I was cruising to work on my longboard, weaving in and out of the pedestrians while blasting nineties rock songs on Pandora when I caught myself playing the air drums. I was hitting the imaginary hi-hat with my left hand, rapping the invisible snare with my right, and every once in a while I would play my way through the tom-toms. Air drums mean that I’m feeling the music. Some people jam out by playing the air guitar, some people prefer the air piano/keyboard, and everyone gets down to a sexy air saxophone solo, but I’m all about the air drums. I think they are the most fun to play. As long as there’s a beat you’ve got something to rock out to. Air guitarists sometimes have to wait for the guitar solo to rock out, but you can go crazy on the air drums anytime you want. I can play practically any air instrument, but the air drums had me hooked right away.
Every now and then, if I really like a band, I will buy an album of theirs on iTunes. I like iTunes because I have access to anything I purchase from there will be available on my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro. My favorite way to listen to an album for the first time is to play it on my laptop with a nice set of headphones plugged in. I always make it a point to turn on the visualizer. A music visualizer is a feature that makes music visual, in case you couldn’t figure that out for yourself. The next time you catch yourself listening to music through a media player, check to see if there is a visualizer option. That shit takes it to another level. The notes of a song become swirls of smoke, or dots and dashes, or bolts of electricity. Colors shift and patterns change and you’ll go on a journey through time and space if you only give in and let yourself go. Smoke a bowl and enjoy the light show.
I’m thirty years old now and I’m set in my ways. I know what I like and I like what I know. So I end up listening to a lot of the bands and artists that I liked in high school and college. But hearing the same things over and over again eventually gets stale and I feel compelled to branch out, to experience new sounds. Discovering a new band you like is a great feeling (new to you, not necessarily a recently formed band). I have a friend who doubles as my concert buddy. It’s a pretty awesome arrangement. She is young and hip and loves music. She finds bands that she thinks I will like, tells me to listen to them, gets me addicted to them, and then tells me that they are playing a show nearby because she knows that I will want to see them live and she has someone to go to the concert with. Diabolical, I know. Discovering a new band is like making a new friend. You instantly like them, feel a connection, and forge a bond. It’s not something you should take for granted. Good things don’t happen all the time, ya know.
“Liberian Girl” is a single from Michael Jackson’s album Bad. It’s an alright song, some would describe it as filler material, but it’s catchy and has a cool, sexy vibe to it. He made a music video for it because of course he did. The video’s premise is kind of meta. It’s about a bunch of eighties celebrities meeting on a soundstage to film the music video for “Liberian Girl.” It’s a virtual Who’s Who of eighties entertainment. It’s kind of funny to watch it now and try to name all the celebrities. Some of them are still famous and some of them are pretty obscure. Are they still famous if nobody remembers them? Anyway, so all the celebrities are talking amongst each other while wondering where Michael is and what the video is going to be about, all the while the song is playing in the background almost unnoticed. You keep waiting for the music video to actually start, and then Michael Jackson is revealed to have been filming them all along, and that’s how the music video ends. It’s one of his most unique videos. He’s not really in it, there’s no dance choreography, and the song is not really the main focus. I included the video below. Watch it. Try to guess all the celebrities. Turn it into a drinking game.
I was at the local dive bar after work and was watching the game on TV. There was a couple of girls playing music on the jukebox. They played a bunch of bar staples like Journey, Queen, Tupac, etc. They were doing a decent job until one of them put on the bonus track from Sublime’s Robbin’ the Hood. It’s not much of a bonus track. It’s a simple reggae beat playing in the background as Brad Nowell thanks a random bunch of people. It’s only about two and a half minutes long, but two and a half minutes is a long time to listen to a stoned guy mumbling barely coherent thank yous instead of an actual song. I don’t recommend playing the bonus track on the jukebox unless you want to piss off the whole bar. Pay attention to what you’re playing, and don’t play tracks you aren’t familiar with. You’d think that would be obvious to most people, but I learned a long time ago that common sense is a lot more rare than you’d expect.
Eddie Murphy has had a pretty successful comedy and acting career. You might also recall that he tried to use his popularity to launch a musical career. He collaborated with Rick James on the single “Party All the Time.” That was actually a decent song. But success went to Eddie Murphy’s head and he continued unleashing terrible music upon the world, like when he collaborated with Michael Jackson for a little ditty called “Whatzupwitu.” It’s bad song with an awful accompanying music video. Eddie and Michael walk around a green-screened sky while they are bombarded by poorly animated music notes, flowers, and peace signs. It seems like there was script for filming. The director just told them to dance around awkwardly with each other and reassured them that they will fix everything in postproduction. They didn’t. The end result speaks for itself. You can watch it below. And I’m sorry if the song gets stuck in your head, I promise that wasn’t my intention.
I work in a restaurant that plays music videos to keep our customers entertained. We have a pretty extensive collection of artists and songs and I’m constantly searching for songs that I’m not sick of or haven’t heard yet. I recently stumbled upon a song called “Barbie Eat a Sandwich” by a band called Care Bears on Fire. It’s catchy. And funny. So I started playing a couple of times each shift because I want as many people as possible to acknowledge it and appreciate it. It’s such a good song that I thought I would write a post about how awesome it is. Then I did some research and found out that it was first released in 2009. It’s 2015. I’m kind of behind the times. Hearing an old song for the first time puts you in a weird place. It gets stuck in your head, you find yourself humming it, singing the chorus, and wanting to share it with the world. But you know you can’t because you’re late to the game. It’s like telling your dad about The Beatles. He already knows about The Beatles. He wonders why you don’t know about The Beatles. He wonders while you’re telling him about The Beatles because it’s common knowledge to him. I’m not comparing The Beatles to Care Bears on Fire; I’m just trying to prove my point with a metaphor. Well, technically it’s a simile, but a metaphor is like a simile.
There are times in your life where you fall in love with a song and listen to it ad nauseam until you hate it and never want to hear it again, and so you don’t for several years. Then by chance you hear it on the radio or blasting from a friend’s stereo and it only takes a few moments before you fall back in love with it. Rediscovering a song is a great feeling, it’s almost like hearing the song for the first time. You remember all the times that you sang it at the top of your lungs, all the times it played out as the soundtrack to your life. I was born in 1985 and grew up in the nineties. Every corny rock song from that era is relevant to me and transports me back to when I was a badass ten-year-old on the playground. It’s not even just rock, even a Seal song or some Dru Hill will make me have flashbacks to middle school dances. Rediscovering a song is one of the main reason that I’ve never thrown out old CD mixes that I downloaded and burnt myself in the Napster era, when a single song took twenty minutes to download and I only had an hour before my mom would come home and kick me off the computer. Music is an important part of life and rediscovering songs is like flipping through a photo album.
Critically Rated at 15/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young
“Tequila” is one of the best instrumentals of all time. Well, it’s not really an instrumental because they say “Tequila” three times. It’s one of the easiest songs to karaoke to. It was first recorded by The Champs and has gone on to appear in many memorable movies and TV shows. You hear it in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Sandlot, Happy Days, and to a lesser extent Two and a Half Men. I remember I went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with my family when I was sixteen and we went to a restaurant for dinner. There was a mariachi band walking around taking requests. I requested “Tequila” and they played it on the spot. If choosing a song is a competition, I won that shit because all the other customers got in on it. We turned the restaurant into a party for a couple of minutes. The song is infectious. You only need to hear it once to know it for life.
You’re in the middle of a crazy party or going nuts at the club when the song cuts out and the DJ puts on a new track. The lyrics kick in after a few familiar bars and everyone roars with approval and they all start singing along. You join in, belting out all the words with everyone else and the music becomes bigger and louder and more intense. Everyone becomes connected and you’re transcended to another level. Music is an escape, a drug, and nothing gets you higher than when everybody is on the same level as you. Knowing all the words to a song in a key part of that. It means that you know the song. It means that it has meaning to you. And you have a bond with all the other people that appreciate the song as much as you do. Certain songs bring people together. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is an amazing song to listen to, but it’s so much better when you sing along to it with a bunch of friends (especially if you bob your head appropriately).
It’s surprising how many songs you actually know all the lyrics too. You probably couldn’t sing all the words to a particular song if I told you to sing it a cappella, but you could do it if you heard the song playing. It’s easier to sing along to a song than it is to memorize one. You might not get all the words perfectly, but it’s still good enough to do karaoke.
I’m a big Tom Petty fan. I have most of his albums, I’ve seen him in concert a few times, and I even have a couple of his DVDs. “Free Fallin’” is one of his best songs. It’s the one Tom Petty song that everybody knows even if they aren’t Tom Petty fans. It’s classic Petty. It has a simple, uplifting melody with poetic lyrics that makes it timeless and accessible to everyone. But I can’t stand to listen to it anymore. It’s too overplayed. It’s always on the radio. It’s been covered by dozens of other artists. It’s been in a bunch of movies and TV shows. And it’s the song that everybody plays for me because it’s the only one of his songs that they have on their iPod. It’s a great song but hearing it all the time makes you hate it. Hearing any song on repeat will eventually drive you crazy and you’ll end up trying to puncture your eardrums with a Q-tip. Tom Petty has been active for over forty years. He has more than one great song. I wish people would play his other ones more often.
“Two Princes” is one of the premier hits of the ‘90s. It’s also one of the happiest songs that you will ever hear. It was written and performed by New York City’s Spin Doctors off of their album Pocket Full of Kryptonite. It has an upbeat melody and an infectious hook that gets stuck in your head. It’s impossible to listen to this song and not feel anything but pure joy. I’m not sure what he’s singing about, but I know I like it. I once listened to it on repeat on the way to work one miserable Monday morning. It was the best decision I ever made. An uplifting song makes everything better. People would run for the bus, miss it, and throw their hands up in exasperation, but they seemed happy about it when it was set to this song. Every smile, every wave, every laugh, and head nod seems to be for you. Listening to this song while experiencing real life is way better than any music video.
Nothing makes you want to puncture your own eardrums with a dull pencil more than a bad cover of your favorite song. Your favorite song means something to you. It’s sacred. It’s something to honor and respect. The last thing that you want to hear is some no-talent singer screeching his way through the lyrics, backed by an off-pitch band playing out of sync. Your favorite song becomes unrecognizable, it becomes a tragedy, it becomes a farce, a joke, a disappointment. You can never unhear a bad cover of your favorite song. It lingers in the back of your mind, tainting the original album version and ruining it slightly. Maybe that’s why so many people hate karaoke.
You’re cruising down the street flipping through the radio stations when you hear a new song that you’ve never heard before. You start bobbing your head and tapping your feet and let the melody sink into your brain. You can’t help but let the infectious beat get stuck in your head. You like this song. You like it a lot. And you want to hear it again as soon as it ends. And you want to hear it again and again and again. You’ll find it on YouTube, you might even be desperate enough to download it. It’s your new favorite song and you’re going to keep on playing it until you’re completely sick of it and never want to hear it again. And it won’t take long. The more you like a song, the more you overplay it, and the faster you get bored of it. The danger of overplaying a song is that you will always end up hating it. But you can’t help listening to it over and over again ad nauseam. It’s a vicious cycle.
The Macarena was a horrible song and dance routine that took the world by storm in 1996. The Macarena was a glorious fad that is still considered to be the greatest one-hit wonder of all time. It’s still also Billboard’s number one Latin song and the number one dance song. It was huge and it was everywhere. It was all over the TV, the radio, at sporting events, and at school dances. You knew how to do it, your baby sister knew how to do it, your dad knew how to do it, and even your grandma knew the fucking dance. And everyone still knows how to do it today. That’s pretty amazing. And it’s even more amazing that it conquered the world without any help from the internet. This was way before YouTube and streaming videos. It was a viral hit before we knew what viral was. And it makes me wonder how big it would have been if it was released today. I’m pretty sure that Los del Rio would be hanging out with Psy in the billion+ hits club. It would be one of the biggest memes of all time. Instead it’s just another thing to reminisce about from the ‘90s. Oh god, how I miss the ‘90s.
You’re driving down the street and your favorite song comes on. You crank up the volume and start singing along and bobbing your head to the beat. You’re anticipating your favorite part coming up, and as it comes you belt it out with conviction and gusto. And then you realize that you’re singing the wrong part and it’s pretty obvious to anyone listening to you. And you feel like a fool. Maybe you don’t know the song as well as you thought. Singing the wrong part isn’t a big deal, but it’s the universe’s way of telling you to shut the fuck up and keep quiet. You shouldn’t sing the song if you don’t know the song. And your voice sucks too, so there’s another reason to be quiet.
Karaoke is an ancient Japanese word that means amateur singing fueled by alcohol. It’s a great way to embarrass yourself or delude yourself into thinking you’re a rock star. You go into a karaoke bar, you choose a random song, the DJ calls your name, the music starts, the lyrics show up on a TV screen, and you stumble your way through it. People either cheer you or jeer you. You should be too fucked up to know either way. You have to choose a song that you know all the words to and something that’s fun to sing… that’s why you hear so many songs by Journey and Queen. It’s not karaoke until someone belts out Don’t Stop Believin’ or Bohemian Rhapsody. Some people take karaoke way too seriously. Those people are losers. Karaoke is supposed to be fun and freeing, like singing in the shower (only fully clothed and less damp). You haven’t truly lived until you’ve sung a song in front of a group of strangers. Get on it.