KATY PERRY SAVED MY LIFE

Katy-Perry-podria-estar-nominada-a-los-Premios-Oscar-2013

Out the gate, my deepest apologies for the shameless click bait title.

I regret nothing.


There comes a time in every person’s life where they think they know it all and promptly annoy everyone around them. Teenagers are so dumb. This post is not about how teens suck, it’s about my journey as a musicophile (what an unnecessary word) from then til now.

First, Intro Song.

History time: OK, so my first musical independence was my intro to jazz. My dad is a bass player and when I was younger he would get hit up to play for smooth jazz bands all over the city of Harrisburg. I quickly got over smooth jazz but discovered 91.7 on the radio. I would stay up maaad late on school nights discovering new music and reading thrilling novels. I remember my brother had a portable radio/flashlight that I just commandeered when I had to sleep in other places in my house because my room was way too hot. I fell in love with the genre and explored it extensively from Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue  (can you remember the first time you listened to it?) to Jamie Cullum . Memorable songs from that time: “Lucky Seven”-Dave Holland Quintet and “Smash”-Avishai Cohen.

Around my sophomore or junior year of high school, one of my favorite drummers joined a band that would straight up change my life. Thomas Pridgen, who’s played for a ton of people and had previously slayed on Christian Scott’s first album, brought entire different flair to The Mars Volta. Bedlam in Goliath had just come out and it was something I had never experienced before. It was technical, aggressive, while still (in my opinion) incredibly musical and I was in absolute awe. After that, I went back and listened to their whole catalog and fell further in love. I fondly recall listening to Deloused in the Comatorium on Rhapsody for the first time or body-bagging Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 (GOAT Tony Hawk game, fight me) and Proving Grounds for hours while Amputechture played. Highlights: “Tetragrammaton” and “Cavalettas” by TMV.

This was the end for me. I was a fully pretentious a-hole and unnecessarily picky about what music I thought was best. If it didn’t make me do this:

        or         

it wasn’t worthy.

Quick aside about electronic music. I don’t know how it happened or why it still exists but at some point I fell in love with EDM. All of it. From house to dub step to Drum&Bass and everything in between. All of it. I remember when Andrew first showed me Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” and we lost our minds, with a strobe light, in Blake’s basement. It was incredible. Like most normal people, they left dub step behind but I have not. I just wrote about a house track a couple months ago. Really important tracks: “I Remember”-Deadmau5, “Forget Me Now”-Ngage, “System”-Nu:Tone.

T R A N S I T I O N: 2010. The twilight of my freshman year of college. I was becoming a more social creature after Walmart ruined any joy of interacting with strangers. I was exposed to more pop songs and hip hop due to the fact that I was hanging around new people with less stringent and purposely obscure music choices. Looking back, 2010 was a crazy year for music. Quick review: Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” hit number 1, Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” was still everywhere, Justin Bieber debuted, Taylor Swift dropped a crazy popular album, KANYE’S MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY IS RELEASED,  and buttload more.

Despite all this, the most important release was Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream (OK probably not, see above Kanye album). I can honestly pin point this album and it’s singles to knocking me out of my silent pretentious, musical douchebaggery. First single “California Gurls” a funky, dancey pop banger. It was singable, easily memorable and well produced. I was vulnerable or something because it had my attention. Next up, “Teenage Dream” was released and it was a wrap.  This was by far my favorite track and luckily everyone else loved it so I didn’t have to rejoice alone.

Finally came “Firework.” The big boy, grandpappy, dad-dicking all the other pop songs into obscurity. It was inspirational but still clubby. It was frickin’ everywhere. I recently heard it being played at a 4th grade graduation last year. It’s real good y’all.

I had been broken. Like a once wild horse.

Driving bass drums, synths and tasty bass lines had me. What I like a lot about Katys music is a lot of the instrumentals that she uses at least sound like a bass player actually played on them. I hesitate to give her production team around that time credit but it was a welcome trend that has continued to this day. Katy was boom boom boomed into stardom, kept releasing hits and I was along for the ride.

For whatever reason and unbeknownst to me at the time, this softened me up a great deal. I was more willing to give pop music a fair chance.  Before, I would actively bash pop music as a whole, even when there were gems. I could probably thank Katy for being the reason that I’m a low-key (high-key) Rihanna (“WORK” WAS THE BEST SONG OF 2016) and Beyonce (OK…BEYONCE ALSO HAD REALLY REALLY  GOOD 2016) fan. Obviously those two were doing things previous to 2010 but there’s no way I would have gotten into them as much. Also, while Dave and general curiosity are why I listen to and now really like hip-hop, me being more open to radio music is something I have no problem crediting to Katy Perry.

