Music Monday: Old Favourites (AKA When Music Was Awesome)

Pop music has been sort of my bread and butter. It’s pretty much what I grew up on, between my dad listening to ABBA and the Bee Gees; my sister¬† listening to New Kids on the Block, Debbie Gibson, Madonna, George Michael; and the modern Vietnamese music I gravitated towards – pop music was in me from the get-go. Once I hit the all important tween years (before it was really even called that) in the late 90s, the pop music scene was reaching a whole new level. MTV was still playing music videos and the prevalence of TRL certainly helped elevate the status of pop stars (and other artists) to what we remember. The songs were infectious and well-crafted, which also applies to the R&B music of the time. Maybe it’s a sense of nostalgia when I hear them, but 10-15 years later, I feel like a lot of the songs held up incredibly well; there was something about the music in the late 90s/early 00s that had such an appeal. So with that being said, I give you a rather comprehensive playlist of some of my favourites from back in the day.

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Throwback Thursday: Pop Culture Things Turn 15

Last week, there was mention of the fact that Britney Spears’ song “Oops! I Did It Again” was released 15 years ago. The week before that, it was the 15th anniversary of *NSYNC’s record-breaking “No Strings Attached” album. Obviously, the news of these anniversaries made me feel old. After the news of the former, I had joked on Twitter that someone should just do an all-encompassing 15th anniversary post of (almost) all the things I had apparently loved as a kid and which now makes me feel old. LIGHTBULB! I might as well do it for the blog! So without further ado, here are some notable releases at the turn of the new millennium and turns 15 years old this year.

[Disclaimer: This obviously isn’t a fully comprehensive list of EVERYTHING that was released or debuted in 2000. It’s strictly the stuff I watched and listened to in the year 2000.]

ALBUMS

  1. NSYNC РNo Strings Attached  (Mar. 21)
  2. Pink’s debut – Can’t Take Me Home (Apr. 4)
  3. Britney Spears – Oops! I Did It Again (May 3)
  4. Nelly – Country Grammar (Jun. 27)
  5. Coldplay’s debut – Parachutes (Jul. 10, Nov. 7)
  6. Nelly Furtado’s debut – Whoa Nelly! (Oct. 24)
  7. U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind (Oct. 30)
  8. Backstreet Boys – Black and Blue (Nov. 21)

SONGS

*Besides any of those included in the above albums, because, obviously*

 

MOVIES

  1. Center Stage
  2. Whatever It Takes
  3. Where the Heart Is
  4. Gone in 60 Seconds
  5. Mission: Impossible II
  6. Boys and Girls
  7. X-Men
  8. What Lies Beneath
  9. Coyote Ugly
  10. Bring It On
  11. Remember the Titans
  12. Meet the Parents
  13. Charlie’s Angels
  14. Dude, Where’s My Car?
  15. Miss Congeniality

TV SHOWS

  1. Survivor
  2. Even Stevens
  3. Big Brother
  4. Dark Angel
  5. Gilmore Girls
  6. Boston Public
  7. Boy Meets World (Finale)
  8. Beverly Hills 90210 (Finale)
  9. The 10th Kingdom (Miniseries)

 

5 Fandom Friday: My Favourite Holiday Songs

fandom.5.friday

For a couple months now, The Nerdy Girlie and SuperSpaceChick have put together a link-up, 5 Fandom Friday, each week with a different theme. I’ve been neglecting it but no more – starting December right with my first 5 Fandom Friday post! Now, I admittedly can sometimes be a grump about Christmas-related things. Some people will listen to Christmas music as early as November 1st; I, on the other hand, consider two weeks before Christmas to be an acceptable time-frame, but that’s just me. Anyways, that being said, I give you my 5 favourite holiday pop songs, and just because I feel like cheating a little bit, my 5 favourite classic holiday songs!

HOLIDAY POP SONGS

  1. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays (NSYNC) – I’m sorry, but as far as original Christmas songs goes, it does not get any better than this song. I’m a little biased because I love NSYNC, but tell me this song doesn’t instantly put a smile on your face and get you excited for the holidays! Or how about that hilarious music video? (Oh the 90s…)
  2. All I Want for Christmas is You (Mariah Carey) – An original song that became a classic. Who doesn’t love this song?
  3. Last Christmas (Wham) – It’s kind of a sad Christmas song, wrapped in an upbeat pop tune, but I love it nonetheless. For some reason, this is one of the first Christmas songs I ever knew (I call it a mix of my sister being a George Michael fan, plus hearing a cover of it by one of my favourite Vietnamese singers – my influences as a kid are so varied, you don’t even know).
  4. Christmas Time (Christina Aguilera) – “There’ll be family, and Christmas cheer/Peace and good will to all man/ Everybody is home for Christmas/It’s Christmas time.” A perfectly solid pop/R&B song that sums up Christmas.
  5. My Favorite Things (Kelly Clarkson) – Was this song always considered a holiday song? I don’t really know, but it is now! Of course only Kelly Clarkson could get me to listen to Christmas songs early when she released her holiday album “Wrapped in Red” last year, and I instantly fell in love with her jazz-y version of this song.

 

TRADITIONAL HOLIDAY SONGS

No explanations necessary. I just love these songs.*

  1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  2. Silent Night
  3. The Christmas Song
  4. White Christmas
  5. O Holy Night – *Though for what it’s worth, I LOVE NSYNC’s acapella version of this song.

 

2013 MTV VMAs: JT + The *NSYNC Reunion

2013 MTV Video Music Awards - Show

It happened y’all.

More than 10 years after their last public performance together, the guys of *NSYNC reunited at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards. Justin Timberlake was being honoured with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award (or as JT tweeted, the “you’re getting old” award) and with that came a special performance. Rumours started swirling early last week that to commemorate the occasion, an *NSYNC reunion was happening. Me being the skeptic that I am, refused to believe it until it happened or we got official word from those involved (but then again, that would’ve ruined the surprise wouldn’t it?)

I honestly had no intention of watching the VMAs, except to see Justin’s performance, but with the promise of the band getting back together, I HAD to watch. Justin’s special performance ended up being a 15-minute mini concert that featured all his hits. Even cooler was the fact that he brought on a good number of his former dancers along with his current ones for the performance. Shout out to Marty Kudelka, Dana Wilson, Ava Bernstine, Tammy Fey, Sky Hoffman, Eddie Morales, Nanci Anderson, Kenny Wormald, Misha Gabriel, Nick Bass, Lyle Beniga, Natalie Gilmore, Ivan Koumaev, and the rest of the dancers! [Side note: I absolutely love that Ivan is now one of JT’s dancers. I remember back when he was on SYTYCD Season 2, and he had said that one of the things he wanted was to become one of JT’s dancers. And look at him now!]

During his set (because that’s what it was), as JT finished up Rock Your Body, it sounded like we were getting into Pusher Love Girl. Nope! It quickly transitioned to Gone, and that’s when the internet exploded because we all knew – IT WAS ON! *NSYNC. Reunited. On stage. It was glorious. After that very quick take of Gone, they moved into Girlfriend (a personal favourite that still holds up so well 12 years later) and then into Bye Bye Bye, complete with the choreo from their awesome 2000 VMA performance. The reunion was short-lived and JT continued on with Suit & Tie and Mirrors to finish off the performance.

I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed that we only got 2 minutes of *NSYNC. I mean, they didn’t even do Pop or It’s Gonna Be Me! From the way I see things though, we never thought that we’d EVER get to see them together again, what with Justin’s major success and all, so I’m going to relish those 2 minutes we got that made me feel like I was 12 again. (Plus, no offense, but I’m not so sure the rest of the guys could keep up with Justin – it has been a long time after all. Except JC, who was going full out on the Bye Bye Bye choreo.) And you know what else? These guys showing up just really made me long for the days when we got REALLY GOOD pop music. What we get nowadays is nowhere near close to what we used to get 10-15 years ago.

As soon as Justin’s set was done and he gave his acceptance speech, I was done with the VMAs. For me, Justin is the very definition of an entertainer, so after that amazing mini-concert, there was no way anyone (in my mind) could top it.

NSYNC-VMAs-2013

NSYNC 2013

From ‘The Tennessee Kids’ website. Photo Credit: Faith Ann Young

The Now + Then of Music

It’s a subject that I often think about, most often when listening to the radio, and that’s how music has changed over the years. I’m a person who doesn’t particularly like listening to the radio, but seeing how part of my job involves driving around everywhere in a car that isn’t mine, I’m forced to listen to the radio. Honestly, my dislike of listening to the radio really has more to do with my frustrations with it. A lot of the more popular stations in my area (and I’m sure this applies in a lot of places) seem to play the same songs over and over again. This summer, I consider it a good day/drive if I didn’t have to hear a song featuring any one of the following artists – Pitbull, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, LMFAO, Rihanna…the list could go on, but the point is my idea of a good day has been rare. Also, you know it’s a bad thing when the radio can turn a song from one of your favourite artists and make you not like it because of the song being overplayed – in this case, it’s Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” The last time this happened was when Sara Bareilles was hitting it big with “Love Song” and everyone was playing it. It was a lengthy amount of time before I could actually listen to that song again.

I’m very well aware that the radio stations I choose to listen to are the popular ones, so they will be playing a lot of Top 40 stuff. At the same time, is it too much to ask for a variety of songs? I find it kind of sad that I have to listen to a radio station from Buffalo (if I can pick up the signal) to get an actually good variety of music. When I can actually pick up the signal for this station (Star 102.5), I get to hear, for example, Colbie Caillat, Sara Bareilles, Matt Nathanson. And it’s not just the songs that they’re famous for (“Bubbly,” “Love Song,” “Come on Get Higher” respectively) but their newer songs (“Brighter Than the Sun, ” “Uncharted,” “Faster”)! Of the more popular stations in this area, if I had to choose, I would listen to CHUM 104.5 and Magic 106.1 more often than 91.5 The Beat, Z103.5, and Virgin 99.9 because they give me a slightly better variety of music. Sure they’ll play the Top 40 stuff, but they also play older songs, which I appreciate.

Yes, this is all preference and people’s definition of what is considered good music varies; this is strictly my opinion, my thoughts. Fact of the matter is, these stations that play a better variety of music, both old and new music, gets me thinking about the songs I grew up with, because these stations plays those songs.

I’m 23 now, and if I look back on the past 10-15 years of music, and compare it to now, I would much prefer listening to the older songs. If you really think about it, the early 2000s were great years for music. We can laugh about the whole boy band thing that started in the 90s and continued on, but you can’t tell me that an album like NSYNC’s “Celebrity” doesn’t hold up today. You listen to some of the singles off that album (“Gone”, “Girlfriend”) and you can still hear it on the radio today. If we want to talk R&B, I would gladly listen to Usher’s “My Way” and “You Make Me Wanna” over his newer stuff. I would pick Aaliyah over anything these days. Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” and “Baby Boy” over “Run The World (Girls).”

Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve never been particularly fond of the dance music genre, but I look at the songs from back then (making it seem like it was THAT long ago, but it kind of wasn’t) and they seem to have a timeless quality to it as opposed to a lot of songs these days. These songs come on the radio and I still enjoy it as I did 10 years ago. I could just be cynical, but I can’t imagine the popular songs of today, holding up well, and still be good 10 years from now. With a lot of artists these days trying to make dance music, it feels almost dated. It’s a little hard to explain. All I know is that, now more than ever, I love and appreciate the artists who write music with meaning and heart, and they really try to make good music and not just follow what’s popular. Don’t get me wrong, I get that every artist wants to grow and experiment with new sounds at some point. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with sticking with what you know, what you do best, and showing what you’ve learned through your songwriting.

Music, like everything else, goes through cycles. So maybe right now, we’re in a little bit of a lull. And while a sizable group of popular artists are trying to make a dance record/album/song or trying to make everything a big spectacle, others are falling through the cracks of people’s consciousness, despite releasing albums with great music/songwriting/intentions. And honestly, this really just goes back to my longstanding wish that more artists get the recognition they deserve. Plus hopes that I can turn on the radio and not hear the same 10 songs or so, ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME.

Rant over? For now…