In the Mix: From Adam Lambert to Janet Jackson

I was just thinking the other day how long it’s been since I really listened to some new music, like just released on a Tuesday and home with me, to be listened to at high volume preferably in a residential area (tell me if you recognize that reference). In this age of digital media and internet radio being so huge, I’m still one of those old school folks who like to listen to actual CDs from start to finish, the way the artist intended it.

There was this Beck CD a few months ago that captured my imagination, the same one that got him the Grammy for album of the year (you remember the Kanye semi-interruption), and I got it through the library. It brought back memories from the 90s when I would spend hours in Tower Records just soaking it all in, and I miss those days. When was the last time you were in an actual music store, not an app store, or a general store that happens to sell music as well? Anyway, listening to that CD made me appreciate it all so much more.

A while back I did a series of blogs called “Shuffle” where I turned on my iPod, set it to shuffle, and chronicled the first 18 songs that came up in an attempt to share some of my musical tastes with my readers. So I’m going to do something a little different now. Instead of hitting “Shuffle” I’m going to scan through my artists and pick five relatively random ones, listen to one song from them, and write about it here. Here goes…

  1. Adam Lambert – Cuckoo. I’m a huge American Idol fan, and probably my favorite artist ever from that series is this man, who somehow ended up second in his season. His solo music has been nothing short of spectacular, but I still don’t think he’s appreciated as much as he should be. It’s the combination of his classic rock roots, his techno leanings, and his sparkling falsetto that drag me under his spell. This song is from his second album, Trespassing, and it’s highly indicative of the style I love so much from this superstar.
  2. Banks – Waiting Game. Well, to me Banks is kind of like Iggy Azalea. I like some of her material, but I’m not a big fan. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have even heard this song if it wasn’t for the Divergent soundtrack having a lot of Ellie Goulding on it. I am a fan of Miss Goulding, so I had to hear the soundtrack, and the “other” songs on it captured my attention, particularly this one. There’s just something about Banks’ voice, so deep and so vibrant with emotion, that makes me like it. But it’s the only one.
  3. better-than-ezra-before-the-robots-2005-cd2-cover-13531Better Than Ezra – Before You. Speaking of new music, their All Together Now album came out last year, and it’s from one of my favorite bands, but somehow I didn’t realize it was out until about two months ago. There’s something to be said for having a surprise like that show up, so I quickly grabbed the record, put it in my player, and listened from start to finish. It doesn’t disappoint. It’s the perfect mix of slow songs (like this one) and stadium anthems, and it makes me want to see them live. This is one of those “lighters up” songs that I hope I am blessed to see live at some point.
  4. Heather Nova – London Rain. I first heard Heather Nova at a friend’s house. He had all of her albums, and I was intrigued by the song titles, particularly this one. I hadn’t been to London yet, but there was something about it that fascinated me. So I borrowed the CD, listened to the song, and was hooked from the start. Later on it was included on one of my favorite shows — Dawson’s Creek — and I included it on the faux-soundtrack I created to honor the show. It still gives me good chills every single time I hear it.
  5. 8538538574_0f60a850e7_zJanet Jackson – If. One of my first CDs I purchased in the 90s was the self-titled album by Janet, and it was on the strength of this song alone. Sure, the lyrics are risque (and don’t get me started on the amazing video), but the beat is infectious. It hooked me from the start, even if Janet doesn’t have the strongest vocals. With her it’s never really been about the vocals anyway. It’s really about the delivery, and she delivers a hook as good if not better than most others I’ve heard, particularly when it comes to R&B and the occasional rock jam. “But I’m not, so I can’t, then I won’t, but if I was your girl.”

Sam

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