Take Me to the World https://www.takemetotheworld.com Travel. Theatre. Life. Wed, 18 Nov 2020 05:42:44 +0000 en-CA hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 Deep Dive Music Project | Emilie Autumn: Part 2 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/emilie-autumn-part-2/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/emilie-autumn-part-2/#respond Wed, 18 Nov 2020 05:42:25 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=29292 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

This month I've been listening to the music of Emilie Autumn, so instead of writing something, I decided to do a podcast episode instead.

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This post is part of my Deep Dive Muisc Project. Read more about the project here.
Check out all the posts I have on Emilie Autumn here. Listen to the Emilie Autumn playlist I have on Spotify.


This month has been a bit busy for me and I decided to record a podcast episode to ramble a bit about the Emilie Autumn albums I’ve been listening to this month. Those albums are

  • Enchant (2003)
  • Opheliac (2006)
  • Fight Like A Girl (2012)
  • Liar / Dead Is the New Alive EP (2006)
  • Laced / Unlaced (2007).

Not sure if I’ll be doing a podcast every month, but it felt like a good choice this month. You can listen to the episode here on Podcast.com. It’s about 24 minutes long.

Check out some more Deep Dive Music Project posts on Take Me to the World

Have you heard of Emilie Autumn? If so what’s your favourite song or album of hers?

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Deep Dive Music Project | Emilie Autumn: Part 1 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/november-artist-emilie-autumn/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/november-artist-emilie-autumn/#respond Sun, 01 Nov 2020 14:46:15 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=29269 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

For the month of November for the Deep Dive Music Project, I'll be diving into some of the discography of Emilie Autumn.

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This post is part of my Deep Dive Muisc Project. Read more about the project here.
Check out all the posts I have on Emilie Autumn here. Listen to the Emilie Autumn playlist I have on Spotify.


For the artists I’ve chosen for this project, Emilie Autumn is probably the most obscure for the average person. You might have not heard of her before, and that’s okay. I only know a couple of her songs (more on that later). My discovery of Emilie Autumn started several years back. I was browsing the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) website. One post on their forum was about asexual celebrities had her listed as an asexual artist. I’m asexual myself, and this sexual orientation is not well known in mainstream media, so I wanted to check out a few of Emilie Autumn’s songs.

Emilie Autumn’s Wikipedia page said she identified as asexual when I read this AVEN post years ago; it doesn’t say that now. In fact, her Wikipedia page doesn’t mention anything about her sexual orientation. Emilie Autumn may no longer identify as being asexual. This is valid and is none of my concern (as is anyone’s sexual orientation). I acknowledge a person’s sexual identity can inform their music. This is a topic that I’ll likely come across when I get to artists like Frank Ocean and Janelle Monae. However, I’m here for the music, and not to analyze/make assumptions about an artist’s personal life.

Long story short I wouldn’t have heard of Emilie Autumn were it not for browsing the forums at AVEN some 10 years ago.

The Emilie Autumn Songs I Kind Of Know

I’ve only heard a few Emilie Autumn songs. They are

  • Opheliac
  • Fight Like A Girl
  • Girls! Girls! Girls!

Impressions

Before I start diving into the discography for the artists I’ve chosen I want to give a rundown of the impression I get of their music and their work. This may or may not be accurate. The point of this isn’t for me to tell you, “this is definitely what this artist’s music is/will be like” but for me to see if these impressions are correct as I go along. They may or may not be.

Emilie Autumn’s music (from the few songs I’ve heard) is a blend of classical, glam rock, goth, punk, baroque pop, and avant-garde. I know Emilie Autumn is a classically trained violinist. However, she left that world to pursue her own music. She’s written a book of poetry called Across The Sky & Other Poems. She’s also written a novel, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls. She made the latter work into a concept musical, although I don’t know if this has had a full on-stage production. The music of hers I’ve listened to can be quite jarring. Her songs aren’t exactly sing-along kind of songs. You won’t hear Emilie Autumn on mainstream radio, at least from what I can tell.

I don’t know if I’m going to love all of Emilie Autumn’s songs. I wanted to listen to Emilie Autumn for this project because I feel her music is interesting and unique. It’s easy to get complacent with music, to listen to the same artists and albums for years. And while there’s nothing wrong with playing your favourite album again and again, I don’t want to get stuck in a music rut. I want to expand my brain when it comes to music. There are genres of music I’ve come across that years ago I wouldn’t have thought to listen to, and now they are genres of music that love. And I think this could happen with Emilie Autumn. I like to listen to music that’s a bit “weird” and unconventional every now and then. I like it when an artist takes a risk and tries something different. I believe I’ll come across this with Emilie Autumn’s music.

The Emilie Autumn Albums I’m Listening To This Month

Emily Autumn only has three studio albums. They are

  • Enchant (2003)
  • Opheliac (2006)
  • Fight Like A Girl (2012)

She also has several EPs, an album of b-sides and covers, an instrumental album, a musical album based on her novel, an audiobook of poetry, and an album of interviews. Not all of her EPs are on Spotify, but a couple of them are. I’ll be listening to the following EPs (which are pretty much full-length albums, just not studio releases). They are

  • Liar / Dead Is the New Alive EP (2006)
  • Laced / Unlaced (2007). This is an instrumental double-album with some original compositions by Emilie Autumn, and songs by other composers like Bach, Corelli, and Vitalli. The first part of the album is a rerelease of her first album On A Day (2000).

If I have time I’ll try to listen to her covers/b-sides album A Bit ‘O This & That (2005). As well I’d like to get to her musical concept album The Asylum For Wayward Girls: Behind The Musical (2018). November is always a hectic month for me (I work in a retail job). If I get to listen to these two albums I probably won’t get to write anything about them. Emilie Autumn also has the Opheliac Companion (2009), an 8-hour album containing interviews about her 2006 album Opheliac. She also has Your Sugar Sits Untouched (2005), which is an audiobook version of her poetry Across The Sky & Other Poems. While I would like to get to these albums I’m focusing on her three studio albums and the two LPs above.

Last month I changed things up with the posts I wrote for Prince compared to how I had written the posts with Lana Del Rel prior to that. And I might do something different again, or I might not. What I’ve been learning is that each month of this project (so far) has been different from each. I’m not expecting to have the same thoughts and feelings with Emilie Autumn as I had with Prince or Lana Del Rey. I do believe that listening to Emilie Autumn is going to be a very unique experience and it’s something I’m looking forward to this month.

Check out some more Deep Dive Music Project posts on Take Me to the World

Have you heard of Emilie Autumn? If so what’s your favourite song or album of hers?

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Musical Theatre Podcast Episode 13 – An Analysis of Act 2 of Cabaret, and Some of Its Characters and Themes https://www.takemetotheworld.com/musical-theatre-podcast-episode-13/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/musical-theatre-podcast-episode-13/#respond Tue, 27 Oct 2020 22:50:47 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=29261 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

In this podcast episode, I take a look at Act 2 of the musical Cabaret and discuss some of the characters and themes in the show.

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In episode 13 of the Take Me to the World Musical Theatre Podcast, I go over Act 2 of the musical Cabaret, as well as discuss some of the characters in the show. This is the third and final part of my series looking at the musical Cabaret. Check out episode 12 for a look at Act 1 of Cabaret, and episode 11 for a history of the musical and my experience with it.

For this analysis, I am looking at the 1998 Broadway Revival, although I’ll have resource links to other versions of Cabaret on this page as well. This episode contains major spoilers for Cabaret.

Where to Listen to Episode 13?

If you haven’t heard it yet you can listen to Episode 13 on Podcasts.com

Listen and subscribe to the Take Me to the World Musical Theatre Podcast on your favourite podcast app or website below.

Google Play

iTunes

Spotify

Stitcher

Tune In

Resources – Music

This has links (mostly on Spotify, unless otherwise stated) to the cast recordings/soundtracks that I mentioned in this podcast, as well as to some musical playlists.

It’s Broadway, Bitch – Spotify Playlist. This has over 2000 songs from different musicals I’ve either seen or have listened to obsessively. Most of the playlist is from stage musicals, but I have a few movie musicals and musical TV shows on here as well. Albums are in random order. Some songs contain strong language and subject matter, so listener discretion is advised.

Sounds of Broadway. This is an online radio station with over 4600 songs from 560 different musicals. It’s a great way to listen to musicals you know and discover some musicals you may have never heard of before. The station also has a great weekly podcast about musicals as well.

