It was quite the busy month for me in terms of songs on repeat. I started things off with a major throwback: I hadn’t listened to Nicki Minaj in years. Pink Friday was a big album when it came out, and it will always make me think of college. I still haven’t heard “Super Freaky Girl,” and I don’t think I will; Nicki has fallen off my radar recently. Her early songs, however, as the kids say, “slap.” I guess I needed a motivation boost because the two songs of hers that I was listening to are major brags.
We’ve also got JAMC on there, because of course. “Sometimes Always” was a cover that I talked about this month. But the other songs on the list are, by and large, throwbacks as well, primarily to the ’80s and ’90s. Prince came on rotation, and “On the Dark Side” was a newer discovery.
“Spanish Sahara” is one of those iykyk songs: Misfits, anyone? Beach House was part of my early “indie” music tastes, bundled in with Cults and Sleigh Bells.
The newest song on the playlist is “American Teenager” by Ethel Cain. Wow. Sweeping Americana and a chorus that makes you want to pump your fist and yell along. Her voice has an amazing poignancy. I listened to this one over and over and over this month.
Welcome to another retrospective! “Good Intentions” was on repeat for me a lot early in the pandemic. Listening to it now feels like a weird sort of reclaiming. It’s like I’m taping over the old memories. Same for “Worried About You” – I can’t remember when I last had this on repeat; it might’ve been early in the pandemic as well. Either way, the new listening has taken on a different context. I really like how it starts out so softly: we see a different part of Mick’s range, especially on the “go up in smoke” line. The “kuh” stands out.
“On the Wall” is probably pretty obvious. When am I not listening to the Mary Chain? I discussed this song in one of my Covers Corner posts. I haven’t listened to the cover version in a while. I’m just really diving into the original. The synthesizers are a hallmark of the Darklands and Automatic era.
A recurring theme this month was isolated drum tracks. Unfortunately, none of them are on Spotify that I can find, so you’ll have to settle for one of the originals that I was listening to. “Fool in the Rain” is a favorite of mine in the Led Zeppelin catalogue. The line “Well there’s a light in your eye that keeps shining/Like a star that can’t wait for the night” is so lovely to me and gets stuck in my head a lot.
This month was a blend of throwbacks and dance songs, looking forward and looking back. With “Rosanna” and “Inside Your Skin,” I visited the ’80s. I was looking up “obscure ’80s songs” for another project I’m working on, and that song by The Outfield came up. They’re best known for “Your Love,” of course, but I really like “Inside Your Skin.” It has a lovely echo and the lyrics are romantic and yearning. “Rosanna” is definitely not an obscure ’80s song; I just love the drums.
“Cold Heart” came out of the early days of the pandemic, but I didn’t discover it until recently. I think the samples of “Rocket Man” are so clever. “Always” is another dance song. It has the distorted pulse that appears in lots of songs from channels like MrSuicideSheep and Chill Nation.
I read about Arcade Fire’s new album WE in a magazine and, being the ’00s girl that I am, I had to check it out. “Age of Anxiety I” is the standout there for me. It captures the ennui that Arcade Fire has perfected.
Speaking of ennui, I closed out the month by listening to “The Freshmen” on repeat. I had that song on repeat when I was a freshmen, so it was interesting to revisit it. Now that enough time has passed, I really don’t feel the same angst that I was overwhelmed with when I first listened to it so often. I can appreciate the song for what it is, and it actually is a really good song. The blend of drums and rough guitar are an echo of Nirvana.
This month features two of my all-time favorite songs: “Rolling Waves” by The Naked and Famous and “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills & Nash. The latter is definitely a summer song, so I tend to break it out around this time of year, but it also just gets me. Something about lookin’ for that woman girl and the line, “she is all that I have left, and music is her name.” For “Rolling Waves,” I can’t really explain what I love about it; maybe the lyrics, maybe the heart-pounding way the beat ultimately crests.
We’ve also got some dance music on the playlist. This speaks to my former life as a dancer, but also, in all honesty, it’s just great background music for while I’m working. (Sometimes that’s all you need in a monthly obsession; music serves a lot of different purposes.)
Meanwhile, “Red Red Wine” was a new discovery. Who knew that it’s actually a cover, and that the original was by Neil Diamond? Not me, that’s for sure. I may talk about it more in depth for a Covers Corner feature, but what I’ll say here is that Swamp Gold, Vol. 2 has delivered another gem.
Very mini mix this month (she said alliteratively). I think I just didn’t keep as good of a track, as it were, of what I had on repeat like I usually do. That said, I did want to call out one of the gems on here. Alex Melton has been in the game for a while, and I was listening to/rediscovering his work. He primarily does “y’allternative” covers, a genre he seems to have developed; it’s essentially country-style covers of pop-punk classics. In April, one of the covers I had on repeat was “Miss You” by blink-182. I’ll have to do a longer entry on Alex eventually for my Covers Corner series.
It was ’60s and ’70s vibes around here this past month, apparently. I love “America” by Simon & Garfunkel. Not sure if it’s my favorite song of theirs, but it’s pretty high up there. (I may have mentioned at one point that I like the soundtrack version of “Mrs. Robinson” better than the original. #hottake) There was a time when I’d turn it up at the chorus: “it took me four days to HITCHHIKE FROM SAGINAW/I’VE GONE/TO LOOK FOR AMEEEEERICA.” Think you can’t belt along to ’60s folk crooners? Think again!
“Morning Has Broken” is such a romantic song to me. It’s so hopeful and joyful as well: today is a new day, just like the first one ever made. “Medicine” is romantic, too, though obviously in a different way. It’s a paean to someone that’s literally healed the narrator. The song is softer and more sweeping than the others in The 1975’s catalogue, and is definitely my favorite.
“Stealin'” by Uriah Heep was a new discovery this month. I love it! The song starts out like an echoing version of a country song and crunches into hard rock made for jamming. Now that’s something you can belt along to.
It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? What with Current Affairs, both at home and abroad, maintaining a culture blog felt…small somehow. Let me know in the comments if you run a culture blog and feel/felt the same way. But I love doing these “scrapbook” posts, so without further ado, here’s what I was listening to last month. It’s a mini list this time, but let’s dive in.
I had “I Eat Boys” on repeat actually. It’s this cheerful little ditty that has major Jennifer’s Body vibes. “Want You Like That” was a recommendation from my roommate. Looks like this was something of a Peter Gabriel month as well. “Sledgehammer” is catchy and has pretty ridiculously suggestive lyrics. Sexy songs these days are much more overt; let’s see what you can do with fruitcakes and airplanes.
“Two Points for Honesty” shows me veering into angsty territory. I really should do a Throwback Thursday post about it. It majorly takes me back to college. (Or perhaps that’s not a time I’d like to remember? Interesting tension there.)
Prince provides a nice palette cleanser to the above (and alliteration as well). “When Doves Cry” is a dance song with deeper themes. No wonder Purple Rain is one of the best-selling soundtrack albums of all time.
Better late than never! I always like doing these as a scrapbook of sorts. Last month’s theme seemed to be “cheese”: see “If You Leave Me Now” by Chicago and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me.” Both are such ballads, and both urge you to sing along: ooh, ooh, ooh, no, baby please don’t go! Those high notes rival the Bee Gees.
I can’t really explain why I had “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” on repeat last month. Maybe you can take the girl out of the drama class, but not the drama class out of the girl? Either way, it’s also a pretty stirring ballad.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have “Godstar” which is a random and wonderful song that echoes ’80s pop. It’ll get stuck in your head on first listen: trust me. (I have one of my best friends to thank for that.)
Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s take a look back at what I had on repeat in December. This month was mostly ’80s-themed, with Liquid Liquid, Aerosmith, and, unironically, A Flock of Seagulls. What inspired this time capsule? I read Walk This Way: Run-DMC, Aerosmith, and the Song That Changed American Music Forever. It made me revisit my favorite Aerosmith song, “Angel,” and also helped me discover “Cavern.” “Cavern” was an instant add to the DJing playlist I have on a separate Spotify account. (Daydreaming of a time when I can go dancing again!) Meanwhile, I don’t think I had ever actually heard “I Ran,” but because I was in an ’80s mood, I just kept falling down that rabbit hole. Aside from the one-hit wonder status and the distractingly ridiculous hairdos, it’s actually a good song.
We’ve also got a perennial favorite, “Get on the Road” by Tired Pony. It may or may not have appeared on other Monthly Obsession playlists. Whoops! It’s just so good: stirring guitars, poetic lyrics, and heartfelt delivery. “Invented” by Jimmy Eat World has a similarly emotional sound, down to the acoustic-tinged electric guitar. It was a happy accident of a discovery for me. I had been listening to one of my other perennial favorites, “Littlething,” and I must’ve left autoplay on because “Invented,” the next song on the album, started playing immediately after. I love when things like that happen. What are discoveries of yours from this month?
This month I listened to isolated drum tracks from iconic songs – “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Rosanna,” and “Fool in the Rain” – but obviously those aren’t available on Spotify, so I’ve included the full songs instead. Listening to just the drums was an interesting exercise. It shows the bare bones of a song. In the case of Rosanna in particular, the isolated drums almost are the song itself; the rest is a ghost above it.
“DON’T TELL THE BOYS” is a recurring favorite. Petey is a great new artist and his success is well-deserved. I posted about his full-length debut a few months ago.
“Sometimes Always” is an obvious choice because, well, The Jesus and Mary Chain are my favorite band full-stop. I love so many of their songs, but “Sometimes Always” was one of the first that introduced me to them.
Speaking of favorite bands, The Limousines are here again. “Parachute” came out awhile ago, but it’s still their most recent release. I’m bummed that they don’t seem to be active anymore. They got me through high school in a lot of ways and were one of my original entries into indie music.