Archive | December, 2013

My Top 25 David Bowie Songs

21 Dec

Remember a few months ago, when I did my top-25 Strokes songs?  Nah probably not but you probably should.

Anyway, I’m bored speechless on winter break.  Since I have a job lined up back at my college town, its hard for me to do something for the next three weeks.  This is just misery.  How do people like this?  I am OK with doing nothing, really I am, but on a consistent basis?  This is maddening.

So I had the idea to do another top-25 list.  This time, I’m picking one of my favorite artists and that’s David Bowie.  Yes you may know him as Ziggy Stardust or The Thin White Duke, but not many people have changed popular culture in the way Bowie did.  Gender-bending, drug-lovin’, free spirited; David Freakin’ Bowie.

Its funny looking back at my top-25 Strokes list because I think I would change a few things already.  I guess that’s how music is, it depends what mood you are in and also how things change over time.  For the record, I probably would bump up Taken For A Fool, Tap Out and The Way It is on my list.

But with Bowie, there’s a long catalogue to go through.  So I’m not even going to pretend I’ve listened to every song he has and analyzed where they would be on the list.  Bowie is a more popular Lou Reed.  When he was on, boy was he on.  When he was off….boy he was off.  At least in my opinion.

Also, I’ve realized that some publications such as NME and Rolling Stone let the readers pick their favorite songs and I thought they were both wayyyy off the mark.  I’m not even going to link it.

Again this list isn’t supposed to be the “best” but is merely my opinion.  If you don’t like it, oh well; find another echo chamber.  For trivia sakes, #26 would be Dancing in the Street.

25. Under Pressure (feat. Queen)

Collaborations in music rarely work well.  Nowadays a collaboration is usually a rent-a-rapper dropping a copy and pasted verse onto some struggling pop artist’s track.  Or a rent-a-singer dropping a chorus for a struggling rapper.  Its very unbalanced.  However, Bowie has always been able to blend in very well with the landscape around him and Under Pressure, with its all too familiar bass line, is another example of Bowie merging with one of the top talents of a generation.  I was never too big into Under Pressure though, however its importance means it can’t be excluded.  Ice Ice Baby.

24.  Young Americans

I had no idea that Luther Vandross was playing on this track.  I agree with the consensus opinion on this is Bowie basically saying goodbye to rock music as he took on soul music.  Young Americans might’ve even signaled the beginning of Bowie exploring a more “pop” sound as opposed to the radical Ziggy Stardust.  Nonetheless, its an enjoyable tune though nothing Earth-shattering.

23. Janine

Space Oddity is a weird album.  Its before Ziggy was created but it began Bowie’s exploration into space (considering Ziggy is an alien, its symbolic) and his fascination with the end of the world.  But Space Oddity seems to be just an album that Bowie put out to have success with no real consistency to it.  Janine is one of my favorite tracks off the record though.  Janine seems to be preview Bowie’s artistic personality changes (if you took an axe to me, you’d kill another man) and also stylistically sounds like it could fit in right before his soul rebirth.  

22.  All The Young Dudes 

I love this song a lot, but even though Bowie recorded it first; I still associate it as a Mott the Hoople song.  So I feel weird putting it on the list at all.  But it is one of my all time favorites and its warning of an apocalypse (a topic Bowie was obsessed over) as well as name-checking T.Rex (always a win in my book) is just great.

21.  The Stars (Are Out Tonight)

I haven’t really sat down and listened to Bowie’s newest album a few times but this is actually one of my favorite songs of 2013.  I’m never too keen on aging rock stars putting out music (it never appeals to me as much) but this is a song that really should’ve been a crossover hit.  Seriously, this song can fit in on almost any Bowie album from 1969 to 1984.  If you are closed-minded about newer music, give it a shot.

20.  Heroes

I never understand the hype around this song.  Maybe its because this was a catchy song for when Bowie wasn’t making catchy tunes, or maybe it was because of the Wallflowers covering it for Godzilla.  I mean, I like the song enough but Rolling Stone readers rated it as Bowie’s best of all-time.  I’m sorry, don’t see it.

19.  Lady Stardust

I love Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars but this song just seems so out of place.  It also references T.Rex frontman Marc Bolan, one of the father’s of the glam movement (and one of my favorite artists), so I can’t exclude it.  Lady Stardust might not be a party song or all that morose of a song, but its just right.

18.  Fame

This might be a bit too low to some and it almost seems that a song with an uncredited John Lennon backing vocal should be ranked higher.  But Fame is a great song in the sense that its got some funk in it and its such a slam towards his management at the time, decrying the value of fame which becomes a Lennon-esque staple.  Damn, maybe this is too low.

17.  Moonage Daydream

This grows on me more every few months.  Its not a popular song to play at parties but when you are alone at night and at the point where you aren’t ready for bed but should probably start winding down; this is an awesome song to play.  Accompanied by a heavier backing track, Bowie almost seems overwhelmed by the sound.  He does such an awesome job syncing with it though.

16.  Five Years

What connects me to this song is how clearly Bowie seems to be struggling on it.  His voice seems to be just about to crack throughout the song which almost reminds me of something you would sing while sitting at a bar.  This sounds like an artist desperate to be taken seriously and just pouring his heart into a track.  Maybe I’m wrong.

15.  Golden Years

This song was offered to Elvis at first, who obviously declined, but recorded before the disco boom was Golden Years.  I always got a disco vibe from this, as I believe this is the closest Bowie got to Saturday Night Fever sounds; but of course Bowie still brought his theatrical brand of rock and roll.  Also one of the first white performers to sing on Soul Train with this tune.

14.  Starman

Bowie shocked the world with his performance of Starman on Top of the Pops.  The world probably was never the same when the cross-dressing alien from outer space made his national television debut to warn the world of an apocalypse.  Starman somehow isn’t on “Best of Bowie” which is a surprising omission.

13.  China Girl

Oh-oh-oh-ohhhhh, SHHHHHHH.  I grew up listening to this song as it was my favorite song of my Mom’s (My Dad liked Ziggy) so it grew on me.  Slightly racially offensive?  Yes.  Fun as hell?  You bet.  I’m usually someone that’s a sucker for an “Oh-oh-oh-ohhh” in a chorus but Bowie made the most 80s sounding 80s song this side of Take On Me.

12.  Star

I love Star.  I always like to equate music to today (and vice versa) but I always saw “Star” as if David Bowie took the Spiders from Mars and turned them into a garage rock band.  Its a quick, short song that just explodes.  One of Bowie’s best vocal performances in my opinion too.  

11.  Time Will Crawl

I discovered Time Will Crawl a bit later in my Bowie fanhood, as all I really had were his Greatest Hits CD and Space Oddity (or David Bowie 1969) so Time Will Crawl came randomly on “Suggested Songs” and I’ve loved it.  After becoming more of a Bowie fan its no exaggeration saying that this was his last truly great song until 2013.

10.  Ashes To Ashes

Welcome back, Major Tom!  This song is highly critical when examining David Bowie as an artist as this is him saying goodbye to the 1970s and reintroducing Major Tom as a junkie.  It also was ground-breaking for music videos as it was the most expensive video of its time.  Bowie, 11 years after Space Oddity, continued pushing the envelope as a pop star but still harkened back to the past as reasons for re-inspiration.

9.  Blue Jean

Blue Jean never gets mentioned in Bowie lists and probably for good reason.  But its my list dammit.  I love Blue Jean, I don’t care what anyone else says.  Its not a complicated piece but I also think its one of Bowie’s better videos.  Not the 21-minute version because I don’t have that patience.

8.  Space Oddity

I’m going to get some crap for this but I’m not really big into Space Oddity.  However, I do appreciate a story within a song and there’s no denying that this is the most important single Bowie put out.  It also includes some of his most powerful lyrics and I do like the debate on if the song is to be taken literally or as a drug reference.  Though Ashes to Ashes kinda ruined it.

7.  Ziggy Stardust

Ziggy plays guitar….welcome to life, Ziggy.  I’m surprised this wasn’t released as a single because this might be one of his best songs (he even introduces the Spiders from Mars in it) and I challenge you to find better songs to this.  The song also appears to be an ode to Vince Taylor as well, well at least the character of Ziggy was partially based on him too so it isn’t that big of a revelation.  Nonetheless, great song.

6.  Modern Love

One of my Mom’s favorite songs of Bowie and I really grew into it.  This song just makes me feel good and its not a key single to Bowie’s discography but its a damn fun one.  For some reason it harkens Pet Shop Boys vibes to me, but Modern Love is a pure 80s song.

5.  Let’s Dance

Man wasn’t this in that awful car commercial this summer?  Oh well, Let’s Dance is my favorite song from Bowie’s dance-pop era and Nile Rodgers’s production makes this a staple of any Bowie top-10 list.  The Serious Moonlight Tour’s, one of probably the best tours in modern music history, namesake evolves from this song as well.  This song really has grown on me as time has elapsed.

4.  Suffragette City

One of the most “rock and roll” songs of Bowie’s early career, Suffragette City is a rising favorite of mine.  Probably one of Bowie’s most addicting choruses, and that’s no small feat, Suffragette is Bowie at the height of his first rock career.  He’s never sounded so punkish, so raw and in your face.  

3. Life On Mars

Back when I released my top-20 favorite songs list, this was the only Bowie song I listed.  Looking back, I’m shocked that I didn’t have Rebel Rebel in my top-10 and have no idea how I overlooked it.  Life On Mars, now that I really spent the last semester listening to Bowie, is slowly dropping down my rankings but its still one of my favorite songs.  I like the bombastic chorus, the lyrics that seem nonsensical but actually have a deeper meaning and Bowie sounds his best here.  He sells the song so damn well.

2. Changes

Outside of maybe Space Oddity, I think this is probably Bowie’s most well-known hit.  Changes was probably the first song I remember liking by Bowie when I was a lot younger so it has some personal value to me.  But I think this is a perfectly crafted pop song, where Bowie talks about his changing personalities and a critique on aging rock stars.  

1. Rebel Rebel

My favorite Bowie song.  This is David Bowie to me.  His goodbye to glam rock, the Keith Richards-sounding riff, the end of the flamboyant Ziggy Stardust and I still get chills when I hear the intro to this song.  Its almost pop-perfection, one that seemed to be far ahead of its time and this song can turn any person into a Bowie fan.  I love the mention of androgyny too which shows how willing Bowie (in the era of the Silent Majority) was to push the envelope culturally.  

My Top 50 Songs Of 2013

19 Dec

In my opinion, 2013 was a great year for music.  We got the return of some rock heavyweights (The Strokes, Pearl Jam and Avenged Sevenfold), the continued presence of some of rock’s biggest acts (Vampire Weekend and Arctic Monkeys), the return of some icons (David Bowie and Paul McCartney), the biggest pop songs of the year (Thicke, Katy Perry), long-awaited debut LP releases (Earl Sweatshirt and Pusha T) and of course, Kanye West.

We even got to see the emergence of a new pop star, Lorde who the masses took to better than formerly hyped singer Lana Del Rey.

With that being said, I took what I thought were the best songs of 2013.  These aren’t necessarily my favorites.  But from what I believe are the best songs of the year that was.  Give it a listen, I’ll figure out how to embed the Spotify playlist.

I know this isn’t the perfect list but I tried to merge all the genres together to make it as even as possible.

50)-Deep Set Eyes – Reputante

Reputante might be one of my favorite discoveries of 2013.  The group, signed to Julian Casablancas’s Cult Records, harkens a mixture of Joy Division and the Strokes.  Cool new band that I hope makes bigger moves in 2014.

49)-Timber (feat. Ke$ha) – Pitbull

Ke$ha’s chorus is the sole reason that this song is even listed.  Pitbull’s verse are the usual Pitbull verses, that is to say catchy but pretty awful, however the old-Western inspired beat with Ke$ha’s strong chorus (showcasing her knack for a hook) gives this late hit of 2013 a place in our countdown.

48)-Roar – Katy Perry

A top hit of the year deserves a spot.  This is one of Perry’s weaker singles in my opinion and seems like a song that Beyonce and Kelly Clarkson both laughed at before Perry took it.  Ridiculously catchy chorus though.

47)-Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke

The song of the summer/year deserves inclusion as even though its video and subject matter is controversial (aka rape-y) but the fact is, it was so catchy and had such an impact on pop culture this year that it feels impossible to NOT list this.

46)-Mind Your Manners – Pearl Jam

I’m not a Pearl Jam fan.  Far from it actually.  Not a hater at all, but I never got into their music.  However, MYM is one of the few exceptions and I think its an exceptional song.  Its short, quick, got elements of punk rock in it and Eddie Vedder totally dominates this song.

45)-Sunday (feat. Frank Ocean) – Earl Sweatshirt

One of the most anticipated albums of the year was the return of Earl Sweatshirt from his stay in Samoa.  Earl, whose debut album is the stuff legends are made of, thankfully dropped the rape fantasies and dropped a tight track with help from Odd Future bud Frank Ocean.  Earl’s lackadaisical flow mixed with Ocean’s smooth rap concerning his fight with Chris Brown; is one of his Doris’s highlights.

44)-Tap Out – the Strokes

Yeah, yeah I’m biased.  Anyway, no one really has any idea what the future of the band is and they have released two albums in seven years (in 2011 and 2013) with about a handful of appearances.  Tap Out is one of the best songs on the album and with the guitargasm in the beginning mixed with Casablancas’s newly found falsetto and trademark drone; its one of the best Strokes releases since Room on Fire.

43)-Save Us – Paul McCartney

I’m not big into Paul McCartney, as I despise Wings, but Save Us reminds me of a garage-rock version of the Beatles.  Its a purely awesome track and the album is actually really great.  Considering I had zero expectations for it, I was pleasantly surprised.

42)-Team – Lorde

Lorde is the fun thing to like and hate at the same time but Pure Heroine was one of the better albums of 2013.  Given her youth, her presence and her hyper awareness; she might be the coolest thing in music right now.  Back off music purists who groan “about music these days”, this is a star you should be excited about.

41)-Shot At The Night – The Killers

I’m still a huge Killers fan but their last release Battle Born left a lot to be desired besides singles Runaways, Miss Atomic Bomb and album track the Way It Was.  Shot at the Night, worked on with M83, and Just Another Girl were both released on their Greatest Hits album and both rank as some of the better songs of the year.  But Shot At The Night sounds like how Day & Age should’ve sounded like, a mixture of 80s synth and heartland rock.  This has me excited for frontman Brandon Flowers next solo album.

40)-Gypsy – Lady Gaga

Artpop was one of the more anticipated releases and while we can assume that Lady Gaga has lost her place on the throne in top-40, she still can put out memorable earworms.  Gypsy is a more complete Marry the Night with a slower beginning and an awesome, sing-a-long chorus.  Should be a single.

39)-I Sat By The Ocean – Queens of the Stone Age

Josh Homme, short of Dave Grohl, might be the hardest working musician in rock music today.  QOTSA’s most recent album …Like Clockwork was a gem and one of the band’s better releases.  I Sat By The Ocean was one of the album highlights this year and as always QOTSA continues to be one of the elite bands in the rock world.

38)-Instant Crush (feat. Julian Casablancas) – Daft Punk

Daft Punk came back to relevance this summer with its infectious single Get Lucky with Pharrell (you might see that one again) but one of its album highlights is their song with the Strokes frontman.  Instant Crush features the falsetto layered upon the familiar drone with a nice little guitar solo provided by Casablancas at the end.  This could be a big hit come next year so get ready.

37)-Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus

As shameless as Miley Cyrus tries to be, Wrecking Ball is actually a pretty good power ballad.  Take away the theatrics.  Take away the public image and the overplaying this song has gotten.  Its actually a pretty good effort and a good song.  Kudos to you Miley.

36)-Numbers on the Boards – Pusha T

Thankfully this song was free on Google Play as its one of my favorite tracks (obviously) of the year.  Pusha T raps over a clanky beat and really excited all of us for the release of his long-awaited debut LP.

35)-Hard Out Here – Lily Allen

A hard-hitting feminist anthem that slams Robin Thicke, Blurred Lines, “twerking” and the sexualization of commercialism; welcome back, Lily!  Oh and somehow this became one of the catchiest songs of the last two months.

34)-I Am A God – Kanye West

Just give my man some croissants.

33)-Picasso Baby – Jay-Z

Picasso Baby is more known for its performance that Jay-Z did in anticipation for the release of Magna Carta… but it is one of the few highlights on the album.

32)-Do What U Want (feat. R. Kelly) – Lady Gaga

R. Kelly is one of the biggest dirtbags in music but Lady Gaga carries this track.  She’s raw, intense and gives some of her best singing of all the tracks she has released in her career.  I also like to edit the “with my body” line to “with Joe Biden” because that actually makes me laugh.

31)-Arabella – Arctic Monkeys

AM is one of the best albums of the year, if not the best.  Arabella is part of that reason.  Not as immediate as Do I Wanna Know? but Alex Turner has written a great song that reminds me more of T.Rex with an ode to glam rock over a thundering beat.

30)-Hail to the King – Avenged Sevenfold

Avenged Sevenfold has been through a lot the past few years and that is to not be understated.  The hard rockers lead single off Hail to the King is a return to past form and from someone who only knows of them from Bat Country, this is a welcome addition to my iTunes.

29)-Mirrors – Justin Timberlake

JT thought he was Michael Jackson in his 20/20 Experience and every song on the album (sans Suit & Tie) lasted about three minutes too long.  No one can hear 2003 beats by Timbaland for that long.  But Mirrors is an exception, yes the song is too long, but its an excellent pop tune and probably some of JT’s best music period.  It might be a preview for future projects which is exciting.

28)-Treasure – Bruno Mars

With Blurred Lines and Get Lucky bringing the old disco vibe back, Bruno Mars’s Treasure got lost in the groovin’.  However, a nice pop song that did a good job with that vintage sound that so many critics like.

27)-Jamba – Tyler the Creator

I’m out of my Odd Future phase and while I’ve grown to like Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean as artists in their own right; I kind of stayed away from the rest of the group.  Tyler the Creator’s WOLF was in my opinion stronger than Goblin and that’s part of the Hodgy Beats featured Jamba.

26)-Wake Me Up – Avicii

EDM mixed with Mumford type folk music are literally two genres I could care less about.  But Aloe Blacc’s singing on this track might be some of the best work of the year.  The crooner deserves your respect by the way.

25)-St. Justice – Albert Hammond, Jr.

Who would’ve thought that the best Strokes moment of the year would be Albert Hammond, Jr.’s solo EP AHJ?  St. Justice is probably the highest charting track you never heard of but I want you to change that when you can.

24)-Tom Ford – Jay-Z

“Old-school” is a phrase I have loved to loathe but how else would you describe Jay-Z’s flow here?  This is the best Hov has sound in quite a while.

23)-What Does The Fox Say? – Ylvis

If it impacts popular culture, it deserves a slot.  Song kinda sucks.

22)-When A Fire Starts To Burn – Disclosure

I’m not too big into EDM but Disclosure did a helluva job with an excellent use of sampling.

21)-We Can’t Stop – Miley Cyrus

Miley took a career risk, even if it was contrived, and the top party anthem of the year is the end result.  We Can’t Stop isn’t ground-breaking but it really introduced a new Miley, and considering the artist herself hadn’t had a big hit since Party in the USA, it was a great risk.

20)-If I Had A Tail – Queens of the Stone Age

If I Had A Tail is proof that QOTSA deserves more even though they closely have it all.  This haunting track makes Homme sound like he’s in an asylum (that’s what I get from it) and I can’t help but get “Personal Jesus” vibes from it.  No one does creepy as good as Joshua Homme.

19)-All The Time – The Strokes

Again, no one knows the future of the band.  But All The Time sounds like a classic “Strokes” song and it has that feel of the Room on Fire era.  One of the greatest bands of the new millennium that changed rock deserves two spots on this list and the song that seems more like a summary of their career gets a spot due to nostalgia purposes of the writer.

18)-New – Paul McCartney

Another great track off of New, Paul McCartney sounds his most Beatles like with this one.  A welcome addition to any playlist and if you know someone that likes just the Beatles and nothing “newer”; this will change them.

17)-Blood on the Leaves – Kanye

Just listen to the damn song because the heaviest song on Yeezus doesn’t deserve my explanation to why its great.

16)-Snap Out Of It – Arctic Monkeys

I don’t see this song on too many countdowns which is a shame, maybe because it reminds me a tad of Suck It And See which is my favorite Monkeys album.  Snap Out Of It is catchy and a great listen.

15)-Step – Vampire Weekend

This is a perfected Foster the People track, (note: no idea if this is true) but Step was one of the highlights off one of the best albums of the year.  Ezra Koenig is one of the better storytellers to come out within the past decade and its trite to compare him to Paul Simon but sometimes…..

14)-Bound 2 – Kanye West

Yeezus was ANGRY.  But Bound 2 shows a softer side of ‘Ye that hasn’t been seen in quite some time.  Its a beautiful song and while the samples sound poorly edited, I think that is what adds to its beauty.

13)-Summertime Sadness – Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey has been hyped forever but now she has a hit to match the hype.  This song made me “get” all of the promotion though, Lana’s haunting lyrics (the song is about a suicide)

12)-All Me – Drake

Drake might be the Coldplay of the rap world, but every now and then I hear a track by him and I have to acknowledge his talent.  All Me, with the aid of 2 Chainz and Big Sean, might be one of the best songs the Canadian rapper has ever put out.  Great job, this might be some of his best verses since ever.  Well beats “Last Name Ever, First Name Greatest”.

11)-The Stars (Are Out Tonight) – David Bowie

I was spoiled this year with both David Bowie and the Strokes releasing new CDs (plus Killers Greatest Hits) and while I’m more of a Ziggy Stardust fan; The Stars (Are Out Tonight) is the best CD off one of the better albums of the year.  Its such a great song that I’m surprised it didn’t crossover to radio.

10)-Diane Young – Vampire Weekend

I’m a closeted Vampire Weekend fan but I have no problem announcing my love for Diane Young.  Vampire Weekend gets some disdain in my friend groups for sounding too similar and not changing but its hard to believe this is the same band that bought you A-Punk and Cousins.

9)-Rap God – Eminem

I find Eminem to be a disappointment musically but Rap God is a tight track from one of rap’s living icons.  Marshall Mathers returns and this is one of the songs that you must listen to.  Plus I love the Max Headroom reference in the video.

8)-Reflektor – Arcade Fire

I’m not big into the Arcade Fire either but it almost feels like I HAVE to put this song up here.  A 7 minute plus jam with some EDM influence intertwined with rock?  Not too bad of a showing by the band.

7)-XO – Beyonce

Now that we can sit back and listen to Beyonce’s secret album, we can critique it.  XO is the highlight of the album, and I know I’m supposed to like it because Beyonce did something awesome and unique; but I need to be sold more on it.

6)-Black Skinhead – Kanye West

This is the angriest Kanye has sound.  Everything from the music to the screams to the music video, its like Kanye just had all this pent up rage and had an outlet for it.  Of course there’s still some left however.

5)-Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell) – Daft Punk

Disco is back!  Well that’s what everyone is saying with the surprising (by Daft Punk standards) poppy hit that would’ve been the song of the year if it weren’t for Robin Thicke.  Still Get Lucky is a far superior song with a cameo by Nile Rodgers and Pharrell’s delivery.  Everyone knew this song, everyone seemed to enjoy it and really; I think it might be one of those pop classics you hear on the radio years from now.

4)-Control (feat. Kendrick Lamar, Jay Electronica) – Big Sean

Oh wait, Big Sean is on this song?  Can a verse make an album track into a great one?  Yes.  Kendrick Lamar had the verse of the year, nearly throwing every rapper under the bus and then backing it up a few times; while Jay Electronica by comparison has the most underrated verse of 2013.  Big Sean had a hand in two of the best songs of the year but he was merely a footnote in them.

3)-Royals – Lorde

Sometimes a song comes at the right time and Royals’s popularity came perfectly.  After Miley Cyrus annihilated her previous self-image with her poseur “ratchet” self, a song decrying upper class materialism in a song relating to middle class listeners apathy about becoming successful; Lorde’s song is an instant classic.  Top pop song of the year.

2)-Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys

The Arctic Monkeys have a few spots on this list but their lead single off of AM ranks as one of their best.  Do I Wanna Know is a blues/rock influenced track with a heavy bass that is reminiscent of The Black Keys.  The video is a masterpiece within itself and there’s a reason why this is really the band’s biggest American hit; even eclipsing “I Bet That You Look Good On The Dance Floor” which is kind of a travesty that America hasn’t accepted them all too much.  Hopefully that changes in the new year, but this is a song you should definitely have.

1)-New Slaves – Kanye West

This is the best track of 2013.  I was a big fan of Yeezus, obviously, but this is Kanye in a nutshell.  He’s angry, not at you or at those who don’t like Kim, but at how the world treats him.  But not just him either, you get a song about class (Hampton spouses), prison reform (the CCA), materialism and how Kanye feels about racial strife.  He even acknowledges that he can be a “dick” but he’d rather be than than…well, just listen to the track if you haven’t already.  This is the track that you should have, regardless of your taste in music or the Kardashians.

My Graduation Speech

16 Dec

I graduated from college this past Saturday amidst the mini-snowpocalypse that hit Kutztown.  It was a moment that I was alternating between dreading and anticipating for the past four and a half years.  So, like I’m sure every person who has ever fantasized about graduating, I was doing a mock graduation speech in my head.

You see, I had to sit through a few speeches on Saturday and since no one really gives a shit about Winter commencement (fun fact: commencement is the act of commencing according to my University President); I had more time to just zone out.  For all intents and purposes, all the speeches were actually good.  But of course, we have the same platitudes that are done in every speech.  The go-getter who is determined you are inspired for greatness, the professor who has an engaging short story, and one that tries to be hip by going “I’m not going to talk about cliches” and then creates their own.

All of them were honestly great though.  Maybe it was because it was my own graduation but I soaked in most of their words.  Then I noticed that my ego or id was making its own quest for glory.

I would begin of course by making an ill-advised joke about Natty Ice or Pabst Blue Ribbon which would immediately start chuckles with one guy going “YEAH BRO” in the back.  I would even lighten the mood by saying a PG-curse word like “ass” or “hell” or “damn” just to let everyone know that I’m just like them.

But you know….I don’t think I would.  What really captivated me the most about all the speakers was the fact that they were giving their own Kutztown story.

College is a weird time in your life.  It happens right when you are beginning to closely resemble your future adult self.  You sometimes gain a few pounds (but I was a cross country runner so I stayed pale and rail thin), be able to grow facial hair, become jaded with heartbreak or realize that love is a real thing.  You begin to see people that you knew from high school flame out due to partying, ambition or a bevy of other reasons.

You start to notice that high school is a distant memory even though it was less than a presidential term ago.  You turn 21.  So do your new friends and you realize that you are getting phased out in some manner.  You hear songs on the radio and it reminds you of when they were overplayed on weekends as opposed to them being just annoying songs.  Memories begin to age like a fine wine, getting better and not as realistic as you get older.  Yes, you were the same miserable person then as you were know; you are just happy that you made it through.

Look.  You aren’t going to find the cure for cancer or even the rhinovirus.  Your mixtape won’t catch on.  You are probably not going to be employed for a bit of time and when you find a job, then you might realize that its nowhere close to the major you chose.  It doesn’t matter how hard you try sometimes, life turns out to be a constant losing battle and you begin looking for microcosms of personal success.

You are going to live paycheck to paycheck.  I am going to hate my job and end up eventually going to bed at 10pm and wean myself off of TV Land reruns.  I won’t be able to do what I did in college (stay up late and pound 15 miles on Sunday morning) anytime soon.  Hell, I even had trouble feeling good on weekdays when I stayed up too late.  You will realize that you complained about the dining hall, and while it sucked most of the time, you find out that you probably wasted an opportunity to have an unlimited supply of food at dinner.

You might have an office job.  You only have a Kutztown education, its not exactly Harvard or Yale, and you are likely to hear people go “huh?” when you proudly announce your alma mater at first.  You paid thousands upon thousands of dollars for you to basically tell people “oh, I’m like 20 minutes outside of Allentown or Reading” which aren’t exactly burgeoning metropolises.  So then you’ll carefully edit it to say “Eastern Pennsylvania, 45 minutes or so outside of Philly” and that will be that.

That’s not say you will be ashamed of being a Golden Bear, but you will realize that those personal memories are just that.

I have thought to myself, what I would tell people about my graduation.  I think the fact is, we will be normal members of society.  A few of us might actually do pretty damn well for ourselves.  A few will sadly do very poor.  Most of us though will be in the middle, just surviving and hoping for a slight raise or an easy mortgage.

Its unfair to talk about greatness.  My Dad doesn’t have a great job.  He hasn’t had one in about six years now.  But he worked unruly hours for way too little pay just so I could go to college.  That’s greatness to me.

What is great though is the fact that we are leaving.  It was never pretty.  You wanted to transfer.  You wanted to quit.  You wanted to then change yourself and work harder before you found a happy medium.  But most importantly, you got by.  Just like how you will likely due in life.  Just like how you might’ve put off an injury or two just so you could compete.

But dammit, we are done.  That is upsetting but we are the lucky ones.

We have the memories that other schools don’t have.

No one knows what its like to see the hell hole that is Kutztown, a town with basically one way in and out, on move-in day.  No one knows about the letdown that is Bear Fest.  No one knows what its like to have a Homecoming King and Queen that barely anyone knows on campus or why the most beautiful building on our campus is marred because it looks like a pissed off chicken.  No one knows what its like that the biggest thing that’s happened here as of late is Rob Schneider doing stand-up.

No one knows how good a slice of Mama’s Pizza tastes at 1am or a burnt pretzel from Pretzel Rev at any hour of the day.  No one knows that only townies hang out at Basin Street or Camillo’s and Uncle Joe’s, while great, is probably doomed.  No one knows the feeling of taking a date out to Pop’s or being an outsider at a party.  No one knows that feeling of finally being off campus.

Each college has its own local jokes.  But we have ours.  We have our memories.  The best part about them is that we won’t forget them and the even best part is that there is a high schooler out there who just got their acceptance letter and has no idea what is ahead of them.  Please, incoming Kutztown freshman; give it a whole year no matter what.  Be pissed off that your friends Facebook albums look better than yours, be pissed that they forgot about you but you WILL end up happy eventually.

The cycle continues.  We had our ride, but now we just have to get off.  Our tab is being closed, only to be reopened on special occasions in which its great to see everything again but deep down you realize; its just not the same.  You now have new worries.  Maybe its a fiance or a job or just a trip back.

But it won’t be the same.  Which is what makes life so sad, depressing, joyous, triumphant and amazing all at the same time.  There will be breakdowns, there will be sadness but there will also be new doors opening in that you might get married, have a kid, get a promotion, and realize that even if you aren’t having fun right now; there is SOMEONE out there who is realizing that myKU isn’t the greatest thing and that flex dollars will waste away quickly.

That’s the ideal life.  There will be someone, a future athlete, discovering that they love Rod and Gun but hate that damn hill.  Or dreading the next workout.  But you know they will be laughing.  Your bubble might be close to bursting at times, but others will be swelling.

I spent so much time idealizing and romanticizing my freshman year that I almost lost my sophomore and junior year because of it.  I just couldn’t adapt without those old friends around.

But you know what….I’m glad to have made it.

Thank you.

Breaking Down The Lyrics To “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

12 Dec

There is nothing worse than Christmas music on the radio.  By November, you want to hang yourself with tinsel because you have to listen to “Silver Bells……………………………………………………………………….Silver Bells…………………………………….” and almost all of your favorite radio stations slip in Mariah Carey’s Christmas song in its rotation.

I just hate it.  I’m one of those mainstream sheep that would prefer to hear Royals one last time rather than Wonderful Christmastime, the song that’s always free on iTunes or Amazon MP3 this time of year.  But alas, I’m stuck listening to Christmas music every so often (“Don’t Shoot Me Santa” still wins out) and I become a grinch.

Nonetheless, I think the creepiest song is “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” where Dean Martin is totally liquoring up Doris Day (who won’t take that lying down) though your mother is insistent that he’s concerned for her safety.  I hate that song, not worse than Silver Bells, but it just makes me feel odd which is expected.

