end.”

“Say It Ain’t So” – Weezer: The last single off of their debut album, ‘Say It Ain’t So’ is one of their best, and one of their most emotional, commercially successful songs. The song perfectly translates the worry-filled mind of a teenager thinking about very adult matters he doesn’t quite understand– and it should, as it was written when Rivers Cuomo recalled an incident as a teen when he came home from school and saw a bottle of beer in the fridge. Always believing that his mother and father’s marriage ended due to his father’s alcoholism, seeing the beer made him fear that the marriage between his mother and stepfather would end similarly. I distinctly remember this music video from when I was younger; not because it was eventful in the slightest (it’s not), but because of Rivers’ sweet baby face (he seriously looks like he’s 14 in this music video, rather than 24).

“Save Tonight” – Eagle-Eye Cherry: Swedish rock musician Eagle-Eye Cherry is really the only one-hit wonder I’ve included on this list, but hey, the 90s was NOTORIOUS for one-hit wonders, so it’s inevitable that I include at least one. They played this song pretty constantly on Star 94, so naturally, I knew every single word.

She Talks To Angels” – The Black Crowes: This song has always resonated with me in a variety of ways. Firstly, I was enamored with the music video. Secondly, my dad has always liked playing this song, so I have many fond memories of him sitting with his acoustic guitar and singing the song with perfection.Thirdly, as is true for another song on this list that we’ll get to in a minute, I just absolutely love the way Chris Robinson conveys the persona of song’s subject. He sings about the woman (very loosely based off of a girl he used to know in their 80s Atlanta club days who unfortunately had a heroin problem) with reverence, sincerity, admiration, and sadness. It’s just an incredibly raw and beautiful song that will never get old or lose relevance.

“Slide” – The Goo Goo Dolls: Do you think the Goo Goo Dolls are a little cheesy? Oh, yeah? Cool, well you obviously know nothing, Jon Snow, so just go. GET OUT OF HERE, HATER. For the rest of you good people, ‘Slide’ is one of my top favorite songs of all time. I don’t know what it is– the heavy orchestration, Johnny Rzeznik’s emotive voice, the lyrics, or the cadence of the melodies, but almost every single Goo Goo Dolls song makes me teary. Don’t even try to play ‘Iris’ around me if you aren’t prepared for my sobs. ‘Slide’ is a truly beautiful song that always affected me strongly. It is one of the most misinterpreted songs of the 90s. Again, based on the melody and instrumentation, most people perceive this as a happy love song, but according to Rzeznik, it’s about a young couple finding out they’re pregnant and questioning whether they should get an abortion, get married, or end things.

“Meet Virginia” – Train: Here’s the other song that so wonderfully depicts the object of the singer’s affection. I would absolutely love to meet Virginia. She seems a little crazy, but in a fun way. Except that she also seems pretty sad, or like she really doesn’t know what she wants in life, as she often screams, “I don’t really wanna live this life.” We’ve all known some wonderful people who are like this, and yes, we love them anyway. I’ve been pretty “meh” about Train since the mid-2000s, but I really liked their first album, and loved this song– it is a good one for loud car-singing, which is one of my favorite things.

“Interstate Love Song” – Stone Temple Pilots: (RIP Scott Weiland) STP have always been my personal favorite of the BIG THREE (which is what I like to call the grouping of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and STP). Their melodies and lyrics have always gelled with me more. And again we have another example of a fairly happy sounding song that contains lyrics that are definitely not-happy. According to Weiland in his autobiography, the song dealt primarily with his lack of honesty with his girlfriend and his “new relationship with heroin.” So…that’s a bit depressing, but what great melody, eh???

“One Headlight” – The Wallflowers: We really liked The Wallflowers in my household for a little while. My dad bought this CD, and I would go steal it and listen to it in my room often. I really loved this song, but, being 7-8, I didn’t really get the lyrics, of course, until I was older (like I really thought it was about Cinderella, so, there’s that). Although vague, the lyrics are very poignant (and not about the Disney Princess, apparently). Although it seems the singer refers to the death of a friend, Jakob Dylan has spoken that the song is mainly about the “death of ideas” and remaining persistent in the face of adversity. This song won the group a few Grammy’s and became their biggest commercial success.

