Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Top 10 Christmas Songs #2 of 2014

Merry Christmas Eve day to you all of my fellow music lovers and blog followers! Since I have some plans tonight and yes *sigh* have to work Christmas Day tomorrow for 8 hours and then go to another Christmas and hit the hay early because of work the following day this list is being delivered to you very early as well as my Christmas greetings. So let's just get right into as I present another 10 of my favorite Christmas songs for this 2014 season until next year.
#10. O Holy Night by Wynonna Judd
Now you were probably beginning to think I didn't like any country artists until I started discussing Christmas music. I don't know what it is but I guess being a Kentucky born girl it makes me miss home and being around my family. When it comes to classic Christmas music more of the secular or Christmas Mass choir variety, O Holy Night is my most favorite because the harmonies of members blend so beautifully and when a solo artist sings this song they truly get to shine. Now Wynonna Judd and her mother Naomi as The Judds were enjoyable being Kentucky natives and since Wynonna went solo, she's had some hits just as big on her own. Her version of this song is just one of many that takes my breath away...
#9.  Last Christmas by Ashley Tisdale from A Very Special Christmas 7 (2009)
Ashley Tisdale is one of my newer favorite artists that even though younger than myself she is very talented and goes to prove that being a Disney Channel child star is still a very lucrative way to selling albums. You could make this a very depressed and slow kind of song but most versions I have heard are very upbeat and full of cheer which is how I wish everyone could feel at Christmas time but I know is impossible with the way life can throw curves at you. Maudlin feelings aside, this is another Christmas song that is one of my favorites no matter which genre or artist decides to get their hands on it.
#8. Sleigh Ride by Ella Fitzgerald
I am first to admit that jazz is not a genre I listen to a lot except at Christmas time because jazz versions of Christmas songs are so lively and spirited to really keep you energized and bring that retro feel to any Christmas party. Ella Fitzgerald was one of the best and her swinging 1960 version of another favorite Christmas classic of mine is no exception.
#7. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer by Elmo & Patsy
Now I have seen this on a lot of list for most hated or most annoying Christmas songs and I guess on a certain level I can see it but I have been hearing this song since I was really little and when it comes on the radio I can't help but smile and sing along but yes in real life your grandmother being hit by a reindeer would not be the joyful and jolly subject for a Christmas song. You know I kind of hate when people take songs too seriously when they are clearly written in fun and personally as someone who has lost a family member around the holiday it's not that you are being an awful person you just want to try an keep the joy of the holiday are you will just quit it cold turkey like it is a bad habit. Anyway, I think most people might not like this song anymore thanks to the animated special that comes on Cartoon Network every year but yet again I don't think it's that bad...*ahem*
#6. Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms
Yes yet another favorite Christmas song where I love almost every version I hear and have heard it so many times since being a very little girl. This original version recorded by Bobby Helms in 1957 so it's early rock and roll with a country twang which I guess makes it more rockabilly in flavor so when its covered it has many ways to go so it can be covered by a variety of artists.
#5. Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney
It goes without saying that Sir Paul McCartney is a musical genius. Most people like him because he was a Beatle one of the biggest band's of all time, then he had Wings with late wife Linda and many solo projects that are still going today. So when he plays all the instruments on one song and gives us a new modern Christmas carol that cements the whole musical genius thing.
#4. Little Saint Nick by The Beach Boys
I love The Beach Boys pretty much everything they do so when Christmastime rolls around and this 1963 hit written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love comes on the radio I'm grinning and my head's bobbing along. I always wonder how Christmas was back in the 1950s and 60s mostly to see a time before commercialism and materialism were more important and hope it was as innocent and sunny as the music...well most of it.
#3. Silent Night by Charlotte Church
When I heard the voice come from this at the time seventeen year old girl I was just so amazed at how angelic and mature it sounds! When it comes to classic Christmas carols this is another one of my favorites and when you can make one artist sound like a whole choir of angels thanks to her soprano range which is so operatic you can picture yourself in a huge cathedral or opera house hearing this be performed on Christmas Eve or Christmas's glorious!
#2. Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano
Another fun Christmas song to sing in the car while out getting some Christmas shopping done even if you don't speak Spanish or sound horrible trying to attempt to even sing Spanish. Since releasing this in 1970, Jose Feliciano has become synonymous with cheerful holiday celebrations and the bridging of Latin and American cultures since Jose himself is Puerto Rican so even though some of us may not speak or understand Spanish we receive the same message of goodwill when he wishes all of us a Merry Christmas from the bottom of his heart.
So what tops this Christmas list of holiday songs and is the last song of the holiday I will be talking about until 2015?
#1. Shimmy Down The Chimney (Fill Up My Stocking) by Alison Krauss
Known primarily as a country artist, Alison Krauss sometimes steps out of the box into sort of pop and rock influenced ventures but this one I always thought it was very jazz, soul and R&B kind of tone and you known Alison pulls it off very well. There's an innocent sweetness and saucy groove to the song I have never heard in any other Christmas song which makes this song very unique. I admit I like singing this one and can imagine the background singers swaying and snapping fingers and even though it seems to put Santa in a very naughty position, I still think it's very nice.
Well I guess that's it for the Christmas music since the holiday is almost over so it looks we are going to have to put a DO NOT OPEN UNTIL CHRISTMAS SEASON 2015 tag on the holiday vault. Since there are only 7 days left of the year I don't know if I will get another blog post in but if not I'll see you all again in 2015!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top 10 Christmas Songs #1 Of 2014

