Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Why Did I Think I Didn't Like Pop Music?

I guess when I think of pop music I think of canned, corny, and limited in real talent, like Hilary Duff's music. That kind of stuff that makes you cringe and instantly reach out to turn the dial or turn off the radio. You know what I'm talking about. But it's really unfair to tarnish a whole category of music by the bad seeds in that group. That's like saying 80s music sucked because you don't like Hair Bands. How did I come to the conclusion that I was being unfair to pop music? I've been listing to various internet radio stations at work and indulging in my love for music. It started with British Rock (one of my favorite sub-genres), progressed to 80s New Wave (love it), Classical, Hip/Hop, Christmas, Just plain 80s music, Eclectic, Alternative and Pop music, and jotted around in various sequences. I like variety so if they start playing the same songs I tend to change the stations. Well, I'm glad I decided to check out the pop station. I have listened to some really good music that isn't suffering from a lack of talent or originality. Well there are some like the aforementioned Hilary Duff. But I have also heard great songs from artists like Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, The Backstreet Boys, Lindsey Lohan, The Veronica's, Jason Mraz (who's becoming one of my favorites), Gwen Stefani (love her), Mariah Carey, The Pussycat Girls, Darren Hayes, and others. For example, I'm really digging a song by Kelly Osbourne called "I Can't Wait," which I never would have heard on the stations I hang out on. What defines pop music? Well it's a very wide category actually. It's short for popular music. Why does this have to be a bad thing? After all, popular is a good thing isn't it? It just implies that a lot of people like something. Yes, if you were a geek or nerd in school like I was the word popular quickly brings on a negative connotation. But it doesn't have to. Popular music can feature angst-filled, introspective songs just like alternative rock. It can also feature hip-shaking songs that make you want to wiggle your southend. But also it can include songs that make you feel good, and that's not a bad thing if you're having a crappy day. I've heard a few songs that I think, you know that's actually a pretty good song, even if the person doesn't sound like they're going to jump off a bridge any second (I say that with love because I happen to love melancholy songs and their singers). Just in the short time I've been tuning into the pop stations, my Amazon wish list has grown by leaps and bounds. I even asked my sister to borrow her Lindsey Lohan cd to wear out a certain song that you already know about if you read one of my previous blogs. So I guess I'm going to have to eat my words. I don't in fact, hate pop music. I just hate bad pop music. That's a whole different thing.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Jason Mraz in Concert

My friend had the opportunity to attend a Jason Mraz concert last night. I liked his music and his persona. He seems like a very down to earth, cheerful, talented soul. I have his first CD
Waiting for the Rocket to Come, which I bought because I like male singer/guitar players. It was very good with some fun, inventive lyrics and vocal stylings, excellent guitar playing, and passion-infused songs. So I said sure, I'd love to go. It turned out to be a great decision. He was wonderful in concert. All the things I liked about him were multiplied in concert. Jason has a beautiful voice. It is sweet enough to sing in a church choir or a chorus of heavenly angels. His guitar playing is melodic, able to induce toe-tapping and swaying, and powerful. Jason has the ability to improvise lyrics and syncopate like a jazz singer. He seems to go back and forth between genres with amazing ease. I truly believe that the same person could put out an R& B, Rap, Jazz, Alternative Rock, Gospel, and probably even Country album. Not only is Jason a consummate musician and singer, he has a wonderful personality, complete with self-deprecating humor. He knows how to please the crowd and keep them interested. And the crowd certainly loved him. He had women yelling out that they'd make pretty babies with him. He even had some male groupies in the audience. But after the hour or so long performance, I can see why he has such a loyal following. I love music. I always have. It really touches me on a personal level to go to a performance with an artist like Jason who gets music and loves it to the same degree, and seems to have it flowing freely from his soul. Jason was accompanied by his friend Marion who has the guitar-playing ability to remind one of a Spanish grandee or mariachi of old. He accompanied Jason beautifully, matching his delicate strokes to Jason's deeper, flowing chord-driven melodies. It was like a musical buffet, you came away filled but tempted to have more. In short, the whole experience was lovely, making me a life-long fan and on a much deeper level, of Jason Mraz. My advice to you is that if you love music, especially authentic, creative, intense vocal and guitar stylings, don't miss the opportunity to see Jason in concert.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Music To Write To Part II

I told you I'd think of other songs, didn't I?

Here are some more

I must give a shout out to Coldplay's newest CD X&Y. Practically the whole CD puts me in the zone. Just beautiful music, you know!

