entertainment, mama kat's writers workshop, music

5 Favorite Musicians… Then and Now.

john-mayer-tweets

This week for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop I’ve decided to answer the following prompt:

Write a list of your 5 favorite singers growing up…do they still make your top 5 list?

I grew up in the Oregon Trail generation – I probably first started noticing music in the late eighties and started forming real opinions on the subject in the early nineties. The first CD I remember playing on repeat was Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl. I probably started listening to her because my father liked her music, but I quickly became hooked and would play the songs over and over until I’d memorized every line of every song.

Some other musicians that I adored growing up, in addition to Paula Abdul, include:

  • The Backstreet Boys: We all chose a side in the war of the Boy Bands in the nineties. I was firmly on team Backstreet and remain an ardent fan. It is a bitter pill to swallow to admit that the lead singer of NSYNC clearly made out with the best music career.
  • Matchbox 20: I loved this group more for the music than the love sick obsession. I can’t name a single member of the band but I still know basically every word to every song on Yourself or Someone Like You. I don’t know that I’d call them a favorite band today but that album is still heavily present on my Best Of playlist on my phone, unlike most of the other musicians in this list.
  • New Kids on The Block honestly came out a little early for me. I was on the young end of their fan spectrum, but I loved them. When they appeared on Fuller House this season I was shocked at how much they have aged and had a hard time mustering enthusiasm at their cameos on the episode UNTIL they started singing one of their songs in the concert at the end of the episode and I audibly squealed and had the world’s tiniest conniption fit.
  • John Mayer: The love affair began in college which is a little bit on the end of the growing up spectrum, but I still maintain that it counts because of the level of enthusiasm that my fandom took. This was my last Backstreet Boys Level Obsession and anyone who knows me well knows that it hasn’t actually ended. I still buy all of his music, no questions asked. His concert that I attended back in 2005 or so continues to be one of my favorite concerts that I’ve ever attended. I put up with a lot of Rock Star Personality and let all the antics slide because he is still probably my favorite musician.

Honorable mentions must go to LL Cool J, The Goo Goo Dolls, Barenaked Ladies, Ani Difranco, Usher, Britney Spears, Boys II Men, No Doubt, Sublime, J Lo, Maroon 5, Snoop Dogg and Sugar Ray.

My current list of Top 5 Musicians would be…

  1. John Mayer – see, even now as a grown ass woman he continues to hold that #1 spot.
  2. Rebecca Loebe – she was on The Voice very briefly but I’ve known her since college when she came to sing at my school’s coffee house.
  3. Taylor Swift – we’re big Swifties here – my daughter and I are especially obsessed with 1989.
  4. Adele because that voice. She’s basically my Paula Abdul of the 2000s.
  5. The Beatles because they are timeless and it feels wrong for them not to be on this list, honestly. There is never a bad moment to listen to a Beatles song.

Of course I could go on, my music taste continues to be eclectic and vast. But I think this is a pretty solid representation of my music habits.

family fun, music

10 Christmas Songs To Add To Your Playlist This Year.

I’m a little bit of a Christmas music snob. I don’t typically go in for the holiday music played on the radio or streaming through department stores but I actually love Christmas songs when they are done well, and especially when they feel fresh and maybe a little current. That’s a fine line though – sometimes a musician is just trying way too hard to reinvent the wheel and it doesn’t work at all.

Looking for some more Christmas tunes to add to your playlist? I’ll save you some legwork and share ten of my favorites that you’ll want on a regular rotation this season.

  1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by She & Him *
  2. Baby It’s Cold Outside by She and Him *
  3. Elf’s Lament by BNL *
  4. It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas by Michael Buble *
  5. Ave Maria by Michael Buble *
  6. Wizards In Winter by Trans-Siberian Orchestra **
  7. Little Drummer Boy by Mary J. Blige (Ray Charles does a great one, too, but it isn’t available on MP3)
  8. Mary Did You Know by Clay Aiken
  9. Deck The Halls by Pomplamoose *
  10. We Three Kings by Harry Connick Jr.

*Do yourself a favor and buy the whole album.

**My husband would probably say you should buy the whole album but in my opinion, all you need is one or two of their songs and you pretty much have the situation covered.

link up, meme, music, tag

10 Songs Found While Shuffling.

I’m kind of combining two tags / writing prompts right now. This week’s Writer’s Workshop, which is hosted by the brilliant Mama Kat, includes the prompt:

6. List your top 10 most listened to songs currently.

I thought this sounded fun but the idea of trying to pick ten favorites was weirdly stressful to me because how do you pick just ten favorite children? I’m pretty sure that’s child abuse. Or not. Anyway, I also recently saw this music tag at Book Coma that asks you to “List the first 10 songs that come on shuffle and then write your favorite lyric (or verse) from each song.” And I was like, awesome, that’s less decisions to make and also potentially embarrassing. So let’s dig into my playlist dubbed “only the best” which is typically what I’m listening to and see what comes up okay?

ONE Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey by John Mayer because this list wouldn’t be legit without John and you guys should know that I’m kind of obsessed with this song. Here’s a taste:

(ps: the beginning of this video is hysterical classic John)

Walking home with no one left
Speak softly underneath my breath
Hey world, you ain’t seen nothing yet
Great, now it’s raining

Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey
Water, water, water
Sleep
Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey
Wake up, shake it off
And repeat

TWO Jenny from The Block by Jennifer Lopez which is probably good because after pouring our heart and soul out on the last song, an up beat dance number is likely in order. Also, this is my jam because I am also still just Jenny from the block. Represent.

Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got
I’m still, I’m still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go, I know where I came from (from the Bronx!)

THREE Ain’t It Fun by Paramore which is super fun when you remember that you have to grown up or when you just spent time with someone who apparently didn’t get the memo that they also have to grown up. Like for realz.

Ain’t it fun
Living in the real world
Ain’t it good
Being all alone

Where you’re from
You might be the one who’s running things
Well you can ring anybody’s bell and get what you want
See it’s easy to ignore trouble
When you’re living in a bubble

So what are you gonna do
When the world don’t orbit around you
So what are you gonna do
When nobody wants to fool with you

FOUR The Heart of Life by John Mayer because my play list is like 40% John Mayer. Sorrynotsorry.

You know, it’s nothing new
Bad news never had good timing
Then, circle of your friends
Will defend the silver lining

Pain throws your heart to the ground
Love turns the whole thing around
No it won’t all go the way it should
But I know the heart of life is good

FIVE Through With You by Maroon 5 because a million years ago I loved Maroon 5. It was back when Adam Levine either hadn’t yet grown the world’s largest ego or he’d managed to hide it for a minute.

And I don’t trust you
Cause every time you’re here
Your intentions are unclear
I spend every hour waiting for a phone call
That I know will never come
I used to think you were the one
Now I’m sick of thinking anything at all

You ain’t ever coming back to me
That’s not how things were supposed to be
You take my hand just to give it back
No other lover has ever done that

SIX Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis because these boys complete me and I’m pretty sure every song on this album made it onto my Only The Best playlist. I’m not picky. This one is important though.

It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom ’til we’re equal, damn right I support it

SEVEN Just Dance by Lady Gaga because again levity. I love Lady Gaga, she’s kind of brilliant and an amazing vocalist. This isn’t necessarily a favorite but it’s up there. It makes my husband and I laugh when we actually listen to the lyrics cause they are kind of hysterical.

Wish I could shut my playboy mouth, oh oh oh-oh
How’d I turn my shirt inside out? Inside outright
Control your poison babe, roses have thorns they say
And we’re all getting hosed tonight, oh oh oh-oh

What’s going on on the floor?
I love this record baby but I can’t see straight anymore
Keep it cool, what’s the name of this club?
I can’t remember but it’s alright, a-alright

EIGHT I Want To Hold Your Hand by The Beatles so now I can shrug and say, yeah, I listen to the Beatles. I don’t even consider them retro because I’m not a fetus. Shut up children. This one is not the most lyrically interesting but it always makes me smile.

Oh please, say to me
You’ll let me be your man
And please, say to me
You’ll let me hold your hand
I’ll let me hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

NINE Don’t Get It Twisted by Gwen Stefani which is possibly the most fantastic way to announce that you are preggers.

Lip locked making out again, no big deal
You always say that, but I’m not a mathematician
28 days in a normal cycle
If not I am mistaken, I think you might have made a goal

Uh oh uh oh uh oh

TEN Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots which is a recent obsession. I love singing it while driving to work or some other grown up priority that doesn’t sound nearly as good as pretending to ride a rocket ship with friends.

We used to play pretend, give each other different names,
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away,
Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face,
Saying, “wake up, you need to make money.”

books, link up, movies, music, tv, videos

What I’m Into: February 2016

Happy Leap Day guys! I’m celebrating this rare day by ignoring responsibilities. Unless you count washing dishes and doing laundry and planning meals for the week and … okay, fine, it’s just Monday. But it’s also time to share What I’m Into Lately! I’m linking up with  Leigh Kramer to share what I’m into this month. Let me know if you are linking up, too!

