Continuing another tradition that was started on my previous blog, it’s time for a look back on my year, using the music that impacted me the most. These songs can be from this year or from years past but these songs are all ones that have impacted not only me personally but also allow me to reflect on the things that I’ve experienced in the year.
So here it is: the Soundtrack of My Year 2015
INtro(mental) by Kids These Days
So this is from one of the new bands that I was introduced to this year. My bestest and oldest friend still lives in Chicago and there for still keeps up with the Chicago music scene. Plus it just so happens that she went to high school with a bunch of these guys so she told me about them. They’ve got this funky jazz,hip hop, rock fusion vibe which I LOVE. They’ve only released a few EPs and one album and it’s all really good. Unfortunately for me, they’ve now broken up and no longer are together but they’ve all gone on to different solo projects; ranging from jazz hip hop bands to solo rap careers. The thing that I really liked about this track was that well they kept me connected to my Chicago roots and shown me that I’m not so far removed from what’s happening in my hometown scene. Plus I think this particular track showcases the mix of genres really well. Check them out.
Favourite Line: Well, it’s instrumental….
Tears Dry on Their Own by Amy Winehouse
So it would be very remiss of me to not put some Amy on here. She has most certainly helped to shape my year in so many different ways that I’m sure you can find on this blog. But this song just so happens to be one of my favourites. The big thing about this song is that I ended up using it as a major part of an argument of a paper that I wrote this school year. This paper also happened to get the highest grade in my class and I managed to do it as a 2nd year student in a 3rd year class. I didn’t even think that was possible and yet it happened. There’s a bit more to that entire story, so click here to read about that. Thanks Amy.
Favourite Line: I shouldn’t play myself again, I should just be my own best friend.
Alright by Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick. Kendrick. Kendrick.
This entire album is fire and I’ve talked about this song already on this blog so for the full story, check it here. I just really love this song and the reminder of trusting in God keeping you, which means that you’ll be alright. Check it.
Favourite Line: But if God got us then we gon’ be alright.
Complexion (A Zulu Love) Feat. Rapsody
Okay, yes I’m including another Kendrick song but this is the first one I heard from his mega big album To Pimp a Butterfly and I just really like all of the different musical textures here. The muted horns, the Rhodes, the BGVs, it’s all just so good. Aside from all of that, the lyrics speak to the redefining of ‘blackness’ as often discussed through skin tone. I think often we place ‘black’ within a certain colour spectrum as opposed to understanding that the black experience — and black features — are not singular. Yes there are commonalities but that doesn’t make one ‘more right’ than the other. They are all a part of what it means to be black. Combine that with the fact that Kendrick gets a female MC on this track, it just makes me so happy. Often women are only in a specific window within hip hop Plus Glasper plays keys on this AND we get some Lalah vocals at the back end and I’m feelin’ it.
Favourite Line: Black as brown, hazelnut, cinnamon black tea; and it’s all beautiful to me. Call your brother’s magnificent, call all the sisters queens. We all on teh same team, blues and pirus, no colors ain’t a thing.
Everlong by Foo Fighters
It’s an oldie but a goodie. See, I knew about this song but it became one of my favourites after seeing them perform it live. It also serves as a reminder of what I have called my Foo Fighters Miracle, which you can read about here. I really love the rhythm, the melody and it just has a big feel. Listening to it after the show brings back all the memories of the show and it just makes me happy.
Favourite Line: And I wonder, when I sing along with you, if anything could ever feel this real forever?
Unbreakable Smile by Tori Kelly
Ms. Kelly. The now Grammy-nominated singer has been one of my favourites for a long while and it just makes me so happy to see all of her success. Plus she follows me on Twitter so we’re basically besties. 😛 I got the wonderful privilege of seeing her live and it remains one of my favourite moments of 2015 so check out my full concert review here! I love this song because it’s so true to the artist that she has shown us and is proving to be. The melody is simple and catchy which is really the strength of this song. It’s a fun, feel-good song which is very different from my typical tastes. But it’s Tori so who cares.
Favourite Line: And baby, who knows, maybe I can sell out shows without taking off my clothes. God made me sexy, I don’t care if only I know.
How can I ease the Pain by LIsa Fischer
Yet another reminder of a live performance that I got to experience this year. Her voice was magical and amazing. I’m so grateful that I got to experience it for myself. The thing that I really appreciate about this song is the quality of her voice. Her voice is so warm and welcoming and I just love listening to it. The studio version has a distinct 90s feel to it thanks to the different production aspects but I actually really dig it. Now the version of the song that I found was the studio version but the live version is incredible and I’ve linked it and my concert review in this little blurb. Check those out if you like!
