#OnRepeat: Brett Eldredge’s “The Long Way”

This week I’ve had Brett Eldredge’s “The Long Way” #OnRepeat. I recently heard this guy sing to his dog in an Instagram post, and after looking up his music and his voice, have been hooked ever since.

Brett Eldredge is a singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, and record producer from Paris, Illinois. He got his start co-writing songs with Country singers like Gary Allen, and was releasing singles by the beginning of 2010, debuting his studio album Bring You Back in August of 2013. Some of his most well-known songs are “Mean to Me,” “Lose My Mind,” and “Drunk on Your Love.”

“The Long Way” is a song written by Brett Eldredge from his self-titled 2017 album with lyrics that are told from the point of view of a person who wants to learn everything about the town where their loved one grew up so they can find out more about that person. I have never really been a big fan of country, but Brett’s voice has a full-bodied, rich and deep timbre that you don’t hear very often with country singers. This song’s lyrics caught my attention because of the genuine interest the narrator has to learn everything about their significant other; both the good and the bad, because it makes them fall in love with the other all the more. Brett’s voice brings a depth to the song that you wouldn’t get with another singer because of the clear evidence of both country, pop, and crooner-style jazz in his performance style.

Take a listen below:

 

What do you guys think? Do you have a favorite country song? Leave a comment below!

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#OnRepeat: Keala Settle’s “This is Me (from The Greatest Showman)”

This week, I’ve had “This is Me” sung by Keala Settle from musical, The Greatest Showman. I must admit that I haven’t seen the actual movie yet, however, after hearing this song along with the rest of the music from the movie musical, I definitely plan on seeing this movie as soon as I can get my hands on it.

The Greatest Showman is a musical based on the story of P.T. Barnum’s life, the creation of his Barnum & Bailey Circus, and the performers who starred in his show. I have been a huge fan of Hugh Jackman since his performance in the film adaptation of Les Miserables, but I was even more impressed with this musical soundtrack because of the pure physicality of the performers for this musical; especially Keala Settle.

Keala Settle is a singer, actor and performer from Hawaii, who has an extensive theatrical career with several awards and nominations. Her voice is a perfect blend of R&B, Pop, Gospel, Soul and Blues influences, both powerful and subtle at the same time. “This Is Me” is an inspirational song told from the perspective of someone who grew up ashamed of themselves, but finally realizing that, despite what others say or think, you need to embrace who you are no matter what. Her vocal inflections and melodic and stylistic phrasing mirror the angst, desperation, defiance, and inner-strength depicted in the lyrics of the song, “This Is Me.” I’m not sure why I haven’t come across Keala’s music or performances before, but I will definitely be on the look out for her music in the future.

Take a listen below:

What do you think? Do you have another favorite song from The Greatest Showman? Leave a comment below!

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#OnRepeat: The Cranberries’ “Linger”

This week, I’ve had The Cranberries’ “Linger” #OnRepeat. This past week the lead singer of the Cranberries, Dolores O’Riordan, passed away, so I’ve been listening to a lot of their music. This song was one of my favorites from my childhood.

The Cranberries were a rock band from Limerick, Ireland that formed in 1989. O’Riordan joined as the lead singer two years later, and after the release of their debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, they gained international recognition. Even though The Cranberries are considered an alternative rock band, their music blends influences of Punk, Irish Folk, Pop Rock and Indie-Pop music. Some of their most well-Known songs are “Zombie,” “Dreams,” “Promises,” and “Ridiculous Thoughts.”

The song “Linger” was written and released in 1993 for their debut album. Interestingly enough, the song lyrics were originally written by The Cranberries’ first lead singer, Niall Quinn, but when Niall left and O’Riordan joined the band, she wrote her own set of lyrics for the song, writing the lyrics with a theme of regret, first love and first kiss. Dolores’ voice is sombre yet almost wails in some points of the song’s melody, emphasizing the confusion, desperation, and melancholic-like feeling you get when you first fall in love. The country and Irish Folk style of singing can be heard in the stylistic choices that O’Riordan choses while singing; these bring an air of grit and wistfulness to the song as well.

Take a listen below:

 

Do you have a favorite song by The Cranberries? Leave a comment below!

 

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#OnRepeat: Molly Johnson’s “Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)”

 

 

So this week, I’ve had Molly Johnson’s “Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)” #OnRepeat. I came across it randomly (Pandora is something amazing), and I don’t know why I haven’t come across this swanky, funky song sooner.

