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...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bad Company Top Ten #1

So I'm back with a major shift in genres from pop to some classic rock and the band that rounds out my top 3 after Heart and Foreigner...Bad Company. I discovered my love of this British super group in my early 20s and seeing as I am only 31 it's been a decade love affair with the smooth vocals of Paul Rodgers, one of the best vocalists of all time. That love affair grew in about 2008 when I learned that former Heart guitarist (and my life long rock star crush) Howard Leese was asked by Rodgers to join his band and now he plays with Bad Company as well. Here on the classic rock stations, Bad Company is constantly played with their hard rock hits and though I have not seen them live in person, to watch them do live performances is truly something to behold and would surely be part of my bucket list or my wish list if I ever found a time machine to go back to the 1970s in their heyday. Now it's time to tackle the first top ten list of my favorite Bad Company songs and before I start this is songs from the Paul Rodgers line-up of the 1970s and early 1980s as there will be another list at another time discussing Bad Company songs after Rodgers left the band. So let's start with the last big hit for the original line-up on their last studio album shall we?

#10. Electricland from the album Rough Diamonds

Well maybe not a big hit radio wise for airplay but I love the smooth sound of Paul Rodgers' vocals and that funky, bass groove of Boz Burrell. There is a very mysterious vibe to the music even with the piano and Mick Ralphs' guitar work sounding just as point on as ever but even Simon Kirke's drums have almost an otherworldly feel. I guess it melds well with the story presented in the lyrics of being in a foreign place where the rules are unknown to you and you find that danger is around every corner. It's a good thing you don't plan on staying long: once your gig is over you'll just be another face passing through Electricland. Even though the lyrics spell out a different tone than the music supplied, there is still an almost wistful, hypnotic environment thanks to Rodgers' vocals.

#9. Shooting Star from the album Straight Shooter

Now I wouldn't say that Bad Company really has a lot of ballads in their catalog loved by the classic rock stations as far as romantic but if you can call a song about tragedy a ballad than Shooting Star might as well be alternatively titled The Sad Ballad of Johnny or even The Ballad of The 27 Club. Written by Paul Rodgers, it chronicles the rise and death of a young man who finds his fame playing guitar and then dying of drugs and booze. The song is based on the lives of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin and also a tragic future prediction on the death of Rodgers' former Free guitarist bandmate Paul Kossoff who didn't die at 27 but at 25 a year after the song's release and is now sometimes a dedication to him in concerts alongside a long list of other fallen rockers. The song's not all sad but has great guitar work by Mick Ralphs and of course the aggressive yet bluesy vocals of Rodgers and is uplifting despite its tragic content.

#8. Gone, Gone, Gone from the album Desolation Angels

This is one of only three songs written by Bad Company's bassist Boz Burrell during the band's original line-up. Boz died in 2006 of a heart attack but left behind his legacy in this composition which had me real gone from the first moment I heard it and even I made a pun this rocker's no joke! Besides Boz's bass work and of course Paul Rodgers' sexy vocals that guitar riff by Mick Ralphs gives the song a sort of rock-country-disco mash-up (hey don't pelt me with tomatoes it's just my opinion!). Maybe not full on disco but there is this upbeat flare that makes me want to dance and in the car my hands are drumming the steering wheel to the rhythm. I say it has a country feel because of course the lyrics are about a woman leaving, getting the boys together to drink her away but still missing the good things about her that you don't know whether to cry or laugh at the new found freedom you have. Can you blame me I'm a Southern girl who likes her country and classic rock but loves to dance?

#7. Ready For Love from the album Bad Company

Although it is actually a cover of a song Mick Ralphs wrote for his band before Bad Company, Mott The Hoople, this version is the one most remembered and played a lot on classic rock radio. This is one steamy song without being as aggressive as say another Bad Company hit about love that we'll get to soon enough. That piano or keyboard (whichever version you prefer to call it) is what really gets me as it feels like something added to enhance the bluesy, guitar work almost kind of like a cat just making a sleek saunter over the keys. If you want to know why I say it's steamy try finding Episode 10 of Season Four of Supernatural and the scene when this song plays and you'll have proof! Besides having the sound of a good romantic evening, the lyrics tell of hard times then finding love that has been long elusive and hoping it will change things for the better.

