“End of the Day” by One Direction

I feel attached to One Direction songs at this moment in my life because they are simple. Formulaic and easy to listen to. From the time I was 14-18, when my life got messed up, all I wanted to listen to was indie/alternative/jazz music. I wanted complex rhythms and touchy concepts. I wanted to feel my sadness head on and sob every time I heard the first guitar chord in “Robbers” by The 1975. Now, I feel less strong. I am scared to jump into my thoughts out of the fear that I will be damaged by music. It still is my most perfect gift in life, but I can’t seem to listen to my indie playlist anymore. Does that make me pathetic? Or is it just not the right time in my life? I know it will always be there for me when I need it, and I am free to use it whenever.

The best I can do right now in terms of “indie” music is Harry Styles’ new album even though it’s fairly more pop. He is doing well by shifting into solo work and I feel very happy that he is still making music. Niall too. The others don’t seem to do it for me…

When One Direction sings about a particular girl in a particular setting (which is every song of theirs), I feel like I can relate to it on a superficial level and enjoy it rather than learn from it. One girl, who does something to them, in a new circumstance. How do they keep track of all their relationships? Haha.

While I know One Direction has died and gone to boy band heaven, I never was able to “fan-girl” over them due to my state of mind back in 2011. I only saw them as unapproachable pretty-boys who spewed out songs like a machine. And maybe, they are. But I’ve tried to go back and really understand the idea of a pop song and why the public clings onto it so tightly. I wanted to know why my high-school friends went to every concert and knew every song lyric. Was it an escape from their minds?

This song has a very accessible message to it: By the time the sun sets, I want you to be with me. It’s a clear way to express love for someone and yet, I find myself having to remember that love can be that simple. There doesn’t have to be complicated affection if the person can give you comfortability. Listening to this song, I have re-wired my thinking when I consider another person as a partner. Would I want to spend my last moments of every day with this person? Do I find refuge in their smile? As much as I can take from them, I would also want that person to find this kind of relief in me.

One line that sticks out for me is in the bridge of the song:

And when the city’s sleeping, you and I can stay awake and keep on dreaming.

I love to think about being so comfortable with someone that everyone else seems to disappear. This line gives me the giggles to think about walking around a sleeping city with a person who drives me to dream farther than I could ever imagine.

So, as much as I would feel embarrassed about choosing a One Direction song for serious exploration, I feel connected to the themes that they investigate throughout their five albums and I praise them for their dedication to the public.

 

“Everyday” by High School Musical 2 Cast

This isn’t a very popular song to choose from the High School Musical franchise. Most people would quote “All in This Together” or even “Bet On It” before they would think about this song. For me, it was the song that made me cry when I watched it for the first time and it still gets me teared-up when Troy sings that opening line. I am lucky to have grown up on these movies and to have had role models in Gabriella, Kelsey, Taylor and Martha.

The emotion that comes with this song brings together the friendships of Troy and his class-mates, Gabriella and Sharpay and helps gives Ryan an opportunity to shine. Yes, the finale song “All for One” mixes an up-beat rhythm with some glorious dancing, but I can’t help but love the vibe of Kelsey’s piano instrumentation. It is subtle and sweet at the beginning and then hits it home with feelings of teamwork at the end.

There are so many lyrics in this song that encompass positive affirmations for oneself. Lines like “We’re not gonna lose, ’cause we get to choose. That’s how it’s gonna be”, and “There’s more to life when we listen to our hearts. And because of you, I’ve got the strength to start”, boldly express the confidence young teens need to get through the scary parts of their lives. It’s phrases like these that are needed more than ever for teens to grow into self-assured individuals. Teaching teens that their friendships and other relationships are so vital to developing as a human, and in addition, they must look to love for guidance. We require so much love to be happy and we all have the capacity to give it back to others.

With Gabriella’s logic, Taylor’s organizational skills, Kelsey’s musical genius and Martha’s optimism, I have been able to watch these characters problem solve and experience struggle in their lives. It really is different from the female characters that are shown on Disney Channel nowadays. I am speaking about certain characters who all look like supermodels at age 15. The main characters from Liv and Maddie do not strike me as girls who seriously struggle with making friends, and Zendaya’s character in KC Undercover is an example of an over-extraordinary girl. These young girls aren’t normal, and aren’t going through normal problems as teenagers. What happened to issues of bullying, exclusion, artistic silence, or even just having zits?

Another major bonus of growing up in the years that I did is the choreography of Kenny Ortega. He handled The Cheetah Girls, all High School Musical movies, and other iconic movies. The care he took with this song makes me very grateful that he wasn’t lazy with his work. I found this video a few months ago and had a full-on smile-fest watching the cast rehearsing in sweatpants. Kenny truly wanted to create a movie that would influence a complete generation of budding teens and it is clearly displayed that he didn’t take things lightly. If he had put less effort and produced a film with a confusing message or negative themes, it would have changed the way we (as ignorant kids) saw the world. I honestly believe that. It would have been completely different.

As for the future of Disney Channel? Well, I hope that the directors, producers, choreographers and cast know that value of what they are creating. It is super important for the generations to come that kids and teens are influenced in the right way. Proper morals, polite talk with others, and hearts set to love everyone. Everyday.

“You’re Still the One” by Shania Twain

Shania Twain’s music gave me a proper lesson on style and female empowerment, however I didn’t realize the impact she had on my childhood until recently. Specifically, her Come on Over (International Version) album greatly influenced the way I see performance now. The first song on the famous album, “You’re Still the One”, came to me at an age that I can’t remember. I was young, maybe 4 or 5?

I can see it. My living room furniture has been rearranged to optimize space. My pink velvet cowboy hat from our Halloween box is nestled neatly on my head while I clutch onto a homemade microphone. I’m not entirely sure if my parents were in the room each time I performed my routines but that wouldn’t have affected my concentration. I was a pop star/ country star whenever “You’re Still the One” came on. I loved to raise my stakes a bit and jump on the highest part of my couch, just barely standing up straight to sing. But that didn’t matter because I knew I was settled into her vocals and the beat that palpated our speakers.

Later in my childhood I received a MP3 player from Santa that could hold about 30 songs. I used to bring it to our cabin in the Quebec region and spend my afternoons swinging and singing. While my dad worked hard on the landscape of our energy-deficient cabin, I plopped myself for hours on the swing he built for his little girls. And I would sing, out loud, with the utmost confidence in my voice, “You’re Still the One” and other jams. I knew that my family and the surrounding cabins could hear me but it didn’t halt me from being outspoken. I didn’t know anything about love or “the one” but I felt so happy singing about her story. Where did that Brianna go?

As I grew up I let Shania’s songs off my radar to focus on less country-style music. I once felt so enthralled by a human’s voice, and then it slowly faded from my memory.

Most recently, I reconnected to her while watching the Grey Cup this past November. She was the half-time act, and low and behold, she re-kindled the fire I used to have. Her subtle confidence, coupled with power and femininity delivered a very Canadian and very memorable show. She’s still got it, ladies!!

“I Get Along Without You Very Well” by Chet Baker

This song first came into my life while watching the fourth season of HBO’s Girls. I recognized the name of the artist from the recently popular singer Chet Faker, who’s parody name could anger anyone over the age of sixty. I wanted to listen to the song without interruption because it overlay an ending scene in the show that revealed a moment of power for the main character, Hannah. So, immediately after the credits started rolling, I put the next episode on pause and plugged in my headphones. I was so intrigued by the first impression that I gathered from the song and I wanted to hear it in its entirety. Away I went.

The listening process began with me sitting down in my bed for five seconds and then suddenly springing to action and standing up. I wanted to move. I wanted to dance. I wanted to not only hear this song, but to be a part of the art. I rose with promptness to create a different dimension to the song and was taken to the imaginary stage in my mind. I was physically alone in my room but mentally, I was performing for millions of people. This is usually where songs take me.

As I was kidnapped into the world of Chet Baker, my movements were calm and subtle. Something I haven’t played with in awhile. I felt comfortable and safe to use my body however it went. It wasn’t actually planned by me, but planned by the rhythms that Chet uses. I have experienced improv dancing before, but never truly in this way. It was as if my connection to the music had grown to a new level. A sort of second base… How intimate… 🙂

The emotional energy I experienced had surprised me and it caught me off guard after the song was completed. I happened to be holding a water bottle at the time, thus my biological thirst was being quenched as well as my creative thirst.

Also, the irony of the song is incredibly well executed. His vocals poetically declare statements but the context is so much more available for the audience. One of my favourite lines is when he talks about “someones laugh that is the same” because it truly exemplifies how sad the tune really is. Chet sings his feelings with a fake confidence about his lover and when listening, the audience is tricked ever so slightly.

Never have I heard a song that encompasses a melancholic train ride so perfectly.