Song of the Day: “Jackie and Wilson”

It’s kind of hard to follow yesterday’s star-studded video affair, but it can’t hurt to try. Here’s a fine Song of the Day, from an artist whose star is most certainly rising right now…

“Jackie and Wilson” by Hozier!

Hozier is Andrew Hozier-Byrne, an Irish singer-songwriter who recently released his new, self-titled album. If I’m not mistaken, I’ve heard his single “Take Me To Church” on the radio a bit lately, and he recently performed on “Saturday Night Live” just last week, so chances are he’ll get pretty big here in the States. I first heard of him and his music while watching another show, “So You Think You Can Dance,” this summer. Another beautiful song of his, “Like Real People Do,” accompanied this gorgeous number by two of the finalists. My sister (with whom I was watching), interestingly enough, was a bit more enthusiastic than I was and bought the song, but her excitement soon passed on to me. She was the one to remind me about Hozier’s album release, and the song I’m highlighting here, “Jackie and Wilson,” is one of my favorites off that record. It’s a jaunty, crunchy, very fun song, and both the vocals and lyrics are extraordinary. Hozier has a very unique yet incredibly powerful voice, and his writing is just as strong…the way he puts things is a bit different, but I love it. (The chorus is especially riveting.) It’s a singular way of music-making. If you like this tune, make sure to check out the entire album. I highly recommend it.

Music Video of the Day: “God Only Knows”

Today’s music video spotlight, our first in a bit, is quite a star-studded affair. And it’s a very, very good one. Let’s get right to it, the Music Video of the Day…

“God Only Knows”!

But who’s the artist? Well, there’s actually quite a few. Last week, the BBC released this all-star cover of the Beach Boys classic “God Only Knows” (quite possibly one of the most beautiful songs ever written), both to celebrate the official launch of BBC Music, and as a charity effort for Children In Need. The result? A collection of top-notch talent, backed by the excellent BBC Concert Orchestra, and featuring some pretty darn gorgeous imagery as well. Chances are you’ll see a great many familiar faces in this video (if you’re a bit of an Anglophile like me, you might see a few more), including the legendary Elton John and Stevie Wonder, newer sensations like Sam Smith and Florence Welch (from Florence + the Machine), instrumental geniuses like Queen’s Brian May, and even…a certain boy band that actually doesn’t do too badly. (For a comprehensive list and description of each artist that appears, complete with pictures so you can keep everyone straight, see this article here.) Really, it’s to everyone’s credit that it doesn’t just coast on the star power–this is, without question, a gorgeous cover that somehow manages to fit the best of each artist into the equation. (And that orchestration…ahhh.) Musically and visually, this is a triumph and an unexpected treat, and I really haven’t been able to stop watching it very long this weekend. I can guarantee you that you’ll enjoy it.

La canción del día: “Universos paralelos”

He querido lanzar esta parte de mi blog por mucho tiempo ya. Por años, me ha gustado mucho la música latina, pero mi tiempo en Perú hizo que ese amor creció bastante. Entonces, de vez en cuando, voy a destacar una canción en español (quizás voy a expandir en el futuro con artistas, álbumes y otras cosas), algo que ya hago en inglés regularmente. (Estas entradas también estarán en alguna forma, en inglés.) Espero que les gusten estas canciones…son algunas de las preferidas que tengo en español. Para inaugurar esta parte del blog, la canción…

“Universos paralelos” por Jorge Drexler!

Jorge Drexler es un cantautor uruguayo. Descubrí su música hace varios años (creo que lo encontré por ver que él había ganado un premio Oscar por una de sus canciones), pero no había escuchado a él por mucho tiempo, hasta que decidí buscar a más de su música, después de mi misión. (No sabía muy bien que era uruguayo. Mi último compañero en la misión era de Uruguay, así que tengo mucho más interés ahora en ese país, y me alegró bastante saber que Jorge es de allí.) Esta canción, de su álbum más reciente, “Bailar en la cueva,” tiene un ritmo inspirado un poco de Brasil, e incluye una sección de rap por la artista chilena-francesa Ana Tijoux. Usualmente, a mí no me gusta el rap, pero el verso de ella está chévere, y agrega algo bueno a la canción. También me encanta la letra de la canción—Jorge, además de ser un cantante excelente, sabe escribir el texto de sus canciones en una manera muy distinta, y también muy profunda. Sus canciones te hacen pensar, pero igual son accesibles para todos, y muy buenas para escuchar (y quizás, bailar).