So here's Writing CD part II
1.Kean--We Might As Well Be Strangers (What a lush beautiful song. It's the regret of love lost from a guy's perspective. They have grown apart and he can't deal with it).
2.Lacuna Coil--Comalies (My sister and friend who are into goth-metal got me into this song. It has the beautiful voice of a woman over a rock/synth beat that is just so very good. The song seems to say don't give up on us to me.)
3.Midnight Show--Killers (They're on the road, about to stir up some trouble, possibly of the sexual kind :)
4.The Bravery--No Breaks (another early 80s time warp band. Excellent. If you want me, it's cool but I'm not compromising on who I am).
5.They Say Vision--Res (not sure what it's about but it inspires me to write. I listened to this song about 30 times in one day, I kid you not. And finally my mom asks, "Are you going to listen to that again?" I was waiting for her to do it and she actually showed some great restraint.
6.How Do You Mend a Broken Heart--Al Green. (The man is like one of the most romantic souls on earth. Okay I know that the Bee Gees wrote this song. But the way Al sings it is so delicious and so full of pain. His regret is palpable and poignant. I have never been in love, hence I haven't had my heart broken in a romantic sense. I have had a dream broken and that pain is what I think Al conveys in this song. This would have to be a very low moment in a story of mine.)
7.We Belong Together--Mariah (This is The Wentworth Song as in Wentworth Miller, perfection! You might know him from Prison Break. Between visions of his loveliness in the videos and the beautiful way this song is sung by Mariah, it has made it's way into my creative consciousness. She wants to be with him. That's all she wants! And the knowledge that she can't is killing her.)
8.Warning Sign--Coldplay (I know you're probably thinking "not again!" Well I'm sorry but this song is so gorgeous. He misses her so much! He sees her in his mind and he wants to be with her. He regrets that things fell apart. I try to forget that they played this when Buffy got all skanky with the jailbait on "Him". How dare they funk up my song that way!
9.Love Comes Tumbling--U2 (classic post-modern 80s deliciousness. Bono's talking about love and I'm feeling it.)
10.Lemon-U2 (love this song. Sexy and also at the same time experimental and different. The woman has made an impression on him. And he can't get her out of his head. I can picture my hero thinking and thinking about his woman. His brain can't forget her.)
11.Protect My Heart-Kelis (she doesn't want to fall in love. This is a modern woman who knows what she's about. She knows the games that guys play. But against love there is no defense.
12.Goodbye is Forever-Arcadia (one of Duran Duran's splinter projects singing about when you have to let go of someone and facing that moment where you know that what you had is a memory from now on).
13.I'm Going Down-Mary J. Blige (Time on my hands since you went away boy. ...Feel the tears falling from my eyes..oh baby. I'm going down... Nobody sings it like Mary! )
14.32 Flavors--Alana Davis (this is an Ani DeFranco song, I know. But I heard Alana's version first. This woman is declaring that she's happy with who she is and not about to change. I picture the credits coming up and a woman's riding in her car with the top down. She crosses a bridge over water. She's free of other's expectations and criticisms of herself.
14. Alone. Together--The Strokes ( This song casts a spell. He's wooing her with remarkable skill..In his very Generation X kinda way. This is modern love.)
15.Get Mine..Get Yours--Christina Aguilera (I don't write this kind of smut..Just kidding. This is strictly a booty call song. But so well done. I picture a woman freaking on the dancefloor with a guy. Tobey Maguire comes to mind since I heard a rumor that they did the horizontal tango once. He's known to be a player, by the way. He knows the score. So does she. Again, not up my alley. But what if someone thought they could just have sex, but ended up falling in love? Maybe.
You're gonna laugh. But I love these sappy 70s songs.
16.I'm Not in Love--10 cc. (This chap is in denial. I can see a hero going through this spiel in his head. Knowing deep down that he doesn't buy it.)
17.Hello It's Me--Todd Rungren (He wants a woman who he thinks can have a better guy then him, but that doesn't stop him from trying to woo her. "Think of me.")
and then there's
18.Impossibility--Remy Zero (very short but memorable song. It's dramatic and building, and reminds you of a climactic moment. I can see a character in transition, dealing with the reality of his situation).
19.The Worst Way--Essence (a woman knows that this man is a dangerous obsession but she's not willing to walk away).
20.Love is The Price We Pay--Essence (She's reflecting on the fact that her love is her chain to that person who has her heart).
21.Dark Angel--Essence (The heroine loves a mad, bad, and dangerous to know fellow. Perhaps a spy who might be on the wrong side of the game).
22.Up All Night--Razoright (This sound just seems to have an undercurrent of sadness, searching and longing that's very fruitful for my imagination. I love the way the music (the guitar builds up along with the singer's voice).

Okay, I admit I'm an unrepentant sap. I think I was born to write romance because I'm am just so on that wavelength.

Look for more...and I'll probably have a list of songs like the Dandy Warhols that are completely linked to movie moments and tv. Veronica Mars theme song comes to mind....

