I am changing the format of Today’s Top 40 a tiny bit today. In the past, I have examined the top 40 charts of six different radio stations and music streaming services and have gotten my song material that way. However, I have grown tired of how stagnant these charts have been since the mid-summer. There is only so much that I can write about Harry Styles or Bad Bunny or Sam Smith and Kim Petras. So, instead of doing the same old-same old, I am simply going to talk about some artists who have released new songs recently and/or talk about artists who are making news for whatever reason. So, with that in mind, here is what’s happening in the world of music right now!
News: Blink 182 Reunites!
As the 1990s transitioned into the 2000s, Blink-182 positioned themselves as one of the biggest bands on the planet. They had a steady string of chart-topping Pop Punk hits including “All The Small Things”, “What’s My Age Again?”, “Adam’s Song” and many more. The boys in Blink-182…Tom DeLong, Mark Hoppus and drummer extraordinaire, Travis Barker, had album sales of over 50 million worldwide. As Pop Punk bands went, Blink-182 were among the best of the best….and then, they broke up, with Tom DeLong leaving the band. Several reunions and break-ups later, the band announced that, not only were they reuniting but, they had a new album in the works and were preparing for a world tour to support it. The new single they are releasing is called “Edgings”. *(It is supposed to be going live on Friday, the 14th, which is today as I write this. If it is available for me to link to by the time I publish this post then you will be able to listen to the song here. If not then, the link will remain unconnected).
So, if you are fans of bands that play Pop Punk (such as Green Day, for example) then the word of Blink-182’s reunion will come as welcome news. You can check their website here for concert tour dates in your area.
After This by July Talk.
July Talk have been making music in Canada for almost a full decade now. They play a brand of Alternative/Indie-style rock that has seen their presence on the national music scene grow and grow. All three of July Talk’s studio albums have won the Juno Award for Best Alternative Album upon their release. They have performed at the Juno awards show on several occasions as well and have opened for numerous bands such as Tegan and Sara, Weezer and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
July Talk is composed of singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay, guitarist Ian Docherty, bassist Josh Warburton and drummer Danny Miles. July Talk are a very interesting band because both Dreimanis and Fay bring much Arts experience with them to the band…Dreimanis is a professional cinematographer and ran his own production company prior to forming July Talk with Leah Fay. He produces all of the band’s music videos. Leah Fay is a professionally trained dancer and runs a dance collective called WIVES. On stage, Dreimanis and Fay have excellent theatrical chemistry. He sings with a voice akin to Tom Waits. Fay sings and dances in a manner that resembles Kate Bush. Together, they have become known for their live shows. They had a #1 hit with a song called “Push + Pull” *(which you can watch here if you wish to see the magic of their live shows). Their latest single is called “After This” which you can watch at the link above. July Talk are a band to watch as this year goes by. They are one of the rising stars of the Canadian music scene.
***The lyrics version of this song can be found here.
Jackie Down the Line by Fontaines D.C.
Along with Idles, Fontaine D.C. were the other new band that I discovered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I first discovered the band, Idles on YouTube when I stumbled across their appearance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. Watching that video caused YouTube’s algorithms to set in motion and before I knew it I was being shown videos of Idles at Seattle radio station KEXP-FM. Finding KEXP-FM caused me to find their list of the Top 500 Songs of All Time which, in turn, inspired me to create my own list that you can begin to access here, if so inclined. Well, along with discovering KEXP-FM, my interest in Idles Band caused YouTube to introduce me to videos of other bands that they assumed I might like. The best of those new-to-me bands was Fontaines D.C.
The first video of theirs that I watched was called “Heroes Death”. It was performed as part of the Concerts From Home series that many singers and bands engaged in during the lockdown phase of the pandemic. If this is your first introduction to Fontaines D.C. then I suggest that you watch “Heroes Death” here before going on. I have posted this song before and someone who saw it likened it to early Joy Division, for those who might be motivated by that comparison. I also really liked the sound of their next release which was called “I Don’t Belong” *(which you can watch here).
The members of Fontaines D.C. are all Irish. Much of the inspiration for their song lyrics stems from Irish folklore and poetry. In fact, before becoming a music group, the five members of the band…singer Grian Chatten, ***(and yes, it is Grian with a “G” and not Brian with a “B”), guitarists Carlos O’ Connor and Conor Curley, bassist Conor Deegan III and drummer Tom Coll…all bonded over poetry and actually released two volumes of poetry (one based upon The Beat Poets like Kerouac and Ginsberg and the second book based upon Irish poets such as Ogden Nash). Much of their music is noted for its lyricism.
Fontaines D.C. became the name of the band because of a character from The Godfather movie known as Johnny Fontane. The D.C. part of their name stands for Dublin City. Their current album is called Skinty Fia which refers to the legend of the giant Irish Elk that used to roam Ireland before being hunted into extinction. The song, “Jackie Down the Line” was the first release from that album. In the song, Fontaines D.C. introduces us to an aspect of Irish history that describes Dublin as a monarchist city. Knowing how divided the Irish were with regards to their relationship with England and the Queen, “Jackie Down the Line” refers to those Irish monarchist fans and how they react to how Irish culture is viewed from other parts of the world. To be a “Jackie” or “Jackeen” is a derogatory term for someone of Irish descent who is also a lover of England and is prone to wave the Union Jack flag instead of Ireland’s own flag.. The video in the link above was shot in one take by one camera and is noteworthy for the Artsy-ness of its look.
***The lyrics video for this song can be found here.
This is Why by Paramore.
Paramore are another band with an interesting backstory. They were formed in 2004 and their lineup consisted of singer Hayley Williams, guitarists Josh Farro and Taylor York, bassist Jeremy Davis and drummer Zac Farro. When they released their debut album in 2005, it reached the Top Ten in many countries and, just like that, Paramore became a band dubbed as being the next big thing. In particular, singer Hayley Williams was made the face of the band and became an overnight sensation because of her chiseled facial features and strong singing voice. Over the course of their career, Paramore has won a Grammy Award and has achieved sales into the millions, including having their albums go a total of five times platinum.
But, as you can imagine, it isn’t easy being a female in the glare of the public spotlight. Hayley Williams has had her share of attention because of her looks but, she has courted more than her share of negative press because of something that many people would not feel was a dark mark and that is the fact that she characterizes herself as a Christian. How this came into play was when Paramore released their second album and, from it, one of their biggest hits called “Misery Business”….*(an acoustic version of which you can listen to here). There was a strong backlash to “Misery Business” from feminists who accused Williams of being accepting of misogyny. It got so bad that Paramore announced that they were dropping “Misery Business” from their setlists permanently. This brings us to their new album and single called, “This Is Why”.
“This Is Why” is a song that sounds like a 1970s funk song. It was written as a plaintive cry against the craziness of our world as we navigate through the pandemic, as climate change threatens our existence and as social media becomes more hostile and intrusive. The song basically says that if Williams never wants to leave her house again then, for all the afore-mentioned reasons, this is why. As the band heads back out on tour, music critics are applauding Williams for striking an assertive pose with this song. To back this up, the band is now unapologetically playing Misery Business again during their live shows. One thing is for sure, Hayley Williams can surely sing.
***The link to the lyrics version of this song can be found here.
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