Saturday, August 23, 2014

Summer Song 2014

There's been a lot of debate about what this year's summer song should be, unlike last year where it was chosen for us ("Blurred Lines") and you had better get in line about it! This year I feel like rebelling from the status quo and am declaring my own choice for the Summer Song of 2014 - Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass".

Before we get to this amazing song, let's discuss the elephant in the cyber room - Iggy's "Fancy". This has overwhelmingly been the song I've been told is THE Summer Song, but I say, "NO!" I don't want my summer song to be about drinking and partying around the world while dressing like a whore. That's not a message I want young girls relating to. I saw the effects of this song first hand on two separate occasions this summer. One was at the end of the school year middle school dance I was chaperoning (yes, that joy is in my job description). When this song (edited, thankfully) came on, all of the girls screamed in delight, formed a circle and started pumping their fists in the air while the boys looked at each other, bewildered, and went into the gym to shoot some hoops. First off let me say that I'm with you boys. As I watched those girls twerking, I was saddened to think that this is their view of the world. Traveling from party to party, throwing money around, getting drunk. This was what they were so excited about. Bothered by this, I did some digging and found a USA Today survey where 18-25 year olds were asked to choose their generation's top goals. #1 at 81% was to get rich, #2 at 51% was to be famous. Helping people who needed it was only 30% followed by being a leader in the community at only 22%. How sad. My second encounter with this song was when my 12 year old cousin came to visit this summer. She was obsessed with this song and Iggy in general. She told me that when she grew up she was going to live in Tokyo and become famous. She then informed me that you don't have to do anything to become famous, ya' know,  like Kim Kardashian. Hmmm

Now I'm not saying that this song is the only culprit out there. There are obviously tons of songs that glorify this lifestyle, but to make this one the Summer Song of 2014 was too much for me to handle. This is my line in the sand! Enter 20 year old Meghan Trainor who also had a dream of being famous, but actually did something about it. She grew up playing Soca (a type of music famous in Trinidad) at local bars with a family band. Her parents brought her to songwriting conventions across the country and they eventually moved to Nashville when she was 19. She has written songs for Rascal Flatts ("DJ Tonight" and "I Like the Sound of That") and is now making waves of her own with her debut song, "All About That Bass" which is currently #2 on the Billboard Hot #100 ("Fancy" is finally down to #5). There isn't anything like this song on the radio today. It has a great retro feel. It celebrates all women and encourages them to love their bodies no matter what. It's also a great song for men because it allows you to understand how self-conscious we can be no matter what our size. On top of that it has a beat that makes you want to dance and a video that is so colorful and fun it feels like you are in a cotton candy machine.

She co-wrote this song with Grammy award winning Kevin Kadish, who has worked with Jason Mraz. He had the song title, but no other ideas. Trainor said that she immediately thought, "Booty. Bass. Thickness." It's been 22 years since bootys were properly glorified (tip of the cap, Sir Mix a Lot), and now this generation of kids can learn to love themselves no matter what their size all over again.

This song has it all. It's my Summer Song. I think it should be yours too!

"Fancy" Lyrics

"All About That Bass" Lyrics

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Two Sides to a Break-Up

So I've been a fan of Jason Mraz for over 10 years now. His voice gives me the same feeling I get when I eat a warm Krispy Kreme. His songs are fun, yet full of meaning and his life philosophy can be really helpful when you are having a dark day. He's also super handsome, and can rock a hat, so that doesn't hurt. When I learned that he was dating another singer-songwriter named Tristan Prettyman a few years ago, I was intrigued. The idea of two singers coming together and making duets in life and on stage is a really romantic one to me. Check out their performance of their song, "Shy That Way" to see what I mean:

 They seemed to have this epic romance. They had a big build up to being together, broke up and then found their way back together so that Mraz could ask her to marry him. What a happy ending! Or not. A few months after his proposal, the engagement was off, he grew his hair like a wild hippy and put out the song, "I Won't Give Up", which made the break-up fuzzy on the details, but we were all pretty sure that Prettyman must've done something to really break this boy's heart and hopefully she'll get her shit together because weren't they so cute?

I mean seriously, what girl wouldn't want her man to sing this to her after a break-up. Well, maybe after a nice shave and hair cut. So collectively, most likely subconsciously, we were all on Jason's side without even thinking that there are two sides to every break-up. 

So enter my iTunes gift card for my birthday and a purchase of Tristan Prettyman's CD Cedar & Gold released 10 months after Jason professed that he wouldn't give up (I know I'm two years late, but whatever). The first thing that strikes you about this disc are the song titles:

1. Second Chance
2. Say Anything
3. My Oh My
4. I Was Gonna Marry You
5. Quit You
6. Bad Drug
7. Come Clean
8. Glass Jar
9. When You Come Down
10. Deepest Ocean Blue
11. The Rebound
12. Never Say Never

Upon first glance, I saddled in for an ass-reaming the likes of which haven't been heard since Alanis made us all swallow her Jagged, Little Pill back in the 90's. I got it, sort of. "Second Chance", "My Oh My", "Bad Drug", and the hilarious "The Rebound" all make you rally behind Prettyman as she flips Mraz the high, hard one. Others, especially "I Was Gonna Marry You", and "Glass Jar", just make you feel sad. These two in particular really tell Prettyman's version of the events including the engagement and subsequent break-up. She also calls Mraz out that he did, in fact, give up on her.