Jorge Drexler is an Uruguayan singer. I discovered his music a while ago (I think I found out about him when I was looking up some info about the Oscars, and saw that he won Best Original Song back in 2004), but I hadn’t heard his stuff for a while, until I decided to catch up on his music, after my mission. (I didn’t know very well that he was from Uruguay, that and I kind of didn’t know too much about Uruguay before. My last mission companion was from Uruguay, which has helped me have a lot more interest in that country, and it was exciting to realize that Jorge is from there too.) This song, from his most recent album, “Bailar en la cueva” (Dancing in the cave), has a bit of a Brazil-inspired rhythm, and includes, of all things, a rap section by Chilean-French rapper Ana Tijoux. I usually don’t like rap (at all), but her verse is pretty cool, and adds something great to the song. I also love the lyrics—Jorge, on top of being a great singer, knows how to write the lyrics of his songs in a very unique and profound way. His songs make you think, but at the same time are very accessible, and very nice to listen to. (You can even dance to them, too, if you want.)

Song of the Day: “Take Me”

Yes. I’m actually posting two days in a row. Isn’t it grand? Well, maybe not that grand. But it’s nice at any rate.

Today’s Song of the Day, the first in a little bit, is…

“Take Me” by Paloma Faith!

Paloma Faith is a fiery soul-pop kind of singer from Britain. You may have heard one of her new singles on the radio, “Only Love Can Hurt Like This” (it looks like Paloma may finally be breaking through to the US market), recently…I think I’ve heard it play a few times, which was cool. I’ve known about her music since quite a while ago, and now she’s getting ready to release her third album (as tends to happen, it’s already out in the UK). This firecracker of a song from that album, I heard on a commercial for Target on the Internet. It’s co-written by John Legend (yes, that John Legend), and Paloma really goes to town on it. She has a powerhouse voice, and that, combined with her slightly quirky, earthy aesthetic, makes for a very fun track. She’s got a gospel choir, a killer piano hook, and lots of fire…if you’ve never heard of Paloma Faith before, this new tune is a very good place to start.

Thanks, as always, for reading! On a slightly unrelated note and as a bit of a teaser, NBC announced this week that “The Sing-Off” will be returning for a fifth season this winter, and I plan to recap it once again, as I did for seasons 2 and 3. Those recaps seemed to be pretty popular features on my blog, so it should be fun! Hope to see you there when I start up the recaps, and before then, too, while you’re at it.

Throwback Thursday: “Still Fighting It”

I’ve attempted to “resurrect” this blog, in so many words, and return to regular posting, quite a few times now since my return from Peru. This will be yet another attempt, and I hope it’ll stick. I still do have lots of percolating, hopefully exciting ideas and music floating around my head constantly, so I might as well release it all into the world.

Based on the Internet meme, I’m going to start a (ideally) weekly Throwback Thursday feature. “Throwback” is a bit of a subjective term, and really, I’m going to use it to mean, well, a throwback to an earlier time. In this case, that earlier time will be about 13 years ago or so. That’s not too long ago, I know, but still within the boundaries of the concept, I think. (Hey, it makes me feel old, if that’s any consolation.) These will most likely be along the lines of Song of the Day posts, but I might branch out later on and take on artists, albums, and/or other musical related items.

Today’s Throwback Thursday pays tribute to a newfound gem for me…

“Still Fighting It” by Ben Folds!

I’ve been a Ben Folds fan for quite some time now, but evidently I haven’t done very deep digging into his catalog, because a few days ago, in a Songwriting class that I’m taking here at BYU (it’s quite a blast), our professor played us “Still Fighting It” as an example of a chorus-writing technique that Ben used. I hadn’t heard the song before (I’d heard of it, come to think of it)…but I was quite instantly hooked. In my playing of the song constantly these past few days, along with looking up a bit of info about it, I’ve been able to dive deeper into the lyrics, and also find out a bit of the backstory for the song. (Seeing as it came out in 2001, if you’re a Ben Folds fan that pays more attention than I do, I’m sure you already know all this.) Ben wrote it for his son Louis (which explains the prominent “good morning, son” line). It’s an incredibly touching father-son ballad…the lyrics grab you, then the music grabs you even more, and by then, you’re just sucked in completely. It’s emotional without being overly sweet, real without being too gritty…it’s so darn easy to relate to and be moved by this song. In what’s probably true for a lot of you, it helps me reflect on my relationship with my own father. (Those of you fortunate enough to be fathers will immediately be brought to think about your relationship with your children.) That’s probably why it’s held up for so long…and when someone discovers it for the first time years later, it still rings true. If you’ve loved this tune for years, take another listen and keep enjoying it. If you, like me, didn’t know it was out there, here’s to another little musical journey.

(Thanks for reading, whoever you are, and this time, let’s hope I can actually revive this blog again. It’s about time.)

Music Video of the Day: “Everything You Didn’t Do”

I’m still working on catching up on the music I wasn’t able to check out in the past 2 years or so, and one of the first artists I searched out again was one of my absolute favorites, British jazz-pop wonder Jamie Cullum, who has been spotlighted on this blog before. He released an outstanding new album, “Momentum,” last year, and it’s a terrific progression into a bit more pop-oriented territory for Jamie, while still featuring the same terrific mix of jazz and other styles, originals and covers, that has kept Jamie’s music so riveting. For the return of a feature closely related to the Song of the Day, the Music Video of the Day, here’s a great one…

“Everything You Didn’t Do” by Jamie Cullum!

This has grown to be one of my absolute highlights on an album full of them, and the music video concept is simple but clever, starting out with just Jamie and then growing (while the camera continuously rotates) into a rollicking full band. It’s a ton of fun as things unfold, and as the song gets bigger. You can also check out a lyric video of the song by Jamie here.

I’ll try to be a bit better at updating this blog than I have so far in its revival, as I have lots of big plans for more great music to share. For now, thanks for reading, and as always, let me know what you think in the comments.

Song of the Day: “The Draw”

Now that I’m (finally, hopefully) back to posting regularly again, and I just made my 100th post, it’s time to return to a regular Harmony Avenue feature…the Song of the Day. Like I explained before, I won’t necessarily be featuring a Song of the Day each day (though that would be the ideal…I’ll see if I can get that happening), but every so often at the very least, you’ll find a new song to discover in one of these posts. Today’s, inspired by a special day celebrated every year on July 14, is…

“The Draw” by Bastille!

In case you’re wondering if the band’s name has any connection with Bastille Day, the aforementioned holiday celebrating the storming of a French fortress, according to Wikipedia it was so named because lead singer Dan Smith’s birthday falls on the same date. Joyeux Anniversaire, Dan! Anyways…given I’ve been out of the country for the past two years, I was unaware of Bastille’s music until I returned home and my sister introduced me to a bit of their work. (They’d already become fairly popular through their hit single “Pompeii,” so chances are you’ve already heard of them, or perhaps already are a fan.) This song, “The Draw,” has become one of my favorites. It’s tense, atmospheric, and features a gorgeous, darkly infectious chorus. (The a cappella repeat of said chorus towards the end of the song is particularly haunting.) You can find this track on their extended version of their album “Bad Blood,” entitled “All This Bad Blood.”

I’ll be coming to you soon (perhaps even later today) with more posts. I’ve fixed all the song streaming links that I could find, so feel free to search away through all 101 of these posts to listen to songs right here on the blog. If there are any errors or broken links I missed, please let me know. I’ve also changed up the blog theme, so if you visited before, you may notice Harmony Avenue has a new look. Thanks, as always, for reading, and if you’re so inclined, be sure to comment and share! (I always do love feedback.)