Molly Johnson is an award-winning Jazz and Pop singer-songwriter and radio host from Ontario, Canada. She began singing at a young age and got her start singing back-up vocals for Rock and Pop bands in Canada, finally releasing her first solo album in 2000. Some of her most well-known songs are “If You Know Love,” “I Must Have Left My Heart,” and “My Oh My.” She currently tours in Canada and France, and is working on a black Canadian history project.

“Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)”is a song written by Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton, and Lionel Richie in 1985 for the Steven Spielberg movie The Color Purple. The song–which was nominated for an Academy Award–is written in the Blues and Ragtime style, with lyrics that are sung from the point of view of woman who tells another woman that they are more alike than they think and that she cares and thinks about her all the time. Although this song has been considered, in some circles, to be an anthem for the Black Lesbian community, I like to think that the song represents the kindred spirit that women of all backgrounds tend to (and should) share with each other. Molly Johnson’s smokey, raspy voice adds to the Blues/Ragtime feel and gives that funky flavor to the song that is reminiscent of the original found in the movie.

Take a listen below:

The original from The Color Purple can be found below for reference:

So what do you think? Which version is your favorite? Leave a comment and say why!

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#OnRepeat: Aaron Neville’s “Please Come Home for Christmas”

This week, I’ve had Aaron Neville’s version of “Please Come Home for Christmas” #OnRepeat. Yes, I am still riding the Christmas train since the holidays went by way too fast this year. Besides, who doesn’t love Christmas music?

I have written about Aaron Neville before, but for those who don’t know, Neville is a Soul and R&B singer from New Orleans, Louisiana. He has a distinctive tenor vocal range and his stylistic vocal inflections have become a part of the classic R&B sound of the 1960s and 1970s. Some of his most well-known songs are “Everybody Plays the Fool,” “Don’t Know Much,” and “Over You.”

“Please Come Home for Christmas” was written and released first in 1960 by Charles Brown and Gene Redd. The lyrics are told from the point of view of someone having to celebrate the Christmas holiday without their significant other because they have left them. Neville’s version of this classic R&B Christmas song is probably one of my favorites since his soulful voice pours out over every word, making you think the narrator is physically heart-broken to the point of near exhaustion. His voice naturally draws out the angst and deep pain found in the lyrics of the song, yet his high voice floats effortlessly, giving the impression of the hidden hope that the narrator  has for his lover to come back.

Take a listen below:

Will you be adding this to your Christmas playlist next year? Leave a comment with your favorite holiday song!

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#OnRepeat: Stevie Wonder’s “Some Day at Christmas

This week, I’ve had Stevie Wonder’s “Someday at Christmas” #OnRepeat. I saw an a cappella group perform this song at Disneyland California Adventure for their Festival of Holidays and the melody has been stuck in my head ever since.

I know I’ve written about Stevie Wonder before, but those who haven’t read that or who haven’t come across his music, Stevie Wonder is a blind singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist from Michigan. He is famous for his recordings he did with Motown, which include “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” “Superstition,” “You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” and “Overjoyed.”

“Someday at Christmas” was written and recorded in 1967 by Stevie Wonder for his Christmas album, and is a song whose lyrics talk about the hope for peace, joy and freedom in the future during the holiday season. Stevie Wonder’s wide vocal range and great improvisational skills exemplify the hope and warmth the exudes from the lyrics of the song. The melody is simple and memorable, like a lullaby, making you sing this song long after it has stopped playing.

Take a listen below:

What is your favorite holiday song?

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#OnRepeat: “Remember Me” from the Disney/Pixar original film, Coco

This week, I’ve had the Disney/Pixar film Coco theme song “Remember Me” #OnRepeat. I went to see the movie over the holiday weekend and I can’t get the song out of my head. I also can’t stop a lump from forming in my throat whenever I hear it.

The movie, Coco, tells the tale of a boy who longs to become a musician but is forbidden by his family to play music. He is transported to the land of the dead when he steals his musical idol’s guitar and must gain his ancestors’ blessing in order to return to the land of the living. There are major themes of family, love, acceptance and remembering or honoring someone’s memory—all are portrayed in meaningful and subtle ways throughout the film, this song being a strong example of all of them combined.

There are several different versions of the song “Remember Me,” but the most memorable (and tear-jerking) versions for me being the bare, acoustic guitar versions sung by the character of Hector (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) in both English and Spanish. The lyrics are from the point of view of a loved one who has to be separated from another person, so they ask them to remember how much they love each other even though they’re apart. Bernal’s gravely, yet deep voice perfectly conveys the charm yet simultaneous insecurities and deep love that the character Hector has for his loved ones. The acoustic guitar merely adds the vulnerability that is found when expressing your love for another. So in other words, this is a beautiful song that will most definitely make you stop in your tracks (and potentially ugly cry hard). I know I did.

I wish I could find a clip of the scene where Miguel is singing this song to his great grandma, Coco, but here are the Spanish and English recordings of the song for now.

Listen below:

What do you think? Which version is your favorite? Leave a comment below!

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#OnRepeat: Jennifer Hudson’s “Golden Slumbers/ Carry That Weight”

Have you ever heard a song that you not only can’t stop listening to, but also can’t stop singing? That’s what it’s been like with this week’s #OnRepeat song “Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight” by Jennifer Hudson.

Jennifer Hudson is a singer, songwriter, and actress from Chicago, Illinois who got her start on the American Idol reality show. Although she didn’t win, she went on to star as Effie White in the film adaptation of the musical, Dreamgirls, which helped catapult her career with Oscar and Golden Globe nominations and awards. Her powerful voice and show-stopping performance style has earned her several Grammy awards. Some of her most well-known songs include “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going,” “Spotlight,” and “If This Isn’t Love.”

“Golden Slumbers/ Carry That Weight” is a song by the Beatles that was part of a six-part medley for their album, Abbey Road, in 1969. The song is written almost in lullaby-like form, and although the lyrics are somewhat vague, one can surmise that the song is sung from the point of view of a friend or loved one comforting another. Jennifer Hudson’s wide range and powerful voice are showcased in the song’s climactic melody; her deep, expressive voice mirrors the deep love, nurturing nature and understanding that can be found in the lyrics of “Golden Slumbers.” This song has quickly become a favorite of mine. Take a listen below:

 

The Beatles’ version is below for reference:

 

 

Which version do you like more? Is there an artist or group that you can’t stop listening to? Leave comment below!

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#OnRepeat: James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)”

I seem to be on a Robin Williams movie streak this week, so James Browns’ “I Got You (I Feel Good)” is #OnRepeat this week. This was the perfect song in the movie, Good Morning Vietnam, to showcase the difference between Williams’ character’s on-air personality and others before him.

James Brown was a singer, songwriter, producer, dancer and arranger from South Carolina who got his start as a Gospel singer who performed lead for the group The Famous Flames, later going off on his own for a very successful solo career. The music he would later produce with his James Brown band, mixing Gospel, Blues, and Jazz, would help to influence the development of Funk music in the late 1960s. He was known for his raspy, yet powerful voice and energetic stage performances. Some of his most well-known songs from throughout his career are “Try Me,” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,” and “The Payback.”

“I Got You (I Feel Good)” was recorded as a single by James Brown in 1964 and is one of Brown’s most popular recordings. The lyrics are told from the perspective of someone who is absolutely besides themselves with happiness because they have the one they love. Brown’s use of screams, shouts, and his use of belting, rhythmic feel, and melodic phrasing give the song the iconic energy and soul that is James Brown. I can never help but dance in my seat whenever I hear this song (because I’m usually driving or sitting down for some reason).

Take a listen below:

 

What do you think? Do you have another James Brown song you love to listen to?

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#OnRepeat: Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell On You”

This week is the week leading up to Halloween and, therefore, Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell On You” has been #OnRepeat, especially because Bette Midler kills her version of this song in the movie Hocus Pocus (a movie I watch every year during this time).

Nina Simone was a songwriter, pianist, arranger, singer and an activist from North Carolina who was known as a Jazz vocalist, but implemented Gospel, R&B, Blues, Jazz, and Pop music with elements of Classical music. She recorded more than 40 albums and her improvisational technique, musical arranging, stage presence and socially conscious performances made her one of the most influential singers of her time. Some of her most well-known songs are “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “Feeling Good,” “Sinner Man,” and “I Loves You, Porgy.”

“I Put A Spell On You” was originally written by the singer and actor, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in 1956 with a different theme, but–in true Nina Simone fashion–Simone changed around the words and musical arrangement, transforming it into a song about someone madly in love with someone else despite how they mistreat them. Her vocal licks, musical phrasing and her performance of the words made this one of her most well-known songs (it is definitely my favorite). The desperation, angst, and stubbornness conveyed in the lyrics is magnified by Simone’s powerful, deep voice, her use of long straight tones, and intermittent scatting.

Take a listen below:

Here is Bette Midler’s version of this song for reference:

Although I love Simone’s version, I cannot deny that both vocalists perform amazing versions of this classic song, both bringing their own unique interpretation of the lyrics and music.

What do you think? Which version do you like? Leave a comment below!

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