DreamyPop’s Musical Schematic

Not sure if that’s the right spelling.

I figure I’ll get in2 this blog about how I break down the music I listen to before I blow it off for something that’s… I dunno… not quite as interesting.
Not to me at least.

I mean, this place has become little more than a digital journal these days.

 

Just for “kicks”… not really because I didn’t stick around all that long.
I logged onto prince.org for (according to my profile) the first time in 7+ months. My last thread was about this blog and it was full of nothing more than people saying hi to me.
Which is nice, but I’d like this place to get a little more recognition.

For what? I have no goddam idea…
anyone who randomly comes by here that doesn’t know my writing all that well probably thinks I’m a whiny SOB complaining about how unfair life is when others are doing far worse…

The lyrics of “Free” come to mind.

I never quite established my “schematic”/scheme of things for the music I listen to.
There are exceptions to all of my personal rules.
They are as such as the rules I stick to as a music fan… someone who sometimes lives and breathes music, can play a little but isn’t brilliant enough to succeed with songwriting.

Rule #1
The artist(s) in question must write their own songs and play an instrument. These select few, I like to call musicians because of the 2nd part of that sentence.
This rule is the one I break the most out of all my rules… simply because it’s a little much to ask all the people I listen to to play instruments.
Strangely enough, I won’t necessarily label Robert Downey as a “musician” because, regardless of the fact he plays piano and wrote most of the album tracks, it isn’t his full-time profession. He’s a very strange case… so I’m more likely to call him a “singer/songwriter” in addition to the multi-talented actor I know him to be.

My musicians include:

  • Prince [obviously]
  • The Beatles (own 4 albums, but I much prefer their earlier stuff)
  • Michelle Branch*
  • Ryan Cabrera*
  • Foreigner
  • Richard Marx
  • Daughtry
  • Nickelback
  • Maroon 5
  • Taylor Swift*
  • Coldplay
  • Rob Thomas*
  • Lady Gaga*
  • John Mayer*
  • Hall & Oates
  • Green Day
  • Orianthi*
  • Three Doors Down
  • Wendy & Lisa

Musician is a very broad term, though. I *’ed individuals on this list because, after reconsidering, I think of them more as singer/songwriters than musicians. They are good exceptions because they can play an instrument and occasionally will do so on record (some moreso than others). By the masses, they tend to be known more as singer/songwriters because there are cases like Lady Gaga where you might not know until you do the research that they do play an instrument.

Musicians also tend to be the rarest specimens in my collection, or the ones I listen to generally… technically speaking, I listen to the likes of Heart, Lifehouse, Fleetwood Mac and The Bangles on occasion and they play instruments, write their own music and sing (well, duh, obviously), but I might not necessarily own their albums. I will listen to them on the radio, though

Rule #2
The artist(s) in question has to write their own songs and may/may not play an instrument

As of… let’s see, 2002-3, after the boy bands fizzled, singer/songwriters became the category of musical artist that I consider to be my type of music.
But there is an outrageous amount of categories in which these guys fall into.
There are the R&B guys, people that stick with pop… and there are several like Lady Gaga that span a couple of genres. Technically speaking, she’s probably got the widest range of music that her stuff covers of anyone I listen to.

I guess what I can do next to go through my album catalog… yeah, I’m cheating, I got my Excel sheet out so I don’t miss anyone terribly important.
With parentheses I’ll try to label each one of them as to what genre they fit into.

  • John Mayer (soft rock)
  • Orianthi (pop/rock)
  • Taylor Swift (country/pop)
  • Rob Thomas (pop/rock)
  • Jason DeRulo (R&B)
  • Lady Gaga (pop, R&B, hip-hop, techno)
  • Michelle Branch (soft rock, pop)
  • Ryan Cabrera (pop/rock)
  • Alanis Morisette (soft rock, pop)
  • Michael Bublé (pop)
  • Kris Allen (soft rock, pop)
  • Katy Perry (pop, R&B/hip-hop)
  • Robert Downey Jr. (jazz, pop, soft rock)
  • Michael Jackson (pop)
  • Madonna (pop)
  • Jesse McCartney (pop/rock, R&B)
    • so glad I had my chart, woulda forgotten one of my personal favorites
  • The Click Five (pop/rock)
  • Ashlee Simpson (pop)
  • Aly & AJ (pop, R&B)
  • Lindsay Lohan (pop)
  • Greg Raposo (rock)
    • I got Jesse, might as well have his former bandmate Greg here too
  • Nelly Furtado (R&B, spanish)

