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Cory Doctorow

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Favorites/decade - Right songs, wrong place

The best music, as is the case with any art form, should evoke emotion that one was not prepared to feel. This decade had a few examples of this. I've even added an entire band to this list -- one whose songs continue to dominate my MP3 player

"Angels on the moon" by Thriving Ivory. Their debut album was released in the middle of last year and this song, as its first single, seemed to take its time in gaining popularity. The singer has a unique-sounding voice, the song was well produced and is a great representative of the rest of the tracks on the album. I cannot figure out why it was not more popular. On the other hand, the band appears to be back in the studio to record a follow-up album. The next decade should show whether Thriving Ivory becomes a (sort of) one-hit wonder or sticks around for a while.

"The Fear" by Lily Allen. Nifty techno-pop with lyrics that don't sink in until after the song is done. I get stuck on the lyric that goes "And I'll take my clothes off and it will be shameless / 'Cuz everyone knows that's how you get famous" Unapologetic lyrics and seemingly more than happy to shock. NOTE: The music video includes a few curse words not bleeped out.

"Bodies" by Drowning Pool. An amazingly powerful, angry, mosh-pit instigating song which was released -- yikes -- a couple of months before September 11, 2001. Fearing that the images painted with the lyrics would alienate listeners, the song quickly disappeared from playlists. They spent the rest of the decade putting out albums, videos, etc. In spite of the poor timing and a tragic loss within the band less than 12 months later, they have managed to power through and are doing quite well these days. Anyone's guess how their career would look now if "Bodies" was permitted to continue its ascent in popularity.

A band which has purposefully pushed the envelope with every album it releases, Rammstein had a pretty darn good decade, ending in the release of their latest album "Liebe ist für alle da" (love is for everyone else) a few months ago. Three of their songs from this decade that I cannot play enough were "Ich will" (I want), "Benzin" (gasoline) and "Donaukinder" (Danube children). They go from loud and gruff to techno to children chorale backed slow tempo tunes with creepy lyrics.

"Not Ready to make Nice" by Dixie Chicks. A pretty clear steering toward pop music waters, this song and its video pack a pretty strong punch in response to the reaction they received when lead singer Natalie made an off-handed comment on stage in London, England regarding George W Bush.

For this lone comment, all manner of chaos reigned for the three women. Like carbon being turned into diamonds, the stress and strain of the fallout after the comments were made made for a terrific album and a stinging retort about the necessity of a true artist to express their feelings. If artists feel they cannot speak from their heart, any manner of art they produce is ultimately muted.

Nothing muted about this song. While they lost fans in the years leading up to the release of "Taking the long way " (a great title track, btw), they gained a whole new set of fans afterward -- myself included.

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