RIVER

Artist: Leon Bridges

Genre: R&B

Notable lyrics:

Been traveling these wide roads for so long
My heart’s been far from you
Ten-thousand miles gone
Oh, I wanna come near and give ya
Every part of me
But there’s blood on my hands
And my lips aren’t clean
In my darkness I remember
Momma’s words reoccur to me
“Surrender to the good Lord
And he’ll wipe your slate clean”
Take me to your river
I wanna go
Oh, go on
Take me to your river
I wanna know
Tip me in your smooth waters
I go in
As a man with many crimes
Come up for air
As my sins flow down the Jordan
Oh, I wanna come near and give ya
Every part of me
But there’s blood on my hands
And my lips aren’t clean
Take me to your river
I wanna go
Go on,
Take me to your river
I wanna know.

Leon Bridges is a young Gospel singer who rose to fame in 2015. Born and brought up in Texas, Leon stuck to making Gospel and soul songs. Apparently, The Wall Street Journal described him as a “throwback to ’60s-soul a la Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.”

The song is basically about redemption, or plainly salvation. Whether or not this song is an ode to Jesus is debatable. Since Leon’s popular with making Gospel music, it’s safe to assume that the song is a kind of prayer. That being said, it can also be interpreted as a love song, or simply a song about going back to ones’ roots. But what’s enthralling is the symbolism in the music video and the metaphors used in the song. It all truly is a work of art.

Being the simple and melodious song it is, River is supported solely by the guitar for a beautiful tune and the strong voice of Leon himself. The song also uses back-up vocals, which happens to be a prominent part of most gospel songs. What’s even more beautiful is when Brittni’ Jessie’s voice is stripped off any mechanical adjustments, and all that remains are raw emotions and the purity of it all. There are a few theatrical aspects to it, which would otherwise be considered redundant. Pertaining to the music video, everything was well calculated and fitted to the design. The video is mainly about the daily riots in the neighborhoods, be it a fight against racism or police brutality. Despite there being many liberals in a country like America, the African-Americans still face racism on an everyday basis. The video captures the issue perfectly. Since breaking it down to its bits and pieces is a tedious process, all I can say is each scene speaks a different story (beautifully). Anybody that’s ever denied that music and music videos are works of art, can be rightfully shut down now.

Recently, there’s been a stereotype floating around – that all 21st century music is distasteful. Only arrogant and pretentious snobs can come up with something so crude and untrue. While most modern-day pop songs fail to meet the standards once set up by the music lords, there definitely exist a million artists who are very self-efficient and talented, once of such being Leon Bridges. There are thousands of songs being released everyday that are better than any that’s ever been created; all you really have to know is where to look.

AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH

Artist: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

Genre: Soul

Notable lyrics: 

My love is alive
Way down in my heart
Although we are miles apart
If you ever need a helping hand
I’ll be there on the double
Just as fast as I can
Don’t you know that there

Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe

Firstly, I am obliged pay homage to the late ‘queen of soul’, Aretha Franklin, who has passed away yesterday, the 16th of August. Aretha was one of the first ever influential black women in the music industry, rising to the top of her game in the 60’s. Here’s a video of an older Aretha, soulfully covering ‘Rolling in the deep/Ain’t no mountain high enough‘.

‘Ain’t no mountain high enough’, a song by Marvin Gaye, conveniently the king of soul, and Tammi Terrell, who he happened to sing a lot of songs with, is a delightful duet later covered by the great Diana Ross. In a way, it was made famous by Ms. Ross and was later used as an OST in the famous 90’s blockbuster ‘stepmom’; the song is claimed as ‘one of the most overplayed songs in movies’. If anything, the song is also acclaimed as one of the best mood-lifters ever created.

Released in the 1967, the song happens to be one of the best soul songs in existence. The vocals sound as fresh as ever, with a tinge of that vintage magic. In the era where black Americans were still denied equality, wonderful music like this was responsible for fixing the gap between the two bridges. To see and analyse what prominence music has held in bringing about equality is indeed heart-warmingly beautiful.

Not necessarily a love song, the tune revolves around everlasting relationships and how all the impediments in the world can pose no threat to the stability of a well-founded relationship. Indeed a touching tribute to the strength of love and its acquaintances, the song has set high standards for the coming-of-age artists. The level of excellency covered here has remained intact over the past few decades and still happens to be the favorite song of many a people, from all walks of life and of all ages. The refreshing, profound voice of Gaye complemented by Terrell’s strong, pronounced voice has given the song its marvellous attributes. The drums, the instrumental framework are simply all too brilliant.

The song happens to be one of my favorites (yes, I do have a lot of favorites) because of its radiant magnetism, its ability to sweep the listener’s feet off the ground and this time, none of this is an exaggeration.

 

 

FAVORITE PART

Artist: Mac Miller (and Ariana Grande)

Genre: Hip-hop/soul

Notable lyrics: 

Said, you know I know who you really are, ain’t need to lie
Said, the universe couldn’t keep us apart
Why would it even try?

A few weeks ago, I played a less popular ‘pop’ song, when in the car with my mother, and she was surprised after learning that the song was a very famous artists’, because it was particularly great. When I told her that the song wasn’t all that famous, she was taken aback with the mediocrity of people’s likes and dislikes and how they want all their songs to be similar. Her argument was that ‘some people weren’t lucky enough to identify good music and appreciate them’. Now, this woman isn’t a huge fan of western music at all, but she’s got the concept of choosing great music, with some discretion right.

Speaking about the song, it isn’t all that spectacular or ostentatious, in comparison to the best songs to ever exist (I’m not talking about ‘hit me baby one more time’ for Christ’s sake). What I really appreciate is the effort to deviate from the conventions of making music video and actually produce something fairly rich, once in a while. For once, they’ve actually created a good piece for the sake of art and not business. This can create a whole revolution within the industry of ‘pop’ music. I can’t begin to explain how this particular gem can change the entire face of the music venture:                                         The song has credited 3 writers, 2 of which are the actual artists, as opposed to the 8 usual writers required to write a song. Now, the lyrics aren’t really sensational, but aren’t as bland or gaudy as the rest of mainstream pop songs. The setting is very intimate and the lyrics are well-crafted accordingly. Kudos to that. Moreover, the background music, even if electrically produced, isn’t too clumsy. As a matter of fact, it is a rather alluring tune and the music video has been designed appropriately. The aesthetics of the music video and the color tones are particularly pleasing. There isn’t any nudity or unsettling content in the music video, which works out all too well for me and most people (don’t mistake me for a prude, but some pop music videos are highly explicit. After all, sex sells). The best and the most evident part is the lack of voice manipulation of any kind. Every emotion, every imperfection, has been delivered the way it is, the way it’s meant to be. To be fair, it’s too good a ‘pop’ or hip-hop song to be true.

I wouldn’t really credit Ariana here because a few incoherent mumbles and giggles won’t make a song. However, I really appreciate Mac Miller in the song, he’s simply proficient in this particular song. The R&B aspect of the entire song is ridiculously magnificent. If this is post-modern jazz, I’m definitely impressed.

Just when you think things couldn’t get any better, the live performance proved it wrong. The jazz instrumentals are mind-blowing. Accurate, professional and seductive, the perfect song for a night-ride. So much talent has been used up in the song, it’s actually unthinkable of a proper ‘pop’ song. Now, here’s the sad part: the music video has only 37 million views and that’s a tiny amount when compared to most pop songs. The YouTube section is filled with comments related to their break-up and what not. Why does their relationship matter so much to you? Just enjoy the good music and forget everything else. If you can’t identify a gem when you come across one, you’re doing everything wrong.

ONLY LOVE CAN HURT LIKE THIS

Artist: Paloma faith

Genre: Brit pop/soul

Notable lyrics: Say I wouldn’t care if you walked away

But every time you’re there I’m begging you to stay

When you come close I just tremble

And every time, every time you go

It’s like a knife that cuts right through my soul

Only love can hurt like this

Must have been a deadly kiss

Only love can hurt like this

 

Dear Paloma, I’d have to disagree with you.  know what can hurt like that and more? the sadistic ending of ‘Yuri!!! on ice’. I mean, what was that?!

This song came to me in a very bizarre manner (I’d rather not get into that now) and has been a favorite ever since.

The song starts off with the red-head’s bassy, opera-esque voice and somehow ends with her screaming at the top of her lungs, somehow establishing the perfect balance and the necessity contrast between two extremes of the elasticity of a human vocal cord (that sentence bothers me very much, but is grammatically accurate). the whole theme is very melodramatic, owing the well equipped string quartet and her naturally iridescent red hair. the lyrics aren’t extra special but the song definitely manages to stand out because of how the song’s been composed. Also, unlike most popular, chart-topping songs of the decade, this song is not ostentatious or corny in any way. if this was an opera, I’d watch it every time it’s in town.

Paloma doesn’t overlook the risks of increasing your pitch very high but manages to do so, without hesitation or a single crack of her voice (I know the song’s been edited but her voice IS very flexible and that is unambiguous). Somehow, a british lady got into singing very dense and powerful R&B and is now a ‘mostly’ celebrated artist. she might not be the new Aretha Franklin, but she certainly has managed to channel her inner Amy Winehouse (minus the wine) and that’s versatility at its best.

I’d rather not talk about the video but I must acknowledge how perfectly their skins seem to blend with each other’s.