Today’s/Tomorrow’s Top 40: The Grants by Lana Del Rey

NOTE: As someone who is rapidly approaching his sixties, I find myself torn as to how I feel about the music that is being released today. The easy answer to that question is that I don’t really like much of it. I look at the music charts and struggle to know more than just a handful of the artists listed. Do most artists even use real names anymore? Is every song a collab.? I find it easy to be dismissive of today’s music. Conversely, I find it easy to take comfort in the music of my own life. I became musically literate in the 1980s. My library of songs leans heavily on the quarter century from 1975-2000. I enjoyed listening to that music back then and still do so today. Because of the way online algorithms work, I continue to be fed a fairly constant diet of those songs I listened to as I grew into adulthood. But the year 2000 was almost a quarter century ago itself. I find it hard to believe that music stopped being interesting after Y2K. The truth is that there still is interesting and relevant music being made today. I just have to force myself to dig a little deeper and look a little harder…beyond the industry-provided song charts, beyond the viral trending flavours of the month who come and go and finally, beyond the pre-packaged buzz that tends to stand in place of actual accomplishments today.

In writing about music and the people who make it, I have become more attuned to how music is created and shared these days and how different a marketplace it is compared to the 1970s and 80s. I am fascinated by the creative way technology is used to make music. I am still learning when it comes to how artists use social media to create a demand for their music and how they use technology to connect with their audience and distribute their tunes directly to their customers. These are amazing times in many ways. And beneath the surface of how the worlds of music and e-commerce have melded, there remain good musicians, singers and songwriters who are producing music worthy of my attention. It is music I think is worthy of your attention, too. Thus, for the past year and a bit, I have been setting aside one day per week to highlight new music for you. I have decided to do this because I think it is important for those of us who are maturing to stay somewhat connected to the world in which we actually live. The problem I am having with it all is that the Today’s/Tomorrow’s Top 40 series of posts that I publish is easily the series that has the lowest reader response. While I can’t read your minds, I do feel somewhat safe in assuming that when each new issue comes out you react the same way I do when it comes to today’s music and that is, you are generally dismissive of it. Well, I put a lot of work into bringing the stories behind six new songs to you each week, but that hard work seems not to be paying off. So, this week I am going to try a new approach. This week, I am going to profile a modern day artist of note that I think you should know more about. One artist. One new song. One profile. Let’s see how this goes. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter in the comment box below.

Elizabeth Grant aka Lana Del Rey

Today I wish to introduce you to a singer/songwriter who goes by the name Lana Del Rey. She is legally known as Elizabeth Grant but has always used a stage name since she decided to give live performing a serious try. Lana Del Rey is easily one of the more interesting artists around these days. As a society/industry, we love to put labels on artists/bands and then expect them to always “stay in their lane”. Well, Lana Del Rey is certainly someone who defies easy categorization. She has been dismissed as being anti-feminist, yet she has doggedly pursued her own unique artistic vision for well over a decade now. Del Rey used modern social media means to launch her career (promoting her music via YouTube long before having a record deal), yet much of her music and her visual style harken back to the 1950s. She is somewhat like Amy Winehouse in that regard. Lana Del Rey has a degree in philosophy and often writes songs that are highly literate and cinematic in effect, which makes her work not always the easiest to market in a world shaped by soundbites. And yet, Lana Del Rey has sold well over 32 million albums worldwide so far in her young career without having a #1 hit to her name. Finally, for me, Lana Del Rey occupies a unique space on my playlists because she is one of the very few artists whose in-studio work I prefer over her live performances. She seems so much more in her element when she is able to shape and craft her music exactly as she wants it to be, which is not always the case when one is singing live. I believe that she is an auteur…a throwback to a more glamorous time when Frank Sinatra ruled the airwaves and Lana Turner ruled the silver screen.

Over the course of her career, Lana Del Rey has released nine albums. She has earned multiple Grammy Award nominations and has won several Brit Awards, including the Ivor Novello Award for her songwriting. While her songs may not be as familiar as those released by the likes of Taylor Swift or Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey connects with her audience by different means and measures her success accordingly. Her YouTube account has been viewed over four billion times! Wow! Her most popular songs among her fanbase include songs such as “Video Games”, “Born To Die”, “Summertime Sadness” and “Young and Beautiful” (which was from the soundtrack to the film The Great Gatsby). She has a new album coming out in June called Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd. She has pre-released several songs from this album, one of which is called “The Grants”. If you recall, her legal surname is Grant. This song is a beautiful ballad about the love she feels for her family. Being a published poet, her feelings are expressed extremely well. The piano accompaniment is perfect and helps to elevate “The Grants” into something very special. I hope that you will give it a listen.

So, that’s it. That concludes this week’s edition of Today’s/Tomorrow’s Top 40. I encourage you all to check out Lana Del Rey via the links to her hit songs that I have included within the body of this post, as well as the link to “The Grants” that can be found below. Lana Del Rey is a smart person with a very creative and artistic bent to her personality. Her website and YouTube channel are both well worth checking out should you wish to know more about her. Next week, I shall profile another modern artist/band and we will see how that goes, too. Hopefully you, like me, will develop an appreciation for these modern-day artists and the good music they are managing to create. The good times didn’t cease when Prince sang goodbye to 1999. They can be found today, too. You just have to know where to look. Hopefully, my searchlight can help to light the way for you. Until we meet again…take care. Bye for now.

The link to the video for the song “The Grants” by Lana Del Rey can be found here. ***The lyrics video is the only video available at the moment so click with confidence on the link above and you will be able to read Lana Del Rey’s excellent lyrics as you listen.

The link to the official website for Lana Del Rey can be found here.

The link to the video of her song “Young and Beautiful” being sung by the folks at Choir! Choir! Choir! can be found here. ***For what it is worth, this is one of my favourite Choir! Choir! Choir! renditions.

***As always, all original content contained within this 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

Today’s/Tomorrow’s Top 40: March 1, 2023…Feist, Beck, Hayden, Murray A. Lightburn, Eamon McGrath, Screaming Females

In today’s post we have six brand new tunes for your reading and listening pleasure! It has been a while since so much good new music has been released all at the same time so I am excited to get started. Without any further delay, let’s jump right in with a gorgeous new song from one of the most beautiful and distinctive voices in all of Canada! Enjoy the show, folks!

In Lightning by Leslie Feist

Leslie Feist

From winning a Battle of the Bands and getting to appear on a bill with The Ramones, to being a member of Canadian indie supergroup Broken Social Scene, to releasing Juno award-winning albums as a solo artist, Leslie Feist has nearly done it all as a singer and songwriter in Canada. The singer, who is known simply as Feist, is releasing a new album this month called Multitudes. From that album, she has released three singles already, including the song I am highlighting today called “In Lightning”. Kate Bush and Bjork are two of my favourite singers. I hold Feist in the same lofty company as them in terms of the timbre of her voice and the artsy nature of her lyrics and singing style. If this is your first time hearing Feist sing, then you are in for a treat. She is one of Canada’s most highly respected singers for a reason. The video for “In Lightning” can be found here. ***There is no lyrics video for this song yet.

Thinking About You by Beck

Beck arriving for a performance on The Jimmy Kimmel Show

Beck has been one of the most innovative and creative singers in the world of music for several decades now. He burst into the public eye back in the 1990s when he helped popularize the art of sampling on his album Odelay. He won several Grammy Awards for that album and has never looked back. Beck has definitely had a career that has been more about the craft of creating interesting songs, rather than being about celebrity and having the noisiest voice. He has been a private person, shunning the spotlight for the most part. Thus, his new song, “Thinking About You”, is startling in many respects because it is deeply personal. For a man who has purposely avoided the limelight, this new song speaks clearly about his thoughts on religion as well as on the demise of his marriage. For a quiet piece of music, Beck has never been more forthcoming and forward. The video for “Thinking About You” can be found here. The lyrics version is here.

Miss Fort Erie by Hayden

Hayden Desser

Hayden Desser is one of Canada’s hidden gems. In the world of indie and alternative music, Hayden has established himself as a songwriter of note. In the larger world of popular music, he has very much spent his entire career somewhat under the radar. The truth is that those who call themselves fans recognize the artistry inherent in his songwriting, causing him to have some of the most devoted supporters of any Canadian artist. “Miss Fort Erie” is only Hayden’s second new song since 2015! In the time since then, he stepped back from his career to focus on helping to raise a family with his wife. This new song is really an old song that Hayden wrote several years ago and is only bringing out now. The video for this song was filmed in a hotel in Newfoundland. In the video, a television set is turned on and plays in the background. On the screen is a montage of every music video Hayden has ever made. For fans of the singer, it is like watching a “greatest hits” retrospective of his career. Like most Hayden songs, “Miss Fort Erie” is a very literate, artful and intelligently written song. There is a definite story being told for those who take the time to listen. The video for the song “Miss Fort Erie” can be found here. The lyrics version is here.

Dumpster Gold by Murray A. Lightburn

Murray A. Lightburn

Many people know Murray A. Lightburn as the lead singer and principal songwriter of the Montreal-based band, The Dears. In that role, Lightburn has earned comparisons to the legendary frontman, Morrissey. The Dears, in turn, have been favourably compared to such innovative bands as Radiohead. Heady praise, indeed, on both accounts. But Murray A. Lightburn has also released several solo albums and is making a name for himself in the international world of music, too. Lightburn’s latest album is entitled Once Upon a Time in Montreal. The first single from that album is called “Dumpster Gold”. The story behind “Dumpster Gold” is a very personal one. Lightburn’s father was a jazz musician, but the two were never close as father and son. However, his father loved his mother. They were married for over fifty years. In his later years, Lightburn’s father developed Alzheimer’s Disease and it became apparent that he could no longer safely live in the home in which Murray Lightburn grew up. So, Lightburn’s mother put the house up for sale. As part of the process of moving, Lightburn was asked to help clear most of the family’s possessions out of the house. It was during this purging process that Lightburn was able to see a side of his father that he was never afforded the luxury of having when his Dad was healthy and present. The letters, photographs and other mementos he found had enormous personal value to him, even though most other people would have considered them to be nothing but junk. Thus, these bits of “Dumpster Gold” became the connective tissue that brought Lightburn closer to his father. The video for “Dumpster Gold” can be found here. ***There is no lyrics video for this song yet.

Teenager by Eamon McGrath

Eamon McGrath

Eamon McGrath is a Canadian singer/songwriter who alternates between performing quiet acoustic sets on his own, and employing an upbeat, alternative-punk vibe when he is playing with a band such as the folks from influential 1980/90s indie band, Eric’s Trip. McGrath has released almost twenty albums of original music between the year 2008 and now. He has also written several books about life on the road as a musician. In addition to his solo career, McGrath has been involved with several collaborations including ones with singer Julie Dorion from Eric’s Trip and currently The Wrong Guys, as well as with drummer Danny Miles of the band July Talk. Eamon McGrath tours extensively across Canada, appearing at festivals and taverns near you in all likelihood. His latest album is entitled Trout River Conspiracy. The first single is “Teenager”. The video for “Teenager” can be found here. ***There is no lyrics video for this song yet.

Brass Bell by Screaming Females

Screaming Females: Mike Abbate, Marissa Paternoster, Jarrett Dougherty

Screaming Females is a trio out of New Brunswick, New Jersey that employs only one female, but what a performer she is! Marissa Paternoster is lead singer and guitarist for the band that she formed in high school with her friend, bassist Mike Abbate. (Jarrett Dougherty is the drummer and helped complete the band). Paternoster was a shy and introverted person as a teenager and only felt confident in public when she was able to stand behind a microphone and play a guitar. Screaming Females based themselves on the style of Sleater-Kinney. They gained a reputation for giving blistering shows by way of starting their career only playing small venues such as the basements of friends, small bars and so on. As time went on, Paternoster gained much confidence on stage, to the point where, in a recent ranking of the top 100 guitarists in the entire world, she came in at position #77! She is a tiny physical presence who can shred with the giants! I first saw her on video performing with Shirley Manson of the band, Garbage. They performed an excellent cover of Springsteen’s “Because the Night”. Manson is an excellent performer in her own right, but in this video (which you can watch here) she wisely stepped back and yielded the stage to Paternoster, who absolutely killed it in the spotlight. Screaming Females’ latest album is called Desire Pathway. The lead single is “Brass Bell”. Buckle up! The video for “Brass Bell” can be found here. ***There is no lyrics video available yet for this song.

That’s it for today’s new music offerings. What did you think? Did any impress you? Are there other new songs that you think are worthy of the spotlight? If so, let me know in the comments below and I will give them an airing in a subsequent post. Thanks for reading my words. I hope you enjoyed these new songs as much as I did. Have a great rest of your day!

***FYI: the link on the band name takes you to their website. The link to their new song will be within the body of the paragraph devoted to them.

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

Today’s/Tomorrow’s Top 40: 2023 Grammy Edition…Lizzo, Harry Styles, Beyonce, Brandi Carlile, Wet Leg, Bad Bunny, Willie Nelson and Encanto!

The 2023 Grammy Awards took place last night in Los Angeles. If you watched any of the show I hope that you did so armed with the vast knowledge you have accrued from a year of good reading on this very blog about many of the stars who were making news in the world of music this past year. If not then today’s post will bring you up to speed. So let’s take a quick run through some of the top award winners from last night’s show. You can read all about them in the links below.

Record of the Year: “About Damn Time” by Lizzo.

Winning the Grammy for Record of the Year caps off a memorable year for Lizzo. Not only did she have some of the biggest hits if the year but she also launched an online dance craze, as well as courting controversy in some quarters by playing an historically important glass flute at The Library of Congress. Lizzo is the real deal and then some. To read all about her accomplishments, click here.

Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album: Harry’s House by Harry Styles.

Harry Styles had a tremendously successful year last year. I wrote about him several times because of his hits “As It Was” and “Night Talking”. You can read all about Mr. Styles here and here.

Best Dance/Electronic Recording, Best Traditional R&B Performance, Best R&B Song: Renaissance by Beyonce.

Beyonce had herself quite a night at the Grammy Awards and quite a year again overall. You can read all about her award-winning album, Renaissance here. You can also read about her past successes in the Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History here and here.

Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Americana Album: Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile.

Brandi Carlile was one of the most deserving winners last night. She has been an under-the-radar superstar in the world of music for quite some time now. Last night’s Grammy wins should elevate her firmly into the public spotlight. Carlile does a lot of good work beyond the walls of her studio. You can read all about this accomplished singer here.

Best Alternative Music Performance, Best Alternative Music Album: “Chaise Longue” by Wet Leg.

Wet Leg are a new duo who burst on to the music scene in a big way in 2022. Read all about who they are and why they were successful here.

Best Country Solo Performance, Best Country Album: A Beautiful Time by Willie Nelson.

What a night for a young man who has been winning awards longer than I have been alive! I never wrote about Willie Nelson for Today’s/Tomorrow’s Top 40 last year but I did write about him twice for The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History. So, if you wish to go back down Memory Lane and read those posts, click here and here and enjoy!

Best Musica Urbana Album: Un Verano Sin Ti by Bad Bunny.

He opened last night’s show with as energetic an opening as there has been in quite some time. If you watched that and found yourself wondering who the heck Bad Bunny was then wonder no more. Bad Bunny was the most streamed artists in the entire world for the third year in a row last year. He is the face of music in this digital, international age. You can read more about him here.

Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media: Encanto by Various Artists.

When I first started writing for the Today’s/Tomorrow’s Top 40 series almost a full year ago, the Encanto soundtrack was featured in Edition #1. Encanto is a fabulous movie that celebrates Colombian music in the most delightful and colourful manner. If you have never watched the movie then grab yourself some popcorn and settle in. It is fully deserving of all of the accolades that have come its way, including last night’s Grammy win for Best Soundtrack. You can read all about it here.

For a full list of all of the “Winners” and Nominees from the 2023 Grammy Awards, you can visit the official website of the Grammys by clicking here. Congratulations to everyone on this list. Thank you all for a year of terrific music in 2022.

***As always, all original content contained within 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