Songs that pack a punch.

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Dic 1 2006, 2:21

I take music very seriously. If I like a song, just one song from an artist, I go out and buy the whole album that it's on. Not only that, I look into the artist; Wiki is my best friend. Here are songs that I think are particularly special at the moment. I have missed loads out, but I can only write so much. Each song has a commentry - a bit about the artist, my overall opinion of the artist, description of the song, and why the song itself is particularly special. I hope you enjoy, and most of all, I hope you check them out.

Each song has a 'strikability' rating which means if the song will grab you from first listen, or it will take a couple of listens. It is out of five. Five being the most striking, and one being the least.

Kremlin Dusk
Okay, when I first heard Utada's first english album 'Exodus' I absolutely detested it. Passionately. In fact, I hated it so much, I gave it away to someone I barely knew, because I knew he liked J-Pop. I even wrote it a review on amazon.co.uk explaining it's retro computer sounds that it exploits to create 'music' but mostly likening it to Mario gaining 'Flower Power'. I cruelly and prematurely gave it one star. What is wrothy to note, however, is that even when I hated this album, one song stuck out: this one; Kremin Dusk. It caught my attention from its first moment. The beginning is stunning. It's atmospheric, moving, and as the song progresses becomes more passionate, rockier (those drums!) and much faster until it explodes. The one thing that bugged me was her strange vocalise after each verse, but it's something you get used to. Incidentally, I loved this song so much, I kept playing it (as I had ripped the CD on to WMP). When I kept playing it the subsequent tracks inevitably played, and thus I ended up getting used to the album as a whole and against all odds, ended up liking it. Having regretted giving it away, and despite already having the whole CD on my computer, I bought the album again from Amazon. Funny how things turn out.
Strikability: * * * * *

Both Sides Now
I do not know much about ol' Joni as it happens, and I normally research artists I find quite thoroughly. I do know that she has retired from singing, out of protest of the corruption of the music industry these days. She now concentrates on her painting. And why not? Apparently she's very good. Anyway, I don't own a Joni album (exceptionally rare that I do not own a album of an artist whom's track I like). But this song is enough. I first heard it when Alan Rickman (the bastard) broke poor Emma Thompson's heart in 'Love Actually'. I don't know if it was because the scene was very touching, or if it was Emma Thompson pulling off a top performance as she always does, but the song moved me. I seeked it out and listened to it properly. I'm normally not into subtle quiet songs like this, but the lyrics really are something; they can relate to everyone. Not only that, but the moving performance that Joni Mitchell brings gives the song real authenticity and feeling. A quietly moving song, but emotionally very powerful. Everyone should hear this song at least once. A good thing to just release your mind to as the sun sets.
Strikability: * * * *

In the Kingdom of the Blind the One-Eyed Are Kings
So, you take one look at this title and think "No way". Yes, it's very long. On top of that, what the hell does that title mean? I'm with you on that one. I'm sure it's an allusion to some poet or something because I don't know how anyone can make that up. Anyhow, this track comes from the 80's duo Dead Can Dance. For some background trivia, one of the members was Lisa Gerrard. That name may seem familier to you - if you can't place it she co-composed the Gladiator soundtrack with Hans Zimmer. Her vocals are played throughout the OST but most prominently known for the track 'Now We Are Free'. None of that is relevant, however, since it's the other half of the duo; the male, that lends his vocals to this track. Now, when I first downloaded this song, it wasn't titled by it's proper title (and I'm sure anyone would have the impulse to change that bloody title). Some person or other had aptly renamed it 'Music for Vampires'. I can't really put it any better. Very dark, but commercially so, and strangely uplifting. Since the group defies categorisation, it's difficult to describe the music to you. I would put them most closely to Enigma, not forgetting that this group came before Enigma even got together. The vocals are stunning. Incidentally, he sounds a bit like Michael Cretu; can't go wrong there!
Strikability: * * * *

I'm a Doun
Full title of this unknown gem is 'I'm a Doun for Lack O' Johnnie (A Little Scottish Fantasy)'. Nice, but I think you can work out why they cut out the rest of the title as of late - hardly something you can take seriously. Anyway, this beautiful composition was originally a traditional scottish ballad. But then Vanessa-Mae got hold of it. I'm so glad she did. Vanessa is a violinist, but one that does not follow classical conventions. She fuses her compositions with inflamed electronica and beats. Although not a consistent artist with me, her whole existence in the music industry is justified just by this song alone. The beginning of the song is an introduction to the song with Vanessa's sweet vocals that sing the actual ballad. Then she plays a beautiful scottish melody on her violin, backed by African percussion and vocals. Sound bizarre? It works. Immensely beautiful and heart wrenching by the bridge. The melody will never leave you.
Strikability: * * *

A Question Of Honour
Sarah Brightman. Goddess. Queen. Angel. Perfection. Sarah Brightman introduced me to the real world of music and showed me that there was music outside the top 40. It was the year 2000. I had heard 'Deliver Me' by accident. I liked it. I bought her Best of on impulse (as you do). And argh, it was a bit classical and old-like (I was fifteen!) I listened only to her poppy tracks and as 'A Question of Honour' has a one minute introduction of an excerpt from the opera 'La Wally' the track wasn't given much of a chance. Folly. I tell you. Always give tracks a chance! It turns out that this song is just sheer epic. Depending on what version you listen to, the song starts with a one minute aria, then about another one minute of tension building music that has a trance/dance/electronica influence with heavy drum loops (stunning). The song eventually starts and it's just plain fun. It was written for some Boxer of other in Germany. Okay, but the music wouldn't be out of place on a 'Rocky' (Eye of the Tiger, eat your heart out) film, or any other situation that contains competition. The ultimate 'anthem' of all things competitive. After three minutes, Sarah concludes the song with another excerpt from 'La Wally' and the song comes to an explosive end. Sheer brilliance.
Strikability: * * * *

Fix You
You know, I really hate Coldplay. They are such boring bastards who are completely overrated. They obviously write brilliant songs (such as this one) but something is lost in the transition. I mean, can you name one exciting song of theirs? The vocalist sounds like a choir boy who doesn't quite understand that his voice is breaking. It annoys me when people ignorantly criticise artists who cover songs. It's foolish. Being an artist is not just about writing the songs. There is as much talent in arrangement and interpretation as there is in writing a fully original song. So, here is this boring song. And here is this world class winning choir champions: Cantamus. A choir of 40 girls between the ages of 14-20. The song is simply accompanied by piano and a bit of guitar at the end. The rest is up to the girls. Transition between rock ballad to choral arrangement is astounding. The song sounds twenty times better and the emotion is increased most noticably. The climax of the song hardly ever fails to moist my eyes up at least a little. This interpretation puts the song on a whole new level.
Strikability: * *

T.N.T. For The Brain
Who hasn't heard of Enigma? So everyone knows that song that put them on the map 'Sadeness Pt 1'; which was released in 1990. After that, the top 40 kind of forgot about them. Dusted them under the carpet, never to let Enigma out to the mainstream again. Big mistake. Late nineties and early twenty-first century was the best time for Enigma. They released two albums in this period: 'Le Roi Est Mort, Vivi Le Roi!' and 'The Screen Behind the Mirror'. Whilst their first two albums had some catchy stand out tunes on them, these two albums are particularly consistent and are at Enigma's most creative point. 'T.N.T. for the Brain' is just one of the songs from the brilliant Le Roi Est Mort disc. As difficult as it is to pick a song from that album, it's this track that has lasted the test of time since I first purchased this album. It's a subtle track. You don't realise its genius when you first hear it. It slowly grows on you. It's an odd song. Vocals are provided by both Cretu and his wife. The female vocals are particularly striking. Not your average singing, if you call it that. A crispness that almost defies description. It's an unruly song and would have probably have never been commercially favourable if it was attempted. Has to be listened to a few times to be appreciated.
Strikability: * *

Bold And Delicious
Bold and Delicious was always originally written by Sweetbox, but the fools gave it to ayumi hamasaki to sing before they sang it themselves (and Ayumi is the most overrated, nasal sounding J-Pop singer even known to man). Sweetbox are a pop duo based in Germany, but are most successful in Asia. They are Jade Villian, the vocalist, and Geo, the producer. The two working together are poetry in motion. You may remember Sweetbox in its earlier formation in the mid nineties when they released a top ten hit here in the UK called 'Everything's Gonna Be Alright'. Sadly, it was their only hit. Back then, the vocalist was Tina Harris. She seperated from Geo shortly after who then picked up Jade. From then on Sweetbox have released many albums all with success in asian countries. They are pure pop; intelligent pop. They are fun; fast but mature at the same time. Original lyrics from Jade and a fantastic interpreter. This song is very strange when you first hear it. The beginning vocals start something like this: 'Yeah yeah yeah yeah, ga ga ga ga, da da da da, whoah whoah whoah whoah' (and thus annoyed my best friend with such outbursts when this song was at its height of my esteem). It's pure pop, fun, and the most catchy thing I have ever heard. It will be in your head for weeks.
Strikability: * * * * *

Sway
I hate this whole 'singer-songwriter' generation at the moment. I mean, when did this trend come in? It seems to have happened over night! Screw you James Blunt! Here is Bic Runga. A Kiwi. I bought her album 'Beautiful Collision' when I saw it for two pounds in the sale bin in WHSmiths. The cover looked nice. Some dude from the Guardian praised her on the front. First tell-tale of the person in question being a singer-songwriter as those idiots from the papers just love this genre at the moment. And let us not forget Q magazine. Regardless, I bought it. Impulse buy, as I always do (yes I have no money as a result). I put her on when I got home. I wasn't surprised to find myself snoring. I thought she had a nice clear voice, but apart from that, I wanted to throw her out of the window. She represented everything I detested about this genre. What I normally do with 'shelved' albums of mine, is leave them for a good few months, then, when I tidy my room, or play Age of Empires, I let their album run-through so I can perhaps see something in it I didn't like the first time round (always give an album a chances!) I pretty much felt the same way again. But then the bonus track came on. 'Sway', it was called. This isn't normally the kind of song I like, but it was catchy, honest, and her vocals were top notch. I was disconcerted to how this track, the only decent one on the album, was merely a bonus track. It's mind-boggling. I'm proud to say I like this song. Give it a listen.
Strikability: * *

Because of You
Ergh, Kelly Clarkson. Isn't she that chick that won American Idol, or something? Last time I checked she was singing some jazzy mo-town type numbers like 'Natural Woman' and other such boring songs. Anyway, walked into the living room when this rather touching music video was playing. I had never seen Kelly before, and it was probably the first time I had seen a recent music video in about two years. But you know, the video moved me. I misinterpreted it at the time (thought she was singing to her Dad about him leaving her). Because of that, I felt really bad for the blond girl in the video and I was brought to tears. I mean, what a bastard! Walking out on his girl like that. The song just sounded wonderful too. The banner came at the end song as they do, informing me it was Kelly so I bought her album (gotta cheer for impulse buys). The album sucked, big time. But it was worth my money. I still love this song. The piano, the vocals, the performance, the lyrics, the production, just wonderful. I particularly like the bridge when her vocals are layered. That bit gets me everytime.
Strikability: * * * *

Bright Lights
Matchbox Twenty. It's so scary how I almost didn't like them. How I almost didn't give them the time of day after listening to their album 'More Than You Think You Are' a good few times and still finding nothing particularly great apart from 'Unwell' that was meh-ish. But good old Adam, from work, recommended them to me again, lending me a different album called 'Mad Season'. Again, nothing great. 'Bent' was catchy. Gave it back to him. Bought it anyway, because Adam said it was good and Adam's word overrides the word of God. Received it. 'Meh' again. I was determined to like them, however. And after constant listening, after sitting down and concentrating on the damn albums whilst reading along the lyrics with the music, I grew to like one or two songs. After that, some other songs caught my attention, until, eventually, I could play both albums through completely loving every single song. Matchbox Twenty are not a group that strike you to start with, you need to pay attention with TLC. I didn't know which song to choose. 'Leave' and practically all of their third album are brilliant, but 'Bright Lights' is particularly great. It's also quite a striking song so you can hear the appeal of it on first listen. Rob Thomas is a stunning vocalist. <3
Strikability: * * *
Commenti accettati
Classical Crossover, Sarah Brightman

Commenti

  • tobymacfan

    Kelly Clarkson is one of the winners of American Idol. It looks like you didn't like the Breakaway at all. It is good to see you did like Because Of You since it's a great song. Check out her first album called Thankful you might like it more than Breakaway album.

    Dic 1 2006, 19:51
  • CareALotsClouds

    Hello Toby, Thanks for the response. :) I'm not sure Kelly is for me, though from what I have heard on that album she is a great vocalist. I thought the album was a bit like Avril Lavigne (not her vocals, I stress!). But by no means was I disappointed. If an album is quite poor in my tastes, it doesn't matter as long as there is just one gem of a song, I'm actually quite content with that. A brilliant song is priceless to me. I will do as you say though, I'll buy her first album. Hey, I'll let you know!

    Dic 1 2006, 20:06
  • Gouriel

    Thursday night is like the night for making long lists of, ehh, musical preferences =D (I suppose) T.N.T. for the Brain is a great song, reminds me to rip one of my enigma cd's! I'll do it tomorrow. Wanted to do it yesterday already, but didn't have enough time. (had to choose =D) I sort of hate Because Of You, because at my work they used to play it like every hour (well, the new radio station we had on anyway), and if you work 5 days in a week and 5 hours per day, it bores really quickly. I work a lot less now that my edu started again, so I can stomach it a lot better now =) Now while I was reading your list it reminded me of a Robbie Williams song from Escapology, that almost nobody knows but where I was truly impressed. Love Somebody is it's title, and you might like it. One of my favourite songs anyway. (yeah, I just ripped the cd, nothing to do with reminding) =D I'm with you on the bonus track thing. Sometimes I hear a bonus song, and like it a lot more than any of the other songs on the album. Rather odd, but maybe that's why the artist or producer decided to add the track despite the album being finished already. In fact, it rarely happens that when I think a cd is okay, but nothing more, I end up playing the bonus track the most. Crazy artists, I tell ya =)

    Dic 1 2006, 21:27
  • yourenotsoscene

    I just heard Bright Lights for the first time about three weeks ago and I can't get enough of the song. And I've been doing the same thing with listening to their cd's and they're growing on me a lot..

    Dic 2 2006, 19:33
  • Utena

    'Sway' was a bonus track on bic's 2nd album because it's initial release was on her first album 'Drive' :P maybe you'll find more songs similar to it on that album, I'm not sure haha. Although I know two singles from it 'Drive' and 'Suddenly Strange' were atleast written with the same quality as sway, if not as immediately catchy. :o But yeah they threw it on the 2nd album cause it got a bit more exposure a couple years after the album had dropped due to being featured on the american pie soundtrack I suppose. :)

    Dic 7 2006, 17:03
  • jesstherese

    Continuing with Bic.. her third album was released late last year and is different again. Tracks on her myspace if you're curious.

    Dic 14 2006, 10:12
  • holmsgaard

    Possibly one of the most 'well-argumented' journals I've read here on last.fm. Very nice indeed.

    Dic 20 2006, 15:18
  • Gravelyspeaking

    The DCD track you mention was also on a compilation called Music for Vampires, which was a goth compilation (it's one of my favourite) released sometime around the mid ninities. Just to clarify...

    Dic 23 2006, 4:22
  • Phaniebangs

    Sway is originally from the ambum Drive, which is probably better than Beautiful Collisions. Its such a gr8 song. Very old tho, came out like 95' or something.

    Dic 20 2007, 6:36
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