Love Songs: The Emotion

This week is all about the most popular genre of music of all time, across all generations. Love songs. Technically love songs aren’t a genre, but they have crossed over into practically every genre that exists, and make up the majority of all music, so they absolutely deserve their own post.

Songwriting is a very artistic form of expression. For some people, it is incredibly easy to write about things in their life, or about stories they have heard. For others, it can be quite difficult. I believe that this is part of the reason love songs are so popular. Not to say that people who write love songs are not talented, but the idea of love being a universal feeling that most everyone experiences provides the largest spectrum of material of any topic. Everybody writes about love, because everybody knows love in some way, shape, or form. This is where the artistry comes in.

Many bands have laid out the basics for simple love songs. Take the Beatles for example. Some could argue that the lyrics of some of their biggest hits–like “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You”–are as simple as lyrics can be. But they topped charts and went down in history as the most iconic love songs because they reflected the joy and simplicity of love. Other artists chose a different route, relying more on emotional experiences and storytelling to express the complicated side of love. Think “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones or “I’ll stand by you” by the Pretenders. Songs like these are also recognized for the mixed emotions that they squeeze out of people. When it comes to love, there is endless material for artists to take from and continue to touch people’s hearts, whether the lyrics are simple and relatable or complicated and moving.

The final type of love song is also very popular is the breakup song. If you aren’t familiar, try listening to any country song ever, or checking out Taylor Swift’s biggest hits. Just kidding, but not really. Many people have experienced the emotions that come with breaking up with someone, which is what makes these songs so relatable and popular among such a large group of people.

 

What are your favorite love/breakup songs? Let me know in the comments below!

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Chris Cornell: The Icon

The music industry lost a brilliant, talented, legendary soul on Wednesday night. Chris Cornell was the frontman of Soundgarden, and  had a successful solo career, while also earning acclaim for his own side projects and collaborations, like Temple of the Dog. This post is about appreciation, reflecting back on Cornell’s accomplishments throughout his career, and the impact he has had on the music industry.

Chris Cornell’s musical passion dates back to his teenage years, when he began to struggle with severe anxiety and depression, which caused him to drop out of high school. As he learned to cope with his illness, he began to channel his demons into his music. His career started in a Seattle-based cover band called The Shemps, where he formed relationships with Hiro Yamamoto and Kim Thayil, whom he brought with him as he moved beyond cover-band territory. In 1984, the three formed Soundgarden. Over the course of a few years, Soundgarden became widely known as one of the freshest bands in the business. Rock and metal labels all around the country were after them, and by 1990, they had earned their first Grammy for Best Metal Performance. The band generated album after album, with consistent critical success, and received waves of awards and nominations throughout their career.

Soundgarden took a 12 year hiatus, beginning in 1997, while Cornell sparked his solo career. He received another Grammy nomination for the song “Can’t Change Me,” off his solo debut album, Euphoria Morning, released in 1999. His solo career carried on through the rest of his life, and he maintained it even after Soundgarden got back together in 2010, further stacking up the vast library of music he has produced in his lifetime.

But Cornell, like countless other people, faced issues that were far deeper than his rocker lifestyle. On Wednesday, May 18, after performing with Soundgarden at the FOX Theatre in Detroit, he hung himself in his hotel bathroom. We cannot conclude exactly what his reasons were, but perhaps he could no longer cope with his crippling addiction and mental health issues. All that matters is that he will be greatly missed worldwide, and his music will go down in history. Chris Cornell, the rockstar, the legend, the icon.

Any Chris Cornell/Soundgarden/Audioslave/Temple of the Dog/ anything else fans out there? Let me hear your thoughts about this truly legendary musician down below!

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Leon Bridges at the Arlington Theater

It’s time for another concert review! This week’s post is all about young soul singer Leon Bridges, and his performance at the Arlington Theater on March 18, 2016.

Leon Bridges (born Todd Michael Bridges) is a soul/gospel singer straight out of Fort Worth, TX. He is definitely an old soul, and his 2015 record, Coming Home, stands with some of the greatest soul albums of all time. But first, let’s go back a few years. Before he was signed to Columbia records, Leon played at local open mics and clubs to get his name out in the community. His songwriting is known for being uplifting and poignant at the same time, using classic soul techniques and instruments behind his smooth vocals. His songs are simple, and speak truths about happiness and faith and his family, but he makes them relatable to people of all backgrounds. Anybody can connect to his music, which is why he achieved great success right after he was signed.

Leon Bridges’ debut album, Coming Home, was very well received by critics and audiences alike. His single of the same name appeared on Spotify’s “Top 10 Most Viral Tracks” list, spreading his name among music streamers. The album itself rose to number six on the Billboard top 200 albums, sold 38,000 physical copies, and was nominated for best R&B album at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards. I knew this guy was very special, and was very excited to hear that he would be playing in my town.

I went to see him play with his band at the Arlington Theater, and it was a show I’ll never forget. There were no fancy light shows or set pieces, just a simple stage setup and the band wore formal clothing. Leon himself performed in a suit, just like the great singers of Motown in the 60’s. The music was flawless, and sounded exactly like, if not better than the original recording. He was singing with his close friend and backup singer Brittni Jesse, who added great color  to the performance. I would say the best part of the show, however, was his stage presence. He was dancing smoothly back and forth across the stage the whole time, and it was very obvious that he was having fun. He managed to get the entire crowd standing at their seats and dancing with him for most of the show. This was a 10/10 performance that I am grateful to have had the chance to experience. If he ever returns, I will definitely be there.

Comment below on what musical experiences I should write about next week!

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Glass Animals and Little Dragon: Santa Barbara Bowl

This week’s post is a little different from the rest. Instead of covering a new music genre, I will be writing about the bands Little Dragon and Glass Animals, and reviewing their show at the Santa Barbara Bowl last Saturday night.

Little Dragon are an electronic band from Gothenburg, Sweden, formed in 1996. The band consists of lead singer and percussionist Yukimi Nagano, drummer Erik Bodin, bassist Fredrik Kallgren Wallin, and keyboardist Hakan Wirenstrand. Their debut self-titled album was released in 2007, featuring their most popular song, “Twice,” which has been sampled in multiple films and tv shows. They have a unique indie style, with soulful melodies and a very quirky and charming frontwoman.

Glass Animals are an indie rock band formed in Oxford in 2012. Members include singer Dave Bayley, Drew MacFarlane, Joe Seaward, and Edmund Irwin-Singer. Their first album, ZABA, was released in 2014 and they made it big with their song “Gooey.” Their latest album is called How To Be A Human Being, and is a distinct followup to their debut. Glass animals definitely aren’t tied down to a single genre, as they have songs that are heavily electronic, as well as traditional alternative rock songs, and Dave Bayley’s vocals are smooth and a touch jazzy.

I had the opportunity to see both bands play at the Santa Barbara Bowl, and of all the concerts I’ve been to, this was definitely up there with the best shows of my life.

Little Dragon went on first, and their performance was weird in all the right ways. They got the entire crowd on their feet as Yukimi came out covered in a giant hot pink veil, which she kept on throughout the performance. The set was very instrumental, with the singer dancing around on stage and enticing the crowd to do the same to funky songs like “Ritual Union” and “High.” It was my first time seeing them in concert, and I will definitely see them again. I’ll give this performance a 9/10, only because I was really hoping they would play “No Love” and “Twice,” but I’ll catch it next time.

This was my third time seeing Glass Animals. The first time I saw them was before they had developed a huge fanbase, and I knew they would be going places after watching them set the tiny venue at Earl Warren Showgrounds on fire. The next time I saw them, I paid over twice as much for not so decent seats at the Greek Theater in LA, and it was totally worth it. Their new album sounded amazing live, and my only complaint was that I wasn’t close enough. But their show last weekend was possibly the greatest live performance I have ever experienced. I got there early and scored a spot front and center in general admission. The set pieces and the lighting were incredible, better than before, and I hadn’t realized that this was the last show of their North American tour. So it was an incredibly emotional performance, and Dave Bayley even said that we were “so much better than Coachella,” which they had played the night before. In addition, this was two weeks after Dave broke his ankle, and he was more animated and energetic than ever, tearing up the stage with a cast on his leg. The band did an amazing job of interacting with the audience, and it was the coolest feeling in the world to be singing along and dancing with them up close and personal. They all expressed their gratitude multiple times throughout the show, and I was very proud that they ended their tour in my hometown. There was not a single person in the audience who wasn’t on their feet, and I’m giving this performance a 13/10. It’s going to be pretty hard for someone else to top what Glass Animals threw down last week.

The pictures do not even come close to capturing how cool this show was; both bands absolutely killed it. Next time either of them play anywhere nearby, you can count on me being there. Comment below on what I should write about next week!

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World: The Earth Day Special

This Saturday was Earth day, a global holiday to appreciate all the world has to offer. Here in Santa Barbara, we celebrate Earth day with a huge two day festival in the park in the middle of town. The festival is a magical center of community, activism, music, and entertainment. All of these things spread the message of taking care of our environment, climate change awareness, and how to make the world a better place. If there is one genre that everyone can agree unifies the planet, it is world music.

