I Have A Weird Hobby

Having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder my whole life has led to some strange interests and fascinations. For one thing, I’m one of the few fantasy role-playing game enthusiasts who actively loves level grinding for hours on end. It’s a great way to relax, let out stress, and concentrate on listening to audiobooks, podcasts or music, while doing the same monotonous task for hours and growing my characters.

Over the years my collection of music has grown from a few CDs to a massive iTunes library of 50+ GB of music. Much of it is legitimately purchased, and much of it has been torrented, although I do make an effort to still support the artists I like, and buy physical copies of albums I love.

Since I have so much music, one of my favorite activities, apart from keeping it all meticulously organized (and it is: my library is organized alphabetically by artist, then chronologically by release date, and I have several B-Sides collections for artists like Tori Amos, organized by era, and I try to always have high quality album artwork, as well as properly formatted song and album titles), is making playlists. My enjoyment of making playlists has led to a strange new hobby: creating fake Greatest Hits albums.

There are some incredible musicians whose catalogue is not exactly newcomer-friendly. Case in point: Tori Amos. When I discovered Tori, she had at the time released 11 studio albums, along with various collections and EPs, and I had no idea where to begin. I started with her own greatest hits collection Tales of a Librarian, but it turned out to be a pretty terrible collection for a newcomer, and then got her box set A Piano: The Collection, but that was 86 tracks long so it wasn’t exactly easy to digest. I ended up just going through albums as I chose, mixing in new Tori with old Tori, but there’s never been a Tori collection that I feel really encapsulates her entire career and gives newcomers a good place to start.

Kate Bush is an even more difficult situation, because she has only one small greatest hits collection, and it’s from halfway through her career, with only a few of her best songs on it, plus the audio quality is pretty bad because it’s never been properly remastered. Her box set This Woman’s Work contains almost all of her albums, plus B-Sides, but that’s not a very place to begin either.

So, I’ve had a lot of fun organizing playlists to create fake Greatest Hits albums for artists I like. Sometimes I keep them in playlists, and sometimes, like recently, I actually create disc-length mixes and give them their own album in my library. I’ve had so much fun creating these that I decided to share them with you, and hey, if you’re a newcomer to these artists, you can feel free to use these as a place to begin!

As it happens, I kept them all within standard CD length, so they should all be mixes you could burn to a physical CD if you like.

The Essential Tori Amos

I based this collection on “the essential” album series. You’ve probably seen them in Wal-Mart or other stores before: they always have a black and white cover, with white and red font, and usually contain two discs, spanning an artists entire career, in chronological order. If you’re unfamiliar, take a look at The Essential Heart, The Essential Sarah McLachlan, the Essential Sade, or something like that, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I actually really love this image of Tori, it’s from The Beekeeper era tour book, and it was used as the album art for A Piano The Collection’s bonus DVD, but I think it works perfectly for something like this. I also looked up the actual font used on the cover of “the essential” series and used it on this photo, so I think it actually came out looking pretty official. The selections span Tori’s entire career, mostly important singles or landmark songs, although there wasn’t room to include any B-Sides because of the limitations on length, but I think that for a 2 disc collection of an artist who’s released 15+ albums, I did a pretty good job. Track listing is below.

Disc 1

1 Precious Things
2 Crucify (Unedited Single Version)
3 Silent All These Years
4 Winter
5 Pretty Good Year
6 God
7 Past The Mission
8 Cornflake Girl
9 Talula (The Tornado Mix)
10 Hey Jupiter (The Dakota Version)
11 Mr. Zebra
12 Caught A Lite Sneeze
13 Spark
14 Raspberry Swirl
15 Jackie’s Strength
16 Playboy Mommy
17 Bliss
18 Concertina
19 1000 Oceans

Disc 2

1 A Sorta Fairytale
2 Taxi Ride
3 Gold Dust
4 Angels
5 Snow Cherries From France
6 Sleeps With Butterflies
7 Sweet The Sting
8 Marys Of The Sea
9 Big Wheel
10 Bouncing Off Clouds
11 Welcome To England
12 Maybe California
13 Star of Wonder
14 Pink and Glitter
15 Carry
16 Flavor
17 Programmable Soda
18 Trouble’s Lament
19 Invisible Boy

 

American Doll Posse EP’s

Tori’s ninth album American Doll Posse is told from the point of view of five personas, representing different elements of the divine feminine, and utilizing goddesses from the Greek pantheon. The album is great but suffers from being a little too long, simply because of the album’s variety. Tori herself commented on it “Either I was making five seperate albums, or I was speaking with different voices.” So these fives voices are all jammed together as tightly as the one hour and twenty minutes a CD will allow, meaning that the album is more than a little cluttered. Although I think it still came out fine, the final album is 23 tracks long, which is pretty staggering. There are also three bonus tracks available on different versions of the album. I thought it might be fun to separate the songs into 5 individual extended plays based on the Posse personas. Even though I like the album the way it is, I can imagine the excitement fans would have felt as she released the five EP’s in sequence, each one about five tracks long, with fans devouring the songs, comparing the EP’s, discussing the themes present in them, and wondering what would come next. I created my five Doll EP’s just as a fun little project, and then actually made some album art for them too. By the way, Tori’s EP begins with an Isabel song, which I chose to do because I think it’s a good opener, and Isabel already has another “interlude song.” Clyde is the only one who didn’t get a brief opening song.

 

Tori (EP)

1 Yo George
2 Big Wheel
3 Digital Ghost
4 Father’s Son
5 Code Red
6 Posse Bonus

Clyde (EP)

1 Bouncing Off Clouds
2 Girl Disappearing
3 Roosterspur Bridge
4 Beauty of Speed
5 Miracle

Pip (EP)

1 Velvet Revolution
2 Body and Soul
3 Fat Slut
4 Teenage Hustling
5 Smokey Joe

Isabel (EP)

1 Devils and Gods
2 Mr. Bad Man
3 Drive All Night
4 Almost Rosey
5 Dark Side of the Sun

Santa (EP)

1 Programmable Soda
2 You Can Bring Your Dog
3 Secret Spell
4 My Posse Can Do
5 Dragon

The Essential Kate Bush

You really can’t be a fan of Tori Amos without hearing Kate Bush’s name bandied about. There is an unfortunate tendency in music reporting to compare EVERY female singer-songwriter (particularly the quirky eccentric ones) to Kate Bush, and to a lesser extent, Tori Amos herself. The way in which I first heard of Tori Amos was through reviews of Evanescence’s albums comparing Amy Lee to Tori Amos (the only real connection between them is that they’re women who play piano and sing, sometimes about dark and gritty subject matter). Then, when I got into Tori, I couldn’t read an interview or review of her music without hearing about Kate Bush. As it happens, despite this weird tendency in music journalism to compare every woman to the same two women who came before them (as though there can be only one weird alternate female singer-songwriter), as opposed to men who do NOT all find themselves being compared to David Bowie or Prince, it is for the best that I learned about these two women, as their music is not something that should be missed.

