Today’s Top 40: a Closer Look at the Stories Behind Today’s Top Songs…Song Position #2: The Last Goodbye by Odesza ft. Bettye Lavette.

The songs listed in this post were found using the Top 40 charts of the following music organizations: CHUM-FM, CFNY-FM, KEXP-FM, Billboard Magazine, Spotify and BBC Radio 1. All six songs listed below occupied position #2 on their respective music lists from this past week. So, let’s take a quick look at the first five songs and then, a bit of a longer look at the song in today’s spotlight: “The Last Goodbye” by Odesza ft. Bettye Lavette.

Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush (Spotify)

What is happening with this song is arguably the #1 story in music today. Kate Bush has been my favourite female singer since I first saw her video for the song “Wuthering Heights” back in my university days in the early 1980s. In her day, she produced songs that were very literate, artistic and she sang them with the most unique and amazing of voices. Kate Bush was always someone who believed strongly in the integrity of her artistic vision, and as such, unlike many other musicians, she guarded her work carefully. For example, her songs were never licensed for use in commercials nor were they ever used in movie soundtracks. So, it was with great excitement for many when it was announced that Bush had reached an agreement with the producers of the Netflix TV series “Stranger Things” to use her song “Running Up That Hill” in one of their episodes. Kate Bush has stated that she believes in the artistic vision of the show and is giving it her seal of approval by lending them her iconic song. The episode featuring her song aired recently, and suddenly a whole new generation of viewers listened to her words and heard that voice for the first time, and collectively demanded to know who she was. As a result, “Running Up That Hill” has gone back to the top of the charts after an absence of almost forty years!!! Those social media savvy teens are now combing through her back catalogue which means that there is a strong possibility that other Kate Bush songs are about to be resurrected, too. Just this past weekend on Twitter, Lynda Carter (the original Wonder Woman) tweeted: To all you kids who are just discovering Kate Bush and “Running Up That Hill” because of Stranger Things, just wait until you hear “Wuthering Heights”.

It appears that a Summer of Kate awaits us all. ***For those who may wish to read posts written previously about “Wuthering Heights” and “Running Up That Hill”, click here and here.

Wait For U by Future ft. Drake and Tems (Billboard Magazine)

Future has been enjoying a very successful start to his 2022 year. He is the silky smooth, jazzy rapper who has now had several songs from his latest album hit the charts. This song, “Wait For U”, was profiled a few weeks ago when we were looking at songs that were listed in Chart position #39. Now it is all the way up to #2. Drake lends his magic touch to this song, as does a singer called Tems. So, as was stated before, if you like your Hip Hop all sexy and smooth as honey, then “Wait For U” by Future ft. Drake and Tems is for you.

Message in a Bottle by Taylor Swift (CHUM-FM)

Taylor Swift’s latest chart entry is called “Message in a Bottle”. It is an original song written by her and is not a cover of the Police classic of the same name from way back in the 1970s. Dr. Swift, as she can now call herself since she received her Honourary Doctorate in Fine Arts from NYU, originally wrote “Message in a Bottle” back in 2014 on her album “Red”. However, because of a contract dispute with her former manager in which he won a court case against her for control of her music catalogue, Swift has been re-recording and re-releasing songs from her past, making slight alterations to them and dubbing them as “Taylor’s version”, which allows her to retain a new form of copyright control. So, “Message in a Bottle (Taylor’s version)” is simply the latest in an on-going series of re-releases of songs from her past. If you liked the album “Red” when it was first released eight years ago, then chances are you will like this slightly updated, dance-oriented version of the original song, too.

It’s Alright by Mother Mother (CFNY-FM)

Mother Mother are an Indie/Alternative Pop-Rock band from British Columbia. They are fronted by a brother and sister named Ryan and Molly Guldemond. They have seven albums to their credit now. Mother Mother have been rising slowly but surely through the ranks of successful bands from Canada and have become regulars on the festival circuit, having played at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and many other famous music festivals. The song “It’s Alright” was written in response to the gradual increase in the openness and willingness shown by society to discuss mental illness these days. The song uses a two-part play format in which Ryan sings of the feelings he is experiencing and the trouble they are causing him while Molly sings in reply about acceptance and empathy. All in all, a tiny perfect Pop nugget with a big, big heart.

Late Night Talking by Harry Styles (BBC Radio 1)

As profiled last week, Harry Styles is on top of the musical world. “Late Night Talking” is the latest song to come off of his new album, “Harry’s House”. It has been streamed via social media over twenty million times already! This peppy, dance-oriented tune is said to have been inspired by his new girlfriend, actress Olivia Wilde. If you are a fan of Harry Styles, then I am confident that you will be a fan of “Late Night Talking”, too.

The Last Goodbye by Odesza ft. Bettye Lavette (KEXP-FM)

Our featured song this week is an amazing collaboration between the Techno band, Odesza and one of the most respected Blues and Soul singers of the 1960s and 70s, Bettye Lavette. For the past decade, Odesza have been regarded as one of the top Electronic Dance Music acts anywhere in the world. Odesza are composed of two men, Harrison Mills (“The Catacomb KId”) and Clayton Knight (“Beaches Beaches”). They broke onto the music scene with a song called “Say My Name” ft. Zyra. Odesza are known for combining cutting edge DJ music production with excellent female-inspired vocal tracks. So, it was not that great a surprise when it was announced that they intended to sample the biggest hit of Bettye Lavette’s career, “Let Me Down Easy”, for a new mash-up called “The Last Goodbye”.

Bettye Lavette is someone who defines persistence and determination. Lavette was discovered when she was a teenager back in the 1960s and recorded several albums with Motown and with James Brown, but for one reason or another, Lavette never managed to rise to the top of the music scene like people like Aretha Franklin and Etta James managed to do. But, she never gave up. She kept touring and kept releasing albums, and then, when the world prepared to welcome Barack Obama as the first black President of the United States, success finally came to Bettye Lavette. She released an album of feminist classics called, “I Have My Own Hell To Raise” which included covers from such female stalwarts as Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann, Sinead O’ Connor, Lucinda Williams, Joan Armatrading and Dolly Parton. That album rose on the charts, and as a result, Lavette came to the attention of the Obamas, who invited her to sing at the presidential inauguration. With the world watching, Bettye Lavette stole the show and has not stopped since.

In the video for the song, “The Last Goodbye”, Odesza sample liberally from Lavette’s biggest pre-Obama hit, “Let Me Down Easy”, which was recorded when she was just nineteen years old. In the video, a teenage Lavette appears on screen, as Odesza plays live in front. The soulful power of Lavette’s young voice is amazing! It makes me wonder what might have been if her time in the spotlight had happened to her when she was a young adult instead of a senior citizen, which is who she is today. “The Last Goodbye” is a tremendous collaboration between one of the best singers of her generation and one of the best techno bands of this generation. It is pure magic. Enjoy.

The link to the official website for Odesza can be found here.

The link to the official website for Bettye Lavette can be found here.

***As always, reminder that all original content found in this post is the sole property of the author. No part of this post may be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2022 Tommacinneswriter.com

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #200: Bad Blood by Taylor Swift.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #200: Bad Blood by Taylor Swift.

300 songs down. 200 more to go! Thanks to all of you for accompanying me this far on this little musical journey of ours. Today we come to song #200. As always, every 25th song goes to one of my girls and today, we have a song that Sophie ranks as #5 on her personal Top Ten list….”Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift.

“Bad Blood” is a song that comes from an album called “1989”. When Sophie was just starting to make that transformation out of early childhood and into her pre-teen years, one of the things that she was given was a small cd-player. It had belonged to the family but, with the digitization of so many songs, we were using it less and less so, Sophie was given it and was allowed to keep it in her room for her own personal use. As you can imagine, having some semblance of control over how you live your life is an important first step toward adulthood. For Sophie, one of her first steps taken was through music and, specifically, through a little white cd player and some of her own cds; one of which was “1989” by Taylor Swift.

As she is for so many young girls, Taylor Swift became a bit of a role model for Sophie. In our home, we listened to “1989” in its’ entirety many times through the walls of Sophie’s bedroom. We all recognize the lyrics and musical structure of songs like “Welcome to New York”, “Blank Space”, “Style”, “Shake It Off” and “Wildest Dreams”. Included in that chart-topping album that helped cement Swift’s transition from Country star into a Pop Princess, was “Bad Blood”. “1989” which, btw, stands for the year Taylor Swift was born, has sold over ten million copies worldwide. It won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in the year it was released, 2014.

Specifically, “Bad Blood” was written about the disappointment Swift felt towards someone she once deemed to have been a close friend. In general, Taylor Swift has become known as someone who mines her personal life for inspiration when it comes to her songs. She is often praised for allowing herself to be so publicly vulnerable. While she has many break-up songs under her belt, “Bad Blood” was different because it was aimed at another female. Taylor Swift has never come forward and identified who the subject is on “Bad Blood” but many people suspect that it is fellow singing star, Katy Perry. For a while in the mid-2010s, Swift and Perry carried on a very public “feud” which resulted in both releasing songs that hint at ill-will directed toward the other. Supporters of Taylor Swift point to “Bad Blood” as being a sign that they, too, should feel unafraid to stand up for themselves when others let them down. I am not sure if Sophie likes “Bad Blood” for this reason or if she simply feels Swift is being bold and she likes to feel she would react with the same confidence given the circumstances.

When I asked Sophie why she liked the song, she simply replied that she likes how it sounds. Fair enough. I would like to hope that she can see through some of the manufactured emotions that accompany new releases sometimes. Studio romances. Bad breakups. Friendship betrayals. These are part of real-life, at times, and they are also part of how the music business plays its’ games, too. I am hopeful that Sophie is becoming a bit more of a critical consumer when it comes to her entertainment choices. But, having said that, I want her to enjoy how songs sound, too. Music is meant to be listened to and danced to and enjoyed. So, if “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift is simply a good sounding song in Sophie’s mind then, I am ok with that. Not that what I think about it matters because, as we all know, having the power to make your own choices in life is one of the best parts about growing up. And, as much as I have mixed emotions about it, Sophie is definitely growing up. She enjoys Taylor Swift songs and I hope that you do, too. So, without further delay, here is “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Taylor Swift, can be found here.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #225: Love Story by Taylor Swift.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #225: Love Story by Taylor Swift.

***Every 25th song in this countdown goes to one of my girls and so, today, we have Song #5 on Leah’s personal Top Ten list, “Love Story” by Taylor Swift.

Whenever it is time for a song chosen by Leah or Sophie, I always conduct a short interview with them about why they chose the song they did and what is so special about it to them. With “Love Story”, Leah had lots to say. As has been the case with many of the girl’s selections, Leah’s first reason for finding “Love Story” so memorable dates back to a shared memory of singing the song with friends.

In this case, we were very lucky to have the girls spend their pre-school years in the care of the world’s finest daycare lady, Jackie Currie. *(Jackie writes an award-winning blog called, “Happy Hooligans” about her daycare experiences, philosophies and much more). Anyway, many of our daughter’s first milestone moments happened while at Jackie’s. She was always very good to share the events of the day with us, in person or via email so, Keri and I started looking forward to pick-up time so we could see how our children had grown that day and what wonderful things they had been up to. One of those pick-up time conversations revealed that the girls had learned a new song that Jackie had played on CD or the radio. That song was “Love Story” by Taylor Swift. In Leah’s memory, she recalls singing the song with the other daycare children and how grown up they all felt to be singing a “real” song from the radio, as opposed to a “Kid’s” song based on nursery rhymes.

When Taylor Swift released “Love Story”, it was from her second album, “Fearless”. She was considered a Country singer at this stage of her career. But, ever the clever business woman, Taylor Swift already had a career path planned out in her head and, as such, she wasn’t about to release a series of Country songs and find herself pigeon-holed in a limited category known as Country. She wanted to broaden her appeal and specifically planned on crossing over genres and becoming more of a Pop star. So, although “Love Story” won awards as a Country Song, it was always intended to test the waters in the world of Pop and, consequently, it can be pointed to as the moment the Taylor Swift brand started growing into the international juggernaut it is today.

“Love Story” is based on a real event from Swift’s life. We all know of many teen romances that were frowned upon by parents, to which the teens involved responded with incredulity stating that the parents “just didn’t get it!”. Teen love is felt as real love and the emotions run very high when it all starts and again, in the reverse direction, when it all ends. Taylor Swift wrote about her teen romance as if it were Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. The one exception was that Swift gave her characters a happy ending, as opposed to Shakespeare’s suicide pact. Leah is a teen who hopes to find love one day and I am sure she wonders how Keri and I will react when the day comes that she brings that certain someone home for us to meet. So, in that regard, I think that Leah’s “teen female” reaction to Swift’s storytelling meshes well and, when extrapolated out across the teen girl universe, shows how well Swift’s narrative was able to connect with the lives and ambitions of girls around the world. Taylor Swift is nothing, if not, superbly clever when it comes to knowing her audience and how to connect with them.

And Leah, of course, being Leah, loves books and has studied the real “Romeo and Juliet” in school. She has strong opinions about the story, as well as, the modern movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes (She doesn’t like it)….although that movie is another movie that has an outstanding soundtrack! Anyway, I digress again. One of the additional appeals to this song for Leah is that it is a song that tells a story. Like her old man, Leah likes story-songs, too. “Love Story” by Taylor Swift contains a complete story arc that describes how she and her beau met, what the reaction was by her parents and, in the end, how it all turned out. As mentioned earlier, the fact that Swift gave her listeners a happy ending helps to make “Love Story” a lot easier for young girls to digest. One doesn’t become a Pop Princess by feeding her fans epic tragedy, does one?

When “Love Story” was first released, it won multiple awards and sold tens of millions of copies, making it one of the most successful singles of all-time, at the time. However, a funny thing happened to Taylor Swift on the way to fame and fortune. It was a business-related event that, initially, didn’t involve her but which, in the end, proved that Taylor Swift is nobody’s fool and is much tougher and more shrewd than most people thought. The event in question was that the company that owned the copyright on all of her early albums was sold to a man named Scooter Braun who, at one time, was Swift’s manager. A legal battle erupted as Swift sought to gain control over her music…..which included the song, “Love Story”. Swift fought hard but, eventually, lost her case. But, she is nothing, if not clever, as I have mentioned. So, instead of giving up the fight, she fought back by re-recording all of her early albums….changing one small thing here, another small thing there about each song thus, making them “new” versions, of which she owns the exclusive rights. Then, she went one step further and advised her fans that, from now on, she wanted them to only download/purchase versions of her early songs that contained the label, “Taylor’s version” thus, feezing her old manager out of the market, leaving him with a collection of songs that no one was going to buy anymore; effectively, making his collection worthless. So, Scooter Braun may have won the court battle but, it appears that Taylor Swift may end up winning the war. To have a female role model stand up to men in the industry and to not back down sends a terrific message forward toward all young women growing up. I know Leah well enough to know that Swift’s moxie resonates with her and that it endears “Love Story” to her all the more.

So, to all of you who, as teens, fell in love and felt tragically misunderstood by the adults in your life at the time, “Love Story” by Taylor Swift is for you. Thank you, Leah, for giving us another inspired song choice. Without further delay, here is one of today’s most successful and influential musical artists, Taylor Swift and the song that really brought her into the public eye, “Love Story”. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Love Story” by Taylor Swift, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Taylor Swift, can be found here.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #276: All Too Well by Taylor Swift.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #276: All Too Well by Taylor Swift.

We tend to live ordinary lives. If we are lucky, the occasional, extraordinary moment comes along; searing itself into our hearts and becoming a treasured memory that we carry with us forever and ever. One of the things that separates an ordinary memory from one that becomes part of the tapestry of our lives is the visceral nature of our remembrance. We wear the sweater of a deceased loved one because it has retained their scent. Sometimes, you hear a song that was playing the first time you held and kissed your beloved and, immediately, you are brought back to that romantic, life-altering moment when your two hearts became one. The memories that count tend to survive fully-formed and multi-dimensionally. They retain the essence of the actual event and, as such, are more valuable that Gold.

Obviously, our memories are not always happy ones. The emotive nature of those events that change are lives can cause us to carry pain and sadness in our hearts, as easily as we carry Joy and Love. Personal loss can be devastating and dis-orienting and, just like falling in love, the sensory nature of the down times remains every bit as vivid and sharp in recall. Perhaps no one in recent memory is as adept at capturing the fine details involved in loss as is singer, Taylor Swift.

As I type these words, Taylor Swift is the biggest selling and, arguably, the most influential female singer in music today. She has sold over 50 million albums worldwide and has YouTube views approaching almost one billion for her career, which has not yet reached the half-way point, I imagine. Her hit songs include, “Love Story”, “You Belong With Me”, “Mean”, “I Knew You Were Trouble”, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, “22”, “Bad Blood”, “Blank Slate”, “Welcome To New York”, “Stlye” and many more. Swift is a clever business women and has had much success marketing herself to her fans, of which there are legions. She has used her PR savvy, at times, for public causes. For example, in the past US Election, Swift urged her fans to get out and vote. Immediately after posting that letter on Instagram, voter registration in people aged 30 and under soared.

Taylor Swift started out as a Country singer and then, with regularity, has reinvented her persona and has become a Pop singer and now, she is wearing plaid shirts and singing Folk-inspired tunes on her latest album. But, what Taylor Swift is best known for is her penchant for writing break-up songs. Many of her best-known songs involve some sort of reaction from her to a relationship that she was involved in that ended up not working out. Of all of the songs of this nature that she has released, the one most critics and fans agree is her best is a song called, “All Too Well”.

This song was the result of a short-term relationship Swift had with actor Jake Gyllenhaal. What helps to separate this song from the ranks of her other break-up songs is the degree of wistfulness and intimate detail she includes in the song. Like all special memories, Swift has infused “All Too Well” with glimpses of small moments such as looking at childhood photos as a way to get to know someone better, dancing to the glow coming from a refrigerator light and, most famously, the fact that Mr. Gyllenhaal, apparently, kept a scarf of hers as a memento of the relationship because it had traces of her perfume on it. Since the release of “All Too Well” in 2014, that missing scarf has become an iconic symbol for her fans and is often seen as part of the ensembles that diehard fans wear to her concerts.

Whether or not you are buying everything Taylor Swift is selling, the fact remains that our most important memories tend to come complete with scents and sounds and textures attached to them. “All Too Well” is a song that captures this aspect of our lives better than most songs out there and, as such, has been hailed as one of the best songs, if not, the best song, by one of the most popular singers alive today. Taylor Swift may be the “Queen of the Break-up Song” but, if I were to make a wish for her that I sincerely hoped would come true in the near future, it would be that she trades in her heartbreak pen and replaces it with one filled with lyrics about finding her true love. When that day comes, I imagine she will write entire operas in response. And when that happens, I will happily listen to her words and remember how I felt when my wife, Keri and I were having all of our “first this and first that” moments that formed the foundation of our love-filled life that we so enjoy. Memories come in all forms but, the best ones smell good and feel nice and warm and, when all is said and done, are better than treasure.

Here is “All Too Well” by Taylor Swift from her “Red” album. This video is from when she debuted the song at The Grammy Awards. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “All Too Well” by Taylor Swift, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Taylor Swift, can be found here.

***PS: Since the creation of this post, Taylor Swift has come out with a re-worked version of this song and the story that it tells. The new, longer version of the official video for “All Too Well” can be found here.