Each year I do this looking back thing regarding my musical exploration/revelations, I anticipate this list to really short. Maybe it’s the compression of time and how well my memory serves me at the end of a collective year, maybe I just don’t realize how much new stuff I really found — I’m not sure which. I had a tough time, once again, paring it down to just ten.
The most notable trend in running through this year’s selections are the African drum and clap rhythms (“Burnin’ Up”, “Run Boy Run”, “Come With Me Now”). This, however, is trumped by the introduction of a “new genre” of music called “Kawai Metal” a hilariously funny, yet ironic poke in the eye of heavy metal, all the while being totally amazing. And if you don’t like it, you can’t be my friend anymore.
Without further rambling, here’s my late posting of my Top 10 “What Randy Found Interesting in 2015”.
Gimmie Choko!! – Babymetal
I was planning on presenting this last but I didn’t want to miss those who think this list get to be TL:DR. I was a fan of the electronic dance pop coming out of Asia back in the early 2000’s based around the DDR video game craze (I still am), and I’ve always bee na heavy metal fan. Who the hell thought this was going to be the Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup of these two genres?
Encroaching on the typically testosterone laden target market for metal music with over-the-top cuteness of Japanese little girl culture is a genius move, especially with the growing acceptance of Anime in American culture. I can’t get enough if this and usually watch this clip once a week – just because. All Hail Babymetal!
Burnin’ Up – Jessie J
I have a confession. There are some songs where the second I hear the intro notes, I have this impulse to look around and make sure no one else is watching before the beat hits ‘cuz I just want to let my body just rock the hell out of itself, no matter how I look – it just makes me feel. This is one of those songs.
Jesse J is a very smart writer, producer, and a very able singer. Responsible for other top hits by other performers such as Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA”, and her collaboration with Ariane Grande and Nicki Minaj (which Jessie released solo first), Jesssie’s been releasing hits all on her own and this one is my favorite. She’s upped the game and control of her vocals and I think it was a smooth idea to minimize the other instruments to mainly feature vocals and drum beat.
Everyone is Everyone (And Everything is Everything) by Au4
Not everything I listen to is beat and heavy guitars. Spotify turned me on to this group early in the year when I was looking for music I could play in the background while studying that wasn’t a) classical, b) space ambient, or c) piano driven meditation music.
I can only describe Au4 as a kind of hipster Pink Floyd? I hate to mix the two but it appears there’s an actual category for this called “shoegazer”. Hmmm. I checked out a bunch and thought this was the only one worth listening to. Each song on this particular album is completely different; yet there’s enough thread running through to make it their own.
Soothing, great to hum along to, even moving at points – beside Babymetal, this is my new favorite band.
Die Antwoord –Happy Go Sucky Fucky
There’s a few artists/groups that will always show up on this list if they release something that year – KMFDM is one of them. Die Antwoord is another. South Africa’s electro-techno heavy rap group is the perfect dystopian musical posterchild. I love these two. Watch for them in the new Neill Blomkamp movie ,“Chappie”! Oh yeah, and listen to the song!
Blockbuster Night part 1 – Run The Jewels
Each year there’s usually something that pops up which us outside of my “normal” listen habits – rap is one of the genre’s I don’t spend much time seeking out. This came across my radar as a commercial on Spotify (I won’t pay for the service and I understand the commercials pay my portion – no guilt). It was pretty interesting just from the sound, a kind of heavy, dubstep rap. I clicked on through and found the entire abum pretty good, this song being the hook for me. I’m seriously diggin’ this stuff.
Run Boy Run – Woodkid
Very cool song, something you just need to listen too. The Morissey sounding vocals, the African drum/clapping beats (a theme this year), and a super awesome killer video to go with it. I love how they build it up, quite it down, then blast back with the rhythm. Just really interesting and fun to listen to.
The Way We Are – Kate Boy
Much in the same vein as last years LaRoux; poppy, new wavey, reminder of an earlier decade spun up for todays listeners, Kate Boy does what LaRoux did for the early 80’s, for the early 90’s. Bouncy, poppy, a little quirky with just a smidge more seriousness.
Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson – Bruno Mars
Alright. I know this thing is huge and all over everything right now, but hell – it deserves to be! This is good old, old school 70’s/80’s funk, bringin’ Morris Day and the Time back to the future. I sure as hell hope that more stuff like this comes out because it’s all good. This song is some Prince (back in the day) level shit.
Lift Off (Europa Report SNDTK) – Bear McReary
Bear McReary is my new favorite modern composer. This soundtrack is a perfect match for the movie Europa Report (an excellent movie, by the way). Majestic, serene, and haunting all at the same time. The whole album is great but his one stands out not only as the theme song but contains all of the threads that run through the entire album.
Kill Them All by Magic Sword
I discovered a new category of music this year and I don’t know if it has an actual name or been fully defined – the word I use is the title of one of the albums in it – “Trailerscapes”, which I think is the perfect descriptor. Part soundtrack, part commercial, “trailerscapes” are 30 sec. to 2 minute long sound bites that set a scene and amp up your adrenaline system, leaving you wanting more. Think mini soundtracks to all of the tension setting, action movie trailers you’ve ever seen, put them together and hit “play”.
This particular one is featured in a Japanese documentary about high-end car aficionados that who light up their cars and drive around Tokyo showing them off. The moment I heard this song, I tracked it down and purchased the album. Heavy, domineering, loaded with power, the song makes you feel like something immensely powerful is here.
Veigar Margeirsson and Epic North are two of the most prominent and prolific composers of the type of music. Short, inspirational, and completely riveting, each one telling a little story begging to be completed.
Here’s a link to the documentary mentioned, created by GoPro, an interesting watch in it’s own right.
Colossus by Zircon
Ok, so there are eleven this year – sue me. No, I’m not done with it – here’s my wobble, wobble, dub-step electro pick for the season. Deal with it.