Kate Bush’s catalogue, like Tori’s, doesn’t offer a lot of easy entry for newcomers. You can ask around and you’ll probably hear that the best place to begin is Hounds of Love, as it’s sort of the midpoint of her career, combining the quirky weirdness of her first three albums with the pop sensibility and melodic hooks of the next three. I decided to try and put together a two-disc Essential Kate Bush, and I’m pretty proud of it. A lot of things had to be left out (I struggled over how and whether to include Un Biser D’enfant, Army Dreamers, and Hounds of Love), and the latter half of her career is difficult to represent because most of her newer work is very lengthy. As a consequence, disc 2 is a lot shorter and spans less material, but overall I’m pretty happy with how it came out, even though I had to leave out a couple of her duets and most of her soundtrack songs (I included Lyra though, because it’s never been included on any of her official collections, due to coming out after the release of her box set.

Disc 1

1 Moving
2 Wuthering Heights
3 Them Heavy People
4 The Man With The Child In His Eyes
5 Hammer Horror
6 Wow
7 Symphony In Blue
8 Breathing
9 Babooshka
10 Army Dreamers
11 December Will Be Magic Again
12 Sat In Your Lap
13 The Dreaming
14 There Goes A Tenner
15 Suspended In Gaffa
16 Ne T’enfuis Pas
17 Night of the Swallow
18 Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)
19 Cloudbusting
20 Hounds Of Love

Disc 2

1 Wuthering Heights (New Vocal)
2 Experiment IV
3 Be Kind To My Mistakes
4 The Sensual World
5 This Woman’s Work
6 Deeper Understanding
7 Love And Anger
8 Rubberband Girl
9 The Red Shoes
10 Eat The Music
11 And So Is Love
12 King of the Mountain
13 Aerial
14 Lyra
15 Flower of the Mountain
16 Wild Man
17 And Dream Of Sheep

That’s all for now! I’ve got a lot of exciting stuff I’m planning to write and post about soon, so I hope to have more to tell you all soon about life, projects, and what I’m up to. Happy listening!

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Why I Love Kesha

My relationship to Kesha is a curious one. She appeared at a weird time in my life.

On the surface, Kesha seems to be everything I hate about pop music: trite unoriginal pop songs with simple melodies and attention-grabbing hooks but otherwise little substance, cliche or vapid childlike lyrics, shallow subject matter that deals only with partying, sex, vague relationship woes, and verse-rap bragging peppered in between overly-synthesized and overproduced electro pop that is substantive enough to be entertaining but not enough to be unique, and lackluster vocals that are autotuned to the point that no one could have seriously thought the artist was ever really a decent vocalist to begin with in the first place.

I get that. I get the problems with Kesha. I get the reasons that people don’t like her. The above paragraph might lead you to believe I can’t stand her, but curiously nothing could be farther from the truth.

I started out hating her for all of the reasons mentioned above. Like everyone else on planet Earth in 2009, I too was subjected to endless repetitions of her breakout single Tik Tok on the radio, and like everyone else I was annoyed by it’s vapidity but secretly just a little bit entertained by it. But really, I genuinely didn’t like her. She sounded plain trashy. She clearly looked like a hot mess. Her aesthetic has always been “rave girl who hasn’t showered in several weeks and rolled around in garbage and glitter.”

But the truth is, Kesha is not what she appears to be. And the weird thing about is, she isn’t the OPPOSITE of what she appears to be either. She makes frivolous pop music, and she MEANS to do it, she means what she’s saying. She WANTS to be a pop star, and she isn’t making pop music ironically to try and expose the flaws in the medium. The pop music she’s making is genuine.

There are a group of listeners who consider Kesha to be another drop in the bucket, overly-autotuned pop singer cranking out tunes mostly made by producers, with little talent for songwriting or for singing. This is not the case. Kesha isn’t vapid or dumb. She’s incredibly intelligent, she has a genius IQ and received nearly perfect SAT scores. She’s driven and passionate and knows what she’s doing. However, don’t let that lead you to believe that Kesha is in fact an architect and student of Victorian literature whose lifelong art project has been to deconstruct the mythos of the pop star by playing one, laughing pretentiously in her study at night over a glass of sherry at plebeian pop fans who’ve bought into her charade.

The thing that makes Kesha unique among a slew of pop stars is the fact that she’s entirely authentic.

She comes from a humble background. In a life story that seems almost too perfectly fitting with her dirty rave girl aesthetic to be true, Kesha’s mother got incredibly drunk at a party and doesn’t remember the hookup that led to her becoming pregnant, and nine months later gave birth to Kesha Rose Sebert without the slightest idea (or worry) about who the father was. Kesha was raised by her single mother, a wonderful hippie songwriter called Pebe, and together with her brothers the family seems to have lived in an open, accepting home environment. Kesha definitely has hippie elements in her personality, and she speaks with a gentle slur that makes it sound like she’s always intoxicated, and a Californian accent that immediately calls to mind the movie Heather. I think. I’ve never seen Heather. Moving on.

Kesha moved to Nashville to become a musician, and spent many years writing her first album Animal. She made a lot of friends in the business, including fellow newcomer Katy Perry, and her first major role in the pop world wasn’t in her own song but as an extra in Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl music video. Go watch the video and near the end there are several sexy blonde girls sitting around a pool with Katy, and there she is, she even has her own close up shot for a moment. Kesha also wrote songs for many other musicians while working on her first album. The first song to put her on the map was Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” a simplistic and artless reworking of the classic song You Spin Me Round by Dead Or Alive into a sugary pop-rap tune with almost no substance whatsoever. When Flo Rida was working on the song, he decided he wanted to try out having a female vocalist on the chorus, and Kesha was working nearby in the same studio, so she was pulled in and recorded some vocals for the chorus. Because of some legalities, or the absence thereof, when Right Round became a worldwide smash hit, Kesha received absolutely no royalties for the song, and continued to live the life of a starving artist scraping to get by, while her voice was playing on every radio in the country and she remained unknown and unpaid.

This is where the infamous dollar sign in her name comes from. Her name is almost always stylized as Ke$ha, leading to some cute jokes in which people pronounce her name Kee Dollar Sign Hah, but it was conceived as a joke about the irony of the circumstance Kesha found herself in: everyone would assume she was rich, being in a worldwide hit single, but she got cheated out of any share of the money. As time would tell, she was cheated out of a lot by the music industry and the shady characters therein, and I’ll come back to that in a bit.

So, enter me. A ninenteen year old gay kid living in the south, struggling desperately to deal with a tumultuous life, and just coming out of a rather powerful bout of Christian zeal. I spent about a year of my life completely devoting my time and energy to being a Christian, and I took it very seriously, and I even achieved some small level of peace, but ultimately I realized it was a coping mechanism, and this time when I came out of Christianity I left it behind for good.

I was fairly aimless at the time. I’d hated school my whole life, and I’d graduated a year earlier. I did not want to go to college because I just hated school and didn’t want to experience any more of it, but I didn’t want to work either, both because I hate the tedium of boring and strenuous minimum wage jobs, and because I’ve been dealing with debilitating anxiety since I was sixteen, complete with rolling panic attacks that for all intents and purposes never really end or begin, but just go on forever. I wasn’t medicated whatsoever at the time, and I was struggling with severe agoraphobia that was developing in my life.

I was in a relationship that was both abusive and incredibly unsatisfying. I was entirely aimless, I was sad, I was lonely, I was horny, and I was frustrated in every possible way. Spiritually, sexually, emotionally, and mentally, I was frustrated to a breaking point. But I’d never had any suicidal tendencies (yet, that would come later) and never self-harmed, so I had no outlet, no real way to truly break down.

My boyfriend and I took a trip to Virginia and spent the night at some friends’ house. These friends happened to be another gay couple, and they threw a party which involved two more gay couples. One of those couples left once the drinks started flowing, leading to there being a grand total of six of us in the house. We got drunk, we got horny, and I, having never actually been drunk before, was eager to use the “oh it’s my first time being intoxicated” excuse to put as many dicks in my mouth as I could before everyone started to say no.

Does that sound a little rapey? It probably does. I can’t say I was in a good state of mind.

At any rate, there was a lot of sexual activity that night between just about everyone, pairing off for a few minutes with one another at different points. The radio was on, and Kesha’s hit single Tik Tok was booming through the house and I put my tongue into several orifices of several guys, and then spent the night in a cuddle sandwich with my boyfriend and one of the others who had broken away from the pack and basically let us fondle him the entire night.

All in all, it was pretty fun.

The next morning I had something of a hangover, which is honestly quite rare for me.

On the way home, Tik Tok was playing on the radio.

I don’t know why, I don’t understand it, but suddenly, I just got it. I enjoyed it. I had fun with that song. It was great. I didn’t want to stop listening to it.

Now, I know it sounds more like a joke than a real story: I never really liked Kesha until I participated in a drunken six-way gay orgy with some delightfully Virginian, slightly trashy gay guys. But it happens to be true.

When I got home the following day I honestly felt like I was still drunk. I sat in my bedroom, my head swimming, and looked up Kesha on iTunes, listened to the samples from Animal and read some of the reviews. I was disheartened. The reviewers were all mostly saying the same thing: the music was samey and average, the lyrics were so juvenile they sounded like they were ripped from the diary of a sixth grader dealing with boyfriend drama for the first time, and her singing voice was terrible and autotuned to the point of ludicrousness. I agreed with all of these assessments and quickly decided that Tik Tok was in fact a guilty pleasure, and that in general I still disliked Kesha.

But I couldn’t quite get that song out of my head.

My dysfunctional relationship progressed, as did my anxiety. I dove headlong into a Tori Amos phase from which I have never resurfaced, and mostly forgot about Kesha. I did torrent Animal at one point and gave it another cursory listen but I wasn’t terribly impressed. I fell in love with Imogen Heap, Florecne and the Machine, and many others, and continued to keep Kesha mostly out of my mind. When I finally broke up with the aforementioned boyfriend it happened to be right at the same time that my agoraphobia and anxiety had gotten so bad that I’d developed the curious symptom of alternating between sharp pains on the entire life side of my body or being completely numb in the same places. I was finally put on medication, and like magic, my panic attacks just disappeared. I was riding the first wave of stimulants I’d ever experienced, since I’d never done any kind of drugs before, and I was riding high on the antidepressants which elevated my mood and let me have gloriously peaceful and undisturbed sleep at regular intervals, and the relief and freedom of being done with an abusive relationship and having the freedom to love and to fuck whoever I wanted, provided I could find someone.

It was then that Kesha returned.

I don’t exactly remember what caused it. I just remember being high on my antidepressants, feeling adventurous and excited about going to gay clubs and finally getting my young adult life started, and I went back to those downloaded audio files from Animal, and turned them on, and I became completely hooked.

I listened to Animal front to back, non-stop, for several weeks. I didn’t listen to almost anything else. I fell absolutely in love with the music and started to learn a little more about Kesha. I still understood a lot of the complaints: some of the lyrics were trite, but there were also a lot of hidden gems that you wouldn’t have guessed existed. Tik Tok and Take It Off were big hits all about partying, but other songs on the album lamented the darker aspects of being a party girl, of trying to find solace in living in the moment and enjoying the night as much as possible because it’s all you truly have. Hungover, Blind, Animal, and Dancing With Tears In My Eyes are all very emotional songs about the loss of love and the difficulty of trying to live day to day in a haze of partying. There’s a longing in these songs for something, an emptiness, and a willingness to be up front about the good and the bad, to be unapologetic about sex and fun and relationships, to call things like the way they are.

My little sister joined me on this adventure and loved listening to Kesha with me, and was actually nice enough to buy me a physical copy of Animal with some money she’d been given, which I still have. Later on, when Kesha started to release singles for Animal’s companion EP Cannibal, I downloaded them all as they were released and ordered a copy of the two combined into one two-disc album (Animal + Cannibal) that came with a cute little “K$” temporary tattoo which I intended to put on my cheek at my first concert, and which I have still never used but remains in the case. When I attended my first real concert last year, the Dresden Dolls at Coney Island, I was sad when I realized I’d forgotten to bring along my Kesha tattoo for my first concert. But at least I still remembered. That’s something.

The companion EP Cannibal was a great nine-track romp that fit the atmosphere of Animal perfectly while managing to expand on it. The songs were still about partying and having fun authentically and unapologetically, but there was a song called The Harold Song which absolutely broke my heart and still continues to be one of my favorite songs. It’s a beautiful and melancholy song about the loss of love that really affected me at the time because I was dealing with a terrible breakup, and this song was a companion in that pain and darkness for me. At first I thought that Cannibal deliberately mirrored the songs on Animal (Grow A Pear has a chorus very similar to Tik Tok, elements of Tik Tok are incorporated into Cannibal, Animal itself is included as the last song in remixed form, and many other songs seem to borrow elements of songs directly from Animal), and I’m still not sure if it was done intentionally or if the song structures were just all very similar and working from the same pop framework.

Kesha is honest and authentic, and I think that that’s what makes her special. I think this is also the reason that people like Kanye West, but I just can’t bring myself to think that guy is anything but a self-absorbed douche. Kesha delivers pop cliches with a slight wink because she knows it’s cliche, but she’s doing it authentically. And she isn’t a bad vocalist either. The thing that confused me the most about Animal was the fact that Kesha’s voice is very unnecessarily autotuned in many of the songs.

Kesha is an incredibly prolific songwriter, and there are literally more than a hundred demos for Animal that never made it onto the album. One song, a completely acoustic breakup song called Goodbye, is a really great glimpse into an unfiltered Kesha with all of the pop trapping stripped away: her voice is soulful and unique, and her intonation is similar to Alanis Morissette. Her vocal ability is surprising, it doesn’t completely blow you away, but it’s not at all what you’d expect after hearing so much autotune and vocal effects on her album. She also released another EP between Cannibal and her second album Warrior called Deconstructed, which contains simplified emotional mixes of several of her songs, including The Harold Song, with her vocal ability really put on full display.

I still don’t really understand why she chose to allow herself to be autotuned so much when she didn’t really need it, although considering the dynamic between herself and her producer Dr. Luke that came to light later, it’s not difficult to imagine that maybe he made the decision for her. I don’t really know.

And with that we come to Dr. Luke. Kesha came forward and filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke for raping her, and for abusing her. I don’t really know if there was physical abuse, and I’m not going to look it up. The thing is, I’ve purposely avoided learning the details of this lawsuit. Kesha’s entire career came to a halt because under her contract she was unable to release any music unless she dropped the lawsuit against Dr. Luke, and he vehemently denied ever having abused her, despite many other women in the music industry coming forward to say they’d suffered abuse at his hands as well. Honestly, my heart was just too broken for Kesha to read the details. I couldn’t handle it. I was having a hard enough time holding my own life together, and to know that someone who I had come to greatly admire and respect had been hurt so badly, and who was being treated unfairly by an unfeeling system, it was too hard. It’s why I still don’t know all the details. I do know that eventually Kesha was forced to drop the lawsuit so she could continue to make music, but I still don’t know many more details. I know that during her absence she appeared at a few live events, and at one of them gave an incredible performance of When It Happens To You by Lady Gaga, a song about surviving rape.

Kesha also briefly had her own reality show which I watched the majority of online and greatly enjoyed. It really showed her beautiful personality, and the general carefree and honest way in which she lives her life. It made me smile to watch it, and it gave me hope.

I used to have this poster on my wall, and alongside the topless poster of Lady Gaga, I imagine that anyone looking at my room was probably really confused about my sexuality

Kesha inspires me. Her strength, her dignity, her willingness to create. There was a moment during Kesha’s reality show where her little brother was attempting to write a song, and she was giving him writing advice. The advice was this: “You have to be willing to let yourself suck.” As a musician and a writer, this has been one of the most important pieces of advice I’ve ever absorbed. What she meant was that when you start out at anything, you’re not going to be incredible. With drawing, composing music, or writing, you start out as a novice, and even your best, most polished efforts, are still going to be less than perfect. You’ll probably experience a few flashes of incredible creativity and accidentally stumble upon expressing yourself honestly and with style, but you have to be willing to let yourself create something that is less than perfect. Kesha’s hundreds of demos are a testament to that. Many of those songs are not that great, but they’re all honest and authentic, and that’s the thing about Kesha that I admire so much.

You have to be willing to let yourself suck. You have to be willing to create whatever is in your heart, and sometimes it’s not going to be great, but you have to be willing to do it. Lady Gaga has said something somewhat similar, which is “You have to respect your vomit.” She was referring to one of her songs, and about how the lyrics come in a rush, and she just word vomits them out, and that she then chooses to respect her vomit, respect those words for being authentic and in the moment. This proverb doesn’t inspire me quite as much but it’s worth mentioning in conjunction with Kesha’s advice from above.

And so, in a surprising twist, I ended up loving an artist who I thought represented everything I hated about manufactured pop music. While, yes, the element of pop manufacturing is there, Kesha’s honesty and brazen authenticity still shines through, and even though some of her songs are a bit cliche, her music is a surprise. Her personality is a surprise. Everything about her is a surprise, if you assume that the dirty glitter party girl you see on the cover is as shallow as her surroundings suggest. I don’t know how much irony she injects into her style, but Kesha is a worthwhile person and a worthwhile musician. She’s an activist for animal rights, she loves the gay community and has immense appreciation for her fans, and she approaches life with the kind and passive attitude of a hippie but the fortitude of a revolutionary. Her voice is real and true, even though there’s sometimes a layer of autotune.

My Top Ten Albums By Play Count

or

You Are Who You Listen To

The following are my top ten most played albums according to their play counts in iTunes. I would preface this by saying that these are not necessarily my top ten favorite albums of all time, and not all of them are, but some of them are in that category. The rule I’ve given myself here is that there can only be one album per artist, otherwise this list would be entirely comprised of Tori Amos and Lady Gaga. I know, what a gay stereotype I am, right? Well shut the hell up, I like what I like.

Who Killed Amanda Palmer

by Amanda Palmer

Total Plays: 137

Most Played Songs: Astronaut, Leeds United, Have to Drive, Guitar Hero

Amanda Palmer is one of the most underappreciated artists in the music industry. Though she has an extremely devoted fan base, she’s never received any radio air time that I’ve ever heard, but she is far and away one of the most incredible feminists, free thinkers, and musicians of the modern era. Her first solo album is a beautiful mixture of genres, from the tragic opening story of an Astronaut whose limbs fall to the beach as his wife watches in horror after his shuttle explodes to the upbeat diddy about rape and abortion, and an incredibly emotional song about finding a dead deer in the road, Amanda touches on a little of everything. My favorite kind of albums are the ones that include multiple kinds of songs from multiple genres with multiple perspectives. This one fits the bill perfectly.

Details

by Frou Frou

Total Plays: 147

Most Played Songs: The Dumbing Down of Love, Shh, Hear Me Out, Let Go

If this were a list of my favorite albums, Details would be much higher up, at least in the top three. If I were stranded on a desert island and had to choose a few albums to take with me this is one that would come along. Details is a mystery. When I first heard it I didn’t get it. The songs all blended together into a sort of weird hodgepodge of sound that wasn’t minor or dark enough for me to be instantly attracted to it. I liked Let It Go from the beginning, but other than that I ignored this album for a long time. Then one day something just clicked and I couldn’t stop listening to it. I’d listen to the entire thing from start to finish and then repeat it over and over again. I felt so creative, so alive, as though I’d tapped in to some joyful and bittersweet energy permeating the universe that I’d never felt before. The Dumbing Down of Love was one of the first songs to ever hit me so hard that it was like some kind of emotional armor surrounding me cracked and shattered to the floor, and then that song reached inside of me where it was warm and touched something. I found myself standing alone in a room mouthing the words as I heard it, and understanding how extremely profound the phrase “lover alone without love” could be, sinking into sadness and yet at the same time finding comfort. One of the most magical albums ever made.

