Tag: 90s

Friday Five: Favorite Songs from the 90s

Hi guys!  It’s Friday which means it is time for the Friday Five!  This is a series I’ve been participating in on my youtube channel where you get a topic and then pick 5 songs in said topic.  Last week was pick a song from a decade and I chose the 50s and nearly everyone else picked the 90s.  So, this week being a grab bag week I decided to add my two cents into my favorite songs from the 90s.

The 90s were of course a very formative time for me as it was the decade I went from 10-19 (doesn’t get more formative age range than that!).  And I remember my Mother telling me ‘all the songs sound the same’ and I didn’t really understand what she meant. But now I hear current music and I think ‘that sounds just like….from the 90s’.  I think whatever is that formative music era is like that for most people.  It shapes how you listen to music the rest of your life.

The 5 songs I picked are also from what are in my opinion perfect albums.  Something like REM and their album Automatic for the People is an album I could listen to start to finish and love every song.  I feel in the digital Itunes age the value of an album has diminished but I still love finding one especially if it tells a story with all the songs.  Coldplay’s Viva la Vida is a great example of a more recent perfect album.

What do you think of my 5 picks and what are your favorite songs from the 90s? What to you is a perfect album?

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Whitney Houston and Music Today

I have never been a huge Whitney Houston fan but it was hard to grow up when I did and not be influenced by her powerful vocals. I think there was a side of all of us that hoped she would make it through her demons but as so many others she just couldn’t pull herself out of addiction and its awful vices.  Honestly I was surprised the pang of sadness I felt when I heard the news.

On my mission I volunteered for an AA/NA chapter and was totally blown away by both the organization and the power of addiction.  If my Mormon faith has given me anything, at the very least it has steered me away from those behaviors that often start innocently but become oh so hard in some to give up.

I also learned to be deeply sympathetic towards those who battle with addiction.  These drugs change the addicts brain and it becomes a disease.  Whether it is initially self-inflicted is not an excuse for their behavior or for unsympathetic and unkind thoughts.

My favorite Whitney Houston song is I Have Nothing.  I’ve had in on my playlist for years!  The entire Bodyguard soundtrack was played so much for a while that it was hard to not tire of eventually.  Do you think we get the same burn out on songs that we used to?  There are so many more options to listen to that why listen to a song you are sick of?

Even if Whitney isn’t your favorite, I don’t know how you can deny that she was a powerhouse of a singer.  The length of her notes, the clarity, pitch and pure sound are just superb. In most of her songs she carries key changes without missing a beat and the range is amazing.

I Will Always Love You is basically the Somewhere Over the Rainbow of the 90s. (and props given to Dolly Parton for writing such a memorable song)

Its hard to think of anyone who we can compare to Whitney’s overall appeal.  In fact, the more I think about it, her death is emblematic of the change in the music/movie industry since the 90s.  When I was in high school a teen had 2 choices for new music- the radio or MTV.  (or perhaps the soundtrack to a movie like the Bodyguard or Reality Bites).

Now there are so many outlets to investigate new talent including itunes, youtube, amazon.com, television sponsorship, advertising, satellite radio, pandora, spotify etc.   Mostly I’d say this is a good thing, allowing a wider range of vocalists to be heard and find a niche audience.

Still, the change does demonstrate how in many ways our society is becoming more insular and divided.  In the 90s everyone I know liked Nirvana, Whitney Houston, Jewel, Lauryn Hill, Tim McGraw etc.  If you had nothing in common with a person, odds are you liked whatever popular tunes were being pumped out of the radio.  I don’t think you could say that any more?

The only performer I can think of that is universally enjoyed is Adele. With two amazing albums she has transcended genres creating dance, contemporary and pop hits.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Adele.

It is also hard to think of a singer like Whitney who is a recognizable acting presence.  Is the era of the all-around diva entertainer no more (and having a reality show does not count, even if it is basically acting)?

The only person I can think of is Jennifer Hudson.  As an oscar and grammy winner she commands attention on both formats but even she doesn’t have the star power of a Whitney Houston. (Maybe now that she’s skinny she will be but that’s for another blog).

As I mentioned in my post about Ingrid Michaelson, artists are forced to sell their music to advertisers, TV shows, and a myriad of other product placements.  The days of the girl singing in the bar or small venue, hoping to be found have been traded for an  american idol appearance,  or youtube following.  Mostly I think this is a good thing but like I said it lacks a certain degree of unity in music that has always existed.

