I took a little blogging break after the Oscars, but now I'm back! I thought I'd start by sharing an iPod playlist for you. I love my iPod and use it regularly - since the weather was nice this weekend I took it out on a bike ride through the park. In warmer months I'll usually set it on "shuffle" and head out with my bike to the park, so my iPod is filled with up-tempo songs and not a lot of classical music. Classical music tends to change tempos a lot, which makes it hard to build up and maintain momentum. There are about 180 songs loaded up right now, but here are a few highlights. Please be aware that some contain explicit lyrics:
1. Jump by Van Halen. That opening synth fanfare makes the hair on my arms stand on end. And Dave's vocals rock. And Eddie's face-melting solo in the middle is amazing. Awesome awesome song all around.
2. T.K.O. by Giant Panda. I've discovered rap music rather late and have fostered an appreciation for the "new old-school" artists like Jurassic 5, Abdominal, and DJ Format. This one is a catchy little boogie.
3. Rainbow In The Dark by Dio. This one should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me through "Gauntlet." Dio is so wonderfully over-the-top that he nearly comes full circle. Another great synth riff.
4. The Load-Out/Stay by Jackson Browne. This little medley is one of my favorite songs ever. It starts slow and intimate and builds and builds and builds until it blossoms into a rolicking cover of Frankie Valli's hit (with altered lyrics). It's sad, funny, joyous, and honest all at the same time.
5. Lollipop by MIKA. Simply a brilliant, catchy pop song. MIKA is writing all the songs that Freddy Mercury never got around to and I hope his next album is as good as his first. I especially live the colorful arrangement - jazz trumpets and childrens' chorus augment the standard keyboard, guitars, and percussion.
6. Killers of the Kent County Kids by the Turnbull AC's. A fast, bright song that tells a dark, dark story. It's not often you hear a song that makes you want to dance while it breaks your heart.
7. Girlfriend (Japanese Version) by Avril Lavigne. It's the punk-pop princess's best song and it's made even better when she sings the choruses in Japanese. I like this one so much that the original all-English version sounds weird to me. The hooks, songwriting, production - this is a well-done recording.
8. Viva La Vida by Coldplay. There's so much beauty in this song - the bittersweet lyrics, the orchestral arrangement, the fantastic opening rhythm in the violins - but by favorite part is the delicious counter-melody played (very quietly) by the violas in the second verse. Listen carefully - this kind of subtlety is rare in pop music.
9. September by Earth Wind & Fire. It's my favorite EWF song. It's like they throw you into the middle of the greatest party ever. It always makes me smile.
10. Red Hot by Jurassic 5. It's not their best-known song and not from their biggest album, but this song is a highlight for me and makes me smile. It always makes me imagine a kung-fu actions sequence with Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan.