April/May 2017: MCXV Music Articles by Ashley Paskill

Emmet Cahill Releases “Beauty and the Beast” Cover on YouTube

https://mcxv.com/emmet-cahill-releases-beauty-beast-video/

Irish tenor Emmet Cahill, known for his role in Celtic Thunder, recently released a cover of “Beauty and the Beast” on YouTube. The video is in black and white but is filled with the magic that Disney holds.

Album Review: Barry Manilow’s “This Is My Town”

https://mcxv.com/review-barry-manilow-this-is-my-town/

Barry Manilow released his latest album on April 21. The album focuses on songs about New York City. It features both covers and originals and every song is sung with a passionate love for the Big Apple.

Roger Taylor Releases Video on iTunes

https://mcxv.com/roger-taylor-releases-journeys-end-video/

Queen drummer Roger Taylor recently released a music video to his song, “Journey’s End.” The video was exclusively released to iTunes and the song-only version will be released in June.

Wednesday Wisdom: Song Lyrics

https://mcxv.com/wisdom-music/

Every Wednesday, Twitter Trends show that #WednesdayWisdom is a popular tag for users. The hashtag is filled with people wanting to share quotes and other forms of wisdom. This article looks at wisdom found in song lyrics.

2017 Billboard Music Awards

https://mcxv.com/recap-2017-billboard-music-awards/

The 2017 Billboard Awards took place on May 21. It aired on ABC and honored musicians who released new music in the last year. It was less political than several other award shows, but it was filled with success and performances.

Celebrities React to the Manchester Terrorism Attack

https://mcxv.com/celebrities-manchester-terrorist-attack/

On May 22, a terrorism attack via a suicide bomber killed 22 and injured at least 59 people at an Arianna Grande concert at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. Celebrities took to YouTube to express their thoughts after.

Mandisa’s “Out of the Dark” Review

https://mcxv.com/mandisa-out-of-dark-review/

Ashley Paskill wrote this review about Mandisa’s latest album. The album was inspired by Mandisa’s struggle after a friend’s death due to breast cancer. It highlights that Mandisa used her faith to pull her out of a tough time.

 

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Album Review: John Oates’ “Good Road to Follow”

John Oates’ solo CD, “Good Road to Follow,” started out as a bunch of singles, but when the fans were anxious for a CD, John put them all in one place.  It’s a 3-disc set, and he calls the discs “routes,” so it’s Route 1, Route 2, and Route 3. He made each song at different places with different people and musicians. This could be either saying three approaches to writing an album or different routes for how a song could sound. John’s ability to play and write music outside his comfort zone really shows his talent, especially since he does an amazing job of performing the different styles. He has such an amazing passion for music, and is going strong! His passion fires up everyone he produces music with and the outcome is always a treasure!

“Stone Cold Love” sounds so different than any other John Oates song. This song opens with John saying, “We’re going to do a song that you never heard before,” and that definitely rings true!  This song is definitely not what one thinks of when they hear “John Oates.” It’s a little more rock-feeling and edgy than what many fans expect from him. It proves that he is a well-rounded musician and that he is able to learn new styles well. This also keeps his fans interested. So many artists will play the same style over and over, which can be ok if that’s what fans want, but that gets boring for the fans and for the performer alike. The feel of the song reminds sounds like a song that could be played at a basketball game. It’s really catchy. I love the line “Stone cold love, I’m freezing then I’m burning up.” This song live was phenomenal.

“The Head That Wears the Crown” is awesome! The phrase which is the center of the chorus is “It’s a heavy head that wears the crown.” This was originally in Shakespeare who said “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” At first listen, this song resembles a more mature “Rich Girl”: “Never known nothin’ bout bad luck,” “Never seen nothing but a good, good time.” This song talks about having a great deal of wealth and responsibility is difficult and doesn’t make you better than everyone else. The use of “fool’s gold” can imply that the person looks like he/she has it all together, but is a fake.

“Pushing a Rock Uphill” is such a great song! It is real and relatable. We all have had moments and experiences where we feel like we’re “pushing a rock uphill,” and that we keep pushing until we get what we want, even though we may want to give up! This song is so mellow and chill, making it relaxing and calming to the listener. The lyrics sound like they are in conversation with the listener, engaging the listener and making them feel more connected to the song.

“Believe in Me” is super catchy and fun!! Both John and Bekka Bramlett sound awesome on this track. I love the jazzy/soulful feel to it. The listener can tell by the vocalists that this song was a lot of fun to work on and perform! This song, at first, sounds like it is going to be more of a rock song, but by the time the verse comes along, it has more of a jazz sound. The lyrics sound like some kind of relationship where one person is trying to get the other to see that they are meant to be together. Oates and Bramlet have similar styled voices and they sound awesome together.

“High Maintenance” is a song that Oates collaborated with Hot Chelle Rae on. This song is catchy and relatable. It has a pop feel to it, but the lyrics are more intelligent than most pop songs, which allow this song to appeal to an older audience. John’s collaboration with Hot Chelle Rae attracts younger listeners. The plays on words throughout the song are humorous, but if you do not catch on right away, you miss the punch.

“Close” is so unique compared to any other song. The feel of it is awesome, though it is difficult to describe. The lyrics seem to describe a scene of a person meeting a celebrity they look up to. Perhaps this tells the story of someone meeting John, or John meeting the artists from this album since they are artists he has wanted to work with. John’s voice on this track is incredible, and he sounds passionate about the story of the lyrics.

“Stand Strong” is one of the more rock-sounding songs on this album, and it has a different sound than what listeners expect from Oates. This song is one of the few on this CD that includes background singers, and they are added in a way that flows well with everything else going on in the song. The message of the song is to stand strong through whatever trials come your way and to have a support system that will help you through.

“Lost in Louisiana” was written after a trip John took to Louisiana to meet with another musician and his experience with waking up the morning after a crazy night. The cowriters had similar experiences, so they combined them into this song. The mellow feel of the song balances out the crazy images depicted in the lyrics, and the lyrics sound like a journal entry.  The images presented are clear and tell a story for the listener.

“Save Me” is awesome. It can be heard as a religious song, with phrases such as “morning light,” “save me,” and “keep on prayin’.” This song may also be a love song, especially when he references whoever “baby” is to him. This song is very mellow, and would be a great song to have at the end of an album.

“Six Men” is about living life to the fullest before it is too late. We all think we are invincible, but we will all die someday, and this fate is something we all have in common, no matter who we are. This song has a darker rock feel to it, which makes it stand out from the rest of the songs. The clapping/stomping in the beginning is also unique to this song.

“Don’t Cross Me Wrong” was a song that John wrote and played with country star Vince Gill, so this song has more of a country flare to it, which demonstrates his ability to play various styles with incredible talent. It has more of a country/rock feel to it, fusing Gill’s country background with John’s rock background. This song tells the story of two men fighting over a woman, which is not necessarily a common story in a song.

“Bad Bad Love” features Wendy Moten. The line “You can’t feel nothin’ ‘til you’ve been done wrong” sounds like a nod to “Rich Girl.” This song has a pop rock feel, leaning more towards the rock. It talks about a bad relationship, but the speaker can see past what is going on since he has experience in love.

“Edge of the World” has a southern rock feel to it. There is a shuffle to it. It is mellow and relaxing. The song is about a romantic relationship, and it would be a great song for a couple to dance to. It talks about how it feels to be in love with someone, but without getting into the typical clichés, which is what makes Oates a great songwriter.

“Bad Luck and Trouble” has a triplet feel to it which is funky and fun! A lot of people can relate to the story of the song since we all have days where it feels like everything is against us. This song looks at those days in a positive light. It says that having someone to help you through rough days is important.

“Different Kind of Groove Sometime” has a jazz/rock feel to it. It is definitely different from the rest of the album, and it truly wraps up the album. This album has so many different styles and a wide variety of collaborations, and this song speaks to that. It is a great last song to have on such an awesomely eclectic album!

Concert Review: Hall and Oates 2015

The lights in the audience go down as the stage lights go up. The instrumentalists walk on stage and the audience applauds.  The crowd then roars as Daryl Hall and John Oates take the stage as the intro to “Maneater” is played by the band.

This was the opening scene of the Daryl Hall and John Oates concert in Atlantic City, New Jersey on June 27, 2015. They were excited to be back in the area they grew up in, with Hall, 68, being from Pottstown, PA, and Oates, 66, being from North Wales, PA, and both being alumni of Temple University in Philadelphia.

The concert was filled with a wide variety of their music, from “Las Vegas Turnaround” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” to their hits, including “You Make My Dreams Come True” and “Private Eyes,” and many more.

There was such energy bouncing throughout the Borgata Event Center. The audience was excited and loved the songs, and those on stage sensed these things and fed off this energy. Daryl and John interacted with the audience as much as they did with themselves.

Hall announced that his Palladia show, “Live From Daryl’s House,” has picked up another season, and Oates announced that he is in the process of writing a book.

Hall’s keyboard during the show sounded better than the keyboards used on their recordings. In general, they sounded better live than on their album, which is very rare, especially in an age of auto-tune and digital mastering to make the vocalist sound better.

While Hall was the lead vocalist for most of the songs, John had the lead vocals on some songs, which is always pleasant.  Both of their voices have matured over the years, and they sound stronger and more confident now than their recordings. They have grown as musicians over the years, and it was apparent in this performance.

Though there was not an intermission, they took a few brief (two minutes, maximum) breaks. The lights never went on in the audience, but some people assumed that the show was over when they left the stage, so they left, causing these audience members to miss some of the biggest hits.

Most of the songs that Hall and Oates played were their biggest hits, but they were played with a bit of a twist. They did not sound exactly like they did on the recordings, most likely because they want to keep their music new and exciting members for themselves and for the audience members.  On several of the songs, there are guitar or saxophone solos (or, in some incidents, both).

The use of lights was powerful and effective. It felt like a rock show. At times, the lights went through the audience, and they were very bright, almost blinding. At times, the stage lights would go off in the timing of the song, which added a visual to the songs.

Overall, the concert was absolutely amazing and memorable for all. The entire audience was on their feet by the end of the show, dancing.  The energy was amazing, with the band feeding off of the audience, and vice versa.

Review: The Tenors’ “Under One Sky”

The Tenors’ latest CD, “Under One Sky,” is a true masterpiece! “Anchor Me” was a great album, but their new album takes them to the next level. There is a public television concert of this CD, and it is equally as powerful and beautiful, especially when they interact with their family members.

“A New Day’s Begun” is a prayer for a day. It asks God for the strength to make it through whatever is thrown their way. It is like a journal of what is going through their minds as the day begins. The drums make the piece sound like a battle song, the battle being the day. The song sounds minor, which adds a hint of darkness and mystery to the piece, representing the newness of a dawning day.

“Besame Mucho” goes from sounding like jazz, to sounding like an orchestral piece, then back to jazz. This title translates to “Kiss Me Generously,” and the song definitely has a romantic feel to it! It is in a minor key, and it is a song that couples could easily dance to! One verse is in English, while the rest of the song is in Spanish.

“Lean On Me” is a beautiful and powerful rendition of the classic Bill Withers song. The Tenors add their own twists to the song, making it their own. The harmonies are stunning and the changes, especially to the notes in the bridge, are unique and awesome. While there are changes, the sentiment and feel of the original song still ring throughout.

“I Remember You” is catchy and fun with a touch of nostalgia. The singers are remembering a person they loved romantically, longing for her again. The lyrics are sensory, telling a story that the listeners can feel a part of. The listener can smell the jasmine, see the stars, and hear the silence. So many people can relate to this song. The song is upbeat, resembling a happy memory, despite longing for it.

“My Father’s Son” is heart-wrenchingly beautiful. It talks about their relationships with their fathers, a few of whom are gone. They remember the times they had together and the lessons they learned from them. Their fathers left an impact on them that will go on with them for the rest of their lives. No matter what, they will always be a son to their fathers, despite the death of a few of their dads.

“Who Wants To Live Forever” is a haunting cover of a Queen song. The intro is really intense and the instruments sound incredible. When I first heard this song, I did not even recognize that it was a cover of Queen’s song, but it is awesome that they have their own interpretation of it. It is very unique and different. The harmonies and the key change reinforced the intensity of the song.