What I’m Watching

I’ve kind of fallen down the rabbit hole that is binge watching Gilmore Girls like who really wants to watch anything else anyway? I am still only into season one but I’m all in and totally in nostalgia heaven and only sometimes whispering “kiss her! kiss her!” whenever Luke and Lorelai are in the same room. Do you guys realize we had to wait FIVE SEASONS in real time for this to happen? FIVE? What kind of monster is Amy Sherman-Palladino? In all seriousness though, that’s how it is supposed to be done. Shows that try to rush the magic end up paying for it later. *coughs* New Girl *coughs*.

I also checked out the first couple episodes of Fuller House and nostalgia wise I enjoyed the first episodes but we’ll see if the show stands up on its own. It’s super cheesy, but then I guess the original was also. The kids seem into it, so we’ll keep watching a little while longer.

We just finished watching season four of Game of Thrones this weekend and I’ve noticed that I’m a little too pleased now when some people die. When this show started I would wince and shriek and sob over any death and now I have a wish list like Arya Stark and I’m not sure what that says about me or the show.

Also still watching American Idol. Still loving Mackenzie, Dalton, Sonika and LaPorsha. Might have sobbed like a baby watching Kelly Clarkson sing Piece by Piece on Thursday. I was not alone. Keith Urban nearly lost it, too.

We also watched several movies this month – some were repeats for me and most were for the first time: Grease (the original and the new live one), Zoolander, Goosebumps, Pirates of the Caribbean, National Lampoon’s new Vacation movie, Neighbors, Pan, After the Ball and The Full Monty. Favorites of the bunch would probably be Zoolander, Pirates, Pan and The Full Monty (which features Rumpelstiltskin and Robert Baratheon back in the day btw).

What I’m Reading

I finished three books this month – two took the majority of the month to finish and one took the majority of an afternoon.

  1. 41VgvI2digL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_LOVED Winter by Marissa Meyer – Finished Feb. 23rd – This book was such an undertaking – each book in the series seems to get bigger as it goes and more characters are introduced. This book felt like the fireworks finale that it should be with #allthefeels all over the place. Every moment you were waiting for finally happens and Meyer only tries to break your heart eleventy billion times so it’s all good. I’ve already got Stars Above waiting for me to crack into.
  2. 9530LIKED Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson – Finished Feb. 24th – I wasn’t sure I would finish this one in time for the book club discussion, if at all, but I’m glad I stuck it out. Although many of the chapters felt excessively long at times and filled to the brim with information that might be fascinating for some people (not me), there were a lot of golden nuggets inside. The story this book tells is incredible especially because it’s a true story – and the people within the book have a lot to say. Lots of life lessons to be learned and everything you ever wanted to know about deep sea diving, shipwrecks and U Boats.
  3. 16000983REALLY LIKED Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures by Amber Dusick – Finished Feb. 27th – I’m a fan of Amber’s blog and this book was like a sweetened condensed version of that. My only complaints would be that some of the stories felt abruptly cut short and the book itself seemed to end so soon! I want more!

Now I seem to be reading ALL the books. I’m still working my way through The Martian by Andy Weir which I am enjoying but having a hard time settling into probably because I made the mistake(?) of watching the movie first. On the plus side, now when I read the book you know I am picturing Matt Damon doing all the things and saying all the funnies and that’s never a bad thing.

I’m also finally reading Let it Snow which is a group effort by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. It’s kind of like that high school English assignment where you write a chapter and then one of your classmates writes the next chapter and so on. So far I’ve read Green and Johnson’s stories and loved both. Maureen Johnson’s might have been my favorite of the two so now I’m adding all her books to my wish list and was psyched to realize that one of them is already sitting on my kindle so this morning I may have read the first two chapters of 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

My book club will be discussing Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Campbell Bartoletti next month so I’ll likely need to start reading that soon as well. It’s a biography of Mary Mallon, also known as Typhoid Mary that explores who Mary actually was and how her name became synonymous with a horrible disease.

What I’m Cooking

I made this French toast – probably the first thing I’ve made after watching a video recipe thing on Facebook. It was good but not great – but somehow resulted in me making The Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon toast like fifteen times this month, so…

Then I made her chocolate cake in a mug which is dangerously delicious. I didn’t know this recipe could be perfected but leave it to Ree to make that happen. I know you are rolling your eyes like, “Jen, microwave mug cake is ancient history and only meh” and to that I say, fine, I’ll eat yours. Nothing to see here.

Kim (the other half of Critic and Fangirl) and I made it into the kitchen together this month and she made pork cabbage rolls that might have changed my life. I could eat twelve of them RIGHT NOW. Seriously, come make me more Kimmy!

