Archive for the ‘Soundtracks’ Category

Chris Cornell first invaded my ears back in the early 90s as frontman of Soundgarden – a Seattle band front and centre in the grunge music scene. Those formative years wouldn’t have been the same without that distinctive voice, his voice. Cornell’s vocals were what set them apart from the plethora of grunge bands trying to make it big at the time. His ability to hit such high octaves with perfect control, but also be raw and loud, gave him such versatility, and a sound that will always truly be his own (start video at 0:19) 

In Soundgarden’s early days, even before they “made it big” with 1994’s Superunknown, Cornell lived with musician Andrew Wood, of the band Mother Love Bone. After Wood died of a heroin overdose in 1990, Cornell got together with Wood’s bandmates, and wrote and produced a tribute album, under the name Temple of the Dog. It also featured backing vocals of newcomer Eddie (of yet-to-be-formed Pearl Jam.) The whole idea behind this entire project was friendship, so it’s no surprise I’ve made long-lasting friendships based on a mutual love for this powerful, anthemic track.

Soundgarden inevitably broke up in 1997, like the rest of the grunge bands. Cornell decided to kick off a solo career with 1999’s Euphoria Morning, which fared pretty well. As a solo artist, he also performed covers, appeared on soundtracks, and even had one of his albums produced by Timbaland (which did not fare well with his fans.) Point is, he was always experimenting, always making music, always in our ears. This track appeared in the movie Great Expectations – the one with Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow. It was the best part of the movie, and revealed a much softer Cornell, reaffirming that he really was capable of anything.

If Cornell didn’t have enough going on already, in 2001 he joined ex-members of rock-metal band Rage Against the Machine, to form Audioslave. A hard rock band, similar in many ways to Soundgarden, just less grunge and more aggression. They were loud, but also musical. By this time, I was in University, a completely different phase in my life. But there he was – still ringing in my ears. This track is so incredibly haunting and proof that no matter how much noise was going on, Cornell’s voice could always rise above, and take the whole thing to another level.

I had the privilege of seeing Cornell play live 3 three times. Once as a solo act at a small venue in Hamilton. I drove through a snowstorm, in pitch black just to get there, and it was worth every second. The 2nd time was with Soundgarden on their reunion tour at an outdoor venue; when the sky turned gray, and they went into “Fell on Black Days,” the rain didn’t even matter. Lastly, a solo acoustic show at Massey Hall: just him, his guitar and a lot of incredible music. I went to this show all by myself, because I couldn’t miss this opportunity. I had goosebumps the entire time, and never felt I was there alone – Cornell, as usual, was right there.

There was never a time in my musical life that Cornell wasn’t doing something, or part of something. Everything he got involved with, somehow became a part of my life. A memory, a mood, a phase. It was comforting to know, no matter what he was doing, it would always resonate with me. When he performed live as a solo artist, the most remarkable thing was not only did fans get to see Cornell, but also Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog and Audioslave. So when Chris Cornell passed away on May 17th, not only was he gone, but he also took Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, and Audioslave with him. As a music fan, that’s a whole lot of music to mourn.

2015 was a pretty good year for music, even better for Canadian music, with Justin Bieber, Drake and The Weeknd dominating everything. As per usual, these highlights (and lowlights) are just my opinion, and have no bearing on commercial success. I also must disclaim that I haven’t listened to every single album/track that was released this year.

Best New Artist – Jamie xx

Okay so this is a bit of a cheat, mostly because Jamie xx isn’t exactly new. He’s resident DJ for incomparable indie band The xx. His beats are infectious and not your standard EDM style. This year, he decided to branch out on his own with his debut album, In Colour. And it blew everyone’s mind.

 

Worst New Artist – Shawn Mendes

I’m generally not one to pop open the haterade on young Canadian artists, but man this guy’s annoying. He’s so average, yet each one of his singles appears all over the radio. I will props him on writing (most of) his own stuff, but it’s just not that good – he’s not doing anything that hasn’t been done before.

 

Best Canadian Album – The Gates by Young Empires

Okay before you all hyperventilate because Drake or The Weeknd didn’t win this, it’s because my goal is to expose you all to new music. This list would be boring if it was predictable, so this is me changing it up. This is a solid album start to finish. It’s musical, thoughtful and shows an evolution in their sound.

 

Best Soundtrack – Empire

Empire is a one of a kind TV show. Entertainment mogul Lucious Lyon and his sons taking over the music industry, whilst dealing with their family drama that goes layers deep may not sound appealing, but it is. Even if the show doesn’t interest you, the music alone is worth tuning in. The talent on this show is commendable, seeing as they all (apparently) sing their own stuff, plus it’s loaded with guest stars galore. It’s just so addictive.

 

Best Remix – “The Hills” by The Weeknd feat. Eminem

Whether you’re a fan or not, you can’t deny The Weeknd’s musical abilities. His flawless voice, its velvety smoothness is purely eargasmic. As if this track wasn’t fantastic enough,  when you add Eminem’s rhymes on it, there’s just no contest.

 

Worst Remix – “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar

It’s high time we all get over Taylor Swift. She’s becoming a little too high maintenance, what with wanting to trademark everything she touches and taking her music off streaming services because she wasn’t making enough money. So imagine my surprise, when Kendrick Lamar joined her on this petty track. I mean, come on: his album is called To Pimp a Butterfly, and he’s from  Compton! This collab is adding zero value to his street cred and makes no sense at all.

