And welcome to #9 entry of the project! As hinted in the ending of #8, the ninth song of the list is the anthem of modern female empowerment – specifically the empowerment of women of colour. It’s Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’.
Truthfully speaking, I feel hesitant to speak about Beyonce and her music as I am very aware of my position as a white feminist – and white feminist has a sad history of exclusion of women of colour. Even though I have spoken about issues I know even less about already, somehow speaking about this songs feels really wrong – maybe because I do feel a sense of relatability through the shared gender yet I am also very aware of the gap that race differents present.
Rich musically, politically, culturally, visually, ‘Formation’ was a surprise release in 2016 (preceded by a surprise release of the eponymous album 3 years prior). While it is not one of Beyonce’s songs that I actively come back to, it is certainly the one whose importance cannot be rivalled.
Following this trend of unannounced releases, another surprise drop in 2019 could have been anticipated. And even though there is only less than a month left in the year, I wouldn’t put it past Beyonce to just drop another album to finish the trifecta. And even if we are made to wait a bit more – it is gonna be worthed. Hope I will be able to access it though (can you tell that I have a strong dislike towards Tidal?)
We are already on #8. Struggling but going strong. We are discussing Becky G & Natti Natsha’s ‘Sin Pijama’.
Another recent entry into the list (released in 2018), ‘Sin Pijama’ showcases another change in the popular music of the last decade (in addition to the genre-defying changes of #7). Sung entirely in Spanish, ‘Sin Pijama’ is just one example of Latin American music leaving its mark on a global market. Latin American music has an extremely deep and rich history and has always been popular in its native region. However, the 2010s saw Latin American music deservedly carve itself a path onto the world stage and for the better of everyone. No longer are English-language songs or US/UK only artists the only ones to dominate the charts and the online conversations. The more diverse, the merrier!
The song also showcases another change in female music especially – women artist reclaiming their own sexuality for themselves. This trend is also very evident in the next entry!
I really need to up my introduction game because I’m already getting bored of the whole ‘Welcome to entry #*insert number here*’ thing. It’s #7, though.
Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line’s ‘Meant to Be’ is one of the newer entries on the list. So far, as the list is alphabetical, majority of As and Bs have been dominated by early 2010s. ‘Meant to Be’ is from 2017 – a year that seems to have just gone and yet, it was 2 years ago.
‘Mean to Be’, the marriage of pop and country, spent a record number of weeks on the country chart. Not only was the song uber successful but it also, if not brought about, then at least acted a great signifier of the general changing trends in music during the decade – genre mixing and bending. With more and more walls being broken down (in every aspect ever), it is high time that music starts to reevaluate its quite harsh lines between music genres – lines that don’t really make sense when you think about them twice. Imagine how many great songs we would get if the artists were not afraid (due to expectations placed on certain genres and bands as well as the inherently flawed hierarchy of genres) to try out different genres.
Lastly, I really appreciate the message behind the song – in the contemporary world, we are asked to have everything figured out even though the majority of us don’t. Thus, it’s nice to believe in faith (even if just for 3 minutes) and be reassured that if things are meant to be, then they will work out in the end. May ‘Meant to Be’ be the ‘Let it Be’ of this decade (or even century)?
And welcome to the #6 entry on the list. This time around, we are not really talking about a song but rather a meme-full pop-culture event – Baauer’s ‘Harlem Shake’.
I’m not counting ‘Harlem Shake’ as a song because up until opening a page to write this blog post, I did not know the name of the artist behind the song. In 2013, ‘Harlem Shake’ just seemed to have appeared out of nowhere and infected every part of the Internet. Spread through videos that all shared a somewhat similar structure yet made no sense whatsoever, ‘Harlem Shake’ was the first big dance craze of the early 2010s (if you can call it a dance). Numerous other meme-based dances or movements have followed in its footsteps throughout the decade. None, however, have been able to replicate the same magnitude of reach or fun associated with it. In 2013, ‘Harlem Shake’ seemed to be a non-sensical yet innocent craze rather than a marketing ploy or, even worse, a harmful trend.
I, like so so many others, also partook in the trend. I remember filming a tonne of non-sensical clips at a hostel during a swimming competition. Both sadly and gladly, I was too lazy to edit the clips into a coherent video after I and my swim team friends filmed it. For better or for worse (no cringe yet no fun memories to share), the clips are all safely tucked away in pieces somewhere on my hard drive.
And welcome to #5 entry and perhaps the most controversial song on the list so far – Azealia Banks feat. Lazy Jay’s ‘212’. I won’t pretend to understand the culture behind this song but will tell you my personal take on it.
I think I stumbled upon this song on YouTube in 2012, a year after it has been released and the hype around it has already died down. I remember hearing it and thinking ‘catchy’ and ‘clever wordplay’. I’m pretty sure that a lot of people thought the same and didn’t really look into the song’s lyrics before spreading it. I also remember being really glad that my parents spoke and understood zero English cause I did play this song out loud in their presence.
After the hype surrounding the song died down, Banks‘ career also went stagnant if not started going downhill. All the news I have seen about the singer since have been related to her social media posts rather than her music. And even though the saying goes ‘any exposure is good exposure’, I don’t think it applies here, as I personally never felt the need or an inclination to go open the artist’s Spotify page after seeing her name pop-up in relation to one or the other controversy. Maybe there is a lesson somewhere here – think before you post? This blog might honestly just be the example of me being unable to learn that lesson myself.