Music to Write To

There always seems to be this deep connection between music and the other artistic media, namely writing and movies. I hear a song in my head and I see a picture that my mind conjures of that song. It may have nothing to do with the song in actuality but it's what my brain and heart seems to derive from the words and music.
Literally there are songs that make me want to run the nearest computer and plug away at my innumerable unfinished stories. Since a great love of mine is romance, those melancholy songs really seem to hit home with me. They make me want to write of great lovers struggling toward their happy ending together.
One example that comes to mind is Lindsey Lohan's Over. That song really gets me. My interpretation is one in which a woman mourns the death of a very intense, meaningful relationship. She wants closure but then she doesn't. Isn't love such a feeling. Like a pain that reminds you that your flesh lives even as it throbs. Songs like this take my mind to the next step. I want to fix that pain by getting the couple back together. I haven't came up with a concrete storyline yet, but it did remind me of my story with a hero who looks and acts remarkably like Josh Lucas. But if I pursue that story I'll have to figure out a way to break up the couple, and the idea didn't initially go in that direction. So it's still brewing away in my overstuffed brain.
Usually a certain song will make me think of one of my interracial stories, since that is a particular literary urge of mine. As a matter of fact, the Josh Lucas story is an interracial. Another song that get's me going is Maria's "My Soul." What a lovely song and I want to write a story that fits the dreamy, anguished quality of the singing.
"Are You Happy Now" by Michelle Branch is a song that inspires me to write of a woman who has faced the same trial as Lindsey sings about but she seems more angry. Alas, how to make that right, I don't know.
It's really frustrating in a way because the connection between song and story doesn't usually help me to find a workable plot.
Going a little off subject, there is a song that reminds me irrevocably of a certain moment in movie time: "You Were The Last High" by the Dandy Warhols. That moment is not a happy one. It is the scene where Terry Sheridan betrays himself and Lara Croft by choosing to do the wrong thing, trying to kill Lara and take Pandora's box back to civilization and the highest bidder. This makes me feel very melancholy but I love it. Why? Because my mind doesn't mind thinking about Gerard Butler at all. The sadness comes in that he will die. Perhaps one day I will write a story with a Terry-esque hero who makes the right decision. He lives to turn his life around as you can clearly see Terry wants to. He seems to have regrets over how he disappointed Lara and ended up on his dark path. Sense I like nothing more than a bad boy on the path to redemption, I will not be surprised if Terry Version 2.0 doesn't end up in one of my stories.
I think I should just make a writing CD and get it over with. Put all those songs that drive my brain crazy and stimulate the massive writing urge. What songs would I put on it?
Some I mentioned above:
1.You Were the Last High
4.Are You Happy Now
and others...
5.Small Town Boy by Bronski Beat (ironically about a young gay man leaving his restrictive home--it makes me think of uncertainty and pain, which is universal)
6. Put Me Down by the Cranberries (desperation and anguish are part of the character's journey)
7.This Life by Mandalay (Moody and atmospheric, beautiful. The perfect soundtrack for a darker, spy-themed love story).
8.Home by Depeche Mode (The strings part always gets me! It builds to a climax. This would be good for a spy story too).
9.Who's That Girl by the Eurythmics (always makes me think of a female spy who's a femme fatale and a mistress of disguises)
10.Don't Ask Me Why by the Eurythmics (another broken love affair song)
11.Ice King by Res (A woman who loves a man whose heart is frozen)
12.Lose Control by Silk (Sexy and seductive song, perfect music for a love scene)
13.Wild Horses by The Sundays (whistful, melodic, speaks of missed opportunities)
14.Fade Into You by Mazzy Star (someone reflecting on their feelings for the person who captured their heart)
15.Live Again by Better Than Ezra (in the midst of that crazy fixation of love and infatuation)
16.Over You by Better Than Ezra (about the way it feels to make love to someone)
17.Speeding Up To Slow Down by Better Than Ezra (hometown starcrossed pair of interracial lovers--I picture the girl on a bus and the guy is running after her. I'll probably cut to years later when she comes back)
18. A Thousand Years by Sting (About the complete irrevocable love that he has for a woman)
19.The Book of My Life by Sting (this person has years on them..they have seen and experienced much. They are reflecting back. I could picture Anthony Hopkins doing this set to the song).
20.My Antarctica by Duran Duran (he's in love with a woman who just isn't in as deep as he is)
21.Last Chance on the Stairway by Duran Duran (he's young and willing to risk love but afraid at the same time).
22.Forbidden Love by Madonna (loving the one you shouldn't love...perfect for an interracial love affair. The problem is I try to write ones where that's not the main issue.)
23.The Love Thieves by Depeche Mode (I picture that scene in La Femme Nikita when she goes away after faking her death. It's been years but it's stuck in my brain. She's gone and he mourns her with his whole heart and soul although words of love remain unspoken).
24.Shiver by Coldplay (This man is not going to ever leave her or let her down!)
25.Green Eyes by Coldplay (Sounds country but the simplicity and the emotion wins me over and sends my brain wondering. This one I haven't worked out yet).
26.Amsterdam by Coldplay (He's committed even when the obstacles are against him)
27.I Still Love You by 702 (This guy isn't the best fit for her...things aren't ideal..but she's still in love and committed to him).
28.Kissing You by Total (She's just awakening to the attraction and she's daydreaming about how it would feel just to kiss him.)
29.An orchestral piece from The Specialist (the scene of the fake funeral. I love the feeling it inspires of a couple who are so into each other but circumstances prohibit them from being together, but just maybe the can be together in the end).

There are so many ...here's a few. I'm sure I'll find more songs that hit me where it hurts and make my fingers twitch to write a book or scene to do the beautiful piece of music justice. So expect a part II....