CANDY FOR THE EARS

You probably know this by now, but I love music. Not everything, because I don’t think that’s realistic at all, but I do love many different styles. And at the same time, I don’t think I can ever say there are styles I truly hate.

I do have my favorites, though… mainly rock and jazz, I would say. But I think I’m much more into artists than styles. I may not be a big fan of country music, there are still singers I love that mainly delve (or delved) in that very genre.

Same thing for pop or dance music. Unless I really like the artist, I probably won’t bother with it. The best example I can give you is Lady Gaga. First of all, I don’t like all her stuff… well, I only like a handful of songs, if I have to be honest. But I love the girl, she’s extremely talented, in more ways than one. Still, because I can’t say I enjoy most of her music, she can’t be on this list. Even though she’s one of the most talented singers out there, in my opinion.

She would probably be on the list of actors I prefer, though. I have yet to see A Star Is Born, but if her role as the Countess in American Horror Story is anything to go by (and the critics so far), I’m in for quite a treat. One that I will probably make sure to enjoy alone at home because of the high possibility of gross sobbing.

But for now, we’re talking about singers. And just so you know, that means solo acts. No band singers for you this week! Ain’t that a relief…

When I first thought about tackling this subject, I had a mind of separating male and female singers into different posts. Until I realized I don’t have all that many favorites overall. And, as it turns out, I seem to favor female solo acts over male ones.

No worries, I do like male singers, too. It’s just that, most of the time, they’re part of a band. Except in French… when it comes to artists that sing in French, I seem to have much more male favorites than females. 

In this very post, I will talk about “International” artists. And by that, I mean stuff that can be relatable to anyone anywhere, which is why I won’t be naming artists from Quebec. Only when I actually have readers do I plan to introduce them to artists that probably aren’t well-known, if at all, outside of the French-speaking world. (I could be wrong about that, I know.)

Something else that might not be surprising to you is that most of the artists I’m to talk about have been around for a while. Thankfully, most of them are still putting out albums so they’re not totally irrelevant. Still keeping with the times, yay for me!

Please know that I’m not naming them in any particular order. Nothing’s planned out and I’m going with my guts on this one. Which means I will probably forget someone I really like. I always do…

NORAH JONES

Norah is one of those I was introduced to pretty much at the start of their career, falling in love with her voice and style the first time I had a listen. Don’t Know Why was what drew me in, like it did many others out there, I’m sure. She’s also an artist that likes to diversify her work, which means participating in many projects. Something I really do appreciate.

So I was always right up there with her, would it be for the album Foreverly in collaboration with Billie Joe Armstrong (I am SHOOK! I did not know until right now who that was… the guy from Green Day? Really???) or the two country albums with The Little Willies.

As I said before, I’ll drift away from my preferred genres when someone I like dabbles (nicely) in something else. Not every time, but I’ll at least try. And, frankly, The Little Willies’ type of country totally works for me.

But since we’re NOT talking about bands, I’ll leave you with one of my most favorite songs of hers, All A Dream from the 2012’s Little Broken Hearts album. Enjoy!

LYLE LOVETT

Since we’re talking about country music, let me tell you about another one of my favorite country artists. If you’re not into that at all, or if you’re not into Hollywood gossiping, you might not know who he is – he was married Julia Roberts for a bit of time, so there’s that. Maybe you know him from his acting career. It doesn’t matter that he’s done quite a bit of acting work, to me he’ll always Bear, DJ Qualls’s father in The New Guy.

I believe I was introduced to his music by a colleague of mine, many years ago. I loved his voice and music instantly. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t something I usually liked, I really fell under his spell. One of the nicest voices out there, rich and smooth… lovely.

From what I can see, the last time he came out with an album was in 2012, but he’s still touring, so that makes him pretty current in my book. Now, if only he could come around these parts, I’d love to see him. Last time was in 2013, as far as I can tell. And no, I didn’t go. Either I didn’t know, or I couldn’t afford it, or I just wasn’t in that particular headspace. I’ll never know!

In the meantime, just listen to this favorite of mine from the 1998 album Step Inside This HouseTexas Trilogy: Daybreak. I mean… it may be right smack the middle of a snowstorm, his words and music will still make you feel like you’re in that Texan heat. It’ll warm you right up.

JAMIE CULLUM

Not that Jamie Cullum has much in common with Lyle, save from their boy parts, but I honestly couldn’t find anything else to transition from him. Maybe I should have started this post with Lyle, then go to Norah who does have more in common with Jamie, artistically speaking. He too is a pianist and is more of a jazz man. Not all the time, but often enough to please me.

Sadly, I can’t recall how I first heard about him. It’s either through a colleague (the same as before) or through my father. I remember Dad telling me about this young jazz pianist and singer that used to work on cruise ships. What I can’t say is if I already knew and liked Jamie or not when he told me that.

His last album came out in 2014… not to put any pressure on Mr. Cullum there, but I (respectfully) think we’re past due for another one. In the meantime, I choose to introduce you to When I Get Famous, from his 2013 album, Momentum. My favorite from that album, without a doubt, and my second favorite of his overall. (You’ll know what’s my #1 when you read about the next artist!)

SIA

Now, the mental road that went from Jamie Cullum to Sia isn’t as tortuous as you might think. You probably already know some of what I’m about to say, but in case you don’t: My favorite song of Jamie’s? Don’t Stop The Music, which is a cover of a Rihanna song. The only song I kinda like of Rihanna’s? Diamondin which she sounds pretty much like Sia, who actually wrote it. Which brings us here.

I think I embarked the Sia train much later than most, probably because I’m not interested in pop music all that much. First time I heard about her was when I looked up that song the girls sing in the shower, in the movie Pitch PerfectDavid Guetta’s Titanium.

She’s one of the few whose genre is pretty much not a problem for me. Sometimes, even though it’s too “pop-ish” at first, I’ll still come to love it, because I really love the lady. She has character, and her voice sounds raw, and the emotional range is all the way up there. Again, I’m speaking from personal taste. I can totally see how some might not be affected by her work in the slightest.

Like I’m not affected by Beyonce’s work, even though she’s probably one of the most popular singers of our times (if THE most). She doesn’t do it for me, even though both artists strive in a similar genre. I think… do they? Probably not… it’s how much I know about music categories and what not.

As for sharing my favorite song of hers, it’s a very difficult choice. So, mostly because I love to sing it when I go to karaoke bars, I’ll go with Cheap Thrills from her 2016’s This Is Acting album.

TORI AMOS

If I could say that my transition is due to what’s in both ladies’ pants, I think it’s more accurate to speak of how they both are prolific singer/songwriters. And, well… I think that’s something most of the artists on this list have in common. What can I say? Technically perfect singers who mostly interpret other people’s words are not what I look for. I need heart, and rawness, and truth. Not to take away from all those great artist who do that. But often enough, it won’t hit me in the feels as much, if at all.

Unless they’re singing Over the Rainbow. Or Ave Maria. Don’t ask…

You might remember in this post how I told you about my earlier “obsession” with Tori. Up until it became too much for me to bear… too many albums, too many special editions of whatever. I had to step away for a while. I’m only now starting to come back to her music, mostly because I’ll never not love her and, truthfully, I’ve never stopped listening to her. I just didn’t bother with the new stuff.

As I write this, I’m listening to her latest album, 2017’s Native Invader. First time, too. You can say that I’m late, that’s fine, ’cause I am. And I’m kind of hitting myself over the head over it too because damn, she makes great music. Good news is the embers were still there, I just had to shake ’em up a bit. And now the fire’s roaring again. Maybe not as much as it once did, but it’s there, and bright and warm enough to consider myself a fan again.

Still, I feel obligated to share something from what I think will always be my favorite album of hers, 1996’s Boys For Pele. The song? Father Lucifer.

ERYKAH BADU

As I tried to find a male singer to jump to, I had to admit that I had already run out of them. In English, that is. Is it weird? Does it mean something? It probably doesn’t, but I still find it a bit peculiar.

This being said, this time I honestly don’t have anything but the lady bits to tie Erykah and Tori together. Well, they both write most of their own stuff, but I think it’s a given at this point. Seems I actually have a type.

This post is forcing me to look all these people up again and Erykah’s last album (which I hadn’t known about), 2015’s But You Caint Use My Phone, is a 38 minutes thing “inspired by the R&B maverick’s brilliant remix of Hotline Bling“. And the first song, Caint Use My Phone (Suite) is actually quite nice.

I first heard of her when I saw a video for the song On & On from her first album, 1997’s Baduizm. Really loved it so I looked her up and I was hooked. I loved her second album, Mama’s Gun, which came out in 2000. I don’t really know why I kind of drifted away after that.

I honestly thought I had stopped buying her stuff, but it seems I didn’t. I have everything except the last one. I’m now listening to 2007’s New Amerikah, Pt. 1 (4th World War) album, and I’m not sure why I thought I had stopped “liking” her. Nor do I know why it could have happened. I mean, The Healer is amazing.

I’m starting to wonder if the depression and stuff from some years ago didn’t just temper with my TV appreciation, but with music as well. Huh… I’ll certainly be revisiting a lot of albums in the coming weeks.

For now, here’s my favorite song of hers… wrote about it before, but I think it bears repeating: Green Eyes, from Mama’s Gun.

ADELE

Weirdly enough, it seems that I almost forgot Adele, if you can believe such a thing – I know I don’t. She’s another one I was lucky enough to be introduced to pretty early on in her career. I can even tell you the date: October 18, 2008. How does a girl who can barely remember anything remember that? It was her first appearance on Saturday Night Live.

Mind you, this was two years after the release of her first album, 19. So no, I wasn’t there with her from the very start. Told you before, not much for popular music and I hardly ever listen to radio. So, logically, I wouldn’t have had many chances to be exposed to her. So thanks to Saturday Night Live,

Adele is another artist I love to emulate when I go karaoke. Thankfully for people having to endure my wailings, I’m usually okay at it. I would even say that her tone of voice and style suits me well. So yay for me, I guess! 

Once more, I have many favorites, yet I feel compelled to share one she co-wrote for the James Bond 2012 movie, Skyfall. I mean, I love her own albums, but that song is just so good, I just have to!

BETH DITTO

First time I heard of Beth, it was in a gossip thread on a forum I used to frequent. And, well, nothing that was being said had anything to do with music. It was mostly about her being deemed as gross, and a whole bunch of negative things I can’t really remember. Still, I admit it was what prevented me to look up her band, Gossip. (Hah!)

Like many (maybe), I was introduced to the band through that song that was used in Dior’s J’adore perfume ad: Heavy Cross from 2009’s Music For Men. Looked it up, found out it was them, gave their other stuff a listen… and I was a goner. That woman’s voice is amazing. Again, according to my own tastes, of course. And, even though it’s a bit on the pop and/or dance side, it still sounded rock enough to satisfy me, with heavy bass and drums.

Then their frontwoman, Beth Ditto left the band and came out with a solo album in 2017, Fake Sugar. When I heard Fire (video below), I just fell in love. Sadly, at first listen, the rest of the album didn’t do it for me. Should have given it a second chance, seeing as this often happens to me. Most of the time I need to taste, digest, and then taste some more in order to know if I like something or not. Same thing goes for the artists I “venerate” (not naming names). 

• • • • •

There are a lot more singers I love out there, but I think I can say that RIGHT NOW, the ones I talked about are pretty much at the top of my list. 

I mean, I have enough favorites that I HAVE to compartmentalize: Singers, Quebec Singers, Bands, Musical artists that don’t sing in either French or English… I could probably just talk about music and have something to say every week for a long while. Especially if I’m to talk about a single musical act at a time.

I won’t do that, of course, because I don’t just love music. I can’t be happy having to restrain myself to a single subject. My mind just doesn’t work that way, you know? I can already tell you that next week won’t be about music.

No… next week will be special. Because it’s to be published on October 30th. 31st would have been better, but I’m okay with Halloween’s Eve. Not Hallow’s Eve, which is in fact Halloween. And no, don’t worry, it won’t be a historical piece about the origins of Halloween.

If you know me even just a little bit, you already know what next week’s post will be about. Are you ready for it? I know I am.

Until then, take care of yourselves, listen to good music, have good thoughts, be nice and… hum… whatever! I’m not your mother!!! 

See ya next Wednesday!

Thanks for sharing!

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