Adventure Monday -- 1989

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Adventure Monday -- 1989

For this week's post, I did something I never thought that I would do -- I listened to Taylor Swift. If you know me at all, then you know exactly how I feel about Taylor Swift's music; I don't exactly like it. That being said, I can also honestly say that I have never given any of her full albums a real chance. I've only heard her hits that were on the radio and based my opinions off of those. That being said, I have heard so many people say great things about her latest album, 1989, so I figured I would do the right thing and give her a fair chance before moving forward. FAIR WARNING: this post is going to have a LOT of media to look at/listen to, so be ready.

To give a little bit of an opening statement, I'm not a fan of pop music. Like at all. I think that there are certain pop artists who are extremely talented, like Lady Gaga for instance, but I've never been one to be excited about someone turning on the latest pop hit. (But then again, how many people were actually excited for the release of that Friday song?)

My opinions on T-Swizzy up to this point have been that I respect her because of how much of her music she writes, but I have not exactly been a fan of her music that I had heard. I do think she's an interesting human being, and from stories I've read about her, she's actually kind of hilarious (see rap video with T-Pain), and she takes the media attention incredibly well. I say that now because I haven't fully listened to the album yet, and I'll be writing this as I go along with it.


Welcome to New York -- the first track is honestly what I expected it would be. A song in the key of G Major that only uses four chords -- the I, IV, V, and vi chords. Not exactly a great start, but like I said, I'm keeping an open mind about this. On top of that, if I'm going to listen to a song about New York, it's totally going to be Bacon Pancakes.


Blank Space -- the second track on the album I was already familiar with, but not because I heard Taylor's original song. No, I heard of this song first because a hardcore/screamo band called I Prevail covered the song for Punk Goes Pop Volume 6. That being said, it was interesting hearing the song in a major key, as opposed to the minor key cover that I Prevail does, and I kind of like the minor key cover a little bit better.


Style -- let me start of by saying "whoa" real quick. I never thought I would find myself both enjoying and going back to play one of Taylor's songs a 2nd time. And then a 3rd time. Style is the third track on the album, and it hits the nail on the head of one thing -- 80's music. The first vibe that I got from the track was it sounds kind of like A-Ha, and then it kind of reminded me of Livin' In A Box with the overall sound of the track. The lyrics are extremely middleschool relationship blarghinfooble, but the sound is still incredible. Well done, Taylor.


Out of the Woods -- Honestly, this track wasn't' too bad either. I wasn't impressed with it like I was with Style, but it wasn't bad. It kind of reminded me of Bastille's album Bad Blood with the way the synthesizers were toned, and she had some pretty cool vocal harmonies throughout the song.


All You Had To Do Was Stay -- This track is very much a pop song. I'm sorry, but pop music just really isn't my thing. There are certain pop artists and pop-rock bands that I will listen to either out of slight enjoyment, or even out of super respect, but...this track is not anything that. So in light of this, here's a picture of some Pokemon in a marching band.


Shake It Off -- This track gave me a super Black Eyed Peas vibe to it. I don't think the drumbeat changed throughout the entire song. Which is totally fine. I'm all for minimalist music. That being said, to the person who wants to mash this song up with Pump It by the BEP, you should totally do it, because they would jam together so well.


I Wish You Would -- This track gave me a very super synthesized modern pop-rock feel when I listened to it. To be honest, it actually reminded me of this song that's one of the main songs of a really cool video game called BIT.TRIP RUNNER. The music in the game uses various synthesizers with some different guitar sounds, and it's a really cool vibe. Check it out.


Bad Blood -- Eh......it's another track using just four chords in rotation, and I don't think I remember the drum beat ever changing except when it built up in the bridge. Once again, my biggest pet peeve with pop music is put on display. Miguel, what do you have to say about this?


Wildest Dreams -- This song kind of reminded me of this super catchy pop song I heard on MTV one night at like 3:30 in the morning by Garth Emery. Again, still not my favorite kind of jams, but I guess I can see what people like it. It does have some nice string-section stuff towards the end.


How You Get The Girl -- I honestly started to get a little annoyed by the time this track rolled around. It's running in the same concept of using only four chords in a verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus format. What do you think, Frank? Oh. Well then.


This Love -- This track felt to me like Taylor was trying to be every Christian worship leader lady. Not to knock against worship singers -- some of them are very talented, but there was something funny about this track that I just couldn't shake....


I Know Places -- Ah-ah-ah-I-EE really was not a fan of this track. Dance track beats with really weird vowel pronunciations are just not really my thing. Again, this is just coming from a musical background of someone who just really doesn't like pop music at all. The chorus also doesn't really fit along with the verses, in my opinion. But I guess squares can actually go into circles sometimes?


Clean -- Okay. I kind of liked the really low bass synthesizer in this track. And I'm almost always a sucker for a song written in E Major. However, the build up in the song left me wanting even more. The layers came in beautifully throughout the song, don't get me wrong. I was just left wanting something bigger to happen at the end of the song. So I guess in this case, size does actually matter.


Wonderland -- this track was a nice way to end the album. The piano playing the perfect 4th interval back and forth (ha!) was kinda neat at the beginning, and a few of the rhythms Taylor used in her vocal lines were cool because it almost felt like she was creating a hemiola between the track and her vocals. Plus, it's kind of about Alice In Wonderland, and I really like that story.

We’re all mad here.
— The Cheshire Cat

For those that don't know, a hemiola is basically when you take two different time signatures (for instance, we will use 6/8 and 3/4), and you play them on top of each other, making the listener feel two separate beat structures at the same time.


And with that, I have given Taylor Swift a fair shot. Still not really a fan of her work, but I still have a ton of respect for her. For one thing, she's made it in the music industry, and I haven't yet. So there's that. For another thing, if I've done my research properly, she still writes her music, which is pretty incredible. And not everyone is going to like your stuff. That's just how being an artist goes. With that, I leave you with this video of a band I discovered recently called Plini, mashing up their song Heart with Trouble by T-Swizzy.

Until next time, my friends, keep creating what you want to create, and no matter what anyone tells you, keep believing in what you're doing. You never know what will happen.

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Adventure Monday: Nightmare Before Christmas

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Adventure Monday: Nightmare Before Christmas

The months of October-December are my three favorite months of the year for one reason -- THE HOLIDAYS. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are some of the most exciting points of the year because they're some of the only guaranteed times of the year that I will get to see my family and friends, no matter what. The feeling that you get during the holiday seasons are also astounding. The spookiness you get all of October, the thankfulness and gratitude you get during November, and that feel-good jolliness you find during the month of December. It's the greatest thing in the world.

 Tim Burton

Tim Burton

In celebration of Halloween, we will be talking about one of my favorite movies ever -- Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. The Nightmare Before Christmas originated as a poem written by Tim Burton back in the early 1980's when he was working as an animator for Disney. He kept revisiting the project throughout the 1980's, and it was finally released as a movie in October 1993.

The film is a stop-motion film with an incredible story about Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, becoming very bored and discouraged with doing the same old thing of scaring people for Halloween every year. He goes for a walk and discovers a door that takes him to a magical place called "Christmas Town", and he immediately falls in love with the idea of Christmas. The film follows Jack's adventure in discovering Christmas and trying to make it his own.

 Danny Elfman & ...someone?

Danny Elfman & ...someone?

The music in the film was composed by a man named Danny Elfman. Elfman and Burton had worked together before on a few of Burton's projects, and it was a natural fit working together for them to collaborate on this film. Danny Elfman's greatest ability in composing is his ability to create a melody and push the harmonic progression in a way that you wouldn't expect it to go.

Let's take a look at the first song, This Is Halloween. The song is written in c minor, but it shifts in some really cool ways. In the introduction, Elfman uses a progression of cm-Bb-em (i--bVII--borrowed iii) to create an uneasy feeling in the music, creating this creepy vibe to go along with the movie. The song modulates around to several different keys while repeating the same theme over and over, and it's really cool.

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Another popular song from the film is one called What's This?. The song is played when Jack first discovers Christmas Town, and he's got this excitement about him that can't be described. Elfman did a wonderful job using an upbeat tempo and major key progression to create excitement in the music. Using a chromaticmodulation, the key of the song changes a couple times by shifting up by a half-step in each verse. Starting in C for the first verse, the second verse is in C#, the third is in D. It works so well, and creates a brilliant song for the film. Fall Out Boy also did a pretty good job covering the song.

Kidnap the Sandy Claws has some cool elements of the same sort of harmonic progression that is classic Elfman, but it also gives some examples of the thematic material that Elfman has in this soundtrack. During one of the instrumental breaks of the song, you can hear a version of the theme of Making Christmas playing as like a form of foreshadowing themes. There's also a cool cover of this song that was done by Korn.

The antagonist in the film is every child's greatest fear (or something) -- THE OOGIE BOOGIE MAN. Oogie just wants to ruin Christmas. What kind of person wants to ruin Christmas?! THE EVIL KIND. THAT'S THE KIND OF PERSON. Oogie Boogie gets Lock, Shock, and Barrel to kidnap Santa Clause in an attempt to stop Christmas from happening all together. SO EVIL. RIGHT?! I KNOW. IT'S TERRIBLE. Elfman did a cool little jig for Oogie Boogie's song in order to give him the depiction of this evil guy, but he's also kinda jazzy and smooth. Even though he's made of bugs. Seriously. It's one of the best songs on the album, and he's got a cool little backup band that goes with him. You get it now, right? He's an evil dude, but he's a cool evil dude that you hate because HE WANTS TO RUIN CHRISTMAS. WHO WANTS TO RUIN CHRISTMAS.

Alright. That's all I have time to write for this week. Keep an eye on the horizon for something...different next week. I think you might enjoy it. You also might not enjoy it. Then again, you guys could just be a bunch of weasels. I have no way of knowing.

Until next time, Happy Halloween, my friends.

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Adventure Monday: Rush & Dream Theater

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Adventure Monday: Rush & Dream Theater

In case I haven't explained it before, I hate Mondays. I think everyone does. This is why I created ADVENTURE MONDAY. Adventure Monday is my way of beating Mondays. Everything you do has to be an adventure. Example: Are you cooking breakfast? NO. You are slaying warrior demon pigs in an attempt to survive by finding their bacon. Anyways, moving on.

 SIDE NOTE -- anonymous Brett told me he wants to remain a little bit more anonymous, so he is now going to be referred to as "Bread" on here. Here is "Bread" with our friend and awesome drummer, Skylar.

SIDE NOTE -- anonymous Brett told me he wants to remain a little bit more anonymous, so he is now going to be referred to as "Bread" on here. Here is "Bread" with our friend and awesome drummer, Skylar.

It's been a while. But life happens, you know. What all has happened in the last month, you ask? Well, without going into too much detail, the last month has involved a lot of writing/piano practicing, two hospital visits, a couple roadtrips, lots of editing, and a partridge in a pear tree. Okay, there wasn't actually a pear tree involved, but you get the picture -- and look! I'm back writing down words for you all to read and agree/disagree with, discuss, or completely ignore! So let's get back at it, shall we?

Last time we talked, we talked a little bit about prog music and how my anonymous roommate, still known as Brett, are in a debate about whether or not Pink Floyd is considered a progressive rock band or not. We will continue to have the debate on Pink Floyd until the end of time, and then probably a little bit longer. But I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about some other prog bands that Bread and I obsess over.

 Alex Lifeson, guitar; Geddy Lee, bass; Neil Pert, drums

Alex Lifeson, guitar; Geddy Lee, bass; Neil Pert, drums

The first band we will talk about is going to be my roommate's favorite progressive rock band: RUSH. Rush has a reputation of being one of the greatest progressive rock bands of all time. Their virtuosity in performance, exceptional composition of music, and elegancy in lyrics are what make them stand out from other bands. My personal favorite album of theirs is their album Moving Pictures. Moving Pictures came out back in 1981, and it has what I think are some of Rush's most popular songs on the album.

On top of just being incredibly talented musicians, the lyrics to Rush's songs are so incredibly deep and meaningful. One of those two hospital visits involved Bread and I talking with the doctor about Rush, who is apparently a huge Rush fan. He said that Rush is what helped him get through his graduate studies and keep pursuing his dreams of being a doctor. He told us the lyrics to Vital Signs he kept written on his bathroom mirror as motivation to pursue his dreams. Take a listen and just experience a little of reggae Rush.

Leave out the fiction
The fact is, this friction
Will only be worn by persistence
Leave out conditions
Courageous convictions
Will drag the dream into existence
— Vital Signs by Rush

The other band I wanted to tell you guys about is my favorite prog band -- Dream Theater. Dream Theater is more of a metal band in their style, and they have some of the most talented musicians I think I have ever listened to.

 Dream Theater, live at the Boston Opera House

Dream Theater, live at the Boston Opera House

 In short, John Petrucci does this -- a lot.

In short, John Petrucci does this -- a lot.

Dream Theater got started back when John Petrucci (guitar), John Myung (bass), and Mike Portnoy (former drummer) met and started jamming together as students at Berklee College of Music. Like Rush, they have some of the same key aspects of why everyone respects them and thinks they're so good -- virtuosity in performance, exceptional composition of music, and elegancy in lyrics. What makes them different from Rush is their sound. Rush is more rock & roll; Dream Theater is more metal.

In talking with friends of mine who also love Dream Theater, I have gotten the opinion that the album Images & Words is Dream Theater's best album, or at least their favorite album, which I can totally understand. With a set list like Pull Me Under, Take The Time, and Metropolis Pt. 1 on the album, how can you argue against that?

After some little bit of drama or whatever when on in 2011, Mike Portnoy was no longer the drummer for Dream Theater, and he was replaced with Mike Mangini. The 2nd album that was released since the addition of Mangini is Dream Theater's title album, and it's definitely my favorite album of theirs right now. The entire album as a whole is incredible and shows off the musicality that Dream Theater has, but the big part of the album I want to focus on is the final track -- The Illumination Theory. The song has 5 movements (parts or sections) to it, and it shows off extreme excellence of performance from each of the band members, and it even has a little bit of a classical touch to it with the orchestral break towards the end of the 2nd movement. Listen to the whole thing and be blown away.

That's all we have for this week. I know this was a lot less of a "learn about this cool music thing" and more of a "THESE ARE TWO AWESOME BANDS GO LISTEN TO THEM" post, but I wanted to get something out, and I didn't have any other ideas at the moment. Hopefully, though, your mind was left a little like this after listening to so much excellence.

Until next time, live your dreams, my friends. They're your dreams for a reason.

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