#MusingMelodies is a monthly series by myself and Danielle of idigmusic.net where we each share our thoughts on a topic and invite you to join the conversation! Be sure to read both posts (find Danielle’s here), then head over to Twitter and share your thoughts using the #MusingMelodies hashtag.
Something happened to me when I watched the Grammy’s this year. I didn’t hate it. In fact, I found myself making mental notes of the bands and albums I wanted to check out. Maybe it was the 20+ performances. Maybe it was Lauren and Katie’s influence because they know every song, ever and we were texting each other through the whole broadcast.
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because not all mainstream music sucks.
When Danielle pitched the idea of this topic, I was all in. In my effort to live a more musical life in 2015, I’m ditching my inner music snob and just loving the music I love. Here are four mainstream artists and bands I’m giving a closer look this year and that you might be totally overlooking too just because they’re on the radio. (They’re certainly artists I was overlooking!)
Several weeks back, one of my reader’s #bestsongallweek picks was “Jackie and Wilson” by Hozier. From the moment I hit play, I was in love…which led me to finding Hozier’s album to give a listen. Low and behold, I discovered I already knew one of his songs pretty well – the album’s single, “Take Me To Church”.
It’s one of those songs on the radio that I hear and like well enough…but nothing about it sucked me in and made me want to seek out more. It was tolerable, which is about all I can ask of Top 40 radio these days. After falling for “Jackie and Wilson,” the album went on rotation for most of the following weekend…which led to looking up tour dates…which led to being totally bummed out the Houston show is sold out.
But this is a prime example of not letting a single on the radio define your impression of the band. There is so much more to explore on a 45 minute album than in a four minute song.
I absolutely hated, loathed and abhorred Ed Sheeran’s first single, “The A Team”. Why? Because I couldn’t stand the line, but lately her face seems slowly sinking, wasting, crumbling like pastries. Crumbling like pastries? C’mon dude. That’s first draft material.
But then Ed was included in last year’s Grammy salute to The Beatles where he played “In My Life” – just him and an acoustic guitar on a stage with Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney 20 feet in front of him. What could possibly more nerve-racking as a performer?
From the start, he totally owned his performance, and my opinion was forever changed. I was impressed. No more was this the annoying crumbling like pastries guy. This was the I-need-to-hear-everything-else-I-possibly-can-RIGHT-NOW guy. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with Ed Sheeran’s lyrics and guitar skills. And learned not to judge an artist by a single lyric I don’t care for…
A female voice and a basic beat. That seemed to be all you needed to be played on the radio as a female last year. (Lorde and Iggy Azalea, anyone?) When everyone started going crazy for “All About That Bass,” I gave it a listen…and as a curvier girl, I of course loved the lyrics. No stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll indeed!
But I also dismissed Meghan as the latest flavor of the month. “All About That Bass” was just the new “Call Me Maybe”, right? Wrong. After learning that Meghan’s been writing songs since age 11, enrolled at Berklee College of Music at age 15 and wrote songs for Sabrina Carpenter, Rascal Flatts and Hunter Hayes, I was pretty damn impressed. Even more so when I read that she told her dad she didn’t want a record deal until she was “25 and could handle it” and landed that deal by performing for the current head of Epic Records with just a ukulele in hand.
Bonus points: her delicious bubblegum pop tunes are fueled by her early love of 50s doo-wop – music that’s just a hop, skip and jump away from my own early beginnings on 60s pop. Meghan also taught me you never know someone’s credits for who they are and why until you bother to look them up.
I will never tell you how many times I watched “Part of Me”, Katy Perry’s documentary, on Netflix last spring, but I blame (or thank) Lauren and Katie for my fueling Katy Perry obsession. I never really minded her, but her music seemed geared towards a younger demographic than me. So at my previous job when a girl my age was endlessly talking about going to see Katy Perry in 2012, I couldn’t for the life of me understand it. Weren’t we both a little…old for a girl singing about feeling like a plastic bag, blowing aimlessly in the wind?
Boy, was I wrong. Sure, Katy Perry has that bubblegum pop sensibility to her songs, but I’ve found plenty to love – esp. on her last album, “Prism”. “By The Grace of God” absolutely cut me to the core the first time I heard it. “International Smile” could be this blog’s theme song in a heartbeat.
Sometimes music you don’t mind just needs a closer look. Or the viewing of a documentary a trillion times to make you realize at the heart, the artist is a girl who just wants to make people happy with music…like you.
Listen to some of the songs that I like by these artists that aren’t necessarily on the radio:
What mainstream artists do you think people are totally overlooking?
Share your thoughts in the comments or join Danielle and me on Twitter and share using the #MusingMelodies hashtag. We’d love to hear from you!