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

Posted on June 4, 2015 in Culture-Vulture

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
Bloodstains
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!

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