 

RIP – Scott Weiland

This was a pretty personal one for me. I spent a lot of my teenage years cozying up to Stone Temple Pilots. “Plush” is one of my all-time favourite tracks, and one of the first I learned on guitar. He also fronted supergroup Velvet Revolver. He had such a unique voice, such a presence, but also such a big drug problem. The 90s wouldn’t have been the same without him.

 

Artist who Broke the Internet – Adele

When she released “Hello”, everyone fell apart. Millions and millions of views on YouTube. TV appearances, announcing a tour, shattering so many sales records, and continuing to do so. She may not be your style, but how can you not belt along to her lyrics? It’s so therapeutic.

 

Artist You Want to Befriend – Alessia Cara

A cool 19-year-old  singer-songwriter from Brampton, ON, who got signed to Def Jam Recordings. Her big hit “Here” tells the tale of the not-so-cool high school girl who ends up at typical teen party because her friends wanted to go. It’s smart, it’s honest, it’s funny and I seriously want to hang with her.

 

Best Choreography in a Video – “Hotline Bling” by Drake

This was a no-brainer.

 

 

Best Live Show – Foo Fighters at Fenway Park

I’ll extend this out to the entire leg of their tour where Grohl had to perform while sitting on a chair/throne because he broke his leg. In spite of that, the level of performance they gave was monstrous. He didn’t get tired for one second during the near 3 hour set. No complaints, no holding back. They played the crap out of their music and it was just such a joy to be a part of it.

 

Most Disappointing Album – A Head Full of Dreams by Coldplay

It’s no secret I’ve had a volatile love/hate relationship with these guys. Their last album Ghost Stories saw them maybe turning a corner, but they’re lost for good now. It’s basically a dance/pop album which is incapable of tugging at any heartstrings – something they used to master.  Basically, Coldplay is trying to latch on to the latest EDM trend, to make their music more mainstream. They also have dancing monkeys in their video; it’s just sad now, really.

 

Guiltiest Pleasure – “Sorry” by Justin Bieber

I know, I can’t believe I’m admitting it. It’s just so darn catchy.

 

Most Underrated Artist – Lianne La Havas

Lianne dropped her second album Blood this year, and it seemed like no one noticed. She’s got a beautiful voice, full of emotion (think Lauryn Hill and India Arie put together.) Everyone needs to pay more attention to her, starting now.

Most Transformed Artist – Daniel Johns

He used to lead singer of 90s grunge band Silverchair. Heavy guitars, loud lyrics, long hair and apathy written everywhere. Now all of a sudden, Johns resurfaces as some hunky, electro-pop star, that makes his voice do things fans of Silverchair never even thought possible. See for yourselves.

Worst Break-Up – Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale

My inner 90s child’s heart broke when this news surfaced. They were supposed to be the music couple that made it all the way, the ones that lasted. They met on tour back in the 90s – she with No Doubt, he with Bush. It was so perfect in so many ways. And now it’s been ruined. As has my belief in humanity.

 

Best Summer Song – “2 Heads” by Coleman Hell

Hell is from Thunder Bay, and this track is fun, different, and makes you dance along to that country vibe. It just feels like summer.

 

Album of the Year – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by  Florence + the Machine

There’s just something about Florence’s voice, artistry and her drama. She can sing any song, and give you goosebumps doing it. Every track on this album will probably change your life somehow. It’s worth a listen.

 

Song of the Year – “Don’t Wanna Fight” by Alabama Shakes

This track is an addiction. Gets you on a crazy high, feeds your soul, and makes you tingle all over. Brittany Howard’s vocals have so much fire in them, and once you add the funk in their music, you have sheer perfection.

Moments

Posted: September 25, 2015 in 80s Music, 90s Music, Soundtracks
Tags: , ,

One of my favourite things about music is how it can define a specific point in time. You hear a song, you remember an event; it’s nostalgia at its best. While we have our own personal soundtracks in life, there are a few film songs that have forever been imprinted on my mind; whenever I hear them, the only thing I can think of is that one scene. Here’s a look at some of my favourites.

Don’t You Forget About Me – Simple Minds; The Breakfast Club

After everything they went through in Saturday detention together; where all walks of life and all castes of the social hierarchy co-existed, they bonded. They shared their truths, dug deep, used each other for therapy. They realized they have more in common than they thought, and will forever be connected. The spoiled rich girl gives her diamond earring stud to the rebel bad boy. The jock makes out with the “alternative” girl. But what looms over their heads is whether or not when reality starts again Monday morning, if they’ll remain friends. That’s the plea in this track. That’s why it stays in your mind.

Kissing You – Des’ree; Romeo + Juliet

Everyone knows this scene. Young Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes catch each other’s eye through a fish tank at an elaborate costume party; they chase each other around the mansion, dying to meet each other, while Des’ree’s vocals follow their growing love. It’s so perfectly placed, so perfectly chosen. (Note: this was the best version I could find, not the exact scene from the film.)

You’re the Best Around – Joe Esposito; Karate Kid 1

Let’s be real, so many fantastic 80s tracks existed throughout all 3 instalments of the Karate Kid (I choose to ignore any sequel/remake that doesn’t star Ralph Macchio). But none as pivotal as this track which played in the background during the life-changing All Valley Karate Championships. Underdog Daniel Larusso outfitted in white , trained by master sensai Mr. Miyagi, is trying to prove himself against the evil John Cleese and his Cobra Kai dojo, outfitted in balck. Girlfriend Ali (aka Elizabeth Shue) cheers him on in the background, and the montage of Daniel picking off his opponents one by one, only builds momentum with this track. It’s impossible to picture this scene without this song, and vice versa.