Top 13 Songs of 2011

Since this is the last day of 2011, I figured I’d save all my “Top of 2011” posts to it. First post to go public – songs:

Note: the top 5 songs can easily be rearranged as you see fit. I have personally classed them as such based on how often I listened to them according to their iTunes play count.

13 – We Are Young – Fun.

This indie band released this song back in September but never got into it until very recently. It’s quirky, exciting and, well, fun. “Tonight, we are young. So let’s set the world on fire, we can burn brighter than the sun.”

12 – You and I  – Lady Gaga

One of the few Lady Gaga songs I can stand and my favorite of hers by far. It could be that there’s nothing “Gaga” about it. It could be that it might as well be played on country radio but You and I is definitely the best song on her otherwise disappointing new album: Born This Way. (My review of You and I)

11 – We Owned The Night – Lady Antebellum 

My favorite song off their new album, Own the Night. The lyrics are smooth, fresh and lively. The music is happy, effervescent. The chorus is one line that will get stuck in your head. “Yeah we owned the night!” (My review of We Owned The Night).

10 – Safe & Sound (Feat. The Civil Wars) – Taylor Swift

This newly released song is easily one of my favorites of 2011 as well simply because it is a greatly written somber song, perfectly befitting the mood of the movie it will be part of. It is among Swift’s best works and can be one of the few songs she has written that would please a wider fanbase than the teenagers she normally targets. “Just close your eyes, the sun is going down. You’ll be alright, no one can hurt you now. Come morning light you and I’ll be safe and sound.” (My review of Safe & Sound).

9 – Eighteen Inches – Lauren Alaina

My favorite song off Lauren Alaina’s great debut album, Wildflower. It is a sweet song about young lovers who elope to start a new life. “When you’re young and in love you might do some things that don’t seem all that smart. Cause there ain’t no greater distance than the eighteen inches from your head to your heart.”

8 – 20 Years – The Civil Wars 

Absolutely one of the most stunning songs I recently heard. There’s no clear chorus, there’s no clear bridge – it’s nowhere near a typical song you’d hear anywhere. And it’s simply breathtaking. “In the meantime I’ll be waiting for twenty years and twenty more. I’ll be praying for redemption and your note underneath my door and your note underneath my door…”

7 – Skinny Love – Birdy

Released early in 2011, this is a Bon Iver cover. Well, forgive me Bon Iver but your song about heartbreak is conveyed in a way more heartbreaking way by this fifteen year old singer. “Come on skinny love, just last the year. Pour a little salt, you were never here…”

6 – Pumped Up Kicks – Foster The People

This alternative hit came out of nowhere and took everyone by surprise. It is a very dark song – even darker than many people think it is. And yet, it comes off as a very smooth listen. “All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,You better run, better run, outrun my gun.All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,You better run, better run, faster than my bullet.”

5 – Rolling In The Deep – Adele

Let the Adele domination of whatever remains of this list begin. Her first single of her smash of an album (or whatever you call selling over 15 million copies worldwide of an album in one year nowadays) is also one of the year’s biggest hits everywhere. “There’s a fire starting in my heart reaching a fever pitch and it’s bringing me out the dark.”

4 – Someone Like You – Adele 

Because no other breakup song can be this good. Someone Like You is chilling. Someone Like You is captivating. Someone Like You is a song almost every other artist out there wishes they had written. “Nothing compares, no worries or cares. Regrets and mistakes, they’re memories made. Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?” (My review of Someone Like You).

3 – If I Die Young – The Band Perry

Although released to country radio back in 2010, I’ve decided to include this song in this list because 1. I didn’t have a blog in 2010 and 2. It was released to other radio formats in the US in 2011. There’s just so much I can say about this song and I would still be able to say more. You only need to look at how many people were affected by this song to know exactly the magnitude of its reach. It may not have become the smash hit that Someone Like You or Rolling In The Deep became but it is a song equally worthy, if not more. What song can get a sixty year old woman to stand in a concert in the scorching sun and hold a banner saying: “She died young.” You can’t listen to If I Die Young without being contemplative. “If I die young, bury me in satin. Lay me down on a bed of roses, sink me in the river at dawn, send me away with the words of a love song.”  (My review of If I Die Young).

2 – Set Fire To The Rain – Adele

My favorite song off Adele’s 21. This song is about her breakup – as is all her album, obviously – but this song treats that breakup in a very different light than the other songs. It’s a confusing song in the sense that the beat is there so you’d expect the song to be happy and yet the lyrics are devastating. “My hands, they were strong. But my knees were far too weak to stand in your arms without falling to your feet. But there’s a side to you that I never knew. All the things you’d say, they were never true. All the games you’d play, you would always win.”

1 – Remind Me (feat. Carrie Underwood) – Brad Paisley

The bonafide country hit of the year. Remind Me, the fourth single off Brad Paisley’s new album, is a song about a couple wanting to rekindle their dying romance and it resonates with almost all couples who have been together up to a point where they’ve become so used to each other they take their significant other for granted. The song beholds a stunning vocal performance by Carrie Underwood who’s set to release her fourth album sometime in 2012. “Do you remember how it used to be, we’d turn out the lights and we didn’t just sleep? Remind me, baby remind me.” (My review of Remind Me).

What We Know So Far About Carrie Underwood’s Fourth Album

It’s been a while since I wrote anything Carrie Underwood related, hasn’t it? Well no matter.

My Carrie Underwood dry streak is officially over with this. And if you’re anything like me, you’re obviously obsessing in any spare time you have about her upcoming album. So I figured I’d do a quick round-up of the possible song titles we have and what Carrie has said about the album.

So without further ado…

Registered Songs:

This is a list of all Carrie co-writes so far for this era. Many of these songs will not make the album. For reference, David Hodges has co-written What Can I Say on Carrie’s third album. Hillary Lindsey and Luke Laird have co-written many of Carrie’s biggest hits such as Jesus Take The Wheel, Temporary Home, Someday When I Stop Loving You. Mike Elizondo is responsible for the song that is Cowboy Casanova. Kara DioGuardi, former American Idol judge, along with Marti Frederiksen have written with Carrie the songs Undo It and Mama’s Song. Kelley Lovelace has written many of Brad Paisley’s biggest hits such as Whiskey Lullaby and Remind Me (his duet with Carrie). And finally, Ryan Tedder is One Republic’s frontman and has written songs like Beyonce’s Halo and Kelly Clarkson’s Already Gone.

Carrie’s Thoughts About The Album:

– “I’m so excited about it because I honestly think these are the best batch of songs and this is gonna be the best album. I’ve always been reluctant to say that before I guess because I don’t know, maybe I was waiting for something super super special, and I feel like I’ve got it. So meanwhile, a new tour, which we will be putting together really soon, and I’m just really excited. We’re gonna surprise ourselves I think.” (source).

– “I’ve got an amazing 2012 planned for you guys. We’re going to have so much fun!” – Acceptance speech at this year’s ACA awards.

– It’s more on the upbeat side. In fact, she usually has a hard time finding the more uptempo songs. This time, it’s the opposite.

Other Info:

– Expect a beginning of 2012 release of the album, possible first single to be released in early January.

 

 


Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood’s “Remind Me” To Be Released Outside Country Radio

It seems that the radio run of Remind Me, the #1 country smash, is not over by it reaching the penthouse of the country charts on the September 10th issue.

Arista, the label behind country music’s biggest stars Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, who delivered this stunning duet to the masses on Paisley’s latest album, This Is Country Music, is releasing the song to US radio outside the country genre.

On November 14th (one day after my birthday so I’ll take this is a belated gift), radios that play Hot Adult Contemporary and Adult Contemporary music (ie: music by artists like P!nk, Kelly Clarkson, Adele, Daughtry, Lady Antebellum, Maroon 5, etc…) are invited to add this song to their playlists, after being remixed to suit their sound.

Hot AC success for country songs is seen by many as a gateway for entry to pop radio, which is becoming more and more receptive to country songs without remixes, as shown by Taylor Swift’s “Back To December” and Lady Antebellum’s “Just A Kiss,” currently at #25.

In other news, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley co-hosted the CMA awards for their fourth consecutive time yesterday, opening hilariously with a sketch that played on Hank Williams Jr.’s slur of Obama being like Hitler and Kim Kardashian’s 72 day marriage.

Carrie and Brad also performed “Remind Me” to a standing ovation.

Remind Me (Music Video) – Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood

The awaited video of country music’s most anticipated single of the year so far has just been released.

Set in a desert around sunset, it features Brad Paisley with his guitar and Carrie Underwood with her legs. Yes, the legs are even more important than the guitar. Why? Well, they say pictures speak louder than words. How about three?


And for emphasis:

If you’re still with me, let us proceed.

The treatment of the Remind Me video is different from what anyone expected. Sure, our expectations were high but the more reasonable person of us would have seen coming something along the lines of the result. There was no way Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley would act out the song to the letter.

I mean, if you thought that the whole video would be Carrie and Brad kissing each other endlessly, then you would be delusional. No offense that is.

The end result was the next best thing that could happen without acting out the song: represent the anguish of two lovers who need to be reminded of each other’s love with Carrie and Brad walking towards each other in the desert sunset.

The idea couldn’t be simpler. The slow walk represents the longing, the desert represents the dryness of the relationship. And when they meet, they address each other with sparks in their eyes to be reminded of that love.

