Articles by Lopy

Certain Songs #831: Kathleen Edwards – “One More Song The Radio Won’t Like”

Album: Failer
Year: 2003

Lord, do I love Kathleen Edwards’ voice.

A singer-songwriter from Canada who has been putting out records since 2003, her voice is basically bottled-up melancholy, which adds a tinge of sadness to even the most upbeat lyrics, and yet never smothers her more downbeat lyrics with too much sadness.

So while her music is basically straightforward Americana, her voice gets it over again and again.

So, for example, “One More Song The Radio Won’t Like” might come across as an “nobody is going to play this kind of music” tune, especially as she’s singing derogatorily about someone she calls “Johnny little rocket star” who might be fucking with her career, if not her life.

But for me, all that matters is she wraps that voice around the long long melody line of the chorus.

You can’t even make up my miiiiiiiiiiind
You can’t even make up my miiiiiiiiiiind
Jussssst one more song the radio won’t liiiiike

Which, of course, is followed by a perfectly-placed guitar hook, which just sets up a verse which ends with possibly self-d “No one likes a girl who won’t sober up” before launching into that chorus once more.

In the end, it feels like she she’s in a better place, as she ditches Johnny little star as the music gets louder and tougher, and her singing of the chorus goes from “fuck it, they won’t play my song,” to “fuck them, if they won’t play my song.”

“One More Song The Radio Won’t Like” performed live in 2003

“One More Song The Radio Won’t Like”

b>Every Certain Song Ever
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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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Certain Songs #830: Kanye West – “POWER”

Album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Year: 2010

Of course, it’s always been a thing that Kanye West isn’t that great of a singer or even that great of a rapper.

But that’s never bothered me, because he’s always owned his technical limitations, and on a production as large as “POWER” they serve to humanize his otherwise outsized music, and his otherwise outsized public persona.

In fact, it would actually make his music worse if he were better, because there would be nothing to bring him back down to earth and reveal him as not just an insecure, arrogant asshole, but an insecure arrogant asshole who lives to make this music.

And in the case of “POWER,” the opening verse of which — with it’s “ahhhh, heyyyy” gospel chorus opening vocal riff,” precise use of The Handclap Rule and Kanye’s ultra-excited vocals — just detonated with forward momentum, the music he was making was so exciting and so personal that it both earned and transformed its classic rock sample, musically and lyrically.

No one man should have all that power
The clock’s ticking, I just count the hours
Stop tripping, I’m tripping off the power
Till then, fuck that, the world’s ours
And they say
[21st-Century schizoid man]

And of course when Kanye sang “No one man should have all that power,” you could hear the asterisk and the “but me” footnote in his “ooooooh” and the absolute joy in his voice throughout the song.

“Power”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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Certain Songs #829: Kanye West – “School Spirit”

Album: The College Dropout
Year: 2004

One of the most polarizing figures in the current musical landscape, it’s almost guaranteed that Kanye West will be remembered by future generations — long after whatever stupid-ass shit he said and did outside of the music that he produced (or, I guess, in his lyrics) — as one of the absolute indisputable musical geniuses of the early 21st century.

To me — and this will probably piss off a lot of the folks who “just don’t like” Kanye — the musical figure he most reminds me of is Jimmy Page.

Heh. But Jimmy Page is one of the greatest guitar players ever, you say. Yeah, but it will be my argument when I get to Zeppelin in a couple of months that for all of Page’s awesomeness as a guitarist, his true genius resided in how he layered those guitars.

What Jimmy Page was to the production of guitars — both in terms of stealing from the past and in terms of how precise his sonic sculptures — Kanye West is to the production of the human voices.

On a song like “School Spirit,” from his 2004 debut The College Dropout, back when his insane ambition seemed more charming than scary, listen to how the voices act like guitars right from the opening chant/riff.

Alpha, step, Omega, step
Kappa, step, Sigma, step
Gangstas walk, pimps gon’ talk
Oh hecky naw that boy is raw
AKA, step. Delta, step
S G Rho, step, Zeta, step
Gangstas walk, pimps gon’ talk
Oh hecky naw that boy is raw

And with a speeded-up Aretha Franklin sample providing commentary and licks throughout, “School Spirit” is free to have Kanye and Tony Williams rap, sing and “whoo” whenever they want until they wordlessly hum together at the end.

I’ll fully admit that I didn’t get all of this until just a couple of years ago. I checked out The College Dropout when it came out — it was pretty inescapable — but it wasn’t until I went back to revisit his records in the wake of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy that I think I fully appreciated what he was doing.

“School Spirit”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

Certain Songs #495: Geto Boys – “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”

geto boys mind
Album: We Can’t Be Stopped
Year: 1991

The key to Gangsta rap’s massive popularity was, of course, larger-than-life celebrations of the dangers and rewards of the gang-banging lifestyle, as millions of teenagers who would freeze from fear from actually having live any of these scenarios got off pretending they were as hard as the guys in the songs.

Kinda like superhero comics. In fact, somebody should chart the rise of the popularity of superhero comics vs. the popularity of gangsta rap. No black superheros? Have you ever heard “Midnight” by Ice-T? That’s some Batman-level shit right there.

Anyways, my problem was that I was slightly older, so while I appreciated the reportage, the violence and misogyny always made me uneasy. So I mostly gravitated to songs that looked at the life from different angles — the devastating “Dead Homiez;” the exhilarating “Gotta Lotta Love” and the paranoiac “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”

Rapping over a icy cool Isaac Hayes sample, the Geto Boys spin verse after verse filled with same themes that powered six seasons of The Sopranos — that a life where you fuck people over on a regular basis, a life where you could be killed at any moment — “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” tells stories that could come right out of a session with Dr. Melfi:

Day by day it’s more impossible to cope
I feel like I’m the one that’s doing dope
Can’t keep a steady hand because I’m nervous
Every Sunday morning I’m in service
Playing for forgiveness
And trying to find an exit out of the business
I know the Lord is looking at me
But yet and still it’s hard for me to feel happy
I often drift while I drive
Havin fatal thoughts of suicide
BANG and get it over with
And then I’m worry-free, but that’s bullshit

In the end, Bushwick Bill is down on his knees pounding the concrete while hallucinating a beatdown, and the song just fades to black, with no relief in sight.

And man, what if David Chase thought to score that last scene of The Sopranos to “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” instead of that fucking Journey song? Maybe it would have been too on the nose — as we see all of those folks at the diner who might or might not be ready to kill him — but it would be kind of cool to see how that scene would play.

That said, Tony Soprano wouldn’t be caught dead listening to this song,

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

Certain Songs #495: Geto Boys – “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”

geto boys mind
Album: We Can’t Be Stopped
Year: 1991

The key to Gangsta rap’s massive popularity was, of course, larger-than-life celebrations of the dangers and rewards of the gang-banging lifestyle, as millions of teenagers who would freeze from fear from actually having live any of these scenarios got off pretending they were as hard as the guys in the songs.

Kinda like superhero comics. In fact, somebody should chart the rise of the popularity of superhero comics vs. the popularity of gangsta rap. No black superheros? Have you ever heard “Midnight” by Ice-T? That’s some Batman-level shit right there.

Anyways, my problem was that I was slightly older, so while I appreciated the reportage, the violence and misogyny always made me uneasy. So I mostly gravitated to songs that looked at the life from different angles — the devastating “Dead Homiez;” the exhilarating “Gotta Lotta Love” and the paranoiac “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”

Rapping over a icy cool Isaac Hayes sample, the Geto Boys spin verse after verse filled with same themes that powered six seasons of The Sopranos — that a life where you fuck people over on a regular basis, a life where you could be killed at any moment — “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” tells stories that could come right out of a session with Dr. Melfi:

Day by day it’s more impossible to cope
I feel like I’m the one that’s doing dope
Can’t keep a steady hand because I’m nervous
Every Sunday morning I’m in service
Playing for forgiveness
And trying to find an exit out of the business
I know the Lord is looking at me
But yet and still it’s hard for me to feel happy
I often drift while I drive
Havin fatal thoughts of suicide
BANG and get it over with
And then I’m worry-free, but that’s bullshit

In the end, Bushwick Bill is down on his knees pounding the concrete while hallucinating a beatdown, and the song just fades to black, with no relief in sight.

And man, what if David Chase thought to score that last scene of The Sopranos to “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” instead of that fucking Journey song? Maybe it would have been too on the nose — as we see all of those folks at the diner who might or might not be ready to kill him — but it would be kind of cool to see how that scene would play.

That said, Tony Soprano wouldn’t be caught dead listening to this song,

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page