What I’m Loving

The new floor runner in my hallway that lets the kids walk more than one foot into the house before wiping shoes and taking them off to put away. Floors are cleaner, mom gets to walk inside sooner and also it’s pretty.

This quote from Zachary on Project Runway Junior: “You have as many hours in a day as Beyonce. So, gotta get it done…” 

The kids and I started journaling together. I bought / repurposed some journals that we are writing in to each other at night. BB uses hers mostly to ask me hot button questions like “What should I wear to my birthday party besides just clothes?” and “Can we play Minecraft together this weekend?” MM’s has quickly devolved into us doodling Doctor Who references and him sketching comics of escape pods. But I’m interested in seeing the longevity of this idea.

12771571_10100841097710656_5167264169752049140_o

This homework station that I made for the kids after spending twelve million hours on Pinterest. The main goal was just to gather all the little things they need to finish their homework in one organized space – and for all of said items to find their way back to said station after homework is done because I was getting an ulcer from the nightly “I can’t find any pencils!!!!” game.

What have you been into lately?

books, link up, music, tag, top ten tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: The Playlist Shuffle Tag.

Erika at The Book’s The Thing had the supremely clever idea to combine a Playlist Shuffle Tag that she was recently tagged for with this week’s Top 10 Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) which has a music theme this week.

The tag requires putting your music player on random, and listing the first 15 songs to come up, no skipping! Like Erika, I’m cheating a bit by doing only 10. Here are my songs, and the books that each song made me think of – the one I’d put on a soundtrack for the book if I were making a sountrack for said book. You understand.

Ready to giggle at my random playlist?

  1. 18295852Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen : The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith sounds appropriate. Their kind of one night romance / crush at first sight meet cute definitely has Carly Rae Jepsen vibes even if the book itself isn’t quite so bubble gum pop. I think it should play the morning after their first time meeting.
  2. 99561Neon by John Mayer : This song definitely makes me think of a John Green book like Paper Towns or Looking for Alaska with that manic pixie dream girl that is just giving the main characters a world of romantic trouble. Like they always manage to slip through the tracks and leave him wanting more. This would totally be playing during a downward spiral scene when the main guy is just totally not knowing what to do about their love.
  3. 22557272Someone Like You by Adele : I’m thinking the main character from The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins would be singing this like constantly while peeking at her ex huband and his new wife’s house from her seat on the train. Perhaps drunkenly and with gusto.
  4. 11870085Don’t Stop Loving Me by Pomplamoose : I think I’m going to have to pull another John Green book out of my hat because this song kind of gives me The Fault in Our Stars vibes. In between the dying and the sadness, Hazel and Gus have this kind of cool vibe that’s irreverent and fun.
  5. 13335037Sail by Awolnation : This song feels like it’s just begging to be in the soundtrack for an epic dystypian novel like the Divergent series by Veronica Roth which is rife with teens who feel like they don’t fit into society’s expectations for them.
  6. book one of the Lunar ChroniclesSay Something by Alex and Sierra from The X Factor : I’m not sure exactly which book in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer that this song belongs in, but the series as a whole feel perfect for the millions of times that these crazy kids just can’t say the words to assure the other person that they are totally in this and feeling it, too.
  7. 16068905Swallowed by the Sea by Rebecca Loebe : First of all – if you aren’t madly in love with Rebecca Loebe already, do yourself the biggest favor and click the link and check her out and then keep listening to all her music because she’s amazing. Now then. I had a hard time with this one, but hear me out because I’m kind of thinking that Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell might be perfect if we interpret the “sea” as Cather’s anxiety issues. Maybe? Once I stopped trying to interpret this one literally it totally worked.
  8. 13206828We’ve Got Tonight cover by Phillip Phillips : which still gives me chills by the way. Or goosies as JLo would say. For some reason I can really picture Carswell Thorne signing this to Cress in a croony cheesy kind of way. Or maybe I’m picturing Cress daydreaming about Thorne singing this to her?
  9. 10507293Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis : Okay guys – this one is really hard. I’m going to go with The Selection by Kiera Cass because I’m pretty sure that’s kind of how America felt every time she was finally allowed to wear jeans instead of another frilly ballgown.
  10. 24384702Royals cover by Pentatonix : this song could easily be on the soundtrack for a couple of books I’ve already mentioned like The Selection series or The Lunar Chronicles. Another great choice would be The Royal We by Heather Cocks – I mean seriously? I think this song would be awesome during one of the big the big break up scenes. I love the idea of playing something so ironic in a soundtrack for a book about a girl who totally becomes royal.

Definitely let me know if you decide to play along with either the Playlist Shuffle Tag or if you are doing Top 10 Tuesday this week.