For me to qualify anyone as a singer/songwriter, they have to have songwriting credits on the majority of their songs. Jesse may be an exception because on his first and third albums, he only wrote a handful of the tracks… but there might be a little bias that plays into that too. But to defend myself further, I know for a fact he has creative say in the songs he puts on his albums. There were a couple of instances on his most recent album where he’d come into the studio, hear his songwriting guy working on something and likes what he hears enough to add his own flavor to it.
But then again, I think he talked about this with two songs he actually had credits on (“My Baby” and my fav. “Not your enemy”)

I own the albums of, so far, three American Idol winners. I haven’t listened to David Cook yet so I really can’t qualify one way or another where he stands… damn, I gotta listen to him soon, had that album for over a year

Kris Allen wrote all but at least 4 songs on his debut album, I double-checked…
Jordin… no credits whatsoever so I guess I’m outta luck with qualifying her under this system I have going.

There are a handful of artists I listen to that don’t have songwriting credits to their names. Yet I listen to them anyway.
American Idol people are one exception… in the fact that I like listening to them and despite not having the credits to their music, they have great songs

For my next personal rule, it only covers a handful of artists.

Rule #3
If rules 1 and 2 aren’t fulfilled, the artist(s) in question has to have a really good “instrument”

i.e.
they have to have an exceptional singing voice

Only two artists come to mind for me at this moment…

Clay Aiken & Josh Groban
Neither write their own songs… to the least of my knowledge, but I don’t mind listening to them sing on the grounds their voices are exceptional and unique… haven’t anything quite like them before

Rule #4
The artist(s) in question don’t write their own songs, play instruments and are labeled as “pre-packaged pop” by the hard-core music fans who miss the way music sounded back in the day…
but I listen to them because we have personal history, going back to a time where I didn’t care as much about people writing their own songs

This is pretty much the only way I can qualify my former boybands and Britney Spears as having a part in my music collection.
Of all the people I listened to back in the day… like the late 90’s, early 2K’s, Britney Spears and The Backstreet Boys are the only ones who have somewhat carried over in the next period of my music-loving life… i.e. when I started taking singer/songwriters to the point of make it or break it, as members of my music collection

Dream Street had broken up in 2002, shattering a big piece of where I was in the music industry… but I think the thing was that they ruled my world during that year… actually to the point of obsession, that had later carried over to Prince and Robert Downey… it didn’t occur to me to care too much about the fact that they didn’t write their own songs or play instruments… nobody I was listening to at the time fell under that category… I only saw five good looking guys around my age (unlike the previous boybands, who were in the late 20’s, early 30’s) with great voices…

The whole Beatles fever that happened in America when they came over… I dealt with that hysteria with these guys, but it was on a personal level.
And part of it was mental too.

Literally.
I wanted nothing more than to go to concert or a meet & greet because they actually do that kind of thing. Nobody else I listened to did autographs, as far as I knew, making them much more accessible.
Heck, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have gotten into the drama classes and tried out for the school musicals. Turns out my personality wasn’t good enough to be front and center, but there was always the companies.

Never ceased to piss me off that I never even got a call-back and they often cast the same people in all of the shows. Didn’t stop the fact I loved these actors to death, enjoyed their shows so much.

I got the showbiz bug temporarily… they inspired me to want to get a record deal or into acting.
I was so deluded by my hysteria that at a family party, I played their album and performed their choreography on stage by my lonesome.
My mom said that she didn’t want to say it in front of everyone, but apparently thought I looked like an idiot and shouldn’t have gone through the trouble.

She’s got this weird thing where she doesn’t want me to do my own thing when I’m dancing to music. There was a wedding where I did my own thing to another song and she discouraged it… maybe for my own sake.
UGH… for the love of God, I can’t dance… I look like an idiot just shifting my legs back and forth to the music and my arms do next to nothing. I felt better about my dancing ability when I was making up my own choreography. Why she discouraged, I haven’t the faintest clue.

She talked me out of the showbiz bug too. I wanted to go to dance classes because Chris Trousdale had been classically trained in pop and jazz… mostly on the grounds that she didn’t know how to make it work out for me.
I guess it’s one of those things where you have to know someone in show business to get into it.

Or like all those classic stories, you go to a random audition for a role, hit up exactly on what the casting crew is looking for and you become an celebrity overnight.
Particularly if you’re involved in a film adapation of a beloved children’s book series

My first Dream Street fanfiction was delusional, to say the least.
Firstly, I go to that one meet & greet, and after seeing me that one time, two of the five guys are head over heels… they manage to track me down and their record exces fly me out to see them, and then a recording contract comes next. And I end up touring with them… spending all this time with them. Later on, two of the other guys start to develop feelings for me… and yeah, I need a life. As if all of that is even possible.
Record deals are one thing, but all of the guys in the same room falling for the same girl… nobody is seriously that conceited to write something like that…

My theory on my bouts of delusion and insanity regarding the trends to go through my life…
the first time it happened was when I was recovering from my scoliosis surgery, stuck to my house for a couple of months after… I was going to return to school the following year (January). I was somewhat isolated, only had seen one or two of my friends in that short time, so I had to do something to occupy myself.
I had that dream that inspired a short story and the infatuation with the focal point of the dream blossomed from there. In my isolation, he became a really close friend and his stories entertained me to no end.

Therefore all of the other obsessions have caused me to isolate myself because I don’t believe anyone will take me seriously enough to listen… or rather want to listen to me go on and on about them.

So where was I?

Yeah, Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC and Britney Spears wrote some of their songs, but not the majority of them. And because I liked listening to them back in the day, well… would you stop listening to stuff you grew up with just because they don’t conform to your current beliefs?

Unless you’re part of some strict religion, I don’t see why not.

Rule #5

This applies more to songs more than artists, in the broader spectrum.

There are two key reasons why I won’t like certain songs.

a) it fails musically and lyrically and plain doesn’t sound all that great
b) the person in question isn’t an artist in my eyes, on the grounds that there’s no rhyme to the rhythm of their tracks and their lyrics are nothing more than a mishmosh of spoken word, there is no scale or notes in which the lyrics follow

There are some people in the music industry that just annoy me to no end, some for personal reasons and some simply because I don’t agree with what they’re doing.

Beyonce happens to a very popular person in the industry, but her stuff offers nothing I find enriching. There are no lyrics that really strike me as brilliant or tactful…
on most grounds, though, I think she just annoys the hell out of me because she just isn’t going away. There is rhythm and rhyme to the music and it follows scales. The lyrics are legit lyrics (unlike the majority of people under b) ) and she can sing… but I just don’t see anything particularly interesting about her. And I really don’t like the sound of her voice.
Got my own sense of bias here.

Rihanna breaks several of my “taboos” as to what I think is music.
She raps on a lot of her tracks, which I already find to be an unnatural venue in music… seeing as I don’t think of rapping as music at all…
and the music is often looped rhythms with no rhyme, often stolen from other artists (S.O.S. taken deliberately from “Tainted Love”)
As far as who breaks more of my personal rules, Rihanna is probably more guilty than Beyonce, whose stuff tends to make me worry about what artists might be influenced by that and taking the music industry further down the toliet than it already is

Then there are the rappers and hip-hoppers that never cease to annoy me… heck, making me want to send the majority of them to other planets so I wouldn’t have to deal with them.
They have their own mediums of “self-expression” which is as far as I’m going to take it. As far as I know, Eminen and several people like them don’t have anything to offer lyrically… most of it is angry, chock full of obscenities and probably inapproriate enough to turn my hair white…

Some of my favorite artists did dabble in hip-hop and if it’s done well, then I don’t mind it quite as much. But there’s a distinct science I have yet to define to formula as to what I think qualifies and what doesn’t.

Rule #6

If all else fails, there has to be rhyme to the rhythm…
the musical/lyrical hook has to be catchy
and if the music doesn’t qualify as being high-quality, the lyrics have to be tactful

There is such a broad spectrum regarding all of my artists and what songs I choose to listen to and others that I don’t.

I guess I’ve beat around the bush long enough and I’m finally going to go into the spectrum about what’s approriate and what isn’t.

Several artists have been deemed as controversial in one or other another. Some by their actions in the public eye, but the majority lies with the music itself as well as the accompanying images: concerts and music videos

Ironically, there are quite a few artists that I actively listen to that are controversial. That’s part of the reason why I picked them up in the first place. Occasionally I need a little dose of “the baddies” to explore that side of my personality that doesn’t dare go there by itself.

Okay, quite a few is a stretch… should I say, quite a few “albums” by these controversial artists exist in my collection.

Two people that exist in the music industry today fit this category.
One of which, I was in it for the catchy music and the rest just happened to be included.
The second seems to prove again and again that they’re willing to push the envelope as to what is approriate for their target audience

Is it coincidence that both of these artists happen to be female?
Not entirely… I figure with all of the guys in my music collection, there had to be a couple female artists to balance everything out.

Lady Gaga is more controversial in the public eye than in the music.
But then again, that isn’t to say there aren’t some songs she does that can be seen as somewhat inapproriate.

ummmmmmmmmmmm…. shoot, nothing comes to mind immediately.

“Love Game” is suggestive (“take a ride on your disco stick”)
“M.O.N.E.Y.” mentions the words “lover and mistress” right after each other
“I like it rough” is also suggestive

bits and pieces of her lyrics can be seen as inapproriate, I suppose, but what artist doesn’t have some innueundo in their lyrics in this day and age? Especially when sex sells more than a lot of other things

“Government Hooker” is somewhat inapproriate… like who would want to say they want to be a hooker in that blatant, nonchalant sense.
But, there’s the crux of it… the parts of the song I like are done well… i.e. it’s catchy as hell so its kinda hard for me to be too offended by it

Katy Perry first caught my attention when she performed on “So you think you can dance”… my favorite FOX reality show after American Idol… with the song “I kissed a girl”… turned a lot of heads and I’ll bet all of the guys were googling her after the show.

I liked that song and “Hot & Cold”… plus I figured I had to check into the controversy to see for myself the kind of artist she is.
There are a couple of songs on her debut album that unnerve me a little bit.

“I kissed a girl” is actually one of my favorites on the album and I found it more intriguing than disturbing…
sheesh, this coming from a person who might be bi-curious

There’s another song “You’re so gay” which is probably the least approriate of all of the tracks.
First, on the grounds that saying that phrase can be seen as offensive these days.
And second, on the very last lyric were the name of a part of the male anatomy is mentioned
The chorus goes as “you’re so gay and you don’t even like boys” and ends with “and you don’t even like…” well, fill in the blank cuz I’m sure not gonna type that word.

I’m more than comfortable with having Julian using the f-word and the full extent of “BS”… yet there are some words I will never type down, not even for the sake of dialogue and that’s how a certain person speaks.

Her second album, on the other hand, does have some lyrics that have caught attention, particularly by concerned parents who don’t want their little girls looking up to them or living by them… however you want to put it.

My mom has somewhat of a vendetta against Katy Perry because she doesn’t think it’s approriate for her to sing about the things she does with such a blatant disregard for consequences.
She’s not afraid to say that she enjoys the criticism she has.

I still haven’t seen the music video, but “California Gurls” raised a lot of eyebrows with her wardrobe… Lady Gaga has the strangest outfits and you’ll see in the Monster Ball concert that she’s cool with just wearing underwear onstage…
I believe there were scenes in this music video of partial nudity and a cupcake bra…

The song itself, I think is remotely harmless… nothing of major concern.
The mention of skimpy clothing could be a little much… bikini tops and Daisy Dukes

It is literally impossible to watch any reality show these days without them using the song “Firework” in the background during at least one montage… okay, I get the theme about wanting to let your colors shine without being ashamed… but I swear the innuendo in this song is ridiculously obvious… the end of each verse in the chorus ends with her crying out in a way that sounds oddly enough, to me, like something common in the bedroom

This is then followed by “Peacock”… where she says in the same rhythm of “Mickey mickey, you’re so fine…” something like “I wanna see your peacock, your peacock…”
Okay, she’s using a euphamism for a part of the male anatomy here, but c’mon… she’s not even trying to disguise the message of the lyrics.

Makes me blush almost as much as Erotic City… which I will get to later.

There are two songs in her “Teenage Dream” album that make up for some of the suggestive lyrics.

“Circle the Drain” is about speaking out against a boyfriend who relapses into addiction to pain-killers or pills and she’s not going to stick around to help him this last time

“Instoppable” is about a girl who used to be strong, but her boyfriend has kept her in the dark to keep her from outshining him or overpowering him… and it ends with her turning the tables, saying that anything is possible if you don’t let doubt or naysayers overtake you

Before I completely forget, I’ll go into two other singles from this album that my mom takes issue with. Both of which, I can understand why they aren’t approriate for teenage girls to listen to, but I don’t take issue with it personally because a) I know better and b) the song succeeds because the lyrics have the right amount of rhythm… i.e. so catchy that I could care less if they’re not approriate

“Teenage Dream” is my favorite of the singles that have come out so far.
Quick note about this and several other songs on the radio that I can’t help but listen to despite how I feel about the artist or the fact they aren’t singer/songwriters… Max Martin is probably the most brilliant pop song writer in the music industry these days because he knows how to write a great single, something catchy enough that people will remember and will convince them to pick up an entire album for.

He’s guilty of a couple of songs by Pink… but “Sober” is the only one I will listen to, simply because the rest kinda annoy me for one reason or another..
and Adam Lambert’s “What do you want from me”… well, hot damn… makes it hard to really hate this guy as much as I do because his songs are undeniable in getting my attention…

Technically speaking, the only thing that can fault a Max Martin creation to the point I can’t listen to it anymore… excessive radioplay

So yeah, “Teenage Dream” is about the blushful fantasy of having sex for the first time with your first serious high school boyfriend… the lyrics do very well on all fronts, and the rhythm of the chorus sells it every time… especially the final bridge that includes the words “skin-tight jeans”…
hey, I don’t advocate losing your virginity in high school either, but I’m too in love with the way the song is written and how it sounds musically and lyrically that it doesn’t bother me.

Several of Prince’s songs have inapproriate lyrics… at least they used to… but they often succeed because the music really outplays the lyrics and the lyrics are poetic and tactful enough to worm its way out of rubbing me the wrong way.

The only song I can think of where even great music doesn’t take away the fact the lyrics are so in your face that I find it near unlistenable a lot of the time: Erotic City…
the blatant disregard and casualness of “making babies… making love ’till cherry’s gone”… I’m sorry, but that doesn’t work for me.

The original version of “Feel U Up” that was written in the early 80’s… I can’t remember the music, but the fact of the matter is that the lyrics were so up front and casual about something that I’m uncomfortable with personally… I’m sorry, just can’t tolerate it.

The Camille version of the song… I am okay with simply because it’s Camille’s voice rather than Prince’s… I don’t have that same attraction to that “artist” as I do to Prince and his magnificant voice with amazing range

Ugh… might be in trouble with Erotic City, though… the catchyness of the inapproriate lyrics might eventually change my mind shoot…
darn that chorus

In most cases, though, Prince is probably the most tactful inneundo lyricist I’d ever known in the history of the music industry.
Sure, my knowledge is very limited to the musicians and bands I’m familiar with… but you know, he’s got a talent for a lot of things.

And that’s not the only thing I find so fascinating about him… I think the appearance for his lyrics came a bit later. The overall power he had over me when he commanded the stage… that was first, good looking man second… but his musical prowess knows no bounds. 😎

I’m sure I’ll have more to say on what is and isn’t approriate in music at a later date, but for the moment, I’ll have to end things here.

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