Sunday, October 30, 2016

Video spotlight: Grim Grinning Ghosts by VoicePlay

Happy Halloween, everybody! We're going to kick this one off with what I'm calling Life Lessons from VoicePlay. Because in the time that I've been a fan of theirs, they have taught me some things. Granted, some of these lessons were taught inadvertently, but still. Here we go.

Lesson #1: Eli and Geoff inadvertently taught me that googling things from your childhood is not a good idea (see my write-up of their version of "Love Yourself)". Unless you're in the mood to feel as old as dirt. I feel like this one seems less traumatic as you get older, but I've now reached a point where I can remember things from 20 years ago. I'm not okay with that just yet.

Lesson #2a: Eating and/or drinking with viewing and/or listening to VoicePlay is dangerous, to yourself and possibly any electronics in range. I've warned about this before, but it's important.

Lesson #2b: You are no match for Earl. Because most of my near-choking VoicePlay induced moments have come from him. He cracks me up, which is a great thing. Unless water or some other beverage is involved.

Lesson #3: Becoming a VoicePlay fan means that at some point, you're going to randomly think of something funny they've done. This can make you look like a lunatic in public. My go-to example: watching a guitarist switch to a banjo during a concert and getting a mental picture of Geoff holding up his sign from "Miley Cyrus". In which the word banjo takes on a hilarious (and frankly, disturbing) new meaning. Hello, unexpected giggle fit. And hello to the lady that was at the next table giving me funny looks. Which takes me to...

Lesson #4a: You know another surefire way to get funny looks from complete and total strangers? Try rapping along with VoicePlay. Oh yes, this is a thing that has happened. Along those lines...

Lesson #4b: There are people in this world who have entirely no business rapping. I am, without question, one of those people. It's bad, y'all. Leading us to this fact...

Lesson #4c: You are not Eli. Attempting to imitate Eli (like, say, by trying to sing/rap along with him on their "Ride" cover) is not advised. Odds are at some point, you're just going to say the heck with it and sing along with Geoff instead. Help me, indeed.

Lesson #5: You know who else you're probably not? Layne. Trying to imitate him will probably also lead to getting funny looks. From your dog. Everyone's a critic.

Lesson #6a: It would appear that the more you find yourself stuck in traffic, the more Tonylike you become.

Lesson #6b: I've said it before, but it holds true. Belting your swears is incredibly cathartic. So next time you feel stressed? Put on "Stuck in Traffic" and sing along. Let Tony inspire you and really go for it at the end. Remember to use your diaphragm for maximum effect.

Lesson #7a: Don't take yourself too seriously. No really, don't. That said...

Lesson #7b: Take your passions seriously. Whatever those passions may be. Don't just settle for the bare minimum. Always go at least one step further. If not more.

Today's video is a new version of "Grim Grinning Ghosts", a song that you can find on their fabulous Once Upon an Ever After album (review found here). They did a live version of this song for their YouTube channel four years ago. You can watch that here. I'm going to be honest and admit that I had a few little misgivings about them doing a new version because it could've been basically the same, visually speaking. That said...

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Video spotlight: Stitches by Evynne Hollens

I was combing through various videos, trying to think of another one I could highlight for these last couple of days before Halloween. There's so many options to choose from that it makes me feel bad that I didn't decide to feature creepy or dark videos earlier in the month. There were some other, more Halloween-y videos I could have gone with, but this one popped up in my suggested videos on YouTube. I'd forgotten this video and thought it'd be a great choice.

 The song is "Stitches", originally by Shawn Mendes. This version is performed by the incredible Evynne Hollens. As I've said, Evynne has become one of my favorite female singers. She might even be my absolute favorite. She has such a beautiful voice and an ability to make it do whatever it needs to do to suit whatever song she's singing at the time. Listening to Evynne singing is always a treat. On top of that, she's a wonderful performer who always makes you really feel the lyrics. This song features the very talented Nathan Alef on piano and he did the arrangement as well. What a great job he did! Nathan actually has his own YouTube channel where he has a solo piano version of "Stitches" that's just beautiful. You can watch that here. I always enjoy listening to him play. Especially since he plays with feeling, which I always appreciate. Definitely go watch out his version. 

If you've never heard "Stitches", it's yet another story of a love gone terribly wrong. It's about someone who has fallen in love with the wrong person. To say the least. A person who has hurt the narrator more than any other person ever has, leaving them struggling to piece themselves back together. Leaving them in need of stitches. It's an interesting lyric and I really liked Evynne and Nathan's creepy take on it. It starts off innocently enough and then, well, you'll see. 

Check it out.

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.