Today’s/Tomorrow’s Top 40: January 26, 2023…Miley Cyrus, Zach Bryan, Teisto, Tate McRae, Fall Out Boy, Banners, City and Colour

Welcome back to another edition of Today’s/Tomorrow’s Top 40. In this post we’ll start by taking a closer look at three songs that are currently on the Top 40 charts of the world and then three other songs which come from albums that have just been released this week. So get ready to enjoy the best of the present and possibly the best that the future has to offer in terms of great music. Here we go!!!

Flowers by Miley Cyrus

For those of us of a certain vintage, we have known about Miley Cyrus for almost the entirety of her life. She first came into the public eye as the cute young daughter of Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus. From there, the two of them parlayed his musical fame into starring roles in the children’s TV show Hannah Montana. But as Miley grew older, she did so with a clear goal in mind and that was to be a music star in her own right. She has certainly achieved that goal with her chart topping classic hit, “Wrecking Ball”, along with several others that have all cracked the Top 40 in past years. To date, she has sold over 40 million albums and has been streamed/viewed online over 100 million times! Like many child stars, the transition to adulthood has been marked with controversial moments but through it all, Miley Cyrus has always leaned on her love of music to steady herself. She is well-respected by her peers and has wowed many audiences with her rich, deep voice and emotive, heartfelt singing style. If anyone can be counted on to pull off bluesy rock songs in the style of Janis Joplin, it is Miley Cyrus.

Miley Cyrus as seen in her “Flowers” video.

This takes us to today’s song. Miley Cyrus had been married to actor Liam Hemsworth. The story goes that at their wedding reception, Hemsworth dedicated the song “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars to his bride. Well, as often happens to young couples in the spotlight, they broke up a while ago. Like many before her, Miley has channeled her sadness and disappointment into song lyrics. These lyrics form the body of today’s #1 song on the charts, “Flowers”. I would love to say that “Flowers” is a highly original and thoughtful song but, unfortunately, it really isn’t. Instead it mines the usual territory in which an ex-lover is dissed and then the spurned lover talks about how she will survive because of how empowered she feels and how desirable she remains in the eyes of others. According to sources, “Flowers” is supposed to be a line for line rebuttal to the Bruno Mars song that had been dedicated to her by Hemsworth. Furthermore, “Flowers” was released as a single on Liam Hemsworth’s birthday. If you wish to listen to the #1 song in North America and watch a video of Miley Cyrus giving off a “look at what you’re missing, boy” vibe then by all means click here. ***The lyrics video is here.

Something In The Orange by Zach Bryan

From Navy SEAL to Country superstar…here is Zach Bryan.

Zach Bryan is a Country singer. But before he sang for a living, Bryan was an enlisted serviceman in the U.S. Navy. Zach Bryan got into music as a way to pass the time while at sea. Because of the way technology works today, Bryan was able to write songs and upload YouTube videos of himself singing while sailing in the middle of the ocean. Eventually, the story of a handsome Navy Seal singing love songs at sea caught the attention of the public, and his music videos began going viral, as they say. After eight years of service, Bryan was honourably discharged so that he could pursue a career in music. He was immediately signed to a record contract and has released three albums since. Today’s song, “Something in the Orange”, is a song about heartbreak. It is racing up the charts and should be firmly inside the Top Ten in a matter of a few weeks. For now, you can listen to one of the hottest Country songs around by clicking here. ***The lyrics version can be found here.

10:35 by Tiesto featuring Tate McRae

Tiesto and Tate McRae at Atlantis the Royal in Dubai.

Tiesto is a Dutch DJ who is quite famous in the world of electronic dance music. Tate McRae is a Canadian singer, dancer and actress who first came into the public eye by becoming the first Canadian finalist on the show So You Think You Can Dance, which she managed to achieve at age 13!!! McRae has used social media outlets such as Tik Tok to promote her music and has enjoyed much success online with songs such as “One Day” and “You Broke Me First”. Tiesto and Tate McRae were brought together by big-monied interests from Dubai to create a song that would be used to promote a new resort opening there called Atlantis The Royal. The video for this song was filmed exclusively at the new resort. The song is about meeting someone special and having a wonderful time together. The title, “10:35”, refers to the moment when the two lovers first meet and come to realize that a magical night lay ahead.

There are plenty of songs that possess a great bass line and a killer groove that touch your heart and soul. There are others, such as “10:35”, that are all about the bottom line and make me think about booking a vacation. Whatever! “10:35” is still a peppy little song and should prove to be a popular tune on the dancefloors of clubs all around the world. You can get your own groove on by clicking on the song link here. ***The lyrics version is here.

