Can you imagine that slice of time? / Rock and roll was young, people stood in line / To hear music that played into their lives / That you could carry till the day you die.
– excerpt from Slice by Five for Fighting
As a teenager, I was never a music enthusiast. Even today, I’m no die-hard music fan that demands the next Justin Timberlake (is he a singer?) album immediately after it’s released: I don’t exactly care what kind of music I listen to because, in my opinion, any music is good for any occasion. Whether it’s WRVR 104.5 The River or 91.1 WKNO Memphis, the radio is a vast library of songs waiting to be heard, regardless of genre or artist.
However, I do have a personal “favorites” list. These aren’t the loud, heavy bass sounds modern American teenagers listen to these days or those cheap show-tunes that are only catchy the first play-through. These are the songs that you tend to hum during your coffee break or in the car, the lyrics that make you want to get out a sheet of paper and write down the first time you hear them.
This list is in no particular order: I just jotted down ideas when they occurred to me. Click on the bold links to hear that song on YouTube.
The Riddle – Five for Fighting
All hail the king of heartland rock! It’s a shame that songs like Running Dirty and Soulja Boy top the charts while songs like this remain unheard by most. Not to say that songs like Running Dirty are absolutely terrible, but the inaccuracy of popular opinion is clear: John Ondrasik, the most underrated artist I’ve ever known, is one of the rare songwriters whose music actually contains substance and expression.
Hold On – Michael Buble
Very rarely do I listen to sappy love songs without feeling like a teenager. However, I find Michael Buble to be a great exception. While most love song writers of the age capture audiences with catchy beats and “sick” rhythms, Buble captures the audience with tunes that spark emotions. Good movies tend to spark emotion–such as happiness, sadness, anger, joy, serenity, fear, and hope–into their viewers. If a movie doesn’t arouse any of these, it probably won’t be very satisfying. The same rule applies to music.
Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson is arguably the most famous singer in the world. As one Youtube comment puts it: “I think it was unfair that he died at so young. He changed music’s life and most importantly our lives.” On of his songs, Man in the Mirror, shows how wonderful it is to change the world, especially when there are child hunger, racism, disease, kidnappings, and other dangers in it. Put simply, the song encourages people to make a meaningful difference. Watch the video; you’ll know what I mean. “He truly cares about the world no matter if your Black, White, Asian, or any other race. All he wanted to do was help others and live the dream he was meant to be in. R.I.P. Michael Jackson.”
Run Around – Blues Traveler
I don’t completely share his opinion, but one of my Internet friends complained to me how music has had a major decline in quality since the 1990s. Sure, there’s been a trend in music businesses who start to believe that songs are meant to generate large revenues rather than be an art form for people to express themselves. Run Around literally came from the last millennium, and I do find it better than some songs from this decade. It’s fast rhythm makes it an excellent choice for parties and for singing in the car.
Biggest Part of Me – Ambrosia
Ambrosia is all about first impressions. When one first listens to this song, one may notice how it starts with a killer bass introduction followed by the band’s remarkable vocals. Very few bands have that kind of focus now. I heard this song almost all the time on the car ride to school back in seventh grade. Most of my days started with it.
Oh What a Night (December ’63) – Jersey Boys
The musical Jersey Boys, the story of the Four Seasons, is well-known for its remarkable tunes. I haven’t seen it yet, but the next time it comes to Tennessee or Mississippi, I’ll be sure to get front row tickets.
I’m sick of American Idol for one reason: they promote the idea that music should be assembled for the sole purpose of having millions of people like it instead of an art form where people actually can express their thoughts and emotions.
– transcribed from Levni Yilmaz, independent film producer