By Logan Hampsey
The last edition of my column focused on the #FreeBritney Movement, and since then, The New York Times has posted a documentary called ‘Framing Britney Spears’ that has been recently getting a lot of attention. In the first half this edition, we will be focusing on some love songs I adore and have had on my mind in celebration of Valentine’s Day. In the second part, we will be discussing a few songs from African-American artists that I want to share in respect towards Black History Month. I feel it is important for everybody to be appreciated for their art, and this month is perfect for recognizing black creators and those who inspire others.
- Stuck with U – Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande (2020)
- This song seemed to come out at the perfect time for listeners across the world. Ironically, the lyrics talk about being stuck with someone, but this song was released during the earlier part of the pandemic when it was very challenging to see anyone. The video is a cute montage of home footage that alludes to the zoom calls and online world we are now having to deal with, which eventually got recognition and appreciation shown through streams, nominations, and awards. This song came to mind when thinking of love songs because of the romantic lyrics and the harmonic melodies that just make you feel like you are listening to a rom-com soundtrack.
- What Lovers Do – Maroon 5, SZA (2017)
- This song popped into my head when thinking of different love songs, and I forgot how much I enjoyed it when it first came out. This is one of Maroon 5’s more later works, and I have found their previous material to be much more like a love song anyone could think of. It is not a traditional love song in the sense that it is a ballad-type song or super romantic lyrics, but this song’s lyrics are cute and it is a really fun song to sing to.
- Love Me Like You Do – Ellie Goulding (2015)
- I am just going to start off by stating that I personally feel as though this is one of the best love songs of our time. One of the shocks of this song is how it was initially only released on the Fifty Shades of Grey Soundtrack which gained controversy, but this song was then praised by fans and the general public. I think the production mixed with Goulding’s strong vocals is what gives this song that punch and makes it a standout song. It is a really romantic and intimate song and it may even make you cry on the right day.
- Love on the Brain – Rihanna (2016)
- Being called one of her most vulnerable songs, this particular song knows how to hit you at the right time. I remember first hearing it and thinking how it was a masterpiece. It does not sound like a typical Rihanna song, but at the same time it does. It is probably one of her more recognizable tracks in later years and definitely a favorite amongst the general public and myself. I had to include this song because it is a love song that I not only listen to often, but it is one of Rihanna’s better songs.
- Love Story – Taylor Swift (2008)
- I think we all feel some kind of nostalgia when we hear this song. This is one of the first major stereotypical love songs I think of when I hear ‘love song’ because it was everywhere back when it first came onto the scene. This song was so big and I heard it so much that it is not until only recently that I can tolerate it. This song being such a pop culture moment is the reason why I can listen and appreciate it now. Swift recently re-recorded the song and dropped it just in time for Valentine’s Day this year and I will definitely be listening to it then!
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
I think having the whole month of February set aside for recognizing black lives is awesome and a step in the right direction for equality for all. Black people have contributed largely to making art, sports, film, etc the way it is today and having this month to reflect on that is important because not everyone may see the importance of rooting for others. 2020 being the year that it was should push us to want to be better and make positive change together regardless of differences. This change can range from sharing backed up views on social media to educate others, participating in groups like the BLM Movement, or just simply being a good person and doing civic duties to benefit yourself and your community. I recently spoke with Ms. Rodriguez, a music teacher who also gives music lessons on the side and she has expressed how challenging it is being a person of color nowadays and how we need music during this time more than ever. She grew up during times of harsh racism, but she goes onto saying “2020 really opened up a lot of people’s eyes and my only hope is that people become more aware and better their behaviors towards others”. I agreed completely, and I told her how I was glad to see so many people getting involved with social issues more in recent times. Rodriguez goes on to state that, “We need music. The pandemic is making it hard to teach and learn music, but we still need to try. So much great art has come out of these dark times”. There actually has been a lot of great music and artwork that has come out of this year and I think that is simply due to the fact that people are expressing themselves in ways they normally could not and the pandemic along with other devastations has given creators a lot of ideas. The song selections below are songs I listen to and love by people of color and I chose these artists initially because I feel they truly know what it is like to struggle and make it big and successful as a person of color.
- After Hours – The Weeknd (2020)
- I wanted to start off by talking about this song because of the major attention this artist has gotten over the last few years, as well as him just performing at the Super Bowl this past week. He built a following from the ground up, and ever since The Weeknd hit mainstream, he has been a force to be reckoned with. The Weeknd has been an advocate for black lives and equality for all, and this shows that he is a leader and should be looked up to. This song was released as the first promotional single from his most recent album After Hours, and I will never forget how much in awe I was when I first heard it. I have already been a fan of The Weeknd for a few years now, but there is something different about this song that just amazed me. It is unlike his other releases and it just confirmed how versatile his music is. I highly recommend listening to this song alone at night in your room or driving alone at night.
- Flashing Lights – Kanye West (2007)
- Considered to be one of the best songs in Kanye West’s earlier discography, this song was a major success at the time of its release. In the last few years it has resurfaced and I think I can safely say that this is my favorite song by West. I know Kanye in recent times is not the most liked person, but he once was an influential figure for black people and others who associated with his music. When I think of controversy-less, iconic Kanye West, I think of this song and period of his life immediately. This song is not really the most elaborate song ever created, but it has a standout sound to it and it just makes you want to dance every single time you hear it.
- Crazy in Love – Beyoncé, Jay-Z (2003)
- One of the first collaborations of this dynamic duo is not only almost two decades old, but it does not even sound aged with time. Beyoncé and Jay-Z being looked up to on such a high level is flattering but also must be very pressuring for these two. Songs like this will foreshadow a life of romance for these two in the future. It is just a classic Beyoncé song and everything from the sound of the song to the lyrics is just pure magic. Anyone who has not heard of this song or who is not even fans of the two artists in this song should give it a listen anyways purely due to nostalgia and how this song can take you back 20 years in much simpler times.
- P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) – Michael Jackson (1982)
- This is one of my most favorite songs by the King of Pop and I think it is super important to mention because this song sounds a little different than other Michael songs, but managed to still maintain much popularity. I could do a whole column on how influential Michael Jackson has been as a musician and as a person, and it warms my heart to see that people still celebrate him and listen to him today. He released a demo of P.Y.T. before he died in which he wrote and it sounds completely different then the album version. It is a well-known song, but it may not be as well-known as Thriller or Beat It, but I think the cute and happy meaning behind this song is what adds to it being so special. Listening to this song in the shower or in the car is really fun so you can just yell the lyrics.