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.

smoke and mirrors patrice

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.

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Indie Pop-Rock & Shoegaze

All genres have their inherent strengths and weaknesses. What can cause some to turn away (and even choke back their bile) on indie and shoegaze is their frequently lackadaisical and meandering nature. “Stop droning about your high school crush!” Some might cry. “Give me something more than just a twangy guitar and some fuzzy feedback!”, others wail at their screen.

This is why I’m here: I do my damndest to find the stand-outs of any genre. Even if this isn’t quite your thing, take a look. Some of these grew on me after a few listens…perhaps you’ll find something you just can’t get enough of where you least expect it.

For those curious about other genres, check out my past Sharing The Goodness posts where I looked at piano pop, alternative and hip-hop!

gus dapperton

1. “I’m Just Snacking” by Gus Dapperton

Starting off with perhaps the most twee name in human history, it’s time for some introspection on your music consuming habits. How often do you come back to songs to double-check whether or not it’s a new favorite? ‘I’m Just Snacking’ took a few listens for it to properly grow on me, but once it did, I wasn’t sure how I went so long in my life without having Gus Dapperton on my playlist.

Much like the singer’s cloying fashion sense and oddball haircut, what you see is exactly what you get…almost. Both the song and video give you a rather interesting push-and-pull of simple and weird, a delight I found sticking with me long after the outro wrapped up. The sexual lyrics are rather on-the-nose, mixed with a variety of instruments that sound almost carelessly sprinkled throughout. It’s conventional, yet eccentric. Mellow, yet quirky. All in all, it has a little something for everybody.

Honey, I’m whole so what are we snacking for?

I’m just a whore, boy, it’s only natural

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Piano Pop & Soft Pop

It’s about time I got around to a genre that’s always acted the part of the happy little angel on my shoulder. I used to listen to a serious amount of piano pop and soft pop during my high school days. Gavin DeGraw, Sara Bareilles, Keane, Coldplay, you name it, I probably listened to it. Luckily for you, though, I’m going to focus more on artists that don’t get nearly as much airplay. …Mostly. Predominantly. You’ll know when you get there!

If piano pop and soft pop aren’t really your thing, check out my previous Sharing The Goodness posts where I looked at rock, ambient/instrumental and house/funk!

I’ve also shaken up this series by doing a music video + song review as well as a top five list of some of my favorite song lyrics.

wanting-what-i-need

1. “Wanting What I Need” by Clara C

Piano pop is like drip coffee with a dollop of something extra. It’s solid, it hits the spot, it’s a mundane staple of everyday life…but there’s an additional sweetness that elevates it to something all its own. When you match it with lyrics that act like your very own personal life coach? It’s a genre all its own.

‘Wanting What I Need’ is the kind of song that wants you to make the most for yourself, online randos and mental illness and anything else tripping you up be damned. Bursting with all sorts of instruments — keyboard, bells, guitars –you also get an unbelievably charming horn section midway through that warms you up just like that cup of drip early in the morning. The video is incredibly cute, too, showcasing the lead singer and her family/friends jumping on a trampoline with balloons, streamers and bubbles.

All in all, what you both want and need is a visual and musical representation of how joy really does come from simple things.

This time I’m gonna break out and be free

Stop needing what I want and start wanting what I need

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Indie & Alternative

I’m the first to say alternative and indie can be a little hard to pin down. Yet I’ve got a cluster here that are indicative of the genre in ways I didn’t think possible. Emotional, raw, breezy, whimsical, you get the full gamut of emotions these addictive genres have to offer. I’ve got one in particular I’ve been dying to share, so I think I’ll use it to start off the list…

If alternative and indie aren’t your thing, glance back at some of my previous Sharing The Goodness posts where I looked at soul and funk, R&B and chill-pop!

Yeah-Boy-x-Ryan-Keen-Guidance

1. “Guidance” by Yeah Boy ft. Ryan Keen

I am overdue for sharing this absolute gem of a piece. A song that makes your soul lift straight out of your body. Not in the ‘I’m dealing with secondhand embarrassment and I can’t handle it anymore‘ way, but the ‘God, I feel like I could touch the sky‘ way.

A breezy summer day somehow condensed into four minutes, this is the definition of bottling up some musical magic. The outro is nothing short of stunning and easily the most incredible part of a strong package. A soft chorus builds and builds and builds with a rolling guitar in the background that’s as grand as it is whimsical. Something I love doing is reading the comments on a video (don’t worry, I don’t read too far) and seeing if people feel similar emotions.

Judging by the amount of commenters saying the song makes them feel nostalgic or like they’re destined for something special…to that I say: yeah, boy!

I really need some guidance

It’s gone way too far

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R&B & Chill-Pop

Been dealing with more panic attacks than I know what to do with lately. Heart palpitations, insomnia, chest pains, the works. When it comes to music, there’s nothing like a little R&B and chill-pop to soothe frazzled nerves. Whether you have a stressful workweek you’ve just got through with or you’re gearing up for a busy weekend, take a glance at this list and see if you can’t find something to put your mind at ease for a few minutes.

If R&B and chill-pop isn’t your cup of tea, take a gander at my past Sharing The Goodness posts, like indie and acoustic or soul!

sofi de la torre 2

1. “$” by Sofi De La Torre

Smoky and ethereal, this is a gorgeous example of the genre by newcomer Sofi De La Torre. Gaining a strong fanbase on Soundcloud and Youtube, she stands out amid the pack through a mixture of striking vocals and smooth, flowing melodies. When I’m eager to show off the latest songs I’ve found, I often like to first show ones that are really representative of what the artist has to offer on the whole. ‘$‘ is one of those songs.

Mere seconds in and I was taken aback by the contrast between the tender atmosphere and the incredibly blunt lyrics, not unlike something FKA Twigs or Grimes could’ve cooked up if they steered more toward R&B. They give the song a fantastic sense of style, even as you sweat under the collar and thank whichever god you pray to that you’re not on the receiving end of the singer’s dagger-laden disdain. With vocals that turn from conventionally smooth to breathy and delicate instrumentation, there’s plenty to like in this single. Don’t think you’re out of hot water yet, though, because her next one…

Fuck your money I don’t care about it

Forget your car, I’m gonna walk home

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Ambient & Instrumental

I’m back on the ball! The blog may have needed a few weeks to get its shit together (passive phrasing will get me places), but I needed approximately zero time to find yet more incredible music to share. Without further ado, check out the songs below if you’re looking to add a few new favorites to your playlists. The five below are a blend between ambient and instrumental, using vocal samples for flavor but being generally light on lyrics with more emphasis on melody and mood.

If ambient or instrumentals aren’t entirely your thing, check out my previous Sharing The Goodness posts. I’ve done funk and disco, rock and synth-pop, among others!

kasbo

1. “World Away” by Kasbo

Sometimes a song will all but pick you up with two hands and drop you in the middle of another world entirely. This isn’t even a nod to the title — Kasbo‘s ‘World Away’ is a genuinely artful, rich composition that conjures up all sorts of fantastical imagery.

Now, this song absolutely toes the line of what constitutes an instrumental. A single line is repeated ad nauseum throughout the piece, distorted for flavor and sometimes reduced to echoing notes that compliment the instrumentation. …But I could give less of a damn. This is easily one of my favorite instrumentals of the year. If you’re a fan of ODESZA or any other sort of arsty instrumental group that blends multiple styles together and to hell with easy categorization, you’ll love Kasbo.

Hey, baby

Hey, baby

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Rock

Nothing fills up my soul quite like some good rock songs. This goes for just about any sub-genre, too. Alternative rock, mathrock, soft rock, just flood my ears without mercy. While I’m going for more general rock with this list, don’t think I won’t have plenty more to satiate your rich, grinding tastes. Indie rock, pop-rock, psychedelic rock — you’ll have plenty to love over the coming Sharing The Goodness posts.

If rock isn’t quite your thing, check out my past Sharing The Goodness post where I looked at some alternative R&B and soul!

tv on the radio

1. “Wolf Like Me” by TV On The Radio

I once had a Zune (remember those?) and it came with some songs pre-downloaded. I listened to each one out of curiosity, deleting and saving as I went, and ended up pretty damn stunned when I hit play on TV On The Radio‘s single, ‘Wolf Like Me’. Not only was it rock, one of my favorite genres of all time, but it was downright bombastic. Every single damn thing about this production simmers and you’re incredibly right that I’m going to gush about it.

I mean, where do you even go wrong with an incredible rock showcase revolving around the mythology of werewolves? The lyrics are right colorful with their almost unsettling depiction of the classic curse and how it can be both an invigorating and terrifying experience for both parties. Now, you could interpret the lyrics as a metaphor for something else…but fuck it. I finally get a song about werewolves (well, a good one) and I’m going to celebrate!

With utterly shredding backing vocals and one whirlwind of an outro that builds and builds and builds to a screaming crescendo, this song all but snatches you by the hand and leads you on a journey. You won’t regret this ride.

When the moon is round and full

Gotta bust that box, gotta gut that fish

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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!

viceroy gavin turek fade out

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

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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!

september superior elevation

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

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Alternative Rock

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!

valerie june shakedown

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

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