“Angels Calling” is the most emotionally charged song on the album because everyone has someone they have lost. The narrators of the song are those who have died, singing to those they left behind on earth. It is a message to those on earth who have lost someone that they are in heaven and that they are in a better place. They can hear angels calling them to heaven, wondering if those on earth can hear them too.

“Granada” is a Spanish song about a city of the same name. The intro of the song is super intense and the vocals are incredible. The Tenors have turned this standard into their own, and it sounds amazing. The listener gets the feeling that they are in the city, the culture all around them.  The flamenco sound is very strong and the minor sound adds a darkness and power to the song.

“You Are So Beautiful” is so passionate. The duet is incredible. The vocalists are so talented, and the harmonies are chilling, in the best possible way. The song keeps the spirit of the original version, but sounds like it is so much more passionate and rich with the instruments and harmonies. This would be the perfect wedding song!

“Nella Fantasia” has a dreamlike sound to it, making the listener feel like they are on a cloud and the Tenors sounded like angels. The instrumentation is perfect and flows naturally with the song. The harmonies are seamless. This version of the song is one of the best, especially by a group. The words are clearly enunciated.

“Drowning in Love” is the most unique song on the CD. The pop feel is really awesome, and it demonstrates the talent that these vocalists have to be able to sing various styles. The song is relatable and captures the feeling of what it is like to be in love with someone. It can also be related to God’s love being strong and powerful, like an ocean.

“Love Will Never End” is beautiful and stunning. The use of two languages is confusing at times, but it makes the listener pay attention. This song captures the intense feelings that come with passionate love between two people. The vocalists are really passionate, and the harmonies and the key change add to the power of the song.

“Under One Sky” is the title track for the song, and fittingly so. It is powerful and captures what the album is about in just one song. It reminds the listener to dream big and that others who have accomplished big things are within us. The song inspires the listener to achieve great things with their lives, and they have the power to do so.

Melody

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-“Hoedown,” Phil Coulter: This song is one of Phil Coulter’s most recognized, most likely due to the fact that it was written by Aaron Copeland. Many musicians and bands have covered it. The song takes the listener to a country-style dance, making the song fun to listen to.

-“Appalachian Roundup,” Celtic Thunder: While many people know Celtic Thunder as a group of guys singing on stage, there are some songs where the background band performs instrumental songs. This one is one of the more upbeat ones. It reminds the listener of being in the country or mountains.

Phantom of the Opera’s “Overture,” Andrew Lloyd Webber: Though many overtures of musicals are just medleys of the songs in a musical or a single act, this overture focuses on “The Phantom of the Opera.” It is a haunting piece, especially for those who have seen the musical live. The piece includes variations on the title track.

-“Scotland the Brave,’ Orlando Pops Orchestra: This song is the most iconic song to play on bagpipes. It is impossible to go anywhere where bagpipes are playing and not hear this song at least once. There are also full bands and orchestras that perform it as well as singers since the song has lyrics.

-“Pomp and Circumstance,” Edward Elgar: Anyone who has been to a graduation or watched a movie or show that had a graduation has heard this song. It is the most played song at graduations, usually being played as the graduates file in to where the ceremony is being held.

Daily Prompt

Fierce

FiercePlaylist

“Fight Song,” Rachel Platten: This song is so fierce and beautiful. It talks about having the courage to not give up, despite the circumstances around you and what people say about you and what you are doing.

“All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor: This song is about being confident in your own body. So many get bullied for not being a skinny person, but it is important to feel confident, no matter your size. You are more than a number.

“I Won’t Back Down,” Tom Petty: This song is a feel-good song about not giving up, no matter what happens. Life can be tough, but it is important to keep your head up and push through. Things always get better in time.

“We Will Rock You,” Queen: This song is about being better than the rest. It is about knocking the competition out of the way. The song is one of Queen’s most iconic songs and has been covered many times.

“All Day Long,” Keith Harkin: This song discusses a love gone wrong. It talks about one person in a relationship not putting the effort into the relationship. The fiercest line in the song is “Complicated times have passed; I’m sorry, babe, I feel the same for you.”

via Daily Prompt: Fierce