The Dresden Dolls

by The Dresden Dolls

Total Plays: 148

Most Played Songs: Half Jack, Girl Anachronism, Bad Habit, Missed Me

If there’s one thing I love, it’s music that can be described using the key words “brooding,” “dark,” or “piano.” The Dresden Dolls’ self-titled debut is a fantastic work of art from start to finish. I still haven’t even listened extensively to the whole album, I’ve only heard the songs Slide and Truce once or twice, but certain songs like Girl Anachronism, Missed Me, and Coin-Operated Boy just get in your head and don’t leave you alone. If this album were a person it would be a disturbed cabaret mime who makes love on stage and murders people in back alleys at night. And it just doesn’t get better than that.

Ellipse

by Imogen Heap

Total Plays: 164

Most Played Songs: First Train Home, Tidal, Earth, 2-1

This album means so much to me. I discovered Imogen Heap when this album had just been recently released, and while waiting to have the money to buy it, I watched all forty video blogs she created about the making of this album. Those video blogs and Imogen’s music gave me the will to pull myself out of a huge rut that my life was in, and because of that, I had the courage to start creating music again, writing again, and I even got out of an unhealthy relationship. If not for discovering Imogen, I don’t know that that would have happened. Ellipse is like a forest: you wander through and you find so many different things that seem to be dissident, and yet they all live happily together and somehow just work. Earth sounds nothing like Swoon, and Aha! sounds completely different than Wait It Out, yet they all go together, and not one song would sound right without having the others around it. Ellipse is an album that’s genuinely a pure expression of one person’s truth from beginning to end, and carries with it a certain energy that finds it way through the songs that can only be described as “soundscapes.” Normally I hate that word because it’s a nonsense editorial cop-out word to make something sound cool, but this is the exception to the rule, because Ellipse is genuinely crafted. Every moment, every tiny sound, every rustling of sheets, banging of radiators, dripping of faucets, and butt slap was meticulously, carefully, and lovingly placed. This may be Imogen’s masterwork.

Far

by Regina Spektor

Total Plays: 167

Most Played Songs: Eet, The Calculation, Laughing With, Folding Chair

It’s kind of funny to me that this one won out over Regina’s compilation album Mary Ann Meets The Gravediggers and Other Shorts Stories, because I remember listening to that one incessantly for days on end. I have, however, had Far for a much longer time, and it’s song are very easy to return to. Far is more of a pop album than any of Regina’s other work, but somehow it still retains her uniqueness, while drawing inspiration from pop but leaving behind the bad qualities of that genre. There aren’t any repetitive choruses or annoying refrains on this album, just a sense of whimsy that manages to find Regina somehow chirping and lilting about subjects from love and humanity to masturbation, alienation, death, hate crimes, and the mechanization of the world. She just has a gift for throwing everything including the kitchen sink into an album and it still working.

ARTPOP

by Lady Gaga

Total Plays: 224

Most Played Songs: Sexxx Dreams, Venus, Do What U Want, ARTPOP

Lady Gaga rocked the entire world with her debut album The Fame, then rocked it harder with The Fame’s companion album The Fame Monster, and reached kind of a peak with Born This Way. Honestly, the first album was general pop music with a little something special infused, but it was more the attitude that delivered it than anything extremely unique. Gaga really upped her game with The Fame Monster, with songs that were big warehouse thumping dance numbers. Born This Way, however, fell mostly flat for me, with a lot of ballads that I’m sure came from the heart but sounded insincere in the delivery.

I had pretty much assumed Lady Gaga was done, and that her best work was behind her when I heard ARTPOP announced, and even then I rolled my eyes and though it was such a pretentious name that there was no way it would be good. My expectations were thoroughly and unpredictably exceeded with what is one of the best pop albums I’ve ever heard. You can open it up to any random track and find yourself instantly pulled in. Almost every single track on the album is a pop masterpiece, though there are some misses: Jewels N’ Drugs is nigh unlistenable and Fashion! seems a little too inside of Gaga’s comfort zone. However, tracks like Sexx Dreams, Venus, and the steady march of the title track can be listened to infinitely without getting boring. Sometimes I have to listen to songs twice just because the first time wasn’t good enough. With a lot of these other albums, the plays took years to rack up, but all of the plays on ARTPOP are fairly recent, since it’s only been out for a year. I look forward to the ARTPOP Part Two that Gaga keeps promising and hinting at.

Animal + Cannibal

by Ke$ha

Total Plays: 288

Most Played Songs: The Harold Song, Cannibal, Stephen, Take It Off, Tik Tok, Animal

I didn’t like Ke$ha at first. In fact, I found her insufferable. She seemed like a Disney star gone total slut, and her music made my ears bleed. Then, and I kid you not this is entirely true, I had a drunken orgy with five other guys while Tik Tok played on the radio throughout the night, and the following morning when I had a hangover, I suddenly “got” Ke$ha. I don’t mean that I identified with her more because of the experience, but for some reason I liked her from that moment forward. I had hated Tik Tok and it suddenly became a total jam song for me, and a few months later I found myself getting ahold of Animal and listening to it on repeat incessantly for days on end. As with Lady Gaga’s The Fame, Ke$ha released a companion EP entitled Cannibal with even more great songs on it, like the incredibly addictive title track and the now classic club dance song We R Who We R. Not to mention that Cannibal’s “The Harold Song” is one of the most genuinely touching songs I’ve ever heard, and I routinely curled into a ball crying myself to sleep with that song playing in my ears during a huge breakup. Ke$ha’s songs aren’t exactly pure insight into the human spirit or filled with lessons about the world, but there’s something so extremely honest about her music, and it comes from such a place of genuine truth that I cannot help but respect it. I am still surprised that this beautiful, glittery young woman has managed to captivate me, but something about pure honesty just touches me, and even if you’re singing songs about getting drunk from a water bottle filled with Whiskey, if you’re doing it from a place of honesty I’m right there with you, drinking and throwing glitter around an empty pool.

Boys For Pele

by Tori Amos

Total Plays: 280

Most Played Songs: Father Lucifer, Not The Red Baron, Beauty Queen / Horses, Caught A Lite Sneeze, Mr. Zebra, Talula

I’m breaking my own rules here because Ke$ha beat this album by eight plays, however many of these songs were included in their original form in Tori’s box set, and if I were to include all of the Boys For Pele songs that I played from the box set, this album would probably come a lot closer to topping the list. Boys For Pele is far and away one of my favorite albums, and perhaps my MOST favorite album, of all time. I didn’t know how to feel about Tori at first: I’d heard of her, I’d heard her cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit, but it was when I saw an unbelievably gripping live performance of Precious Things that I fell for her. Still, I started out on her retrospective collection Tales of a Librarian, which, though a treat for a Tori fan who knows the original songs, butchers the original mixes of every song on the album and nearly unlistenable to anyone who isn’t already a fan. I still wanted to give her a chance though, so when I read that Boys For Pele was the most outlandish of her albums I got it right away. It did not disappoint.