#6. Live For The Music from the album Run With The Pack

A good song doesn't really need a lot of explanation as to why it is a good song so when I go into great detail about one it just means I have a whole lot of love for it. So it goes with saying that this one's short and sweet and to the point! I love the the killer ending Boz Burrell bass line and of course, the swaggering vocals of Paul Rodgers along with Mick Ralphs' impeccable guitar work. The lyrics of course are about living for the music as any rocker or rock fan can relate to because sometimes it's the only thing that can make your ordinary day not so boring. I know my day goes a lot better when I have music in it as this blog of mine is one big love letter to all types of music.

#5. Burnin' Sky from the album of the same name

This song has one of the best bass grooves and that thundering intro really makes you take notice! As always I am easily seduced by Paul Rodgers' smooth, vocals and the guitar playing of Mick Ralphs is the thing that is on fire in this song! I don't know if anyone has ever paid attention to the lyrics but it's about a man escaping from jail just to go and see his woman only to be chased by cops and dogs and end up back in jail! The main line of the song is how this one woman has enough power over this man that she can make him do all of these impulsive things just so he can spend one moment in her arms. The desire builds up that not only is his heart burning it's powerful enough to set the sky on fire and thundering with passion! Speaking of burning, did it get hot in here or is it just me?

#4. Feel Like Making Love from the album Straight Shooter

Paul Rodgers once said that probably a lot of people were conceived to this song and I'm sure he's not that far away from the truth! As I said earlier about Ready For Love being the slower, romantic song for love making this aptly titled song is still at times tender but the more aggressive song to make out with! It's got driving guitar work and beautiful harmonies along with great bombastic drums provided by Simon Kirke. Of course there is no doubt as to what the song's meaning is but if you look closer at the lyrics it's not about sex but actually having a love that transcends everything where the two become one in the climax of emotions so to speak. If I have to spell it out for you anymore clearly than you obviously haven't read the lyrics, heard the song or paid much attention in health class...

#3. Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy from the album Desolation Angels

A guitar-synthesizer riff created by Paul Rodgers is what led to the birth of this song and spawned dreams of being a rock star to generations yet to come! Killer vocals by Rodgers, amazing guitar work by Mick Ralphs and the driving rhythm section of Kirke and Burrell make this a gem for garage bands and cover bands to master if they can even try to duplicate the original. I know I always had aspirations to be in a rock band but I know that I can get no where close to handling vocals on the same level as Paul Rodgers or any other rock singer but that doesn't mean I can't give up my own fantasies and sing along with this song when it comes on the radio in my car. If you can sing or play an instrument, more power to you but that doesn't mean anyone can't have a little fun singing this at karaoke night once in awhile...drunk or not!

#2. Can't Get Enough from the album Bad Company

Don't you just love that opening guitar riff? I like how it starts off almost so silently and then begins with the guitar and then when those drums kick in alongside Paul Rodgers' playful yet powerful vocals you've got one good, head-bobbing, foot-tapping song! Again there's really not a lot to explain to you about what the song is about which is another reason why you can like Bad Company subtext just straight to the point with it clearly indicating that a man wants a woman who is clearly interested but likes to press his buttons which of course makes him crazy that when she does give him what he wants...he can't get enough! Okay maybe a little subtext but what do you expect from me when I listen to the song fifteen-hundred times at home or hear it on the classic rock radio?

You know it's really hard to pick songs from such a great band when they only had six albums under their belt so when it came to picking the number one for this first list of Bad Company songs, what was my end result? Well the leader of this pack is well you kinda guessed it...

#1. Run With The Pack from the album of the same name

What can I say...I just love that piano opening and its presence throughout the song up until it fades out so beautifully in the end. The song also has a melody that sounds so clearly like an orchestra could back up the band on a 40-piece scale which makes it melodic, fit for acoustic interpretation or a live, rocking performance just like above. As always the guitar work of Mick Ralphs and Paul Rodgers' strong, rich tone bring life to this track which in no way makes the contributions of Simon Kirke's drums or Boz Burrell's bass any less significant but the vocals and guitar are what give it so much drive! Lyrically, I find this to be a song about running away from life in general but mostly that one person that tries to keep you stuck in a life devoid of passion of not only the physical but of the things such as music or even material possessions. They try to stifle everything free about you that eventually you want to escape and be like the animals in the wild who have no law and then maybe you can find others like yourself: a pack, a family, to which you can really belong.

