#MusicMonday: Getting Back In The Swing of Things

Welcome back, students. Two months sit between you and summer (hooray!) or for you seniors, graduation (booooo!). Either way, you’re going to need some music to get your brain back in work mode. You’ve come to the right spot. This week’s selections are brought to you by Dennis McNamara, Sam Cooper, Zach Berger, Matt D’Ippolito, Meghin Moore and Dan Vecellio.

Usher – “Climax”

Diplo produced Usher’s latest single “Climax,” which he describes alternatively as both “electro soul” and “more like radiohead quietstorm.”  We here at Onward State can’t imagine that you’d need to be more convinced to listen to this song after reading that preceding sentence there, but we can tell you that Usher is bringing the early 2000s heat that fueled all those songs that were your heavy jams back in your middle school dance days.  Also, in the accompanying video for the song, Usher brings the heat, in that he grabs a gun out of a glovebox at one point, which is almost as exciting as listening to Usher sing “Climax” for (nearly) four minutes.

Asher Roth – “Common Knowledge”

Asher Roth? I know what you’re thinking, “I Love College”, right? Yes, this is the same Asher Roth that wrote that shitty song, but look past that one song and take note of the dude’s skills. “Common Knowledge” was the lead single off Roth’s Pabst & Jazz mixtape, which was released in December of 2011. Pabst & Jazz, which was mostly produced by Chicago production duo Blended Babies, showcases Roth’s smooth flow and word play. Be on the lookout for a new studio album from Roth later this year on Def Jam Recordings, where Roth signed in November.

TJR – “Funky Vodka”

Are all you EDM-heads getting tired of hearing the same sound from the same people? Are all of those Avicii, Tiesto, and SHM mixes starting to fade together? This recent release from California producer TJR is sure to add a little diversity to your music library. With a playful piano melody that carries throughout, “Funky Vodka” combines some soul, a little reggae, and the expected house grooves to form an extremely eclectic track, which is nicely complemented by a Toots and the Maytals sample. (If you like reggae or ska and/or you liked this song, check out “Funky Kingston” by the Maytals.) TJR’s upbeat vibes are sure to get you in the perfect mood to have some fun in your first week back in Happy Valley.

Bruce Springsteen – “Death to My Hometown”

Most artists never even get close to 17 studio albums, and if they do it’s generally disappointing. But the Boss proved Tuesday that he hasn’t lost his touch with the release of his 17th. “Wrecking Ball” has a number of great songs on it, and if you’ve been listening to any rock stations on the radio this week you’ve probably heard the album’s first track, “We Take Care of Our Own,” about a million times already. Although it hasn’t seen the same amount of radio play, “Death to My Hometown” is definitely worth a listen or 10. It’s got more than a little bit of Irish in it, a celtic feel that’s sure to pump up anyone getting ready for St. Patrick’s Day early.

Anthony Raneri – “Sorrow” (Cover)

When the term “cover song” comes to mind for many students at State, Go Go Gadjet, My Hero Zero, or the “Punk Goes…” series are some of the first things to come to mind. However, not all cover songs are like this. Anthony Raneri, frontman of Bayside, likes to perform his rendition of Bad Religion’s ‘Sorrow,’ especially when he goes out on solo tours. Out of all of the cover songs that I have on my iPod, his cover is in my list of top five favorite cover songs of all-time. When I left my home in Virginia on Sunday, this song came on shuffle, right after I had seen the news about the U.S. soldier shooting and killing innocent Afghan citizens. It was a pretty chilling song to hear after seeing the news about that. The lyrics, “Will you guide me now, for I can’t see the reason for the suffering and this long misery. What if every living soul could be upright and strong?” seem to almost echo the meaning behind John Lennon’s ‘Imagine.’ Raneri does justice to this song, especially since he performs the cover with just his vocals and his guitar. If there were a backing band, or anything more, the song’s message might not have come through as nicely. This is a great example of how a cover song should be done, because the way it is performed stays true to the original song, without any added frills, weird voice effects, and the like. It’s simple. The simple songs (even ones with very powerful meanings) are the best songs out there, cover or not.

Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe”

I apologize in advance for this being stuck in your head for the rest of the semester, but that’s a great pop song will do to you. Last week, Gawker said it was the “new perfect pop song” and I’m inclined to believe them since I’ve begun to see it go viral. I’m not much for song analysis. Just go listen.

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