The album opens perfectly. Beauty Queen is slow, like the footsteps of someone in dirty rags, wandering through a field, and then when Horses begins, I’m instantly pulled in, I’m riding with those horses, and it’s cold and wet in the fields of Ireland, and we’re descending into the depths, into hell, into the underworld, into the deepest part of ourselves. Boys For Pele is more than just an album, it’s a journey into the darkest and most secret places that live inside of all of us. Tori speaks to her dark prince in Father Lucifer, she approaches the dark energy with respect and love, she seethes anger into Professional Widow and Mr. Zebra, she delivers heartbreaking and breathless words of sorrow and loss in Caught a Lite Sneeze and Not the Red Baron. She plays the piano as well as the harpsichord, and anything could happen, from a brass band to a gospel choir, taking us deeper into the darkness. In the end we emerge into the starlight of the night with Twinkle, and become lost in reflection. This album is so intense that it is almost draining to listen to, and is very difficult to hear in it’s entirety because there are no, forgive the wordplay, “light breezes” to be found here. Even quick songs like Agent Orange have deep meaning, and there’s not a shallow song in the bunch. Blood is splattered across every song, the pain of a broken heart radiates through each word, and the feeling of being lost in the world, of being the thoughtless and senseless monster that is a living being, is captured here forever.

Into The Woods: Original Cast Recording

by Stephen Sondheim

Total Plays: 352

Most Played Songs: Ever After, No One Is Alone, Finale: Children Will Listen, Lament, Giants In The Sky, Prologue: Into the Woods, Your Fault / Last Midnight

Into the Woods arrived in my life only a few months ago. My boyfriend found it on Netflix and made me watch it. I wasn’t very interested at first, though I enjoyed the humor. In one night we watched the first act, and the following day I watched the second act on my own. I was blown away. I had to watch the whole show again. And then again, and again. I got hold of the music and started listening to it on repeat. Into the Woods is the story of the journey through life. Everything here is a metaphor, and yet the characters are so real. The Witch is in all of us, Rapunzel is in all of us, and The Baker’s Wife are in all of us. Into the Woods is a story of survival against great odds, of moving forward in the midst of deep grief and suffering, and a story that is a rich wellspring of meaning with each listen. I’m really excited to see the movie this Christmas, it just so happened that I discovered there was an upcoming movie adaptation soon after discovering the musical itself. My boyfriend has gotten so tired of hearing music from Into the Woods that he laments ever having shown it to me, but I think it’s one of the greatest gifts he could have given me. Into the Woods resonates with me very deeply.

Lungs

by Florence + the Machine

Total Plays: 1,353

Most Played Songs: Swimming, Howl, Dog Days Are Over, Drumming Song, Cosmic Love, My Boy Builds Coffins, Heavy In Your Arms

The jump from the last album is a staggering one thousand plays, and believe it or not, I haven’t fudged those numbers whatsoever. Between the five different editions of Lungs, I’ve racked up a lot of plays,but even if I were going with the standard edition it would still be far ahead of any other album in this list. I discovered this album in 2010 and have only just now four years later reached a point where I don’t feel the need to listen to it incessantly day after day. Swimming is perhaps one of my favorite songs in the world, among others here, and Lungs is one of the most unique and special albums because it blends many diverse sounds that are all uniquely Florence’s into one album. No two songs are exactly alike, and the lyrics to these songs are pure poetry that would hold up anywhere. Florence manages to have a talent for metaphor that she can still tell in perfect rhythm and rhyme, and she crafts unbelievable songs to fit them. Dog Days Are Over is the most pure expression of joy that I’ve ever heard in a song, Swimming is so inspirational that it seems to have the quality of someone singing to you from beyond Heaven, and Drumming Song is such a pounding and pure expression of desire and longing that it’s like drowning to hear it. Howl is the most lustful song I’ve ever heard, in which Florence becomes a night creature ripping through skin and sinew to reach the heart of a lover, to reach the core of them, to take pleasure and bask in the radiance of pure, warm lust.

This album, along with Boys For Pele and Details are contenders for “greatest album of all time” in my opinion. I doubt I’ll ever play enough songs to match the ferocity with which I listened to this wellspring of music for the first few years. Florence also has the distinction, in this era of her career that I refer to as “the Lungs era,” in which there is literally no song that I don’t like. Not one. I love all of them. There are some I like less, but even the live tracks, the demos, the live performances, they’re all completely perfect, and I wouldn’t change one. Her energy here is one that embraces darkness and light, and they burst forth in a joyful, mournful, sexual, and longing musical embrace that can never be ignored or forgotten.

#13: Never Was A Cornflake Girl

My copy of Tales of a Librarian came in! I ordered the two disc edition of Tori Amos’s Tales of a Librarian, which if you remember is a collection of her work up to 2003, including songs from every album up to that point except for Strange Little Girls, and it also has 4 new previously unreleased tracks as well. The first thing that struck me when I opened up the packaging is that it’s a beautiful album. You know I’m a sucker for a well-formatted CD, and this was by far one of the best formatted CDs I own. I actually thought this was going to be in regular two-disc jewel case, but it’s actually paperback! It’s a digipack, which is my favorite, and it opens up, and then opens up again. So, when you first open it, you have the two folds facing down over the CD and DVD, and on these are some pictures of Tori on a beautiful pink and white background with the songs on the CD and DVD listed in order of the Dewey Decimal system (since the theme is librarian). Then you open it up, the CD is brown and the DVD is pink, and on the left side opening fold is a picture of Tori and a basic outline of the Dewey Decimal system. On the right fold is the CD booklet, and all of this is formatted on this beautiful pink and white case, the CD booklet is wonderfully formatted, it’s filled with all the lyrics of the songs and a ton of pictures of Tori Amos as a librarian in all stages: nice librarian, innoent librarian, sexy naughty librarian showing off her legs in heels, etc. It also has the Dewey Decimal classification for each song on a list falling from the left side (which is also shown on the front cover).

So far, I like every song I’ve heard, and it was nice to hear the original version of Precious Things, which I was afraid would be really 90’s and boring, but it wasn’t, and it’s surprising that her music sounds so current when a lot of it is from the early 90’s. I think she’s an artist who’s always way ahead of her time, and I’m really surprised that back in 1994, someone was making music that would sound like a lot of music does today, and she’s probably responsible for some of the music today, I know Amy Lee has been compared to her numerous times, and I’m sure she’s inspired plenty of musicians, including myself. Also, she has songbooks for all of her albums, including this one, and they’re not Hal-Leonard!

Quick explanation on that: the first songbook I ever got was Evanescence’s Anywhere But Home. If you’re a fan of Evanescence and particularly their first album Fallen, and want to learn to play their music, this is the book to get because it contains all the songs on Fallen except one (Hello, which is actually the one song on Fallen I would be interested in playing above all else if I were buying an Evanescence songbook, but I’d already learned how to play Hello from sheets I got on the internet, and a little piece of Jesse trivia: Hello is the first song I ever learned to play via sheet music, with no help from anyone), and it also has a Korn cover, two songs that were cut from Fallen, and Anywhere But Home’s previously unreleased studio track: Missing. I’d also suggest getting the album if you’re an Evanescence fan; Amy’s voice is a little unruly at times, but the new material and the live versions of some of the songs (Bring Me To Life has a pretty intro, Farther Away is like two minutes longer than usual) are worth getting if you’re a fan.

