What separates a great song lyric from a forgettable one?
Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Ever since starting my Sharing The Goodness series I’ve been getting more and more into the art of songwriting and the impact it has on me. When a lyric sticks with me through more than just the melody, and sometimes exactly because of it, it causes me to look inward and analyze myself from head-to-toe. Why did this particular line bring me to tears? What makes this lyric echo in my head more than, say, this one?
Some might cite songwriting’s relevance to whatever they’re currently going through in their life, while others might prefer something more on the poetic side. You can glean a million different interpretations from a single line and below I’m going to take a look at some stand-outs I’ve been thinking about lately.
If you’re interested in some good music from primarily lesser-known artists and bands, check out my past Sharing The Goodness posts where I looked at disco and funk as well as soul, folk and lounge.
1. “Is my head in the clouds or are the clouds in my head?”
from “Smoke And Mirrors” by PATRÌCE
I’m going to start this off with the song that inspired this Sharing The Goodness spin-off in the first place. I picked out the S.G. Lewis remix in my Youtube recommendations line-up a little while back, originally finding it a touch stale…yet I came back to it again and again. There was just something about the echoing, mysterious hook that stuck with me. The best part? Thanks to the stylistically filtered vocals, I actually had no clue what they were originally saying the first few listens! When I looked up the lyrics later, I was alarmed that my favorite part was actually my favorite part.
Too often I wonder just how many of my anxieties are valid and how many are not. What’s actually an outside force trying to rob me of stability or an inside one tearing me to pieces. While there are plenty of amazing lyrics to be explored yet, it’s validating to hear a common inner question put to musical form. I don’t think I’ll ever let this one go.
Disco, House And Funk
Why the hell haven’t I posted any songs in these genres yet? I love the hell out of disco. I grew up listening to Earth, Wind & Fire and The O’Jays, for fuck’s sake. …On the other hand, I can be a touch picky when it comes to house and dance. I love a catchy beat, absolutely, but a redundant bassline and hook that lasts for eight entire minutes with little to shake it up? God, no.
A song starting out with untz untz untz is often the fastest way to turn me, as well as the video, off. When I find the right one, though? I’m a happy camper. Because of that some of the examples on the list may have a bit more of a pop or alternative flavor, but fear not. You’ll get all your classic vibes in good fashion.
Check out my previous post where I rounded up five songs in R&B, hip-hop and soul!
1. “Fade Out” by Viceroy ft. Gavin Turek
You might have seen Gavin Turek here and there. She’s been gaining notable traction in the pop world as a throwback to an older time, mixing disco and house with a slightly more modern bent. Here she combines her signature sound with Viceroy, giving us the confident and upbeat ‘Fade Out’.
The guitar is sumptuously groovy and contrasts well with sharp, clashing drums and a high, crooning chorus. Dance clubs and radio stations alike would gladly make this piece at home. Standard party lyrics abound, but the best part of this song is not the subject matter but the fact it makes you want to go out and do said subject matter. That being partying, chilling and not stressing overmuch about taxes or a deplorable healthcare system. Give in to that self-care and soak in these pre-summer vibes.
You don’t need my pity, fade out with me
Let’s get lost, the symphony awaits
R&B, Hip-Hop & Soul
I’m going to sound like a broken record, but I’ve got some great stuff this week. Some are catchy, some are brilliant and some are a blend of both. What connects all these artists together outside their genre(s) is the fact they deserve way more attention than what they’re getting. Let’s share some of this goodness around!
Check out my last Sharing The Goodness where I reviewed folk, soul and lounge!
1. “Some Say” by Darci
Sometimes (often, always, every single time) a song has me conjuring up a mental music video. There’s something about it, something that digs right into my brain and starts tugging at all the little creative strings like fingers on a harp. If you’re an artist of any stripe you can likely relate to this (and if you can’t, well, it’s a hobby I highly recommend).
Darci‘s flow is fantastic. It’s almost stream-of-consciousness, with his vocals ricocheting back and forth as much as the instrumentation does. It’s addictive and a little surreal, filled with mood even as the lyrics are nothing I’d write home about. They go about exploring the standard gossip that comes with a party lifestyle. Been there, done that. The echoing backbeat, though, transforms the mundane subject matter into something almost mysterious.
People say this, people say that. What does the singer actually do? Probably something far more interesting than whatever lies gossips spin up to keep themselves entertained. This song makes me wish I knew how to play piano, because an instrumental would sound incredible. For now, I’ll press repeat.
Some say that we run these nights
Some say that we went too high
Soul, Folk & Lounge
Feeling tired lately? So are these songs. I rounded up some stuff that’s perfect for leaning back and filtering through whatever has you stressed, the audio equivalent of a back massage or epsom salt soak. Let’s skip the pleasantries (they’re too tiring, anyway) and get straight to the good stuff.
Check out my last list where I rounded up some of my alternative rock favorites!
1. “September” by Foner (sample of ‘(It Was) September’ by Superior Elevation)
It may not be autumn anymore, but it doesn’t mean we can’t relish in music that makes our soul crave chilly evenings and turning leaves. Foner‘s ‘September’ is a lovely little piece that should be a staple at most cafes, because it’s a song I want to curl up with a mug of tea every single time I press play.
Almost groovy in its sound, ‘September’ hearkens to its signature season and oozes nostalgia out of every pore — considering it samples and mixes up 1981’s single ‘(It Was) September’ by Superior Elevation, it’s small wonder it feels a little timeless. A little shorter and more focused, the guitar is still lovely and flows throughout the entire piece with a strong bassline, the lead singer rounding out an already full package with great vocals. The subject matter is only touched on briefly, adding an air of mystery that soon dissolves into a wonderful horn outro. I’ve been a fan of this song for a few years and I don’t see this love fading anytime soon. Give ‘September’ a try, or even check out the original, when you’re feeling nostalgia’s itch and need something to scratch it out.
Oh, September, it’s when she went away
She said she’s gonna stay
I’m behind. I’m so, so, so behind. Forgive me, goddess of rock, for I have sinned.
I am astronomical levels of overdue for getting some good rock songs on Sharing The Goodness. This is the genre that all but defined my childhood (besides non-stop disco and bad europop) and I’ve got a proverbial pick-up truck to unload over the next few posts. Let’s get this show on the road!
Check out my last post where I looked at alternative R&B and soul if rock doesn’t do it for you!
1. “Shakedown” by Valerie June
A new reoccurring favorite on Sharing The Goodness, Valerie June continues to impress with her iconic pipes and musical flair. ‘Shakedown’ is a song I’d love to hear at an outdoor porch party and, come to think of it, I really should throw one of those once I actually get a porch. It’s lively, charming and just a little on the short side — perfect for constant repeats while enjoying an evening drink. At least, I think.
A bit of bluegrass, a bit of classic rock, there’s a little bit for everyone to love here. The lyrics are simple, more for shuffling your feet than contemplating your navel, and I’m totally fine with that. …Have I also mentioned I love her fashion sense? Because I really do. Valerie June somehow strikes this tender balance between old-fashioned and modern with one of the most incredible hairstyles around. Short and sweet, you need to get this woman on your playlists pronto. It’s the least you can do!
Feel it when you sing it
That shakedown breakdown showdown
Alternative R&B And Soul
Fell behind on these, but it certainly wasn’t for a lack of songs. In fact, I’ve found far more than I even know what to do with. I’m learning more and more about all the varied categories, sub-categories and what-the-fuck categories as I go. Terms for specific genres I didn’t even know existed are popping up left and right, making it easier than ever to find songs that make my eyes glaze over with delight. That’s not just me, right? That can’t just be me.
If this isn’t your style, check out my last post where I looked at hip-hop and jazz!
1. “Gooey” by Glass Animals
Damn if it doesn’t feel great when you find a new group and discover they don’t just have a few decent singles, but their entire repertoire is addicting as candy. With only a few years to their name and an incredibly varied sound that gets more eclectic with each hit they put out, I can see Glass Animals only getting more successful from here. (They’ve actually got another fantastic single that I’ll have to put on another list for its entirely different genre)
‘Gooey”s title fits the song’s style perfectly — it’s like if melted butter was put to sound, almost bizarrely smooth and utterly sultry with each whispering note. A dreamy harp and the signature hissing croons of the lead singer create a brilliant atmosphere right off the bat, eventually pulling you into a rhythm that sways like a lullaby. I looped this song without mercy the first time I heard it, with each listen progressively better than the last to the point I had to share it with everyone I knew as soon as possible. It’s one of those.
I mean, when it comes down to it you just can’t go wrong with lyrics that include the lines ‘peanut-butter vibes’ and ‘icky, gooey womb’.
Ride my little pooh bear, wanna take a chance
Wanna sip this smooth air, kick it in the sand
Hip-Hop & Jazz
I’ve got some real good stuff this week. Songs that get me jazzed up (heh) are ones that blur the lines between genres, bringing in the best of each and something entirely new all at the same time. Some of the hip-hop picks here are going to have some distinctively jazzy influences, but there’s bound to be something here for fans of both genres and all the little overlaps. Let’s just get to it!
If you’re interested in past posts, check out the last one where I revisited more of indie and acoustic.
1. “Rose Golden” by Kid Cudi ft. Willow Smith
It’s a damn good feeling when you click on a song and know it’s gonna be good from the first few seconds. Kid Cudi and Willow Smith’s talents have crashed into one another like two planets, creating a result that’s as bombastic as it is unique.
Drawn in with classic harps and crooning only to suddenly swing into a pounding beat, the song all but grabs the listener by the proverbial hand and leads them on a journey — hip-hop, classical and indie are just a few of the influences on full blast here and make for something that’s as interesting as it is plainly catchy. Their vocals are fantastic — I’ve become a huge fan of Willow Smith over the past few years and Kid Cudi’s voice has taken a turn for the gravelly, providing a stellar contrast for an overall stunning piece.