So it seems you never know what kind of music I may talk about next or what kind of bands and artists I admire and love...but that's no surprise anymore, am I right? No the real question is will you come back next time? I truly hope you do!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Britney Spears Top Ten #1

Welcome back to my music mix tape as today I go through my first top ten of my favorite Britney Spears songs. Now I can hear some of you groan even though you did click on this to view it so I assume if you don't like Britney you were just curious. I will admit that when she first came out I didn't care much for Britney Spears but after awhile damn it if her catchy pop didn't grow on me! When Britney started going through her problems and had a lot of people backlash at her or scrutinize her, I could actually sympathize with what she was going through and gained a whole new perspective of her as a person and a new found respect. It's the old adage that a person's not so bad once you get to know them and even if not on a personal level like you actually know the person but on a musical level. I don't think there is anything wrong with still loving pop music at my age and if Britney (who is two years older than me) is going to continue to make it then I will always give it a shot. One fun little fact for you before we get started is the song Sometimes became a favorite of my mom since it played on our soft rock/ lite pop station so in the car I would become subjected to it which is probably why I ended up eventually liking Britney Spears so again my mother is the reason why I like some of the stuff I do. On that anecdote, here is the first of my top ten favorite Britney Spears songs...

#10. Toxic from the album In The Zone

This song grew on me after I heard a girl singing it constantly at the movie theater job I had way back when this song came out. I have to admit that the chorus is catchy and I actually like those high-pitched strings as they kind of remind me of Psycho and I never thought I would hear surf guitar in a Britney Spears song but it actually kind of works! The title of the song pretty much spells out the lyrics that the man you are with is literally like drugs: you're addicted to him and he's poison: not good for you at all. The video is interesting with Brit playing on every male fantasy as a stewardess, sexy spy and diamond covered, naked woman? Oh well more power to her as the closest I get to wearing diamonds is on my ears...

#9. Womanizer from the album Circus

Another song by Britney that just got stuck in my head after hearing someone (this time my best friend Amy) playing it in her car and then I'm humming that hook and chorus like crazy that I went out and bought the album just to have it! It certainly will draw in your attention with that siren-klaxon at the beginning and then that robotic-synthesizer beat that drives the song has me bobbing my head and grinning like an idiot as I listen to it in my car (seriously because Amy's copy of Circus got stuck in my CD player and is still there!) Again there isn't any over interpretation of the song based on it's title: it's about a womanizer. A different woman for every day of the week this man thinks he can get what ever girl he wants but there are some out there who won't be fooled and can call him out on his Lothario ways.

#8. Radar from the album Blackout

A good song always will get you with that first note and when a song called Radar opens with little sonar pulses it will either drive you crazy like a bat or get your attention! That sexy come-hither tone Spear uses to sing the song makes me think of some sexy secret agents playing a game of cat and mouse with the female agent intrigued by her male counterpart and the 007 not knowing that he is being followed...or maybe he does know the intentions of our Charlie's Angel. That's my own interpretation of the lyrics as I do like the video posted above for its subtlety and its sexy, posh love triangle and find it to be a very mature Britney we are dealing with!

#7. Do Somethin' from the album My Prerogative: The Greatest Hits

Guitars, bass and dance-pop...not possible is it? Yep it is in this energetic number credited to Britney's alter-ego Mona Lisa that we get that triple combo in a fun song about just going out and having fun no matter what anyone says! I know I use to get looks from others and even my own friends when we would go out to clubs and dance because frankly I have no sense of rhythm and would just dance however I felt to the beat whether I looked stupid or not as it was a way to just unwind. People can give you looks when all they are doing is sitting there sipping on drinks so it always takes one person and one song to get people up and the club it would be me and this song!

#6. You Drive Me Crazy (The Stop Remix)

The original version is from Spear's debut album ...Baby One More Time and to tell you the truth I have never liked that one...but I love this version! The first time I heard this and got to the part where Brit goes "STOP!" and the music just abruptly does as she says made me smile just like she does at that part in the video. The energy of this version is less bubblegum than the original but still full of teen pop that is dance club ready and there's even a little cowbell thrown in there for you! This version appeared on the soundtrack to the 1999 film Drive Me Crazy which is why Melissa Joan Hart is in the video and who's that guy? Yep it's a young Adrian Grenier from Entourage (he was in the movie too!). Also I like Brit's green top and her cute yet dorky waitress character (she's like a nerdy Pink Lady from Grease!)

