Since I last blogged on here a month ago, I’ve discovered a lot of new music and have enjoyed many music films. Since I am happy and lazy (I’m on Spring Break), I’m going to talk about how much I love music in general and give several brief music movie recommendations.
When I say I love music, I mean music in general. In three years, I’ve gone from just listening to alt. rock and soundtracks to having an eclectic music taste. I have my likes and dislikes, but I understand that every genre is connected.
On a post similar to this one, I said that my discovery of indie-rock was me coming full-circle with my music taste. I was wrong. Afro-punk is the genre that has brought me full-circle, not only with my music taste but also with my own life.
If had I known about this genre when I was feeling like an outsider in high school, then I would have found the perfect genre to listen to. Then again, I might not have the eclectic music taste I have now.
Afro-punk is a music genre and contemporary movement filled with black punk bands and black alternative music acts. As much as I’ve enjoyed finding music in this genre, I’ve also found more classic blues and jazz music that I like.
For instance, Billie Holiday before the 1950s. During those years, her voice wasn’t marred by drugs yet. I love it because it sounded youthful, sad, and sweet. I love her slower songs the most because the way she stretched out the words made you want to savor her voice. One of my favorite songs is “Am I Blue?”
Another voice I’ve found I enjoy a lot is Sarah Vaughan. Her voice is soothing and sweet and it warms you up like a fire. Like with Holiday, I like her slower songs that were done when she was young. One of my favorite songs is “Autumn in New York”.
Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday are now my favorite classic female blues and jazz singers. I wish more young people could appreciate old music in any genre.
Without blues and jazz, we wouldn’t have rock music. Without classical music, none of my favorite soundtracks would exist. Without old music, we wouldn’t have new music.
One of the most enjoyable things about appreciating music is watching music films. Here are the films that I’ve watched this past month that I recommend:
The Billie Holiday Story (BBC Documentary)- I loved Billie Holiday even more after I saw this. This film shows her not as a victim to drugs and a sad childhood, but as a talented woman who had strengths and weaknesses. Watch it here.
New Orleans (1947)- This film features Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. The plot is corny, but the jazz music makes the film worth watching. It’s on DVD, but I also found it on YouTube here (ignore the Portuguese subtitles).
Hail, Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll! (1987)- Part rock concert and part biography, this film honored the life and 50th birthday of rock musician Chuck Berry. Features appearances from Little Richard, Etta James, Keith Richards, and more. Watch it on Hulu here.
A Band Called Death (2013)- This film tells the story and new-found popularity of Death, the first black punk band. It is available to watch on Netflix. If you enjoy the film, their 1976 album Death For The Whole World To See is worth listening to as well.
Yellow Submarine (1968)- I watched this for the first time in February in honor of The Beatles 50th anniversary. It stars The Beatles in an animated film where they go to Pepperland to free it from the evil Blue Meanies. The animation and the music are great. This is a good film to watch as a family. Watch it on DailyMotion here.
In case you haven’t heard of Paloma Faith, she is a soulful singer from the UK who is going to release her third album ‘A Perfect Contradiction’ on March 10th. The song “Can’t Rely On You” will be featured on the new album. For more on her past work, check out this Paloma Faith Buzzfeed post I made last month using my real name.
One of the things I love about this performance is that it is in an actual kitchen! With pots, pans, and no audience! When I saw the link, I thought the performance was going to be on a cooking show. I also love how Faith’s pianist comes on-screen and creates funky beats with a saucepan and wooden spoon.
In addition, the performance is classy (as usual) and low-key. The matching plaid everyone is wearing is so cool and the kitchen setting makes the performance more intimate with viewers.
Lastly, the energy is awesome. You can see and hear it in Faith’s voice and backing band. The little dancing that they are doing makes you want to get up and join them!
Plot Summary (Taken from IMDB): Amelie, an innocent and naive girl in Paris, with her own sense of justice, decides to help those around her and along the way, discovers love.
My Review: One of the best things about this movie is the main character. Amelie is a young who has been isolated from the world so much that she has retreated into her imagination. This causes her to communicate very little to others. When she does communicate, it is in elaborate schemes that feature things like practical jokes and posters. A touching thing about her unusual method of communication is that almost all her schemes aim to help others.
Besides Amelie, the secondary characters are wonderful. Some of them are just as eccentric as Amelie, but some also have interesting quirks. For instance, a painter named Dufayel has withdrawn from others, but he is also very caring and helpful toward Amelie and one other character.
In addition to the characters, the fantasy aspect of the film was great. Literally bringing Amelie’s imagination to life lets the viewer inside Amelie’s head and provides an interesting perspective. It also and adds humor and depth to Amelie’s character and the overall storyline.
The only flaw in the film was the romance between Amelie’s character and her love interest. While the way Amelie attempts to communicate with him is amusing, the romance when they finally get together felt rushed.
Overall, this was an entertaining French film. I’d recommend it to older teens and adults who like romance and fantasy, but not to families because it is sexually explicit.
Plot Summary (Taken from Goodreads): From the author’s vivid childhood memories in Harlem to her coming of age in the late 1950s, the nature of Audre Lorde’s work is cyclical. It especially relates the linkage of women who have shaped her.
My Review: One of the best things about this book is its beautiful imagery. She makes some sentences in the book seem like lines from a poem. An example is the line “All the colors change and become each other, merge and separate, flow into rainbows and nooses”. In addition, there are poems sprinkled throughout the book that give a more vivid impression of her experiences.
Another fantastic aspect of the book is how the poignant bond between women is shown. The book’s title is a Grenadian word meaning “friending” and symbolizes the bond between Lorde’s ancestral home of Grenada and the women that impact her life. Lorde’s experiences show how true sisterhood is formed between women who are mothers, sisters, friends, and lovers.
In addition, the book has a powerful historical account of racism, lesbianism, and the McCarthy era. All three of these themes eventually intertwine as Lorde struggles to discover her identity and her place in the world. There are a couple of chapters devoted to Lorde’s thoughts on how others perceive race and sexuality and the impact of those perceptions. These thoughts are insightful and could easily apply to today’s times.
The only flaw of the book is also its strength. Sometimes, the author focused too much on her romantic relationships with other women. It made the book a bit slow and melodramatic.
Overall, this book was a touching autobiography that may give strength to fellow outsiders of any race, sexuality, or gender identity. I recommend it for black history month reading and anyone who has enjoyed Audre Lorde’s poetry.
Found this via Jeyna Grace’s blog and thought it would be fun to do! Here are the questions and my answers!
- P!nk (the singer)
- An anime series collectively called A Certain Magical Index
- Have more than one favorite. One of them is Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.
- Again, I have more than one favorite. One of them is Janelle Monae.
- Lindsey Stirling
- Haven’t been to one yet.
- Have quite a few. One of them is The Perks of Being A Wallflower.
- Not sure I have one yet.
- Didn’t have any until recently, but I prefer not to answer this one.
- Yep and it sucked but I kept liking what I liked.
- Have a lot. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is the first one that popped into my head though.
- When it comes to one that is still airing, it is Legend of Korra.
- Oh, so many fandoms to choose from! Well, my favorite Harry Potter character is Hermione Granger.
- Fan-fiction (reading a long (but great) Legend of Korra one right now)
- Waiting forever for new episodes to air (*cough* Once Upon A Time *cough*)
- Depends if I’m nearby or not.
- Um, no.
- I wish.
- Have a couple of Sailor Moon posters, a Harry Potter snow globe and Harry Potter Uno Cards.
- Finding out that there was a fictional book featuring fan-fiction called Fangirl.
Unless you’re an indie pop listener, chances are that you never heard of the duo A Great Big World before they released the duet-version of “Say Something”. The version featuring soulful pop singer Christina Aguilera has been an international hit. Now, A Great Big World’s Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino have released their debut album “Is There Anybody Out There?”
One of the best things about the album are its lyrics. They are simple, but also upbeat, honest, and empowering. “I’m learning anything’s possible now” the duo sings on the opening track “Rockstar.” “And change will come/it’s on its way/ just close your eyes/and let it rain” sings Ian Axel on “You’ll Be Okay.” A particularly notable track is the LGBTQ anthem “Everyone is Gay”.
In addition to the lyrics, the vocals are great. Ian Axel has a good range that is capable singing some high notes, low notes, and soulful notes. In his case, his best track is the apparently live recording of “Shorty Don’t Wait” which has a blue-eyed soul vibe. Also, his solo version of “Say Something” is worth a listen as well.
As for Chad Vaccarino, he is someone not to be underestimated. While he is usually the secondary singer for most of the tracks, he is given a solo spot on the track, “I Don’t Wanna Love Somebody Else.” Here Vaccarino’s vocals show that he has just as much soul as Ian Axel. With the poignant and sad lyrics added to the mix, you have a track that deserves just as much attention as the duet and solo versions of “Say Something”.
Furthermore, the production is a pleasant surprise. Although there is a pop sound to most of the record, there are elements of other genres too. “Land of Opportunity” has pop and a classy jazz sound while “Shorty Don’t Wait” has a gospel choir in it. Furthermore, the track “Cheer Up” features the calliope (the music you hear at a carnival).
Overall, this is a fantastic debut album. If you like piano pop singer Sara Bareilles, then give these guys a listen.