MORE MUSIC! Songs That Get Me Singing + Dancing

If it isn’t evident by now, music plays a huge part in my life. I hate the sound of silence, so I always need some kind of music playing whenever I’m doing anything. The right songs will always instantly put me into a good mood. You will never see me happier than when I am a.) at a concert or, b.) by myself in my room or car. It’s only in those instances that I completely let myself go and sing/dance along like there’s no tomorrow. Believe me when I tell you that I’m constantly singing and making up choreography while I’m driving. It’s terrible, but I do it anyways (and I’m still a perfectly safe driver, thankyouverymuch). With that being said, for the last post of my personal blogging challenge, I present to you a rather lengthy playlist of songs that I will always sing along or dance to (also, what I will be listening to all day today for my birthday).

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Random TV Watching Thoughts [April 2015 Edition]

[Consider this my semi-regular TV watching rant blog post.]

In the current state of TV, ratings and ad dollars still matter a lot, especially if it means the difference between a show getting renewed or cancelled. However, much has been made about a show’s social media presence. Because it’s no longer a matter of shows you watch and talk about at the proverbial water cooler at work the next day, it’s also about the shows that get you tweeting while you’re watching. Which is to say that many shows have sort of an added pressure to make every episode count (no fillers), constantly amping up the drama or action so you talk about it, and making you want more at the end of the episode.

All that introductory ramble pretty much leads me to this: I sometimes worry about TV and burning out. I look at shows like Arrow, The Flash, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, and the like, and start wondering how they could possibly uphold their no-holds-barred approach to writing their respective shows. Mind you, I’m not a creative writer so it would be hella difficult for me to even think about it from the perspective of a TV writer. But I worry that the need for these shows to maintain a fast-paced, high level of quality writing, will lead them to burn out too quickly. Take for example, episode 15 of The Flash “Out of Time” – that was some season finale level reveals, and yet they put it in the middle of the season! Not even a winter finale cliffhanger episode, but the first episode back from break! AND it’s still only the first season!

On the one hand, it’s great that some storylines and mysteries don’t get dragged out too long, because we are living in an age where there’s just so much TV that shows have to engage and keep viewers. I know for me, once I start getting bored with a show, I’m pretty much done with it. I don’t want to waste my time watching something I used to be interested in, when I can be watching something else. Granted, there’s usually built-up goodwill from the time I had invested in the series, that I will finish off a season before dropping it completely. By that point though, I’m usually putting it aside and watching whenever, instead of “I have to watch this immediately.”

On the other hand, when shows are going full force, constantly surprising us, there comes a point where those unpredictable moments are no longer surprising, and sometimes when it’s a couple of seasons in, those twists seem almost laughable. Scandal has been known to fill each episode with “OMG” moments, but when the season 3 finale rolled around, when we were expecting some jawdropping moments, I felt underwhelmed. When Revenge ended their season 3 with the reveal that [SPOILER] David Clarke was actually alive, it felt desperate, like it was a last ditch attempt to keep viewers for the next season. I was already done with the show by that point, but it definitely lost me after that.

If watching the Showrunners documentary (which, FYI, you should totally watch. It’s on Netflix. You’re welcome.) has shown me anything, it’s that running a TV series is hard work. Those who work to bring these shows to life are constantly struggling to find that happy medium, that allows for storylines and characters to be fully fleshed out, but still engages viewers, and makes money for the networks. All the while, they can’t lose their creative vision for the show to begin with. It’s a lot to deal with, and as viewers, despite our complaining and wanting so much of our favourite shows (see above), we have to be cognizant of that.

All of this leads me to some important questions as a fan and viewer:

  1. In order to sustain the level of quality expected, what is the ideal number of seasons for a TV show to run? We have A LOT of instances where shows get cancelled too soon, but what of the shows that run on longer than they should have?
  2. Wouldn’t it be easier if all shows ran for just 13-18 episodes per season? Long enough to tell the season-long arc without having filler episodes.
  3. If shows ran for less than the standard 22-episode season, there’d be room for those underrated TV shows that seemingly get cancelled too soon. More TV on the air, less repeats/breaks, everybody wins, no?
  4. In terms of content, are we expecting too much from our shows? Then ultimately feel let down when they don’t meet our standards or expectations? What happened to just enjoying the ride and letting them entertain us?

Obviously, this is all just my opinion on what’s going on with TV shows. What I think is boring or great, others will think is not. That’s the beauty and also frustrating thing about TV: we can all have these different discussions about it. We don’t all have to like the same thing (though it’s nice when we do, hence fandoms). But at the end of the day, we’re allowed to worry and ask questions of our shows. It’s just like any relationship, we just want the best for them.

Music Monday: Absolute Favourites

If you’ve read the blog or have known me long enough, you probably have a good idea at who my most favourite music artists are – Justin Timberlake, Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5, Britney Spears, Kyle Riabko, and Delta Goodrem. I could go into detail about why I love them so much, but the simple and vague answer is that, there’s just something about who they are and their music that I connect with. There are also a bunch of other artists whom I am a big fan of and really love – Sara Bareilles, Matt Nathanson, Gavin DeGraw, Christina Aguilera, Kris Allen, The Script, Tyler Hilton, James Morrison, Michelle Branch – though not quite at the same level as the other six. That’s not to mention my love of Vietnamese music as well. For this week’s Music Monday, I share with you my favourite songs from my favourite artists (limited to 3 songs each), plus some additional songs I absolutely love (not including any Vietnamese songs in this playlist though, that’ll be for another day/post).

 

Music/Lyric Therapy

Anybody who knows me would know that I’m a quiet person, who doesn’t talk a lot. Anybody who really knows me would know that I’m not so great with words and explaining things, which is why I’m usually quiet and would much rather listen to what everyone else has to say, then jump in only when I feel like I can contribute to the conversation. I’m kind of socially awkward that way. (The exception to all this being when you get me going on a really good entertainment subject, I can probably ramble on for a good while.) Over the years, I’ve been the one who is always there for my friends, support and encourage them, and especially while I was still in school, I was almost always the positive and optimistic one. Once real life kicked in though, it became hard for me to keep up that positive outlook. Some days, it actually feels like I can’t count anyone or turn to anyone for support. With my tendency of being quiet and letting everyone else talk about their problems, I’ve grown to internalize my problems and feelings, which is not incredibly healthy.

That’s where music comes in. Music is my therapy. It cheers me up when I’m in a bad mood. It sings the words that I can’t seem to let out and all the things that I’m feeling. Over the years I’ve learned to listen to the lyrics as much, if not more than the actual song itself. I found myself drawn to songs with lyrics (even if it was just one line) that I could relate to. Even if I gave the lyrics a different meaning than what was intended (which happens quite a bit), it still became important to me because someone had given words to what I was feeling.

This reminds me of something said from One Tree Hill:

You know, I got this theory that there’s two kinds of people in the world: There are lyric people and music people. You know, the lyric people tend to be “analytical,” you know, all about the meaning of the song. They’re the ones you see with the CD insert out like five minutes after buying it, pouring over the lyrics… interpreting the hell out of everything. Then there’s the music people, who could care less what the lyrics are, just as long as it’s got like, a good beat and you could dance to it. I don’t know, sometimes it might be easier to be a music girl and not a lyric girl, but since I’m not, let me just say this: sometimes things find you when you need them to find you. I believe that. And for me, it’s usually song lyrics.

Music and lyrics are my inspiration, what gets me through tough times. Over the years, I began to compile lyrics from numerous songs and artists that served as a catharsis to explain how I felt. This is by no means a comprehensive list, because it could go on forever, but just a sampling of music + lyrics that have put into words what I could never explain about myself.

SONG LYRICS

I’m asking for your help. I am going through hell. Afraid nothing can save me but the sound of your voice. – Maroon 5How

I’m getting tired of believing. Even sicker of pretending, that it’s not so bad, just wait it out. I think you’re feeding me lies again…And that’s how I feel right now, so just let me be – Kelly Clarkson “How I Feel”

Sitting in a big white room alone, Tilt my head back, feel the tears fall down. Close my eyes to see in the dark. I feel young, broken, so so scared. I don’t wanna be here anymore – Jessie J “Big White Room”

Don’t lose who you are, in the blur of the stars. Seeing is deceiving, dreaming is believing. It’s okay not to be okay. Sometimes it’s hard, to follow your heart. Tears don’t mean you’re losing, everybody’s bruising, just be true to who you are – Jessie J “Who You Are”

When you lose what you love, live on live on. When the road gets too rough, be strong, be strong. What you can’t understand, but you’re starting to see, it’ll work in the end, you just got to believe and keep on – Tyler Hilton “Keep On”

All my life I’ve tried to make everybody happy, while I just hurt and hide, waiting for someone to tell me it’s my turn to decide – Sara Bareilles “King of Anything”

‘Cause when you’re in your darkest hour and all of the light just fades away. When you’re like a single flower, whose colours have turned to shades of grey. Well hang on and be strong – Delta Goodrem “Be Strong”

2am, where do I begin? Crying off my face again, the silent sound of loneliness wants to follow me to bed. I’m the ghost of a girl that I want to be most. I’m the shell of a girl that I used to know well – Christina Perri “The Lonely”

The girl I used to be has a terrible case of mistaken identity. – Delta Goodrem “Mistaken Identity”

When the static clears and all is said and done, I will realize that we all need someone. So when you see me crashing and there’s nowhere left to fall, will you lift me even higher to rise above this all? – Christina Aguilera “Lift Me Up”

I’m tired of looking ‘round rooms, wondering what I’ve got to do or who I’m supposed to be. I don’t want to be anything other than me – Gavin Degraw “I Don’t Want to Be”

And I know that it’s a wonderful world but I can’t feel it right now. Well I thought that I was doing well but I just want to cry now…But who am I to dream? Dreams are for fools, they let you down – James Morrison “Wonderful World”

In my life I don’t mean much to anyone…Some people say that I’m not worth it. I’ve made mistakes but nobody’s perfect – James Morrison “One Last Chance”

Some of us we’re hardly ever here. The rest of us were born to disappear. How do I stop myself from being just a number? How will I hold my head to keep from going under? – John Mayer “Vultures”

In the night we’re all looking for a guiding light, we’re all seeking something more than right. It must be there. Everyday, we’re all trying to find a better way. We’re all hoping for someone to say we’re almost there. We believe there’s a reason that we’re all here, that every doubt will disappear. We believe that tomorrow carries something new and after everything that we’ve been through, we believe – David Cook “We Believe”

I wanna think good thoughts. I won’t let the negativity turn me into my enemy. Promise to myself that I won’t let it get the best of me. That’s how I want to be – Colbie Caillat “Think Good Thoughts”

Please remind me who I really am. Everybody’s got a dark side. Do you love me? Do you love mine? Nobody’s a picture perfect, but we’re worth it, you know that we’re worth it – Kelly Clarkson “Dark Side”

Would you face me? Make me listen to the truth even if it breaks me. You can judge me, love me. If you’re hating me, do it honestly – Kelly Clarkson “Honestly”

I’m feeling like I always see them but they can’t see me. Hello, is anybody listening? Let go, as everyone lets go of me. Won’t somebody show me that I’m not alone…Wishing I was more than what my story has told…Holding on to the memories of when I didn’t know. Ignorance isn’t wise but it beats being alone  – Kelly Clarkson “Hello”

Why do I even try when you take me for granted? I should know better by now. It’s never too late to turn it back around. Don’t bury your demons deep in the ground – James Morrison “Up”

Now in life there’s gonna be times when you’re feeling low and in your mind insecurity seems to take control. We start to look outside ourselves for acceptance and approval. We keep forgetting that the one thing we should know is, don’t be scared to fly alone, find a path that is your own. Love will open every door it’s in your hands, the world is yours. Don’t hold back and always know, all the answers will unfold – Christina Aguilera “Soar”

Now I’m sitting here alone in my bed. I’m waiting for an answer I don’t know that I’ll get. And I know there’s someone out there somewhere, who has it much worse than I do. It’s like I’m only tryin’ to dig my way out of all these things I can’t…These times will try hard to define me, but I will hold my head up high – SafetysuitThese Times

It makes me that much stronger, makes me work a little bit harder. It makes me that much wiser, thanks for making me a fighter. Made me learn a little bit faster, made my skin a little bit thicker, makes me that much smarter, so thanks for making me a fighter – Christina AguileraFighter

Hear me, I’m crying out, I’m ready now. Turn my world upside down, find me. I’m lost inside the crowd, it’s getting loud. I need you to see, I’m screaming for you to please hear me – Kelly ClarksonHear Me

Sometimes we fall, sometimes we don’t feel the crash at all. Sometimes we break, sometimes we’ve taken all that we can take. But tonight ain’t the end of the story, just keep turning the page. Don’t give into the heartache. Don’t give into the pain, this world will turn your way – Tyler HiltonThis World Will Turn Your Way

When there’s no one else, look inside yourself, and like your oldest friend, just trust the voice within. Then you’ll find the strength that will guide your way. You’ll learn to begin to trust the voice within – Christina Aguilera “The Voice Within”

I’m tired of hiding behind these lying eyes. I’m tired of this smile that even I don’t recognize – The WreckersThe Good Kind”

‘Cause someday maybe, somebody will love me like I need. And someday I won’t have to prove, ’cause somebody will see all my worth. But until then I’ll do just fine on my own – The WreckersCigarettes

Why do I try and make them happy? Why am I always playing nice? It isn’t easy trying to tell you, exactly what’s on my mind – The WreckersHard to Love You

Oh these times are hard, they’re making us crazy, don’t give up on me – The Script “For the First Time”

But I’m scared to death, that there may not be another one like this. And I confess, that I’m only hanging on by a thin, thin thread – Maroon 5 “Sad”

Favourite DWTS Performances

Over the years, I’ve given Dancing With the Stars a lot of flack. First of all, there’s a very loose definition of “Stars.” Up until recently, they had their orchestra band perform all the songs, which I understood, but it resulted in a lot of not-so-good versions of pop songs. Their insistence on using a lot of pop songs was also met with mixed results; some songs just did not work with the style the pairs were supposed to be dancing. Nowadays, it annoys the hell out of me that they insist on including contemporary and jazz (just no, leave it to SYTYCD). Regardless, there has been multiple times where everything just comes together and we get legitimately good/great performances. After a certain point, I was just watching for the Pros and their group numbers during the results shows or dancing alongside the musical guests, but sometimes the stars actually do leave an impression and that’s the reason for the show’s existence. So here goes my top 10* favourite performances from the past 20(?!) seasons, in no particular order.

*Plus a few cheats. Because I can.

1.) Season 2, Drew & Cheryl – “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy”

This freestyle eventually set the bar for all future freestyles. Anyone who actually watched this back in the day, just has fond memories of it. It showed off Drew’s dancing skills that he learned from the weeks of competition and it was a lot of fun to watch. I guess it’s also one of the reasons why I’m not particularly fond of the slow, almost-Contemporary freestyles, because when I think freestyle, I think fun and upbeat. But that’s just me.

2.) Season 10, Nicole & Derek “El Capitalismo Foraneo”

Have I mentioned how much of a sucker I am for a good Tango or Argentine Tango? It’s such a gorgeous dance, and requires the partners to be strong and bold, yet sensual. Sure, Nicole Scherzinger was very much a ringer this season, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t earn her win. This routine was flawless from top to bottom, and it certainly helped that they got a more traditional song to dance to, as opposed to a pop song. Ugh, LOVE IT!

3.) Season 5, Helio & Julianne – “Hey Pachuco!”

The Quickstep is endearingly(?) referred to as the kiss of death on SYTYCD, and that’s because it is HARD. The stamina and energy required to just get through a one minute routine is crazy and mixed with the fact that you have to be light on your feet is crazy difficult, whether you’re a dancer or not. What was great about this routine was that Helio managed to do all that and look like he was legitimately having fun.

4.) Season 9, Joanna & Derek – “Living on Video”/ Season 10, Nicole & Derek – “Spanish Guitar”

As the show grew and with each passing season, it was expected of them to change things up a bit. First they added in non-typical ballroom dance styles, and then they started playing around with these fusion dances (some straight-up combos and some incredibly random). And if anyone could rise up to the challenge, it was Derek. [Full disclosure: I’m a huge Derek Hough fan. I think he’s an amazing dancer/choreographer and deserves all the praise in the world.] It was evident first in season 9, when Derek had to choreograph a ‘Futuristic Paso Doble’ (set to an 80s song) for his partner Joanna; then again in season 10, when he was tasked to choreograph a ’50s Paso Doble’ for Nicole. The end result was all kinds of awesome.

5.) Season 8, Gilles & Cheryl – “Assassin’s Tango”

See #2. Plus using the score from Mr. and Mrs. Smith gave it an extra edge that was absolutely wonderful.

6.) Season 5, Mel & Maks – “Free Your Mind”

The changing of the lyrics was actually hilarious, and exactly what I was talking about earlier. Mel B was just such a beast though, you kind of had to ignore the song arrangement.

7.) Season 18, Meryl & Maks – “Feel So Close”/ Meryl & Val – “Too Close”

I never usually call ringer, even when there’s someone in the competition who has dance experience, because normally it’s like a hip-hop or Broadway background, not ballroom. When Meryl Davis, along with Charlie White, were announced as part of this season’s cast, boy did I ever yell “RINGER!!!” I mean they basically ballroom dance, ON ICE! AND Derek had helped them with choreography for the Olympics! As the season went on though, I just couldn’t deny how great a dancer Meryl is, and she had such a great partnership with Maks. Had to choose both her Tango with Maks and Argentine Tango with Val because I would not have pegged those songs to use for Tangos (which would have annoyed me before), but they made it work!

8.) Season 8, Shawn & Mark – “Do Your Thing”

It was just non-stop dancing, and simply put, so much fun and entertaining to watch.

9.) Season 15, Shawn, Derek & Mark – “Jungle Jazz”

Sure, it was more Afro-Jazz with touches of Samba, but you couldn’t deny how good the performance was. Shawn getting to dance with both her partners on the show was such a treat.

10.) Season 19, Alfonso & Witney – “369”

When it was announced that Alfonso Ribeiro was going to be a part of the season 19 cast, everyone pretty much called it that he was going to win, pretty much based solely on “The Carlton.” From the beginning, he proved that he was going to work hard and earn that Mirror Ball Trophy, starting with this dance. A Jive in week 1 is no joke; you have to get those flicks and kicks right, and make sure you’re light on your feet with a natural bounce/rhythm. Alfonso’s routine was all of that and then some.

 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Non-competition performances

1.) Season 5, Jennifer Lopez performs “Let’s Get Loud” with the Pro Dancers

I don’t remember many of the group numbers from seasons 1-4, though obviously I always knew the Pro Dancers were crazy talented. Things changed after watching this performance; I loved every part of it, with our Pro Dancers performing, while J.Lo sang. I think it had finally dawned on me how much I love the Pros dancing as a group, when everything just comes together – choreography, music, costumes. I can’t ever listen to this song now without picturing this performance in my head.

2.) Season 7, Jennifer Hudson with Derek & Julianne – “Spotlight”

The Hough siblings are ridiculously talented and I love them both dearly. It’s just so great to see them dance together, every once in a while.

3.) Season 10, Chelsie & Derek – “Malaguena”

I absolutely loved the simplicity of the performance. An acoustic arrangement (featuring Mark on guitar) and they let the dancing do everything else. It was very much a classic Paso Doble. It’s no wonder they were Emmy nominated for this.

4.) Season 11, Mark & Val “Toxic”

This was before Val became a Pro on the show, though the connections and relationships were already there. They set this up as Val and Mark always having had a friendly rivalry because they both danced and played musical instruments; this was just a fun showcase of that. One of my favourite things about this is that they were playing “Toxic.” I mean, I remember watching it and it starts off with the dueling violin and guitar, then I start hearing those recognizable notes/riffs, and I was like “Are they..? OMIGOD THEY’RE DOING TOXIC!!!” 😀

5.) Season 10, Pro Dancers – “Evacuate the Dancefloor”

It’s great when you see the Pro Dancers do straight ballroom, but it’s also so much fun to see them let loose like this.

6.) Anytime Derek & Allison choreograph something (Season 13/Season 15 “Heart Cry”/Season 18 “Animals”)

Before Allison became a Pro on DWTS, she had often choreographed special performances with Derek. Two of my favourite dancers working together? It was amazing! The first time they performed together on the show in S13, they did an incredible Tango/Paso/Flamenco/Contemporary fusion number;I remember being away on vacation, watching the performance on YouTube, and was honestly left breathless. In S15, they choreographed a beautiful Contemporary number, which also featured Melanie Moore, Kathryn McCormick, and Jessica Lee Keller. Then in S18, they worked together on the really fun fusion featuring some of the Pros and Troupe members, though Allison didn’t perform with them.