Monday, November 21, 2016

Hear and Now? Now Hear This.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Quick, which songs are contenders for this year's Grammys?  (Oh, wait, have those awards already been held?) Okay, then, what's your favorite new song of the year?


I am realizing that I am so out of it, I have no idea. Used to be, I listened to the radio all the time! All the time! In my room, or in the car, or just as background while I did whatever I used to do. I played records, and then CDs, and have a huge collection of each. I knew all the words to everything. I'm not sure what replaced listening to new music in the car--but when Jonathan and I drive someplace, we don't. And when I am in the car by myself (yes, that's rare) I listen to...oldies. I fear to say. And I still know all the words.  

Okay, I just looked it up, and the Grammy nominations come out next month. And here are the "record of the year" predictions. I wondered--could I sing any of these?  Adele's "Hello."  HURRAY!  I know that song. Whew.   Beyonce's  “Formation.”  Okay, I've heard that, and saw the Super Bowl performance. Could I sing it? Nope.

Drake’s “One Dance” (featuring Wizkid and Kyla). Nope.  Justin Bieber's “Love Yourself.” Nope.  Lukas Graham’s “7 Years.” Nope.

This is embarrassing. When I worked for Rolling Stone magazine, years ago, I vowed I would always be au courant. Now I am no courant.

But wait, there are more predictions.  The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” (featuring Halsey).  Sia's  “Cheap Thrills” (featuring Sean Paul) or “The Greatest” (featuring Kendrick Lamar). Nope.   Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam.” Nope. Nope. Nope.
Here's Sia.

AH. This is pitiful. And now I am rethinking even writing this, because admitting it is like announcing that I'm...well, like when my mother yelled at me one day "Turn that off! Who the heck is singing that?" And I said "They're called The Beatles."  

Do you know the latest music? What do you think about that?

LUCY BURDETTE: I am a loser when it comes to new music and the Grammys! Here's the one new song I know, and only because we are going to see the Broadway show DEAR EVAN HANSON over Christmas. And they keep sending me Youtube videos from the show--which I love

Try this--it's gorgeous!

HALLIE EPHRON: I'm with Lucy, hopeless when it comes to popular music. I get in the car and turn on classical. I have Spotify but I don't know how to use it. I listen to news when I'm cooking. Or I did before last week. But ask me about art...

Last night I watched the wonderful PBS special Alan Cummings Sings Sappy Songs. SO talented! I was surprised to hear that a medley of three songs were by Lady Gaga, Adele, and Katy Perry. Three whose names at least I know but clearly not their music. (Briefly I was a fan of Taylor Swift but she lost me with Red.) The one song I recognized was Cumming's closing number, the angry anthem that was Elaine Stritch's signature: "Ladies Who Lunch" ("lounging in their caftans and planning a brunch... on their own behalf.")

HANK: Oh, that song really gets me.  So cynical and sad.  And Sondheim is a deity.  But we are not showing music we know today. So: here's "Black Beatles" by Rae Sremmurd featuring Gucci Mane? That song is number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. (Sample lyric: Frat girls still tryna get even, Haters mad for whatever reason...:) 

(Okay, I don't even understand this video...)

RHYS BOWEN: I am more hopeless than any of you. I must be really old because most current music sounds completely tuneless and repetitive to me, whereas I used to sing along with everything through the Eighties. (Abba where are you now?) The only current singer I have really enjoyed was Lady Gaga making that album with Tony Bennett. But I do like quite a lot of current country music, Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks, However I'm really a fan of the classics or musicals. If I listen while I'm driving it's Mozart or Les Mis and I hope to get Hamilton this Christmas. 

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I have sort of kept up with new music the last couple of years because I've been a fan of the Voice, and if the contestants sing a song I like but don't know I'll look it up. But so far this year I've only seen the first show, so now doubt I'll try to catch up. I almost never listen to music in the car--too distracting in Dallas traffic. But Hank, we take Rolling Stone, and I will look up things that sound interesting. Also, we have Alexa in our kitchen, which makes it really easy to listen to almost anything that strikes your mood or fancy. The last CD I bought was the new Green Day album (Yes, I am a big fan) that came out right before I left for the UK, but I still haven't had time to listen to it...

