(Grammy) Material

I never would have guessed that in August one of my favorite records of the year so far would be a female vocalist, let alone a country female vocalist. That may sound sexist, but I promise it isn’t. In general, I am just not one for women singers. Of course, there are obvious exceptions: Taylor Swift, Hayley Williams, Emily Hearn, Allison Weiss, etc. But this recent record caught me way off guard.

I first heard Kacey Musgraves performing on last year’s Grammy’s. I enjoyed the performance and decided to check out the record she was promoting at the time, Same Trailer, Different Park. I liked it well enough, but it didn’t really blow me away. Because this type of music isn’t really my cup of tea, it takes an album being really, really great for me to love it. I liked the first record enough that when I heard she had recently put out a follow-up, I made sure to check it out. Now, this is where the story gets interesting.

I LOVE Pageant Material.

From the songs, to the production, to the artwork and everything in between, I think this record truly is special. One reason it stands out to me is that it is a bit atypical from the norm coming out of the country genre recently. It has a strong country/western vibe, lots of twang, makes me think of Willie Nelson and that era of country. Not that I know a lot about the genre AT ALL, it just makes me think of early Johnny Cash covered in sepia tones.

Another aspect that separates it from the rest of the crop to me is the lyrical subject matter. The album has 14 songs, including a bonus track, and lasts for 46 minutes. Out of these, only 2 are about men or love. Only 6 minutes out of 46 are romantic in any way. The other 40 minutes are about loving who you are, being yourself, and generally treating others well. In a genre that is stereotypically riddled with songs about heartbreak, chasing girls, and getting drunk Musgraves’ stands out as a voice showing that there is more to a woman than the man she is with or without. In my eyes, Kacey Musgraves is one of the best role models for young girls currently on the front lines of pop culture.

90% of you are reading this and rolling your eyes and scoffing at the inferior genre of country music. I implore you to give this record a shot. You may love it, you may hate it, but be open-minded and just try. You might surprise yourself with what type of music you like if you allow yourself to listen to music without worrying about the ‘image’ or how ‘cool’ the music may or may not be.

Summer Songs (In No Particular Order)

I don’t really care for summer. Well, I guess more accurately I don’t really care for the heat, and by heat I mean sweat, and by sweat I mean outside, and by outside I mean the beach. Therefore, since summer is basically people doing all of those things, and due to the transitive property of a=b and b=c then a=c, I don’t like summer. One thing I do really love about summer is putting my AC on high and driving with the windows down with loud music playing. So, to get you all through these last few weeks of summer, I have put together a very short list of some of my favorite summer songs.

In no particular order.

To me, The Ataris’ record So Long, Astoria is one of the definitive summer records. Songs like, “In This Diary,” “Radio #2,” and maybe my favorite cover of a song ever “The Boys of Summer” just beg to be sang along to in the heat with your friends. But “Summer ’79 definitely tops the list. So many great images, and anthemic lines you can’t help but relate with as a kid during the summer.

I mean, come on. This one is obvious. Never has there been a song more meant for toe-tapping and whistling. Despite the fact that the lyrics are about how a spiraling drug addiction will unavoidably mess you up, it is a must have on every summer playlist. Doo doo doo, doo doo-doo doo.

The first time I heard this song, while working a summer camp ironically, I didn’t like it. Now it has easily become one of my favorite Killers’ songs. What really gets me about this song is one of the last times the chorus hits near the end with huge stabs. Lyrically it hits a part of summer not oft mentioned; the fact that it is a time of year we can “all just runaway” from the rest of your problems.

This song just rules. Catchy pop-punk riffs, soaring melodies, and a cliché summer romance. Staying up late and running around the city, causing trouble with friends (which for me always meant rolling houses). This song is so easy to sing along to and I dare you to listen to it without smiling.

Everything In Transit is without a doubt my favorite record to listen to in summer. Maybe it is that the whole thing is pretty much about California, or that I just have such strong memories of listening to it in the summer during high school. I chose this song specifically because the chorus is the definition of what summer is. So that is what I will choose to leave you with.

But if you left it up to me
Every day would be
A holiday from real
We’d waste our weeks
Beneath the sun
We’d fry our brains
And say it’s so much fun out here
But when it’s all over
I’ll come back for another year