Friday, April 10, 2009

Three Songs You Need To Hear This Week (posted by MARK BLANKENSHIP)

The pop music landscape can be overwhelming. There are just so many hits, you know? If you listen to these three songs, however, you'll be in the know, at least for this week. Let's get rocking!

(1) "Boom Boom Pow" by Black Eyed Peas
This is currently the number one song in all of America, y'all. When you listen to it, you might think, "Where's the song? I hear beeps and swooshes, but I don't hear, like, musical notes." That's a fair reaction. I'm divided over whether the song is a harmless jam or a total disasterpiece myself, but there's no denying that (the Peas' producer) captures where dance and hip-hop seem to be heading. Kanye West has been doing it, too... blending echoing space-age sounds with distorted vocals and occasional violins.
Writing that, I feel like I'm describing some experimental composition where a music school grad student bangs piano strings with a mallet. But trust me, "Boom Boom Pow" is much more danceable than anything by Phillip Glass.

(2) "Weed and Wine" by Michelle Malone
Perpetually under the radar, Michelle Malone has nevertheless carried one of rock's biggest torches for years. Effortless, soulful, and always rough around the edges, her music is like every dirty bar you've always wanted to visit. Even better, she matches that grittiness with a voice that slides from sandpaper growl to soulful wail in a single phrase.
Malone's album "Debris" was just released this week, and the song "Weed and Wine" sums up why you need to hear it: A laid-back ode to good lovin' (enhanced by, ahem, certain substances), the track is the perfect companion to Kid Rock's "All Summer Long." Personally, I think it's even better, because Malone write smarter lyrics, and she doesn't self-consciously sample "Sweet Home Alabama" to set her tone.

(3) "Mad World" by Gary Jules with Michael Andrews
This song was orignally recorded by Tears for Fears back in the 80s, and this version was first released on Jules' 2001 album Trading Snakeoil for Wolftickets. (Because one ounce of snake oil gets you six wolftickets, y'all. It's an amazing exchange rate.)
Anyway, Jules' cover first became popular after it was included on the soundtrack to the indie drama Donnie Darko, but it's currently one of the best-selling singles on iTunes because Adam Lambert sang it on American Idol this week. And you know what? He was great. I can't get over what a good singer he is. It's also nice that he brought this particular tune---a haunting piano ballad---back into our lives. It's perfect for that last glass of wine, or that somber Wednesday night when you decide you absolutely need to paint your fingernails black. (That happens to everyone right? Not just me?)

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