One thing I really like about the UK is that people of all ages still listen to BBC Radio, and there is nice mix of old and new music.

PS: I never miss a chance to plug our nephew's fabulous band, The Wild Feathers. Here's a clip of them on Jimmy Kimmel with the release of their latest album. (And that's Taylor on the left, with the beard.)

HANK: I remember, as a kid, keeping track of the Top 40 songs as they played on the radio, and trying to make my own list, as I heard the records, before the official ranking was posted in record stores. Yes, Debs, I think I heard Chandelier for the first time on The Voice. By the way, number 2 on billboard Hot 100 is "Closer," by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey.

Ah. Why did I write a blog about how much I do NOT know? Here's my Thanksgiving resolution: I'm going to listen to new music more. And starting now.

How about you, Reds and readers? DO you listen to new music? On the radio? Or how? What songs (are they still called songs? :-) ) should we be hearing? I know some of you will save  us from the embarrassment of incipient fogey-dom!


  1. Oh, dear, I know absolutely nothing about new music [although I did know that Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga made an album]. I do like some country music but mostly we listen to classical in the car or a few select CDs [show music, Julie London, Il Divo, Jackie Evancho].

  2. Just coincidence. I was talking to someone who has kept up. Explained, I listened to the radio. Was told young people don't rely on radio. Oops! Another reason to get up to date technologically. Thought youtube was enough. Hip-hop is not going away.

  3. A funny thing happened when I opted out of Sirius for my new vehicle. My prior car had Sirius, and I wasn't sure I could give it up. But, I'm now listening to today's music more, and it helps that my fifteen and seven-year-old granddaughters want to listen to the hits and sing along. I am familiar with Drake's "One Dance" and Justin Bieber's "Love Yourself." I can't believe that I actually like a Justin Bieber song. Adele's music has been familiar for quite a while. The Chainsmoker's "Closer" is one I've gotten to know, and there was an interesting piece on Nightline about them. I really like Lukas Graham's "7 Years." Some other top twenty songs I like are "Heathens" by Twenty-One Pilots, "Let Me Love You" by DJ Snake with Justin Bieber, "Unsteady" by X Ambassadors (one of my favorites), "Don't Let Me Down" by The Chainsmokers with Daya, "Scars to Your Beautiful" by Alessia Cara, and "Don't Wanna Know" by Maroon 5 with Kendrick Lamar. Now, I don't know all the lyrics like I did with songs when I was young, but with my fifteen-year-old granddaughter's help, I'm learning.

  4. I knew some of us would be up-to-date! Ray. I am really going to make an effort… I think it's a valuable thing.
    So they don't listen to the radio… They just go to YouTube, and do what?

  5. Oh gee. I hear the music inside my head now. Losing music was like losing a piece of my heart, as I was a musician in my early years. I can still hear the low range of sounds, so most live music sounds like thumpa thumpa thumpa . I had to give up on pop about 20 years back. However, I do read the lyrics from time to time. Like reading poetry, no?

    1. Oh, Coralee , it us! That is why Bob Dylan got the Nobel prize right? I think Paul Simons lyrics are poetry, and of course Stephen Sondheim.

  6. Other than Adele and "Hello", I know nothing of pop music, watch none of those shows, rarely even watch network TV. As I've grown older, I find myself unable to listen to music and do anything else. Period. I certainly can't read or drive with music on. I know someone has done a study on this, Dr. Senile Dementia maybe?

    In this house of Weidman/Mason, we are early music geeks primarily -- think English tradition. Julie was a voice major in undergrad school, and she's the choral singer in the family. Then comes stuff from the sixties and seventies. I tune out after that. And don't even get me going on Broadway.