#5. Cinderella from the album Britney

I actually heard this song because again my friend Amy had this CD and we would listen to it in her car until it got replaced by whatever new CD she bought after that! Being that I love fairy tales, it's very easy to see why title wise I found interest in this song and sometimes how you use that as a title to fit the lyrics is interesting to hear. Rule of thumb, ladies: if your boyfriend calls you's likely not a cute nickname. Especially if you are a girlfriend like me who is not forced but chooses to do things for her man and does them with at least some respect from him but if you do everything for your man and get opposite's time to ditch that glass slipper because you have running to do! Despite going off on another tangent of over-analyzed lyrics, that pop beat is still present on an album focused with maturity, sexuality and being an adult. I don't think anyone's life is a happy fairy tale unless you're actually married to a prince and Britney makes that very have to make it one on your own.

#4. Stronger from the album Oops I Did It Again!

Another instance of where a video is the first exposure I got for a certain song and after seeing this video I had to go out and buy its parent album! I like the dark atmosphere that was way different from the videos before it and showed a very empowered and maturing Britney. If you are a woman who has ever been treated like property by your man  or has been made to feel like you can't do anything for yourself...Britney is the one to tell you how to be your own woman! Sometimes security is nice but if you aren't being appreciated or being used then it's time to go it alone and even though it may seem scary at'll make it! On a purely off-hand point, I love Brit's outfit and I want that sweet Mustang of hers!

#3. Everytime from the album In The Zone

I've heard it said that this is one of the best songs Britney Spears has ever written and sung and I have to be one to agree! That music box melody is so sad and a representative of real heartache and pain because to me music boxes are things of the past that are long gone and nothing besides the loss of a family member is as painful as losing someone you loved whether through means of your own or not. Sometimes you say things you don't mean, or you cheat on them in moments of weakness or hit them in moments of anger and begging for forgiveness from any of those things may never be given because you wait too late. There are rumors that this song is about her break-up with Justin Timberlake but again rumors so only Britney knows for sure but still it comes from a place of regret and pain. I've also heard things about the video and my interpretation is that it was a morbid fantasy that became an almost eerie coincidence mirroring Britney's future struggles. For someone who has had depressed, self-harming thoughts in the past I think the suicide theory of the video at that present time is irrelevant. The smile at the end is not laughing it off as a dream... it is a smile of someone grateful to be alive.

#2. If U Seek Amy from the album Circus

Veering off from a very serious and almost downer direction, let's go back to the poppy, cheeky Britney Spears that I've come to adore! Since I am much older now listening to music it did not take me as long to find the double meaning in the lyrics I was hearing and apparently, I wasn't the only one as most parents were in an uproar about their kids going around singing a song with the dread F word in it and finding out it was a Britney Spears song! It's phonetically implied to be that word but again people hear what they want to hear and can turn a good song into something nasty but as for me I just love that head bobbing beat as I always do but I can appreciate Brit's little naughty side, Amy obviously being another alter-ego a little more sexy and saucy than her "Mona Lisa" persona from Do Somethin' which in no way is a bad thing! It's lyrically about finding a celebrity or person of nearly-famous status in local circles by one of many idolizing sycophants in almost a sexually, obsessive way or as the video shows quite literally: what really goes on behind closed doors stays behind those doors and the image we present in public may be for your own good.

So out of all the Britney Spears songs to make this first Top Ten installment...which one is my top pick? Well not only is it this list's number one but it is probably my favorite song released by Britney...ever! What is it you ask?...

#1. Break The Ice from the album Blackout

I first heard this song on the radio probably a couple of months after it was released and that first synthesizer beat with its electronic, R&B groove immediately made my ears perk up like a dog hearing kibble hit the bowl! With Brit's breathy vocals and that interlude in the middle seems to culminate to what the steamy lyrics are leading up to and when I finally saw the video, my inner geek just exploded because...ANIME!! I love anime and to see Brit in Japanese animation style back in her sexy spy role was just the cherry on on a triple sundae of lyrics, visuals and sound. Everyone knows what it means to break the ice but in this song I think it's more like melting the ice...because you're having sex on it! I'm trying not to get too vulgar but that's what the song makes me feel by the lyrics I have heard so many times! You look up those lyrics and tell me you don't see a hot, steamy night of passion instead of a little candlelight dinner date! Remember how I said Radar reminded me of two secret agents playing a romantic game of cat and mouse? Break The Ice could be either the prequel or sequel to that scenario if you ask me...that's a lot of seduction if you ask me. Oh Britney you are such tease with the to be continued on this video...making us want more as always!

Like Britney I'll leave you hanging on any future Spears Top Tens so until then...which genre or artist will we tackle next?...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gloria Estefan Top 10 #1

So now I am ready to talk about Gloria Estefan whom I absolutely love! In the beginning of the 80s she was apart of the group Miami Sound Machine as their lead vocalist but soon got pushed to the foreground where they started to be marketed as Gloria Estefan And The Miami Sound Machine. Toward the end of the 1980s and early 1990s she became more of a solo artist and returned to her Cuban musical roots and became more of a dance-disco diva than pop singer. On March 22nd of 1990, Gloria Estefan was severely injured in an accident involving her tour bus where her spine was fractured and about an inch away from leaving her completely paralyzed for the rest of her life but she went through surgery and therapy to come back stronger than ever! I view Gloria Estefan as one of the pop singers and rock stars that I looked up to as being a positive role model for young women due to her determination, talent and her beauty. Another thing I admire Gloria for is that she has been married to her husband Emilio Estefan Jr. for 35 years and he was her first and only boyfriend! He has produced her albums and they love each other so much that I call that a true power couple! Praise aside, I owe discovering Gloria Estefan mostly to my half-sister Tamara as she did so with many other musical artists sometimes in a combined effort along with my mom and I am always appreciative of that. So today let's take a look at the first of my ten favorite Gloria Estefan/Miami Sound Machine songs.

#10. Here We Are from the album Cuts Both Ways

This is probably the song you think of first when you hear Gloria Estefan's name or maybe it's just me because this is a very sweet yet sultry ballad...pure romance for a person like me! The bass guitar, acoustic guitar, piano and percussion makes a great combination with Estefan's vocals and the song is about finding love, being with that person, later becoming only friends but never forgetting the special times you shared. Inside you know you still love them but to the rest of the world you have to hide it especially the person who still has your heart even if they don't know it.

#9. Betcha Say That from the album Let It Loose

I saw this video when I was really young and thought that Gloria Estefan was so beautiful and that it looked like she and the Miami Sound Machine had so much fun together! I think the infectious pop beat is why I like this song because of course a young kid may not have any idea about what the song is truly about. With new knowledge, it's a song about falling in love with a guy who uses cheesy lines, innocent manipulation and probably has broken the hearts of many girls in the past. The man in question doesn't seem to do so maliciously but he just happens to be a big flirt and it probably pushes some girls away and wraps others around his finger until the feelings gone and he skedaddles (probably afraid of commitment...I know a man like that...) Then the day happens that he truly does fall in love and wants to settle down but the girl in question knows about his past and isn't sure if she can believe him. Now that I think about it I like the song because I kind of relate to it that really a good thing?

#8. Bad Boy from the album Primitive Love

There are actually two videos to this song but the one above is the version I saw first and yep you guessed it besides the members of Miami Sound Machine in one part...most of those actors playing cats are actually from Cats. Again this shows me how a good band can even stand dressing up to make a memorable video and well Gloria does have a velvet voice like a cat's purr so I guess it fits. There's really no deep reasoning behind the lyrics it's simply being in love with a bad boy maybe not a criminally bad boy or a dangerous one unless that just happens to be your type (I'm not judging anyone!).

#7. Reach from the album Destiny

Gloria Estefan is a powerful singer when it comes to ballads and when she is given a song to sing by master songwriter Diane Warren and it also happens to be chosen as an Olympic anthem, you know chills will be going down your arms in goose bumps! When the Summer Olympics were held in Atlanta back in 1996 who better to sing your official song of the games than a woman who knows what it is to fight like Gloria Estefan! Her accident and her parents escaping from the Cuban regime under Castro to come to America you know that she can push the power of her emotions into her voice. As the title states, it's about reaching for your dreams no matter what and we all have dreams we want to achieve no matter how impossible they may seem. I think anyone can do this as long as they are within realistic limits and I may still be chasing some of my dreams but I'll keep on reaching thanks to Gloria and this song...

#6. Dr. Beat from the album Eyes Of Innocence

Another fun video that is enough to attract a young child's attention and as the word is in the title, also the beat which is dancey and infectious like a musical ear worm is meant to be! It's self-explanatory that once music gets into your head you can't get rid of it but then when it moves to your feet that you can't stop dancing maybe you should consider visiting a real doctor but until it becomes a fatal can dance as much as you like!

#5. I See Your Smile from the Greatest Hits album

You should know by now that I am a lover of ballads and when Gloria Estefan sings a ballad, it can really hit you where you live or at least bring a tear to your eye or a crack in your heart. From the moment I heard this song I was in love with it and when I learned it was written by Jon Secada I realized why it was so lyrically beautiful! It's a song about loving someone who brights up the day with their smile and makes your life easier through all the rough patches but then suddenly not having them anymore due to distance or maybe even death. They may be the one who got away in the romantic sense but as a friend they still remain in your heart even if separated by distance.

#4. Can't Forget You from the album Into The Light

I wasn't lying when I told you I love Gloria Estefan ballads now was I? The first time I heard this song is when I saw the video on VH1 and of course fell in love with it. By now you know I love songs about in all its forms: positive or tragic. Sometimes you don't appreciate the love you have until it is no longer in your life especially when you are the one that walked away. Maybe you were confused or just too young to understand the good thing you had especially where love is concerned but now it hurts not to have that love anymore. It's even more difficult when you can't forget that person and then try to bring that love back by maybe trying to get back together and it is now too late.

#3. Don't Wanna Lose You from the album Cuts Both Ways

This was the first Gloria Estefan song and video I ever saw which began my full blown love of Gloria Estefan and let me explore everything that came before this. I like the simplicity of the video in its sepia tones and how Gloria is wearing little or no makeup and still looks so gorgeous! Everyone knows what it is like to love someone and how you want that person to love you for just being yourself and there are some of us who just where our hearts on our sleeves so that we are always open and vulnerable to the pain that comes with love. Sometimes it's tough not to fight with each other but you don't want it to get so bad that you end up walking away from each other but if you did end up saying good-bye would you lose apart of yourself as well...watching the other half of you walk away?

#2. Can't Stay Away From You from the album Let It Loose

From that first opening note, I was hooked on this song and I like how the tone is more pensive than sad and even though very adult contemporary I don't really think of it as a ballad. Yes it is slow to be considered a ballad but I find it more of an emotional plea from the heart that is just too powerful to be labeled a ballad because too people who don't appreciate this type of music could put the word sappy in front of it and I don't like that. I think maybe I relate to the lyrical content of the song too much is why I can't see it as a ballad because believe me I have been in a situation similar to this! Sometimes you will love someone and that love is not reciprocated because the other person only wants to be friends or maybe they are pining for someone else and you feel like you may just be the last resort. You know that maybe you need to just walk away and try to find love somewhere else but you don't want to lose this person as a friend. You know you can't stay away from people you care about but in the long run I've found sometimes you do and it's all for the best. 

So which hit is this list's top pick? It just happens to be one of my favorite ballads and even though the live version is best the album one is too...

#1. Words Get In The Way from the album Primitive Love

This was I believe on a collection of Gloria Estefan videos my sister recorded for me when I was little after I discovered her for the first time and the video above was how I heard the song until I found it on her greatest hits album in its original album/studio version. It's always good to hear performers sing live without all the studio sound behind it because it proves just how powerful some singers really are and Gloria Estefan sounds beautiful live! Being in a friendship that was once an old relationship can be hard if you have to watch your former flame or crush be with someone new and you will hate the day when they come to tell you that they are falling in love. It's going to be especially hard because you have been trying to get your courage together to tell them how much you love them and now you know before your heart becomes broken further you just have to walk away. This song is not the object of your affection getting a wake-up call and realizing they have loved you all along but you being strong enough to admit you may never fall in love again they way you hope and being the one to walk away before any pain is caused.

So are you a little impressed by how much music I like and how many different artists I love? Well even if you aren't  I'm still not going to stop talking about my large music collection! So what artist will I talk about next or are we going to get some more randomness? I hope you come back and see!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Random Top 10 #1

Welcome back music lovers this time you really are in for a treat the first of many Random Top Tens! Now a random top ten does not focus on one artist and sometimes not the same genre. There are many songs that I like and over the years I have collected so many of them that I would just like to share with you. I discovered music in many different ways through the movies, television shows, the radio and the MTV and VH1 of my youth. I can't wait because there is so much music to talk about so let's get started on the first ever Random Top 10 of my favorite songs!

#10. Send Me An Angel by Real Life

First heard this song in the movie Teen Wolf Too during a classic 80s montage moment and it was love at first note. Being an 80s child is probably why I have thing about synth melodies thanks to so much New Wave and Soft Rock using synthesizers and why I like newer songs that implement the same kind of beats. It was first released in 1983 and again in 1989 and is about wondering if you will ever find love. I think it is a very seductive yet subtle song.

#9. Possession by Sarah McLachlan

First heard the song on VH1 in 1994 (11 years old)

By now it's common knowledge that Sarah McLachlan wrote this song about an obsessed fan who then almost took her to court to sue her over using stuff he wrote in his letters but it was dismissed when the man committed suicide. The dark tone of the lyrics makes the song seem almost forbidden to listen to it but then you just can not get the damn thing out of your mind! I love the sound of the organ which brings about a Gothic tone which of course intrigues me and Sarah McLachlan just has a velvet voice.

#8. Take My Breath Away by Berlin

No child of the 80s can not love or at least get this song out of their heads! From the soundtrack to Top Gun and produced by Giorgio Moroder, it has of course that instinctive keyboard/synthesizer hook and the hauntingly powerful vocals of Terri Nunn. Being very young when the song came out, I had no idea about how very sexy and romantic the song was and probably fell in love with it because of it being on MTV and VH1 where children respond to the images flashing on TV screens. This is such a great song I don't see how anyone could not like it unless new wave-pop isn't your thing.

#7. Ordinary Life by Kristen Barry

This song is on the soundtrack to the 1999 film Cruel Intentions starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Philippe. It plays during a scene where Ryan's character Sebastian tries to seduce Reese's character Annette and it sets the mood perfectly even though it plays quite faintly in the background. I discovered this song because Kristen Barry helped sing background vocals on The Road Home, an acoustic album by my favorite band Heart. I was interested in hearing what her own voice sounded like instead of being overpowered by the vocals of Ann Wilson and I find it has a raspy, velvet quality. I love the drum beat and guitar that make for a very steamy, entrancing track.

#6. Just Be Good To Me by The SOS Band

Okay this song wasn't on the official soundtrack of the movie but I heard it for the first time in the background of the party scene in 10 Things I Hate About You. It has that early 80s R&B/Funk sound and I think another reason I like it is it was written and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis who went on to work with Janet Jackson! It of course is another sexy song meant for slow dancing on the floor of the club and it is about loving someone who is known to be a real heart breaker. No matter how many girls he might have you still want him even though everyone else around you thinks you are delusional and as long as you get him for one night as long as he treats you right that's all you'll need. Now I know the message of the song that I pick up doesn't fit well with today's standards but it is one of my favorite songs.

#5. Stay by Shakespears Sister

Okay yes the video is very weird but I think that is why it drew in my attention when I first saw it back on MTV in 1992 when I was about eight or nine years old. Before I get more into the song, the video was directed by Sophie Muller (you may know her as directing a lot of No Doubt videos) and the woman who plays the angel of death going after the guy is Siobhan Fahey, former Bananarama member and former wife of the Eurythmics member, Dave Stewart. I always see the video as a perfect example of visual interpretation of the lyrics which is life and death. Being a person who has been depressed and has known a person who did take their own life it shows one side of being sick of living and wanting to end your life but there is one person who wants you to stay whether it is romantic, family or friendly love trying to pull you back from that dark edge. When the song gets to the bridge that is death trying to persuade you to give in and almost seducing you and may even be symbolic of personal demons such as drugs and nightmares. In the video's case, life and love defeat death. I may be taking the lyrics to a rather unintentional place but after so many years of listening to this song, I think that is why I love it.

#4. Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House

Possibly one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard! As I constantly state, I am a child of the 1980s so anything from the last half of that decade has burrowed deep into my brain and this is no exception. Being too young to understand it then and now being older and having listened to it a million times, it is a wonderful song about keeping hope in the darkest of times. I think the full impact of it hit me when I saw it used at the beginning of the second part of the mini-series for Stephen King's The Stand (won't spoil it for you but it is worth checking out). I know the lyrics seem to fall more toward a couple staying together no matter how hard the world tries to tear them apart thanks to war, violence or even certain people and is clear to interpretation. Musically, I also love that organ that plays in the middle part of the song before the last verse to bring it an uplifting song one may hear in church. I believe the visuals are what caught my young eye and would you believe the video was directed by Alex Proyas of Dark City and The Crow fame? Guess that's why I thought the surreal feeling felt a little familiar...

#3. Into The Night by Benny Mardones

Not being sarcastic but I have my mother to thank for making me like this song as I heard it on many car rides and many visits to the dentist. Also (again not being sarcastic) I hate to say that this song is probably the ultimate song about jail bait. Okay in the quite literal context it is a guy singing about a girl who is sixteen years old and is much older than her and people tell him to leave her alone but if I disliked songs based on what they are truly about or what picture the lyrics paint...I probably would like less music than I do and that would be kind of a sad thing. I don't know how you could change the first few lines of this song to make it a little less Lolita fuel but I always try to picture it as a man who's older than the girl by at least a handful of years that may make people uncomfortable but not grossed out (up to your own personal standards I guess...) If you put that one little fact aside I find this to be a beautiful song about discovering a love for the first time that is not a crush or infatuation but equally felt between both people. Others around you have not found this true love yet so they don't understand it and try to keep you apart. No matter what kind of obstacles are thrown your way you will find a way to be with that person and if you had to do everything over would. As you can see the romantic in me always tries to find a way to come out on top but in this case, you have to look at this song with rose-colored glasses or you may take it to a ludicrous, mind in the gutter place.

#2. Heartbeat by Don Johnson

I know what you are thinking and it's probably along the lines of what the fuck, am I right? Yes I admit without shame that I love this song and a list that MTV did only has itself to blame. You see I caught a program called 25 Lame where the video for this song was torn apart by Jon Stewart, Denis Leary, Chris Kattan and Janeane Garofolo. They were so busy making fun of it that I could not hear the song and as I could not remember hearing this song in its late 1980s heyday, I searched endlessly to find the song long before You Tube was even created! I found it on an 80s compilation at the mall, purchased it just for this song and I have loved it ever since and that was 1999! This may be considered one of the worst songs ever but I actually like it! Don Johnson may not be one of the greatest rock vocalists and more remembered as a television actor but at least he gives his all on his vocals and he does sound really good (I'm not the best singer so almost anyone is better than me). It may be standard 80s cheese but I love the guitar work and rhythm section that drive the song and the intensity of Johnson's performance. He really brings to life to me a song about a man who has been alone, giving up all material possessions, to try and find love. He's been hurt and almost feels as if his heart has stopped beating it's become so hard. Despite this fact he knows there is a girl out there who feels like he does but her heart has yet to become fully empty of love and it is so intense he can feel it when he almost thought he couldn't feel at all. I may be trying to give more subtext than a song like this deserves but that is just how the song makes me feel.

So a pretty random selection so far, isn't it? So with a list like this, what could possibly be my top choice? For my first ever Random Top Ten...

#1. You Can Do Magic by America

America...a band I came to love again thanks to my mother and this song in particular. I came home from college for either a weekend or a break with some friends and my mother just happened to be listening to the band's greatest hits and when this song came on, we were all dancing and having a good time! I have always loved that soft-rock, folksy sound America had this song is more the latter even though it does have beautiful guitar work of both the acoustic and electric variety but less heavy and more melodic. The beginning of the song is most certainly the hook that reels you in and then the pop sound makes it a great little foot-tapper as I mentioned at the beginning. Of course it is almost a cliche declaring love to be like magic and of course that's the basic premise of the lyrics  but it is kind of fitting to people who think love doesn't exist...I should know I use to be one of them! It's about discovering love that makes a disillusioned person break the stone surrounding their heart and see the world filled the true magic it always had! Sometimes a person can do that for you and then you do the same thing in return for them because once you find a love that is can do magic of your own!

So many artist, so many songs...the possibilities are endless! Will we focus on one single artist or will more random music shuffle your way? Find out next time!