Favourite Line: All alone, on my knees I pray, for the strength to stay away.
Thing of gold by Snarky Puppy
Okay so there’s clearly a theme here. Most of these songs come from bands that I’ve gotten to see live this year. But I’m not mad about it. This year has been one filled with live music and it’s been a super fun time. Snarky Puppy is a jazz/R&B/funk group based out of New York and they bring together all these influences and sounds to create their own distinct sound. The band had so much energy, it was infectious to watch! I go into much more detail in my concert review; so I had to include them in my soundtrack post because I loved that show so much. While I loved ALL of the songs that I heard at the concert, this is one of my favourites from the show. The little bit @ 1:12 gave the crowd an opportunity to sing with the band and it was such a fun little moment not only in the show but in the song. I’ve often found that this melody gets stuck in my head and I’m not mad about it.
Favourite Lyric: Well… There aren’t any. But the little melodic theme is my favourite part!
Jesus Children by The Robert Glasper Experiment Feat. Lalah Hathaway and MAlcolm Jamal-Warner
Okay so as my blog would show, I’m a huge Robert Glasper fan so I had to have at least one Glasper song. This one has been my favourites throughout the year. The melodic textures are so lush and warm; it almost feels like a blanket being wrapped around you. I really love hearing all the different instruments come together like this. THEN you add the poem on top of all of that, it’s a reminder to me of the fact that art is created in many different forms and mediums yet they can be brought together to create a well- rounded musical experience. This song has comforted me on many rainy bus rides throughout the year. It’s a great track and it’s just fabulous.
Favourite Line: Are you hearing what He’s saying? Are you feelin’ what you’re praying? Are you hearin’, prayin’, feelin’ what you say inside?
Butterfly by Bilal Feat. Robert Glasper
I kinda feel like this song speaks for itself so I won’t write too much about it. It’s very very simple. Just a piano and a vocal. The two work together to weave a light yet fill texture. It works well with the butterfly imagery because it does make you feel like you’re flying. This year has been one filled with pain and struggle and even death. Yet this song is a reminder to me that the struggle and the pain only serves to make my life more beautiful. The pain will only cause me to grow stronger and serves as a vital reminder of my need to endure pain in order to experience the beauty. It’s also another rainy bus ride song and I love it.
Favourite Line: Butterfly, the struggle makes you beautiful. The struggle makes you fly. Spread your wings and be new again.
Chandelier by Sia
And I might as well give this a big finish. Sia became one of my new favourite voices this year as well as one of my current songwriting inspirations. While I’m not writing songs about her, I’ve been able to learn more about her songwriting process and craft through various interviews and things that she’s done to promote her own music. In fact, just the other day I read a very interesting Rolling Stone interview with her where she talked about what I’ve nicknamed Beyoncé Songwriting Boot Camp. It’s a really cool story which you can check out here. The thing that I appreciated the most about this song is how she seeks to be the embodiment of freedom while still realizing that freedom doesn’t come easy but instead comes with a tremendous price. Her voice soars over the music and rises and falls as the emotion rises and falls with it. It’s a beautiful song and I think it’s often overlooked because it got so overplayed on the radio that the words almost become meaningless but I think it should be given a second look.
Favourite Line: I wanna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry.
How To Hear The Music
So I’ve written all about these amazing songs but looking them up on YouTube can be quite hard. So what I did was create a Spotify playlist with all of these songs. I’ve linked it here and if you want to find it, you can search #COASSoundtrack15 on Spotify.
The Big Farewell
Well that’s about all for me. I always have fun writing this post and it’s a great little walk down memory lane to see where I’ve been this year. Musically I’ve been scattered but one thing that has remained consistent is finding comfort in music. As this year as been filled with stress, emotional pain, and even death, God has used music to comfort me and to remind me of the places that He’s taking me.
I’m more than certain that next year’s post will have lots of English music on it as I’ll be spending half of the year all the way around the world so I’m excited to see what I write next time.
As this year comes to a close, I want to thank all of the different readers who have come along on this digital journey with me. Beginning in January 2015, it’s been a fun up and down road with many twists and turns. But it’s been a fun one. I’ve enjoyed getting to share some of my thoughts and I look forward to getting to learn more about the different people who read this blog. Thanks for checking in and reading along with me.
Until Next Year,
Peace & Harmonies