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Beyond Beyonce: 8 Songs In My Playlist That Kick Pop Music’s Ass

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By Kabir Sharma:

We all love good music and link much of our lives with it. Though the last 10 years have seen too much poor pop music, there have been many inspiring and memorable songs in between. Here are 8 of my favourites from alternate genres- songs which pack a lot of soul and will never be forgotten:

Gnarls Barkley – ‘Crazy’ (2006): For many of us who were in our teens when this came out, it was the greatest song. Three minutes of pure genius, thrilling every single time.

It wasn’t because I didn’t know enough, I just knew too much. Does that make me crazy?” With a lot more crazy on the crazy. Abstract lyrics which resonate with all and could refer to everything only add to that all searching scream. The band, Atlanta rapper Cee-Lo and indie producer Danger Mouse, have a few other good songs such as Smiley Faces and Who’s Gonna Save my Soul. Forever, Cee Lo’s cries will haunt and question.

Porcupine Tree – ‘Anesthetize’ (2007): The British progressive rock band have remained true to their form for over thirty years now, re-inventing their sound with each album. Anesthetize, from the 2007 ‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’ is one of their greatest. A 17 minute classic, it goes from an intense and measured intro to an ambitious interlude with the drums commanding the sound for large periods, to a big crescendo leading to a much quieter conclusion; giving the feeling of a realization. With one of the best drummers of all time in Gavin Harrison and the amazing bassist Colin Edwin; the structure of the music really propels it. You will be shaking your head with the drum cymbals throughout. Other great songs are ‘Sound Of Muzak’, ‘Blackest Eyes’, ‘Trains’.

Tool- ‘Jambi’ (2007): Tool have created not just a new genre, but a new kind of music altogether. Though it may be complex – sometimes following the Fibonacci sequence, sometimes the Iambic pentameter- to listen to, it’s always refreshing and groovy. The patterns and rhythms remind of the infinite possibilities of music. Jambi, like most of their songs, has a huge, cosmic sound which keeps building on itself, like an argument of logic.

Shine down upon the broken
Shine until the two become one

With virtuosos Danny Carey on drums, Justin Chancellor on Bass, Adam Jones on Guitar and Maynard James-Keenan on vocals – Tool maintains an unachievable, legendary status in music circuits. Other great songs are ‘Lateralus’, ‘Schism’ and ‘The Pot’.

Hozier – ‘Take me to Church’ (2014): In 2014, hearing the gut wrenching lyrics in a powerful soul-rock setting, was rare and amazing.

Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife.

It’s a love song which targets institutions that teach some kinds of people to be ashamed about that” as Hozier puts it. The young Irish musician has given us a mammoth, disturbing, very political statement of love that is impossible to erase from memory. The video should be watched as well. Other good songs are Someone New and From Eden.

Bon Iver – ‘Skinny Love’ (2008): Acoustic guitar, heavy words and one hell of a voice. American Indie band Bon Iver is immediately recognizable in its sound. Singer-Songwriter Justin Vernon wrote the song about a “Skinny” love, a form of love he describes as “one that doesn’t have weight. Skinny love doesn’t have a chance as it’s not nourished.” Bon Iver won the Grammy in 2012 for best new artist.”Who will love you?
Who will fight?
Who will fall far behind?

Lorde – ‘Royals’ (2012): The best reply we have to the onslaught of shallow pop music, is from New Zealand born Lorde. She says it best:

But every song’s like:
Gold teeth
Grey Goose
Tripping in the bathroom
Ball gowns
Trashing the hotel room…
We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams

Brilliant lyrics and the layered sound make it stick. This song will make you smile. The brilliant and bare video needs to be watched.

Beirut – ‘Postcards From Italy’ (2007): 

The times we had
Oh, when the wind would blow with rain and snow
Were not all bad
We put our feet just where they had
Had to go, never to go

Is how this song dripping with nostalgia sets sailing. California based Beirut are a genre in themselves- described as “Baroque Pop or Balkan Folk”: essentially a huge folk rock sound coming from multiple instruments. Sailing and drifting in fond memory, and in the Italian sea breeze. Nantes, A Sunday Smile, Elephant Gun are other must listens.

Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks (2010): The deceptively catchy song was written from the perspective of a troubled and delusional youth with homicidal thoughts. Lead man Mark Foster decided to “get inside the head of an isolated, psychotic kid” and “bring awareness” to the issue of gun violence among youth”.

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,
You better run, better run, outrun my gun.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,
You better run, better run, faster than my bullet.

In contrast, the music, written first, is upbeat and has the feel of a perfect outdoor song.
It’s a ‘fuck you’ song to the hipsters in a way—but it’s a song the hipsters are going to want to dance to.” Foster was staying near a beach when he wrote the song, and that influenced the melody.

Do comment on what you think and add in your own favourites!

You must be to comment.
  1. Anshuman

    This needs to be turned into a weekly feature.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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