Love FromThe Other Side by Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy. Pete Wentz is on the far left.

The career story of Fall Out Boy is a cautionary tale for all bands. Fall Out Boy was never really meant to be a serious band. It began as a side project for singer Pete Wentz and served as something for him to do while he figured out what he really wanted to do in the world of music. Originally more of a hardcore performer in the Chicago area, Wentz grew tired of the hardcore scene there and so began Fall Out Boy as a way to try out a more commercial, rock-alternative vibe for a while. Fall Out Boy’s first album turned out to be very well received (which was unexpected), and then, a second album yielded the mighty hit “Dance Dance”, which went on to become one of the biggest selling songs in the 2010s. Suddenly, Fall Out Boy were being asked to appear on national late night talk shows, to headline festivals and much, much more. It all proved to be too much too soon for Wentz, who attempted suicide at one point, as well as engaged in many attention-seeking social media moments including a constantly-in-the-spotlight relationship with fellow singer Ashlee Simpson. As a band, Fall Out Boy went on a period of hiatus that many felt would end up becoming permanent, but lo and behold, the boys in the band have hung tough and have released several more albums recently. From their latest album, So Much (for) Stardust, comes the new single, “Love From The Other Side”. You can listen to this new release here. ***The lyrics version is here.

In Your Universe by Banners

Michael Nelson aka Banners.

When I was about to start my final year of teaching, I started things off by dedicating a song to all teachers called “Someone To You”. This song is about the feeling of satisfaction you get when you allow yourself to become special in someone else’s eyes. This happens all of the time when you are a teacher who works with small children. I could wallpaper an entire room in my home using all of the pictures that I have received from students over the years that showed the two of us holding hands in the sunshine or under a rainbow or some other cheery scene. Being able to be that special person for someone else was always the best part of being a classroom teacher. So, when I needed a theme song for my final year, I turned to Scottish born singer Michael Nelson, who goes by the stage name Banners. I discovered Banners in 2015 when I heard his debut EP which contained four songs that were all excellent: “Ghosts”, “Shine a Light”, “Start a Riot” and “Someone To You”. I have followed his career ever since and have always been delighted with everything he releases. His latest album just dropped this week. It is called I Wish I Was Flawless, I’m Not. The first single is “In Your Universe”. You can listen to it here. ***The lyrics version is here.

Underground by City and Colour

Dallas Green, the World Series winning baseball manager.

City and Colour is the stage name of Canadian singer Dallas Green. *(Ya see, his first name is a city and his last name is a colour; thus, he calls himself City and Colour). He was named after baseball manager Dallas Green who was managing the Philadelphia Phillies the last time they won the World Series. Green’s father had placed a bet on the Phillies and because they ended up winning, he considered “Dallas Green” to be a lucky-charm-style name for his newborn son. Regardless of what his name is or how it came to be, Dallas Green is one of Canada’s most prolific and creative singers these days.

Dallas Green the singer.

Green began his career with a hardcore rock band called Alexisonfire. In this band, Green had many hit songs and wound up being nominated for several Juno Awards. But Dallas Green had bigger ambitions than simply playing his music as loudly as possible. About five years after Alexisonfire began (and was still thriving), Green started a side project called City and Colour. This iteration of himself as a performer was much softer, emotive and introspective. He often performed by himself with only guitar and a haunted voice to act on his behalf. To broaden his reach, Green teamed up with several other music stars in duets, such as with Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, to sing one of my all-time favourite songs, “Sleeping Sickness”, as well as with P!nk in another excellent duet of a song called “What Makes A Man”. You can listen to both performances here and here.

Dallas Green tours as City and Colour and continues to play in Alexisonfire as well. This past week, in his City and Colour guise, he released a new album called The Love Still Held Me Near. The first single is called “Underground”. You can listen to it here. ***The lyrics version can be found here.

That’s it for this week. If you have any comments on the songs featured today please feel free to drop them in the comment box below and I will get back to you as soon as I can. If there are other new and noteworthy songs that you feel should be placed in the spotlight, feel free to bring those songs up, too. In the meantime, thanks for reading my words and being part of my world. I appreciate you being here. Bye for now. Have a wonderful week!

***As always, all original content contained in this blog post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2023

Keepin’ It Classy: Composition #2/50: Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 by Samuel Barber

Today’s composition is one of the most famous American classical compositions of all-time: Samuel Barber’s Adagio For Strings, Opus 11. We know that the word Opus means that this was Barber’s eleventh published composition, but today we are also going to discuss the meaning of the word Adagio. Adagio is a musical term that instructs orchestras on which tempo (or speed) to use when playing the song. Specifically, Adagio means to play slowly. If you look at the sheet music above, you will note the term, Molto adagio at the top, left hand corner. This means Very Slowly. So, even before looking at what notes to play, an orchestra member would note the instruction given by the composer regarding the tempo they had in mind and formulate an appropriate playing style in their minds before ever beginning to play. The term Allegro is the counter-balance to Adagio, as it means to play quickly, with energy and joy. Consequently, before we start to discuss the nature of this famous composition, you can tell from its title that Adagio for Strings, Opus 11 was Samuel Barber’s eleventh composition, that it was written for stringed instruments and that it will be a piece of music that is played slowly because of the use of the term, Adagio.

Samuel Barber was one of America’s most famous and prolific composers from his early days during the Great Depression, all the way to his death in the early 1980s. He was born into a musical family. His mother was a concert pianist and his aunt was an opera singer. Barber showed prodigy-like talent from an early age and was writing his own sonatas before the age of ten. Such was Barber’s talent that he was enrolled in a special school for musically gifted children called The Curtis School in Philadelphia. While just entering his teens, Barber graduated with a triple-major in Voice, Piano and String music. While still a young man in his early twenties, Barber began writing operas. While doing so, he fell in love with a tenor named Gian Carlo Menotti and began a love affair that spanned over a half century. In addition to being a gifted composer, Barber was just as well known for being an educator and has been often cited by modern American composers as a role model and mentor for those lucky enough to have worked under his guidance. Samuel Barber won the Pulitzer Prize for Music twice, but his best known work is Adagio For Strings, Opus 11.

Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 was written for a string quartet in 1939. America was just regaining its moxy after having suffered through The Great Depression. However, the mood in the U.S.and around the world was somber, as World War II was just about to start in Europe. Barber’s composition is certainly one that captured the forlorn nature of the times. Adagio for Strings, Opus 11 has been voted as being the saddest song in the world. It possesses beauty and elegance, but does so in a way that often elicits an emotional response from listeners in the form of sadness. Not surprisingly, Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 has become one of the most requested funeral songs and has been played at the funerals of prominent people such as Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Albert Einstein. It was also played in England to close out the famous BBC Proms series of concerts just after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York City. Adagio for Strings, Opus 11 was first played on NBC Radio during a performance of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra as conducted by famed conductor, Arturo Toscanini. It was also the very first musical composition played when the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts first opened in the 1960s. This musical composition has been used to create a reflective, emotional mood in movies, too. Most famously, Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 was played while Willem Dafoe’s character was killed in the Vietnam war movie, Platoon. *(I will include that scene in the links below).

It is easy to label Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 as “sad music” and then leave it at that. But, to do so is to miss the genius of this composition. A funny and unexpected thing has happened to Adagio for Strings, Opus 11 as our calendars flipped from 1999 to the 2000s. One of the greatest trends in modern music in the past twenty years has been the coming together of classical music and electronic dance music. Orchestras the world over are now giving concerts that take the best of the classical music genre and combine it with the latest EDM technology and, as such, new life is being breathed into centuries old music which, in turn, is causing the original pieces to be re-interpreted. In 2004, a Dutch DJ named Tiesto took Barber’s “sad song” and pumped it up with techno beats and in doing so, helped to create a song that now fills listeners with euphoria. Even though Tiesto’s version of Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 is populated with synthesized thumping beats, the inner strength of Barber’s score is immediately recognizable. But, more importantly, what Tiesto managed to accomplish was to show the world that Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 is not an inherently sad song…it is an inherently emotional song, and that this emotion can be used for happiness and optimism, just as easily as it had been known for sadness and feelings of loss in the past.

So, in the videos below, I will show you a performance of this composition by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. I will add a second video that shows how Barber’s version of Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 was used in the movie, Platoon. Finally, we will change the feel of this music completely while viewing the joyfulness of Tiesto’s version as played at the mecca of electronic dance music festivals, Tomorrowland.

So, without further delay, here is Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 by Samuel Barber. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the composition Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 by Samuel Barber can be found here.

The link to the video for the composition Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 as seen in the movie Platoon can be found here.

The link to the video for the composition Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 as performed by DJ Tiesto can be found here.

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