Well I am back to spread some more holiday cheer with the gift of music for all of those who follow me. I'm kind of glad this isn't our last look at Christmas music. If this title is a little misleading it is not looking at Christmas songs just released this year but more like a random Top 10 of Christmas songs that I enjoy from all sorts of different artists, genres and decades. I have a lot of Christmas songs so I know I won't get a lot of them covered before Christmas is over at midnight on Thursday and the rest will have to wait for another year. Some of these songs will clearly be recognizable but some may also be overlooked or even lost classics but I have been listening to Christmas music since I was a little girl so I have heard a lot of different versions of traditional carols and Christmas penned originals so let's get this musical Christmas party started!
#10. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town by The Pointer Sisters from A Very Special Christmas (1987)
The first in a series of compilation albums where popular artists of the time record versions of Christmas songs which the sales helped to benefit the Special Olympics is where you can find this 80s upbeat cover of the song first released back in 1934 and probably most famous because of the Rankin-Bass classic. I always enjoyed the harmonies of Ruth, June and Anita Pointer and the fun they seem to have singing together which is evident in this song.
#9. Winter Wonderland by The Eurhythmics from A Very Special Christmas (1987)
Okay I swear I am not cheating by putting this whole album up but it does have some very good covers and this one is exceptionally wonderful (pun intended!). The song Winter Wonderland was written the same time the previous song we discussed was also penned and even though not explicitly mentioning Christmas it is about discussing the beauty of winter and finding love which is probably why it is one of my favorite Christmas songs. This one is by Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox known to the world as The Eurhythmics is a very pop/jazz kind of number thanks to some of the scatting that Annie Lennox does in her very beautiful and powerful vocals to add some 80s flair to a very pretty song.
#8. Please Come Home For Christmas by Jon Bon Jovi from the album A Very Special Christmas 2 (1992)
While I will admit I am not a huge Bon Jovi fan, I do love the way he sings this song. He's not just a pretty boy rocker he does have a very nice voice that can handle this very soulful yet sorrowful Christmas tale about being alone during the holiday. Written in 1960, it's a more modern sort of classic and I think a lot of women remember Jon looking good in the video and well men remember Cindy Crawford wishing she was the gift under their tree that year!
#7. Here Comes Santa Claus by Elvis Presley from Elvis' Christmas Album (1957)
I don't think anyone can not like at least one song by The King and even though I like a handful the ones I enjoy the very most are his renditions of Christmas classics because the are either very beautiful to show off what a good voice he had and some of course are good for showcasing his fun side like this one. Written a decade earlier by country legend Gene Autry, it has such a whimsical charm that even Elvis doing that imitable drawl of his makes this such a happy song that I think even children will love it into adulthood just as much as I do!
#6. Silver Bells by Bing Crosby
A name almost always associated with the holidays thanks to White Christmas, Bing Crosby singing this song about the pretty decorations of bells during the Christmas season is spritely and jaunty thanks to Bing's whistling and reminds one of just the very simple reminders to the true meaning of Christmas: bells of the church celebrating the joy of Jesus' birth and even those of the Salvation Army workers dressed as Santa trying to earn money for those who have so very little.
#5. Jingle Bells by Frank Sinatra
Probably the oldest published Christmas song on this list (written in 1857) it always gets stuck in my head even when it is not Christmastime and if not the chorus of the original than the opening of this Frank Sinatra version does I mean it's so damn catchy!
#4. The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) by The Chipmunks
Since The Chipmunks cartoon series was a big part of my childhood I have heard this song for many a Christmases and others have had even more since this song first came out in 1958. I use to have a Disney Christmas Carol tape that had this song sung by another pair of chipmunks you may know as Chip And Dale but the trio of Alvin, Simon and Theodore will always remain supreme and if you ever get a chance to find the special A Chipmunk Christmas with this song you will be moved for that version has less comedy and more charm than its original version. No matter what I know Christmas is truly here whenever the radio plays this little gem...
(I posted the Chip And Dale version in case anybody has never heard it because well this is nostalgia for me and I wish to share it which is why I created this blog in the first place.)
#3. Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee
Just thirteen years old when she recorded the song released in 1958, Brenda Lee's biggest hit has been a holiday staple ever since. Though she mostly became know as a country oriented artist in her later career that doesn't stop this from being played on different genre radio stations around Christmas time. This is perfect for any holiday get together with its upbeat lyrics, Brenda's cheery voice and a sax solo to get your feet dancing around your own Christmas tree!
#2. Santa Baby by Madonna from the album A Very Special Christmas (1987)
Okay I promise that for this list this is the last Christmas song from the first A Very Special Christmas release for now anyway. Of course being an 80s child I love Madonna's music from that era and her version of Santa Baby is so upbeat, cheery, coy and pouty that it kind of reminds me of Betty Boop which I think is what Madonna was going for because even though most of her early songs had a more breathy sound it's been evident that Madonna has a strong voice. It's a very recognizable tune during Christmas time and is on the radio a lot and personally it is one of my favorite versions of the song and even one of my favorites in general.
So what could top this Christmas list like an angel on the top of the tree? Well it is another one of my favorite Christmas songs a more modern one and the artists who have the honor of being number one are of course my favorite people of all time... 
#1. Blue Christmas by Ann and Nancy Wilson from the album A Very Special Christmas 2 (1992)
First of all are you even surprised or shocked? Of course you aren't but are you surprised that Blue Christmas is one of my favorite Christmas songs? Yes most of the time this song is performed to be very sad and depressing but I have heard some versions that are upbeat and soulful and this version by The Wilson Sisters falls into that soulful category. Ann is the lead vocal but Nancy's harmonies in the background are just as strong and when you can hear Ann belt out these lyrics it's like hearing a lounge singer doing a torch song in a bar on Christmas Eve. You know some people are alone on Christmas they don't have families or they just get depressed by the holidays so they go to a bar to drown their sorrows where normally if you heard this song you would just give up hope. I guess I'm getting just a small bit of personal or biased opinion but when I hear this song it's not depressing it's almost kind of hopeful.
(Almost always this song is just attributed to Ann Wilson but the cd credits both Ann and Nancy and I should know because I bought it just for that reason!)
So that's a wrap on this list and I believe I might be able to fit one more random Christmas song list in for Christmas Eve day and then well I guess it will be another 365 days before we discuss the Christmas music again. So until tomorrow enjoy this Christmas gift of music.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Top 10 Christmas Albums

Hello music lovers! I know it has been a long time since I posted something on here but been working and been tired from said work and also I have a new pet a puppy who has a lot of energy to help drain my own. Anyway I have returned because my second favorite holiday has arrived and with it a love of music. Yes I absolutely love Christmas music especially as an adult to help get me in the holiday spirit but even as a child I enjoyed Christmas music when my mom would play it around the house while decorating inside and even outside where my dad would turn our yard into a winter wonderland. Now that I think about it I believe Christmas was the time my family would really come together and I miss that feeling now since my dad and two of my aunts have passed away, my mother lives far away and I now live in another state as well.

Sorry to bring down the mood but I just had to explain why I love Christmas music and I know that some people don't mostly because stations will play it twenty four hours a day even before Thanksgiving has even had a chance to be over and may even continue up until the new year. But if you like Christmas music like I do this is just the first of some Christmas themed Top 10 music picks. I'm starting off with Christmas albums so that we can cover most of where my favorites come from and any other lists I get to will not have any of these songs included since I will be discussing them here. So let's begin celebrating the holiday season with my top ten favorite Christmas albums.

#10 Wrapped In Red  ~ Kelly Clarkson

Now this entry isn't so low on the list because it isn't excellent but because it's fairly new and I haven't had as much time to warm up to it as other albums on this list. Released in October of 2013, I didn't get to listen to it very much last Christmas but I love Kelly Clarkson and she has a very good voice and the title is very pretty and quite original. There are 14 songs with five original and 9 covers of Christmas covers. The title track, Underneath The Tree, Every Christmas, 4 Carats and Winter Dreams (Brandon's Song) all have Kelly as a song writer and out of the originals Wrapped In Red is my favorite. There is a cover of Imogen Heap's "Just For Now" which is nice and I guess is okay for a temporary kind of Christmas song but not particularly my favorite. Of the other eight songs my favorites are a version of Baby It's Cold Outside where Kelly duets with Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn fame, her covers of Blue Christmas, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and a lovely version of Silent Night featuring Trisha Yearwood and Kelly's mother in law the talented Reba McEntire.

#9 Christmas Portrait  ~ The Carpenters

I absolutely love The Carpenters thanks to my mother and I believe that Karen Carpenter was taken from this Earth too soon and ironically in the same year I was born three months and seventeen days exactly before I arrived in this world. That fact aside, the harmonies of Karen and Richard Carpenter along with their whimsical pop and mellow song stylings make for a very beautiful Christmas album. Now I of course have the album on a CD and not its original two sided vinyl but it is still beautiful just the same. Now the version I have also combines tracks from the only other Christmas album the Carpenters released An Old Fashioned Christmas which was released after Karen's death so I'm glad they titled the re-issue with the album on which Karen was alive but it still provides some melancholy nostalgia as it is the only Christmas album I own where one of the artists is actually deceased. It also contains my two favorites of Christmas music radio: Merry Christmas Darling and Sleigh Ride.

#8 Rejoyce The Christmas Album ~ Jessica Simpson

You can say what you want about her but there is no denying that Jessica Simpson can sing. At times a trifle breathy I still think she has a very nice voice and she was at the high point of her career when this album came out in November of 2004. At the time she was married to Nick Lachey (whom she did a duet of Baby It's Cold Outside on this album) and even though she is doing well now remarried with two kids this is when I loved her the best. This album was sort of a family oriented one despite its pop and brassy, show tune feel in parts since it also has Jessica dueting with her little sister Ashlee on The Little Drummer Boy and was so named after her grandmother who had passed away (hence the Rejoyce instead of rejoice.) There are parts of the album that also are less Vegas or vaudeville especially when it comes to songs such as What Child Is This ? and Breath Of Heaven (Mary's Song) which require more grace and power and highlight the more spiritual tone of the season. Even if you don't like Jessica Simpson I recommend this if you love Christmas music as most of the songs are covers but even the original penned It's Christmas Time Again is worth a listen.

#7 Joy To The World ~ Faith Hill

When it comes to country music I admit I am a very female oriented person and when it comes to country music after Reba I hold Faith Hill in second place when it comes to having a truly beautiful voice. Now I know a lot of people may disagree on a personal level despite her talent or maybe because you don't like her husband Tim McGraw but for whatever the reason at Christmas time all of those go out the window or they should once you give a listen to her first and so far only Christmas album. Like Jessica Simpson's Christmas album there is a big band feel to most of the songs but to see Faith kind of go out of a country niche into something different proves she is a great artist with talent. She's no stranger to being played on pop radio either so hearing Faith Hill at Christmas time will bring a shiny sparkle to your tree. Like most holiday albums it is filled with covers but the original penned A Baby Changes Everything is a highlight with a twist that brings the true reason of the season to light.

