Monthly Archives: June 2012

Owl City meets Carly Rae Jepsen: What pop music should be

A little boy playing in the sand

Davey at the beach where I wrote this post. Not only was our time good at the beach, “Good Time” is Davey-approved.

Carly Rae Jepsen’s song “Call Me Maybe” is the best song in pop music right now. Don’t argue with me on this; it’s exactly what a pop song should be. Catchy, easy-to-learn lyrics that are incredibly fun to sing along with… It’s the perfect feel-good song. Owl City does pop well, too; in fact, he’s been one of my favorite artists for a few years now. Since “Fireflies” first hit the iTunes free single of the week and later tore up the radio, Owl City/Adam Young had mass happiness appeal. (Yes, “Fireflies” wasn’t his first or even best song, but it’s the song that put Owl City on the map for most people.) This is why “Good Time,” his new single with Jepsen, is a very good idea.

The fact that it’s a duet makes the song so much better. All parties need at least two people, right? But in all seriousness, this so-called “happy accident” (Young in an interview with MTV) sounds like a well-orchestrated masterpiece to me.

“Good Time” has an almost “California Gurls” or “Last Friday Night” feeling to it, but without all the trashy glam that accompanies the average Katy Perry song. It could easily become the next 13-year-olds’ pool party anthem or “that one song” that gets played at every dance, but I don’t mean that as a bad thing. A good pop song should have a “please overplay me” quality, but I beg you to please not ruin this song for me. It’s fast enough to dance to and simple enough to sing along; better yet, the lyrics aren’t cringeworthy in the least. No worries about letting your little sister jam along with you because “Good Time” proves that fun doesn’t have to be inappropriate.

I recently fell in love with Owl City’s last full album, All Things Bright and Beautiful (2011), but now I can’t wait to hear more from his next album, The Midsummer Station this August. If it’s anything like this single, it’ll be a really good time.

P.S. – Take some time to vote for “Good Time” (or vote for any of the other talented artists) on the About to Pop list this week.

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Davey and the goat sounds

It’s very difficult to have consistent posts when you’re traveling as much as I have been. So, in honor of my travel, I bring you this video from my most recent road trip. My cousin Davey provided some quality entertainment, don’t you think?

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Nine-year-old nephews and other travel tips

My nephew is nine and very energetic. He loves heavy rock music, and he’s a master at Fruit Ninja. His favorite superhero is Ghostrider and he’s trying out for the football team next fall, but he still has a soft spot for his adorable puppy, Max. He rarely stops talking.

This week, he and his mom (my stepsister) joined us on vacation, with very entertaining results. These are some of his greatest moments.

A boy sitting upside-down in a chair

My nephew shows how to properly sit in a chair, by counter-example.

First, the airport, where Nephew learns about politics. “Syria,” he said, reading a passing news headline thoughtfully. “It’s almost like cereal.”

He was very impressed by many of the things he saw on vacation. “This is awesome!” he would exclaim. When we got to the hotel, he was so excited that he assigned us all letters. “You’re ‘O’, you’re ‘M’, and you’re ‘G’. This place is awesome!” He even enjoyed eating escargot (it was also “awesome!”) until my daddy told him what it was. “You just ate snails.” Nephew was in shock.

You see, my nephew is very in-touch with his senses. “You smell like those three dogs,” he told us one day, and he was never afraid to let us know he didn’t like a food he just tried. “Yuck,” he would say in that certain deadpan way only a nine-year-old can. However, his speech on cantaloupe was quite insightful I thought. “They’re like bananas. You know how Coke and Coke Zero taste the same, but Coke Zero has a little weird taste? That’s how these are. It’s like a banana with a little weird taste.” (I’m really glad he was always willing to try new foods, even when he didn’t like some of them.)

One day at dinner he stopped us all for a moment. “Wait…” he whispered to himself. “Dad says eat healthy.” We had many interesting discussions at mealtimes. One day it was zombies; the next, facial hair. (Thankfully, he promised to never let me have any facial hair. He would hold me accountable as an old lady. That’s what family is for, right?) “You’re silly,” his mom told him. “That’s what sons are for!” he replied.

Here are a few more of his most quoteable moments:

  • “Whenever someone learns to play cards, they always win… I bet $112 you’ll win.”
  • “I have an idiom for you… I just thought of it.”
  • “When you go crazy, you take Viagra.”
  • “He’s as strong as a tiger plus a cheetah plus a lion.”

Despite his intentional (or not-so-intentional) hilarity, my favorite time with my nephew was at a sushi restaurant. No, he didn’t like sushi, but it was still fun. He had just seen “The Help” and had a lot of questions about it. It was really cool to hear his perspective on the film and to talk to him about something I’m passionate about: good storytelling. And man is he full of stories.

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Friday favorites is on vacation

…and so am I. That’s right, I’m on vacation, hence the lack of new posts. The Internet connection isn’t great when I do have cell service, but I’ll get back to regularly scheduled posting next week. I’m really excited about the new Motion City Soundtrack album released last Tuesday, so expect a review sometime soon. Bye for now!

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Friday Favorites: Electric Light Orchestra

It was 1995. In preparation for our long drive to Disney World, my daddy let me pick one song to be our “vacation” song. My choice? “Mr. Blue Sky” by ELO. It’s always been a favorite of mine, even at the age of four.

As I’ve grown up, my love for Electric Light Orchestra has only increased. There are so many wonderful songs, and their style is such a wonderfully unique sound. I love it—I love the strings and the combination of voices and Jeff Lynne’s lead vocals. Many of their songs have a happy undertone, and nearly all of them bring back good memories.

Only lately have I noticed how my love of ELO has influenced some of the newer artists I love, whether because they were influenced by the band as well or that their sound is reminiscent of it. I know that Fun. was definitely influenced by ELO, as you can hear very clearly in their first album, Aim and Ignite. Ra Ra Riot also gives off an ELO-esque feel with their violin-rock. But perhaps most shockingly, I realized last week that even one of the best songs by another of my favorite bands, Jack’s Mannequin, has a strong tie to “Mr. Blue Sky.” “Dark Blue” is like the modern remake of the song, somehow, with different words and different sounds but such a similar feel. I approve.


Bonus: Lily Allen’s cover of “Mr. Blue Sky” is really good as well. I have it on my computer, but I can’t remember how I found it and it’s not available on Spotify. If you have a few moments to spare, though, you should definitely look it up. All I really found was this mash-up of the two on Youtube.

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Shuffled Wisdom: Move Me by Shaun Groves

I listen to music in waves. First I’ll want nothing but my iPod, and then I’ll want completely new music and demand only the radio. I’ll listen to only my playlists on Spotify, and then I’ll listen to only newly created playlists through We Are Hunted or MoodAgent or any of the other awesome Spotify apps.

The Sirius satellite radio transmitter in my car

I listen to a lot of satellite radio in my car; more about that in a later post.

This week, I’m doing a little of both—new music at home, but old music while driving. In other words, I put my iPod on shuffle in the car and allowed it to dig up some of my older songs—songs I don’t listen to much these days but used to love enough to keep their place on my iPod. Sometimes, I end up skipping through fifty songs before I find something I can tolerate (it depends on my mood while listening, really.), but sometimes I strike gold. A song will provide exactly the kind of thing I needed to hear at the moment, speaking wisdom into my life or providing comfort or happiness or good memories.

Yesterday, the song was “Move Me” by Shaun Groves. You may not know the song at all, seeing as it was only on the radio in 2001 and really didn’t go much farther than the occasional play on K-Love. But it was one of my favorite songs that year—uplifting and catchy and not overplayed or cliché in my 10-year-old self’s opinion. Give it a listen below.

It really hit home for me with some of the things I’ve been dealing with lately. It’s a sort of prayer that I could definitely use, a perspective I need to better understand, especially with this line. “Use bitter and sweet/to move my frozen feet/far beyond all that holds me down.”

That’s my challenge, for me, but for you if you want as well. Let yourself be moved. Moved by music, moved by God, moved past what is keeping you at this place, no matter how comfortable this place you’ve been holding onto so tightly might have once seemed. Move.

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Hearts for Paper by 53

With all the technology around me, sometimes I just want paper. After all, paper and I go way back—to the days of coloring in the floor, the days when I first learned to write and later to write in cursive, my constant companion for taking notes and making doodles in class. All that being said, I got an iPad last month for my birthday, and it has taken over many of the things I used to do on paper, especially journaling and whatnot.

But at the recommendation of a friend, I downloaded the app Paper by 53. It’s such a beautiful app that it’s actually rekindled my appreciation for drawing. Of course, it’s a paid app, but it was so worth the cost to me that I even bought a few extra drawing tools. It’s helpful because I can make illustrations to go with a post without having to deal with “Paintbrush” (or whatever the Paint knockoff for Macs is called) or acknowledging the fact that I’m too cheap to buy the necessary Adobe products. Here’s something I sketched today just for fun.

20120603-190316.jpg

It’s also a nice way to plan things out without having to find a pen, because I like to have more flow to my notes than just the straight-down-the-page feeling of Microsoft Word or the Notes app. I’m really interested to see where this program goes and how different people use it.

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