So, as I was saying, Tori Amos has songbooks for all of her albums, and none of them are done by Hal-Leonard! What do I have against Hal-Leonard, you ask? Good question. I currently own two songbooks, the first was Anywhere But Home, and the second I got was the Hal-Leonard songbook for Lady Gaga’s The Fame. It’s awful. First of all, I realize that it’s pop music and it doesn’t really include a lot of piano, but the songs are just watered down versions of the originals, with the right hand doubling the vocals of the singer have the time and the left hand playing some simple arpeggio that has nothing to do with the way the song sounds. On top of that, oftentimes in Hal-Leonard books, the songs are written in the wrong key! And they even admit to it, it says at the bottom that it’s recorded a half-step higher or a half-step lower. Why would we want sheet music that’s a half-step in the wrong direction? What purpose does it serve? Why couldn’t they just print the sheet music in the correct key? It doesn’t make any sense to me, and even in the sections of The Fame where piano is actually included (like Beautiful, Dirty, Rich), the piano part from the song is completely left out in the sheet music! It doesn’t make any sense.

So, that means that Amos’ songbooks are either done by she herself, or at least another company that knows what they’re doing. My Anywhere But Home songbook was not Hal-Leonard, and all the songs were in the correct key, and was essentially spot on. So basically, my view on songbooks now is that if it’s not Hal-Leonard, it’s probably a good songbook. Since Tori is a pianist, I assume she would want her fans to have the actual material and not a watered down version of it to play for no real reason other than to use as a guideline for your own version. The only reason I could think that she wouldn’t be directly involved in it is that she’s known for playing things by ear, before she was a solo artist she had a short-lived stint as lead singer and pianist of a band called Y Kan’t Tori Read, which I gather is not very impressive, and Tori’s said she has no interest in re-releasing the album. That makes sense, since most of the band members were studio players, the record company gave up on promoting the album after two months, and in the band’s only music video, Tori is the only member present. So, I think that the Tales of a Librarian songbook would probably be a very good investment.

A few weeks ago I found an old copy of Pink Floyd’s famous movie The Wall at the flea market, and we finally sat down and watched it. This movie gets a lot of criticism for being way too trippy and people often say that you have to be on drugs to understand it. While the movie was really spacey, confusing, and jumped around from timeline to timeline quite a bit, it still altogether made a little bit of sense, and wasn’t so unwatchable that you had to be on drugs to watch it. The movie was a combination of real-time acting and animation, usually switching back and forth between a real-time scene and an animated sequence. Only once during the movie two the two worlds mingle. Also, the main character, Pink, breaks a LOT of TV’s. Seriously, he must have 5 or 6 televisions in his house, because he breaks a new one every five minutes. Of course, the most fun part was when Happiest Days of Our Lives started, who wouldn’t be excited?

The most interesting parts of the film were the animated sequences, in every one of them there were things that morphed over and over, constantly changing into other things, and honestly I don’t remember many specific examples, but I know during the climax of the film, The Trial (a song which I used to listen to on my iPod, riding around town on my bike), some of the characters morph into one another when they speak. One animated sequence early on features two flowers engaging what is obviously a visual representation of intercourse, in which the “female” flower devours the male, a theme present in Pink’s life.

I was surprised to find out, though, that the film doesn’t feature all of the music from the album! That’s probably a good thing, because the movie would be about twice as long if that were so, but I was surprised that Hey You wasn’t included in the movie. That’s one of The Wall biggest singles!

I’ve also been listening to another famous concept album, Queen’s A Night at the Opera. I really like what I’m hearing so far, and until now, the only Queen songs I’ve really been familiar with are the ones featured on an the Queen Greatest Hits: We Will Rock You Edition I bought back in 2006. , which I until this point, I’ve pretty much only heard the Queen songs featured on a Greatest Hits album I bought around 2006. This was one of the first albums to really start inspiring a story from me, I was smack in the middle of my classic rock phase, and Queen was just right for me. I’d never really heard Another One Bites the Dust or We Are the Champions in their entirety, and I’d never even heard of Killer Queen before, but all of these songs inspired me and began to form a story in my head. Most of it was never written, but the characters it inspired are still there.

Speaking of Queen, I learned via the Biography channel’s special on Queen quite a while ago that Freddie Mercury made and album with Spanish opera singer Montserrat Caballe, who we really admired. It’s called Barcelona, and how could a collaboration between Freddie Mercury and an opera singer not be good?

Incidentally, The Wall and A Night at the Opera were said to be My Chemical Romance’s two biggest inspiration for their concept album The Black Parade.

Well, I have the new Rocket Summer album, but I haven’t listened to it yet. If you’re not familiar with this artist, The Rocket Summer is a musical project by musician Bryce Avery. He writes all the music, sings all the songs, and plays all of the instruments. I think that’s cool and I respect that. I’ve really only heard one of his albums, Do You Feel, and I like it. His song So Much Love was one of my favorite songs when I was 18. My only real problem with The Rocket Summer is that the music is sometimes unbelievably corny, and there are lots “Yeah”s and “Oh!”s and “Come on!”s thrown into every sentence. A lot of the lyrics are still really meaningful, but at other times it feels like he just couldn’t think of anything to include in the middle of a sentence so he stretched out the word “Oh” to be four syllables, or threw a few “Yeah yeah!”s to fill in space. While the songs can come off as being way too over the top and deliriously joyful, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and a lot of the music is really uplifting, which the world needs more of.

I’m really a big fan of Italian dance/electronica group Flanders. The only problem is that they rarely ever release anything new! In the past 4 years, they’ve released three songs. But they’re good songs. They actually have a new single out called Time, and I can’t explain it, but their music just really hits me, I really like it. Their song Behind is a very special song for me, it always takes me back to when my boyfriend and I first met, and it just makes me fall in love with him over and over again.

I’ve been listening to musicals lately, not the least of which is Stephen Schwartz’ Wicked, a musical based on the novel by Gregory Maguire. Both the novel and the musical chronicle the life of Elphaba, a child born with completely green skin and a talent for sorcery, who aspires to become the Wizard of Oz’s grand visier, but faces opposition from a cruel world intolerant of those who are different, namely Oz’s Animals: animals in Oz who have the same level of consciousness and intelligence as humans. Elphaba works toward equal rights for Ozzians and Animals, but faces a lot of opposition, and faces the challenges that will lead to her being known as the Wicked Witch of the West. The story does manage to distance itself from The Wizard of Oz significantly; it chronicles the event leading up to the moment Dorothy arrives in Oz, during, and after, without ever showing Dorothy, an aspect which I think both preserves the integrity of the original and adds greatly to Shwartz’ musical.