#6 My Kind Of Christmas ~ Christina Aguilera

Well of course you already know that I am a Christina Aguilera fan so we won't go into much detail as to why but let's just say a big, soulful voice combined together with Christmas standards is a deal one can't pass up. Released between Genie In A Bottle pop princess and the more edgy and Dirrty X-Tina phases in her career this highlights more of the soulful and powerful aspects that she would later handle with the Back To Basics album so this was just a glimpse of what would come to her haters and the showcase to those who already knew. Christmas Time, This Year and Xtina's Xmas are the only originals specifically written for the album with everything else covers of holiday favorites and though not bad I like hearing Christina tackle those songs of Christmas past. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and O Holy Night are the two tracks that blow me away with their beauty but her versions of This Christmas and her duet with Dr. John on Merry Christmas Baby are what highlight Christina's talent of smooth R&B like her idol Etta James to spice up your Christmas parties!

#5 White Christmas ~ Martina McBride

I guess you could say Martina McBride would complete my quartet of female country singers after Reba, Faith and Trisha Yearwood. She has always had a very talented voice, a strong but bubbly personality and a certain aspect that the other ladies I have mentioned don't possess yet that I can not name. My mother is a big Martina McBride so that's probably why I developed such a love for her by branching out and discovering country music for most of it is quite good even if that is not the genre of music I listen to our love the most. I seem to love country artists a little more around Christmas time and Martina McBride is no exception with her beautiful voice highlighting holiday standards. Now the version I have is the 2007 re-release (the album was originally released in 1998, then again in 1999 and yes again in 2013!) so my enjoyment comes from the particular track listing of that time with I guess the new highlight of that being a duet between Martina and the late Dean Martin on Baby It's Cold Outside through the magic of modern music technology! No matter what version my favorite Christmas song I have ever heard Martina McBride sing is Do You Hear What I Hear? by far the best version I have ever heard...

#4 Merry Christmas ~ Mariah Carey

Probably one of the earliest Christmas albums I have in my collection because well I have liked Mariah Carey a very long time. Since her debut I thought she had a very beautiful voice and I loved her pop-R&B style and then for awhile I didn't like how she went a little more provocative with more rap beats but understanding that artists must sometimes evolve I have come to admire her style and music almost full circle. Now this is when Mariah was still very early in her career and ever since All I Want For Christmas Is You has become a modern Christmas standard and dare I say maybe even a holiday classic for my generation? There is also a gospel feel to a lot of the tracks which would be perfect for any social function to bring about the uplifting spirit of Christmas despite any nasty snowstorm raging outside your windows. Miss You Most At Christmas Time and Jesus Born On This Day are the two other original compositions that Carey helped to write and show her talent as a songwriter on a very lyrical level. When it comes to covers on the album her version of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) is by far my favorite contemporary and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing my favorite of the traditional.

#3 This Christmas ~ 98 Degrees

Out of all the boy bands there ever were 98 Degrees was always my favorite. Yes I do like The Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC but there was always something about the four men in this group that just made me love them better. I guess they just always seemed to have a maturity the others lacked but still had a fun side not to mention very beautiful harmonies to go with those handsome faces. So when I had to have this Christmas album along with their other albums in my collection my friend Sarah did not disappoint and got this as a gift for me long after it had been released ( came out in 1999 I didn't get it until 2001). There is a reason this is in my top 3 and well beside the aforementioned thing about the harmonies should I really say anything else? Yes the songs This Gift, If Every Day Could Be Christmas and Christmas Wish are original penned songs in that boy band, pop schmaltz tone of the times to most listeners but they are still quite beautiful. If you really want to be blown away by just how powerfully moving their four-part harmonies truly are just give listen to their versions of the classics O Holy Night and Ave Maria and see if you can keep a tear from falling...

#2 On This Winter's Night ~ Lady Antebellum

You know I had almost given up on liking any of the new country artists fearing to be stuck in an early 90s to early 2000s rut until I heard Need You Now by Lady Antebellum for the first time (you know before it got played every hour on soft rock, pop and country radio). Always a solo artist kind of person and not really liking any particular country music group something about the harmonies between Hilary Scott, Charles Kelly and Dave Haywood just seem to work and when Hilary and Charles sing separately or together it is so beautiful like freshly fallen snow on pine trees! The title track is the only originally penned song by the group the rest being covers which range from traditional to modern and despite being a country group there are tones like Christmas specials full of spectacle and of course nights by the cozy fire. It's hard to pick favorites the whole album is just amazing!

So is there any guess as to what my number one Christmas album is? Well if you know me than you should know and you may be surprised because I guess some of you never even realized that my favorite band in the whole wide world even had a holiday album! So what album do I play all the time to get in the Christmas spirit?

