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Please don't stop the music

image: Cassia {Flickr}

It’s occurred to me with some sense of wonder that although last week’s post was supposedly about music, it didn’t talk about music at all.  I guess I sort of used a genre — industrial metal, in this particular case — as a jumping off point to talk about trying new things in the name of learning and love.  So today, I kind of feel like geeking out about some of the music I’ve been listening to lately.  DJ Onesmartpoptart in the house!!!  Oh god, I can’t believe I just said that.  Sorry.

I’m a simpler creature than I like to admit, but since I’ve just come out and admitted it anyway, I’ll go a step further: I honestly think my playlists lately have had little to do with any actual appreciation for the songs themselves and everything to do with the fact that it’s sundress season.  A few weeks back, my Spotify queue devolved from an it’s-okay-if-someone-walks-in-on-me Black Keys/Mat Kearney/Simon & Garfunkel hodgepodge into something much less so… specifically, a late-90s pop princess buffet. This probably happened because I’d just finished a post about wanting to clean up my media diet and eschew all details of reality stars’ so-called lives, which of course made me need to listen to Jessica Simpson’s Nick Lachey-era catalogue over and over and over again for like two weeks straight.  It’s possible a few Mandy Moore ditties made it in there too.  WHY AM I TYPING THIS OUT LOUD?  Oh well.  As much as I know you’re probably judging me, as well you should, it just feels good to get it off my chest.  And admit it: those “ditties” are delicious.  They’re lovable little cake pops full of nonsense* — sinfully sweet and vapidly perfect — and sometimes in life, that’s just what you need to take the edge off.**

To cleanse the palate, I guess, this week I added some new, slightly more respectable stuff from the likes of Regina Spektor, Sara Bareilles and Kimbra, the last of whom I’ve been trying to get into for months but nothing of hers has been sticking… until now.  You know how you like the idea of a particular artist, and you have a certain expectation of them, but nothing you hear from them quite matches what you want from them?  It’s unfair and small-minded and shallow and rude, but it’s the truth sometimes, and Kimbra wasn’t doing it for me until I had a good long listen to everything on Vows in one sitting.  Then it finally clicked, and I can only think of one way to articulate why.  Here goes:

Doesn’t this song sound exactly like the part in Pretty in Pink when Molly Ringwald decides Andrew McCarthy “didn’t break her” and proves it by making her own prom dress?  Or any 80s movie scene in which the heroine grits her teeth and SHOWS THEM ALL… by sauntering into the office/club/football game/school dance wearing something super hot and trendy?  Seriously…. don’t bother looking at the video itself — it’s just a bunch of Fight-Club-meets-Christina-Aguilera’s-Dirrrty-phase silliness.  Just close your eyes and picture the inevitable slow-mo close-up of any given protagonist putting on her lipstick, doing that pucker/kiss thing that no one actually does in real life, sliding a bra strap over her shoulder and deciding once and for all to GIVE ‘EM HELL. Through FASHION.

I can make fun all day long, but :::holy cow::: that song is catchy… and so are all these other girlie confections that have me resisting the urge to just go outside in the middle of the day in a sweet summer dress and walk the dog for an hour and a half whilst drinking lemonade.  It’s June, for godsakes.  Work’s been so nonstop that I have a midday alarm on my phone that simply says “EAT.”  Were it not for my metalhead and the handful of friends who occasionally grab me by the hair and make me go have brunch, I’d gladly be glued to work all the time.  I preach balance to everyone around me but kind of suck at finding it myself.  So perhaps my treble-clef leanings of late are my subconscious self’s way of saying, “Hey, let’s get a little sunshine up in here.”

Ugh, ew, champagne problems.  Moving on: more songs worth sharing.

If there’s someone who’s drawn your ire — some boy or girl who did you wrong, some person who betrayed you in some way or has been generally making you feel like crap — this gem’s for you.  In fact, I think I’ll make it my new theme song for those little moments when someone pisses me off.  It’s like “Piano Man” meets Cee-Lo in the most brilliant way possible, and anyone who thinks that description means it’s a horrible song is not to be trusted and probably hates dogs.

Dear Sara Bareilles: let’s please hang out and be mad at people together.

And last but not least, there’s the lovely Regina Spektor.  She just released a new album and I’m kind of stoked about it.  Regardless of the fact that I live in Austin, Land of Hip Kids Who Have Seen the Future, I have no idea what’s going on.  I love Young MC’s “Bust a Move,” for example, but not because I’m being ironic or something — I just haven’t stopped loving it since middle school.  I’m clearly not cool enough to know all the underground up-and-coming geniuses of sound and whatnot, and I always default back to music that’s more than twice as old as I am anyway, so it’s safe to say Regina Spektor is about as cool as I get.  Frankly, that’s plenty cool enough for me.  I fell in love with her back when she had all those videos on VH-1 (YES, VH-1… I SAID IT) with stark black and white sets, which at the time were exactly what I wanted my “grown-up house” to look like someday… like the Mad Hatter had developed a touch of OCD and gone on a decorating rampage.  Anyway, her new album is as idiosyncratic and wonderful as ever, and it makes me want to sit around eating borscht and talking about Tolstoy all day.  Even though I’ve never eaten borscht and couldn’t name you a Tolstoy work I’ve actually read if you held a gun to my head (hear that? It’s the sound of all my old literature teachers slamming their laptops shut and throwing their hands up in the air), Ms. Spektor and her bright red lipstick still have that effect on a person.  And that’s a good thing.

OK, your turn.  Throw me one of your earbuds.  What have you been listening to lately?  I confessed my Mandy Moore to you, so don’t you dare lie to me…

a.

*like the one in which it kind of sounds like a 16-year-old Mandy Moore is trying to solicit a male prostitute in the wilds of a vaguely Indian locale, partially because when she says “pennies,” it kind of sounds like “panties,” but mostly because over a bed of Bollywood instrumentation, she actually purrs, “How much for your love?”

**which is my defense for singing along to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” when it comes on in the car.  Let me be clear: I haven’t plunked down $1.29 for this song. I refuse. But I’ll belt it out in public like it’s my job, because that’s… better.  Or something.***

***JUST LEAVE ME ALONE OKAY?!?!?!???!!