About a month ago I wrote about the hard time I was having in deciding what the populist song of the summer might be in 2014. I'm still unsure of that song but I have decided on mine.
Actually I have two candidates for my personal song of the summer. Both fit right in my wheelhouse. Musically they have great melodies and hooks. Lyrically they are what I'd call motivational, which I tend to gravitate toward.
The first one, First Aid Kit's "My Silver Lining" came out in the spring and I've listened to it more than any other song over the past few months. The two Swedish sisters create a breezy summer feel.
American Authors had a huge top 40 hit earlier this year with "Best Day Of My Life". They seem to love writing motivational music since their new single "Believer" has that same positive vibe. The song is in your face and catchy as hell.
I spent some time last night beginning to sift through the massive collection of mostly live performances that Music Vault has uploaded to YouTube in the past couple of weeks. Here's the story from USA Today, Music Vault unleashes 13,000 videos on YouTube today.
The variety of the artists ranges from the relatively current like Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros to classic Aretha Franklin. It's fairly mind blowing.
The best way to search is to subscribe to the Music Vault YouTube channel. They break down the videos into categories like best live performances, legendary drummers, leading ladies of rock, and the like. Some are single songs while others are full concerts.
This week while reading about new album releases I came across two new compilations. They were the latest volumes of ongoing series I was unfamiliar with but had to investigate further.
Another reason I love Spotify. A quick search led me to all of the previous editions of these compilations. So I bundled them into playlists I'd like to share.
First there's Eccentric Soul, a continuing series of rare soul music from the 60s and 70s put out by The Numero Group. Apparently they have a number of different series which I'll have to look into soon. The Eccentric Soul series gathers songs from small, long shuttered soul labels. The latest is Capitol City Soul, a label out of Columbus, Ohio. So not only do you get to enjoy the massive number of songs but research these labels and artists via Google.
Then there's Horse Meat Disco, a group of four British DJs who've been spinning rare disco music from the 70s and 80s for ten years. They've been compiling these recordings with volume 4 out this week. Here's their manifesto, so to speak:
Horse Meat Disco is dedicated to the industry of human happiness and it pumps it out every Sunday at THE EAGLE LONDON (formerly South Central). Its the queer party for everyone; Homos and Heteros, club kids, bears, fashionistas, naturists, guerilla drag queens and ladies who munch. Musically its a disco behemoth of classics, italo disco, house, oddities and punk funk in the friendliest venue south of the river. Plus weekly buffet, happy hour, decorations, and spontaneous acts of exhibitionism.
There's plenty of my peers that have, for all tense and purposes, stopped listening to new music. They can make excuses about how hard it is to find something they like. That's a cop out. They can follow me on social media. Oh yeah, that's right, they're often the same people who don't go for that social media stuff. When confronted, they protest that there's nothing good coming out anymore.
So they go about their lives listening to the same songs, the same albums over and over again. A road trip to the Outer Banks with the same CDs they played on vacation last year. A backyard barbecue with the same classic rock radio station providing the same stale music. The soundtrack to their lives is a rerun.
Music is an integral part of my life. I associate things that happen in my life with a song, and it's often an odd pairing. I'll drive by a certain part of town and, for whatever reason, my mind has connected a song I heard once while driving through the area before. There seems to be no rhyme or reason. Other times the match of song and experience is poignant.
So what about these people who's music never changes? How do they associate experiences with song? That same Led Zeppelin track was playing during a myriad of happenings. Maybe their brain just doesn't work that way. Maybe I'm the weirdo.
I'm trying to figure out the popular consensus song for the summer of 2014. Last year it was easy with both "Get Lucky" and "Blurred Lines" worthy of the title. It was Daft Punk for me. A look and listen to some of the top songs in the Billboard Hot 100 right now doesn't show any clear cut winners. Is it "Fancy", the current number one? Or "Summer" by Calvin Harris which seems like a natural with that title. But it's hardly a standout. Right now I'm leaning toward DJ Snake & Lil John's "Turn Down For What", a bit of over the top nonsense with some crazy sounds.
My personal song of the summer won't be the most popular. It'll hold a special, private appeal to me. And, it'll be something that was released this year, not in 1974.
The New York Times media critic, David Carr, wrote a story over the weekend about music and how, in essence, it seems free these days, Free Music, at Least While It Lasts. The title suggests that the music may someday die.
I wouldn't go that far but music is certainly going through a huge change from the performers to the pubishers, to the record companies to the consumers. Where it'll end up is hard to say but there's no going back.
I'm a huge fan of streaming music services. It's hard not be one. Paying $10 a month for the world's biggest music collection seems like a fantasy. And by spending a few hundred dollars more I've upgraded the sound quality to where it rivals a CD.
I'm also a fan of musicians. They make the music I love so much. I am not a fan of the system that was overcharging me for decades though. Much of that money not ending up in the hands of those musicians either.
So I buy vinyl copies of albums I really dig these days and attend more concerts than I have in years. Is that enough? Am I supposed to buy the new Black Keys album without having heard it? I used to do that regularly. I bought almost all of my music based on reviews without having heard a note. That hardly seems logical but that's what we music fans faced until recent years.
I don't want to say it's so much about payback as it is about things being more fair. It's at the expensive of present day artists and that's unfortunate, but as I say, there's no turning back.