    On another note (grin), we are in the midst of a winter storm/blizzard up here on the tundra. What was predicted to be 4-6 inches is closer to 1-2 feet. The wind is 26 mph, and lotsa luck getting dogs out to piddle. Poor little 12 pound Penny nearly took flight. I'm sitting at my kitchen island looking at half a dozen huge coral roses we cut on Saturday before this creature arrived. And creature it is, howling and moaning and trying to wrench the "storm" door from my hands.

    Yesterday's topic on flying is so yesterday! All planes are grounded, and people slept in the airport. Happy Thanksgiving to all and to all a good flight.

  7. Oh, gosh, Ann. Hope your power stays on, and you can at least stay warm. Mother Nature is a force, isn't she?

    Thanks, Reds, for the great links. I'm hopelessly behind, a tragedy, since my grandson is an 11-year-old music fan. They listen to XM radio in the car, and when Uptown Funk comes on, my daughter turns up the volume, and the whole family sings along. The car actually rocks!

    I listen to Pandora when I'm doing yardwork, and I love the Bruno Mars channel. But they tend to play the same handful of songs on a loop.

  8. Nope, I am also so not courant with today's music. Probably because I don't listen to music like I used to as a teenager ...remember FM radio? I have heard Adele's Hello, and that's about it from Hank's list. I know Drake and Justin Bieber (Canadians!) are big, but never got into either of their music.

  9. Oh my gosh Ann, good luck with the blizzard!

    I do love some country and definitely bluegrass, and I forgot to mention Amy Winehouse. If you haven't seen the documentary on her tragic life, I highly highly recommend. And then you'll know her music too!

    Hank, you crack me up: "They go to youtube, and then...what?" I'll chuckle all day:)

  10. Ann, that's so crazy! It snowed a little bit here, too… When we went to the grocery yesterday, I said to Jonathan doesn't feel like snow? But no one had predicted it.

  11. Oh, Karen I love Uptiwn Funk I have to say. Such a terrific song, and so much fun to sing. My grandsons know it by heart! Last night on 60 minutes, Bruno Mars said it took him a year to write it. That's longer than some people take to write a book. Not sure what that means :-)

  12. And that is a great idea to listen to Pandora. What song do you start with so it can learn? Or is there just a "play new stuff" station?

  13. Oh dear, Lucy, I fear I am not kidding! So you just look up one song, and then it suggests another one or something? Then you just sit and watch music videos?

  14. This song has been hot for a year but it was new to me. CAKE BY THE OCEAN. Looks like a boy band named D.N.C.E.

  15. Thank you Austin! Checking it out!
    Who else has suggestions?

  16. Hank,

    Quite an interesting post! I am relatively new to music, unless you include my listening to music for the first two years of my life prior to losing my hearing due to meningitis.

    I listen to music on CD with my cochlear implants for auditory training, It familiarizes my brain with auditory sounds. Although I do not drive with music on, I can read and listen to music, My boyfriend introduced me to Mozart. I also like Beethoven, When I was in Vienna, I visited the Museum of Sounds. It was fascinating!

    When I drive, there has to be no distractions! No radio. No talking. If a passenger wants to talk, I park the car and turn off the engine. Same with cellphones. I turn off my cellphone when driving.


  17. Pandora has what they call "stations", defined by your choice of an artist or genre. So you can choose a particular artist, current or not, and the station will play similar music. I just added the Leonard Cohen station, which plays all kinds of stuff. There are also preset stations. I like women artists, so one of mine is "Women Country Artists".

    You have the ability to skip a limited amount of the selections within the station, but since it's a free service, Pandora doesn't let you do that very often unless you pay. However, they recently added a thumbs up or a thumbs down option, which helps the algorithms narrow things down.

    For the new music, I think "Today's Hits" station would work. The first selection when I chose it was Fifth Harmony's "That's My Girl"

  18. I'm one of those people who can't stand talkRadio, can't stand to hear spoken lyrics--so you can guess the kinds of music that grate on my ears/nerves. When I used to travel a lot, I listened to the radio or CDs--but now, drive time is my mostly quiet time. I know some new music because of the boys--we used to have interesting conversations about their musical choices when they were younger--I would critique lyrics--which they hated at the time. 'Why does every other word have to be an obscenity?' Songs by little boy singers, people like Rihanna and Taylor Swift--where the lyrics were stupefyingly repetitive--I would compare them to singers like Adele--who was true to her own voice, whose songs actually had lyrics with meaning. Now my youngest nephew is writing his own songs--he'll let me hear them sometimes--and he points out how hard he works on his lyrics! :-)

  19. Hank, not YouTube. Usually Spotify. And yes, they have lists for Top Pop, Top Country, or just Top New. My girl is a Spotify expert.

