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The Music of 2016: Q3

Better late than never? I had this done a week ago except for YouTube links. I knew I should have buckled down and finished it / put it in the queue that night.

I completely burned out on the overstimulation of Spotify's "Discover Weekly" feature in late July and have yet to go back to it, which is reflected here in a sudden drop in quantity, alongside more of a shift back to full CDs. And, of course, the miniature artist revival that happened in August, which I'll leave as a surprise for people who don't remember. Anyway, have fun with this, as always!

We'll start with CD recs.

July: Case/Lang/Veirs self-titled CD
Background: boyfriend pushed this on me, and I was v. reluctant because after 2 loops, nothing other than “Greens of June” stood out to me. Until I ended up doing back-to-back Adventure Days where I was driving for about 30 minutes straight each way, with this CD in the background because I was too focused on the route to be switching stuff up, and the whole thing sank into my brain at once.

As for the actual music: the ballads are its weakness, but Blue Fires is the only one I find myself skipping routinely out of boredom. Atomic Number is an excellent crystalline opener (like words across my heart / symbols of infinity / elements so pure / atomic number), Song for Judee is kinda dark but also very nostalgic, Delirium is some straight Aimee Mann/Magnolia soundtrack music, Best Kept Secret has a 60s pop hit feel, Down has a cool driving force (“laundry on the line / truckers passing on the right”), and closing number Georgia Stars is just super fun. I cannot describe its excellence but it might be my favorite on the CD.

August: Maddie & Tae, “Start Here
I grabbed this out of the library just for “No Place Like You,” but wouldn't you know it – one play through and I was instantly hooked. Perfect purebred country music, little to no pop crossover, but purebred in the Pretty Young Girl strain that I like. I played it to the exclusion of all other music for the first half of August, it's so good. My favorite besides the one previously listed is definitely The Downside of Growing Up.” It's such a great song about young-adult milestones, nowhere near as depressing as it sounds (even though it still sometimes make me cry), that I almost put it on the list by itself because I love all of the lyrics that much.

September: Superchick, “Beauty From Pain 1.1
Every song on this is excellent, despite a myriad of different styles. Three rocker-chick anthems one has to be in the right mood for (the opening track is the best of these), 2 less electric-guitar-laden but still uptempo songs ("Bowling Ball": still so great), the nigh-reggae We Live, and 5 ballads mostly described here that really embody the CD title's theme and are the best part of it.
--------------
ONWARD WITH THE SINGLES

99. Marie Miller – 6'2
So if he has green eyes, that would be fine
Or brown hair, that's quite all right
Six foot two is my favorite height
But Lord, I don't care what he looks like


This just a really sweetly hopeful ballad that God will soon send you the person you're meant to be with. I guess it might fall into the Christian music realm, but it feels more like country, where faith is just incidental.

100. Jackie Evancho – Coming Home Pt. II
Still far away from where I belong
But it's always darkest before the dawn


Five and a half years after the excerpt drew me in and then broke my heart by being "A RAP-FILLED LIE," the true version of this song has finally come home. I thought Skylar Grey had already rescued her song from its bastardization, but I cannot find it in my library with her other one, so I'm thinking that maybe I never got around to downloading it. And now it's too late! Because Jackie has intercepted it without warning courtesy of Spotify, and her voice is so much smoother and purer that she gets to keep it.

101. Alyssa Reid ft. The Heist – Dangerous
He said, “If you love me better look me in the eye.”
She said, “If you leave me then I'm gonna make you cry.”
He said, she said
They should've said


A song about people in an on again/off again relationship who are terrible for each other, which is nevertheless very catchy.

102. Tatiana Manois - Helplessly
Now I'm running late
And I'm not a coffee drinker
But I lost sleep just thinking of you
So pour me a cup, I need to wake up


I love the coffee references because it's SUCH a coffeehouse song. Just a girl and acoustic guitar.

103. Alec Benjamin – Paper Crown
The story of a queen whose castle has fallen to the sea

I mostly kept it around at the beginning because the Spotify cover art (and music video art) reminded me of King Dork. But now it's one of my favorites because lyrically? It is full of rich, intriguing lyrics about the strong, independent woman who is also lonely/alone. I don't even know how many fanvids I want made out of this. ALL OF THE FANVIDS.

104. Charlotte Lawrence – Ever After
If forever's ever after, this is not goodbye

She's dressed as a skater chick in the cover art, but they really do try to make this a floaty-sounding fairy tale number in the chorus. I could see it being used in a movie. Apparently it also played on Cougar Town's series finale?
[edit: BECAUSE CHARLOTTE LAWRENCE = THE TEENAGE OFFSPRING OF CHRISTA MILLER AND BILL LAWRENCE and that is amazing; also oh my god they've been married a long time. I love them. Let me curse them by saying it out loud.]

105. Audrey Callahan – Better Me for Me
It's the kind of love that makes you want to be better

This is a cute little number, a piano & strings feature, with a fun message in the chorus,

106. Anja Nissen – Triumph
We're going faster, getting higher
Making the non-believers liars
Nothing can kill our fire


I am at a loss to explain its appeal beyond “how pleasingly her voice swoops up on the second syllable of the title word in the chorus.” It's like...the musical equivalent of writing a check mark.

107. The Sweeplings -- Across The Sea
Here is where we decide
By the setting sun and rising tide
If we stay and fade or test our reach


Kind of a filler number, but it's still on here because 2016 has no rules and it's a very peaceful and soothing number full of piano and layered vocals. I have no idea what the lyrics were before this moment, but apparently it is about running away with a lover...across the sea. Get it?

August
HEY CHECK OUT WHO'S MAKING A TRIUMPHANT COMEBACK TO THIS LIST.

108. Glee Cast (Darren Criss/Jenna Ushkowitz/Chord Overstreet/Kevin McHale) – Loser Like Me (reprise)
You may think that I'm a zero
And everyone you wanna be
Probably started off like me

This reprise is breathtakingly beautiful, slowed way down and stripped to just a piano/guitar accompaniment, with even better harmonies (Jenna's voice adding the one feminine crest on top is the best), that transforms it from the sunny and sassy competition song it was into a poignantly nostalgic ode for the ending of an era and a celebration of their roots.

109. Glee Cast (Darren Criss/Jenna Ushkowitz) - More Than A Feeling
I looked out this morning and the sun was gone
Turned on some music to start my day
I lost myself in a familiar song


I've always thought of this as such a cliché commercial song that I didn't even know it had words beyond the chorus. But it does, and it's BEAUTIFUL, and I've played it like forty million times because even the chorus is thrilling and inspiring with these two. WHEN I HEAR THAT OLD SONG / THAT YOU STILL PLA-A-AY...

110. Glee Cast – I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
I have run, I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
Only to be with you


Sung by the whole group but vocally featuring the quartet from 108, it's either that aspect or the really good vocals that kick it off that make this version worthy of standing next to the already very enjoyable original in my music library.

111. Glee Cast – America
On the boats and on the planes
They're coming to America


This is again a great song on its own, so I think I still prefer the original, but I'm liking this enough as it is -- thanks to the great use of vocals, plus extra energy, and ugh fine maybe even specifically Alex Newell's vocal runs -- and I really want the full competition set listed here together. It feels very much like the season 5 version of "This Is The New Year." I also like to think of "America" in this context as a metaphor for the little choir room of acceptance and self expression.

112. Glee Cast (Dianna Agron/Mark Salling) – Just Give Me A Reason
There's nothing more than empty sheets
Between our love


I have always liked this song a lot, but now it's better: an arrangement in my register! With excellent new harmonies! Featuring my favorite lady vocalist and the man whose voice always lends itself surprisingly well to being a counterbalance.

113. Glee Cast (Lea Michele/Naya Rivera) – Brave
Maybe there's a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in


This is not the best song off Sara's album, but it is a good one. And this version isn't much different from the original at first glance, but their voices have always blended and more importantly harmonized beautifully, and this is no exception so I got attached.

114. Glee Cast (Lea Michele/Naya Rivera) – Be Okay
What's the point of dreaming when your life is great?

See above. (even though I really wanted the show to cover this as a closing number w/ New Directions)

115. Glee Cast (Matthew Morrison/Kristen Chenoweth) – Total Eclipse of the Heart
Every now and then I get a little bit nervous
That the best of all the years have gone by


The original Glee cover of this is one of my favorites, and I wasn't sure I liked this one at first even though I generally love them as a vocal pair (they hella did not capitalize on “Raise Your Glass," it should be noted), but after a few rounds I realized, this works way better for adults.

116. Glee Cast (Lea Michele/Chris Colfer/Chord Overstreet/Kevin McHale/Darren Criss) -- Downtown
Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty


I have mixed feelings about the original Petula Clark version, but now it's a moot point because one play of this and I was like LISTEN TO THEIR BEAUTIFUL BELL CHIMES OF VOICES.

117. Glee Cast (Lea Michele/Kevin McHale) – Don't Sleep In the Subway
You wander around on your own little cloud
When you don't see the why or the wherefore


I have never heard or heard of this song before (apparently it's also Petula Clark). But it turns out it is super light and fun.

LIST EXTRA
I ragged very hard on season 2 of Galavant, but then I spent the entire last week of August playing a tiny 5-track playlist from it on loop, so please look up the following songs that I am too tired and principled to number or dissect in detail. Also, they are mostly video clips & spoilery for the end of the series, so if that concerns you, you probably don't want to click these links.
-I Don't Like You
-Galavant Recap
-A Good Day to Die (
& Reprise)
-A Real Life Happily Ever After


September
Re: the songs this month...I already recced his album as a whole last year, but I'm having a resurgence of love for it along with previously unattained heights of attachment to some particular songs on it, and as previously mentioned, 2016 HAS NO RULES. Plus I didn't find any other new music this month except the Superchick CD. So on they go.

118. Billy Burke – The Low Road
Better to say goodbye than slowly disappear

The slightly bitter song of someone who quit a relationship but feels justified in doing so. The more I hear of this, the more I want to put it on Blaine Anderson's playlist of "songs he covers while off being sad and single in the Nebraska AU that exists only in my head." Also, I can't wait to use this particular lyric for a series finale / character departure post. I might yet go edit my NCIS season 13 finale post title before I forget it.

119. Bily Burke - Coming Back
Hey, that 101 was fast and fun
Down through that sweet Cahuenga slew
I slide in style up that miracle mile
On my way back to you


Really fun music in this one, excellent use of harmonica, and would make a great song for a road trip mix, I think.

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