Thursday, September 27, 2012

"On Shuffle" with Geoff Norman: Writing Mood Music

This is a cliché to confess, but I need bittersweet background music when I write. Said soundtrack is especially necessary when I’m trying ever-so-desperately to be deep. (I’m not, so a little added “oomph” is required.) Where most people would simply turn to iTunes for their melodic fix, I didn’t. Instead, I opted to carry an ever-devolving playlist on Youtube. If a video and/or song were shiny, they went on the list.

What became clear after thirty-plus songs, though, was the complete lack of coherence to the selections I made. No single theme dominated the choices. If anything, a complete lack of pattern (and taste) resonated throughout the playlist. So, I figured, what better way to invoke ridicule than to display five songs from it. These are from my Youtube “Writing Mood Music” playlist, put on random play, giving me no choice on what to feature.

“Poison & Wine” – The Civil Wars
Yes, this is a country song. I know, shut up. The group might be familiar to any ‘tweens reading this post because of a song they did with Taylor Swift…for The Hunger Games. (And that sentence totally took away what little street cred I possessed.) What may not be known is that they made their first sing-songy spash back in ’09.

“Poison & Wine” is country to the core. It’s a song about a married couple living unhappily ever after.  No divorce, no booze, just complacency. And I know of several older couples that fall well within this category – some young ones, too. The song illustrates subsistence so poetically that there was no way I couldn’t have it frontlining my moody playlist.

“Summer of ‘09” – ALL CAPS

This isn’t just a hipster boast, you’ve really never heard of this. And unless you’re a fourteen-year-old nerd girl that spends hours-upon-hours watching YouTube vlogs, you probably never will. This duo – Luke Conard and Kristina Horner, respectively – came to my attention via The Vlog Brothers YouTube channel. They were a real-life couple that met on the Internet and decided, “OMG, letz make songz!”

Conard and Horner were no strangers to music. Both were separately part of wizard rock (or “wrock”) bands. Never heard of this sub-genre? Count your blessings. It’s Harry Potter fanfiction…put to music. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

“Summer of ‘09” was originally written by Alan Lastufka – a musician, fellow YouTube vlogger, and co-founder of DFTBA Records. Originally, he offered the song to the ALL CAPS couple as a present, since it almost illustrated verbatim how they met (I think?). Alas, the couple did eventually break up, and only Luke Conard is still producing music. That said, I like the little electro-tweeny song – autotune and all. I break it out whenever I have to write something romantic.

“SomeDay” – Sarah Gregory

The songstress may sound familiar to those in the Internet know. Sarah Gregory is “that-one-girl” that is a part of group, The Gregory Brothers. Still drawing a blank? They’re the ones behind the infamous Autotune The News and Songify videos on YouTube. “Bed Intruder” and the rise of Antoine Dodson can be credited to them. What is not known is that they were legitimate musicians in their own right. Sarah,
particularly, had a career prior to Internet fame.

Sarah Gregory (nee Fullen) was originally a part of Sarah and the Stanleys. I’m not too sure how/where/when this song came about. All I know is I stumbled upon it by accident, fell in love with it, and played it on repeat for about a week. Like a lot of songs I prefer, it’s soft, bittersweet, and strangely nostalgic. I couldn’t tell you what it’s about, only that it has something to do with the pains of growing up as a woman – minus the cramps.

“Red Right Return” – Iris

Finally, a song that has nothing to do with YouTube itself! I actually have a couple of local promoter friends – Missionary Promotions – to blame for my obsession with this group. Iris is a synth-pop duo headed by Reagan Jones and Andrew Sega. If you’re ever in my car, it is more than likely a CD from them will be playing. I. Am. Obsessed with this group.

In 2010, they released their fourth album dubbed Blacklight. Frankly, I didn’t find it as strong as their other works, particularly the flawless album, Wrath. However, two songs off of it did catch my eye – “Cruel Silence” and “Red Right Return”.

“Red” is like all of Iris’s other works – vague, subtlely Christian, and all pathos. Coupled with a catchy chorus and a quickened beat, it’s quintessential synth-pop with dash of soul. And I have listened to it on repeat for an entire day; I regret nothing.

“Go Away” – 2NE1

Yes, this is K-Pop. Do I know what they’re saying? No. Do I know anything about the group? No. Will I be looking up info about the group to pass on to you? No, too lazy.
What I can tell you is this. The music video is batshit crazy. It deals with two racecar drivers that break up with each other. The dude dumps a Korean Lady Gaga-esque gal for a taller model, and she has trouble letting go. By the end of the video, she crashes her car during a race. Silly Koreans.

Not sure why I favor this song so highly, or why I was so oddly choked up by it. Maybe I have a thing for racecar romances, and I never knew it until now. Or maybe I just like crazy Asian chicks. Likely the latter.

And that does it for this snippet from my Writing Mood Music playlist. Whether or not it detrimentally affects my prose is for you – fair reader(s?) – to decide. In the meantime, I have a yarn about an undead Scottish botanist to write.


agiftoftea said...

I know not of what you speak. Not a clue. That just tells me I am so behind in my music focus. Thanks for the tips with your list I may just get back on board. Once I listen i'll let you know my thoughts.

Geoff said...

So am I. Keep in mind, most of this was *Internet* music. Some would say it doesn't count...yet.