It also forces music to be more image-conscience than ever before.  I wonder if a Bob Dylan or Aretha Franklin could make it today? Would people be drawn to watch a youtube video of these unusual stars by their appearance?  I’m not sure?

I’m afraid far too often singers like Kei$ha (even her name is image conscious) get picked up for outlandish appearances and not for their voice.  Lady GaGa, who can actually sing, chooses to flaunt about in ridiculous costumes just to have her voice heard.  A good voice is not enough without the additional visual factor.

How do you discover new music?  I’m wondering if purchasing cds will go the way of the one hour photo booth (or perhaps it already has).  I never get photos developed unless I’m going to frame them.  I rarely purchase cds.  Even mp3s seem a little silly when you can download albums on spotify for free and listen to an ad every now and then.

What bands/singers from the 90s did you like? Jewel, REM and Dixie Chicks were particular favorites of mine.

Lastly, to those suffering from addiction there is hope.  Please contact your AA/NA chapter.  They have the resources to help you.  It will be a long road but sobriety is possible.  Please don’t rob the world of the talents you can give.  We need you and your gifts.

Music Galore

As I plugged in my IPOD today and put it on shuffle I thought about the variety of music that I like and how each type had touched my life. My mom and dad used to sit in bafflement over the power music had over me. I would spend way too much time figuring out the perfect song/CD to do silly things such as clean my room. They also didn’t understand why I felt so offended at the idea of anyone (particularly them) not liking my music. Neither of them understood how much of my heart went into the selection of my music. I have always felt that music had a special power to connect me to moments- to express my inside when my words failed miserably. As I’ve grown up I have learned to accept that music is an organic experience and can not be transferred to another person no matter how we might wish it could be. My parents will never understand my music and nothing can make them. It’s just doesn’t move them the way it does me- and that’s the way it is. In this spirit it may seem futile for me to share with you my favorite bands/musicians. I am well aware that each of these groups may not suit your tastes; however, perhaps in my sharing them you will understand a little more of my heart- what moves me, makes me laugh, and motivates me to keep going.

You will notice that many of these are groups from the 90’s. Sorry I can’t help it. That’s when I experienced my most formative musical period. These are in no particular order.

1. REM- Their Automatic for the People album is still one of my favorites. It is one of those great CDs that I can play start to finish. It was actually the first tape (yes cassette tape) that I remember purchasing on my own. I love Everybody Hurts, Man on the Moon, Sidewinder Sleeps, Try Not to Breath, and more. Other albums feature It’s the End of the World As We Know It, What’s the Frequency Kenneth, Losing my Religion, Stand, the Great Beyond and At My Most Beautiful. They are wonderful songs I could listen to again and again.

2. The Cranberries- 2 albums are essentials in my music collection No Need to Argue and Everybody Else is Doing it so Why Can’t We? Songs like Dreams, 21, No Need to Argue, Zombie, Pretty, Dreaming My Dreams and Linger are hauntingly beautiful and bold. Dolores O’Riordan is the only woman who could make yodeling cool.

3. Jewel- I know that she has a cheesy side, but I can’t deny the effect her albums have had on me. Pieces of You came out when I was a freshman in high school and while my friends were all into Oasis I couldn’t get enough of Jewel. Foolish Games, Who will Save Your Soul, You Were Meant for Me are amazing. I also listened her album Spirit over and over again and it is still one of my favorites with songs like Hands, Little Bird, Down So Long and Life Uncommon. It is no small chance that one of the first songs I learned while taking voice lessons was Foolish Games. It’s perfect.

4. Kenny Chesney- I am not going to try and argue that Kenny is an original performer; nevertheless he was my introduction to country music and his songs make me smile every time. He hasn’t put out a bad album yet. He is also important because Anna and I went to one of his outdoor concerts in 2005 and the memory is one of my favorites of the last few years. I love You Save Me, There Goes my Life, Don’t Blink, No Shoes No Shirt No Problems, Summertime, Big Star, Live Those Songs, You Had Me at Hello, Tin Man, and Good Stuff. He’s also the cutest man in a cowboy hat for my money.

5. Fleetwood Mac- Can you top Stevie Nicks? Not for me. Silver Springs, Landslide, Rhianon, Everywhere, Dreams and Go Your Own Way are all great songs. Her voice is raspy but deep and the lyrics are beautiful and fun. I have liked Fleetwood Mac since I was in Middle School. I bought their Greatest Hits right when I purchased the REM tape, so it was one my firsts. I still like it at 27 and that says something!