It’s a full-package song through and through. I was drawn in by the lush instrumentation, swayed by the fascinating lyrics and left tingling by the sheer personality of all the incredible talent on board. There’s just so much to talk about to the point I risk overhyping. Just check ‘Rose Golden’ out — you won’t regret it.
Oh, since I was young, been grooving to my own drum
Ain’t that many teachers show me my potential
Indie & Acoustic
Let’s face it. It can be really hard getting through the week with so much bad news pouring through social media and public programs like a stubborn leak. The kind of music I like to listen to in order to further my mood during rough times varies quite a bit — sometimes I want pounding, angry rock to offset hopelessness, while other times I seek out sugary pop to perk me up. As of this week? Indie and folk can be the ticket you need to pull out all those seemingly elusive artistic emotions when you need to create or just get a good cry going.
I’ll be putting a touch more emphasis on the acoustic part of folk in this list, if only because we all could use some low-key, wind-down music once in a while. If this is a genre that tickles your fancy, check out my previous indie and folk recommendations.
1. “Wanna Be On Your Mind” by Valerie June
With one of the most charming set of pipes I’ve ever heard, Valerie June is a new favorite that’s found a permanent place in my playlists. You could even say she’s regularly on my mind! I’ll stop.
Her work is a vibrant blend of country and folk, leaning toward the latter with certain pieces and leaning back with others. If you’re like me and aren’t overly fond of country’s general sound, rest easy knowing Valerie June is versatile enough to cover a wide variety of approaches while retaining a strong identity. ‘Wanna Be On Your Mind’ is a jaunty acoustic-folk number, the almost earworm hook supplemented with a gentle keyboard and quirky chimes. I’ve even put on this song for a few friends and their organic head-bobbing only confirms what I already know.
I wanna be on your mind, stay there all the time
You can’t call my name
Electronic & Synth-Pop
Got some good stuff this week! Unlike some of the previous lists where I’ve been sharing new favorites, some of these artists I’ve been a fan of for years. With so much music released week after week, it’s nice to do a little reflecting and see what’s stuck with you along the way (it helps my Youtube account is one giant music repository and I’ve been using it since community college). Without further ado, let’s take a look at some electronica and synth-pop!
1. “2012” by Genki Sudo (WORLD ORDER)
Remember those men in suits doing the robot? Then you may know a thing or two about Genki Sudo. If not, his smooth and dreamy synth-pop single ‘2012’ is a good place to start. The Japanese group WORLD ORDER gained a notable Internet presence through their catchy tunes and choreographed dance routines a few years back, still going strong today with concerts, advertisements and periodic album releases. While their self-titled ‘WORLD ORDER’ is their most popular song to date, I thought I’d take a glance at a piece that might’ve slipped under the radar.
Soothing and gentle, ‘2012’ leans more toward the low-key with its synthetic violins and electronic notes. The video is just as beautiful, embracing the natural beauty of Mexico City both in its environments and downtown cultures. This group clearly loves what they do yet don’t take themselves too seriously, allowing the confused and delighted reaction shots of passerbys to permeate multiple shots. It’s not an easy balance to strike and Genki Sudo’s WORLD ORDER encourages it in spades.
Perfection is when we’re here
Perfection is where we’re going to
Alternative & Chill-Pop
Alternative has always been a mainstay with me. It’s a slapdash of everything, the best of rock, pop, electronica, synth-pop, hip-hop and just about whatever it needs to hold your attention and lift your heart. A veritable delicious stew where you can’t figure out where one genre starts and the other ends. It’s just brilliant. If you’ve got a hankering for some quality soul and funk instead, check out my previous post here.
Since alternative is such a broad category, I’m going to switch it up a little with future Sharing The Goodness posts. Alternative and electronica or alternative and jazz, for example, are likely candidates for the future! ‘Til then, let’s take a look at the smooth and more relaxed end of things — alternative and chill-pop.
1. “Sly” by Polographia ft. Winston Surfshirt
Double-feature time! I found this band pretty recently while browsing different playlists. With the political landscape getting more hectic by the second, I am in a constant need for something to slow down my heart rate and put me in a better headspace. Polographia’s fantastic old-school melodies and delightfully relaxed approach have since weaseled their way into my own ongoing playlists and I don’t think they’ll be leaving any time soon.
Don’t confuse relaxed with boring, however — their single ‘Sly’ has enough zest to get you moving, but is low-key enough to be as comfortable in a car radio while speeding down the highway as a temporary snooze on a warm beach. Alternative really is a little bit of everything! For those that want a solid first impression, ‘Sly’s throwback sound and vaporware music video are a prime place to start.
Who’s counting all the things you tried
Can’t remember how or why but in the end you’ve grown sly