Music

As a former high school student of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, aka the Fame school, I have been exposed to all types of music including classical, hip-hop, world, folk and polka to name a few. It was such a great experience attending an arts school as an instrumental major because you are surrounded by so many music enthusiasts like yourself.

Each semester we were required to attend two concerts – one at the school, the other outside at a professional level – and write a report on it. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to attend too many concerts during my undergraduate years due to time and cost. On the off chance that I do attend live shows, I usually see a friend perform at gigs or benefit concerts. The Lower East Side is a great place to roam around if you’re looking for a place to listen to local bands. Now, most of my music enjoyment comes from the internet via sites like YouTube, Spotify, Pandora and Songza. I usually like to listen to a genre at a time. For example, I wouldn’t listen to Allen Stone’s “Unaware” right after jamming out to Art Blakey’s “Moanin’.” I also listen to different genres for different moods – Motown for cooking, pop for getting ready in the morning and classical for tea time.

I find myself going deep into the lyrics and background story for hip hop and rap songs, only reason being I don’t know where or what the references are from. This is when Rap Genius comes in handy. A few years ago, I came across a live Nicki Minaj performance on BBC’s Graham Norton Show and she was singing/rapping her hit songBeez in a Trap.” I had no idea what this meant and knew it couldn’t possibly be referring to bees getting trapped in their own honey or a bee trap. According to rapgenius.com, “the ‘trap’ is the drug dealing spot or any place where you get money. The originally Southern term has become so common as to have spawned its own genre.” Despite the meaning of the song and the numerous cuss words, I still enjoy listening to it and singing along to it in the privacy of my own room.

I always get stumped whenever someone asks me what my favorite song is or who my favorite artist is because there are too many to choose from. Off the top of my head, I would have to say “Sway” is my favorite song and Beyonce is my favorite artist. If you were to ask me the same question ten seconds later, I would answer “Poetic Justice” and Lester Young. All Disney songs are my guilty pleasure. I’d be embarrassed if “Minnie’s Yoo Hoo!” from the Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic album popped up on my iPod at a BBQ.

In order to like a song, my head must be bobbing to the beat at some point if not for the whole duration. Dr. Alison Pawley and Dr. Daniel Mullensiefen of the University of London delved into what makes a song ‘catchy.’ According to their research, the song must have longer and detailed musical phrases, higher number of pitched in the chorus hook, male vocalists and higher male voices with noticeable vocal effort. A few artists that come in mind after reading these traits are Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, Adam Levine and Justin Timberlake, all of whom have multiple catchy songs.

Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Atoms for Peace also fits into this category of catchy artists. When I listened to York’s, “The Daily Mail” the first three notes reminded me of those from the graduation song, Pomp and Circumstance. The minor key automatically sets the mood for this song to something deep and heavy. It was a bit difficult figuring out what the artist was saying. After looking up the lyrics, I knew that the song was definitely related to politics with key words and phrases like paid off, President, lost command and the Daily Mail, which is a British tabloid that exposes all types of news stories.

After looking at the comments on songmeanings.com, one person said, “the song is about the eventual accountability of the insane egotistic sociopaths with power (“lord of all”), like those responsible for the financial crisis, who will justify (“to keep your prices down”) any egregious acts (“no regard for human life”).” This explanation isn’t too far off from my assumption that the song was delved in politics. Ultimately, this song is about revolution, political and economic change. This song is saying that “the fish in the sea” (we the people) are being lied to by political officials who have “no regard for human life.” With all this mind, it definitely changed my perspective of the song listening to it a second time. It felt heavier and sadder.

Beez in a Trap http://rapgenius.com/Nicki-minaj-beez-in-the-trap-lyrics

Catchy songs http://www.zmescience.com/research/studies/what-makes-a-song-catchy-science-explains/

Daily Mail http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/3530822107858875121/ 

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