6. Jack Johnson- Can we all be grateful that Jack took a break from surfing to take a crack at music. What a talent! He just keeps putting out one great album after another. Even his soundtrack for Curious George had great songs. Perhaps it is my love of Hawaii that enhances my appreciation for Jack Johnson, but I could listen to his music all day. Flake, Good People, Sitting Waiting Wishing, Dreams by Dreams, Upside Down, Supposed to Be and If I had Eyes are some of my favorites. I can’t wait to see him live in August!!

7. Michael Buble- My mom has always groaned at Megan and my pleasure at what she calls lounge music. Michael Buble has taken that to a new level for me. He is the only person I have seen live twice and each time he amazed me. Entertaining is the word. He is funny, engaging and of course talented. He sings with a massive band and yet is still the star of the show- now that takes charisma. Not only is he great at singing classics like World on a String, Feeling Good, and Try a little Tenderness but he is a great songwriter penning one of my favorite recent songs Home along with Everything, Lost, and That’s Life. It also doesn’t hurt that he isn’t too hard on the eyes and that voice…

8. Josh Groban- Another performer that I have always liked but gained a whole new infatuation for after seeing him live. It’s a long story but through some luck Camille and I got bumped to the 5th row. He even touched my fingers! I know I sound like a gaping teen, but I can’t help it. It was that cool! I wondered before seeing him if his voice would carry in a large stadium. It certainly did. What a talent! On key, singing in Italian half the time, and completely mesmerizing. Where do I start on his songs- all amazing. My favorites are Awake, So She Dances, February Song, The Prayer, Weeping, To Where You Are, and You Raise Me Up. I just hope that David Foster decides to do a Buble/Groban tour- that would be awesome!

9. Joni Mitchell- There have been so many copy cats of Joni that she doesn’t seem as original as she deserves to be. I joke with my teacher that I love bitter woman songs. Joni definitely fits this category. I don’t know why I love these songs, but they hit an emotion in me and in so doing I feel more understood by the world- more able to move on. Both Sides Now, River, California and of course Blue are pure and peacefully melancholy. If I could sing like anyone it would probably be her. I just love her voice and the simple beauty of one woman singing at a piano or a guitar with no airs or pretense for the crowd!

10. Norah Jones- Rarely do I hear a song on the radio and think- “I love that song, I have to pick it up”. Norah Jones’ Don’t Know Why was one of those songs. Her Come Away album is perfect. Every song could be listened to many times and is great for relaxed settings-even work. She has such a beautiful voice and her arrangements are smart and simple. You can picture her sitting at a piano singing her favorite songs- and then oops they got recorded. I have appreciated all of her albums but Come Away is the best.

11. The Beatles- It would be hard to not put the Beatles on such a list. They have so many great songs- songs that you can dance to, songs that are slow and melodic and songs that are poetic-telling you a story. How different are She Loves Me, 8 Days a Week, Something, Eleanor Rigby and Let it Be? It doesn’t seem like it could be the same band. I am jealous of anyone who ever got to go to a concert live.

12. Judy Garland- I feel sorry for Judy Garland. She had so little choice in her life. She listened dutifully to her mother and doctors and ended up drug addicted and unhappy. I admire that despite everything she kept singing- trying to find something over the rainbow. When I was younger I appreciated Judy as a kind of Disney singer but her songs have a bittersweet meaning to me that I find very moving. Only those that have studied voice understand the difficulty of her arrangements and the purity of her voice. If I could sing like anybody she would be at the top of my list. Incredible.

Wow! That was hard There are so many more I want to include Rascal Flatts, Counting Crows, Maroon 5, Barbra Streisand, Alison Krauss, Nickel Creek, Dixie Chicks, Billy Joel, Barenaked Ladies, Fiona Apple, Alanis Morissette, Harry Connick Jr., Adam Pascal, Natalie Merchant, Annie Lenox, Elliot Yamin, James Taylor, John Mayer, Alicia Keyes, KT Tunstall, Billie Holiday, Bonnie Raitt, Johnie Cash, Reba, U2, They Might Be Giants, ColdPlay, Beach Boys and more. I am so blessed to have music in my life and hope that I never stop appreciating it and developing my own talents. I can’t imagine heaven without music and I don’t think it will be all hymns up there either! Take care friends and share with me your favorites.