What I’m Listening To – Spring, 2014

Guilty Pleasures

Katy Perry – “International Smile” 

Ever wondered what the back half of a Katy Perry record sounded like, beyond the front-loaded, homogenized radio singles? Me either…until now. “Roar” is such an incredibly catchy song (that almost immediately got played to death) that I had to check out what Katy Perry was singing about when most people had stopped paying attention. What I found, along with maybe one other tolerable track, “Birthday,” was “International Smile;” an upbeat dance-pop song written about Katy’s real-life BFF, DJ Mia Moretti. Now, mind you, this isn’t the Copernicus of Katy Perry songs. There is no revolutionary breakthrough in lyrical brilliance, nor musical structuring ingenuity beyond that of any of her other songs. What there is, however, that keeps me going back for more, is perhaps the most brilliant vocoder solo ever recorded.

Lady Gaga – “ARTPOP”

You’ve heard that old saying, “you know how I know you’re gay? Because you like Cold Play.” Well, truth be told, that has always seemed like something that a guy who listens to Nickelback would say to another one of his douchebag friends for liking Cold Play. The more accurate statement would be, “you know how I know you’re gay? Because you like Lady Gaga.” Lady Gaga is like Madonna, Britney, and Liza Minnelli all rolled into one woman disguised as a man, disguised as a drag queen. Go ahead and try to fight me on that one. There’s no getting around it. And the 5% of me that remains heterosexual has, to this point, never enjoyed any portion of Lady Gaga’s existence. So I might be down to my last 4% now, but I thoroughly enjoyed her performance of this song on the 2nd episode of the new Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and ever since have been dreaming about the female storm troopers on the ice planet of Hoth who never seemed to make it into the final version of “Empire Strikes Back”.

UPDATED ADDITION: Hi Fashion – “I Am Not Madonna”

This is probably the strangest thing I’ve seen in the new millennium, so for that alone, I can’t get enough. But that isn’t the only reason I’m hooked. It turns out the lyrics to pretty much all of this literal freak show’s songs are hilariously brilliant. You may recognize this one from this equally ridiculous video. Enjoy.

Stuff That’s Actually “OK” to Dig

This season’s playlist is inspired by nostalgia. Any new or newish song on this list is on here because it reminds me of the sounds of another major portion of my life. You’ll see what I mean as you read through the “Thoughts” section below each title. Please let me know what you think of my current taste in playlists, and enjoy:

St. Lucia – “Elevate”
Thoughts: If my two favorite 80’s bands, Tears for Fears and Duran Duran, had a love child back in their heyday, St. Lucia would be said love child, and “Elevate” would be the first song of theirs I ever heard. Love at first listen.

Moon Taxi – “Mercury”
Thoughts: If Chris Cornell fronted an acoustic version of my favorite band of all time, Our Lady Peace, I believe it would sound something like this.

Reptar – “Stuck in My Id”
Thoughts: Recently described to me as, “unlike anything else I’ve heard,” Reptar hales from the place in which I achieved the greatest success of my mediocre rock career, Athens, GA. I’ll certainly agree to the “unlike anything else” bit. Definitely danceable. Definitely awesome.

Vacationer – “Trip”
Thoughts: Not necessarily a nostalgia factor going on with this one. I just love the melody and simplicity of the structure. I don’t dislike the production, but I’d love to hear a live version performed on real instruments without all the “trippy” post-production effects.

Michael Penn – “No Myth”
Thoughts: All credit for this must once again go to my best friend and far superior DJ, Greg Harding. He sent me over this 80’s classic from Sean Penn’s brother who, as I learned last night, used to be married to Aimee Mann. Who knew?

‘Til Tuesday – “Voices Carry”
Thoughts: So that conversation I mentioned having with Greg in the previous song got me thinking back to when Aimee Mann was in this band, and wrote this song, which is NOT actually about her separation from Michael Penn, but from former ‘Til Tuesday drummer (and ironically enough, co-writer of this very song) Michael Hausman. One of the top 20 songs of the 80’s, in my opinion.

SHEL – “Moonshine Hill” and “Lost at Sea
Thoughts: So I discovered this band at Eddie’s Attic a few months back. I wasn’t even there to see them, they just happened to go on after the band I was there to see, who I thought was the headliner. Literally, the only reason I stayed to watch this 4-piece band of sisters from Ft. Collins, CO, with their quirky, Alice in Wonderland top hats, and their obvious youth was because the keyboard player had a Kurzweil, a brand founded by a man near and dear to my heart. Best decision I’ve ever made it turns out. Not only did they not suck, it turns out the keyboard player in questions is actually sponsored by Kurzweil, and together, they were one of the most incredibly original, talented, passionate, confident, and professional bands I’ve ever seen live. So I did what any man in my position would – I booked them a gig at the Concerts on the Square in downtown Decatur, GA this May 31st. Be there for free, or pay $100+ a ticket to see them the next time they’re in Atlanta.

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