Here’s the 5 tracks that have gone on to define my last 3 months – here’s a hint: it’s suprisingly not all sad American bands!
Came Out Swinging – The Wonder Years
I love the lyricism found in good pop-punk music, and The Wonder Years are a wonderful representation of this.
The opening of their third album, ‘Came Out Swinging’ introduces many lyrical and musical themes that will be returned to throughout this album and the next. The song references Allen Ginsberg whilst simultanously describing the narrators struggles as a twenty-something in America. Burnt out from the scene and the tour life, the song is about finding yourself when you perhaps lost direction. But importantly, this isn’t a negative song – rather it celebrates getting better and the steps you need to take to get there.
Dare – Gorillaz
As soon as you hear Shaun Ryder’s heavy mancunian accent (“it’s comin’ up…”) you lose yourself to this song.
Perhaps more than any other Gorillaz song, ‘Dare’ encapsulates the entire art experiment of the band. By combining a very simple pop structure, with 90’s Britpop hooks Albarn has created a phenomenally compelling pop song. Shaun Ryder’s heavy vocals juxtaposes against the soft female vocal to further seperate the distinction between hook and verse, thus reinforcing the formulaic structure even further. On a meta-level this song is art that points to the very nature of it’s creation; it makes no attempt to hide the simple construction at it’s core.
Lose Yourself To Dance – Daft Punk
I’m no stranger to a bold claim on this blog and here’s one more for the collection – I genuinely consider this to be one of the greatest pop songs released in the 21st century. It is the ONLY song that will make me dance without fail, and for that reason it needs to be added to the playlist
Same Drugs – Chance The Rapper
I know I haven’t written on this blog for three months, but it is mind-blowing to me that Chance The Rapper hasn’t appeared on any of these columns sooner. His debut album Colouring Book is my most played album of 2017 on Spotify – I just can’t stop listening to it!
Similar to my feelings for Gambino, I love Chance The Rapper for his clever and earnest lyricism. Despite being named ‘Same Drugs’, the song has nothing to do with narcotics. Instead this piano based track borrows heavily from Peter Pan to describe growing up and distancing yourself from people you love. In this extended metaphor he’s Peter Pan stuck in Neverland, and his ex-girlfriend is a now grown up Wendy in the real world.
Can you name a single other song that openly references Hook yet remains this poignant? I didn’t think so.
Liability – Raleigh Ritchie
Moving on from my Spotify top played in 2017 to the man who held that crown in 2016. Late last year, Raleigh Ritchie released a small EP as a stop-gap between albums as he returned back to his acting work on Game of Thrones.
Building on themes from his debut album, Ritchie works with ideas of love and self-identity in modern life. What I love about Ritchie’s work is it remains distinctly British in it’s approach, as he seems to be taking the piss of himself as much as he’s exploring who he is. A lot of the other music I listen to that explores ideas of bettering oneself often falls into mawkish or maudlin territory – Ritchie stands out for his self-deprecation.