Kevin Card’s “Fill in The Blank” Music Awards for 2013

*All of the opinions held within are my own and do not represent the artist or any employer I might have.

Hello WordPress, we come again to my yearly music awards blog. The list is going to a lot longer this year as I’m expanding the categories to different genres. Without further wait, here is my second installment of “Kevin Card’s Fill in the Blank Music Awards of 2013”

Most Overplayed Song: “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk ft. Pharell Williams

Now please understand I’m a long time Daft Punk fan, and I still really love this song. Overplayed doesn’t automatically mean overrated. Pharell did a wonderful job singing on this piece, and the fact that they had Nile Rodgers from Chic (one of the best disco groups of the 70s) only makes this song so much more amazing. Plus the music video’s pretty surreal and interesting; my guess is that it’s about individuality. But, the radio stations have a tendency to run great songs straight into the ground with being played too much. We need only look at what the radio industry did to Gotye to see that I’m speaking the truth. So I wish I could have put this higher on my list, but the public wouldn’t agree because they’ve heard the song too much. I’m still going to say that Random Access Memories by Daft Punk is one of the best albums of the year though due to its catchy songs and progressive edge.

Best Country Song:  “Better Dig Two” by The Band Perry

As a suburban northern liberal from Massachusetts I don’t often enjoy listening to Country (new country especially.) But, I’m including this song to broaden my horizons. The reason I put this particular song is because of its kickass southern attitude that reminds me of country’s better songs from past decades (yes, I like those “twangy” years better.) I like how vocalist Kimberly Perry is basically saying “Back off from my man, or I will kill you” since it makes for great storytelling in a song.

Worst Country Song:  “Hope on the Rocks” by Toby Keith

I respect what this song was trying to do by trying to be different since so many country songs were all the same this year. But I just feel the lyrics are way too depressing for their own good since it’s about how a bartender is acting as a therapist to broken souls who have turned to alcoholism to sooth their troubles. It’s realistic to problem drinking, but I feel like country is generally about happier side of drinking at a bar. Musically, I feel something more depressing and in the style of folk would have worked better.

Best Tribute Song: “All of My Memories” John Denver Cover by Kathleen Edwards

Speaking of where country and folk songs converge, I’ve been a longtime of John Denver since his music helped nurse me back to emotional health back in 2010. Not only does this song capture the emotion of the original perfectly, it’s also doing what a tribute song to a dead artist should do: say feel better now. Yes, I’m saying that this song to me is like saying “RIP John, I know you’re in a better place now.” Edwards did an amazing job with the music and singing that this piece moved to tears.

Worst Tribute Song: “Annie’s Song” John Denver Cover by Brett Dennen and Milow

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I feel this cover spits on the face of the original due to how low-key and (for lack of a better term) Hipster-y it sounds. It’s too happy and loses all the charm and power the original song had. Granted that the song doesn’t have to be like the original, but I’ve heard punk rock covers of this song better than this particular version. If you want a quality touching and relaxing cover of “Annie’s Song” then check out the cover that Weezer did and ignore this bubblegum waste of three minutes of your life.

Best Rap Song: “Same Love” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Mary Lambert

I became familiar with Macklemore this year after hearing this song on the radio, and not only is this song progressive musically but also socially and politically. I enjoy this song not only for the amazing accompaniment, but also for the message against bigotry in hip-hop and America at large. And as the recent Duck Dynasty controversy has proven; there is still much hate out there (just because you have the right to say something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to say!) It seems that with every step forward for the fight in equality there’s always two steps back. But I’ll take a little progress over no progress any day.

Worst Rap Song: “Bound 2” Kanye West

On to the subject of Bigotry, Kanye West is a very vocal component of people fighting racism. I have mixed feelings on the Yeezus album, as I like the song “Black Skinhead” for the edgy composition it has. This song is the exact opposite. The message to Kim Kardashian is sweet, but the sampled part of “Bound” by the Ponderosa Twins is played way too many times for comfort and becomes grating on the ears when listening to West’s poorly intoned rapping and that completely random contrasting non sampled part doesn’t even seem to fit in at all. I respect West for being a successful rapper who experiments with different techniques, but I really dislike this particular song.

Most Enjoyable Pop Song: “Team” by Lorde

Lorde made her freshman debut this year with the single “Royals” and her EP “Pure Heroin.” and while I enjoy how “Royals” sounds musically, I think the chorus in this song just steals the show from her other lead single, it’s just pure ear candy with how it sounds. I find the intro a tiny bit weird, but this song just builds to such an amazing climax that is the most enjoyable pop song of the year from one of the best artists of the year.

Best Composed Pop Song: “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake

I feel like many people overlooked this song at different award ceremonies this year, but I shall give it the attention the song deserves. I haven’t really been a fan of Justin Timberlake over the years, but I’ve fallen in love with this song for the effort Timberlake put into the accompaniment. From the catchy beatboxing and the guitar and strings in the background, to Timberlake’s heart filled singing about the love of his life I really love the composition in this piece.

Worst Overall Pop Song:  “23” by Mike Wills Made It, Miley Cyrus

I’m not going to lie, this song is pretty awful. It’s awful because of how mediocre and annoying the beat is. It reminds of all the throwaway pieces from the musical Dark Ages of 2010 with how artificial and boring it all sounds. I’ve personally never heard of Mike Wills before I reviewed this song, so I’m willing to bet that Cyrus helped get this song notoriety. Overall, this song is purely forgettable as I can tell it’s just another “hanging out in the club” type of song and a tired standard of the pop music scene from the past seven years.

Best Retro Throwback: “Treasure” by Bruno Mars

This piece is my favorite Bruno Mars song since I heard “The Lazy Song” back in 2011. This song reminds of the better songs of Michael Jackson, and it really shows when you listen closely. I really dig the prominent ‘fat’ sounding slap bass line, and the wonderful ‘eargasmic’ chorus. I know people who hate on Bruno Mars quite often, and I don’t like all of his songs. But, he’s one of the best pop vocalists in recent times and I respect him highly for that.

Best Viral Hit: “The Fox” by Ylvis

In no way can this song compete with Gagnam Style or Dragostea Din Dei (“The Numa Numa” song, remember that?!) However, I like how over the top this song is. It’s not a great song, but it works in the same the songs the Lonely Island produce: just something stupid that people can get a quick laugh from to brighten up their day. Also, Foxes actually sound like adorable puppies. Not eccentric Norwegian folks who also happen to love my home state of MASS.

Best Heavy Metal Hit: “Lift Me Up” By Five Finger Death Punch ft. Rob Halford

This song and the album it was on were just freaking amazing! I love the buildup they use and the lyrics representing hope (rising from the ashes like a Phoenix). Ivan Moody sounds amazing, but I really think Rob Halford’s harmonies and verses steal the show here. Halford is one of the best vocalists in metal after all, and Five Finger Death Punch choosing him for this song proves they have great taste. The songs and message on this album are very personal to me since I can relate having had a struggle filled year that music and my friends helped me get through.

Best Underground Metal Hit: “King of the Underdogs” by Newsted

With a title like “King of the Underdogs” how could I not give best underground metal piece? I enjoy the prominent bass playing and Newsted’s amazing lead vocals. The guitars have taken a back seat, but that’s what happens when the rhythm section takes over for lead instruments. Not many people gave Jason Newsted a warm welcome into the world of heavy metal despite his many fans and the publicity that his new band “Newsted” received. They’ve said things like “His voice and the album production are awful. I also think his songs are boring.” I disagree; Newsted has always been a man who cares deeply about music in his life and in many ways he’s my spiritual music idol. I’ve seen and reviewed Newsted (the band) live and they sound amazing with a quality sound person. I guess I can slightly agree the production on his music is lacking, but to me it just sounds different and it’s still a lot better than “And Justice For All” as far as mixing goes!!

Best Love Song: “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry

I’ve never really been a big fan of Katy Perry as I have found her music to be tonally empty and bland. Perry’s song “Roar” I’ve heard too often and was never impressed with (and I could less about if it was actually plagiarized.) However, this song has an enjoyable beat, and a lovely message of letting love back into your life. The song also demonstrates that with great production Perry’s voice can sound phenomenal. It’s a very soothing song, and love’s a soothing emotion; so it’s a perfect match.

Dumbest Hit of the Year: “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke ft. TI and Pharell

Obviously I’m not the first person to speak about how this song is degrading to women, and I won’t be the last either. I just feel like this song is stupid because it had such potential because of the fun beat and silly feel of the music to be great, but it was wasted when the lyrics reflected the intentions of a catcalling moron who doesn’t except no for an answer. Thicke’s comments on the song never really helped the situation either. I liked the song when I first heard it, but I know now that it’s just a one-hit-wonder that only managed to piss people off and argue more than make them dance in a club.

Most Majestic Song: “Pompeii” by Bastille

If I had to give the “band of the year award” it would be to Bastille with Imagine Dragons in a close second place. I really, really love this song for the overall feel and the message of two citizens of Pompeii speaking to each other before they meet their end. What really adds the “majesty” to this piece is the Gregorian Chant heard during throughout the song. If you like this song by Bastille, check out their album “Bad Blood” since it’s the most epic thing I’ve ever heard musically and lyrically.

Worst song of the year: “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus

Now please understand, any objection I have to Miley Cyrus is about her music and racial insensitivity. It has nothing to do with her sex life. This song isn’t awful for the composition, but for the subject matter endless drug abuse and partying as the slow beat drones on that doesn’t really fit what a proper party anthem should be (LMFAO anybody??) My feelings on Miley Cyrus and her new career “bold business moves” can be summed up as this: why does making money take precedence more than one’s own dignity? I heard her new album “Bangerz” and the album morbidly sucked. In regards to the VMAs, even if a woman strips down to her undies on national TV and “twerks” Robin Thicke, doesn’t mean she’s a bad person or a “slut” (though making references to Thug Life doesn’t help.) I’m going to throw out there that I may feel that Cyrus looked “prettier” before she dyed and cut her hair, but what she does with her body is not my business; it’s Cyrus’s business and hers alone. At the end of the day, the people in most need of a hug are not Cyrus or the people who witnessed the VMA travesty, but those old  Cyrus fans who now feel betrayed.

Best song of the year: “Wake Me Up” by Avicii

I spent a lot of time deciding on what to put for this category. While this song may not be as epic as some of my previous choices for song of the year, it’s certainly very meaningful in terms of living your life. The message of this song is about becoming who you are, but not rushing the process so you can live your life in a meaningful way. I really like how it goes from being a sort of generic spiritual song to a modern day dance piece as it was an interesting choice stylistically. Overall, I really relate the better moments in my life this year to this song as I’ve grown as a person at my own rate.

Well there we have it, my long winded musings, thoughts, rants and awards for this year. 2013 overall was an interesting year pop culturally with its music and amazing television shows (Doctor Who, Walking Dead and Breaking Bad anybody?) 2013 was also a harsh year for me to deal with, so I’m glad to see it come to an end. I am ready to welcome 2014 and see what it has to bring.

Happy New Years everybody!

-Tatteybye

Newsted Live at the Middle East Downstairs Concert Review

The recently formed band Newsted played The Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge, Mass on May 22nd. For those who don’t know, Ex Metallica Bassist Jason Newsted started his new band “Newsted” for himself and his fans to show his love of rock. Its members include Mr. Newsted himself on bass and lead vocals, Drummer Jesus Mendez Jr., and Mike Mushok (from Staind) and Jessie Farnsworth on guitar. The band’s current goal is to bring Metal back from the underground to the world (sort of like what I try to do when I interview rock bands, haha).

Before the show, I caught a glimpse of Jason Newsted taking a photo with some fans (below), then managed to yell out to that he was my Idol. Newsted responded by saying “You’re my Idol too, man!” I then yelled that I’d be posting an online review of his Concert at The Middle East Downstairs, to which he threw me a peace sign. As a bass player and aspiring Entertainment Journalist (plus as someone who faced a lot of hazing in my childhood like Newsted did in Metallica), half the reason I took this career path was to meet with famous musicians whom I deeply respect.

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The first band was a very Avant-Garde Metal-Core group named Acaro. They held a respectable crowd reaction; had a strong sound loyal to their genre, but managed to mix in some interesting riffs melodically. The lead guitarist, drummer, rhythm guitarist, and bass player were amazing. Notable songs include “For Ever” about lost loved ones, and a song where the bass player had this gorgeous bass intro on their last song. They have a strong future and tight sound.

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(http://www.reverbnation.com/acaro)

The second band, a group named “Wilson” from Detroit was more classic/hard rock influenced (think Dead Kennedys, Rush, Motorhead, and ACDC). They had a strong set list. The front man was very personable via jumping out into the crowd, and allowing people to sing into the microphone. During one song, the lead singer brought out a few beer bottles and starting playing them like a percussion instrument, and one by one the four band members took the beers away to drink.

In Wilson’s last song the lead singer brought out a marching drum that said “Fuckery” on it to everyone’s amusement. Towards the end of the night Wilson did a kick-ass cover of “Back in Black” where people from the crowd were able to sing along during the chorus. They’re definitely a great band that pairs well with Newsted.

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(http://www.reverbnation.com/wilsonparties)

When Newsted (the band) came on stage, the crowd went WILD!! In fact, some people were escorted off stage (one fan allegedly tried to push Newsted off of the stage recently as well). Newsted (band) opened up with a free jam, then Played Solider Head. He also played Metallica songs like Creeping Death, and Whiplash along his songs off the Metal EP like “King of the Underdogs” and songs from his upcoming album. During the end of one song, Mr. Newsted referenced the Boston Strong motto and thanked the fans for their positive energy and enthusiasm.

In each song, Newsted presented himself very optimistically as a front man using very emotion filled vocals, and expressing very animated body language and facial expressions while playing to set the mood of the song (along with the music). Newsted explained the entire American tour was to be used as a launch pad before the band goes global, and the release of their first album in August of this year.

Towards the end of the show Newsted took out his bass, sat on the edge of the stage alone and played the opening to My Friend of Misery to everyone’s astonishment. MFOM was so awesome; I could have died a happy man at that very moment from hearing my favorite bass riff ever played live finally!

This was by far the best concert of my life so far, since I got a fist bump from Jason and my friend Brad caught Mushok’s guitar pic. My only two complaints are that the vocal mics could have been a tiny bit louder, and that I didn’t get to be a good fan-girl and get the autographs of the band members. The band Newsted closed with two more songs that rocked the crowd and got everybody in a great mood! As the show started to end, fans left feeling very happy about the music that was played in an effort to bring Metal back to the music world, and with that night as any indication; it will come back with a vengeance!!

-Tatteybye.

*All photos and videos credited to me, names were not used.