Another of my favorite musicals is Repo! the Genetic Opera. Though the film was released in early 2009, Repo! was a stage show long before then, in production since 2002.  The movie quickly became a cult classic upon the release of the film soundtrack months before the movie ever went to theaters, but Repo! never gained any widespread commercial success. The film starred an unlikely cast: Spy Kids’ Alexa Vega, hotel heiress Paris Hilton, and even Phantom of the Opera heroine and pop recording artist Sarah Brightman. Repo, like most other musicals, has a lot of positive messages: there are heavy undertones both of self-acceptance and society’s reliance on industrialism and the desire to be perfect.

The basic plotline is that in the “not too distant future,” organ failure becomes a wordwide epedimic, killing off a large part of the worlds population, and scientist Rotti Largo discovers zydrate, a substance that comes from human organs that somehow or another is involved in surgery so that people can have their failing organs replaced with new ones. Organs are sold by Largo’s company, GeneCo, at a high price, and if buyers don’t make good on their payments, a “Repo man” is sent after them to collect the organs, in other words, assassinating the individual and taking the organs by force while they’re alive. The story chronicles Repo man Nathan Wallace and his daughter Shiloh, who is unable to live in the outside world due to a blood condition. Nathan’s deceased wife Marni is the central tie that binds all of the stories main characters together: former lover Rotti Largo, husband Nathan, daughter Shiloh, and close friend Bling Mag, who becomes the face of GeneCo and stars in their Genetic Opera. Repo probably deserved a lot more attention than it received, it was only shown in a few theaters throughout the country.

Here’s an interesting coincidence: there’s a movie being developed called Repo Men, that, you guessed it, has almost the exact same plot. But from what I can tell, it’s not produced by any of Repo!’s producers, it just completely steals the plot from the musical. That’s pretty pathetic, and it really sucks that the producers of Repo! worked for years to create a stage musiacl and film that’s really and truly about something, just to have the plotline stolen by a big company to make another action film that will garner millions of dollars. It’s kind of sick.

On another subject, I’ve also been giving thought to my future album, whenever I finally begin really seriously writing it. I really only have 2 or 3 songs I think will make it, and a few others that were kind of thrown together or I just don’t like as much. But what I’ve been thinking about today is the subject matter, I’m thinking it would be cool for the album to be called Male, and this is an idea I’ve had for a while now. I’d like to make an album that showcases what it is to be male, what is to be a man, but on the other hand, is really about being human.

The women’s rights movement is an important thing, and I wouldn’t want this album to seem cheuvanistic at all, in fact, it’s meant to be the opposite. I feel like sometimes men get a bad rep, both because throughout history women have been opressed and men have been exalted, and because men for some reason are always talked about in brute terms. When one in modern society thinks of men, there’s a connotation of being warlike and animalistic, and it’s just not true. Men are always considered to be the warriors, and with the modern women’s rights movement, men are often talked about in a non-flattering way, women like to make joke’s at men’s expense that we’re all devoid of the same intelligence they are, that we’re childish and rude, and that we only understand basic human needs like food and sex. I do not appreciate that at all, being male, and I think that society really has a warped view of what is to be male.

There are so many double standards when it comes to male and female, on both sides. Women have plenty of reason to accuse men of having a double standard when it comes to them, it’s been true for ages, but socially, there are a lot of double standards about men. I’m sure you’ve probably thought at some point that there are certain things girls do together than if guys were to do, they would automatically be considered gay or just socially unnaceptable. One time in school I remember having a discussion with a group of people who were telling me that there was an age at which it was no longer appropriate for guys to spend the night at each other’s houses. Female friends sleep in the same bed together, in their underwear, they paint each other’s nails and are very physical with one another, they model clothes for one another and change in front of one another, there are some situations in which women bathe together, but men could not do any of these with a friend without being shunned or assumed to be gay.

This also leads me to another point I’d like to make: the infamous “feminine side.” Men who, say, did any of the activities above, slept with one another in the same house, room, or bed, on a friendly basis, or cried in front of their friends, or changed in front of another man when it was entirely possible for him not to, would be considered to be doing things that were “feminine.” When men show emotion, it’s often said they’re “embracing their feminine side,” but perhaps there’s not really a “feminine side,” but just a human side. Human beings all feel the same emotions, be they male or female, but because women are known to oft express theirs more than men, men who do the same are said to be “feminine.”

Perhaps even men who are overtly flamboyant are not feminine either, but merely human. Flamboyance is a human trait, present in both men and women, but with women it’s considered acceptable, where with men it’s considered to be an indication that someone is feminine or homosexual. If a man does something that a woman does, it’s understandable to say that it’s a feminine behavior, but one cannot just attribute that activity solely to women.

There is of course a good counter argument against one of these observations, because the majority of men who are overtly flamboyant are homosexual, and therefore societies observations on this are correct. But being a homosexual does not make you a woman. Just because a man is gay doesn’t mean he’s female on the inside, it in fact means that he’s more male than any other men. Being gay is perhaps in some ways the purest form of being male.

A lot of this is very abstract, and I’m not specifically trying to push any one idea, but I think that people should still think, think about everything, and that there is no reason why society should shun people or put anyone down, be they man or woman.

The album would be a celebration of being male, and people would probably be surprised and hear a lot of things that they considered to be female. But I think that’s the point, men are so used to only showing one side in society, it’s not considered manly to be involved in the arts or to dance, or to sing soprano. But it is. It’s all part of being male. It’s not shameful, it’s beautiful, and it’s a part of being male that men and women should all embrace rather than reject.

If men are oppresive to women, and women are understandably bitter and become oppresive to men, then in another thousand years women will rule society and men will begin to become oppresive to women again, and it will continue forever. The opposite of masculism and feminism are not one another, but acceptance. Human should be happy to be human, and not have the walls of male and female dividing, because really, what behavior or emotion is not common to both genders? I think that’s why so many musicians try and express androgyny: Lady Gaga, Marilyn Manson, LaRoux, because it represents being human, rather than being one type of human or another.

The good thing is, we live in a time where people are all learning to accept one another as human beings. Not male or female human beings, not black or white human beings, not French human beings or Asian human beings, but humans, people. People are learning not to practice tolerance, but love and acceptance. Tolerance is it’s own form of discrimination: if you tolerate something, the connotation is that it’s negative and must be tolerated. But being a human being is not a negative thing, it’s a beautiful thing, and we should all forget about tolerance and learn acceptance and love. People have all sides, good and bad, but those sides and those feelings are common to all human beings, not just one group or another.

So, maybe it wouldn’t be a good idea for the album to be called Male, because then it would be focusing on the secondary message of defending males, rather than the central message of acceptance and love.

So, remember to love one another. Have a great day everyone. 🙂