    If the kids are in the car, I'm listening to new music. The Boy likes hip-hop: Drake, etc. The Girl likes Adele, Justin Bieber, One Direction, Lady Gaga (I was rather surprised that she adores that album Lady Gaga did with Tony Bennett). I try to ignore the more, um, sketchy words. I always said I would NOT be that parent who refuses to let her kids listen to current music. The only stuff I frown on is music that advocates violence toward women, or disrespects people (if a song said you should go shoot police or something). So while I don't necessarily recognize titles (aside from "Love Yourself" or "Hello"), I'd probably recognize the song if I heard it. And yes, some is awful but some is pretty enjoyable.

    And The Girl also likes The Beatles, David Bowie, and some 80s stuff, so she's pretty eclectic for 16.

    But if I'm by myself? It's my old tried-and-true songs, ones from my youth (like Bon Jovie and Aerosmith) or upbeat soundtracks. I can't listen to classical or anything soothing in the car - puts me right to sleep.


  20. New music? Do I listen? hahahahhahahahaha.


    And when I say "THAT'S not music!" I hear my dad in my mind saying exactly the same thing when I would put my Rolling Stones albums on. (anyone else still call them "albums?" No matter what format?)

    We still go to concerts. A lot of concerts. But it's old stuff! And we still love it.

    Dixie Chicks - they're the "newest" musical group I know.

  21. My tastes run more to classical, country and musical theater, but I am surprisingly au courant (stole your word, Hank) with alternative rock because my 17-yr-old insists on listening to those stations whenever we're in the car together. I can sing fair chunks of songs by FallOut Boy, Twenty-One Pilots (which I used to mix up with Stone Temple Pilots to my daughter's great distress), X Ambassadors, Paris, the Strumbellas and more, some of which I even have on my iPod for working out. I suspect I will become hopelessly no courant when she goes off to college next year.

  22. Kathy Boone Reel: I just read your comment. We must be living parallel lives. Let's sing along together on "Unsteady." :-)

  23. A sort-of note on music: Hallie (and anyone else who has Spotify) check out the computer guru/goddess Kim Kommando's site. It's reported that Spotify can cause problems by continually overwriting data that decreases the hard drive life.

  24. Diana, so interesting! What is The Museum of Sounds?

    This is making me remember--my father wrote a book (published by the University of Chicago press) called WHAT THEY HEARD, which is a study of concert programs from 1852-1881, designed to be a cultural analysis of the mindsets and views of the time.

    Kirkus Reviews said: "...fascinating insights into the sometimes surprisingly cosmopolitan, sometimes uproariously provincial beginnings of America's musical maturation. Lively, firsthand reports on Jenny Lind's farewell American recital (""a royal priestess of the Beautiful and True""), Adelina Patti's concert debut at the age of 10 (a ""charming child cantatrice""), and the American premiere of Bizet's Carmen (""the characters betray little acquaintance with the customs of polite society"") are among the highlights...

    SO funny. Isn't that what we're doing right now?

  25. Karen--Today's Hits. Doing it. Thank you!

    Flora--that is so exciting about your nephew! And you are a major influence. Love that.

  26. Mary, I think it's so important to pass our our musical "heritage." Or did The Girl find that music on her own?

  27. Both?

    I have a lot of Beatles (even though The Beatles were before my time - I got it from my dad), but she was never interested. Then one day, she was. She got very interested in David Bowie after he died. And I know she heard me listening to a lot of 80s music, because those were my middle/high school days. She never wanted to listen. And then one day, she queued up a complete 80s playlist in the car. I asked what prompted that. She shrugged and said, "I don't know. Just felt like it."

    Perhaps it was subconscious?

  28. Sorry if this duplicates. My first attempt to publish got a "bad error" message.

    The Bruno Mars interview on 60 Minutes was a revelation. A year for a song? Gives me hope.

    I listen to the college radio station, so I maintain my enjoyment of alternative music. Nothing blunts my lifelong devotion to The Cure, who are still touring and producing new music, and fight hard to protect the rights of musical artists.

  29. Laura and Kathy--off to listen to Unsteady (as soon as we break for lunch! (We are trying to edit my investigation for tomorrow--we are in panic mode...)
    'Maybe music will help!

  30. Thank you for all the clips, Hank! I feel much cooler now. And I liked them, except I totally didn't get the Black Beatles video...

    And as I see the Voice is down to the final eleven contestants, I'll probably catch up on that tonight, too.

    Now off to listen to Unsteady:-)

  31. I *try* to listen to new music. Does that count? :-) Sometimes I'll play one of the College Indie stations on Pandora. I love the Radio Paradise app--eclectic mix of old and new-to-me. Or, when I'm out and about, and hear a good song, I Shazam (can't believe I'm using that as a verb!) it. Last night, for example, I Shazam'ed a song by "We The Kings." I think they're popular, not sure ...

    I'm not generally a fan of any of the music that would get nominated for a Grammy, except for maybe in the rock (Death Cab for Cutie, Muse, etcetera) or alternative categories.

  32. Not to toot my own horn, but I know all of those Grammy contenders that you mentioned, Hank, and can sing along to them. I'm feeling very youthful all of a sudden! I really like pop music, and I also like to know what "the kids are listening to" these days! I listen to music on my phone when I walk, which is pretty much everywhere since I live in downtown Seattle, or workout. If you were to take a peek at my playlist you would find Adele, Lady Gaga, Drake, Lukas Graham, Calvin Harris, Twenty One Pilots, Kanye West, Beyoncé, DNCE, Sia, and Rihanna. There's also some Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and Prince who take me back to my teen years.

    Laura, what's your musical theater go-to? I like listening to theater soundtracks when I'm doing odious household chores. Listening to a "story" distracts me and makes the task seem less boring. Any time I hear the opening strains of "Jesus Christ Superstar" I automatically head to the closet to get the vacuum cleaner!

    Austin, have you listened to "Toothbrush" by DNCE? Different vibe than "Cake By The Ocean," but still good.

  33. Yes, Lisa, trying is what this is all about. And I am fascinated with Shazam, I simply cannot figure out how it works. I Shazam things all the time.
    That's, sadly, how I found out about a song in a commercial that I did not recognize….Turns out it was a big deal song that everyone on the planet knew. Sigh.

  34. Oh, I've heard Unsteady! Such a great song. Thanks, Kathy, for pointing us to it.

  35. Last night my wife and I watched the AMA show. I knew a few artists/groups, who have been around for a while, Coldplay, Sting, Maroon Five, Lady Gaga (though was surprised she sang a country song), even Drake, Selina Gomez, Ariana, a few others. But most were new to me. I'm way out of the music loop. I listen to jazz and classical at home (CDs) and Public Radio (at least until the last few weeks) in the car.

    But even "background music" distracts me when reading, so I don't listen to anything a LOT of the time. Pandora? Spotify? Those special "stations"? I haven't a clue. If you walked in and offered me a hundred bucks if I streamed a song then and there, you get to keep your money.

  36. HANK, I hear songs in commercials that I like and go listen to them, but they usually turn out to be years old. Ha!

  37. Hank, I feel your pain. I have teen hooligans in the house who love rock and roll (both are musicians like their dad) but they are also up to date with the music scene, so while I know what's hot it's not what I choose to listen to. For me, music died when Oasis broke up in 2009. Still not over it.

  38. Laura, count me in for a sing-a-long of "Unsteady," and maybe Hank and Karen would like to join in. I am one of those people, yes those, who sing a lot and in public, too. Well, actually I mostly hum in public, and I do keep it low and am respectful of where I do it. I also sing at home and in the car, making up ditties about everyday tasks. Some of the more famous are "I'm a Cleanin That Tub," "Having Me a Cup of Coffee Right Now," and "Drivin Down the Road, Got to Loosen My Load, Got a Load of Errands on My Mind." Yes, occasionally I borrow a tune and put my own words to it.

    Another current artist I thought of that I love is Meghan Trainor, with hits such as "All About That Bass" and "Like I'm Gonna Lose You." Then, there are some more current male artists, with The Weeknd, Charlie Puth, Ed Sheeran, and Sam Smith that I like. Hank, you asked for recommendations. These, along with the ones in my first set of comments are there for your listening pleasure.

    Of course, I listen to the oldies stations, too, as there's nothing quite like reliving your youth through those songs.

  39. Oh, I just heard Unsteady. And so cool--I know, it's silly--but I could just go to my computer and there it is.
    SO interesting how differently I'd think of the song if I had just heard it and not seen the video... I that a thing?

  40. Ingrid! I love musical theater! A Little Night Music-Anything Sondheim. And one year, I played A Chorus Line every waking minute of every day. Evita. West Side Story. Guys and Dolls. CHicago. Once on this Island. Les Mis. Wonderful Town. Ah. Another blog for another day.

    ANd you are impressive! Looking up your suggestions now.

  41. Richard, I feel your non-pain. I once got La Vida Loca in Charades, and had no idea what it was. It was completely embarrassing.

  42. Lisa was it "Sad Song"? I just listened to that, too. What a fun day! Now, back to the edit booth.

    But wait--Jenn, your husband is a musician? Professional, or for fun? (Jonathan played clarinet in the Columbia College marching band,but that's the extent of it in our family..xxoo

  43. Now I am humming Unsteady. After hearing it ONCE!

  44. Oh, I just heard 7 Years. I know that song! Okay, then. I feel better.

  45. No comment! I am hopelessly out of date. In the car, it's audiobooks. At home, it's silence. The grandkids introduce me to some contemporary stuff, and I do have the Hamilton CD.

    When I was young, the music was so wonderful.

  46. Yes, you know this is getting more and more, um, ear-opening for me. I am loving this music! Denise Ann, give some a try!

  47. Hank, I have to admit that I've never heard "Once on This Island." I just looked it up, and I'm going to give it a listen.

    Jenn, did you ever see the SNL skit featuring the Prime Minister's question session in parliament and Oasis? Cracks me up every time...

  48. Speaking of "musical theater, HAMILTON is my current rage. Can't get enough.

  49. Kathy--Have you heard "Pieces," by Rob Thomas? That's my new fave. Now that Hank has "Unsteady" memorized, we can all join in. "I'm a little unsteady-ee-ee, a little unsteady-ee-ee . . ." :-)

  50. That happens to me all the time, Hank! Or, I'll be asking about song and find out that it was huge two years ago. :-)

  51. Yeah, well, that means we have a good ear, right, Lisa? Just...a late ear.

  52. No, I don't like the new music. Give me the 70s, the 80s and some of the 90s. I do know Adele though.

    I used to listen to the radio and have it play in the background but when they did more talk and commercial and less music..I gave up on them.

    The most I listen to music is during the Christmas holiday when I'm playing all Christmas albums. Yes, it's time to listen to them now.


  53. Hank- Yes, Hub is a musician and still plays out a few times a week. The young ones are following in his footsteps. I live in a frat house!
    Ingrid - I love the SNL bit. Ha ha ha - greatest band in Britain since the Beatles. True!

  54. Dru, if you say it is time to listen to Christmas music, then it is! You are always right…

    Jenn, you are a saint.

  55. What a life-changing day here on jungle red! Thank you all! And on the way to work tomorrow we will listen to something new…
    And be sure to come back, we have a fabulous fabulous guest with a great giveaway!

  56. Laura, I just listened to Pieces, and wow!

  57. Hank,

    Here is the website: