As promised, I’m going to keep arcadey somewhat alive with a weekly round-up of what I’m listening to until I’m ready to come back full time. Like I said before, it’s not going to follow a particular formula or plan — it’s just whatever I like at the time. Hopefully you will discover some new music, from upcoming artists to classics and more obscure releases.
Thanks once again for all the nice messages from everyone. I know I haven’t replied to any individually but I’ve seen a bunch of them and really appreciate it. I hope whoever is still hanging around here enjoys my weekly updates until I start blogging more regularly again. Also, remember you can still catch me over at Popdust. I handle the J-pop and K-pop stuff for them, but also post other stuff, too.
Kelly Clarkson – Wrapped In Red (2013)
Whoever said Kelly Clarkson needs to be angsty to make good music was wrong. The newly-wed songstress has taken all the joy from her personal life and channelled it all into her first Christmas album, Wrapped In Red. The warmth and sincerity found here allows the album to avoid all the clichés that plague holiday music, like sterility, triteness, and even melancholia — the key ingredient in most good Christmas tunes. Now when A Very She & Him Christmas makes me all depressed and introspective this December, all I’ll have to do is pop in Wrapped In Red to feel nice and lovey-dovey.
Wet – Wet EP (2013)
With indie and alt-pop becoming popular again, a lot of alternative artists are starting to look and sound the same (just like all the grunge bands did in the ’90s), but Wet’s stood out for me. The best way I can describe their debut EP is that it’s the musical love child of Miguel and The xx. It’s got a tonne of crossover appeal without sounding too contrived, and the lyrics are simple enough to strike a chord without ever over-complicating things. Like with mainstream pop, I can listen to Wet without feeling like I need to be switched on all the time, but at the same time I’m still getting some of the creativity of indie music. It’s a win-win situation.
Farrah Abraham – My Teenage Dream Ended (2012)
Last year, before a sex tape turned her into a “star,” Teen Mom’s Farrah Abraham released an album called My Teenage Dream Ended as a musical accompaniment to her autobiography of the same name. In a nutshell, an autotuned Farrah –vocally distorted beyond all recognition– splutters about young motherhood, adolescent drama, and the death of her baby daddy over homemade dubstep and techno. There’s little to no melody, and Farrah’s computerized voice is so mangled that it’s hard to decipher what she’s actually saying half the time. Still, The Guardian named it the 32nd best album of 2012, a think piece in The Atlantic compared it to David Lynch, the Village Voice compared it to the witch-house music of Salem, and countless other critics hailed it as outsider art and a work of accidental genius.
The fact that I’m still listening to it regularly now –roughly six months since first discovering its existence– shows just how much I love this record. I connect with music that sounds like an honest expression of human emotion, and the unfiltered chaos of My Teenage Dream Ended is about as real as you can get. Like I said before, half the lyrics are indecipherable, but the lines that are are creepy, poignant, or just downright clever. I also love the idea of an idiotic MTV reality star somehow making one of the most bizarre and critically-acclaimed albums of the year. I have no idea who wrote this album or how it even came about (there’s no way Farrah had any clue of what she was actually doing with this masterpiece — she’s just too dumb), but if you pretend that this is a Crystal Castles or Purity Ring record instead of a Farrah Abraham one, then you might enjoy it. If you’re into that kind of thing, that is.
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977)
Like every other music fan on the planet, I’ve always loved Rumours, but lately I’ve randomly been back into it in a big way. I blame that Stevie Nicks-obsessed witch from the hammy new season of American Horror Story. Listening to Rumours always puts things into perspective for me and reminds me that you can actually make a super radio-friendly album that can be enjoyed by 45 million people without having to sacrifice any of the quality. It’s been 35 years since Rumours was released and you still hear the songs on the radio, in TV shows, commercials, movies, and more on a regular basis. I wonder if there’s any albums now that can have the same kind of commercial and critical impact that this one had (and is still having).
Avril Lavigne – Avril Lavigne (2013)
I love that I’ve been raving about this Avril era for months and nobody really cared, but now that the album is out everyone is suddenly stanning for it. I told y’all that Avrilegend was coming for wigs with this trashy smash, didn’t I? I’m not actually in love with the entire thing, but about 75% of it goes hard, and that’s incredibly good for a top forty pop album these days. Entertainment Weekly summed it up quite well when they said that it sounds like, “…tomboy Taylor Swift, or Paramore for the everygirl,” which can obviously only be a good thing. Anyone who trashes Avril Lavigne either doesn’t appreciate a good hook or just takes themselves way too fucking seriously.
By the way, it goes without saying that this is fifty million times better than Prism, right?