Okay, I’m thankful for plenty in my young life. One thing I’m most thankful for besides those traditional things like God, family, friends, employment, etc. is of course music. Previously, I issued a playlist of “Songs of Thanks” which featured titles that all had the words “Thank” included within them. This ten song playlist is a more ‘personal’ and merely my opinion of some songs I enjoyed. No this is not my top ten and no these are in no particular order. Yes, there are plenty of songs I left off and could’ve easily supplanted in favor of some I chose. Why didn’t I include them all? Well, that would just be incredibly time-consuming. So here’s Ten Random Songs I’m ‘Thankful For’ from 2013. Enjoy!
“This is for the girl that can get down low / the whole club wanna see you go / ay, shake, shake like you’r famous, girl / head back, lay it down like a Vegas girl…” Sigh, it’s truly something when I find myself nodding my head to some young kid’s jam. Sure, I’m not THAT much older than British pop star Conor Maynard, but I’ve got a couple of years on the recently turned 21-year old. Still, I just couldn’t resist “Vegas Girl” given the addictiveness of both the urban-styled groove and Maynard’s swag-tacular approach. Yeah, I know ‘swag-tacular’ is not even a word, but I can still wish. BTW, he’s a bit risqué too, see “Another One” from the same album (“For once I hit the spot real early / quickly spotted this beautiful girlie / she had me going damn oh la la / said she wanna pell my banana-na”).
From No Beginning, No End
If you say the words jazz or R&B, I’m usually there. José James offered the best of both worlds on his underrated, yet exceptional album No Beginning, No End which materialized in January 2013. While the majority of No Beginning, No Ending tickled my fancy, nothing did more so than the hip “Trouble”. Incredibly soulful, James bears his soul, epitomized by the refrain:
“I need someone like you to understand my heart and my soul / it’s on my mind babe, it’s always trouble, trouble, trouble / trouble, trouble, trouble / all my life lately call on me to / struggle, struggle, struggle…” I feel ya homie, I feel ya!
Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite
“We Can’t End This Way”
From Get Up!
I have a soft spot for a mix of blues and gospel music… I’m certainly the eclectic listener. Ben Harper’s collaboration with harp player Charlie Musselwhite Get Up! Was easily one of my favorite albums from 2013 and yet another underrated one. Out of all of the killer joints, the gospel-infused “We Can’t End This Way” was most relatable for me for some reason. Maybe its the gospel backing vocalist or perhaps that churchy, addictive 6/8 groove. It doesn’t hurt that my boy Ben has some serious vocal grit going on. Whatever it is, I’m thankful “We Can’t End This Way” graced my playlist in 2013.
Harry Connick, Jr.
“S’pposed To Be”
From Smokey Mary and Every Man Should Know
Harry Connick, Jr. Knew he had a good thing going with sensational gospel-blues infused number “S’pposed To Be” as he featured it on both his 2013 studio albums (Smokey Mary and Every Man Should Know). I’ll leave you with what I previously wrote about one of my favorite jazzy jams of the year:
“S’pposed To Be” is nothing short of a showstopper. Written in a distinctive southern gospel-jazz style, Connick delivers one of his more distinct cuts of his career, using a gospel choir on the chorus (“…Every road leads back to you / be with you when I’m s’pposed to be…”). Kim Burrell & Tara Alexander and the Frontline Vocal Movement guest, giving the brilliant number even more oomph. #LetTheChurchSayYes
“Strictly Reserved for You”
From Victim of Love
I adore soul music. While I know that soul music in its most pure form is a thing of the past, I also adore the retro-/neo-soul movements. Neo-soul has fallen by the wayside, but there are still some key proponents within the retro-soul movement still doing their thing. What’s more fitting than a 66-year old who’s been grinding for years just to get his chance to be doing what he should’ve been doing in his heyday? No matter though, as Charles Bradley is a true proponent of soul music. “Strictly Reserved For You” was Mr. Bradley’s electrifying promo single from an equally alluring sophomore album, Victim of Love. As you listen, you can hear the undeniable influences of the late great James Brown. Bradley’s grit is something many new-school singers couldn’t even hope to achieve.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
“We No Who ‘U ‘R”
From Push The Sky Away
How about throwing some good alt-music into the mix? Another incredibly underrated artist – one who I was even unfamiliar with, graces my SONGS I’M THANKFUL FOR playlist. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds captivated me when I was in search for ‘new music’, something that the restless mind of a musician is always doing. From the first time I heard single “We No Who ‘U ‘R’” from the album Push The Sky Away, I was hooked. Perhaps it was because it sounds soulful (another turn on). Perhaps it’s the sound songwriting (I’m a wordsmith after all). I dunno, but the whole vibe, well, it pops mane! Oh and btw, a bonus to the hip-grooving “Finishing Jubilee Street”.
Fantasia featuring Kelly Rowland & Missy Elliott
From Side Effects of You
From my perspective, Fantasia has had some very nice songs throughout her career. That said, her appeal is not a universal one, and she finds her base to be more of an unapologetically urban audience. In that respect alone, it is surprising (despite her talents) that Fantasia was able to win American Idol back-when. “Without Me” is the perfect record for the artist because it plays to her urban base. It’s also great because it shows a tamer Fantasia vocally. Not that Fantasia should ever hold back her soulfulness, but the restraint she shows on this particular cut is both beautiful and musical. Additionally, the collaborative effort is excellent with her friends Kelly and Missy.
The Flaming Lips
“Be Free, A Way”
From The Terror
On The Terror, experimental rock band The Flaming Lips continue to allure with their, well, experimentalist edge. “Be Free, A Way” was just one of several tracks that made me smile from The Terror. Previously of the juggernaut, I wrote:
“Be Free, A Way” trumps the former cut, standing as one of the ‘tallest’ songs from The Terror. Coyne’s vocals continue to show restraint, but there is still a power about them transcendent of the approach; his vocals are chilling and emotional. “Be Free, away / but how can we / find arms to hold / the days…”, Coyne sings on the chorus. Equally memorable is the line in which Coyne poses the question “Is love a God that we control / to try to trust the pain…” Haunting and hypnotic, “Be Free, A Way” is the type of song that keeps you on the edge of your seat just to see where it is finally going to arrive. Brilliant it is.
From Modern Vampires of the City
Yes, I know that I have went “gaga” over Vampire Weekend in both the past and particularly in 2013 as they released their third album, Modern Vampires of the City. That said, I think I have went “gaga” for good reason… it was one of the very best albums of 2013. “Obvious Bicycle” was just one of many of the gems on this near-five star affair. A beautiful ballad of sorts, “Obvious Bicycle” sets the tone for eclecticism that epitomizes Modern Vampires of the City, finding the band ‘all over the place’ in a good way. Let me just add that frontman Ezra Koenig sounds among his best ever. There are plenty of bonuses as well, including “Unbelievers”, “Worship You”, and “Ya Hey”. Don’t let the religiously skeptical themes dissuade you.
Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
From Random Access Memories
Everyone loves a feel-good, sensual jam, right? That’s exactly what “Get Lucky” is. Even given the suggestiveness of its hook, “Get Lucky” is more than just ‘sex on the track’, whatever that may be! This marked the rebirth of Pharrell Williams, who has had a tremendous year, as well as the rise of Daft Punk themselves, who had previously not been a commercial savvy duo by any means. Maybe most importantly is that this is one of the best produced, groovy cuts of the year regardless of what your music preferences are. Before them lines got blurred, we were all getting lucky… well, musically that is.