“No Rain” – Blind Melon: Ok, if you haven’t seen this music video before, do yourself a favor and watch it now. It is one of the defining images of the 90s. Also, shockingly (not), probably the most extreme example of a super cheery, bouncy, sunny song that is not at all positive, and in fact, describes the pathos of depression that would eventually lead Shannon Hoon to his overdose/ suicide in 1995. Despite that uplifting fact, this song has always been one of my favorites.

“3AM” – Matchbox Twenty: Ohh, Matchbox Twenty. Rob Thomas sounds like Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Stephen Jenkins of Third Eye Blind had baby. One of the singles off of their debut album, ‘3AM’ was definitely one of my favorite songs when I was a kid (another Star 94 staple). Surprisingly, although the song sounds pretty happy, guess what? It’s not, really. Rob Thomas said the lyrics were inspired by the time in his life as an adolescent when his mother was struggling to survive cancer. It’s not all bad though, for once– his mother eventually made a full recovery, which lyrically lets the song focus on the struggle of the situation, rather than the potential tragedy.

“Inside Out” – Eve 6: “I wanna put my tender heart in a blender, watch it spin around into a beautiful oblivion…” I’m sorry, but those are some fantastic lyrics– quite the image, and super relatable. I have absolutely felt like that…probably 87% of my entire life to be honest. I digress. This song was Eve 6’s first single off of their debut album, and it was a BIG hit. There’s something so fantastically pure about this song. Max Collins wrote the song when he was just 17 years old– fresh off of his first heartbreak, falling deeply into the angst most of us knew at 17. He just happened to eventually make a ton of money off of his.

 

“Celebrity Skin” – Hole: ‘Celebrity Skin’ is my favorite Hole song, for sure, although the album it comes from of the same title is full of great songs, half of them– including this one– co-written by Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins. We all know Courtney Love is a little wild/ crazy, and she’s not exactly the best singer, but when she puts out good stuff, it’s great. The lyrics to this song are really cool– fragmented and pulled from a lot of literary influences. The vocal and instrumental melodies are fun and catchy; it’s a lot like Love herself– quick, dirty, loud, fun, a whirlwind.

“Heart-Shaped Box” – Nirvana: Is it fitting or rude to put Kurt and Courtney next to each other? I’m going to go with fitting, as ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ was supposedly pretty directly about Courtney– and there was an actual heart-shaped box, given to him by Love. Certain lines such as “Forever in debt to your priceless advice” is allegedly referring to the typical subjects of their frequent arguments. Can we also take a minute to appreciate what a twisted and roundabout way to say “I love you” the line “I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black” is? Genius. Not sure why I picked this specific Nirvana song for this list– I guess due to the connection with Love, but those that know me know that I’m a huge Nirvana fan, and have been enamored with the saddo, Kurt Cobain, since I was a very young child. I mean, we have the same birthday so we’re basically the same person (not really, duh, but he was just as into astrology as I am ((as you can gather from the first line of this song)), so he would probably think it was cool and totes meaningful that we are birthday twins). One of my earliest memories is watching MTV News the day he died and being confused and devastated. I’ve always felt a strong connection to him and the band in general, and I grew up with that connection to their music. Obviously it contributed a great deal to my sunny outlook!

“Semi-Charmed Life” – Third Eye Blind: I would say this obsession is healthier than a Kurt Cobain obsession, but this song is about doing heavy drugs, so…REGARDLESS, again, anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE THIRD EYE BLIND. No joke, this overtly painfully nostalgic song of the 90s is my actual favorite song of all time. It just is. Has been since 1997, and still is 20 YEARS LATER. Moreover, this entire album is absolutely incredible. 3EB is going on a 20 year anniversary tour in which they will be playing the entirety of this album, start to finish. Am I going, you ask? OF COURSE. Anyway, this is one of the top songs of the 90s, for sure, with it’s fun, poppy melody and “doo doo doos.” Stephen Jenkins, however, said it’s a filthy song about a time when all of his friends (and himself) seemed to be “tapped out on speed.” The song is “bright and shiny on the surface, and then it just pulls you down in this lockjawed mess … The music that I wrote for it is not intended to be bright and shiny for bright and shiny’s sake. It’s intended to be what the seductiveness of speed is like, represented in music.” I’ll tell you that I indeed knew every single word to this song at the tender age of eight. Luckily, my sweet naivety keep me unaware of what all of those words actually meant for another eight years or so.

“Don’t Look Back In Anger” – Oasis: ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ is one of the signature songs off of Oasis’ monstrously successful album (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, and the first single to be sung by Noel Gallagher rather than the main vocalist, Liam Gallagher. Oasis was never as wildly popular in the U.S. as they were in the U.K., and most Americans at the time were only really aware of ‘Wonderwall,’ but this song has always been might favorite of theirs (followed closely by ‘Champagne Supernova’). Although Noel was heavily under the influence of god knows what at the time of the song’s conception and said there’s not really a specific meaning at all, I find the lyrics to be strangely positive in a “go with the flow” / “leave the past behind” kind of way. If you don’t know this song, you should learn it– singing the big, open chorus at the top of your lungs is liberating.
“Bitter Sweet Symphony” – The Verve: One of the greatest songs of the 90s and the entire Britpop genre is this beautiful and controversial song from The Verve. I won’t get into the whole thing here, but basically they lost all of their rights and royalties to this song due to a sampling licence gone awry. Regardless, lyrics describe the ennui of everyday life in a fittingly hazy and obscure way, while the pretty, dreamy orchestration surrounds your ears like a big comforting blanket. This song was a mega hit in the late 90s, particularly after appearing as the closing song to Cruel Intentions and being the seminal song on the soundtrack, so every single teenager in America and the U.K. knew the song. As it closed out the super weird/ messed up story of Cruel Intentions, it’s also appropriate the ending track on this week’s mixtape.

Posted in Mixtape Monday | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Treat Yourself Tuesday: Hair Care

Since I’m on a real alliteration series kick, I decided to start another. Every week, or until I run out of ideas, I’m going to be here sharing my favorite self care tips with you.

First of all, let’s start out with some reasons why self care & treating yourself nicely is so important:

  1. Self care is a baramoter of your overall well being.
  2. When you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others.
  3. You work hard. You deserve it!

So today I want to share with you one of my favorite ways to treat myself– hair care. Have you guys heard of the Drybar? It reminds me a lot of somewhere the main love interest in rom-com would hang out. They take you back, shampoo & massage your scalp (!!!), and style your hair while you sip cocktails or diet soda with cute yellow blow dryer swizzle sticks and watch a movie. Some of the movies playing when I’ve been in the chair are 500 Days of Summer, Love & Basketball, and The Notebook (crying while getting your hair done is messy, y’all.) You can choose from one of many styles, but my favorite is the Dirty Martini (as pictured below). Plus, the cost is affordable (styles start out around $40) and last for 3-4 days or until your next shampoo.

IMG_1421

In between blow outs, I love a good hair mask. I love to put one in, pop on a shower cap, and watch a movie or read–anything to relax. It’s also incredibly easy: apply, wait, rinse. Two of my favorite brands are Hask’s Keratin Protein Smoothing Deep Conditioner, just $2.99 at Ulta and Target and Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask, $9.00 at Sephora and you get multiple uses out of a pot. IMG_1738.JPG

I’ll be back next week with more ways to treat yourself. In the meantime, share with me your favorite ways to practice self care in the comments! Remember, be nice to yourself!

Posted in Treat Yourself Tuesday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments