This is a very special TWIZ post because it is not actually news, but rather just a collection of ten epic, breathtaking, inspiring and unforgettable songs that I have been listening to on constant repeat over the last few weeks. My favorite thing to do is to share things with people, so I thought I would share this with you! And, just for kicks, I created a little poll at the end where you can tell me which is your favorite song.
Many of these songs have very lovely visuals that go with them. By all means, watch the videos… But, if you really want to experience something amazing I recommend that you try listening to some of these like I do: pop on some headphones, turn up the volume, close your eyes and prepare to be let the music rock your soul.
#1: “Sound & Vision” – Beck
Every once and a while an experience so intense comes along and catches you so unawares that it singes the hair on your toes. That is, I suppose, a way of describing what happened to me the first time I heard the epic Beck remake of David Bowie’s Sound & Vision which he accomplishes with the help of a 160-piece band. I was warned before I watched the video that it would blow my mind, but several minutes into it I began to lose my faith in the the person who recommended it to me. Then all of the sudden it hit me. So, let me give you a little preview of what is to come…
The first 1:52 seconds is a strange, often dissonant warm-up. The warm-up continues all the way to the 2:30 mark as the numerous musicians, bands, and choirs sync up their energy. This part is a little boring, but if you have Dolby Digital surround sound – or even stereo speakers, it is an essential way to prepare your ears for what is to come next. Then the song begins with a transitional intro that almost seems to bleed right out of the wounds left by the warm-up. “Nothing epic about this,” you’ll think… “It is a nice remake, but why did Z recommend this to me?” Then, around the 5:20 mark you’ll get a little jolt which will make you understand that maybe this song is much more than it seemed on the surface. Then the song just starts to wind down. Wait what? Then the 6:37 mark hits and its time to pull the safety bar securely over your lap and hang on tight for the ride… That’s all I’m gunna say…
#2: “Radioactive” – Lindsey Stirling & Pentatonix
I was already a big fan of Imagine Dragon’s Radioactive before I discovered this video. If you have not seen their adorable music video staring the talented Alexandra Daddario & Lou Diamond Phillips you should check it out. Then you add the unlikely pairing of Pentatonix and Lindsey Stirling to the mix… Wow!
I am a pretty big fan of a cappella music although I must admit its recent surge in popularity has somewhat overloaded my exposure and dulled the experience a bit. That’s why I like Pentatonix so much: The five member group has been able to keep “fresh” what was starting to feel processed and stale. Lindsey Stirling is also a very innovative artist whom I have always found to be talented and amusing but was never crazy about just as a matter of personal preference. So, I must say I was delighted to see all othese artists at the top of their game in this gut wrenching cover of what was already a punch-you-in-the-gut kind of song.
#3 – “Love Lockdown” – Janina Gavankar
When I was putting together The Girlfriend Bracket profiles, I stumbled across a couple of very well produced music videos by Janina Gavankar. What a pleasant surprise! I had no idea she was a musician. After hearing her music, my perspective on her immediately shifted from “oh, she’s a beautiful and talented actress” to “oh my god, she is an under appreciated artistic genius!”
I never even liked Kanye West’s Love Lockdown, but when I heard the Janina Gavankar version the song took on a whole new meaning and beauty. What a fantastic transformation! I was even more impressed with the creativity and beauty of her original song, Waiting For Godot, which is almost overshadowed by creative visuals of its accompanying music video creating a truly artistic masterpiece. If you like her cover of Love Lockdown then you will want to click the link and check that video out next.
Janina, I know you have more original music in the works. For the love of all that is holy please find some time in your crazy busy schedule to bless us with more of your musical talent!
#4 – “Madness” – Muse
In my opinion, Muse is the most revolutionary musical acts to arrive since the Beatles. Every single album they release seems to push more boundaries and top the last one. Their most recent album, 2nd Law, is no exception. When I first heard Madness I was captivated by the lyrics and how they spoke to me on such an intimate and personal level.
I can’t get these memories out of my mind,
And some kind of madness has started to evolve.
I tried so hard to let you go,
But some kind of madness is swallowing me whole.
Unlike many Muse songs that push the limits of complexity and boundaries of what the human brain can process, this song is subdued and humble. Although, like every Muse song, every moment seems to have been meticulously thought out. As you listen to the song, pay close attention to the story being weaved by the lyrics as well as the musical swells. By the time you reach the 4:20 mark and Matt Bellamy belts out the song’s thematic conclusion, if you aren’t moved to tears, then… well… I feel sorry for you.
#5 – “King And Lionheart” – Of Monsters and Men
If you haven’t heard a song by Of Monsters and Men in the last year, then you are quite possibly one of those guys living under a rock portrayed in a cute auto insurance commercial. So, can I just put this out there? What the heck is going on in Iceland??? How does this tiny little island nation produce these adorable, über-creative angels such as Björk Guðmundsdóttir and now Of Monsters and Men’s Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir?
That being said, they also produce pretty good musical acts. Of Monsters and Men seems to somewhat have taken American audiences by surprise as we’ve fallen in love with their unique musical sound. This particular song is, in my opinion, one of the most representative – and repeatable samples of their fantastic repertoire. Even if you’ve heard it before, I invite you to revisit it and clear away all distractions and just focus in on the music. Perhaps you’ll discover something new.
#6 – “United States of Pop 2012” – DJ Earworm
Top 40 pop music often gets a bad rap for being musically vapid, intellectually shallow, and represented by “no talent hacks” who are only rich and famous because of their looks and connections. Maybe there is something to that. The again, I tend to think with all of the millions of people trying to become famous those who are able to reach the top must have some kind of talent worthy of respect – especially if they are turning the ears of millions of human beings with such uncomplicated sounds and words.
At any rate, I myself don’t tend to listen to top 40 music. I’m barely even aware of what is currently popular. That is why I am so happy to hear DJ Earworm‘s annual mashup of the year’s top popular 25 songs. It is like stuffing an entire fistful of Skittles in your mouth at once and just letting the explosion of flavor overwhelm you. On their own, most of these songs I can’t even get all the way through without getting bored and turning them off, but with a digital knife, DJ Earworm performs surgery and miraculously creates a Frankenstein monster of music that is simultaneously beautiful, catchy, entertaining, and even has a succinct lyrical message.
#7 – “Get Lucky” – Daft Punk (pHaZe Project Remix)
Daft Punk is one hot act. They are musical perfectionists who have been said to take several weeks to perfect one sound sample that most producers would would have perhaps spent a couple of hours on before calling it “good enough.” Even if you don’t like their style of music you have to admit that they are modern day living musical savants. It is no wonder they are so popular among serious musicians and mix artists that when they release just a promo clip for one of their songs dozens of full remixes surface within a matter of weeks.
And so it was the case with a sample clip of their Get Lucky song featuring Pharrell Williams off their upcoming album Random Access Memories (which is already a #1 seller on Amazon even though it does not even drop until May 21). After sifting through numerous remixes I finally came across one that I just couldn’t stop listening to over and over again. It seems to capture the soul of the original song while lacing in some beautiful sounds and lyrics of the artist’s own composing. What is surprising to me is that I found this remix to actually be much more “repeatable” than the full original Daft Punk version they eventually released. Go figure.
#8 – “So This Is Goodbye” – William Fitzsimmons (Pink Ganter Mix)
I’m a sucker for sad songs with lyrical narratives that speak to personal feelings and experiences that have shaken me to the core. Especially when those lyrics poetically express feelings that are so difficult to put into words. And so it is with this breakup song by William Fitzsimmons which I can’t help but go back to over and over again with such vivid metaphors:
And I’ll miss you like you’re dead
But I never got to grieve you
So your phantom follows me
Like a child would his mother
One really nice thing about Fitzsimmons is that is music has inspired some gorgeous electronic remixes that are worth listening to. While the original So This Is Goodby from the Derivatives album is a masterpiece all on its own, I find myself listening to the Pink Ganter version about twice as often. And if you are a fan of these kind of folk songs remixed to electronic music be sure to check out the George Raquet remix of I Don’t Feel It Anymore, also by William Fitzsimmons.
#9 – “Teenage Dream” – The Rescues
One consistent theme of the songs in this post is that many of them are covers or remixes of original works by other artists. However, no one seems to have done a better job of finding the heart and soul of a song (that was hidden underneath a poorly done “original work”) and revealing it to us through a re-imagining than The Rescues did with the Katy Perry bubblegum pop song, Teenage Dream.
The Rescues have often been referred to as an indy music dream team and includes one of my favorite musicians, Gabriel Mann who sings the soulful Lighted Up. His voice blends seamlessly in four-part harmony with Kyler England, Rob Giles, and Adrianne Gonzalez. And when you hear each talented musician (in their own right) come together to gift you with this version of Teenage Dream, you are going to swear this is how the song was originally intended to be performed.
#10 – “Time of Our Lives” – Paul van Dyk
When you are feeling down in the dumps, what do you do? Many people like to listen to an uplifting song and everyone seems to have their own personal favorite. Mine tends to oscillate between Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now and this song, originally by Vega 4 but remixed (and essentially co-opted) by Paul van Dyk, Time of Our Lives.
Something about this song which opens up with the lyrics, “There’s a time for us to let go. There’s a time for holding on,” that makes you feel like no matter how many highs and lows you experience in life, everything has its proper place and everything occurs in the proper season… and at the end of it all, everything is going to be a-okay.
BONUS – “The Walking (And Talking) Dead” – Bad Lip Reading
I’m a pretty big fan of The Walking Dead as well as the talented comedic collective, Bad Lip Reading, who produced some very hilarious and memorable videos poking fun of the Presidential candidates during this last election cycle. So, I was quite delighted when they finally got around to doing a very comprehensive BLR of TWD that is absolutely hilarious.
So, its a funny video, but its not a song and not exactly something you can repeat over and over for days on end. The real reason that this video makes my Earworms list is because of the hidden little musical gem which the video climaxes with at the 3:55 mark. Give it a try. You might just find yourself singing, “La-Bibbida-Bibba-Dum, La-Bibbida-Bibba-Doo” to yourself like I have been for the past week.