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List #13: Songs Made Awesome by Female Guest Artists

24 January, 2012

Hey, blog! What’s up? How are you doing these days? What? I never write? But I call and… No? It has to be writing? People don’t really do that in this day and age, but okay, I guess I can mail off a letter or two and… OHHHHHH that’s what you mean. Now I get it.

Now that that’s out of the way, to the list! Some of these songs I’ve written about before, because, well, let’s face it — even after three years of no writing I really still listen to all of the same music. Nevertheless, this is a list of songs (some good, some better, some awesome) that are made even better by a female voice added to the main singer. I find it interesting that, while coming up with these, I only discovered a very few that were the other way around — female singers joined by male guests. But perhaps that has something to do with what kind of music I listen to. I’m not sure. I could have sworn I had more of these, when I noticed them playing on my iPod, or when they popped into my head at work (oh right, I have a job now, and an apartment, and such), but this is all that remains at press time. I might add more. Might.

For the record, most of these youtube videos are just the first ones that popped up when I searched for the songs. I make no promises about the quality of the audio, or the content of the video.

  • Gotye – Somebody That I Used to Know (with Kimbra)

I contemplated starting all these videos at the point at which the woman came in, but I decided it was better to start at the beginning to get the full effect. This song I only heard about relatively recently, when a friend posted the video on Facebook, but given the 46 million views it has, I think I’m coming in a little late in the game. Nevertheless, I do like this song a whole lot, but what really makes it is around 2:30 when the guest, Kimbra, starts her little bit. It’s just another verse in the song, but the tune is changed enough to make it counter the normal one perfectly, and, in my opinion, she just has a little more edge and feeling in her voice than he does. I love the end bit when she gets louder and more passionate, and then keeps singing on the descending scale when he comes back in.

  • The Postal Service – Nothing Better (with Jen Wood)

Now I like “Such Great Heights” as much as the next ex-angsty teen who watched Garden State as soon as it came out, but I think the real gem on that album is this song. I do state that I don’t listen to lyrics, so this song could very well be horrible (I think it’s about breaking up? Just like the last one…), but I like the tune. And, the moment where Jen Wood comes in with “I feel I must interject here” (about 1:30), into a song you assume is directed to the generic “you” but it turns out that she’s RIGHT THERE, is perfect. The song realizes its one-sided nature, and someone has to be there to tell the other side of the story. And it’s a duet from then on! Nice.

  • Eminem – Love the Way You Lie (with Rihanna)

Not sure how much I need to say about this one. Rihanna starts it off with her great little riff, and, really, that makes me like the song. Out of this album, I heard this song first, and my first thought was: “Oh, maybe I actually like Eminem now!” (Because I didn’t before, really.) But no, I listened to the rest of it and was unenthused. But this song… I don’t know. I hate using the word “beautiful” because I feel like it tends to be cheesy, and it seems odd to use it (hipster mindset) for a song with 425 million views and something so mainstream and overplayed (and not to mention a song about abusive relationships…), but that’s the first thought that comes to my mind about Rihanna’s section of this song. Eminem’s rap just sort of floats by me, in a not unpleasant way, but I just wait for the next chorus. I feel that it’s a given that people know/like this song, but I just want to put my opinion out there, and the fact that I think it’s Rihanna that makes it work. (Though Megan Fox playing with fire doesn’t hurt, either.)

  • Thom Yorke – This Mess We’re In (with PJ Harvey)

This doesn’t quite have a guest singer. It’s more of a duet, but I think it still fits in with the rest of these songs. I don’t know where I got it, I just noticed it at one point on my iPod, and loved it. There’s not too much I really have to say about this, just that it’s a great song, and it’s no small thanks to PJ Harvey’s voice. Check out 2:45 when she just speaks the words he’s singing. It’s awesome.

  • Meatloaf – Paradise By the Dashboard Light (with Ellen Foley)

This (along with the previous song) is something I’m sure I’ve written about before, because I love them and they are some of my most-played songs. It’s probably Meatloaf’s most epic song (which is saying a lot), a 9-minute extravanganza including an extended play-by-play baseball sex metaphor, wishes for armageddon, and a great addition by a female guest singer. Now, she jumps in a little earlier for the choruses, but her vital contribution starts at 4:30. Just like in Nothing Better above, she kind of pops in out of nowhere, rebutting what was just happening in the song (the baseball player was just about to slide home. Heh.) And then of course her part syncs up with what Meatloaf sings afterwards and it’s all counterpoint and awesomeness. As a final note, although this has little to do with her, the conceit of this song is hilarious to me, that he says he’ll love her until the end of time, but as soon as he does, he regrets it. However, instead of going back on his word, “[he’ll] never break [his] promise, or forget [his] vow, but… [he’s] praying for the end of time, so [he] can end his time with [her].” Man, brackets suck.

  • The Prince of Egypt – Deliver Us (with Ofra Haza)

This doesn’t quite fit in either, since she’s not exactly a guest, but again, I think the idea behind it is sound. This is the opening number to the Dreamworks (NOT Disney) picture The Prince of Egypt, a big choral piece which is awesome on its own, but the best part comes at around 2:10, when Ofra Haza comes in and, after a brief verse, does a descant over the main melody, and it’s, well, awesome. I’ve always wanted it to continue past that one time, but it doesn’t. Alas. Then she continues on to the rest of the song, in the slower bit, which is fine, I guess. But that moment is great.

Now, I had a few more I was going to add on here, but this list is getting a little long. So, I hope you enjoyed, and I’ll try to write more in the future, at least once a month if not every week! We’ll see how that goes. Welcome back to reading, everyone!

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List #12: A New Set of Awesome Albums

8 November, 2009

Hey there, long time no write! Most of these have been around for a while (if not all of them, the list isn’t quite set in stone right now) but I just discovered them, and so, yeah.

Dark at the End of the Tunnel — Oingo Boingo

[This album is just super classic eighties. And also Danny Elfman, so how can you go wrong. Oingo Boingo came up recently when Danny Elfman was being discussed, and I listened to the one album I had and loved it, so acquired the rest of their stuff. It’s really good! Except for their live album, which has too much guitar.]

Tapestry — Carole King

[Well, I knew I was bound to love this when I heard it, given that it’s one of the top-selling albums ever, and everyone else loves it. Now I know why. I actually just randomly came across this when someone returned it at the library where I work.]

More Adventurous — Rilo Kiley

[I have had Under the Blacklight for a while, and liked a few songs on it (especially “15” and “Breaking Up”) so I figured I should check out the rest of the band’s stuff. More Adventurous does not have a bad track, in my opinion. In researching what album to check out, I discovered that Rilo Kiley is the band, not a person. Who knew? Not me.]

Who Do You Think You Are — Dala

[I discovered Dala at the Newport Folk Festival, as I am sure I have written about. Oddly, I realized that, though their most recent album (Everyone is Someone) has some better songs, the better album is their earlier one. Weird.]

And, last but not least, but it doesn’t quite count as an album:

Live in London — Leonard Cohen

[This shouldn’t count because it’s live, but it’s still really good. Great back-up people really make it work.]

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List #11: Bands I Discovered Through NPR

19 August, 2009

I recently wrote an article about the Newport Folk Festival on my other blog, and it got me to realizing how wonderful NPR has been in introducing me to bands that I wouldn’t have otherwise heard of. Here are some:

  • Andrew Bird. Okay, so I had heard of him before, but only a few songs. A live concert or two got me hooked.
  • Neko Case. I apparently had a full album before I heard her on NPR, but never knew it. She’s awesome.
  • The Weepies. This isn’t strictly true. I still think I once heard an interview with them, but I can’t find any record of it.
  • She & Him. A group consisting of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. I like them together, but not Ward by himself. This individual concert also turned me on to the Newport Folk Festival.
  • St. Vincent. I’m still figuring out what I think about them. I love them/her (it’s mainly one singer) live, but the albums that I’ve listened to leave something to be desired.
  • The Avett Brothers. Sometimes they’re too loud, but their folky stuff is great. (They were also at Newport.)

There are also a bunch of artists, like the Decemberists, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and so on, that have concerts archived through NPR. Also many world music groups. It’s an amazing resource and I’d encourage you all to check it out. Especially listen to these few ones I picked out, but there are so many more, too.

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The Sabbath and the Sunday

11 August, 2009

This isn’t going to be a list, just some thoughts that I’ve had recently. As some of you may know, for the past month (maybe five weeks?) I haven’t been using my computer on Sundays. This isn’t a religious thing or anything, I just wanted one day a week that I would be internet/technology free, and Sunday seemed easiest. But a week ago I realised that the better day would be Saturday. That way, if anyone had something that needed my urgent attention before work/school on Monday, I could still deal with it in advance, since anything that happened on Saturday would most likely be about Monday.

And this got me to thinking. The Jewish day of rest is in a much better position than the Christian one. But, not originally. When it was only Saturday, that would have no advantages or disadvantages. But as soon as Sunday popped up too and became the mainstream, that meant that the Jews were one day back, and so could catch up when Christians couldn’t (on Sunday). This wouldn’t be as much of a big deal before computers and other instantaneous communication, but it must have made some kind of effect.

The Jews also have the sundown to sundown deal going, which also seems like a good idea, because no one day is completely taken up by religion, but parts of two.

So yeah, Jews=awesome. Also, sabbath sounds so cool, compared to Sunday, at least.

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List #10: Adjectives I Enjoy

14 July, 2009

Not that I use these very often, but I just like saying them. I put definitions in, just in case.

  • igniparous – producing fire [found this at Save The Words]
  • incongruent – [the official definition is apparently “not congruent.” Lame.]
  • palpable – capable of being perceived
  • interminable – endless
  • onomatopoeic – [stupid one again. “Of or related to onomatopoeia.”]
  • caustic – harsh or corrosive
  • salvageable – capable of being saved from ruin [Why isn’t this officially “able to be salvaged?”]
  • peripatetic – walking about
  • mingent – discharging urine [also Save The Words. Does this mean “to minge” is a verb?]
  • eschatological – relating to the ultimate destiny of the world

That is all.

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A Plug for My Other Blog

9 July, 2009

A review of the new(ish) NBC show “Kings.” Check it out!

Here!

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Lists #7, #8, and #9: Size Doesn’t Matter

7 July, 2009

These are a few things that have been on my mind recently, yet didn’t have enough entries to really be lists on their own. So, without further ado, three short but interesting lists:

Things That Remind Me of Summer (and make me wish for it at any time of year, even though winter is my favorite season)

  • Ray Bradbury (particularly Dandelion Wine, although a lot of his other stuff too)
  • Bob Seger (not sure why this one, but it’s always been true)
  • The Midwest (whenever I picture an ideal summer, it’s always in the Midwest. Which may have something to do with the other two entries. It’s also odd, because I’ve been in the Midwest in summer. Way too hot for me. But not in my mind…)

Movies That I Hate That Everyone Else Likes (and thinks I should like)

  • Fight Club (it’s fine, but not the best thing ever)
  • The Usual Suspects (it cheats. I won’t explain, in case you haven’t seen it, but if you have you probably know what I mean.)
  • Harold and Maude (HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE)
  • Donnie Darko (ditto)

Pulp Fiction, however, which I feel belongs in the same grouping as most of those, I really enjoyed.

Finally,

Things I Don’t Understand (however hard I try)

  • How cranes are put up. (think about it)
  • Why cigarettes aren’t prohibitively expensive.
  • Computers.

That’s all folks!