Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Bad At Love / Before He Cheats

Top 40 Nonsense That Makes Me Weeeeeep Tear Up Discretely in Public

1. Realizing I'm hearing a song about bisexual visibility while waiting for my sandwich at Panera

2. All the bros in Dunkin Donuts singing along quietly under their breaths about femme revenge

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Night We Met

Fuck you, Lord Huron.

I mean that in the nicest way. But fuck you. Seriously.

You have somehow stumbled on the formula for making me cry, and it's really not fair.

Genre-wise, it doesn't seem like this entry should be part of the series

Top 40 Nonsense That Makes Me Weeeeeep

but because Netflix is the primary way we hear new music now, "The Night We Met" topped the THR chart for TV songs after appearing on 13 Reasons Why in March.

And so, it plays with the same frequency and regularity on the local Adult Alternative station as Top 40 songs play on the local Hit Radio Station, and as a result: me, cryving home from work.

If you, too, would like to pen a song that brings me to tears, you can play along at home with this handy checklist from today's track:

  • 6/8 time
    This is a very magical time signature that is like slow dancing and losing your shit at the same time. See my previous post.
  • Arpeggios
    This is related to 6/8 time and is the musical equivalent of simultaneously arriving at and departing from the safest and saddest place you have ever been to.
  • Tight harmony in thirds
    It's equally basic and epic. Like tying a weight and a balloon to my heartstrings and letting go of both.
  • E minor
    Like, come on. Just.
  • Triple rhyme (aka feminine rhyme)
    most of you/supposed to do/ghost of you
    So Extra. Traditionally, it's used in comic verse, like a limerick. But when everything else is so sincere (see all the other items in this list), it's like the twist of a knife in my tear ducts.
    They're right there, but you can't touch them. They're a piece of the past, right in front of you. Reaching across the veil, mistily embodying loss, foretelling your own death. Fucking ghosts, man.
  • Regret/loss/wistfulness/longing/romance
    And then I can tell myself / Not to ride along with you
    Sure, Lord Huron, tell me about traveling through time, back to the very moment before the union began that caused you all this pain, and tell me you would choose another path. Go ahead.
  • Slide guitar
    The guitar version of crying.
Here's a live version featuring several white guys with matching hair grease and matching guitars. They must have been sponsored by Guild and Layrite.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Love on the Brain

Today on...

Top 40 Nonsense That Makes Me Weeeeeep

...I feel a little conflicted. It's hard to call this song--as with some of Rihanna's other work that I really love--nonsense. The song itself is a really nicely done 60s soul pastiche but with contemporary-sounding lyrics that make it feel fresh and immediate, bringing to mind Amy Winehouse in all her glory. Rihanna's performance of this song not only shows off her flawless vocals and expressive range but feels steeped in emotion, like maybe it's personal. Especially when she drops those F bombs, of which there are three. Impressive for a radio single.

Add to my affection for the song the fact that it's right in my vocal range, so whenever it comes on the radio I can belt it out note for note along with Rihanna, like we're on Carpool Karaoke. In my fantasy, we trade off on lead and backup vocals until I'm weeping too hard to continue, and she finishes the phrase for me: "What do I gotta do to get in your motherf***in' heart?" Then I pull over because I don't want to risk cryving off the road, and we hug and wipe mascara off our faces and giggle.

Don't ask me to explain this music video, it's way too deep for me.

Bonus: the moody white boy Rihanna cover the world neither needs nor deserves.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


Today's installation of

Top 40 Nonsense That Makes Me Weeeeeep

is even more embarrassing than the last. I've been hearing this song on the radio for months and having heart spasms over this guy's breathy head voice. But just now I looked up the video, and it's creepy and douchey and that's not how I pictured Charlie Puth in my head at all. Even with that eyebrow scar he is uninteresting to me.

Regardless. I am a sucker for this song's slick rhythm, catchy melodies, and the longing and vulnerability I ascribe to my imaginary version of Puth, running into his ex everywhere, distraught yet somehow resigned to his heartbreak, half in love with the torture that is her perfume, etc. It's relatable, okay?

And then the song breaks it down, and his voice drops to a hush, and "Got me thinkin' 'bout when you were mine" barely escapes his throat with its note just high enough that his voice almost cracks and I feel the breath catch in my own throat because oh my god he's so emotional he can just barely sing the line. Sometimes I have to hold my chest together with the hand that's not on the steering wheel.

I am giving you not the official video, which I've told you grosses me out, but this studio performance which still conveys the emotion without all the distracting added narrative of his girlfriend smashing up his apartment. Like, fuck off, "crazy ex gf" trope.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Scars to Your Beautiful

Until now, I've mostly written here about pop classics and other music I'm not embarrassed that I like. All that's about to change, however, as I embark on a new series I'm calling:

Top 40 Nonsense That Makes Me Weeeeeep

You might recall from days of 0.00243056 yore that I didn't cry for a year or so because of hormones.
Maybe a year ago, I had another hormone shift and got my tears back in full force. That plus going through some relationship ups and downs, plus driving pretty regularly for work, equals a new hobby for me: CRYVING.

Rural Vermont doesn't have a ton of radio options, but no matter where I roam, I can usually count on finding a commercial pop station playing one of the handful of tunes I've come to rely on for easy tears. It's almost like they're formulated to manipulate my emotions and make me more susceptible to advertising or something.

Today's installation is by Alessia Cara, about whom I know practically nothing. This song begins harmlessly enough by describing an unnamed "she" who might be a fashion model or someone else who values being found attractive. You can already tell it's going to be a Feminism Lite self-worth anthem.
[This video version is a little different from the radio version in that it has people interrupting the song to talk about beauty standards, and it reminds me of those Dove ads.]

But something happens to me when the chorus starts. I hear "But there's a hope that's waiting for you in the dark," and something happens in my chest. At "You should know you're beautiful just the way you are," Cara is singing directly to my soul. Then comes "And you don't have to change a thing, the world could change its heart," and it's all over. I'm sobbing. Because OMG it's truuuuueeee.

So many trans and gender-nonconforming folks get harassed, dismissed, outcast, and even killed because this world wants us to conform to some bullshit gender binary/biological determinism, and we do what we need to do to survive, and also fuck having to do anything to please a cissexist world. And fuck this US regime that is determined to starve us out and force us underground. We've always been here, and we're not going anywhere.

Also this: "I wasn't born in the wrong body, I was born in the wrong world." -Alok Vaid-Menon

 Seriously, watch this, it's so important.

Thanks. ILY.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Is It Like Today?

This song has been playing in my head all week. When a song is in my head for several days in a row, I imagine it is trying to tell me something, so I try to focus on it and let it speak to me.

Once I had "Footloose" on repeat in my brain for about a year and a half. I listened to it, I read the lyrics, I watched the movie, all in hopes that its message would become clear and so would my head. I guess it just gave up and went away by itself eventually. Maybe I was not the chosen one.

Today's song is from 1993, when most of my music feelings were born. In this World Party tune, the lyrics tell of someone who seems to have a lot of anxiety about the world and eventually gets the hell out and ends up on the moon, where he continues to have anxiety and some existential angst.

But he's not just escaping, he's seeking answers: first by measuring the stars, then by hanging out in Greece, and finally by meeting God in space. But this knowledge doesn't help him feel any better about life:
And sometimes it was faith, power, or reason as the cornerstone
But the furrowed brow has never left his face
I suspect the whole "sad intellectual" trope was invented by intellectuals who thought they were better than everyone else but also wanted to be pitied for their moodiness. Like, "Being gifted is a curse, why can't I be ignorant and content like these poor assholes, etc." But I like this song and its protagonist, and I don't want it to be about a tortured genius. That's boring.

So because this song is catchy as hell and I really enjoy the piano bits, I will imagine that this song's message is more about the search for answers being a lifelong process that doesn't need to wrap up neatly. That maybe being really worried about everything is itself the gift if it keeps you questioning "kings and empires" and looking for solutions to problems.

Maybe I'm thinking too hard.

Also please enjoy this bonus cheesy-effects VH1 version:

Friday, March 11, 2016


In a lot of the horror movies I like, which are mostly of the supernatural variety, there is a spirit that haunts places and people, that terrifies them and kills them in nasty ways. It attaches itself to specific situations and objects--the ring of the telephone, a mirror, a song. And there is a protagonist who has to figure out what that spirit needs, what it can't let go of, how to bring it peace. It's more a riddle to be solved than a villain to be defeated. Solving it requires empathizing with a grotesque, disembodied entity that is terrorizing them.

Certain situations call up a version of my former self which takes over my body and has me feel its feelings, think its thoughts. It's bewildering and excruciating and terrifying. I don't see it coming, and I feel powerless against it. This has gone on for all of my adult life. As a young adult, I thought I was possessed by something that would eventually kill me.

However, lately I feel like I'm in the part of the ghost story where the protagonist begins to see the patterns, is putting together the pieces and clues in order to set the monster free, to help it transform into its benign self, while learning a piece of history from it, often some hidden injustice. I'm learning to love my shrieking nightmare selves and ask them what happened, what they need.

In every horror movie, the cast thins out, falling one by one to the terror, leaving the hero to face the thing alone in the end. I've seen a lot of people come and go in my life, but in these last few years I've felt less alone than ever. I'm supported by a whole cast of characters who help me identify and listen to the ghosts, gather clues, stay alive. Like all the best ghost stories, mine is also a love story.

Also I'm really excited to see Loone next week.

"Every place I've ever lived is full of ghosts / Every time I leave I make another one / Everyone I've ever loved is full of ghosts / Every time they leave they make another one"

OK I guess this might not qualify as a pop song. Note the first two tags on bandcamp are "devotional" and "emo." LOL yep.