#1 Heart Presents A Lovemonger's Christmas

Originally the second album for Ann and Nancy Wilson's side project The Lovemongers back in 1998 it took me forever to find it but in 2001 it was released by the sister's as a Heart album and I got my hands on it! I had this version for awhile until about 2004-2005 when their current label re-released it again with two new songs where I gave my other version to my best friend and fellow Heart fan Amy. Unlike the other Christmas albums on this list, all of the songs on the album are originals penned by the Wilson Sisters except for the traditional songs of Ave Maria, O Holy Night and the lesser known Balulalow and a track written by Lovemonger member Frank Cox called The Last Noel (the 2004 release has a cover of Mary by Patty Griffin and another original called Let's Stay In) The first track of the album Here Is Christmas was actually written way back in 1989 for a holiday compilation sort of like the Very Special Christmas series and I even heard that version on the radio maybe back in 1992-1993 which is what drove me to possess this in the first place. All of the tracks are wonderful but one that stands out as a favorite is Christmas Waits with Nancy on lead vocals and styled like something Burt Bacharach could have written. Another thing I enjoy is the harmonies on the traditional Christmas songs which highlight the almost classical operatic talents of both Ann and Nancy like the Christmas angels they are!

So that's my favorite Christmas albums! I hope to maybe talk about some of my favorite Christmas songs if I can get around to it in my free time but if I don't get back here before January of 2015 descends I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza or any other holiday but hopefully I will return soon with more of my favorite holiday hits!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Random Top 10 #2

I apologize for the long break in between posts but sometimes a girl needs some rest and some time to spend with her man when both of us have been working so hard. Also, as I posted on my other blog, the death of Robin Williams on Monday left me devastated and afraid to be happy for awhile. They say that music can be good therapy so I am back with another Random Top 10. It may be a little shorter than my first random list but I have to admit I'm still a little fuzzy trying to get back in the groove of things.

#10. Heart Don't Lie by California Dreams

Now who says I can't talk about fictional's still music right? Now I absolutely loved the show California Dreams which I use to watch coming home from school when I was about thirteen. It was ending its run on NBC around then but was in reruns on TBS and WGN and I just loved it! Now a lot of the songs were very poppy and cheesy but there were a handful of songs that I fell in love with and I eventually got a hold of the soundtrack that contained those rare gems like this one.

There's really not a lot of meaning to the song except just being in love and hoping that the romance and words being said aren't just lies and that they come honest and true from the heart. The interesting thing about the song is that one of the writers is a woman named Elizabeth Guttman Daily who you may know better as E.G. Daily who voiced Tommy Pickles on Rugrats and Buttercup in The Powerpuff Girls! Did you know she was a songwriter/musician besides being an actress? Neither did I but I am now interested in finding some of her work if all her songs have lyrics like this one!

#9. How Can I Fall by Breathe

Ah there is nothing like the 80s! I may have been a baby when this decade ended (well I was six and to my mom I suppose I was still a baby in her eyes) but the early 90s still had a soft spot for all those songs of the past on the weekend and then of course Delilah had her nightly shows where the softer side of the decade had a chance to shine. As a romantic, I love ballads and this one by the UK band Breathe is a personal favorite. It has pop keyboards and is about trying to fall in love when you can't get the words out. Trying to time and plan words to express how you are in love with someone isn't easy when you aren't sure how you feel or how they feel, is the time right or have you missed it by just a small fraction of time? This was probably a perfect song to play for someone in junior high school when tweens became teens and love became much more complicated to learn than geometry or chemistry! I always found lead singer David Glasper's voice to be so earnest and unsure when singing the words and still do find his to be one of the loveliest and most forgotten of the decade.

#8. She by Louie Says

Sometimes you will find the most interesting music when you least expect it say...watching one of your favorite or the greatest  TV show ever! Some music I learned to love when I would watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer and when I saw the Season 2 episode called Reptile Boy and heard the song She by Louie Says played partly in the middle and at the end of the episode it has always stuck with me. Now sadly the band only had one album before they went defunct and I never really thought I would enjoy a song by an indie band as much as I do this one. I've always felt the song was about loving a woman who tries to be aloof when it comes to love and no matter what she does the man stays in love with her. She'll leave then come back again she'll be cold one second saying she hates you and then break down crying and begging your forgiveness the next.

Now it may seem the girl is unstable but the man also admits that he will keep taking her back because sometimes her snowy exterior will melt into a smile that leaves him weak in the knees. He also knows that at times he may hate himself for the way he treats her which may be the reason she's kind of unstable in the first place. If you ever watched Buffy I think the song at the time fit perfectly with the tragic romance the main character and her vampire boyfriend were in. I mean a vampire slayer who came back from the dead and in love with an undead hunk could cause any relationship to have its bumps! (Sorry got caught up in Buffy nostalgia but that is for another time or maybe another blog...)

#7. Lying To Myself by David Cassidy

Now don't laugh at me because I have a David Cassidy song on here! Some of you probably can't get over him being a teeny-bopper artist back in the 1970s or Keith Partridge on TV but underneath David Cassidy always wanted to rock like Jimi Hendrix! Now his acting career may have disappeared after no one wanted to get happy anymore but you also can't forget that David Cassidy's father Jack Cassidy was an actor with Broadway experience so that singing talent runs in the family. Now it may be a song with that arena rock-power ballad sound but of course I absolutely love it. The song came out in 1990 when that sort of music was still okay to listen to before music became edgier with grunge and hard-rock metal which by no means is bad because I like music like that too. I actually heard this song much later on an episode of Behind The Music focusing specifically on Cassidy in the background in snippets so when I found the whole song I was ecstatic!