Welcome to day 2 of the challenge and #4 song on the list. This is the first quite sombre entry – Avicii’s ‘Levels’.
Coming out in the early 2010s and absolutely dominating the radio and the charts, ‘Levels’ brought EDM music into the forefront. Suddenly, the beats of the underground and club scenes were distributed to radio and rivalled easier to stomach pop music on the charts. It also redefined how music could be made for the contemporary market (a laptop was all that talented people needed).
Due to the success of levels, the world came to learn Avicii’s name (actual name being Tim Bergling). Sadly, his life has been cut short due to mental health issues and Bergling passed away last year. Even though he wasn’t able to have a long and lasting career, his songs continue to live on. I think that’s because not only are his melodies incredibly catchy but his lyrics to have a message/story in them – a rarity in the EDM genre.
This is the third entry in the December project! I am truly hitting the full trifecta for the day 1 posts by featuring something unknow (#1), something I loved (#2), as well as something I dislike. And, oh boy, I’m probably gonna get hate for this. The third entry is Ariana Grande’s ‘Thank U, Next’.
There is a lot to love in this song, so I do understand why people like it. I also appreciate the confessional and empowering lyrics as well as the countless memes this song spanned in pop culture (as well as the all the references to pop culture in its music video – though I don’t particularly see a connection between Mean Girls and Bring It On and the song itself). I also do applaud Ariana Grande for her strength for everything that she had to live through in the past couple of years. And yet, bottom line, I still find this song mildly irritating and I cannot find the will to listen to her last two albums. Maybe it is because of the unconsciousness connection that my brain draws between Grande and her highly annoying character of Cat on Victorious, as that was my first impression of the performer. Talk about career-damaging introductions, huh. I am open to being persuaded though.
Are you fans of Ariana Grande? Or is ‘Thank U, Next’ a thank you, next?
And welcome to the 2nd post of the December project (info here).
Whereas the first song I covered was completely unfamiliar to me, the second entry on the list – Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’ – is a song I have listened to countless times throughout the decade.
Whilst the whole decade was immensely successful to the English singer-songwriter that defied the expectations of a female pop-star, ‘Roling in the Deep’ was a song that introduced a lot of us to Adele. I remember hearing the song as a teen and, even though I was fairly incapable of truly understanding the raw and unadulterated emotion within the song (the hurt, the anger, and the sadness), it still struck a chord with me and have stayed with me throughout the decade. And as I have grown older, the song, sadly, became more emotionally accessible and relatable to me. And yet, that is just part of life – being hurt and learning to move on.
In addition to the original by Adele, I clearly remember listening to one particular cover of this song. Nerdy teens and musical theatre geeks of early 2010s will certainly recognize it: its Glee’s own Lea Michelle’s and Jonathan Groff’s acapella version. That cover was certainly a major personal reason why I fell in love with the song.
Were you fans of this song when it was released? Or of Adele’s music in general?
And welcome to the 1st of the planned 100 posts this month. More details about my December project here.
The song that we are starting the month with is A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘We The People’. It is an interesting song to start a decade overview with because I have heard it for the first time literally 5min ago. But, as I have mentioned in the introductory post, this project is all about learning and that includes being exposed to ‘new’ music.
A song for the resistance, released mere days after Trump’s election and completed during the final days of the election, ‘We The People’ doesn’t name drop Trump but it certainly exposes the anger directed towards his politics. Featuring the lyrics that hope for the better future but also denounce the horrors of today, this song certainly deserves the spot on this list. It’s a shame that the song never entered the mainstream consciousness in 2016, making me miss it then but I am glad to have been introduced to it through this list. While not the song that I can personally talk a lot about, ‘We The People’ is an important entry on the list, showcasing the more sophisticated side of music – one that is all about political power. While popular music – and I am including rap and hip-hop underneath this umbrella – tends to be overlooked in its importance, ‘We The People’s message is loud and clear.
Have you heard of this song/artist before? What are your thoughts on the importance of politically charged music?
And welcome to something a little bit different!
Both those who have been reading my blog for a while and those just opened it for the first time and scrolled for 15s can tell that its main focus has been films and cinema. At the beginning (2014-2015), I would sometimes post about fashion or travelling, when I was still trying to find my own voice and my own niche. While I have enjoyed writing about films, for the past year, cinema has somewhat taken a back seat in terms of my interests/hobbies. Music has taken the no.1. Thus, I decided that it’s high time that I attempt to write about the no.1 current love of my life.
In addition, I have been massively struggling with writer’s block and just general productivity and I thought that by giving myself a task that I have an emotional investment in I might actually do it.
And now we come to the task that I have set myself. The origin of the task is this article by Billboard, listing and detailing a 100 songs that defined the decade, whose end is fast approaching. I’m gonna attempt to write 100 posts in the next month about each and every song on that list. Bear in mind, if I had some sort of knowledge of cinema due to studying it a bit as well as just learning through writing about it for 5 years, I am a total rookie when it comes to writing about music. Thus, I can’t really tell you what the upcoming posts will be about. Some of them might be my attempt at reviewing a song itself. Some of them might be about world events or pop-culture topics that the song relates to. Some of them might be really personal, detailing what the song means to me. More than anything else, this upcoming month of music post is going to be a project of learning.
I don’t know if I’m going to make it to a 100. I’m gonna try my best and that’s going to be enough!