Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Top 10 Creepy Country Songs

Finally! This post is about four years in the making! We are fast approaching the end of October and Halloween and every year I've wanted to do a post highlighting some of my favorite creepy, dark country songs. And it's never happened. Until now. As I said in my video spotlight on Two Story Road's wonderful a cappella version of their song "Arson", I've always found dark songs to be the most interesting of songs, particularly from a songwriting perspective. Especially in times like this when there's so many party songs out there. I like listening to dark country songs to balance that out sometimes. In fact, I actually have a playlist made up of 59 of these kinds of songs. I know there's a lot more to be found out there.

Maybe it's weird, but I genuinely enjoy listening to these kinds of songs. Not all the time. It definitely requires a certain type of mood. I feel like I always listen to them more this time of year because what better time of year to listen to these songs? Songs about murder. About a love gone terribly wrong. Songs about revenge and betrayal. As you may have gathered, this is not what I'd consider an uplifting blog post. In fact, I'm going to include a trigger warning on this one. Because I fully recognize that these songs are not for everyone. For those of you more interested in the, shall we say, slightly more lighthearted side of Halloween, there may be a video spotlight coming up before the month ends. This spotlight may or may not feature a group of five guys that you might say I'm rather fond of. So be on the lookout for that one.

For those of you reading on, when I compiled this list of songs, I didn't expect how tough it was going to be to narrow it down. I tried to avoid the more obvious of these songs that tend to end up on most lists like this. For instance, as much as I love it, you won't be seeing "The Thunder Rolls" on here. Or "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia". That said, ultimately I went with what I'd consider to be my favorites. Or at least, my favorites at this point in time. Because favorites always change over time.

Let's get to it, shall we?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Video spotlight: Arson (a cappella remix) by Two Story Road

As Halloween is fast approaching, I thought it'd be appropriate to highlight some of country music's dark songs. What do I mean by dark songs? I'm talking about songs about things like deception and betrayal, murder and vengeance. You get the general idea. These, as you may imagine, are not the happiest on songs. Maybe not the kinds of songs you'd want to crank up while driving around with the windows down. Or maybe you do - I'm not here to judge.

Actually, I've always found these kinds of songs to be the most interesting songs. I think it takes a different kind of mindset to write them and I find them important. Because as unpleasant as the subject matters are, the reality is that these things happen. It doesn't do anyone any good to pretend that they don't. With that in mind, this felt like a good time of year to showcase at least a couple of them.

Starting off with "Arson" the A Cappella remix by Two Story Road. If you haven't heard of this duo yet, I'm happy to introduce them to you because I think they're great. I reviewed their self-titled EP (which includes their studio version of this song) earlier this year and absolutely loved it. You can find that here. When I first started thinking of which songs/videos I wanted to talk about, "Arson" was one of the first that came to mind. Given the way that a cappella has completely wormed its way into my heart over the past couple of years, going with the a cappella remix was a given.

Check it out.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Video spotlight: I Love Me by VoicePlay featuring Emoni

Let it be known that the men of VoicePlay have a crazy way of making me alter my writing plans. I was going to write a few more country related posts before writing about them again, but then they released this. After watching it for the first time, I knew it had to be my next post. "I Love Me" has already become one of my favorite videos of theirs; in fact, it may actually be my overall favorite. This, my friends, is saying something.

Not having ever heard the song before, I had no thoughts about it going in. That said, there were two things that made me really excited to watch it. The first one being that if you've been paying attention, you'll know that Tony has been MIA from the last few videos. Long enough to send a good portion of the VoicePlay fan collective into a serious case of Wakim withdrawals. Well, let us all rejoice because Houston? We have a Tony!

To that end, if you haven't already been made aware of it, Tony and Layne have started a video production company called Patty Cake Productions. They released their first video last month. It's the first in a series of Unexpected Musicals and it's incredibly well done, so go check it out, would you? You can watch it here. If you like it, be sure to share it. Like their Facebook page, follow them on Instagram and subscribe to their YouTube channel. Okay? Okay.

I must admit that I didn't realize how much I'd missed hearing and seeing all five of them together. Or how much I'd missed Tony's voice in general. It did my heart good to have them all back together again. What could possibly be better?

I'll tell you what could be better. All of the men of VoicePlay with the fabulous Emoni. Some of you reading this are already familiar with her, so y'all know that she's wonderful. I'm excited for those of you who have never heard her sing. Oh boy, are you all in for a treat. Emoni is not only a gifted vocalist, but an all around beautiful human being. Here's the thing: you're going to watch this and think you know what an incredible singer she is, but you won't. Not completely. Because as wonderful sounds in this, she sounds better live. Plus, there are some people who just radiate light and love and Emoni is one of them.

Here's how this is going to go down. You're going to watch this video and you're going to watch it all the way to the very end. Both because you should always watch until the very end, but especially because Emoni has a very important message for you. Yes, you. The person reading this right now. This is something that you need to hear. Maybe it'll be the first time anyone has said anything like this to you. Or maybe it's just been a while and you've forgotten. Either way, you need to hear it.

I've already lost count of how many times I've watched this. I can't seem to get enough. Maybe I'll be watching it yet again whenever you read this. In which case, we'll be watching together. We'll giggle a few times together. Maybe dance along because this song is super catchy. And when Emoni comes back on at the very end, we'll all be crying together. It'll be beautiful. Go watch.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Video spotlight: Dear Dolly by Ruthie Collins

I first fell in love with "Dear Dolly" when I heard it on Natalie Stovall and The Drive's wonderful Heartbreak EP. Come to find out, Natalie wrote this song with Ruthie Collins and Jessica Roadcap. "Dear Dolly" is an open letter to, you guessed it, Dolly Parton. Because if you were able to get advice from Dolly Parton, well, why wouldn't you want to? If ever there's a woman who has seen everything there is to see in the music business, it's Dolly Parton. How could you not look up to her? Even people who aren't in the music business could learn quite a few things from her. I love this song just as much as I did the first time I heard it. If not more.

Ruthie released "Dear Dolly" as a single back in July, but I somehow didn't come across this video until pretty recently. Making me wonder where on Earth I've been. It's always interesting to hear different versions of songs. Having heard Natalie's version first, I'm happy to say that I like Ruthie's version just as much. Ruthie's voice actually reminds me a bit of Dolly's; very similar inflection. If you prefer a more traditional country sound, I think you're going to love this girl.

Here's Ruthie Collins with her lovely video for "Dear Dolly".

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Video spotlight: Die a Happy Man by Home Free

Considering that it's been over two months since I last wrote about Home Free, this is long overdue! They've put out a string of wonderful videos over the past couple of months. Although, let's be real: I don't know if these guys are capable of releasing a video that isn't wonderful. They give me the same problem that so many of my other current favorite acts give me. Namely, that there's so many great things to choose from that it can be nearly impossible to pick. I'd been leaning towards writing about this one and that decision was sealed after putting up a poll on Twitter.

This is Home Free's cover of "Die a Happy Man" by Thomas Rhett and it's beautiful. Take a few minutes to watch and see for yourselves and then we'll talk more about it afterwards. Deal? Deal.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Video spotlight: Love Triangle by RaeLynn

I've said it before and will say it again every time that it happens: I love when an artist wins me over. Up until now, I haven't really had much of an opinion of RaeLynn. Nothing against her by any means, but I never took much time to listen to her music. Then I started seeing articles about her current single "Love Triangle". If you have not heard this song yet, it's one that RaeLynn wrote about being the child of divorced parents. The love triangle in question consisting of child torn between her parents. It's a fantastic concept and as odd as it may sound, I was hesitant to listen to it at first.

Why? Because there's so many songs where the initial idea is great, but it ultimately fails in the execution. But I kept seeing people talking about it and it got to where I just had to watch the video. So did it live up to the concept? Yes, it did. You know when a song is great? First, when it's personal to the artist. This doesn't necessarily mean that it needs to be written by the artist, but that certainly helps. Second, you know a song is great when it touches your heart. Either because you can relate because you've been there. Or because it gives you an idea of what it's like to go through something. I am not the child of divorced parents so I don't know what it's like. But "Love Triangle" does a wonderful job of explaining it.

RaeLynn is now 22 years old and wrote this song with Jimmy Robbins and Nicolle Galyon a few years ago. Now a great song is a great song regardless of how old the writers were when they wrote it. But the fact that she can write a song like this at her age makes me very interested in what kinds of songs we'll get from her in the future. Especially seeing as this one shows that she's not afraid to be real and honest, even when it hurts. These are the kinds of songs that make the country genre so rich. Songs that we need more of these days. This isn't just a song; this is RaeLynn sharing a piece of herself with the world. Respect that.

In the meantime, take a few minutes and watch the video for "Love Triangle".

Monday, September 5, 2016

Arthritis Awareness: Music Therapy, Part 4b. VoicePlay

Thinking about what VoicePlay means to me got me thinking that this might be a good time to highlight why I've chosen to support them on Patreon. If you're not familiar with Patreon, check this out because VoicePlay's got you covered. Actually, every creator does an explanation video, but theirs is the most amusing one I've seen. Watch. After all, you wouldn't want to hurt Earl's p-feelings, would you?

Always good for a giggle. Anyway, I love Patreon. It's a wonderful way for fans to support their creators, especially when you can see a difference. All of VoicePlay's videos are good, but there's been a marked increase in quality since they launched their Patreon campaign. So what made me decide to become one of their Patrons? There's several reasons, but I've narrowed it down to the top three. 

First and foremost, it's because of their content. They won over my ears before anything else. If I hadn't liked what I heard the first time I heard them, we wouldn't be here. Plain and simple. They have yet to put out a song or video that I don't like. Sure, I have my favorites and there's definitely a group of their videos that I watch more than some others. But I genuinely like all of them. 

Going from there, the more I watched and listened to them, the more I liked them and their personalities. Meeting them last year sealed the deal for me. Looking back, it's surprising how much that encounter reminded me of my first encounter with Little Big Town. This is a good thing. See, there's been quite a few artists I've come to love because of how great their music is, but more so from how great they are with their fans. I've gotten to meet some really sweet artists who genuinely care about the people who buy their music. 

There's a group that I'll refer to as the elite: Little Big Town. Jerrod Niemann. Lee Brice. And last but definitely not least: VoicePlay. There's a few others who come very close, but I consider this group to be the best of the best in terms of how they treat their fans. I always knew that VoicePlay appreciated their fans, but didn't realize just how much until they launched their Patreon campaign. They are so wonderful to us. Which brings us to reason #3.

That last reason is what made me want to feature them in my Music Therapy series. Because they can always make me feel better when I'm feeling down. They have a way of making me smile when all I want to do is cry. In their ability to do that, they've become a powerful ally in my fight against rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I recognize that that may sound strange to some, so I want to explain. 

To do so, I first need to you an idea of what it's like to live with this disease. This is one of those things that you can't completely understand unless you have it, but I'm going to do my best. Please note that no two experiences with RA are exactly the same, though of course there's similarities. This is mine. Hopefully by the end, you'll understand why these crazy talented and wonderfully wacky group of guys means so much to me.