Thursday, April 28, 2016

five for Friday: songs I'm listening to now.

It’s almost time for the spring member drive on Minnesota Public Radio, and you know what that means.

I forgo the radio for a week and listen to music and podcasts.

Seriously, the member drive is the worst – especially if, like me, you are already a member. MPR successfully guilted me into sustaining membership years ago, and I realize that they’d like to guilt me into giving even more, but come on. I feel like there should be a secret alternative non-member-driving MPR station that members can tune into during the member drive.

I mean, come on. I just want to know what’s going on in the world, but I can’t do so without hearing twenty minutes of fundraising every hour. (Seriously, I looked it up: they have four five-minute breaks every hour to beg for members.) Over NINE DAYS. BAHHHHHH.

So here we are, on the cusp of the member drive, and I’ve been finding myself listening gearing up to go radio-less by listening to the same few songs over and over. My commute is about 40 minutes each way, so that means I can listen to these songs a whole lot. And I want to share them with you – especially if you are also in desperate need of entertainment to stave off the torturous MPR member drive.

Mumford and Sons
James and I went to see a Mumford and Sons concert in Omaha on my birthday, and it was amazing. We just don’t go to see huge concerts like that – not just because we don’t have the time, but because there just aren’t too many bands performing today we’d pay that kind of money to see. Mumford and Sons, though? YES. It’s important to note that James and I were listening to Mumford and Sons before they were cool. I can practically hear you rolling your eyes, but we were. Their first album was released in the US in February 2010, by which time I had moved to Minneapolis and was already a dedicated listener of the Current (MPR’s hipster music station). The Current played Mumford and Sons for months on end, and I was immediately smitten. This, my friends, was at the very beginning of their commercial success – way back when they were still playing at venues like First Avenue. (I wanted desperately to see them there, but I was an unpaid intern with four part-time jobs and could definitely not afford a ticket.) Anyway, here we are, six years later, and Mumford and Sons are HUGE. The show we saw at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha was sold out – a 19,000 seat venue. The concert was great, to be sure, but James and I were much more interested in material from their first two albums than that from their third and most recent. "I Will Wait" off their second album spoke to my freaking SOUL - James and I had been doing the long-distance relationship thing for two-plus years when the song was released, and that song was about US. Anyway, reminisce-y ranting aside, I think we can all agree that Mumford and Sons’ third album is not their best – it’s a departure from the folky banjo-y sound that we all know and love. The lyrics and melodies of the new album are still solidly Mumford and Sons, but the rest is over-produced: too much electric guitar meets 90s rock meets Kings of Leon. “Ditmas” is a song off that album: it’s not one of my top Mumford and Sons songs, and it’s not even my favorite song from that third album. The reason I’ve been listening to it so much is because during the concert, Marcus Mumford took off running and did a lap around the entire venue (up and down the stairs and everything) while singing this song. There were video screens showing him as went, and he had this giant goofy grin on his face and it was so darn adorable that I couldn't even handle it. So I’m listening to this song and thinking of that concert and feeling like a smug hipster because I knew them way back when.

Obviously, I’ve been listening to a lot of Prince in the last week. “7” is my all-time favorite Prince song, and I feel like more people should know it. I have had an appreciation of Prince for years – not just because of his music, but because of who he was. He was unapologetically Prince, and I respect that. Apparently the rest of the world did, too, because the entire planet turned purple last week. I even heard a blurb on MPR about how there’s a movement at the state capitol to make purple the official color of Minnesota. Meanwhile, I have been doing my small part to appreciate Prince – I should’ve been doing it all along, but you know how it goes. I wore purple last week, I ordered Purple Rain on vinyl, and I put a special Prince playlist on my phone. “7” gets played more than anything else.

Twenty One Pilots
James introduced me to Twenty One Pilot, and they’ve been slowly growing on me for months now. He’s been doing it one song at a time, and he started with “Stressed Out,” which is the story of my life. And the life of every other adult, probably. ("Wake up, you need to make money.") James has moved through a number of their other songs that have become staples on my car music playlist, like “Guns For Hands” and “The Judge” 
(which James totally just learned to play on the ukulele). But my current favorite is “Migraine.” As someone who does indeed get migraines from time to time, this song sums them up beautifully (“am I the only one I know/waging my wars behind my face and above my throat”), as well as my distaste for Sundays (“I don’t know why they always seem so dismal/thunderstorms, clouds, snow, and a slight drizzle”).

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
I loved pretty much everything on The Heist, so I have to say that I was SO VERY EXCITED for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s sophomore album. When I finally listened to it, I was disappointed. The songs seemed more or less the same to me, and they all seemed to be about being rich and famous. Meh. “Downtown” took a couple of tries, but I found myself really liking it. I hadn’t heard it before I listened to the album, which made me several loops behind everyone else, but whatever. It cemented itself as a current favorite when I listened to it over and over and over to keep myself awake on a looooong drive home from Morris a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know what I would’ve done without “Downtown.” Bonus: I work at the downtown library, so every time someone says "downtown," I get to think of the chorus for this song. (Side note: this is most definitely the only song in my iTunes where "scrotum" is one of the lyrics. Thanks for that, Macklemore.)

Uma Thurman
Fall Out Boy
You know those days when you’re driving home from work and it’s been a long day and the weather is all dreary and you just want something SUPER LOUD? “Uma Thurman” is that song. I was also way behind the curve with this song – I had never heard it until James arranged it for pep band. (I love MPR, but it definitely impedes my knowledge of Top 40 songs.) Contrary to my Mumford and Sons “I heard them first” snootery (that should be a word, don't you think?), it’s really not that often that I am on the front lines of popular music any more – especially since it's been five years since I could get the Current in my car. So I know “Uma Thurman” thanks to the Ellsworth Pep Band. Ridiculous.

That’s it: those are my top five songs of the moment, and you can bet I’ll be playing them on a continuous loop until the MPR member drive is over. Wish me luck getting through that dark time in the public radio calendar.

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