Just take a look at these lyrics.

I really can’t stay- But baby it’s cold outside

This is how the song begins.  When has a conversation that begun with “I really can’t stay”, ended well?  So this scenario is that Doris Day wants to go home but Dean Martin is trying to wham, bam, thank you ma’am her under the guise that “well, its cold”.  Since its the 1950s we are talking about here, I’m assuming that there was no heaters in her car and she’s from the opposite end of the planet.

I’ve got to go away – But baby it’s cold outside

Some fairly scary imagery right there.  “I’ve got to go away” is obviously implying that she wants to go home but it makes me think of Doris Day in a Dean Martin cobra clutch.

This evening has been – Been hoping that you’d drop in

He cuts her off mid-sentence to tell her that he has been hoping she’d show up.  Isn’t that what you tell someone when they first walk in the door, not when they want to leave?

So very nice -I’ll hold your hands they’re just like ice

If its cold outside, but she’s still inside; how is she cold?  Does Dean Martin live in an igloo?  I guess that makes sense because of his icy gaze.

My mother will start to worry- Beautiful, what’s your hurry?

Her mother?  Is her mom the lady from Spongebob that remembers when chocolate was first invented?  Unless this is implying a Christmas dinner and her mom’s getting pissed that she’s still at iglooman’s house.

And father will be pacing the floor- Listen to the fireplace roar

Father will probably be loading an AK-47.  I’ll be real, I have no idea if you can load an AK-47.  #liberal

So really I’d better scurry – Beautiful please don’t hurry

Oh the seduction is piercing through her veins, if she doesn’t scurry Pops will ground her.

Well maybe just a half a drink more – Put some records on while I pour

DON’T DO IT, DORIS.

The neighbors might think -Baby it’s bad out there

Yeah they might think that this underage woman is sleeping with Dean Martin.  I think that ship has sailed.

Say what’s in this drink – No cabs to be had out there

:inserts photo of Ben Roethlisberger grinning:

I wish I knew how -Your eyes are like starlight now

I like this line.  She is being slipped liquor (best case scenario of all the other alternative options) and is wondering how he did it?  Meanwhile, Dean Martin accurately notes that her eyes are glazing over.

To break this spell – I’ll take your hat your hair looks swell

Now this is turning into a horrible Archie comic.

I ought to say no no no sir – Mind if I move in closer

Uhhh……..

At least I’m going to say that I tried- What’s the sense of hurtin my pride

Is that not victim shaming?  “Well, golly gee; if you say no to fornication….well geez louise, all the guys will make fun of me.”  This is how I imagine youths of the 50s to talk like.

I really can’t stay- Baby don’t hold out

OPEN YOUR LEGS, SWEETUMS.

I simply must go – But, Baby it’s cold outside

So you’ve mentioned.

The answer is no -But, Baby it’s cold outside

I like to imagine this part is with Dean Martin angrily slamming the door with his fist going “DAMMIT, DORIS ITS FREEZING”; it should be noted that the song would be funnier if it was mid-July and this was his idea of game.

This welcome has been -How lucky that you dropped in

Well ya slipped in liquor and invited her, so yes how lucky….

So nice and warm -Look out the window at that storm

You know what’s heating up right now?  :points down:

My sister will be suspicious – Gosh your lips look delicious

“AND I AIN’T TALKING ‘BOUT THE ONES ON YOUR FACE”

My brother will be there at the door- Waves upon a tropical shore

I don’t get this one.  Can’t he wait with his pacing father?  Her lips look like Hawaii?

My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious- Gosh your lips are delicious

Ahh yes, the overprotective aunt; been ruining cohabitation since the late 1950s.

Well, maybe just a cigarette more- Never such a blizzard before

His mind is just clearly wandering right now.  He’s repeating everything and casually talking about the weather.

I got to get home- But baby you’d freeze out there

I guess this throws away the idea of her owning a car.  Aunt Mabel should’ve let her borrow her Pinto.

Say lend me a coat- It’s up to your knees out there

“So get down on yours”

You’ve really been grand- A thrill when you touch my hand

Ohhhh the mounting tension.

But don’t you see- How can you do this thing to me

Again with the shaming.  Stop thinking about yourself Doris.

There’s bound to be talk tomorrow- Think of my life long sorrow

Do you live on the cast of Bewitched or Leave it to Beaver?  How old are you Dean Martin?

At least there will be plenty implied- If you caught pneumonia and died

Holy shit that escalated quickly.  She’s worried that people will think she’s the town “go-to” girl while Dean Martin suggest he won’t let her free or to tell people that she died.

(I really can’t stay- Get over that old doubt

Oh your stuck here.

The song proceeds to end with them simultaneously talking about how cold it is outside.  Kinda messed up.