bruno mars

Bruno Mars is a national treasure

Bruno Mars

Think of the songs and artists that the next generation of listeners are going to love. Imagine what music your hypothetical child will run over to you in a wave of excited discovery.

“Did you listen to this when it came out? Did you know about him? Did you love them, too? Did you see what he was doing here?”

My hypothetical kid is incredibly deep, apparently. It’s an interesting imagination: thinking about what is going to leave the public’s popularity and what is going to stay. Bruno Mars is going to stay, and I’m sure of it. Nothing in today’s musical schema is such pristine pop music.

Bruno has a three octave tenor range. Mixing pop with reggae with R&B and sometimes soul and hiphop, he hasn’t missed a step yet. He dips and dives into production styles that feel infallible in their ability to excite. Bruno’s SNL performance last night reminded us all of the power in this man’s five foot three frame. He is our smaller CeeLo Green. He is picking up where “Brick House” left off. A pop artists who is truly deserving of the title. His SNL performance is below:

Booking shows – how to book a gig

Reflecting on timeless ‘Rumours’

An album sewn together by inter-band relationships with too many drugs, too much alcohol and as much vulnerability mixed in, it has remained a music staple for a generation that doesn’t even listen to full albums anymore. In this age of mass musical production and formalized success, listening to an album in its entirety and digesting it completely feels like a thing of the past.

Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours acts as the exception to this new normalcy. On many nights my freshman year dormitory hall would play Rumours from beginning to end on repeat. It acted as the soundtrack to our procrastination and was only listened in full. If received incompletely, the thrill and meaning of the stories embedded within the album are diminished. From each song to the next, stories grow and add. Moving from heartbreak to hope, vacillating between pessimism and optimism, the album is a tale of raw emotion. The storybook nature of this album allows it to be untouched by time and adds greatly to its continued relevance. But this is only part of the musical puzzle.

Sonically, the album was inspired by contemporary music and new production techniques. It dithers between the pop and rock genres well enough that it doesn’t need to be categorized. So with immense musical talents and an endless stream of alcohol and drugs, Rumours emerged. Lyrical influences were easily accessed and found in the relationships flowing in and around the band. With the infamous yet endearing Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham love story, the dissolution of the McVie marriage, the brief Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood affair, the hook-up generation could make heroes of these people. Failed relationships are a recurring motif, as is the pledge to end their existence. Lindsey mentions this and tries to guarantee his refusal of all relationships in the acoustically brilliant, “Never Going Back Again.” “Been down one time/been down two time,” he sings — haven’t we all, Lindsey. Next, and somewhat paradoxically, is the hopeful “Don’t Stop.” An intermission from the pain, this is sole pick-me-up song of the album. “Brighter days are around the corner” is the general message of this pop anthem before the album transition back into painful heartbreak. It is song passages such as these that delineate some of the great range of emotion the album canvases.

And then there’s “Go Your Own Way,” Lindsey’s “get away and stay away” ballad to his former lover Stevie. It is perhaps the most heart-wrenching song of the album, but mostly because of the heavy situation that lies beneath it. Excellently produced and lyrically potent, the ballad is heavy with emotion. Stevie’s actual presence in the song provides even more weight: she was present during the entire recording of the song, standing in the same room, providing backing vocals. That is rough, raw and personifies the power of the album perfectly.

Stevie’s response is the soft, heart-wrenching “Silver Springs.” Originally intended for the 1977 album, this song is the B-Side for “Go Your Own Way” that was released 20 years later. Now present on the deluxe version of the Rumours album, the song completes the story. Stevie’s voice holds the hurt and carries the listener through her view of the relationship’s demise. “Turn around and see me running,” she sings, obviously responding to Lindsey’s just go and “call it another lonely day” attitude of indifference. But the very creation of these songs emphasizes a distinct lack of indifference. Had true apathy existed, the album would be three or four ballads shorter.

Rumours provides what some look for in music: a frame of reference for making sense of the world surrounding us. People have so much in common: insecurities, fears, heartache, hope; the list is infinite. What people fear, in my experience, is revealing these similarities. The admittance of genuine emotion or feelings, in any regard, makes one vulnerable. And vulnerability is perhaps the most frightening emotion in the game. It is the precursor to one of two things: immense happiness or heart-wrenching sorrow. Rumours delves into these emotional ranges that generations of people have experienced. Feigned indifference can only get someone so far. Rumours is here for when the hurting, the doubts or the fears come creeping back in and logic isn’t helping. Stevie, Lindsey, the McVies and Mac have experienced it — and have written it all down — in one sonically awesome package that still works, even for those heartless millennials.

Featured Playlist: The Cure for Sonic Restlessness

If you’re a frequent music listener like myself, it is very likely you periodically enter phases of boredom. I recall days when the “Browse” option on Spotify just isn’t doing it for me, or when I even go so far as to use iTunes radio to find something to match my current pallet. And your computer is supposed to be there to help: by placing my “Starred” Spotify playlist or frequently listened to tracks into some electronic algorithm I am easily presented with a collection of songs or albums that are supposed to satiate by current musical taste. But I still find this method futile. Just because I listen to Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” fifty times over the course of 72 hours does not necessarily imply that I’m planning on exploring the musical anthologies of Yellowcard or Cute Is What We Aim For. It honestly just means that I was feeling particularly angsty that week. “Ocean Avenue” jam sessions are fun, and a little Relient K now and then is always good, but all these are just forms of temporary gratification that cannot offer a solution to my sonic restlessness problem.

This sonic restlessness typically begins at the start of every month, when my surroundings are changing but the music blaring through my headphones is not. I’ll explore the depths of any and all music blogs and websites like a frantic drug addict, ranging from Rookie to All Songs Considered to Indie Shuffle to Chunky Glasses. But when I’m stuck in a rut this deep, modern music never works. Sylvan Esso is fun, as is The Orwells or that new cool single by Aphex Twin, but they are all modern music options that require a certain mental stamina. They have to be purposefully listened to, understood, and digested before your ears and mind can adapt to and accept this sound as enjoyable, and then normal. College already sucks up most of our brain cells, whether through those mindless accounting problems, the never-ending readings of your Russian history class, or just the good old alcohol and Mary Joe of the weekend festivities. There is sometimes no room for musical deliberation, even for nerds like me.

Over time and far too much analysis, I have found the antidote for my (and hopefully many others’) musical disease: a collection of songs that I believe to have transcended decades of musical evolution and pop culture changes. These songs rope the listener in and force you, through their excellence, to remind yourself what you truly love about music. The commonality among many of these songs is that many have slipped back into modern popular culture through movie and TV-show soundtracks. They have survived because they are ruthless, whether that be in their message, their musicianship, or the nostalgia that they represent.

Still relatable, still interesting, or are just as good or better than the music of today, these songs are the cougar living down the street in American suburbia that all the sixteen year old boys suggestively whisper about each time she passes by in her BMW on her way to Bikram yoga. They’ve still got it. I’ve never been one to claim that the music of the past is and always will be better than the music of the present. This is a blasé opinion held by small-minded individuals. The emergence of more technology in music production has only ever made music more interesting and has placed talent where it may have otherwise remained undiscovered. The cure for sonic restlessness ignores differing or changing styles of production. The presence, or lack thereof, of synthesizers, backboards, or electronics in these songs do not diminish the value of any of them.

I have compiled the following mixtape over the course of several musical brain blocks and have faith in the ability of these songs to cure anyone suffering similar symptoms. So stick this in your Spotify and shuffle it.