I have to say after listening to this disc that I am feeling really sympathetic to Prettyman and more than a bit disappointed in Mraz who sings about these really idealistic, romantic ideals that seem faded and fake to me now. So in that way I guess I'm mad at Prettyman too for pulling back the curtain on one of my favorite artists.

Lastly, as a fellow writer of angry girl music, this really is some of the best I've heard. And as a break-up album goes, it captures every emotion you feel after having your heart ripped out, including the rebound guy, and trying to talk yourself out of ever going back to him/her again. It's a must listen for anyone who has recently been dumped, or likes reliving the feeling (are those people real?)

Enjoy the single "My Oh My"

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Story Behind My Songs

So I wrote these songs. A long time ago. When, frankly, I was a much different person than I am today. Also to be frank, I haven't written songs that are anywhere near the quality of those that I wrote when I was that person. Things happened to me then and I was experiencing the world with a different mindset than I have now.

The songs sat alone, unplayed, in their chunky, black spiral home until they started to call out to me from the shelf. Why have you forgotten us? We are part of you too! We deserve to be heard! The problem with them being heard is that taken out of context they didn't mean as much to me. To me, you really needed to understand the stories behind them in order for them to properly come alive. So how do I do that?

I write a book, about that time, that person that I was, those things I experienced. I include those songs as part of the book so that the reader can experience them with full understanding. Now what?

Well, if you're me you let the book sit (almost finished) on a shelf for two years. You do this for many reasons. One, you have a health issue that puts every other priority other than feeling better to the back burner. Additionally, you are too afraid of what people might say or think if they read it. You are a private person. Private people don't pull back the curtain for the world to see. So on the shelf, again, those songs, and the story behind them, sat. Those songs are angry songs at their core and so again started to bother me.

That brings us to now. I've finished this amazing piece of me. This story that was dying to be told, set to its own soundtrack. I'm healthy, but still private. It's been a hard decision, but what the hell is the point of writing a book if it's just going to sit on the shelf? So, here it is, world. Love it or hate it. It was a long time ago. I was a different person than I am now. I wrote these songs.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I'm Back

Well, it's been a little over two years and I'm finally back into my 'musical Kate' shoes. I won't bore you with the details of where I've been. Suffice it to say, I had recurring back troubles that made it almost impossible to play guitar, so I watched a lot of TV instead. Anyway, I'm back. My back is back, and I'm eager to make up for the two years lost on my 'Mixed Tape' project. I've put the final edits in, and the final copy is being reviewed by the publisher right now. I am eager to spread this project to the world, and tell you the stories behind my own songs.

In honor of my comeback, I've decided to tell you some fun facts about one of the most popular 'comeback' themed songs out today - On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons.

1. This song was licensed for a soccer video game in 2013, one of the band's favorite games.

2. The PS22 Chorus sang this song at President Obama's 2nd inauguration.

3. At the end of 2013, this song peaked at position #26 on the US Billboard Hot Rock Songs Chart

So enjoy this great comeback song. I know I'll be humming it to myself as I put the finishing touches on my project!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Launch

I have finished my book and am working on the unique versions of the original songs to be included with it. I have started a Kickstarter page to try to raise money to print copies of the book and CD. I'm also hoping to spread the word by going on tour this summer. If you love music, partially fictionalized memoirs, original artists, and/or being part of making something small into something huge - please lend your support HERE or click the box above. I will be running a live chat above starting at 8pm on the night of the launch!

For the foreseeable future this blog will take a break from writing about the stories behind the music, and start keeping track of the story behind this project. Thank you in advance to all who choose to support me. I truly appreciate you helping to make my longest lasting dream come true.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Holiday Present

Several weeks ago I put out a Tweet encouraging artists to submit their own song with the story behind it. I received two responses that I wanted to share with you, my readers. My original intention was to put the story into my own words here for you, but then I thought, "who the hell am I?" and so instead, have just decided to post their own words and music here. So here they are, my holiday present for you, because what's better than new music?!

Angelo Melendez - What Isn't

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


This is a week of giving thanks and I have a lot to be thankful for. The list is so long in fact that I could take up a whole blog post with it, but that's not why you are here is it? As turkey day has come creeping upon me it's occurred to me that there really aren't a lot of Thanksgiving songs - except, of course, the Adam Sandler classic. Who doesn't love to eat turkey? Well, unless you're a vegetarian, but I digress. It's kind of pathetic actually given the overwhelming number of Christmas songs in comparison. Why no turkey caroling? Why no radio stations dedicated to thankful music? I say - LAME!

So I started thinking about songs that were about being thankful, or giving thanks or just had something to do with the word thank, and there are actually quite a few (still not enough for a dedicated Sirius channel though). I knew that I couldn't feature them all so I decided to pick the one I thought was the best - "Be Thankful" by Natalie Cole.

This is the perfect song for preparing stuffing, glazing the ham, or singing door to door if you want to pave the way for a new neighborhood tradition. It's simple, catchy, and will be stuck in your head long after the tryptophan has warn off. In addition to that, it has a powerful upbeat message that is sure to make even crabby Aunt Cathy smile. It was actually featured on Natalie's 1977 album - 'Thankful' so if you really wanted to get into the holiday spirit you could play the whole thing, although you would probably only recognize the song "Our Love" as it was the only hit on the album - reaching #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 list.

That's my pick - my turkey jam so to speak - message me on Twitter (@kateoquinn) to tell me yours!