Cabaret (1998 New Broadway Cast)

Cabaret (1966 Original Broadway Cast)

Cabaret (1972 Movie Soundtrack)

Resources – Videos

These are links on Just Watch (unless otherwise noted) for the following movie versions of the musicals I talked about in this episode.

Cabaret (1972 Movie Adaptation)

Cabaret (1993 London Revival). This is a version on YouTube that was professionally recorded. If you are unable to see a production of Cabaret live on stage this version is closer to the 1998 revival than the 1972 movie adaption. Unfortunately, this is the only place I’ve been able to find this version.

Resources – Websites and Apps

Concord Theatricals. This is the company with the licensing rights to put on the musical Cabaret. You can rent a free copy of the libretto for Cabaret for a 2 week period. They have several versions including the Original 1966 Broadway, the 1987 Revival, and the 1998 Revival.

Reddit Musicals and Reddit Musical Theatre. Both of these subreddits are great places to go if you want to talk about musicals, get tips (if you’re a performer), and to get recommendations on shows to check out.

Broadway Musical Home. This is an amazing website for any musical theatre lover. They have an alphabetical list of over 300 musicals, and you can look up musicals by different categories like “based on a book” and “based on real life.” For anyone or any theatre company looking to put on a musical, you can check out the Rights page, where you can find where to get the rights to put on a variety of musicals.

Playbill has a listing for shows (musicals and plays) in New York, London and National Tours.

Today Tix is an App for both iOS and Android. You can use the app to buy cheap, same-day tickets for shows in cities like New York, London, Toronto, Chicago, and more. I used this app with great success in London and highly recommend it.

Use the Code JGZYL to save £10 (or $10) on your first order with Today Tix.

Check out some more Musical Theatre Podcast Episodes on Take Me to the World

Have you seen Cabaret? What themes do you take from this musical?

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Deep Dive Music Project | Prince: Part 4 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/prince-part-4/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/prince-part-4/#respond Wed, 21 Oct 2020 21:19:54 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=29109 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

In this post, I give my thoughts on four albums by Prince including 1999, Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, and Sign 'O' The Times.

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Check out all the posts I have on Prince here. Listen to the Prince playlist I have on Spotify.


This is part two of my thoughts about the Prince albums (and some of the songs) I listened to this month. This post features the albums 1999, Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, and Sign ‘O’ The Times. 

1999 (1982)

  • Out of all the albums I’ve listened to this money, this is the one I’ve listened to on repeat probably the least. It’s not a bad album by any means, just the one I haven’t gotten into as much.
  • The point above notwithstanding I’m sure “1999” will be on my Spotify most played songs for 2020 cause I’ve been listening to that one a lot. “1999” is a very catchy song. Also, I don’t think I heard the full version of this song (just the radio version) until this project.
  • What did people in the 1980s think the future would sound like? I imagine they would have an answer like “Automatic.” At least the first robot bit of the song. This song gets so weird. A lot of Prince’s songs get kinda weird, and I’m okay with that. I was never bored listening to Prince’s music.
  • In my last post, I thought the song “With You” was the cheesiest Prince song I’ve heard. It’s not. “International Lover’ has clearly summited the top of cheese mountain. That weird faux British accent during the plane part what us that? How am I to react other than howling with laughter? This feels like an over-the-top parody of a sexy slow jam, but I think it’s supposed to be like a genuine song, not an ironic or meme song. I’m not sex/kink-shaming you if this is your thing, but for me, I don’t feel anything close to sexy when listening to this song (or any Prince song). I guess this is what happens when an asexual/aromantic listens to Prince.
  • Prince has a song called “Free” which I didn’t know when I wrote this post, but I can’t say I’m surprised.
  • In the song “All The Critics Love U In New York” there’s the line Prince sings “4th day in November we need a purple high.” I tried to find out of November 4 is Prince day or something like that, but got nothing. This year though November 4 is the day after the US election, so maybe we will need a purple high that day, depending on the results. So I feel that November 4 should be Prince day, or at least a day to wear purple. I invite you to wear purple and listen to Prince on November 4.

Purple Rain (1984)

  • First off I wanted to mention that I watched the movie Purple Rain. I didn’t expect it to be amazing, it was just kind of okay. The acting was okay (a little stilted maybe), the plot was kinda irrelevant. It wasn’t bad per se, but the best parts of the movie were definitely the live performances by “the Kid” (the character Prince plays in the film). I pointed out on my Insta stories the most unbelievable thing in the movie was at the beginning when the club owner/manager and the frontman from the other rival band are talking about what a bad performance “Let’s Go Crazy” was. Like were those characters on drugs that make you lie, because that performance was awesome. Purple Rain just made me wish I had seen Prince in concert before he passed away.
  • “When Doves Cry” was the number 1 song the week I was born. Then again the album came out 4 days after I was born so there’s that. That week both Purple Rain the movie and the album were #1 in their respective charts. That’s the first time an artist has had a #1 song, album, and movie in the same week. Also, I learned that “When Doves Cry” doesn’t have a bass line (the drum machine acts as a bass), which was kind of a novel crazy thing back in the day.
  • When I sing along to “When Doves Cry” (alone, driving of course) I tend to sing the harmony part of the chorus, rather than the melody. I just really like the harmony for this song.
  • “Baby I’m A Star” is the song that ends the movie Purple Rain (until the song montage at the end credits). Yet the song “Purple Rain” ends this album, and I think that’s a really interesting choice. The song “Purple Rain” is such a great album closer despite being totally different from “Baby I’m A Star” which works as the last song for the film. That song got released as a B-side single.
  • Whenever “The Beautiful Ones” start I have this moment of “I don’t know if I like this.” Then 20 seconds in I think “no this is a good one too.” It is kind of a weird song, not the weirdest Prince song I’ve heard but just kind of like “what?” Like the space sounds in the middle (theremin, or likely some kind of synthesizer) is the kind of weird shit I love in music. Like why is this here? And then it’s followed by Prince wailing “is it him or is it me!!!” Pure Gold. 10/10. Must listen.
  • “Take You With Me” has an intro that’s so different from the rest of the song. Also, that’s how you do a good fade-out ending.
  • “Darling Nikki” is the song responsible for the “Parental Advisory” sticker on cassettes and CDs back in the day. It wasn’t the bold black and white stickers (those came in the 90s). It was former Second Lady of the United States Tipper Gore who started this when her daughter was listening to this song. And look I get it’s a sexually explicit song, but then again there were a lot of sexually explicit Prince songs before this one. I think if a song like “Lady Cab Driver” or “Do Me, Baby” were released as a radio single and also became big hits they would’ve been the songs to start the whole “Parental Advisory” thing. Now there’s just a little “explicit” next to these tracks on Spotify.
  • I really love the song “Purple Rain” and it’s a song I’ve added to a personal playlist of “Epic Sounding Songs.” I don’t know what makes this song sound epic to me, but it just does (and I felt this before seeing the movie). This is the only Prince song I have on that playlist.

Around the World in a Day (1985)

  • On my first listen to this album I was a bit confused, cause it wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s kind of funny because if asked me to guess what this album would sound like based on the one song I knew from it “Raspberry Beret” well I’d be way off, cause “Raspberry Beret” is a kind of anomaly here. I mean I guess “Pop Life” is a kind of pop-sounding song, but it’s much more new-wave influenced.
  • “Around the World in a Day” has the pop/folk/world music sound (with a psychedelic twist). I read a few posts about how this was to Prince as “Strawberry Fields Forever” was to The Beatles. I can see that, but the psychedelic twist in the album isn’t the same 60s psychedelic sound.
  • I am kind of digging “The Ladder.” I know there’s Christian rock music (not a genre I’ve ever listened to), but I never realized there could smooth jazz and R&B Christian music. Also that awkward cymbal (maybe hi-hat) crash at the end? What was that? And why am I still thinking about it 3 days later? I know Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness in later decades, and I get not everyone is gonna be into a religious/spiritual theme song, but I always find it fascinating when artists tackle these ideas, even if I don’t share the same point of view.
  • I didn’t get into this album right away, but then stuff starting clicking. The songs I didn’t enjoy as much at first have become my favourites from this album. Sometimes it takes time for an album to hit me.
  • This album doesn’t have as much of a cohesive sound/theme as some of the other albums I’ve listened to this month, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
  • Fun fact I learned about this album, the song “America” was recorded the day I was born. Booyah!
  • “Temptation” is such a strange song. It’s like the whole Prince/sex thing that he has in a lot of his songs. But it also gets weird and super dramatic at the end. And my little Leo heart just loves when artists go dramatic.

Sign ‘O’ The Times (1987)

  • This is not what I expected but I dig it. Some of it’s very chill, and the sound (mixing?) is quite different than the other Prince albums I’ve listened to.
  • So many orchestra-hits on this album (see the song “It”), and kick drums (“Hot Thing”). This whole aesthetic reminds me of the late 80s and early 90s, but I know the orchestra hit sample was used back in the early 80s – check out this video Vox did on the Orchestra Hit.
  • If you played “Housequake” (before I started this project) and asked me to guess who sings the song I would have never guessed Prince. Probably because the voice is pitched up a bit (he does this on a few songs on this album). Also when he says “Shut up already, damn!” that just makes me laugh.
  • On first listen this album sounds like it should be a greatest hits album for a bunch of Prince songs I’d never heard of – because it hops around in genres so much and has such a different sound than his previous works. And within the album, there’s a lot of musical variety. Then I found out the album contains songs from 3 different unreleased albums/LPs. It started to make more sense after that.
  • There was recently released a Super Deluxe version of this album, which clocks in at 8 hours. That’s not the version I listened to for this project, but I’m definitely going to give it a listen at some point.
  • “It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night” has the flying monkey chant from The Wizard of Oz. I officially love this song. I don’t always love random live songs on a studio album, but this is great. If time travel is ever a thing screw going back to the French Revolution or some shit like that – I’m seeing Prince in concert.
  • Speaking of “It’s Gonna Beautiful Night” there are several songs on this album like that one, which has an instrumental part in the middle or near the end that sounds quite different from the rest of the song. “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man” does this and so does “Play in the Sunshine” (albeit for a shorter time). It’s almost like you get a bonus song in the song.
  • The album just made me realize how much Prince’s music spans different genres and creates its own genre. I cannot overstate how much Prince’s music and musical talent amazes me.
  • There’s a clip of Prince on Muppets Tonight singing “Starfish and Coffee.” You’re welcome.

Well, this is probably going to be the last post I’ll have on Prince for this project. And once again let me state for the record how astounded I am by this man’s musical talent, genius, and creativity. Prince left this world way too soon. Thankfully he left the world with a massive catalogue of his work. (and apparently, he has music that hasn’t been released to the public). While I’ll be focusing on another artist next month, I will continue to listen to Prince’s music for the rest of my life.

Check out some more Deep Dive Music Project posts on Take Me to the World

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Deep Dive Music Project | Prince: Part 3 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/prince-part-3/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/prince-part-3/#respond Wed, 14 Oct 2020 21:19:15 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=28762 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

In this post, I give my random thoughts on three albums by Prince including his self-titled album, Dirty Mind, and Controversy.

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This post is part of my Deep Dive Muisc Project. Read more about the project here.
Check out all the posts I have on Prince here. Listen to the Prince playlist I have on Spotify.


I tried to organize my thoughts on these albums, but I can’t, not in the same way I did last month. And that’s okay. When I decided on this project I didn’t want to hold myself to some standard of having the same mental or emotional reaction for each artist. My reaction to listening to Prince’s music is very different than it was with Lana Del Rey last month. One is not better or worse than the other; they’re just different.

I don’t know how to explain this difference though because saying, “I didn’t get any brain tingles with Prince’s music, but I still wanted to keep listening to more, and my mind keeps wanting to hear more of his songs and different songs” probably doesn’t help explain it. Or maybe it does. Last month I wrote how I could picture different scenes and things when listening to Lana Del Rey’s music, despite how I have difficulty with visualizations. This month I’m not picturing anything listening to Prince’s music. But then again when I hear songs like “Paisley Park” or “I Wanna Be Your Lover” I can’t help but move, whereas I didn’t get that dancing kind of feeling last month.

As well last month I wanted to learn as little as possible about the albums/songs I was listening to, trying to come up with my own interpretations as much as possible. This month is different because I keep going to Prince Vault to learn little facts about different songs I’m listening to this month. Also, there is a paper called Pop Life: Prince in the Recording Studio written by Susan Rogers, who worked with Prince as a studio engineer on several of his albums. And I’ve been very tempted to read this paper (the abstract is quite intriguing to me), but it’s $44US for the PDF, so I’ll probably hold off. I would like to point out this isn’t the only academic paper I’ve seen on Prince. That’s the kind of musical genius we’re talking about here.

So that’s kind of the musical journey I’ve gone on this month. One where I am thinking and going down a rabbit hole of reading about Prince’s songs and albums, rather than just listening and “feeling the music” (yeah vague hippie term I know). And I’m not saying this is how everyone should approach Prince’s music, but this is how I’ve naturally approached the Prince songs I’ve been listening to. I’m enjoying this month’s musical journey in a different way than I did the previous month. The only thing I believe about this project is that my experience in the following months won’t be exactly like this month’s, or the month before.

For this month instead of writing something about the albums I’ve been listening to, and then analyzing a couple of songs from each album, I’m just writing about the albums. This is because I can’t seem to repeat a couple of songs from each album; the more I try to repeat a couple of songs the more I just want to listen to more songs. To be fair I’ve feature notes/impressions about several songs from each album. Since I’ve written quite a bit so far I’ll be featuring the first three albums (Prince, Dirty Mind, and Controversy) on this post and the last four (1999, Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, and Sign ‘O’ The Times) on the next post.

Prince (1979)

  • Starting with a fun and funky sound. This has a bit of a 70s sound to it (or what I assume is a 70s sound cause I was born in 1984). There’s some funk, some disco, some pop/rock numbers, and a couple of ballads.
  • The ballads/slow jams are probably my least favourite like “With You” and “When We’re Dancing Close and Slow.” To be fair love ballads have never been my thing, and if I had to listen to a ballad then a Prince ballad stands above a lot of other artists.
  • Just complained about ballads in general, but I thought the outro for “When We’re Dancing Close and Slow” is fantastic and kind of spacey. All those synths sound like space lasers or something. And I’m not saying this happened, but I hope Prince was like super excited to put those in.
  • Hell yes to the way Prince wails out “Bambi!” It’s interesting because this album is a little different than the Prince sound of the 80s with “Purple Rain” and “Little Red Corvette” but yet you can totally hear that this is the precursor to all of that. There are some fun guitar licks in this song too.
  • “Still Waiting” the opening few bars of this song sound like it could be the theme song for a 70s sitcom. I know it’s not, but it’s got that sound. This is a ballad as well, but it’s a bit more mid-tempo than the two previous ones and I do like it a bit better than those two.
  • “With You” might be the cheesiest song I’ve ever heard. Love songs are so weird to listen to when you’re aromantic.

Dirty Mind (1980)

  • This album has more of the 80s feel to it – according to Prince Vault it was recorded between May and June 1980, so technically it’s the first of Prince’s 80s albums. It still has lots of funk and R&B like his first two albums (I’m not writing about his first album For You, though I did listen to it), but the sound on Dirty Mind is a bit different than those two albums.
  • The song “When You Were Mine” sounded really familiar to me, and it is really catchy. Then I realized I heard this song before when watching the episode “Prince” on the series New Girl (the episode had Prince in it as himself – good episode).
  • “Uptown” ends with this effect and then the next song “Head” starts with it. I call it psychedelic yet 80s space laser. It might have another/better name.
  • Apparently, the song “Head” was a bit controversial at the time. I can only imagine what people thought when they got the album and listened to the song after that one “Sister.” Definitely not touching that song. Musically it’s super catchy, but listening to the lyrics I’m feeling a bit uncomfortable.
  • I tend to do this thing where I put two different songs together in my head or parts of different songs in my head. So for “Head” after each line in the verse (doesn’t work for the chorus) I combine it with Prince singing ‘partyup, got to partyup’ from the song “Partyup” (also on this album). I kind of have to slightly slow down the tempo for the ‘partyup, got to partyup’ part to make it work, in my brain, but to me, it flows well. You may not think so, or probably think I’m really weird.
  • “Got a Broken Heart Again” is a fucking bop (well a semi-sad mid-tempo bop). Why is this song not used in more TV shows and films? It’s perfect for the start of the rom-com when the main character finds their significant other is a jerk/has been cheating on them, and they’re wandering around the city wondering if they’ll ever fall in love again. And then how the song ends right after the line “and there’s nothing left to say” but yet quietly kind continues until the 2:09 mark when you hear that one effect. I imagine it’s a door closing like we’re hearing literal closure on the relationship/song (the sound effect was probably a drum machine or something).
  • The slide down on the keyboard/synth for “Do It All Night” is a mood, and it’s a mood I love. And the baseline in this song is great. And then the spacy synth laser sound comes on and you can tell it was kind of new thing and Prince was just going for it. I don’t know how Prince was as a person, but musically he’s quite bold in trying new things and experimenting with different sounds and musical ideas.

Controversy (1981)

  • I understand there was speculation about who Prince was as a person during life (and even now), and I feel like the song “Controversy” addresses this idea, but I’m certainly not going to say it’s some definite anthem of his or anything like that. Also, the chorus for this song is super catchy, and yes I’m just referring to the word “controversy.”
  • The start of “Controversy” (first song on the album) and the end of “Jack U Off” (last song) have a similar sound (it might be the same note). Basically, this makes this album perfect to listen to on a loop.
  • “Jack U” Off is such a catchy song, it’s like a weird, sexually charged, funk version of a 50’s rockabilly song. It’s also one of many songs by Prince where I think “well I’ll never hear this song on the radio or at work.” And that ending, how it sort of starts to sound like the song is ending, but it doesn’t and then they go hard, that’s a yes from me.
  • “Annie Christian” is one of the most unexpected sounding Prince songs I’ve come across. I always find it interesting when an artist throws a curveball like that on an album. I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite song, but I appreciate it.
  • There’s a movie I made up in my head. It takes place at an office in the 1980s. In one scene there’s a big company party and while everyone is dancing their 1980’s brightest dresses and suits, bluest eye shadows, and biggest hair “Private Joy” is playing. And there’s nothing more 1980s in my mind than this. Also apparently this song was covered by LaToya Jackson and released as a single, but only in Japan. What is the world? Also, fuck yes to that weird guitar feedback at the end.
  • “Ronnie, Talk to Russia” is a song telling Ronald Reagan to talk to Russia (very much a song of the Cold War). But what this song really reminds me of is “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones. Not because they sound exactly the same, but because they both feel like an updated version (for their respective times) of the 1950s “Let’s Go to the Hop” kind of songs (not saying this was the intention, but it’s certainly what I think of when I hear these songs). Plus, they’re both relatively short songs and have pretty fast tempos.
  • Never really considered Prince as being a politically focused musician before this project, but songs like “Ronnie, Talk to Russia” from this album and “Partyup” from Dirty Mind changed my mind on that.
  • “Let’s Work” is a funky jam I can groove to any day.

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Deep Dive Music Project | Prince: Part 2 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/prince-part-2/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/prince-part-2/#respond Thu, 08 Oct 2020 05:38:59 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=28756 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

I've been listening to a bunch of songs by Prince. Here's some general thoughts so far. Notes on the albums will follow in the next post.

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This post is part of my Deep Dive Muisc Project. Read more about the project here.
Check out all the posts I have on Prince here. Listen to the Prince playlist I have on Spotify.


First off let me say that I greatly underestimated what a musical talent Prince was. Throughout the month I’ve found myself in shock and awe over Prince’s music. When I did my Birthday Music Project I learned that Prince wrote a lot of songs (estimated between 500 and 1000, with many still unreleased). More recently I also learned that on his earlier albums he not only wrote all the songs (aside from the odd few), he also played most of the instruments (often all the instruments) on the album. Oh yeah and he often did the arrangements too. And it wasn’t like these were acoustic albums with Prince just strumming a guitar (which would be great). These were albums with multiple instruments that Prince played for the recording of the album. Now to be fair Prince eventually had other people play instruments as well, but for a lot of his albums, Prince not only sang but played several instruments.

The point of this project is for me to listen to a bunch of music from an artist I haven’t paid too much attention to before, not to speculate on the artist themselves. However when I found out that Prince wrote all these songs and play the instruments for much of his earlier work I get the feeling he was a bit of a perfectionist. It seems insane (at least to me) to want to do all that work yourself, because I’m sure the record label (Prince was signed at 17) could find session musicians to play in the studio, a producer to do arrangements, etc. I don’t know if Prince was a perfectionist in all areas of his life, but I think he had a vision for his music, his style and he wanted to be the one calling the shots.

Yet I stand by my thoughts from this post where I wrote that Prince songs have a kind of freedom to them because I think they do. Prince often wrote songs with a sort of sexual freedom to them, many pushing some controversial ideas and themes. And I read an article where Prince said he wanted to “personify sex in every way.” Themes of sex, sexual freedom and exploration are in many Prince songs (at least in a fair amount of the Prince songs I’ve been listening to). There’s a bit of a dichotomy between the freedom in how these songs sound (including the topics of these songs) to the control Prince had behind the songs to make them.

I had this idea in my head of the songs I’d be hearing (from the few Prince songs). And yes there were fun upbeat songs, funky sex jams, and some slow sexy jams too, but there was a lot more variety in his songs than just that. There were songs that I would have never in a million years guessed as being Prince songs. Like “Housequake” or “Annie Christian.” Some songs blended and defied genres. And often I just listened stunned at the talent this man had. Just watch Prince’s guitar outro at this tribute for George Harrison on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

Also, the way Prince throws that guitar up and then struts off stage at the end is fantastic. My little theatrical heart loves it.
 

I will admit that I haven’t been obsessed with a particular Prince album or song (like I did with Lana Del Rey the previous month). That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed the music I’ve been listening to, because I have. But instead of wanting to repeat a song 30 times in a row I just want to listen to more Prince songs, and learn more about Prince as an artist. So I’ve listened to more albums than I planned to, but I’ll only write about the 7 albums I mentioned here. If I didn’t limit this project to a month/artist I could easily do several months, maybe even a full year of Prince’s music.  Also, I’ve watched several live performances from Prince, because damn he had a magnetic stage presence.

I’ve been making notes about the albums I’ve been listening to, but I don’t have coherent enough thoughts on them. I am working on it. So I’ll be publishing another post on that in a few days. So far this has been a really enjoyable experience.

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What’s your favourite album by Prince?

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I Didn’t Love Dublin https://www.takemetotheworld.com/didnt-love-dublin/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/didnt-love-dublin/#respond Sat, 03 Oct 2020 16:30:40 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=28735 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

I spent almost two years living in Dublin, Ireland and I never fell in love with the city. Find out why in this post.

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A few days ago I was scrolling through Instagram when I came across a post from Vanessa with Tunipseed Travel. She had posted a photo of Dublin and commented that it’s not a place that she loves. She likes Dublin, feels comfortable when she’s there, but she doesn’t love the city. I posted a comment agreeing because here’s the truth; despite living for a year and bit in Dublin, working there, (and visiting many times after I moved to Donabate for a few months), I never fell in love with Dublin.

I’ve debated writing about this before, but I always had a hard time gathering my thoughts about it. Part of me felt guilty that I never “fell in love with Dublin” as I thought I would before moving there. I didn’t hate Dublin; I’ve never hated any place I’ve visited. There are some places when I got there I just fell in love with it right away. However, there are a lot more places I’ve visited that I’ve found to be just okay. With those places, there isn’t any, “this place is so amazing”  feeling that comes over me when I’m there. And feeling just okay about a place is actually okay. Whether someone loves, just likes, or even hates a place is pretty subjective. Not every place is going to be the greatest place on earth for every person.

Part of me wonders if I didn’t love Dublin as much as I wanted was because of the circumstances that I was there. My experience may have been a little bit different than someone who goes to Dublin for a vacation. I moved to Dublin on a temporary working holiday visa, without having ever visited the city (or Ireland) before. Upon arrival, I was already anxiously trying to find a place to live, getting a job, and doing all the other little things you need to do (like paperwork) when moving to another country. None of this went as smoothly as I anticipated, and this probably coloured my Dublin experience in a more negative light than if I was travelling there for fun. I didn’t know anyone before moving there, and getting comfortable in Dublin (feeling that I knew what I was doing and where I was going) took time. If I could equate my feelings about my time in Dublin with a Facebook relationship status update it would be “it’s complicated.”

Father Collins Park in the Clongriffin neighbourhood in Dublin. This was across the street from the first place I lived.

When I first got to Dublin I imagined some moment where I’d be hit with this feeling of “this feels like home” but that never happened. There were things I liked about Dublin (visiting the free museums, grabbing a pint at a pub, walking in the parks, being close to the sea, the people I met, not having a -30C winter). There were also things I didn’t like about Dublin (stupid high rent prices, how long it took me to find steady employment, the narrow sidewalks in some areas, the train schedule where I lived).  I didn’t hate Dublin, and nothing horrible happened while I was there, aside from some job and apartment hunting stresses, one mouse incident, and going blind on the train (that was probably the worst thing).

A blue Georgian door in Dublin, Ireland.

Another thing I enjoyed in Dublin was seeing the colourful Georgian doors.

Eventually, I felt comfortable in Dublin. I figured out how to get around town, and always felt a little proud when I could point lost tourists the right way when they asked for directions. I began to understand the North Dublin accent where I lived and worked. I got to know what some of the Irish slang I heard meant. I’d go grocery shopping at Lidl or the big Tesco in Clarehall. I’d pick up a spicy chicken fillet roll from the deli at the Supervalu. I felt comfortable going into a pub and getting a drink. Maybe I wasn’t a local, but I was local-adjacent. Yet part of me knew while I was in Dublin that this wasn’t my home. That I was an observer, just there for a short period of my life.

Thinking about it I’m glad I didn’t fall in love with Dublin. The places I have fallen in love with instantaneously (like Montreal, London, New York, New Orleans, Madrid, Hong Kong) are ones I visited, not lived in. Those were places I visited on short vacations (usually a week or less). If I lived in any of those cities it would be a very different experience than being there on a holiday. Moving to and living in Dublin made me realize how different that experience is from just travelling somewhere. It’s fun to wander a city to find a nice spot to grab lunch or a museum to visit. It’s a lot less fun rushing around a city handing out resumes and looking for a place to live. Plus, if I had fallen instantly in love with Dublin it would have made it much harder to leave. Even though I may have not fallen in love with Dublin when it came time for me to leave it was still hard to go home to Canada.

Liffey River in Dublin.

This post isn’t meant to discourage you from travelling to Dublin or Ireland in general. Dublin has a lot of things to see and do, and for anyone going to Ireland, it’s worth stopping in the capital for a few days. There are many day trips close to Dublin to places like the Wicklow Mountains, Dún Laoghaire, Howth, Malahide, even Donabate (where I lived for a bit). You could easily stay in Dublin for a week or longer and find lots to do.

I don’t regret moving to Dublin, even when it was hard. I knew living abroad was an experience I wanted to have at least once in my life. As Dot sings in the musical Sunday in the Park with George, “the choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not. ” I don’t know if moving to Dublin was a mistake or not, but it taught me many things I didn’t know, including things about myself. So despite the hard times, I’m glad I lived in Dublin and got that experience.

Now I get this weird nostalgia for my time in Dublin because it was hard, beautiful, fun, overwhelming and sometimes it was just okay. But I’m certainly not done with Dublin, and when it’s possible to travel safely again I’d like to go back for a holiday. I’ll walk into a pub and order a pint, grab a spice bag from a takeaway, hop on the DART and see some of the sites I didn’t get to when I was there. Perhaps Dublin won’t feel quite like home. I might not fall in love with Dublin the way I have with a few other cities. Yet I know because of my time living there, for me Dublin won’t feel like anywhere else in the world.

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Deep Dive Music Project | Prince: Part 1 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/october-artist-prince/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/october-artist-prince/#respond Thu, 01 Oct 2020 12:00:30 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=28711 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

For the month of October for the Deep Dive Music Project I'll be diving into some of the discography of Prince.

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This post is part of my Deep Dive Muisc Project. Read more about the project here.
Check out all the posts I have on Prince here. Listen to the Prince playlist I have on Spotify.


There are some artists that I’ve chosen for this project, whose works are massive and who have been so influential in music and culture that it’s a bit overwhelming.

If you haven’t guessed Prince is one of those artists, but Prince was the reason why I started this project in the first place and so I knew I had to include him here. On June 7, 2020 (what would have been his 62nd birthday) I was writing about Prince for my Birthday Music Project. Reading about how he essentially started a genre of music (Minneapolis Sound). That he was basically a guitar virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist (I knew he played guitar, but not that he was a virtuoso). That he wrote 500 songs (including ones for other artists). That he had 39 studio albums released in his life. It was then that I thought “holy shit there’s a lot of Prince’s music I don’t know and I need to listen to more of it.” From there I decided to do this project.

The Prince Songs I Kind Of Know

I was born in 1984 and while I don’t recall listening to a Prince album specifically growing up I’d definitely heard of Prince, and I knew a few Prince songs. In no particular order, those would be

  • 1999
  • Raspberry Beret
  • Little Red Corvette
  • Purple Rain
  • When Doves Cry
  • Nothing Compares 2 U
  • Let’s Go Crazy
  • Kiss

Impressions

Before I start diving into the discography for the artists I’ve chosen I want to give a rundown of the impression I get of their music and their work. This may or may not be accurate. The point of this isn’t for me to tell you, “this is definitely what this artist’s music is/will be like” but for me to see if these impressions are correct as I go along. They may or may not be.

There are some artists on here that I know a little bit more than others. Prince is an artist who had such an impact on music and pop culture during his lifetime, so I can’t come at this from a place of a blank slate. I mean an artist who can simply be known by one name (or even a symbol) like Prince is a literal icon.

As mentioned before I didn’t grow up listening to Prince. I heard several Prince songs for the first time through covers by other people like “Nothing Compares 2 U” or “When Doves Cry” (the version I first heard was the cover version featured in the Baz Luhrmann movie Romeo + Juliet). The other songs I likely heard them on the radio or in a movie or somewhere else. I don’t have any particular memory tied to a Prince song, but I will say that “Raspberry Beret” is one of my personal “Get Happy” songs (songs that make me happy).

For the few Prince songs, I know he seemed to be the type of artist who was willing to experiment and try new things. I know he did create a new genre of music. And back in the 70s and 80s when music was much more divided by genre than it is today Prince seemed to be an artist that could bridge and combine genres. I think about a song like “Let’s Go Crazy” which starts off as a Gospel-esque number, goes into a funk/pop sound and ends with a rocking guitar solo.

Of course, this might not be true for every song, but I think there is a freedom and fluidity to Prince’s music. Don’t take “freedom” to mean “just do whatever sporadically.” I think Prince was one of those artists who (in terms of music at least) knew the rules, and so he knew when to bend or break those rules. And he didn’t seem to be concerned with doing something (music or otherwise) just because “that’s how it’s always been done.” Prince defied conventions and was a trailblazer.

That’s my impressions for now. Let’s see if any of this will change as the month goes on.

The Prince Albums I’m Listening To This Month

For the most part, I’m not focusing on soundtrack work artists have done, but I’m making an exception with Prince and his iconic 1984 album Purple Rain (soundtrack for the movie of the same name). Prince actually worked on several other soundtracks in his career as well, although I likely won’t have time to get to those. I’ll be listening to the following albums in chronological order

  • Prince (1979)
  • Dirty Mind (1980)
  • Controversy(1981)
  • 1999 (1982)
  • Purple Rain (1984)
  • Around the World in a Day (1985)
  • Sign ‘o The Times (1987)

Most of the albums I’ve chosen (with the exception of the first) are from the 1980s, but I haven’t included every 80s album Prince released. And there is a huge amount of his work I know I’m missing out on, but I can’t cover it all. If I have time I may choose to listen to one or two more Prince albums. There is an album of Hits/B-Sides I would like to get to if I have time. However this album is almost 4 hours long (right now I’ve got 5 hours and 45 minutes of Prince songs to listen to), so no guarantees I’ll get to it (at least this month). I’m also going to try to watch the movie Purple Rain this month as well.

If you’re familiar with Prince’s music and you have an album suggestion for me to listen to leave a comment below. I might not be able to get to it this month, but I’ll try my best.

Let’s go crazy…and listen to some music by Prince.

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What’s your favourite album or song by Prince?

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Deep Dive Music Project | Lana Del Rey: Part 3 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/lana-del-rey-part3/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/lana-del-rey-part3/#respond Thu, 24 Sep 2020 01:24:55 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=28705 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

For this post I look at a couple songs from each of the Lana Del Rey albums I've been listening to this month.

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Check out all the posts I have on Lana Del Rey here. Listen to the Lana Del Rey playlist I have on Spotify.


For this post, I’m taking a couple of songs from the Lana Del Rey albums I’ve been listening to this month, and writing a little something. And again I don’t know what I’m doing or if this is good, but I just want to write. These songs were chosen for random reasons I can’t explain, but these were the songs I kept hitting repeat on. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re my favourite songs, or that the other songs are less good – these were just the songs I got a little obsessive over for whatever reason. Some of these are about the song themselves, others are more about my experience with the song. These entries may or may not have anything to do with the actual subject matter and/or artist’s intentions for the songs. The songs are in order of album release (oldest album first).

Lolita: Born to Die – Paradise Edition

When it came to listening to the Born to Die album I found myself at first repeating the songs I already knew like “Born to Die” “Blue Jeans” and “Summertime Sadness.” There is something to be said for the familiarity bias (a psychological effect where people tend to prefer/like things they are familiar with). After a few times of repeating the songs that I knew I then started repeating the new-to-me song of “Lolita.” Holy hell is this song an earworm. I love when singers do different vocalizations and even like accents (Kate Bush and Regina Spektor do this kind of thing in their songs a lot). The higher-pitched breathy vocalizations Lana Del Rey does in this song is great and adds to the whole “Lolita” theme. I should point out I haven’t read the book “Lolita” or seen the Stanley Kubrick film adaptation, though I know what it’s about (including the whole unreliable narrator aspect). More to the point the term Lolita is one that has permeated pop culture; Wikipedia says the term “Lolita” has been assimilated into popular culture as a description of a young girl who is “precociously seductive…without connotations of victimization”.

This song seems to allude to the idea of a group of people (perhaps related to gender, though not necessarily) using society’s over-sexualization of them to subvert this expectation (lines like “I know what the boys want, I’m not gonna play”). It’s a song that points to the narrator having desires (“I want to have fun and be in love with you), which to me is about how powerful our desires (not necessarily sexual, though in this song that definitely seems to be the idea) can be. Also, when Lana Del Rey sings “D-a-r-k, do it my way” seems to be a commentary on consumerism and capitalism (fast-food company Burger King had the slogan “have it your way” until 2014). I don’t mean commentary on consumerism in a “eat the rich” kind of way, but showing how love and infatuation can be an all-consuming obsession (“gonna make the boys fall like dominoes”).

Bel Air: Born to Die – Paradise Edition

When this song came on I thought “oh that piano part at the beginning is pretty. Is that an arpeggiated chord?” So I had to figure that out. The long story short is I found the chord progressions for the song online (and there is an arpeggiated chord in the left hand) and I started playing the song on my keyboard. Now I’m not saying this because I’ll be uploading a video of me playing the piano because that’s never happening. I have a weird relationship with the piano where I like piano-heavy songs (or piano-focused songs), but I difficulty playing the piano myself. I took piano lessons as a kid, but playing the piano wasn’t easy (particularly sight-reading and piano theory). I don’t “play piano for fun.” No, I play the piano when I get this urge to try to figure out (usually by ear at first) how the melody of a song goes. I’ve always had a good ear for figuring out intervals and notes and such, but I’m not as good at it now as I was before. I want to retrain my ears to be better and figuring out notes, and maybe chord progressions (chord progression aren’t something I did much ear training with). Is this is a necessary thing to have in my life that will fix all the problems of humanity? No, but I enjoy trying to figure out songs by ear and “Bel-Air” reminded me that I want to get back into that.

Oh and this song is really good too. It’s pretty (I’m a sucker for pretty songs). I love the drum (or maybe drum machine) inclusion in the chorus. Also, something I love in songs is when an artist adds in real-world/non-music sounds in a song, like the kids (I’d assume) chattering in the background. I realize that this was probably added during production on purpose, but gives the feel of a song that isn’t perfect, and was recorded impromptu. Again I know it’s not, but I like some non-music sounds in a song.

West Coast: Ultraviolence

I could have picked any two songs from this album because I fucking loved it, but something about West Coast pulled me in right away, the opening drums, the 70s rock vibe – it just works (for me anyway). Then the tempo change at the chorus, where it slows down and pulls back (apparently from 123 bpm to 50 bpm) – fucking loved that. I listened to the radio version of the single too, which has an even tempo (no changes), has some lyrics changes, is overall shorter (as radio singles can be), and has a more acoustic rock feel to it. The radio version isn’t bad, but I definitely prefer the album release of this song – it’s a bit more of a trip.

Referring back to the album version of “West Coast” I love the soft (very hard to hear) part where she does the “mic check” after the first chorus. When a song has a “flaw” like this I find it really compelling because that could have easily been edited out during production. The “ooh baby I’m in love” is definitely a call out to Stevie Nicks song “Edge of Seventeen” adding to the whole nostalgic SoCal music vibe that you can find on this album. And then the synth (I’m assuming it’s some kind of synth near the end) yes I fucking love it. This was the song I listened to 20 times in a row and then listened to it again because I just loved this song. It’s a moody surf rock aesthetic that I didn’t know I needed until I heard it.

Pretty When You Cry: Ultraviolence

This song opens with part of the chord progression from “Hotel California” by The Eagles. Now, this isn’t me making some “Aaah!!! she stole that song” accusation because there are enough differences throughout both songs to make them different. But as soon as I heard this I was like oh “Hotel California” 70s guitar rock/Laurel Canyon vibes.” 

“Oh yeah I’m definitely not gonna mention music theory in these posts for sure,” Alouise said lying like a lying liar. Anyway here are the chord progressions for the two songs.

“Pretty When You Cry”
Verse: Am, E, G, Dm, E
Chorus: F, Am, G, F, E

“Hotel California”
Verse: Am, E7, G, D, F, C, Dm, E7
Chorus: F, C, E7, F, C, Dm

According to the Guitar tab website where I researched this because obviously, it says “Hotel California” is in B minor and “Pretty When You Cry” is in B Flat Minor (semitone lower). And I don’t know of those chord progressions above are in the right key or this is a transposed key because the chord progressions above don’t make sense to me in Bm or Bbm. If I’m looking at the chord progressions above I’d assume the songs are in A minor. And if that’s the case going from the I chord to the V chord isn’t some crazy thing, cause many other songs have done this (particularly in mainstream western music). And I know that minor chord progressions tend not to always stick to the minor. For example, in A minor chord progression the V chord would be Em, but for both “Pretty When You Cry” and “Hotel California” it’s E major (and E7 in “Hotel California” which is essentially the E major chord with a 7th note – or the d above the b). Essentially the point I want to make without relearning 2 years of music theory and teaching it to you, is the songs sound similar at first but don’t stay the same.

But yeah again I love the vibe of this song, and of course, Lana Del Rey’s vocalizations float above the melody and are just wonderful. But I just drove myself crazy looking up chord progressions and googling terms like “what is it called when you’re in A minor and then go to E for the V chord, but it’s E major and not E minor.” My internet stopped working, so I don’t know the answer. And I’m assuming you probably don’t care, but this is the stuff that’s in my brain and I want to figure out.

High By The Beach: Honeymoon

After hurting my brain from the last song (which to be clear I do love) I wanted to go with something more simple. And not that “all I want to do is get high by the beach” as the chorus goes I gotta admit that doesn’t sound bad at all. You got some spacey synths at the beginning, which adds to this relaxing chill vibe of the song. Then the slow beat adding in the chorus, pulling back at the verses. Also, this song has some great vocal layering, which a lot of Lana Del Rey songs seem to have. And I find it really interesting that she uses the Spanish term acción in the bridge instead of the English action. I’m assuming to fit the rhythm of the song. She sings a short line in Spanish in “West Coast” as well. The spoken poetry lines at the end are great, which seems to reiterate the idea of the best revenge is living a good life. Or maybe for Lana Del Rey the best revenge against critics is making some great music, which she continues to keep doing.

Swan Song: Honeymoon

The opening of this reminds of the opening part of “I Want to Break Free” by Queen. This isn’t in the same key (“I Want to Break Free” is in E Major and “Swan Song” is in Db Minor). But they both start with this piano synth thing and that’s what my brain thought of when I first heard the opening of “Swan Song.” The term “Swan Song” of course is referring to the idea of the big/last final performance that someone gives before they retire or pass away and she teases this idea with the line “And I will never sing again.” Luckily for us, she does sing again, but “Swan Song” has this fatalistic element to it that a lot of Lana Del Rey songs have. It’s a sad, slow tempo ballad, which isn’t always my jam but this song I kept repeating.

Also sometimes my brain does this thing where I think if they made a jukebox musical using songs from a particular artist or band what songs would work best? To me “Swan Song” is one of those songs I could picture/hear in a jukebox musical using Lana Del Rey songs (check out my podcast episode on jukebox musicals to learn more about them). Not saying that there should be a musical of Lana Del Rey songs (often jukebox musicals are thinner on plot and character development because they shove in songs that people know and are popular). But if on the very slim chance a Lana Del Rey based jukebox musical is ever made I feel “Swan Song” would be a great choice for an 11 O’Clock number (the big usually solo number before a finale that a female often sings like “Cabaret” from Cabaret or “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy.

13 Beaches: Lust For Life

Out of all the Lana Del Rey albums I listened to Lust for Life was the hardest for me to get into. Not saying it’s a bad album, and it’s probably on that I’ll get more into at some point (usually that happens with me, I get really into one or two albums by an artist and then rediscover their other work later). I read that “13 Beaches” was written after Lana Del Rey had to visit 13 different beaches (around LA) before finding one without paparazzi. I think the idea of obsessing over celebrity tying into an obsession over love is really apt parallel. The spoken part at the beginning is apparently from a 1962 horror film called Carnival of the Souls. In my first post for this month, I mentioned that I thought Lana Del Rey would be similar to Kate Bush in her songwriting style. Well, Kate Bush has several songs with clips to movies or alluding to specific films like “Hound of Love” and “The Wedding List” and “Wuthering Heights” (to name a few). There’s another connection to the Kate Bush style of songwriting I didn’t even consider Lana Del Rey would have as well.

Cherry: Lust For Life

“Cherry” is the song that comes right after “13 Beaches” on Lust For Life. In the previous song Lana Del Rey sings about “dripping peaches” and in this song, she sings “and all of my peaches are ruined.” This song seems to be a darker take on unrequited love. The chorus with the line of “rosemary and thyme” seems to be a shoutout to the old English ballad “Scarborough Fair” (part of the ballad was by Simon and Garfunkel on their 1966 album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme). Also, I love the spoken swears during this song, which remind me of that little voice in your head that goes “fuck!”

Mariner’s Apartment Complex: Norman Fucking Rockwell

This is just a really nice sounding song. I mean not that the other ones aren’t, but this has a nice acoustic feel to it (in the beginning). It feels like it’s a song that could be or may be started as a poem. I love how Lana Del Rey sings “I’m your man” with a bit more breathiness the first time, and then with a bit more force on subsequent times. And I mentioned it in the last post but a singer being able to sing with a breathy voice (would assume this is a head voice, but I don’t know much about singing in that regard) while maintaining a consistent volume (and not necessarily devolving down to a whisper) is pretty intriguing to me (I was definitely more of a belter as a singer – and I find we’re often intrigued by the talents we lack). The speak-singing that happens in this song is great, and I think used effectively (definitely not a “she’s speaking this cause she can’t hit the notes” kind of deal). And the guitar, not sure if it’s a reverb there but it’s great, particularly with the outro. It’s a song that starts with an acoustic feel (though I know it’s not entirely) and then builds up to more of an electronic ending (though I’m not saying the song isn’t electronica by any means). I mean you get more fuzzy guitar sound at the end and I fucking love it.

happiness is a butterfly: Norman Fucking Rockwell

“If he’s a serial killer what’s the worst that can happen to a girl who’s already hurt.” When I heard that line my first thought was “damn girl.” I love it when someone writes something that makes you go oh, yeah never consider that words could be put in this particular order to express this particular feeling or thought. The idea that love is painful, love hurts, etc is a big cliche that has been said/sang a lot. And not that this sentiment shouldn’t be written about or sang or expressed in some other artistic way, but I find it refreshing when someone can say something like this in a new way. I really love the sparseness of this song, and how the music builds up during the chorus when she starts with the line “I said don’t be a jerk, don’t call me a taxi…” The end of the chorus sounds like the keyboard (it might be a synth instrument) does a slide down part of the scale, but it’s slightly distorted and I’m obsessing over this sound. What is it? See this is another thing that’s gonna keep me up at night.


Well, I think this is going to be the last Lana Del Rey post for September (unless you want to read about the other songs I would put in the imaginary Lana Del Rey jukebox musical). I am sad her new album Chemtrails Over the Country Club wasn’t released this month, but then again I know with Covid a lot of new album releases are being pushed back since artists can’t tour these albums right now. No matter when the album comes out I’ll definitely give it a listen (though I might not get to writing about the album like these ones). The expectations I had for Lana Del Rey albums and songs were met and exceeded, even in ways I wasn’t expecting (like all of Ultraviolence for example). And while there are probably a few songs of hers I couldn’t find and listen to, overall this was a really enjoyable month.

Check out some more Deep Dive Music Project posts on Take Me to the World

What’s your favourite Lana Del Rey song? Is there a Lana Del Rey song or album I’ve missed and should check out? Let me know in the comments below.

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Deep Dive Music Project | Lana Del Rey: Part 2 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/lana-del-rey-part2/ https://www.takemetotheworld.com/lana-del-rey-part2/#respond Wed, 16 Sep 2020 00:05:37 +0000 https://www.takemetotheworld.com/?p=28684 This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

I give some thoughts on the Lana Del Rey albums I've been listening to this month for the Deep Dive Music Project.

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This is post is from TakeMeToTheWorld.com

This post is part of my Deep Dive Muisc Project. Read more about the project here.
Check out all the posts I have on Lana Del Rey here. Listen to the Lana Del Rey playlist I have on Spotify.


For this post, I’m gonna write briefly about each of the Lana Del Rey albums I’ve listened to this month.

Since this is a different type of post than what I normally publish I’ll be describing things in some weird vague terms. Get ready throughout the Deep Dive Music Project (not just for this post) to see phrases like “sounds like” “reminds me of” “this vibe is like” “feels like” and so on. While I took piano for about 10 years I only have a couple of years of music theory so there won’t be much for “wow I really loved the Gsus7 chord here. And the fact that this song is in E Aeolian symbolizes the sad contemplation of humanity.” I mean there might some “I think this is in a major key. I like how it sounds” but this isn’t going to be very theory-based. I’m also not at all familiar with music production so that might not be very detailed or accurate. I’ll likely say things like “those drums in the opening on the songs are fucking great” and “I liked the synths (I think) in this song” and so on.

General Overview and Impressions

On the whole, I’ve been enjoying Lana Del Rey’s music. While there are some songs and albums I may like a little bit more than others there isn’t a song or album I hated or wouldn’t listen to again. I could easily see myself going down the rabbit hole with her music, so I’m glad I’m restricting this project to a month or an artist. I know there are probably bootlegs of unreleased songs before she went by Lana Del Rey. I would like to listen to them at some point, but I wanted to focus on her main releases under the moniker of Lana Del Rey and not the earlier stuff she made under the name May Jailer or Lizzy Grant.

I see images when I listen to a lot of Lana Del Rey’s songs. Like in my mind which is weird because I’m not a very visual person. I have a hard time picturing things in my mind (meditations that are all you’re walking along a stone path and you come to a big wooden door make me frustrated because visualizing is really hard for me). With many of her songs, I could picture little vignettes and scenes in my head. This doesn’t happen for me with every music artist. Like I love Queen, but I don’t picture anything in my mind when I listen to Queen’s music (I just enjoy some great fucking songs by Queen).

Lana Del Rey’s vocal delivery is kind of great. Whispering with strength. There’s a lot of vocal control to do that. She still sounds clear, but her voice isn’t overpowering. And I’ve been reading articles looking back at how Lana Del Rey’s sad pop sound influenced the back half of 2010’s music. And I didn’t really realize this until I started this project, but there’s even a Taylor Swift song from a few years ago “Wildest Dreams” where Swift was clearly going for a Lana Del Rey vibe (like very “Without You” from Born to Die vibes – Taylor Swift’s album coming out after Born to Die).

I find it really interesting when a singer puts on an accent (for lack of a better term) in songs. I notice Lana Del Rey does some different vocalizations like this, like the higher, breathy vocalizations she does in songs like “Off To The Races” (in the chorus) and in “Lolita” for example. Many of her songs have a story element to it, without being a “once upon a time…” kind of deal and these vocalizations add to the feeling of this story element to some of her music.

Born to Die (Paradise Edition)

I started with Born to Die Paradise (Deluxe Edition). This album is basically Born to Die (which has 12 tracks) and the Paradise EP (which has 8 tracks) in one album. There are also a couple of tracks that weren’t on the original release of Born to Die or the Paradise EP as well. The handful of the Lana Del Rey songs I knew beforehand were from this album, most being from the Born to Die part of this album.

I liked this album, but I think because I was familiar with several songs from the album I kind of knew what to expect. Don’t get me wrong this album was pretty good. If we lived in a world where all music sounded like the songs from Born to Die I’d be okay with that, but it didn’t blow my mind. I kind of knew there was gonna be a theme of Americana (or maybe a postmodern version of Americana) and ideas about that. Maybe because I’m Canadian and don’t always connect to that idea of Americana, but yet I consume a lot of media meant for American audiences there’s a bit of a separation in that regard.

I found “Lucky Ones” to be kind of meh. Like it’s not bad, but also it was the one song I was most likely to skip from this album when listening to it. The melody for the verses I really enjoyed, but the bridge and the chorus just didn’t do it for me, it kinda fell flat. And the background jungle noises (which worked in other songs like “Born to Die” for me) just felt distracting.

Also, the sample of the “hey” voice (not sure what was actually being said, but you hear it several songs) was okay. It added to the trip-hop element, and I generally didn’t notice it. Except my brain decided that the sample in the song “Blue Jeans” was yelling “Sharks!” Now, I understand that is not being said at all, but that’s what my brain decided to hear and I can’t unhear it (like the whole Yanny/Laurel thing from a few years back). I hope now you hear “Sharks!” when listening to this song. You’re Welcome.

Ultraviolence (Deluxe Edition)

This album blew me out of the water. I was not expecting a guitar-heavy psychedelic rock 60s and 70s inspired album. And maybe because I listened to a lot of 60s and 70s rock music growing up (music my parents listened to a lot) that my brain was basically primed to love this album right off the bat. In fact, this album has definitely become my favourite Lana Del Rey album (so far), and it was the one I wanted to constantly repeat. I do tend to get pretty fixated on a particular album/song when listening to music, so that doesn’t mean the other albums weren’t also fantastic in their own way. It’s just that Ultraviolence was the one where (at least now) I want to keep listening to it.

In fact this to me this comes pretty damn close to being a perfect album, which is a complete misnomer. When I use the term “perfect album” I don’t mean it’s a flawless masterpiece beyond criticism. To me, a perfect album shares several qualities. They are

  • I love all the tracks equally and don’t have any desire to skip any tracks. There are many albums I love, but most usually have a track or two that I don’t like as much as the other tracks.
  • It’s an album I can listen to at any time, no matter how I’m feeling or what I’m doing. Again there are a lot of albums I love but sometimes I gotta be in a certain frame of mind to listen to some albums or artists.
  • It’s an album where I can play any track on repeat multiple times (like say 10 times in a row) and not be tired of the track, and I’ll still want to listen to more of the album.

On first listen I loved every song from Ultraviolence but after multiple relistens there are a couple of songs I don’t love as much and would sometimes skip. But I was not expecting to hear a close to perfect album for the second album I listened to on this project.

Ultraviolence is an album that sounds very different from her other albums, but yet when I heard it I was like oh yeah that’s a Lana Del Rey song for sure. Like there are some artists/bands who have a pretty consistent sound and that’s cool. And then there are artists whose albums can sound a bit different from each other, but yet you’d never mistake their song for someone else’s. I’d put Lana Del Rey in that second category.

Honeymoon

Definitely, more of a Born to Die vibe with less hip hop. Very slow tempo, but to be fair I don’t think there’s any high tempo Lana Del Rey song. I mean if you’re looking for music to do cardio to then Honeymoon probably isn’t the best choice. Though if someone played this album in a yoga class or something I’d totally understand that. Wikipedia says this a baroque pop album, but that’s a pretty broad category (basically just means pop music that has classical elements to it). I could definitely year that and several songs definitely sounded like they could be in a film score “Honeymoon” and “Swan Song” standing out for these reasons.

I did find this album harder to get into than Ultraviolence and maybe because I loved that album right away (like from the opening bars of “Cruel World”) and this album is very different than that it just didn’t connect right away. I still really enjoyed Honeymoon overall, but there were certainly less earworm songs for me (catchy songs that get stuck in your head) on this album than from the other two I listened to previously. Even if this album isn’t perfect (according to my completely random and biased opinion) it’s still pretty damn good. And sometimes there are albums I don’t connect with right away, and then I go back to them months later and then become obsessed with them. I feel Honeymoon could definitely be one of those albums for me.

Lust For Life

In my first post where I mentioned the previous Lana Del Rey songs I knew before starting this project, there was one song from this album (unbeknownst to me) I’d heard many times before. The first track from Lust For Life “Love” is a song that plays on the random music player we have at my retail job. It’s a pre-made playlist we can’t change, with maybe 100 or so songs. So because of this, I’ve heard this song a lot (and just didn’t realize it was a Lana Del Rey song…I tend to try to tune out the music I hear at work). “Love” isn’t a bad song by any means, and if I didn’t hear it all the time I’d really enjoy it. Since I hear it so often I probably won’t listen to it much outside work.

I wondered if the song “Lust For Life” would be a cover of the Iggy Pop song of the same name, but it was a different song (a duet with The Weeknd). This album had several features from other artists, and it was the first album that does this. On this album, there are songs featuring The Weeknd, A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, Stevie Nicks and Sean Ono Lennon. I find it interesting when an artist collaborates with artists from different music genres. My favourite features here were “Summer Bummer (Featuring A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti)” and “Tomorrow Never Came (Featuring Sean Lennon Ono).” That last song, the vocals were gorgeous and I would classify it as a song that sounds pretty.

Several songs from here have a Born to Die vibe with hip hop elements like sample use and all that. But definitely not as much of a trip-hop album as Born to Die. I found this album easier to get into than Honeymoon and there were several catchy songs that got stuck in my head right away “Cherry” and “13 Beaches” being two of them. And “When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing” feels like a vibe for 2020. Just saying.

Norman Fucking Rockwell

This was just a really solid album. Does Lana Del Rey have a bad album? No, I don’t think so. Maybe her next release will prove that wrong, but I’m sure it’ll be great.

The song “Norman Fucking Rockwell” gave me some serious Fiona Apple vibes, with its sound – like from the  Extraordinary Machine era. The production for this album feels scaled back, and tighter. It’s another great Lana Del Rey album and I can definitely see why it got the praise it did. What I will say about this album is I found the first few songs and the last few songs to be fucking great, and the songs in the middle I just didn’t love as much. Are those few middle songs bad? No, but they weren’t ones I kept repeating. And again they could be songs that I get into at another point in time, but I just wasn’t feeling them right now.

One thing I didn’t mention in the previous albums is how poetic a lot of Lana Del Rey songs sound. And I know she wrote a book of poetry (and the song “Burnt Norton – Interlude” from Honeymoon is a TS Elliot poem that Lana Del Rey reads). But in NFR songs like “Mariner’s Apartment Complex” and “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it” feel like they could just poems on their own, or that they could have started as poems rather than being intended as songs.

I know I didn’t write a lot for this album, but there’s only so many ways I can say it was pretty fucking great. It was pretty fucking great.

Extras

Since Lana Del Rey’s 2020 album Chemtrails Over the Country Club hasn’t come out (as of this post’s publication) I listened to a few extra songs that were not on the previous albums. “Looking For America” is a standalone track released last year, which is a contemplative look at the idea of America and Americana. She also wrote two songs (“Big Eyes” and “I Can Fly”) for the soundtrack of the film Big Eyes. Both of those songs I enjoyed, but I think I liked the more sombre tone of “Big Eyes” than the uplifting tone of “I Can Fly”. As well as her song “Young and Beautiful” for the film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, a song I heard before and enjoyed.

There are also a few cover songs I listened to not featured on the previous albums. “Once Upon A Dream” from the Maleficent soundtrack which works so well (and also made me think a Lana Del Rey cover of “Sally’s Song” from The Nightmare Before Christmas would be great). And a cover of the 1966 Donovan song “Season Of The Witch” for the film Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark. I found the tempo of this song to be a bit too slow and it kind of dragged for me.

Finally, Spotify has the single track “L.A Who Am I To Love You?” which isn’t a song, but a poem from her book of poetry Violet Bent Backward Over The Grass with some accompanying background music. I really enjoyed this track and while I’m not one to read poetry books I’d like to give the audiobook of Violet Bent Backward Over The Grass a listen.

Conclusion

If you’ve read all that congratulations on getting through that, maybe. I didn’t know exactly what to expect with Lana Del Rey’s discography, but on the whole, I’ve really been enjoying her music. Considering that’s she’s released an album every couple of years or so since 2012, and those albums have all been really great to fucking stellar I am quite impressed with Lana Del Rey. I’m looking forward to hearing her new album and if it comes out this month as expected I’ll try to listen to and my thoughts about it to this post.

In the next post, I’m gonna pick a couple of songs from each album and write a little something about them.

Check out some more Deep Dive Music Project posts on Take Me to the World

What’s your favourite album by Lana Del Rey?

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