However, you can clearly see that Carrie expresses more passion than Brad in their portrayal of the characters. I don’t want to be over analytical, but I think that’s the role they were meant to play and not a lack of acting or dedication. Why? Because I believe that it is more natural for women in situations like this exhibit more passion while men have more restraint.

I can’t say I’m let down but I can see why many fans thought the video would be much more exhuberant. However, let me say this. If any man has a wife/girlfriend with Carrie Underwood’s legs and they need to be reminded to love her, it’s time to go to therapy.

Check out my review of Remind Me. And the lyrics.

Watch the Remind Me video:

CMA Announce 2011 Award Show Hosts: Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley

The CMA have announced the hosts for the CMA 2011 country award show, set to air on ABC on November 9th.

This marks the fourth consecutive year both artists were chosen to host the prestigious country award show.

Carrie and Brad are known for their hosting dynamics and their ability to truly entertain when hosting, as exemplified by CMA chief executive Steve Moore who said both Underwood and Paisley “have the unique qualities of humor, talent, credibility and natural rapport that makes them a hit with fans and the industry audience.”

Interestingly, both artists are rumored to be performing together as well on the show, which would be their single Remind Me’s first televised performance. The announcement was also broadcast via Facebook from the set of the music video for Remind Me.

Remind Me is currently #12 on the country charts, having been released a few weeks ago. It’s already shaping up to be one of the year’s biggest hits. And 2011 has had many big hits on the country charts so far. You can read my review and listen to Remind Me here.

Meanwhile, you can watch bits of Carrie and Brad hosting:

This Is Country Music (Album Review) – Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley is not one of the leading figures in country music for no reason. He has always pushed the envelope of the genre with his music, introducing issues that were usually not discussed in song and making the umbrella of the country music genre even wider, engulfing more themes.

On his last album, “American Saturday Night”, Brad dealt with social issues we all live through but don’t really consider, such as looking at the younger generation and seeing all of the advances they have and we lacked (the song in question is Welcome To The Future).

He doesn’t stray far from that in This Is Country Music, an album that starts with the song of the same name where Brad says country music is the only genre where the word “cancer” is mentioned in a song and goes on into a segue of country music classics (Stand By Your Man, Take Me Home Country Roads, etc…)

On Old Alabama, Brad tells the story of a date with a girl whose idea of a perfect date is not one that involves high-end meals but a simple drive around in a truck listening to Alabama. It’s the song for everyone whose woman is not a high-maintenance gal. The country band Alabama is featured on it.

A Man Don’t Have To Die is a haunting song about the hardships in life and is probably one of the album’s highlights. It starts by describing a priest telling people that hell exists. Brad then comes in to say that we don’t need the priest to tell us this because some of us go things in life that make our life a living hell: when you get fired, when you find out you’re all alone in life, etc… “you don’t have to die to go to hell”.

Camouflage is a smart song, which would have fitted nicely with Brad’s previous album, saying how camouflage is Brad’s favorite color: makes you fit in where you can’t, makes you irresistible for a redneck girl…

And the comes Remind Me, the duet with Carrie Underwood. To say this song is brilliant would be an understatement. It is about a couple rekindling their romance and it is just perfect. You’d expect a song with such a theme to be sadder somehow but it confuses you by being a mid-tempo power ballad. The lyrics are top notch, even the repetition of the words “remind me” don’t come off as grating because it blends very well in the overall body of work. Brad holds his own next to the soaring vocals of Carrie Underwood, making for another – if not the – album highlight. You can check out my full Remind Me review here.

On Working On A Tan, Brad describes a girl soaking in the sun, doing exactly what the title says. Meanwhile, the boys are at the gym working out, wanting to go to the beach just because she’s there working on a tan, with everyone’s tongues hanging out but she doesn’t give a damn.

Love Her Like She’s Leaving is another ballad, featuring Don Henley, that starts with a couple’s wedding and how he’ll never forget how the bride’s uncle told him to “love her like she’s leaving, like it’s all gonna end if he don’t”. Definitely another album highlight, an absolutely brilliant song.

One Of Those Lives is the story of one of those days where you think everything’s going wrong: you rush out and there’s traffic, get chewed by the boss. And then you receive a phone call that your friend’s little boy had a cancer relapse only realizing that while you had one of those days, the boy has had one of those lives. If you don’t feel compassion when you hear this, you need to listen again. An amazing ballad.

On Toothbrush, Brad paints a family portrait that all starts with a toothbrush: it all starts with a toothbursh, a splash of after-shave before leaving for a first date… long kiss goodnight… ultimately leading to a marriage and some kids. Brad sings that everything starts as a little thing, needing room to grow. It all starts with a toothbrush.

Be The Lake is the dirty joke song Brad loves to have on every album. On his previous album, American Saturday Night, it was Water (Daytona beach on spring break/ Eighteen girls up on stage/ White t-shirts about to sprayed with water). On Be The Lake, the girl is swimming and Brad is wishing he could be the lake that she’s swimming in.

Eastwood is a song featuring the directing/acting legend Clint Eastwood. It starts off by Brad’s little boy asking: “hey, what about western?” to which Clint replies: “You want western? Well, this is western!” before pure western music, taken out of a cowboy movie, starts playing. Eastwood is mostly an instrumental track, with Brad, a very strong guitarist, bringing it while Clint Eastwood whistles in the background. It ends by Brad telling Clint: “good job,” the latter replying: “thanks Brad, now I’ve tried everything.”

New Favorite Memory is about a couple going through many scenarios, each time ending with the man telling the woman to stop so he could let it sink it, his favorite memory of her. It is a ballad about a tender love that holds nothing back.

Don’t Drink The Water is a conversation between two guys (the other one being country star Blake Shelton) about going down to Mexico for a vacation. They have some sweet ladies that are more than glad to meet you – but don’t dare to drink the water there.

I Do Now is a song about a man regretting the mistakes he did with his wife. How he’d give anything to go back in time somehow so he wouldn’t break her heart and the vows he made to her and tell her, right in the moment he said I do, that “I do now”.

The last song on the album, Life’s Railway To Heaven, is more on the Christian-side of things where Brad, along with Sheryl Crow and Carl Jackson sing, to a prominent banjo and fiddle background, “blessed the savior that will guide us till we reach that blissful shore, where the angels wait to join us in God’s praise forevermore”.

Brad Paisley, one of country music’s superstars, has the bar set very high for him whenever he wants to release anything. And he hits the bar and more with his eighth album, This Is Country Music. The album serves as a book, each song being a chapter. It’s very cohesive and entertaining. Some said the album could do without a few tracks. But when you look at the collective work that this album presents, you can’t but feel that is is complete as is. How so? When you listen to the album’s first single, many themes are brought up, saying that country music tackles all of these issues. The album serves as a way to tackle the issues that the first single presents. Many have said it is not Brad’s best single – and I agree. But it serves its purpose of being introductory to an album that shows what is country music.

What’s great about this album is that it is real without being pretentious. It doesn’t set out to be the best album ever made, even for Brad’s fans, and it doesn’t include songs that you need to over-analyze to understand. It’s an album about life, freedom, marriage, love, as simple as it may be.

Brad’s fans will love this. Those who are apprehensive will find themselves tapping their toes to some of the songs but everyone will find a song to which they can relate because, at the end of the day, this is country music and it tells the story of your life.

Remind Me (Single Review) – Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood

To say the hype for this duet was great is an understatement. Everyone (and yes, I do mean everyone) who had heard the song was gushing about how brilliant it was. Some even called it the best thing to happen this year. So naturally, that sets the bar very high for the song. Does Remind Me deliver?

It does. On every single account!

Appearing on Brad Paisley’s upcoming album, This Is Country Music, to be released on Monday May 23rd, Remind Me is a song about a couple wanting to rekindle their romance. They reminisce over the days where they used to kiss in public, not caring about what people said, when the woman missed her flight because they lost themselves in each other’s embrace… but their fire is dying and they want to find that spark again. (For the full lyrics, click here).

So naturally, a song with Remind Me’s context demands vocalists who are capable of delivering the message credibly. And what better than country music’s leading vocalists to deliver the song. To say Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley do not shine on this would be a travesty. They excel on a topic that is way outside both of their comfort zones.

I have never heard Carrie Underwood sound more vulnerable on a song before – and she has had many songs dealing with vulnerability. Brad Paisley is the perfect counterpart for Carrie in this song. He exhibits restraint as he tries to seduce Carrie’s character. She whispers back the words “remind me” on the first chorus with impeccable falsetto, penetrating your heart. You feel her longing to her significant other to remind her of how they used to be. The nuances she gives the song are truly stunning as well. It is no wonder Brad Paisley called her today’s best singer in any format of music.

Remind Me is a give and take song between both characters, uniting them both on the song’s bridge, right after a brilliant guitar breakdown, where they tell each other that if “you still love me, don’t assume I know”, remind me. The song is also very real. Every couple has been through that exact same circumstance. Be it after seven weeks, months or years, each couple gets to a point where they feel the need to remind each other of what once was. The imagery the song uses (waking up in the guy’s old shirt, turning out the lights and not sleeping…) is very raw and helps get the song across.

When you listen to Remind Me, you will know that this song will burn through the country charts left and right, up and down. There’s no way this won’t be this year’s biggest hit and win every single award imaginable next year. And people had said both artists were past their prime. This song is there to remind everyone of the caliber Brad and Carrie are made of. And if they keep on giving us music like this, let them keep on reminding us.

You can listen to Remind Me here: