Today’s Top 40: Glastonbury Edition…the Stories Behind the Most Memorable Performances from the 2022 Glastonbury Music Festival.

NOTE: In this edition of Today’s Top 40, I am abandoning my usual format of showcasing the top songs on various music charts. Instead I am going to focus on the recent Glastonbury Music Festival. There are several major music festivals that typically take place around the world over the course of the summer, with Glastonbury being one of the biggest and most important of them all. This year’s edition of Glastonbury was the first live, in-person gathering since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. I think that everyone was happy to be there, and the festival did not disappoint. Unfortunately, the politics of Roe v. Wade being overturned in the United States cast a pall over the proceedings. Many of the performers and audience members had opinions on the matter and were not afraid to state those aloud. This politically-charged atmosphere produced some unforgettable moments, many of which you will read about below. For now, for what it is worth, know that I completely and unreservedly support a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. My social media platform is not that large but I will use it to champion this cause. To start, I present some of the best and most memorable performances from female acts at this past Glastonbury Music Festival. This is, in no way, tokenism. All performers were outstanding and worthy of the spotlight. So, without further delay, here are the festival highlights from Glastonbury 2022.

Stoned at the Nail Salon by Lorde (featuring Arlo Parks and Clairo)

Arlo Parks, Lorde and Clairo sing “Stoned at the Nail Salon” at Glastonbury.

Don’t let the title fool you. This is such a lovely and intelligent song. The live performance is absolutely stunning. “Stoned at the Nail Salon” appeared on Lorde’s latest album from 2021 called Solar Power. It is a delicately-constructed song that is almost sung a cappella, with only a subtle acoustic guitar accompaniment in the background. The song is a rumination on the life path of young women in today’s world and the choices one gets to make or not, according to society’s norms. In particular, it is a song about how gender defines a woman’s journey. Specifically, as a male, I was always encouraged to follow my dreams and ambitions and taught that how successful my life ended up being viewed by others depended upon my job and income, the size of my car and house, the beauty of my wife and so on. That this sort of valuation is nonsense doesn’t matter. It is how society’s game is played. For many women, they can be encouraged to follow their dreams and ambitions, too, but woven into that journey is the expectation of having children…a family, and of living a life in which domesticity plays a part. In “Stoned at the Nail Salon”, Lorde writes about having a good home, a loving partner and a dog who comes when she calls, and yet she wonders if she is missing anything in life because of how the path she is on was chosen for her in a lot of ways by societal expectations for women. What really makes this performance special is that Lorde unselfishly shares the stage with two other female singers…Arlo Parks and Clairo. Both of these young ladies are in their twenties like Lorde, but they have had very different life experiences up until now. However, when they sing, the most glorious harmonies occur. It is easily the best live singing performance I have seen in a long, long time. From the very first notes of this song, the audience and the three singers all realize that something magical is happening. It is wonderful to bear witness to. That three talented young women of differing backgrounds could sing together and speak as one is especially poignant given all that happened this week in America.

***Note: the link to the live performance can be found in the song title that begins this section of the post. However, starting today, I am going to include a “lyric” version of each song for any reader who is experiencing difficulty understanding the words of the songs I am highlighting. So, the link to the lyric version of “Stoned at the Nail Salon” can be found here.

Both Arlo Parks and Clairo have good careers of their own. In order to give each woman her due, I am including a link to their websites and a link to a song video of theirs as well.

So, for Arlo Parks, who is a poet and folk-pop singer, the link to her website can be found here. The link to the official music video for her beautiful song “Hope” can be found here. The lyric version of “Hope” by Arlo Parks can be found here.

For Clairo, who has been producing alternative folk-pop for many years now, the link to her website can be found here. The link to her live performance of “Bags” can be found here. The lyrics version can be viewed here.

I Know the End by Phoebe Bridgers (featuring Arlo Parks)

Phoebe Bridgers and Arlo Parks sing “I Know the End” at Glastonbury.

Phoebe Bridgers is a singer who has already achieved much success in the US with several Top 40 hits such as “Motion Sickness”, “Kyoto” and “Sidelines”. Bridgers released her debut album in 2017 and won several awards for it including “Best New Artist”. Bridgers is known for alternative and folk-rock music and models herself after the legendary singer/songwriter Elliott Smith *(you can read about Smith and Bridgers in this post about Smith’s hit “Miss Misery” here). The song “I Know the End” comes from her most recent album and is referred to as a three-piece suite. That is helpful to know because it is a song that can fool you into thinking it is a dreamy ballad when, in fact, it is a song with three distinct sections, all of which have different tempos and styles. The song represents Bridger’s thoughts on the direction life in America is heading. Being an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ2 rights, Bridgers is very fearful of the future for anyone who loves differently and seeks to live openly. The talented Arlo Parks shows up to lend her presence to Bridger’s song. It is instructive to see Parks with Bridgers after seeing her with Lorde and Clairo because both songs are very different, requiring Parks to be a different performer for each.

***The link to the lyrics version of “I Know the End” by Phoebe Bridgers can be found here.

Rainbow by Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves performs “Rainbow” at Glastonbury.

Kacey Musgraves is a country and western singer. But, she is a bit of a rare breed for that genre because she is an outspoken advocate for causes that tend to be on the left of the political spectrum whereas the genre, as a whole, tends to skew more toward conservative politics. Musgraves is a Grammy award winner, as well as being a multiple Country Music Association award winner, too. Because of her willingness to use her platform to further the causes she supports, Musgraves had some things to say about the Roe v. Wade decision handed down by the increasingly religious-minded US Supreme Court. You can hear her words at the beginning of the video for her song, “Rainbow”. “Rainbow” is from Musgraves’ third album. The video for this song won the CMA award for Video of the Year. Her album won the Grammy award for Country Album of the Year. The song is about finding the strength to overcome adversity. Musgraves states that “Rainbow” was the last song of hers that her grandmother ever heard her sing before passing away and that singing it at her funeral was the toughest performance of her life. Not surprisingly, Musgraves has dedicated the song to the LGBTQ2 community and has invited them to use it as an anthem for any parades, meetings or promotional campaigns.

***The link to the video containing the lyrics version of “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves can be found here.

Chaise Longue by Wet Leg.

Wet Leg.

Wet Leg are a female duo from the Isle of Wight. The two musicians are Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers. The name of their band comes from a local saying on the Isle of Wight that states you can always tell the tourists from those who live there because the tourists often get their pant legs wet disembarking from the small ferry that brings visitors to the island. Thus, those known as “wet legs” are wanderers and explorers and in many ways, outsiders. So, too, are the band, as they travel the world. I can tell you from my own YouTube music feed that Wet Leg are one of the hottest bands in the world at the moment. I have watched them appear everywhere from late night talk shows on TV, to appearances on any and every radio show that broadcasts live performances, all the way to music festivals such as Glastonbury. Wet Leg play a variety of musical styles but they are becoming best known for the energetic style of rock that they play. “Chaise Longue” is their biggest hit to date and is one of the most popular songs on music charts at the moment, too. Their performance at Glastonbury was one of the more widely anticipated ones on a roster packed with hit makers. If this is your first time watching/listening to Wet Leg, I can guarantee you that it will not be the last time you hear of them. They are on the cusp of being the next big thing. You heard that here first.

***The link to the video containing the lyrics version of “Chaise Longue” by Wet Leg can be found here.

F*ck You by Olivia Rodrigo (featuring Lily Allen)

Lily Allen and Olivia Rodrigo at Glastonbury.

I will close this post with a performance that made headlines when it happened. Right now, Olivia Rodrigo is one of the shiniest of stars in the world of music today. It is fair to say that she is well-positioned to be this generation’s version of Taylor Swift should she care to continue along the path she is currently on. *(I have profiled Olivia Rodrigo before. You can read that post here). So, a lot of attention was paid when Rodrigo took time from her Glastonbury set to address the Roe v. Wade decision. Rodrigo stated very passionately that the Court’s decision was one that will cost many women their lives. She proceeded to list the names of the conservative judges who authored the decision overturning abortion rights laws that had been on the books for half a century. Then she introduced a special guest singer named Lily Allen. Allen is a well known singer, particularly in the UK. She has had many hits of her own and was the winner of the Ivor Novello award for songwriting, as well as the Brit Award for Top Female Performer. The song “F*ck You” is a Lily Allen song. She wrote the song over a decade ago in response to the policies of US President George Bush. Since Bush has left office, “F*ck You” has been an all-purpose song that is used to take aim at whichever politician is trying to implement policies that cost lives, in the opinion of Allen. So, what better song for Olivia Rodrigo to dedicate to the US Supreme Court than “F*ck You” and who better to sing it with than Lily Allen herself.

Just one of the many articles written about The Dixie Chicks controversy.

As a lover of music and a student of history, the parallels between how Rodrigo spoke about conservative US policies at Glastonbury and how the all-female band The Dixie Chicks spoke about the Bush government after 9/11 are striking. For those unaware, The Dixie Chicks criticized President Bush for seeking to invade Iraq in the wake of the terrorist attacks in NYC on 9/11. Lead singer Natalie Maines simply said that they were embarrassed to have Bush for a president. The fallout from that public statement given during a concert in Paris was swift. The Dixie Chicks were the subject of an organized campaign to blacklist them from appearing in concert, on TV or radio in the US ever again. There were death threats against all three members of the band. Their record sales plummeted. Their song “Not Ready To Make Nice” was written in reaction to the experiences they endured. *(You can watch that video here. The lyrics video is here). In my opinion, it was a shameful chapter in US music history. Many have speculated that much of the reason for the ferocity of the pushback from conservatives in America was because the members of The Dixie Chicks were all female. Many have concluded that male singers have said and done much worse and have gotten off with light taps on the knuckles, if even that. That a strong female such as Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks caused such an over-the-top reaction twenty years ago makes me wonder how Olivia Rodrigo will fare when she returns to the US. I applaud her for having the courage to speak out on behalf of other women whose voices are never heard. I wish her luck in the coming days, weeks and months. I hope that she doesn’t need it. In the meantime, enjoy one of the most talked about performances from Glastonbury 2022.

***The link to the video containing the lyrics version of “F*ck You” by Lily Allen can be found here.

The link to the official website of The Glastonbury Music Festival 2022 can be found here.

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

Today’s Top 40: The Stories Behind the Biggest Hits of Today…Song Position: #35

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 songs listed below occupied position #35 on their respective music lists from this past week. So, let’s take a quick look at today’s songs, and then a bit of a longer look at the song in today’s spotlight: Ojitos Lindos by Bad Bunny.

Woman by Doja Cat (Spotify)

Rapper extraordinaire…Doja Cat.

My two daughters really like Doja Cat. My youngest daughter, Sophie, particularly so. When I asked Sophie about why she liked Doja Cat so much, she responded that it was a combination of Doja Cat being a good singer with a pleasing voice, the songs having a good beat, and that the songs and videos she puts out all seem to have a theme of female empowerment woven into them. Sophie is also drawn to Doja Cat because she is a tiny woman and resembles her other favourite singer Ariana Grande quite a bit in body type. Seeing a successful female role model being sexy and self-assured means a lot to girls like Sophie. For me, having viewed several of her videos, I think they are all kind of the same. If you like your heroes to be pixie like, scantily clad and bringing the men in their world to heel, then Doja Cat is for you. For what it is worth, the video for the song “Woman” is fairly indicative of who Doja Cat is. If you like watching and listening to it, then you will like her other songs, too. Doja Cat has won a Grammy and many Billboard and MTV video awards for her songs and is definitely one of the rising female Soul and Hip Hop stars out there today.

Don’t Forget My Love by Diplo and Miguel (BBC Radio 1)

Diplo and Miguel.

Diplo made his name in the genre of electronic dance music as a DJ. He is known mostly because of the various collaborations he has engaged in over the years. In no particular order, he has put out music with Beyoncé, Shakira, Justin Bieber, Madonna, Britney Spears, Ellie Goulding, No Doubt and today’s featured star, Bad Bunny. This particular collaboration is with a singer named Miguel. The song “Don’t Forget My Love” is actually a groove-filled song that is pleasant to listen to. It will get your toes a-tapping and hands a-clapping. The videos for this song are another matter altogether. There are two “official” videos. The first one involves Diplo trying to warn Miguel that there is something amiss with Miguel’s new girlfriend. The video is bizarre at times, and the big reveal at the end might come off as disturbing to some viewers. The second video shows Diplo and Miguel engaging in one of the newest marketing strategies for artists these days, and that is attempting to stage a surprise, unannounced pop-up concert in various spots in NYC. This video reminds me a little of how the police broke up The Beatles rooftop concert at Abbey Road Studios, as well as when U2 put out their video for “The Streets Have No Name”. It may just be me, but I think I would like the song better without watching the videos. But, check it out and decide for yourself.

Ctrl + Alt + Del by Rêve (CHUM-FM).

Briannah Donolo aka Reve.

“Ctrl + Alt + Del” is a song that has been playing on the radio in my hometown for quite awhile now. It is sung by a Canadian girl named Briannah Donolo who goes by the stage name, Rêve. I have to be honest and admit that I always thought this song was from a band when I heard it on the radio. But, it is from this one girl who got her big break by singing the Canadian national anthem at Montreal Canadiens hockey games. Donolo sang the US anthem with a bit of a dance-oriented flair, that combined with her raven-haired good looks, helped make her a viral internet sensation. Donolo parlayed that internet fame into a recording contract and now has a Top 40 hit in Canada on her hands. “Ctrl + Alt + Del” are computer keyboard keys, for those who may not have known. If you press all three at the same time, it will act as an alternative way to shut your computer down. This song is certainly a catchy one that, if the US market becomes involved, will make Rêve one of the rising stars of 2022/23 for sure.

Road Runner by Turnstile (CFNY-FM)

Turnstile in Concert.

John Lydon, former lead singer of The Sex Pistols, as well as his second band, Public Image Limited, once sang a song that contained the line, “Anger is an energy”. The line meant that there was something potentially dangerous and lethal about the emotional anger possessed by many young people in society as it existed in the UK in the early 1980s. When channeled properly, anger as an energy can be used as a weapon against the powers that be. Well, every generation seems to have reason to gripe about their circumstances and leading today’s cry against conformity and politicians and greedy billionaires is a group called Turnstile. Their latest song, “Roadrunner”, is three minutes of pure anger and energy. It is loud and fast and performed with reckless abandon. These guys remind me of some of the early hardcore US punk bands such as Black Flag and Bad Brains. I am sure that this won’t appeal to very many of you, but the overarching importance of knowing about it is that there are segments of the teenage/20-something population who feel as though they have been dealt a bad hand because of COVID and lockdowns and rising house prices and so on…and they are ticked off! “Road Runner” by Turnstile is that anger unleashed in song.

Blood Money by The Lounge Council (KEXP-FM)

The Lounge Society.

The Lounge Council are a UK band who mine much of the same ground as does Turnstile. However, they do so in a more melodic manner. This is not to say that their music isn’t loud at times, but it does appear to contain less pure rage and more pure musical skill than what you get from Turnstile. Their videos are kinda interesting in a quirky sort of way that you have to see for yourself to completely appreciate. I am not sure that this song will end up on anyone’s personal playlist but it is worth checking out. “Blood Money” is anger expressed subtly.

Ojitos Lindos by Bad Bunny (ft. Bomba Estéreo) (Billboard)

The man they call…Bad Bunny.

Bad Bunny is the stage name of a Puerto Rican rapper named Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio. I knew something was up with Bad Bunny a few weeks ago when I was researching for a previous “Today’s Top 40” post and went to check the Spotify chart and found every song from Bad Bunny’s latest album in the Top 20! As it turns out, Bad Bunny has arguably had the most successful run of any performer during the time of the pandemic. In the past two years, Bad Bunny…who only sings in Spanish…is the most streamed artist in any genre in the entire world. His latest video was streamed 111 million times during the first two weeks it was out. Ocasio is a social media phenomenon who has made a name for himself as a rapper, a professional wrestler in the WWE, as a style icon, and will soon be joining the Marvel family in a 2024 movie called El Muerto where he will play a starring role as an anti-hero. Neither my wife nor I had ever heard of him, and yet it seems like everyone else on the planet has heard of him and are singing his praises. I am flabbergasted that someone who sings in Spanish has taken the English-speaking world by storm. But, truly he has. If you want instant street cred with your grandchildren, mention Bad Bunny.

Bad Bunny, like a lot of modern day artists, likes to perform with other artists. So, many of his songs are collaborations. He has worked with Drake before, and now, for this video, he is working with a duo named Bomba Estéreo from Colombia. Bad Bunny has stated that he wants to improve the reach of Latin music and musicians throughout the Americas, and he has no plans to deviate from releasing Spanish-speaking albums and using his platform to showcase other Latin American artists. So far, mission accomplished. In case you don’t know who Bad Bunny is either, in the video, he will be the one with the stylish sunglasses. Just so ya know.

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

Today’s Top 40: The Stories Behind Today’s Biggest Hits…Chart Position #3.

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 songs listed below occupied position #3 on their respective music lists from this past week. So, let’s take a quick look at today’s five songs and then, a bit of a longer look at the song in today’s spotlight: “About Damn Time” by Lizzo.

I have to start out by stating that the songs featured in this post are my favourite collection of songs and artists in any Top 40 post since the series began. All the songs have great stories to go with them. All singers and bands have great stories, too. In addition to all of that, several of the songs/singers have also created work in a way that speaks to the modern way music is released and to how artists and audiences interact in these modern times. So, without further delay, here are today’s Top 40 selections….bangers, all!

When You’re Gone by Shawn Mendes (CHUM-FM)

Camilla Cabello and Shawn Mendes when they were a couple.

There weren’t a lot of uplifting stories that happened during the pandemic, but one of the nicest was the romantic relationship between singers Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello. The first inkling that there may have been something going on between them was when Mendes appeared on Cabello’s single, “Senorita”. The pair exuded sexual chemistry. He is a handsome young man and she is a beautiful young woman. It was obvious to most who watched them on stage together that they were becoming more than mere duet partners. So, when the news broke that Cabello and Mendes were “quarantining” together during the early stages of Covid, fans were very happy. The pair appeared together, virtually, singing on a variety of benefit concerts from home that were all the rage during the pandemic. They seemed very relaxed with each other and gave the impression of being two people who had found their soulmate and were completely comfortable building a life together. The world certainly thought beautiful babies were on the horizon. Then, as the Covid restrictions began to lift and live music concerts began to happen, the individual schedules of Mendes and Cabello ramped up and the two suddenly found themselves apart. The stress of having personal careers that were exploding caused them to be apart for much of the past year. After much consideration on both of their parts, Cabello and Mendes announced that they were taking a formal break from their relationship and that they would stay as friends going forward. There was no infidelity. There was no disappointing behaviour evident by either party. It seemed to simply be a case of each partner recognizing that the dreams and aspirations of the other deserved to be explored fully while the timing was right, so they agreed to separate. As newly minted solo artists, each has released a song that touches on their relationship. Cabello went first with “Bam Bam”. Mendes follows up this week with “When You’re Gone”. What is refreshing about both songs is that they wax nostalgic for what was and what has been lost. Both artists sing kindly about the other. It is obvious that their time together meant something to both and that they continue to regard each other with fondness. In this day and age of people becoming “famous” due to obnoxious behaviour, it is refreshing to see two stars playing nicely and maturely. Well done to both singers. I wish them well and hope that the future brings with it all the happiness and satisfaction they desire.

Gloria by The Lumineers (CFNY-FM).

The amazingly talented, Lumineers!

I absolutely love The Lumineers! Like many, my first exposure to this band came via their debut smash hit, “Ho Hey!”. That song went to #1 on the charts and became such a huge hit that it threatened to dwarf all of their other musical offerings. In the time since “Ho Hey!” debuted in 2012, I have listened to many of their songs and have watched them live numerous times. I marvel at the intelligence of the songs they sing and how tight they are as a band. The Lumineers are known as Folk-rockers in the same mode as acts like Mumford and Sons. the Avett Brothers and so on. To listen to them sing is to witness a band that appears to be having the time of their lives every single time they play. I adore them. So, it was a source of frustration to me when the only song I ever heard played on the radio by them was “Ho Hey!” The Lumineers are no one-hit-wonders by any stretch. So, it was with great delight that I learned that they had released a new album and saw the song “Gloria” racing up the Alternative music charts.

“Gloria” is a song about addiction. More specifically, it is a song about how deep the roots of addiction burrow, how difficult it is to successfully treat it and how impactful addiction can be on a family. Speaking about the inspiration for the song, lead singer Wesley Schultz talks openly about it being about a member of his own family. Schultz states that until he and others tried to help his loved one, he had no idea that addiction was more than a lack of willpower and a propensity for poor choices. SInce the release of “Gloria”, Schultz said that he is overwhelmed by the response from audiences and is humbled by how many people have reached out with words of sympathy and/or advice, as well as their own tales of attempting to deal with a loved one with an addiction. The video that accompanies the song comes with a trigger warning. It is a bleak and unsparing look at alcoholism. There is nothing redeeming in this video. It is raw and filled with heartbreak. If alcoholism or any form of addiction has taken root in your life, then it may be best to skip this video. As it stands, viewer discretion is certainly advised. Having said that, “Gloria” is a tremendously powerful song! Kudos to The Lumineers for daring to broach such a serious topic. Kudos, as well, for doing so with such sensitivity and honesty and musical finesse. I predict that come year’s end, “Gloria” will win awards for Song of the Year and will easily populate critic’s Top Ten polls. It is just that good.

Go by Cat Burns (BBC Radio 1)

From Tik Tok fame to the top of the charts. This is Cat Burns.

Cat Burns is a young, up-and-coming singer out of the UK. She has a soulful, jazzy singing style and reminds me a little bit of singers such as Sade or Erykah Badu. Cat Burns is in her early twenties and arrived in the musical spotlight because of her own sense of determination and creativity. Initially, Burns was rejected by record labels because her jazz-oriented style didn’t seem likely to produce the hits that the industry demands. Undaunted, Burns took the initiative of circumventing the usual process one takes when having your music heard by the masses and decided to use existing social media platforms to do the work for her. So, Cat Burns began releasing snippets of her songs on Tik Tok. By using a social media platform that only allows short pieces to be aired, Burns was able to play enough of each song so as to allow viewers to enjoy it and get a sense for how talented and beautiful and intelligent she was, but at the same time, she always left them clamouring for more. In this way, Cat Burns became a social media Tik Tok star way before she ever appeared on more traditional venues such as BBC, etc…. As you read these words, the music industry is only just now starting to appreciate the marketing potential of such streaming platforms as Tik Tok. I am starting to read of more and more artists who have a new record ready to release but are being forced to put out Tik Tok videos that have to go “viral” before the record label will support them with publicity, tour money, etc. I have no doubt that record labels will soon ruin Tik Tok for viewers there, who in no time will find some other underground manner in which to connect with the up-and-coming stars of the future. For now, know that singers such as Cat Burns are legitimately talented and are deserving of your attention. Her song “Go” is a break-up song told from the female perspective. Burns is seen as being a voice for female empowerment much the same way as Alanis Morissette was in the 1990s and Taylor Swift was throughout the last two decades. There are clean and profane versions of this song. I will play the clean one for you in the link above.

Spitting Off the Edge of the World by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (KEXP-FM)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

If you want to know me better then listen to this song. I love how this song sounds! This is my type of music! As much as I love songs that tell a good story, I really like songs that have good sound quality. By that I mean songs where the notes are crisp and clear, where there is an atmospheric quality to the mood being created and so on. “Spitting Off the Edge of the World” is a song that sounds great with headphones on, as well as cranked loudly on good speakers. There is a lot of buzz about this song and several reasons for this buzz.

First of all, the band Yeah Yeah Yeahs was one of the most influential and popular Post-Punk bands to emerge in the early 2000s. They were contemporaries of a music scene in NYC that included The Strokes, Interpol, The White Stripes and many others. Several of their earlier hits are viewed as being among the best songs of all time. In fact, two songs…”Cheating Hearts” and “Maps”… made the cut as being in the Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History that I wrote about in my previous music series. *You can read about those songs in posts here and here. After being together for over fifteen years, Yeah Yeah Yeahs went on hiatus nine years ago so that they could focus on family life, solo projects and the like. Often, when a band goes on “hiatus”, they usually don’t come back, or if they do, it is as a nostalgia act that only plays former hit songs. So, it was with much excitement that Yeah Yeah Yeahs announced that they were reuniting AND that they were coming back with a whole album of original material. The first song from this new album is “Spitting Off the Edge of the World” which features Tik Tok star, Perfume Genius in a scenery chewing supporting role.

In order to understand and appreciate why this song and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs reunion is creating so much energy and hype, it is instructive to read the post I wrote previously for their song, “Cheating Hearts”. Yeah Yeah Yeahs have always been an inclusive band and have forged strong connections with their fanbase. The “Cheating Hearts” video demonstrates a bit of that loving vibe by showing fans from all over the world reenacting their music video in full costume, all dance moves down pat and so on. It fills my heart to watch this video. Well, one of the reasons that Yeah Yeah Yeahs wanted to come back was to support the thousands of young people around the world who are trying to make change happen during this critical time in the life of our planet. Lead singer, Karen O., says she was very moved by all of the climate activists such as Greta Thunberg, all of the young survivors of school shootings in the US who are marching for gun control laws, all of the Black Lives Matter activists, and closest to their hearts, all of those young people who are fighting to be their true selves regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, etc…. So, the idea for “Spitting Off the Edge of the World” is that the band wanted to create an anthem for any or all of these young rebels and to acknowledge their efforts and reaffirm that the band believes these young people are our last, best hope for a brighter future.

In the video for this song, Yeah Yeah Yeahs show their connection with the youth of the world by collaborating with another Tik Tok star who goes by the moniker Perfume Genius. At the end of the video, Karen O. throws herself into the arms of her adoring audience, trusting that they will catch her and protect her and treat her well…and they do. As well, I can guarantee you that you have never seen a limo quite like the one used in this video, either. All in all, “Spitting Off the Edge of the World” is a very welcome and impressive return to the stage for Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Lizzo.

About Damn Time by Lizzo (Billboard Magazine and Spotify)

Today’s featured artist is Lizzo. Lizzo burst on to the music scene in 2015 but really hit her stride in 2019 with the monster hit “Good as Hell”. For anyone who does not know who Lizzo is, she is Black, she is female and she is plus-sized. For many people, any of those three attributes is enough to bring on a barrage of criticism and put-downs. It isn’t always easy to make it in a world that is motivated so much by superficial criteria such as body size, race or gender. Lizzo has battled all three issues her whole life but has made her greatest life statement by the nature of how she has embraced the whole of who she is. Lizzo has produced songs that celebrate her femininity, her colour and/or her body type. Because of that, she is adored by fans all over the world. The video for “Good as Hell” has been viewed over 111 million times! Not only is Lizzo known for her philosophy of self-love and empowerment, she has also been very respectful of those Black female singers who have come before her and blazed the path that she now follows. I wrote about this in a previous post about Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who was the person most responsible for the start of Rock n’ Roll as we know it. *You can read that post here. Lizzo appeared as musical guest on Saturday Night Live and had her backup musicians don outfits and use instruments just like Sister Rosetta did in her day. Such respect for history is admirable.

“About Damn Time” is another song in which Lizzo gets to preach about the power of positivity and self-love. She dances up a storm all throughout the video for this song, and in doing so, causes us to change our preconceived notions as to what agile dancers should look like. Not only does Lizzo dance to the music, but she has encouraged others to get up out of their seats and dance, too. When the video for “About Damn Time” was released, it came with an accompanying Tik Tok dance challenge in which viewers were asked to record themselves dancing to the song as Lizzo did. The challenge emphasized that dancers of all shapes, genders, age ranges, ethnicities and sexual orientations would be welcome to take part. As a result, the Lizzo “About Damn Time” Tik Tok Challenge has been a social media phenomenon. Thousands and thousands of ordinary folks have moved their bodies to the beat because Lizzo has made it ok to do so. You can view a variety of video compilations of people dancing to this song here, here and here, too!

Lizzo puts on a brave face when she sings about overcoming the social stigmas that she faces on the daily. But, her efforts are making a difference in the lives of ordinary people and for that she is to be commended. “About Damn TIme” is a catchy tune with an important message. After hearing it and watching the video, maybe you would like to take up the Tik Tok Dance Challenge? If so, feel free to post your video in the comment box below. My blogging site is a safe place to be your true self. Until then, take care. Thanks for reading all about Today’s Top 40. What a great week for music in our world!

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

Today’s Top 40: A look at the Stories Behind the Chart-Topping Hits of Today…Song 1/250: We Don’t Talk About Bruno from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the film, Encanto

Editor’s Note: Each week, I intend to write about one of the songs that is making news on the charts today. In order to do this, I shall be calling upon the following Top-40 Charts: Billboard.com, Spotify.com, KEXP.org and Toronto’s own, CHUM-FM. From each of those charts, I will pick a certain chart position number and look at the song from each list that occupies that space. From there, I will determine one song to write about.

Today’s Chart Position Number: #40

Today’s Chosen Song: We Don’t Talk About Bruno from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the film, Encanto (Billboard).

The other #40 chart songs that were under consideration:

The song We Don’t Talk About Bruno is from the Academy Award-winning animated movie, Encanto. It was written by one of the most influential songwriters of this generation, Lin Manuel Miranda. Miranda, as you may remember, was the man responsible for the huge Broadway hit, Hamilton. He has also enjoyed great success writing the music for other animated movies such as Moana. His ability to write catchy melodies is unparalleled at the moment, causing We Don’t Talk About Bruno to be celebrated and reviled in equal measure as this song quickly became the ubiquitous hit of this past year in music. We Don’t Talk About Bruno was seemingly everywhere, in the same manner that Let It Go from Frozen was a few years ago. It is a song whose energy and creativity are unquestioned. So, let’s take a closer look at how this song came to be, why it was such an integral part of the storytelling of Encanto, and why it wasn’t even nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song. But first, in order to fully understand the brilliance of We Don’t Talk About Bruno, we must first take a look at the movie itself.

Encanto is an animated movie that was made by Disney. It won the award for Best Animated Feature Film at this past year’s Academy Awards. That win wasn’t by fluke. Encanto is actually a very good movie on many levels, as you shall soon see. As with almost any endeavour that earns critical praise, one of Encanto’s biggest strengths was in the attention to detail observed by those who made this movie. The most important thing to know is that Encanto is set in the country of Colombia. In keeping with South American literary traditions, Encanto was written using a literary style known as Magical Realism. This style of storytelling was the trademark of famous South American writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez (who wrote many books, the most famous being One Hundred Years of Solitude). A simple explanation of Magical Realism is that it is storytelling that is rooted in realistic settings and characters but that also has magical elements interwoven throughout the plot. In Encanto, the main story arc revolves around a multi-generational family known as the Madrigals. The back story involves a dangerous escape from soldiers during Colombia’s Thousand Days War. In this chapter of the Madrigal family history, the father is killed protecting his wife and children from the advancing soldiers, but the rest of the family escapes because of the magic of a candle. As it turns out, as long as this candle continues to burn, the Madrigal family functions under its magical protection. Included in this magical protection is the granting of one gift bestowed upon each subsequent child when they reach the age of five. As is often the case in stories such as this, these gifts become blessings, as well as curses. The family end up building a spacious home and dedicate themselves to serving the needs of those who live near them in the village (or Encanto). All is well until the day one of the grandchildren fails to receive her gift. This girl, named Mirabel, refuses to believe that her lack of a gift is merely something she has to live with. Determined to have her questions answered, Mirabel dons the role of an investigative reporter. Through her questions, we get to learn of the stress each member of the family labours under. We also get a sense of how grief can be transferred intergenerationally, and why that makes some family problems so difficult to ever fully resolve. Finally, Mirabel doggedly investigates what the big mystery is with her Uncle Bruno, and why he is so completely shunned by every member of the family. Her detective work uncovers a family shame that almost causes the magical protection of the candle to be eradicated. But, as to be expected with a Disney movie, MIrabel’s great sense of determination is also the source of redemption for her, for Bruno, and for the entire Madrigal Family.

Encanto was the first Disney movie to feature an all Latin cast. The costumes worn by the characters were all in keeping with those worn by Colombians in the time following the Thousand Days War. The vegetation shown throughout the movie was accurate for the region and even included yellow butterflies (which was a tip of the hat to the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez). In the movie, the village seems like it is part of its own special, protected realm. It occupies a geographic space that separates it from any other town or city. This gives the encanto more of a communal feel. However, this is just one more example of how the makers of Encanto paid attention to detail, because in the Andes region of Colombia, there are many such villages that each exist in their own separate area, and as such, they often develop their own unique customs, dialects and so on. But, most of all, what the producers of Encanto got right was the role of music in Colombian culture. Far too often in the past, white filmmakers have imposed their own cultural biases on Indigenous cultures when making films about them. But, in the case of Encanto, the filmmakers actually visited Colombian villages; they employed Colombian experts on food, fashion, horticulture, family dynamics and so on. For the role of music in Colombian culture, they turned to Lin Manuel Miranda.

MIranda is the modern day master of ensemble storytelling. Because singing is a valid form of storytelling, Lin Manuel Miranda was able to create songs, all throughout the movie, that involved the points of view of multiple characters at the same time. In the case of We Don’t Talk About Bruno, Miranda allows almost a dozen different people (from family members to villagers) to offer their commentary as to why Bruno is scary and needs to be forgotten. The reason why they feel this way is that Bruno’s gift bestowed upon him by the magical candle was the gift of predicting the future. This is a gift that is all well and good when those predictions were positive…such as someone will find love or inherit a vast fortune. But, when those predictions began to mirror real life and included topics such as betrayal, loneliness, heartbreak, and even death…well, people began to fear Bruno and avoid him. Eventually, the energy required to avoid their fears became too much to maintain, and as a result, Bruno was banished as a means of easing the emotional toll others were feeling. That Bruno never meant any harm is what lay at the very crux of Encanto’s plot. The cruelty of the family’s treatment of one of their own is what causes the magical protection of the candle to wane. This threatens the very existence of the family and of the encanto they support. Superficially, we watch such a movie and understand that a resolution must come with empathy and understanding. However, in the real world in which we all live, Encanto has been lauded by advocates for mental wellbeing for showing the reality of how many in society react to those they view as being frightening or different. Those same experts also praise the producers of the movie for showing how compassion and patience can work miracles for many people who feel excluded and judged unfairly. In the end, the movie’s storyline wraps up with the idea of compassionate family love being the cure for what ails us all.

The song We Don’t Talk About Bruno went on to become a #1 hit in many countries around the world. It was an obvious choice to be submitted for consideration for the Best Song award at the Academy Awards. However, when the producers of Encanto reviewed all songs from the soundtrack, they felt that there was another song that packed more of an emotional punch. That song was entitled Dos Oruguitas. It did not win. But, in a twist of fate, We Don’t Talk About Bruno did get to be performed on stage during the award ceremonies. Award or no award, We Don’t Talk About Bruno is the song that people will always associate with the movie, Encanto, first. It is a song that describes cruelty in a way that makes your toes tap and your heart sing. But in the end, it is a song that provides the key to helping Mirabel solve the mystery of why her family’s magic appears to be ending, and from there, what steps she needs to take in order to help make things right for all involved.

So, without further delay, here is one of the world’s most popular and recognizable songs of this past year…We Don’t Talk About Bruno by Lin Manuel Miranda, from the Academy Award-winning animated movie Encanto. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song We Don’t Talk About Bruno can be found here.

The link to the video for the trailer to the movie Encanto can be found here.

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

***Please note that the content of this post is the sole property of the author. It cannot be shared, re-posted or reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2022, TomMacInnesWriter.com