Archive for the ‘Soundtracks’ Category

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.

Music, when combined with television, results in an art form that allows both forms of entertainment to shine. There are currently two television shows running that take a good hard look at the music industry, from all angles possible. Nashville deals with country music, Empire with hip-hop. Here’s how they compare.

The Leads

Rayna James (aka Connie Britton) is a country music superstar. Nashville focuses on her personal and professional lives. A typical old country singer, who is more concerned about her family and the quality of music she’s making, than fortune and fame (after acquiring a plethora of said fortune and fame.) A tiresome do-gooder whose only flaw is a fickle mind when it comes to matters of the heart.

Lucious Lyon (aka Terrence Howard) is a hustlin’ thug drug dealer from the Philly streets, turned founder of multi-millionaire music label/media corporation Empire. He thrives on making money and does what he needs to do to stay on top. He has strained relationships with 2 out of his 3 sons, and pits them all against each other to prove to him who is most worthy to take over the company.

The Exes

Deacon Claybourne (aka Charles Esten), is Rayna’s guitar player/co-songwriter, ex-lover. They have one of those tumultuous, on-again/off-again love stories that is constantly plagued by bad timing, wrong choices, and Deacon’s penchant for alcohol.

Cookie Lyon (aka Taraji P. Henson) is Lucious’ ex, who starts the series fresh out of jail, after a 17-year stint. Her and Lucious used to make beautiful music back in the day, and she did in fact help him start he label before going behind bars. She puts family first, and can be kind of whack; but she’s also easy to love.

The Underdogs

Nashville has Juliette Barnes (aka Hayden Panettiere.) Your typical, bratty, new country entitled diva. Always barking orders, and making everyone cater to her. She’s also a crazy talented artist, with huge appeal to younger fans (think a more spoiled Taylor Swift.) You can’t stand her, but as you get to know her, you feel for her, and just wish she would stop making bad decisions.

Empire has Jamal Lyon (aka Jussie Smollett), the middle of the 3 sons. He’s musically gifted, can produce a track out of the nighttime noises of Brooklyn, and has the voice of an angel. He’s also gay, which causes his alpha male father to resent him, and treat him like crap. He’s on a mission to make Lucious recognize his talent and give him the praise he deserves. You root for him the entire time.

The Conflicted Ones

Andre Lyon (aka Trai Byers), the eldest son of Lucious and Cookie, and the most accomplished. Ivey league school-educated, smart, ambitious. He’s already CFO of the company, but Lucious doesn’t think he has it in him to be CEO because 1) he’s not musically talented; 2) he sold out by marrying a white woman; 3) he’s weak because he suffers from bipolar disorder.

Will Lexington (aka Chris Carmack, previously of The O.C. fame) is gay, but only a select few actually know that. He keeps his cards close to his chest, in paralyzing fear the country music industry won’t accept him if they found out. He tries hard to maintain his reputation as a womanizer; but struggles with the image too.

The Young’ns

Empire, rather Lucious, wants his youngest son Hakeem Lyon (aka Yazz the Greatest) to be the heir to the throne. He’s spoiled, and grew up with money coming out of his ears. He’s your stereotypical rap artist, who’s all about the bling, the money, the girls, the drinking. He doesn’t think before he acts, and lacks the maturity of his older brothers. His rhymes, however, are pretty tight.

Nashville has Scarlett O’Connor (aka Clare Bowen),  Avery Barkley (aka Jonathan Jackson) and Gunnar Scott (aka Sam Palladio). All are trying to make it in the country music industry through songwriting, producing and/or performing. They’re still trying to navigate the country music scene, and sometimes you like them, sometimes they’re insufferable.

The Music

In both shows, all those singing (apparently) use their own voices. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Nashville is white country, Empire is black hip-hop. Two completely different genres, but each show handles their own so well, that you’re bound to become a fan, regardless of your taste in music. It is due in large part to the attention they pay to showing viewers all the processes involved in putting a song together. The ins and outs of the industry; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Both shows also have guest stars ranging from Vince Gill, The Band Perry, and Luke Bryan; to Snoop Dogg, Courtney Love and Estelle.

Overall

Nashville puts a lot more female characters in the spotlight, and is a little more adult, more dramatic, with much more character development. Empire boasts a lot more black characters up front. It’s more new school, trendy, but also more superficial. Several story lines are kind of dangled around and toyed with, but without much resolve. Having said that, it has only had 1 season compared to Nashville‘s 3.

Both shows are essentially the same story, just told differently. Different worlds, different surroundings, but the same issues. They both focus on the importance of music and its ability to heal and support. They both deal with multiple social issues, and the benefits and downfalls of fortune and fame. They both place a large emphasis on family too.

Either way, you’re going to be hooked.