I realize that back then I was just immature and searching for some sort of individuality. It’s not like I didn’t like or know anything that was popular, I wasn’t soulless or a shut-in. I was also young and needed to be up on what was hip to remain relevant in high school (LOL at that whole sentence and mindset). I still like everything that I fell in love with when I was teen but now I don’t so readily discount pop music. I really want to explore how “pop music” has evolved in the last 10 years and isn’t one genre but merely a reflection of what is…well…popular at the time. My only requirement is that the music I consume isn’t boring (looking at you Ed Sheeran). You can be simple or ridiculously complicated, loud or soft but don’t be boring. Don’t hold yourself up to a stupid standard, if you enjoy the music, then it’s good. I’m still a big Katy Perry fan and I would like to thank her personally for being my musical bridge to mainstream music.

Closing theme

 

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Dis Drake Ting…

I’m gonna keep this quick because I’m at work and there’s pizza beside me.  At home with no pizza. Back at work.

OK so, Drake released More Life and much to my dismay, I didn’t hate it. Well let’s start there. I’ll never be a Drake stan, I think he’s fake and something about him just leaves a bad taste in my mouth (pause?). Despite this, I’m able to separate Aubrey the lame from Drake the artist even though they are inextricably connected. It’s undeniable that the dude makes hits. With recent mega-successes like “Hotline Bling,” the collaborative effort of What A Time To Be Alive, and a bevy of chart topping projects prior, he’s established himself in the modern music era. Recently though, contrary to his own words, he obviously got some new friends because his sound has evolved. In addition to Drake’s arsenal of “Fuck everybody, I’m the greatest” rap and “Never Drake and Drive” singing attempts, he added some Caribbean dance hall influenced tracks that have some scratching their head and others well…dancing. Another influence that is super prominent on  More Life is his deep dive into grime and other UK hip hop.

Now, in my opinion, Views was trash. If you offer and hour and twenty-one minutes of music but only twenty-one minutes (I actually counted) of it is memorable…you goofed. It’s lazy, too long and kind of all over the place. Even the supposed bangers are forgettable and boring…looking at you “Hype” and “Popstyle”. Obviously wasn’t a big fan but it did introduce us to his version of the new islandy dance style that was/is popular. I really liked “Controlla,” loved “Too Good” but despised “One Dance”. This album was Drake’s offering to what was cool at that time (11 months ago). Trap was on the come up and Bieber’s “tropical house” tune “Sorry” was still everywhere. I also feel like this around the time we heard Drake starting to say “ting” (ugh).

More Life  was similar in theme except but vastly improved in execution to the point that I actually liked it. While not perfect and containing some interesting choices, I felt myself infinitely more pleased.

Let’s start with the bad: Drake is that new kid that tries to get accepted into a new crew so he has to copy them. He met some grime artists and apparently fell in love with them and their style. Grime is a more dirty, syncopated, electronic version of hip hop largely popular over seas. We all know the Brits talk completely different than us crusty Americans, which means they have a different slang vocabulary. It’s all over More Life and to me sounds somewhat forced. In some songs he uses an accent that I can’t quite identify as being either British or Jamaican?  On the flip side, there are some notable UK artists  like Skepta and Giggs that feature which helps bring some legitimacy to what is happening.

On a positive note, there are some standout songs that I think we’ll be hearing all summer. Although similarly to Views, the tracks sometimes waiver between trap slappers to more chilled out songs, there are some cool interludes that ease a listener into the next track. Also, production uses tricks like fading out a song with the main melodic theme of the next song. So even if they have different vibes, there is something familiar to keep it going. For example, “Jorja Interlude” transitions into “Get It Together” and “4422” flows nicely into “Gyalchester.” All the features work with some artists seemingly getting their own cuts (“Skepta Interlude,” previously mentioned “Jorja Interlude,” and Kanye’s “Glow” to some degree).

Right now my favorites are:

“Passionfruit”-proves that music doesn’t need to be complicated to be catchy as hell.

“Get It Together”-really nice production including dancy drums, piano that fills the track out and Jorja Smith’s beautiful voice. Reminiscent of possibly the best song on Views, “Too Good” ft Rihanna.

“Portland”-I love Quavo and Travis Scott.

“Sacrifices”-I love 2 Chainz, Young Thug and this beat. Soo so good.

This project is super top heavy and honestly I could go without the last like 8 songs excluding “Fake Love” which is…fine. What isn’t fine is the absence of “Sneakin'” and that makes me sad. The last several songs are just whatever to me. I do not like the Kanye song and “Since Way Back” with PARTYNEXTDOOR (stupid name, good artist) also exists. The last half of the album sounds like throwaways from Views but slightly better.

Drake needs to figure out what he wants to do with his music…or not, I don’t care. It’s cool to pay homage to new things you discovered and even put your new friends on. On the flip side, even if you are heavily influenced by others and somewhat pull it off successfully, just be yourself. This could just be the modern form of Drake so maybe he is being himself. To his credit, Drake has the crew behind him to elevate whatever he wants to sing/rap about with crisp instrumentals with great production. More Life should hold hardcore fans over because…everything was the same (I couldn’t help myself).

I’m just waiting for a Drake project titled “Aubrey.”

Check it out:

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