Monday, June 17, 2013

Six Songs I Can't Get Enough Of

I don't listen to nearly as much music as I used to, but when I find something I like I tend to put it on repeat.  Here's six songs that I currently can't get enough of:

1.  Home—She & Him

Zooey Deschanel is my ultimate girl crush.  She's adorable.  She's hilarious.  She's multi-talented.  She's also in my favorite movie of all time.  So it's only natural that I adore She & Him.  Any time this song comes on in my car (which is frequently, because it's on both CDs that are currently in heavy rotation), I can't help but sway, smile, and sing along.  Any band that can make me instantly happy is definitely number one on my list.  It doesn't get better than home, now does it?

2.  Off to the Races—Lana Del Rey

I think I'm a little late in jumping on the Lana Del Rey train, but I'm just happy that I made it on.  I've been on a Lana kick lately but this song is easily my favorite.  The jazz funk/contemporary dancer in me can't help but love it.  If I were getting back into dance or choreography (which I suppose I may be doing soon), this would be pretty high up on the list of songs to use.

3.  Love Interruption—Jack White

Again with the creepy songs, but I also can't get enough of this one by Jack White.  I heard it randomly on the independent radio station out of Bloomington, IN, and have had it on repeat ever since.  I don't even know what it is about this song that makes me love it, but I do.  Also, Jack deserves some more love for helping to reopen the Masonic Temple in Detroit.  Maybe I'll get to see him play there, once I'm a Michigander.

4.  Crazy in Love—Emeli Sandé featuring the Bryan Ferry Orchestra

Don't get me wrong—I'm a huge fan of Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love."  But there's just something about a good cover, especially a cover that sounds nothing like the original.  And no, I haven't seen the new Gatsby film yet.  I've read mixed reviews—mostly because of the music selection—but I expected nothing else from Baz Luhrmann.  Anyone expecting anything less extravagant needs to go home and watch "Moulin Rouge" again.

5.  Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35—Bob Dylan

If I had to listen to one artist for the rest of my life, it would undoubtedly be Bob Dylan.  The horns in this song make me want to dance barefoot in the rain with an umbrella in New Orleans.  And I've never even been to New Orleans.  Does anyone want to take me?

6.  Hearts a Mess—Gotye

After "Somebody That I Used To Know," I wasn't all to impressed with Gotye.  But then I heard this song (also from the "Gatsby" soundtrack), and Gotye found my weakness:  I love songs that whistle.  It doesn't matter if it's Flo Rida's "Whistle," Jason Derulo's "It Girl," Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes' "Home," or Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy," I love whistling.  This song is no exception, and it also falls into the jazz funk/contemporary dancer category.  Do what you will with my whistling obsession.

So there you go.  Six songs that I can't get enough of.

Also, if someone wants to make me a CD of all whistling songs, that would be awesome.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"...and then she started to Facebook stalk..."

I go to fiction to escape, as cliché as that sounds.

For one thing, I get enough of real life.  I live it every day.  Books give me a way to forget that the real world exists for a while and get completely caught up somewhere else.

For another thing, I find that a social commentary is much more effective when you're so far removed from real life that you can start seeing the similarities.  Think Gulliver's Travels.  Or The Hunger Games.  Somehow, Katniss and Peeta's relationship wouldn't have been nearly as fascinating if they'd made it Facebook official.

All of this is leading up to the fact that I really hate references to pop culture or modern technology in books.  Yes I know, it's nearly impossible to escape.  And yes, I know even Shakespeare did it.  But my question is, if someone picks up a novel 50 years from now, will they know or care what Facebook is? Jay-Z?  Rihanna?  The song "Umbrella"?  I would argue, probably not.

So, the last two books I've read were George RR Martin's A Clash of Kings and JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy.  Georgey definitely is not guilty of mentioning pop culture in his novels (but I will admit that I'm really only hooked because of HBO, and I don't think that the writing is all it's cracked up to be).  A Song of Ice and Fire fits the bill, for me, because I'm transported somewhere completely foreign when I'm reading.  If George is making some sort of social or political commentary, I'm not paying enough attention to notice it--probably because I'm too busy flipping to the index of names in the back wondering "whose side are they on again?".  Regardless, I went into the series after watching two seasons of the series on HBO, I knew what to expect, and I got it.

I'd like to say I went into The Casual Vacancy with no preconceived notions, but that would be a lie.  How can one not have Harry Potter in the back of one's mind when picking up anything that says "JK Rowling" on it?  I'd argue that they can't.  Anyway, I know that this novel isn't fantasy, it isn't for children, and I'd read enough reviews to know that it's much darker and grittier than anyone expected.  On that front, I was not disappointed.  Where I was disappointed was the references to pop culture and modern technology that jarred me out of the small-town mysticism of Pagford and into my own daily life.  And I didn't like that.

I can play devil's advocate and say that these references are meant to jar us.  The crumbling Abbey in Pagford, the death of Barry Fairbrother, and the pop culture references, I believe, are all symbolic for the same thing--the deterioration of an older way of life and an uncomfortable, sudden transition into the new.  While the older, established Pagford residents cling desperately to the old, the younger intruders come steamrolling in with the new.  Do the references to Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Facebook cyber-bullying make that argument any stronger?  I don't think so, but maybe.

Overall, The Casual Vacancy didn't disappoint.  I read it in a day.  Couldn't put it down.  But reading about someone sending Facebook messages or playing "Umbrella" at a funeral definitely shocked me--and not in a good way.