 It was written by Cassidy and songwriter Sue Shifrin who became Cassidy's wife a year later even though the two had an earlier ill-fated relationship which I think surprisingly may have been slight inspiration for this song. You see it's about a relationship ending where the man insists that he's fine and his lover really never meant anything to him and that her leaving the way she did isn't tearing him up. As the title states, he's lying to himself and he is ready to do everything he can to get her back out of shame and probably as a means to keep himself from becoming depressed. (Sorry recent events have put that thought into my mind as a possible alternative to the songs meaning.) If anyone has ever had a relationship like this or ever tried to pass off the heartbreak you felt (as I have done before) the song will take on a new meaning for you. If not, David Cassidy's voice will get you hooked to this song!

#6. I Believe In Love by Paula Cole

Now Paula Cole may be a little more famous for providing Dawson's Creek with its immortal opening theme song but I remember her more for this song (and some other one about cowboys but that's for another day...) which I heard on VH1 when it first came out. There's just something very powerful and haunting about Paula Cole's voice that is almost hard to describe and when I first heard this song it kind of reminded me of something soulful from the late 1960s or early 1970s. As a person who does believe in love this song really speaks to me and if you listen to the song it does have a love conquers all tone to it but not in a happy, fairy-tale way but how true love can win in the real world. You meet the one in high school or maybe college, you go out on dates or maybe you are just friends who soon discover after many other relationships that you are meant to be together. There are always factors that may take the relationship down an unprecedented path such as an unplanned pregnancy or a drunken night quickie wedding or even infidelity but if two people are meant to be together they will get through it and finally be together as the universe intended. It truly is a very beautiful song...

#5. My Heart Can't Tell You No by Rod Stewart

Ah Rod Stewart I'm not really sure how I came to admire him but I do know it was the late 80s incarnation that had to have gotten my attention. He was very big on VH1 around that time and I distinctly remember taking a shine to my mother's Rod Stewart anthology tape after discovering him through another song which led to this being my absolute favorite song! (we'll come to that other song later I promise...) When I got older I realized that the lyrics were very mature for the time I heard it originally as it is about a man begging his former lover to stay away from him every time she and her new man are on the outs. She keeps coming back to him, calling him when they fight and being that he still has feelings for her and could never deny her anything to begin with let's her back in only to be left in the cold when they decide to make up. Now I have never been in a relationship like that but I have known people who always come back to someone  when things don't work out on a romantic level between the new girl or guy in their life but then end up breaking their heart again. The thing I can relate to is watching someone you love be in love with somebody else and it still hurts to this day but not as much as it did then as now I am in a very happy relationship and very much in love. All that pushed aside, the older me has also come to appreciate the steamy, sensual tone of the song and the soulfulness of Rod Stewart's voice.

#4. The Kill by 30 Seconds To Mars

I admit there is two reasons why this is probably the only song I really like by 30 Seconds To Mars: first is basically the video is an out-right homage to The Shining by Stephen King (even if I enjoy the book and mini-series better) and second, in his own way, Jared Leto is still very much the hottie because man those eyes are just so intense! From the minute I saw the video I knew I would like the song because well I had to watch the entire video to hear the song didn't I so eventually it would be like a little worm burrowing its way into my ear and taking over my brain! (sorry the Stephen King reference sent me to a horror-themed place.) Now I may not like the Kubrick version but the video does capture the creepiness of the film and sort of points out the theme of duality of a sane person confronting their own inner madness kind of the way the book did.

I do like the dark tone of the song and can relate sometimes to the war within yourself theme of the song as the negative side of me (pessimistic, depressed and jealous) is always at war with the positive side of me (happy, creative and energetic). Everybody has two-sides to themselves and believe me I have reached breaking points in my life where I thought I might be going crazy but some of those breaking points also made me realize I can be a stronger person. Wait didn't I say there was another reason why I liked this song? Oh yeah, putting his looks and acting chops aside did I mention that Jared Leto can sing!? I mean damn talk about a triple threat!

#3. Helplessly Hopelessly by Jessica Andrews

Now yes I bet you are surprised that I actually do like country music! Of course I'm going to have to like country music because I am from Kentucky so my family likes country music and I had friends who also liked country music. I will tell you right now that my frame of country music listening spans from the late 1980s to at least 2004 and then I kinda stopped liking most country music that came out until Lady Antebellum came around. Now when the 2000s came about Jessica Andrews to me was a breath of fresh air amid the country ladies that had been around for awhile and not that there was anything wrong with Reba or Faith but Jessica Andrews was my age, innocent but also talented that when this very mature song came out it wasn't as if she did a full 180 and got all sexy.

The song is of course about love, first love, young love and feeling those emotions that are more adult. Of course the girl is a strong one except when she is with the man she loves and then she is just helpless to fight her feelings but she also remains hopeful even as she's hopelessly losing out to the emotions her heart is feeling. Of course as a romantic this is the kind of country music I enjoy because after awhile depressing country songs make me... well depressed and well bluegrass and honky-tonk was never my style. Especially at a time when I was the same age as Jessica Andrews who even though she did not write this song was singing about such an adult subject that it dictates (clearly about falling in love and going all the way as approached in a delicate country-song manner and not a blatant pop-rap way most songs addressed sex and still do). Even today I still get shivers when I hear this song...

