What do you think of when you hear the word music? Or more importantly… What do you hear?
In March of this year, I was asked to write a paper on my ten favorite songs for a college class. Though I wondered why it would be educationally beneficial to do this, I was able to compose a list of my favorite songs, most of which are pretty unpopular. I’m into songs with deeper meaning, melodies that unleash a river of emotions, and fresh, thoughtful writers.
Since music is KEY to my writing process, I thought it would be interesting to share five songs all of you should check out. I know some of you may not speak English, but maybe you will still enjoy the music itself and could translate the lyrics.
Anyway, here they are!
STRAWBERRY SWING by Coldplay (2008)
This song was released in 2008, two years after my sister was born, and ever since its release, the two of us will play this song and be taken back to a time when she was a little girl, and so was I. This song has great sentimental value for me, and rightfully so, because this song is bittersweet in tone anyway. Interestingly enough, the song begins with a group of clapping sounds that are gradually replaced by drums, and I can see how this relates to the change of a child into adulthood, which is the theme of this song.
There is amazing symbolism within this song that makes it incredible. “Strawberry Swing” refers to the singer and his childhood crush, and the titular strawberry is an adjective for the sweetness of youth and childhood. As an adult, the singer can look back and see how he once thought the world was beautiful, but now he sees it with nostalgic eyes and a desire to remember his childhood with only happiness.
The song reaches a crescendo with the realization, “It’s such a perfect day.” Here he remembers the ultimate brightness of his youth, but there is also an alarm clock-like sound in the background as he has this epiphany. Therefore, it is apparent that we hear is the sudden jolt back to reality for the singer, where his memory is like a dream he must wake up from.
THE TRUTH by Carla Morrison (2012)
In high school, I decided to listen to Spanish music (and funnily enough I ended up studying abroad in Argentina), whenever I drove to and from school. In this way, I discovered Carla Morrison, a Mexican-American singer whose main themes include love, family, and pride for her culture. “The Truth” is ironically her only song in English, and it is one I will no doubt include in my wedding someday.
The song is very simplistic, with a consonant chords relying heavily on C major. Carla’s voice is sweet and feminine, and it is perfect against the backdrop of the principal instrument, the ukulele. With each additional chorus, Carla’s voice is layered by harmonized voices, and it is really beautiful, because it showcases her stunning vocals. I think that I love this song because it is relies more on Carla’s melodic voice rather than the combination of five or more instruments. Instead, this song is about Carla and her ukulele, and that leaves more emphasis on the song itself as well.
The beat is 4/4 and very rhythmic as well. It is easy to sway along to the beat and get lost in the beauty of the song, from its romantic lyrics to the sweet thrum of the ukulele. I really appreciate that this song is a lot more calming and simplistic than the others on the list, and it is one that I know I will like forever, even if it is not my favorite song of all time.
ATTENTION SEEKER by Etiquette (2015)
There are many reasons why this is my favorite song of all time, but I am content to discuss the three major elements that draw me into this one. First, the song’s tempo (or the speed at which a passage of music is played) is slow, casual, and airy. It is lackadaisical, almost as if someone is walking around a park, trying to escape the constant rhythm of the city. There is tempo rubato in the song during its most defining parts, where there is a temporary disregard of the strict speed, and I appreciate this because it is a song of thought, and it almost acts like a string of thoughts in the process.
Furthermore, this song’s melody is one that never grows old to me. Melody can be defined as a sequence of notes that are the principal part of harmonized music, and the melody in this song is incredible. The instruments used are incredible, but it is the melody that really delivers the song. Both the singer’s choice of lyrics and the melody of the music itself are brilliant, and when they are combined—it is magic to my ears.
As a person who loves words, I am drawn to this song because of its lyrical prowess. Lines like “Simple conversation is a land mine field / Tread lightly” are incredibly impressive to me, as I become enraptured by the power of the words in relation to the sweeping sensation of the music itself. For me personally, I appreciate songs with actual meaning, and this one is no exception to this rule.
“Attention Seeker” seeks to examine the condition of the human heart, of a person who wants nothing more than to be recognized by all those around him or her. The singer, on the other hand, promotes an ideology for individualism and freedom of expression, and I love to live by these principles. Add in a steady, calming beat, and there’s my favorite song!
LIFE HAPPENS by Ardyn (2017)
I only discovered this song a few months ago, but it is one that left me completely inspired, and that is a difficult task for a song to do. This, much like “Attention Seeker” is heavily influenced by both the music component and the lyrics of the singer, so that the combination of the melody and the lyrical meaning produce a single masterpiece.
“Life Happens” is bolstered by layers of sound, which includes multiple musical textures. For example, I really love that this song employs homophonic texture, which incorporates harmony and the combination of melody and chordal accompaniment. Furthermore, every time I listen to this song, I hear a different instrument—a different layer—that inspires me further, and makes me appreciate the time and effort dedicated to this song.
The song has a strong melody, where its succession of pitches creates a strong cadence later in the song. The resting pace has a medium tempo combined with a duple meter. However, it is the song’s ornamented melodies that really stir something emotional within me. The first chorus, there is a strong melody, but in each successive chorus, there is more and more, and it is apparent that Ardyn is a proponent for embellishment to the song as it continues on, which mirrors the song’s theme that life is complicated and difficult and has multiple layers.
JUNGLE by Tash Sultana (2017)
“Jungle” is a song that is inspired by both a powerful rhythm and a powerful melody. The song features glissando, the technique that uses a continuous slide up and down between notes, and this really bolsters the song in my mind.
The song is strong, and bolstered by its use of guitars and strong rhythm and beat, I can see colors like scarlet and electric blue and violet, in order to reflect the sharp, strong personality Tash Sultana uses for her song. I see images of lovers in a forest, and I can see how the song’s title of “Jungle” is exemplified through the layers of the song—but also from the song’s depth and emotion. Tash Sultana combines all three forces—lyrics, instruments, and melody—to produce a song that has true power and a true hold over me as I listen to it. It’s got traditional elements and untraditional elements, and I love that Tash Sultana is willing to take risks in her songs.
The song is one of my favorites, but it’s one that was a great part of my second semester experience in Argentina. I know that this is one of those songs that I will hear and will transport me straight back to Buenos Aires.
Therefore, hopefully you will like some of these songs, depending on your taste in music. Also, the definition of “unpopular” can be kind of hard to define, but these songs aren’t ones you will normally hear on the trashy radio stations of today. (Sorry, was that too ruthless?)
Anyway, if you want to share some of your favorite songs with me, I will absolutely give them a listen. 🙂
Until next time,