Music for 2013

The year is almost over: time to consider my Song of the Year for 2013.  So that everyone’s clear, my first two entries are counterexamples: they are not good music, at least not for me.  Anyway, here goes:

Extra Specially Bad: Merry Christmas Exclamation Point

This is a very late entry: the video appeared only a couple of days ago.  Yet it is so extraordinarily bad that it made this post after listening for 20 seconds.  The music was thrown together, and doesn’t properly fit the words.  And if you want to send your not-quite-friends a text message for Christmas, I really don’t want to hear about it.  Do whatever melts your butter.

Not even close: Wrecking Ball

My son was enthusiastic about this song, and recommended I give it a listen.  On one level, it isn’t too bad: I don’t find myself wanting to turn it off while listening to it.  But five minutes later, the tune has completely slipped my mind, except for the first line of the refrain: “I came in like a wrecking ball….”  OK, then what?

And I remember when music videos told a story, or at least had some continuity.  We see alternating visions of Miley riding a wrecking ball while naked, and then, no longer naked, kissing a sledgehammer.  And this is supposed to evoke… what?  My fantasy life on a construction site?

Honorable mention: The Fox

Yes, the first few lines are mind-blowingly juvenile (“Dog goes woof / Cat goes meow / Bird goes tweet / And mouse goes squeek…”).    But the music is propulsive, and unlike Miley, stays in my head.  It’s music that goes with doing something, rather than moaning about how rotten the world is.

And the winner: Levitate

The YouTube video for this song is titled ‘People Are Awesome,’ a series of clips of people demonstrating feats of athleticism.  My wife had found the video last winter, and I was more interested in the music than the visuals.  The music suggests energetic striving and achievement.

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And a final thought.  This song came out when I was in high school.  I associated it with, among other things, a part of New York City that I had to visit this past week for a project.  In its time, it was one good song among many.  If it came out this year, it would have swept the competition.  Is it just that music, like everything else, is more exciting when you’re a teenager?  Or are there some darker forces at work?

2 thoughts on “Music for 2013”

  1. “Merry Christmas Exclamation Point” is not a particularly pleasing song melodically, but i do like its observation that I don’t not care enough not to do anything, so I’m sending you a Christmas text, or words to that effect. A Christmas text is coming to take the place of those nearly equally empty gestures, the Christmas card and the Christmas e-mail.

    We know people and things shallowly, not deeply. I gave up on Facebook because I dislike dealing with other people’s issues. It was shocking to see how many federal employees are spending at the limits of their income and credit to an extent that missing 20% of pay for several pay periods IMMEDIATELY puts making their mortgage payment at risk.

    I was not a fan of “Thunder Island” when it was out, but I’ve gone back to listening more to the music of my college days and about ten years after that. There is a quality to that music that current music largely lacks. So many artists are concept rather than execution. Chances are that the prize for “American Idol”, “America’s Got Talent” or “The Voice” is a recording contract or the ability to play in a venue for a period of time. My guess is that fewer than 20% of the people who win those contests will still have a career in the industry five years later.

    1. I only watch America’s Got Talent (and mostly for the non music acts)but outside of a few examples, like Jackie Evancho (young opera singer)very few winners who were singers went on to successful careers. Most of the successful acts were not singers. Having been a singer myself on a semi pro level I can tell you the majority of singers (including major singers)do not have a long career.

      Bad music has always existed. I was very lucky to have had two radio stations growing up that were powerful AM stations. They really dominated the midwest (well, being from the largest midwestern city who could they not?). I mean one of these stations was the first American station to play the Beatles no less. Neither one is still top 40 radio (one switched in the 70’s and the other late 80’s) but the one that was the later top 40 station has had for the last few years a flashback reunion with former DJ’s and playing music (it is now a talk station). Anyway a few years ago they produced a segment that I uploaded into my iPod of a selection of songs they played and quite a few were horrible. It’s just that because these songs were so long ago many people tend to forget how bad some songs were. The ironic is most of these songs were #1 for many years.

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