I've been a hardcore Anglophile, or person who loves British culture, ever since I can remember (probably due to STEPS and SClub). I love their charming accents and quirky slang, their rediculously hilarious shows (specifically Misfits and Inbetweeners), and of course, their music. Recently two British boy bands have become massive accross the world and are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S.
Normally I am not a huge radio pop fan, but man I am a sucker for brilliant British pop and these guys have some insanely catchy songs. Plus the fact that these groups are called "boy bands" instantly takes me back to my childhood during the 90's aka the Golden Age of Boy bands. To explain why I am okay with these groups, I figured it was only fair to explain more about them. First up is One Direction:
*Cue screaming girls and hipsters pulling their hair out*
One Direction are a group of 5 young lads that were formed by the infamous Sime Cowell 2010 on X Factor UK. 4 of them, Lous, 20, Zayn, 19, Liam 18, and Harry, 18, hail from England, while Niall hails from Ireland. These guys are insanely popular across the globe and if you have a younger sister, they are probably obsessed with these guys. As much as you think you'd hate them because they seem like the antithesis of good music, you can't help but like them. "That's What Make You Beautiful" is probably the catchiest songs to come about in the past couple years and I couldn't help but sing along after the first listen. It's crazy to see how far these guys have come from X Factor because I watched their season with one of my best friends (who just so happens to be British) and I never expected the whole boy band deal to cross the Atlantic, but boy was I wrong. Yes, their music may not be the best (some songs are way overproduced and they should stick to more powerpop than clubby songs) but it's a hell of a lot better than most trash on the airwaves currently. My other guilty pleasures from their debut album "Up All Night" are the Kelly Clarkson-penned "Tell Me A Lie", the mature sounding "Same Mistakes", the unabashedly boy band-tastic sounding "One Thing" and cheeky bonus track "Another World".
Here's an acoustic version of One Thing:
Tell Me A Lie:
Now for more mature audiences, The Wanted:
The Wanted formed in 2009 and are also an British/Irish boy band, but they definitely do not fit the stereotype of one. The Brits of the band are Tom, 23, Max, 23, Jay, 21, and Nathan, 18, and Siva, 23, hails from Ireland. I have a lot of respect for these guys because even though they are considered a "boy band", these guys busted their asses touring and doing radio gigs and managed to become popular in the UK without being on a reality show (which is how most UK popstars get famous), though Max and Tom both auditioned for X Factor. What makes these guys so different from most boy bands? They don't dress alike, they all can play instruments, they co-write their songs, and they don't dance or have any choreography whatsoever. The guys are more like guys you would hang out with at a pub and knock back some pints while making dirty jokes than have cheesy dance moves and they even fought their label to not have to wear color coordinated outfits. Don't dismiss them because of their platinum selling euro-dance hit "Glad You Came", these guys are legitimately talented. Their most recent single "Chasing the Sun" is more in the vein of GYC, but on their debut EP, which comes out April 24th, they included some of their songs that were released in their native UK, such as their Coldplay-inspired indie gem "All Time Low", and the soulful dubstep-infused "Warzone". Some of my other favorites by The Wanted include "Let's Get Ugly", a quirky Wild West inspired song, and the rousing "Weakness". These guys make really good pop with an edgier twist and I can't get enough, though I do have to say I am more partial to their first album. I see good things in store for The Wanted.
Here's their cover of The Goo Goo Doll's "Iris":
Though these guys make pop, I can help but like them. Both bands are hilarious and they are incredibly charming, especially The Wanted. I like how the Wanted's music has more personality to it and is more mature, though I guess I do like One Direction for their fun, youthful songs. Anyways, though I like a lot of different genres, mainly indie rock, I can't help but dance like a fool and cheerily sing along whenever I hear these boy bands' songs. Life's too short to focus on credibility, though it enrages me when people call 1D the "new Beatles". Just listen and enjoy!
It's always hard for me to pick my albums of the year because I have add, especially with my taste in music. I'm so all over the place so it's hard for an album to get my attention enough for me to listen it all the way through and enjoy it. Also, I'm really bad in ranking albums because I listen to a lot of different artists. But here is my list for 2011:
Charlie Simpson -Young Pilgrim
Though this album is a newer discovery (thank youBlake!), it became an instant favorite. This album described everything thathappened in my life and I have never related so much to an album as I did withYoung Pilgrim. This album was a departure from his post-hardcore band,Fightstar, as much as that band was to his first band, the poppy outfit,Busted. His solo album is a soulful indie folk/acoustic masterpiece that isakin to the work of City and Colour. Charlie’s gruff, yet soulful voice sanglyrics that would normally depress a listener with such a hopeful tone,especially in the song “Down Down Down” and “Parachutes”. His more up-temposongs, such as folky “All At Once” and old-school sounding “Cemetary” are justas strong as his slower, more ethereal songs such as the powerful “Riverbanks”and the haunting “Hold On”. The music in the background is not lacking by anymeans and many of the songs have an ethereal sound, while others are morefolky. This album makes you think andyearn for better things to come and gives you the hope that you will get whatyou want. It’s earnest without being cheesy and makes you think without beingtoo serious. I honestly can’t say enoughabout how good of an album this is.
Frank Ocean -nostalgia, Ultra
This album brings a new kind of rnb. It brings the oldschool richness of rnb of the 90’s (I’m a sucker for any genre if 90’s music), eclecticinfluences, heart on your sleeve honestly, sprinkled with a touch of cockiness.Frank Ocean is a member of the controversial rap group OFWGKTA (Odd Future) andunlike his fellow group members, his music is much easier to digest. FrankOcean is pretty much the antithesis of the rappers of his group. Despite havingan eclectic taste in music and heart-on-his-sleeve lyrics, he still has streetcred and accepts the fact that he can be somewhat cocky. His wide range istaste is on exhibit in his album. He re-wrote an MGMT hit for “Nature Feels”, sings a song over the Eaglesclassic “Hotel California” and covers Mr. Hudson and Coldplay. Some critics sayhis album lacks in originality, but his original songs more than disprove thatopinion. “Swim Good” is one of the best songs of 2011 and the metaphorsthroughout the song are so inventive and “Novacane”, though not quite asemotional as his other songs, has a chill “swagger” to it.
Foster the People - Torches
This is a great album from a band that produced one ofthe most popular songs of this year and was an early favorite for me. Everyoneand their mother (even my grandparents) knew their single “Pumped Up Kicks”,and though some people dislike the lyrics, no one can deny how catchy that songis. Anyone that believes that this band is a “One Hit Wonder” should listen tothis album because there are so many good songs on this album. The lead singledoes not speak for the sound rest of the album and a listener can’t judge therest of the album based on that song alone. This album is full of funky songsand their sound in general is disco-y meets modern synth-based bands, such asPassion Pit, but overall is hard to describe (they even have a song called “Callit What You Want”. Every song is an adventure, minus the slight misstep of “Don’tStop (Color on the Walls)”. Mark Foster’svoice is really unique and gets better with each listen and the music is justas interesting. Many people write this album off as a “fun, summer album”, butit’s almost 2012 and I’m still spinning this album. I’d suggest watching theirlive and acoustic performances to see their talent in action.
Patrick Stump – Soul Punk
Though many Fall Out Boy fans such as myself yearn forthe glory days of the band, PatrickStump’s solo album shows that even though those days are in the past, he isn’tdwelling on them or making bad music (ahem, looking at you Pete Wentz). Thisalbum was a major risk because it is so different from his past releases withFOB, but it paid off. I could hear Patrick’s soul come out while in FOB, but helets his soulful voice soar in this album. His influnces are obvious in hissongs, such as Prince and Michael Jackson, especially the latter in “Explode”. The songs are funky, energetic, and powerful.Not only is his vocal performance stellar, his songwriting skills show thatPete Wentz wasn’t the only good lyricist in FOB. Not all Fall Out Boy fans aregoing to love this album and Patrick doesn’t care. In “Run Dry (X Hearts XFingers)” he even sings “I don’t have to prove myself to you.” This albumobviously wasn’t for his fans, it was for him, and isn’t that true artistry? Thoughthis album was the album that he was never able to do in his band, he createdan album that is not hard for a listener to love. I have high hopes for Patrickin whatever musical venture he is involved in.
Adele - 21
I don’t care who tries to argue this, but Adeleundeniably has the best voice of any modern female singer out there. She isonly 23, but has the voice and the power of a singer who has been performingfor decades. I loved her album 19 andI knew that with right songs that she could get the recognition that shedeserved. Her songs are the songs that need to be heard. They give me hope thatmusic is losing its heart and soul. “Rolling in the Deep” was a fiery song ofrevenge and proved that no man should mess with her heart. There is more soulin a few seconds of that song than 99% of the songs that are played on Top 40radio stations. Miss Adele did not write “Someone Like You”, but sang it withsuch conviction that you could sense that she had experience a similarheartache to the story that the lyrics portrayed. Every single person, male/female, gay/straight,young/old can relate to that song, which made it so popular. Even the othersongs on the album have the same power to hit you right in the chest. Adelegives me hope that female singers can be powerful and not sacrifice talent andquality for popularity.
The Cab - SymphonySoldier
Though I don’t share thedisdain that many AP users have towards pop music, I normally don’t respect itas much as other genres and similarly I lacked respect for The Cab. Their firstalbum had a few songs that showed their potential, but overall was prettylackluster. This album was the album I hoped they produced. I was skepticalabout this album, especially with many members leaving and the fact that thiswas self-released, but I was surprised to hear how great this cd was. Not onlyhas Alex DeLeon’s voice improved, the music and production has improvedimmensely. The album starts strong, withthe opening strings and choir in “Angel with a Shotgun” and DeLeon’s voiceshines (it was just as strong when I saw them live during the summer). Thealbum’s sound is polished pop that infuses soul, big band music, strings, andstrong guitars. Every song sounds different in a good way. The songs that werewritten by other artists, such as “Faithfully” (written by Bruno Mars) and “Animal”(by Adam Levine) are really good, but the songs written by the band are muchbetter, minus the cheesy “Bad” and overdramatic “Lovesick Fool”. This album isfull of catchy, yet quality pop songs that show their range in style. Some of their songs remind me of the bigbrothers of songs of boy bands on the 90’s (which probably explains part of whyI love this album) because they are catchy and make you want to dance, but themusic and vocals are much stronger. Skeptics step aside. This is a good album,not just pop.
Panic! At the Disco - Vices and Virtues
This album had fans(including myself) nervous for the future of Panic. The last album was a “loveit or hate it” album and honestly alienated many fans, and with the departure ofhalf of the members of the band, many fans were curious as to the sound of the “newand improved” band that they once loved. When I heard “Mona Lisa” I fell inlove, probably because it had a similar sound to the bands great first album AFever You Can’t Sweat Out but more mature. That description holds true to most ofthe album. I was worried that the album was going to sound too much like theirdebut album, but it blends the bands past sounds and mixes in a maturefierceness, especially in the songs “Hurricane” and “Sarah Smiles”. The songsare stronger and the music more experimental than ever. The album’s Magnus opusis the final song, “Nearly Witches [Ever Since We Met…]”. It is brilliant andepic, starting with a children’s choir singing the chorus in French and thenbreaking into music that is electronic and then a modern vaudeville tango andjangly piano and various sound effects before it soars into the slow, yetpowerful chorus. This album is Panic at their best yet and was even beterlive.
Eisley - The Valley
The Valley is probably themost lush and most beautiful album of the year. The Dupree family is onetalented family that like fine wine, gets better with age. Sherri and Stacy’svoices are some of the best and unique voices and contrast each otherbeautifully. Their voices are so ethereal, especially when they harmonize or goback and forth, like in the fiery kiss-off “Smarter” and gorgeous and yearning “IWish” and even Chauntelle gets to let her voice shine in “Watch It Die”. Thisalbum is probably the moodiest of all of Eisley’s albums and their indie popsound has more of an edge now, but shows the beauty that can be found in pain.Over the past years that band has experienced many painful experiences, such asin relationships and with their record labels, and you can sense theirbitterness and heartbreak in many of the songs but though you feel theiranimosity towards those that hurt them, they sense that though they ate hurting,things will get better.
tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l
Childish Gambino – Camp
Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math
We Are the In Crowd - Best Intentions
M83 - Best Intentions
araabMUZIK - Electronic Dream
fun. (one of my absolute favorite bands)
I used to absolutely hate change. I guess it was only natural since humans are creatures of habit. Looking back on 2011, it was a year that I embraced change. I made the decision to change my major (went from Biology to Undecided to finally Mass Comm/Journalism), broke up with my boyfriend of over a year (it was tough, but mutual), transferred schools for the year, moved in with my grandparents (my biggest support system), got a different job, and despite one mental breakdown during finals week, I figured out how to keep myself sane.
I made mistakes, such as kind of dating a co-worker (Never, I repear Never do this), getting involved with my now former best guy friend, making some money mistakes, and others, but overall, I wouldn't change a thing. I finally started to become my own person. I stopped pretending that I was someone I'm not. I ended volatile friendships. I broke up with "the love of my life" and learned that it was okay to be single. I learned to not let my parents effect my life. I learned to accept that I may have had "mental problems" but I can be successful (I got a 3.5 GPA last semester...suck on that!). I'm doing well in life without being on any medication (go me!). I dealt with a really tough surgery that changed my outlook on life. I gave up on questioning things and worrying about what other people would think and did them. I started to live life for me.
I have learned to accept change and embrace it with open arms like an old friend. I don't believe in predestination or any other similar religious mumbo jumbo, but I believe things happen for a reason. That reason is to help you learn lessons and become a better person. Without change and struggle, I would not be the person I am today. I am finally genuinely happy. Yeah I will probably have more tough times thrown my way, but now I have hope. It's that thing that keeps me going; what I needed all along.
This is to the guy I like but he'll probably never read this.
Is the way I feel about you too obvious
Or just not at all
Do you realize that you treat me
Like no other guy treats
Do you realize that we are so close
Yet so far away
I know I hurt you
Which hurts me 10x worse
I want to be honest with you
But is it worth it?
You've seen me hurt by other guys
So many times before
But still each and everytime
I still have you
Or at least I thought I did
But what do I know
Obviously not enough
Certainly not enough
To know how you would feel
I you knew how I feel
Is this just a dream
That has no chance of becoming reality
Am I just wasting time
When I could have someone else
It could never be anyone except you
No matter who I like
What you say or do
Somehow it's just you
Ok so my day was spent at the Steelers Parade in Pittsburgh today. It was freeIng but it was amazing.
Highlights of my day:
-Seeing my favorite Steeler, Troy Polamalu and his adorable baby
-Being so close to the Steelers
-My aunt from WV came to visit and came to the parade
-Riding the subway after the parade with the hilarious drunk guys next to me. One guy started to sing Ain't too proud to beg, asked my grandma and this other older lady how they were doing, and him hugging my grandma and thatother lady when we were getting off and telling them that he will miss them
-Hearing the one Steelers player butcher Renade by Styx. I laughed so hard I cried. He was saying nah nah nah for everything he didn't know.
-Coach Tomlin seeing my sign and laughing
The worst parts of my day:
-the annoying drunk guys behind me who had like 20 beers in a duffle bag with them, an air horn that they would make go off like every 5 seconds, smoked pot, and they peed in their beer bottles
-Hearing the dj play the same 5 songs over and over again like 20 times
- the craziness on the t (the subway)
-the pounding head ache and the sore throat I have
-having to go to school tomorrow
-the pushy people
My day was something I'll remember forever. It was awesome minus the crazy drunks. I love Pittsburgh!