World music gained popularity during the era of cultural globalization in the 1980’s. The genre borrows from Western folk music, as well as ethnic and indigenous styles from several parts of the world. World music fits under a very broad category. It is different in every country, because it plays off of the culture of its region. This applies to the instruments used as well. For example, Eastern Asian world music uses instruments such as the koto and the guqin, whereas West African world music features the jembe and the marimba. The concept of world music is very intimate and communicative.

Though lots of world music is tribal and not necessarily well-known, there are artists who have made it big coming from this genre. British-Tamil rapper M.I.A. and Lebanese/Columbian singer Shakira are world famous for their creative artistry in combining hip hop and pop music with the traditional music of their heritage. These two, among many other artists, helped to bring the ideas of world music into the public eye.


World music is the soundtrack of Earth itself. The sounds and artistry from all around the world have created an immensely diverse culture of their own, which people from around the world hare and create together. It is about awareness, and community, and history, and everything in between. Earth day is a very special and important holiday, especially because of the mess the world is in right now, and music can play a major role in bringing people together to keep the Earth moving.

Comment below on what I should write about next week!

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Electronic Music: The Expansion

Electronic music is a very diverse genre, and can fit nearly every mood. Most people associate electronic music with EDM, clubs, and raves. However, this is only one subgenre of electronic music. This week we will explore the history and origins of the various subgenres of electronic music.

Glass Animals at Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara

The first electronic instrument to be widely used was the theremin, which provided a lot of soundtrack material for science-fiction films in the 1950’s. Then, with the increasing accessibility of the computer, programmers were able to create and manipulate sounds that normal instruments could not replicate. In the early 60’s, more instruments were invented and used, including the synthesizer, but electronic music hadn’t yet found its place in mainstream music. Most of it was still wrapped up in the movie soundtrack industry, with the exception of experimental musicians who created art with the newfound technology, but their work was not very popular at the time. It wasn’t until the late 60’s that electronic instruments found their way into mainstream music. Electric pianos and synthesizers were very commonly used by bands such as the Beatles and the Beach Boys, then later Roxy Music and Pink Floyd. The music industry was forever changed after this caught on.

Radiohead at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Without electronic music, one could argue that we wouldn’t have had the 80’s. Some of the biggest, most era-defining artists and bands of the 80’s included Depeche Mode, George Michael, Duran Duran, and Cyndi Lauper. These artists relied heavily on electronic music, and they all helped create the vibrant soundtrack of the 1980’s. Moving on to the 90’s, electronic music was not the leading genre, but it had an important place in R&B and hip hop music. In the 2000’s, house music and EDM grew in popularity, and today, just about everything on the radio features  more artificial instruments than real ones. It’s really interesting how this form of music evolved over time. Of course, every genre has subgenres that take off on their own path, but electronic music as a whole moved in a gradual linear pattern. I can only imagine what it will sound like in the years to come, in the age of self driving cars, and uh, artificial intelligence?

James Blake at the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara

Thanks for reading this week’s blog post! Check back next Friday for a new genre, and comment below if you want to suggest one I haven’t talked about yet!

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Punk: The Revolution

This week is all about the underground music scene of the 70’s and 80’s. The years of leather and goth and riot. This week’s powerful genre defined an era of music, fashion, and culture of its own. It broke all the rules of the genres that preceded, and completely flipped society upside down. Welcome to the age of punk.

Punk music began with garage rock. Its roots are in the carefully careless clashing rock songs of the Kinks, the Who, the Sonics, and other garage rock bands of the 1960’s. The first band to cross over from rock into punk was called the Stooges. Led by music legend Iggy Pop, commonly known as the “godfather of punk”, the Stooges were a fresh, edgy new force that helped spark the underground punk scene. Later on, in 1974, the Ramones formed in Queens, New York. They are without question the most famous punk band of all time. Their music originated from bands like the Beatles and the Beach Boys, and it joined other punk bands in challenging societal norms with provocative lyrics.

Many people were beyond pissed at the obscurity of the punk revolution. Punk music left the world in disbelief, and completely altered the definition of what was allowed in the music industry. But the widespread disapproval was not totally unwarranted. Artists like Darby Crash of the Germs are what gave punk such an ugly rep. He was famous for his nasty, violent, vulgar, drug-loaded performances that gave permission to his following to exhibit similar behavior. This behavior is what established the divide between those who were “in” and those who weren’t in the underground punk scene.

Punks were easily identified by their looks and their rebellious behavior. They were very exclusive of anyone who didn’t participate in the culture, which is what gave the underground crowd such a special and dignified position. Their fashion was edgy and raw, ranging from scraggly leather jackets and tight jeans like the Ramones, or goth makeup and jet-black hair like Siouxsie and the Banshees.

The revolution of the punk industry will hold its place as one of the most controversial movements in music. Check back next week for an inside look into a whole new genre!

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