Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Sara and Melissa talk about...Music

We've been running a column series to get more personal with our readers. This month, we're talking about music! 

We're always open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our previous columns here, in case you missed them.

Melissa Amster:

I have always had music in my life and it has been "instrumental" for me. I vaguely remember singing "Bad Girls" by Donna Summer while my uncle played it on the piano when I was really young. I liked the "toot toot, beep beep" part. Since I have so much to say about music, I've decided to do something similar to what I did in the TV post...I'm going to share my music influences during various parts of my life. 

The first pop influence in my life was Michael Jackson. I listened to the Thriller album (or cassette) every day and made my Charmkins dance to his songs. I got to see him in concert around that time, which was so exciting! A few years later, I became obsessed with Madonna and listened to her various albums all the time. I even made an art project about her in fifth grade and dressed like her for costume day at camp. I also liked Wham and Whitney Houston and saw both in concert. (As you may have noticed, I have some sort of concert curse.)

Moving on to middle school, I started out listening to Tiffany and Debbie Gibson all the time. When we'd go on our family vacation to Florida, I'd sit on the porch to watch the sunset while playing my Tiffany cassette over and over. When eighth grade came around, I was sucked into the fandom of New Kids on the Block. Talk about being obsessed! I even got a hat like they wore. My best friend, sister, and I went to see them in concert on my best friend's birthday. I cried when I saw Joey through my binoculars. (Who knew that I'd meet him about 15 years later when he starred in Wicked?!?)

Left to right: Me, Joey, my sister

In high school, my tastes changed quite a bit. I started listening to musicals more often. When I was a freshman, my school performed Working, and I liked it so much that I listened to the original cast recording all the time after that. When Wayne's World became a movie in 1992 and played "Bohemian Rhapsody," I was fixated on learning every single word to that song. And then came Nirvana. I don't even know how many times I listened to Nevermind, but it kept me sane on all the bus rides to and from school. I was into Disney music at the time, as well. I couldn't get enough of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Newsies. I even made a Disney music mix for when we had a Disney theme for Homecoming during junior year and I played it all the time. That was also the year my school did How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and I listened to that soundtrack, as well. I also listened to Miss Saigon, Les Miz, Guys and Dolls, and Into the Woods a lot. Toward the end of senior year, it was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat coming out of my speakers all the time.

During my various years of college, I was big into Toad the Wet Sprocket, Green Day, Alanis Morissette, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant, Counting Crows, Jill Sobule, Barenaked Ladies, No Doubt, Gin Blossoms, etc. I also listened to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Shock Treatment soundtracks a lot. Later, I was all about the soundtracks for Clueless, Empire Records, and Pulp Fiction. That all changed when I got the original Broadway cast recording of Rent at the end of 1996 and memorized it all by the time I saw it on stage a year later. I also started getting into country music toward the time I graduated college and then bought myself Shania Twain and Dixie Chicks CDs. (I even saw the latter in concert in 2000.)

As an adult, I still listen to Broadway music all the time, especially with my older son. We take car trips just to get out of the house and listen to our favorite cast recordings, such as In the Heights, Wicked, Heathers, Legally Blonde, The Last Five Years, Dear Evan Hansen, Jagged Little Pill, etc. Of course, I went through a Hamilton phase in 2016, but then got satiated from it. I sometimes listen to the radio, but all the songs sound the same after a while. I currently like "Break My Heart" by Dua Lipa though. I tend to listen to eighties and nineties music whenever possible, but my kids aren't fans, so it's hard to do so when they are around. My workout music is always the nineties station on Pandora. Another music influence has been Frank Sinatra, whom my late paternal grandpa liked. I'd also play Ella Fitzgerald's music a lot. My favorite modern version is Jamie Cullum. I love his voice and songs. 

I could go on and on about music, but I hope this gives you a taste of my interests. 

Sara Steven:

It’s been awhile since I’ve been tasked with a music-themed topic. I think Melissa and I were still involved in our monthly blog group project when I blogged about the various songs that would get me through the day. My last top ten post related to music is from 2012! 

Looking at that list compared to the songs I have on my playlist now, I don’t see any similarities. I’m not sure if nearly a decade has changed my taste in music, or maybe my experiences are different, requiring a change in palette. Either way, music is still a huge component in my world and I rarely go a day without listening to something. While many choose to use an app for their musical playlists, I’m still plugging the phone in and switching up the songs I can listen to; moving files over, removing files... I know it’s easier to use an app, but for some reason, I feel like I need to work at creating the perfect catalog, depending on the type of music I need on any given week. 

I’ve decided to share a list of my top ten must-have songs, just like in the old days. However, I won’t be scouring the depths of an MP3 player like I would have back then. I wouldn’t even know where to find it. The forward progression from 2012 to 2020 has led to an advance in technology for even the likes of someone like me, someone who swore she’d NEVER own a Smartphone. (I’m looking at my Samsung Galaxy S10e, even as I type this) Either way, maybe you’ll find a new song you’d like to add to your own list—whether that’s from Pandora or Spotify or if you’re like me, with an old school MP3 playlist on your phone. In no particular order:

I think this comment says it best; when you pull up this music video on YouTube, you’ll see that a commenter left a reply that says: “If you’re listening to this song in’re a legend!” 

When I listen to this song, it does just what it says it will do. I feel motivated! Self motivated, to be precise. This is a good one to have on your playlist while out for a run or when you’ve got a ton of stuff to accomplish in the day. I first heard it while watching HBO’s Insecure and I really liked it.

It’s trippy and chill and full of delicate angst. 

My fifteen-year old introduced me to this song. He discovered it while playing a video game, Tales from the Borderlands. It wasn’t one of his favorites, but I really like it. It’s not a song I’d think to find on a video game, but it goes to show you, you never know where you’ll find good music.

I first heard this song while watching Breaking Bad. I liked the beat and the downward progression during the chorus. 

This really helped me out while I was dealing with some health stuff earlier this year. I’m not ordinarily into country-infused sounds, but this reminded me of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” in sound and melody. It’s another one found on Tales from the Borderlands.

Yelle: "Que Veux-tu" (Madeon Remix)
This song has been on playlists of mine in the past, then I forgot about it. But old home movies reminded me of the times my youngest son would dance his little toddler feet off while listening to it! My husband and I had ideas of dressing up as the characters from this music video, but it never happened. But the song lives on!

It’s Shakira. ‘Nuff said.

This reminds me of the 90’s and the 2000’s and all of it in between. 

This song makes me think of missed opportunities and broken promises, or two ships passing each other by, even though the two ships never wanted to pass one another by. It’s beautiful and mournful and yearnful. This is another one I found on Insecure.

Your turn! Tell us your music influences and/or favorite songs!

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