#2. Promises Promises by Naked Eyes

Some years ago (maybe about seven or eight) I had to get a rental car after a run in with a deer and it had satellite radio (Sirius radio maybe not sure) so when I turned it to an 80s station this gem by British band Naked Eyes came on and of course, I loved it! Even though they are much more famous for the song "Always Something There To Remind Me" the pop-dance feel of this song is one I probably would have been clubbing to if I had been a teenager or twenty-something in the early 80s because basically by the late 80s I would have been a groupie for Whitesnake if I had been born in an earlier time period...but I digress. Despite being so damn catchy its lyrics tell of being in love with someone who of course makes a lot of promises about a serious relationship but instead they seem to just want to be free to be wild and crazy. So eventually it fizzles out but then somehow gets rekindled when those same promises get uttered again except now you are just a little older now where the pain hurts a lot worse where now the laughter just isn't enough to keep the relationship going. Yes I admit I have been in a relationship where promises are made and then broken but with one exception that I learned to move on and now I am in a relationship where promises are made but not broken just...stretched out a little. See because in real relationships things don't go as planned which is why if you truly love a person and make them promises, you do keep them.

Okay, maybe I have gotten a little deep and personal with this one in light of recent events but let's call it a cleanse of negative emotions through the positive aspect of music that it can make you happy and even though most of these songs have brought up good subjects for actual intellectual conversation I promise this song that tops my list may not turn to a serious conversation and may just be there for us to totally rock! So what song could it be? Well here's a hint: I have mentioned this man before talking about the group he is famous for but now let's just let him shine on his own...

#1. Lost In The Shadows by Lou Gramm

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Iron Maiden Top 10 #1

Welcome back music lovers you are in for a little bit of a swerve today! So I've talked about classic rock and pop but did you ever think I would discuss...heavy metal? Well I am and talking about the kings of heavy metal Iron Maiden. The reason why is because I have been in a relationship for ten years now with one of the biggest Iron Maiden fans boyfriend Nathan. He is basically the male equivalent to me being a huge Heart fan with both of us around the same age but the difference is he liked Heart before we met and until then...I had never listened to Iron Maiden at all. I suppose I was one of those people thrown off by all the imagery which depicted the band's mascot Eddie in sometimes horrific and disturbing images but for me it was kind of like the horror section having posters close to the children's section in a video store (which ironically the one from my childhood did!)

If you went in to rent Care Bear movies and saw something like this you'd freak out too!

Anyways, I guess I always assumed metal was too harsh for mt almost poppy, music listening self until I met Nathan. After listening to countless hours of Maiden in his car on various dates and outings, I've discovered that Iron Maiden is basically just hard and classic rock amped up to a louder level but that the musical compositions are superb and the lyrical content is based on literature, mythology, religion and history which doesn't surprise me because well...they are British! Take it from me (as I said I am predominantly a pop listener and soft rock fanatic among my few classic rock loves) if I can enjoy listening to Iron Maiden, you few naysayers out there can too! So because I love my man and the band he loves, I thought I would share the songs by Iron Maiden I have come to enjoy. So to start this first Iron Maiden Top 10 is a song from the album that came out around the time Nathan and I started getting to know each other...

#10. Paschendale from the album Dance Of Death

Written about a battle during the first World War in Belgium between soldiers from many countries, it basically tells about the brutality of death and war that men even as young as eighteen had to face for many months. I kind of like how Iron Maiden songs are like long ballads of old told like a saga that stretches for pages but instead is musically equivalent to songs of seven minutes or more. The opening is slow and melodic and then just erupts into drums and guitars like an arsenal of gunfire but then we end the same way we began and the tale is finished almost as if with great remorse for those who died many years ago.

#9. Phantom Of The Opera from the album Iron Maiden

Being blessed with a boyfriend who has a lot of music in his collection it's no wonder I can go back to Iron Maiden's first album and find something to enjoy. The first two Iron Maiden albums had Paul Di'Anno as lead vocalist before Bruce Dickinson made his vocal appearance to the world and this happens to be one of my favorites on the band's debut album. Now with a title called Phantom Of The Opera, I am of course hooked but for you ladies out there it is not about the romanticized version this is about the grisly original Phantom presented in Gaston Leroux's original novel and the one seen on movie screens portrayed by Lon Chaney: a sadistic, psychotic madman who tortures his victims even with persuasive, Svengali charm. I have to admit I'm very partial to Bruce Dickinson but Paul Di'Anno isn't half bad especially on this song but if you want a lot of guitar you are going to get just be careful of all the rhythm changes and especially that little musical stinger at the end. First time I listened to it in my car I wasn't expecting it and jumped about a mile in my seat (well at least my version ends like that...)

#8. Wrathchild from the album Killers

Another one from the Di'Anno era that I enjoy and it has one of the best bass riffs I have ever heard! I'm pretty sure Bruce has tackled this in live shows but honestly I can't picture him singing it...Paul's vocals seem to fit the almost rebellious tone of the song where as Dickinson's vocals always sound more mature and fit the almost storytelling elements of future Iron Maiden songs. My interpretation of the lyrics are basically an angry young man going out in search of the father he has never known. Of course being an early Iron Maiden song, I don't see the young man wanting to reconcile with his father amid hugs and tears but probably among blows and blood! You see he's a bastard born not out of love but by necessity I guess for his queenly mother to have an heir but he has been raised in barbaric circumstance to become well...a child of wrath. I love when things are pointed out so easily by a song's title but can still be viewed by the listener's own perspective...that's good music!

#7. Holy Smoke from the album No Prayer For The Dying

I think every once in awhile an artist can't go with out making some sort of statement on religion or politics in the lyrics of at least one of their songs but I've never seen it expressed in such a manner as they way it is in this song! It's pretty much Steve Harris and Bruce Dickinson's writing about the televangelism that swept the late 80s and early 90s and produced a lot of scandals with people sending money to men who claimed to be doing the Lord's work but couldn't keep the money out of their pockets or keep some of these religious hypocrites from keeping it in their pants! The subject matter of the song is right on but the video is just so much fun! Who knew a band with an undead mascot seen killing people with axes could have their lead singer running through fields of yellow flowers and still be taken seriously? Only Iron Maiden that's who! 

#6. The Wicker Man from the album Brave New World

Before you it has nothing to do with the movie starring Nicholas Cage! This song is actually based on the original (and better film) from 1973 starring Christopher Lee but is actually based in fact on Celtic mythology. You see a Wicker Man was supposedly burned with a human sacrifice inside to please Pagan harvest gods in Druid rituals and the lyrics basically describe the woe of a person being chosen as the one to be set ablaze within. As I stated earlier, Iron Maiden songs are based on many truths and epic tales of lore so it's like getting a History or English lesson in every kick-ass song! I stand by this being kick-ass from that intro, to the almost primal sound of the drums and the chanting toward the end certainly evokes an ancient ritual despite being so modern.

#5. Aces High from the album Powerslave

Another history lesson brought to you by Iron Maiden as the song is about a British Air Force pilot during the Battle of Britain in World War II going against the Germans in their own aircraft. I think more parents should actually let their kids listen to Iron Maiden because it may be the only way they retain any knowledge about famous battles or at least make them want to actually pick up these things called books and read about them! I have feeling that in the future this is probably how Nathan and I are going to have our children educated so I'm not far off...

#4. The Number Of The Beast from the album of the same name

You know it's probably because of this song and the album art of Eddie that made me kind of leery of giving Iron Maiden a chance but don't forget that in the 80s I was just a little kid and in the 90s I was molded by pop music. I'm pretty sure if I had been interested in Iron Maiden then my parents would not have cared as long as I didn't play it loud enough to disturb them. In 1982 this caused Iron Maiden to get a lot of flack from religious groups deeming them Satanists but don't forget these were the same types of people Holy Smoke was later written about and that people also thought that Stevie Nicks was really a witch *scoffs*. Steve Harris said he wrote this song after having a nightmare caused by a late night viewing of Damien: Omen II and if you look at the lyrics it backs up that story. This was one of the song's debuting Bruce Dickinson as the new voice of the band and I have to say I don't think any other vocalist could match his vocal power today or even then! My favorite part is the opening with the spoken word intro quoting the Bible and then going into that great guitar opening before we get to hear Bruce in all his glory letting out those awesome metal screams!

#3. Flight Of Icarus from the album Piece Of Mind

Now for those of you who are going "Who the heck is Icarus?" brief lesson in Greek myths: Icarus was the son of an inventor who made them wings of feather and wax to escape imprisonment on an island but the boy flew too close to the sun and well...that's it really. Now Bruce Dickinson's vocal and the lyrics he wrote along with Adrian Smith have Icarus more or less rebelling  against his father instead by claiming he can actually fly in the name of God and being basically burnt to ash by his arrogance and pride.Again it's the opening guitar riffs that bring you in so basically you come for the mastery of Smith and Murray and then stay for the theatrical vocals of Dickinson or vice versa which ever way you prefer...

#2. The Evil That Men Do from the album Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

I'm not going to lie to you even after hearing this song a thousand times (it's one of Nathan's most played on long road trips) and even reading the lyrics for myself I can't even conceive what the song is about...kind of a first for me! All I know is repetitive listening to that opening gets it stuck in my head and I mean just hearing it live is good enough reason to like it! Usually I'm like a compendium of knowledge or literary subtext but this time I've got's just an awesome song!

Just like this is just an awesome not as terrifying picture of Eddie...

Despite my lack of reasoning for #2 ...I think I have a pretty good list made up so far don't you think? Now my number one choice for this particular list is probably only known to the most die hard fans and collector of all things Iron Maiden. It's so high on the list because well it was actually one of the first songs that introduced me to the band thanks to my boyfriend on our first date. So just what is it?

#1. That Girl (B-Side to Stranger In A Strange Land from the album Somewhere In Time)

Now this song was not written by any member of Iron's a cover of a song by a British Rock band FM from back in 1986. One of the songwriters just happened to be friends with Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith so I guess that's eventually how it ended up being a B-side. Now I admit I probably got hooked to this song and ended up liking Iron maiden because the song doesn't really scream metal to me or at least it didn't to my 21 year old self. I do love the driving guitar through out the song and the vocals of Dickinson and his band mates are very nicely performed with a signature Bruce Dickinson long note held out toward the end. So of course I can spot romantic symbolism in lyrics a mile away and since no member of the band actually wrote this song I can call it a power ballad of sorts. I mean it is about a girl or specifically that one girl a young man can't live without. He'll fight evil for her, die for her and in return she'll be loyal in return and perhaps sacrifice her life for him in return if it ever came to it. As I said it means something to me and is kind of symbolic of my own relationship (at least from my point of view...I can't say much about what my boyfriend thinks about it.) so that's why I will probably place this as one of my highest favorite songs ever recorded by Iron Maiden.

So I hope you enjoyed taking a look at the Iron Maiden songs I like for this list and don't fret...I'll be back with more in the future. If you learned not to judge a book by its cover with me then who knows what you can expect next time!

Don't worry...Eddie always comes back...