Friday Five: Favourite Music of 2017

Hello hello. As we speak (type), I’m running on one hour and fifteen minutes of sleep and eating airport hash browns and scrambled eggs. In a few hours I’ll be boarding my Alaska Airlines flight to Portland, Oregon, for my birthday this weekend. As most of you know, I’ll be attending the Walker Stalker Con / Heroes & Villains Fan Fest Convention (Fan Fest Portland) on Saturday and Sunday and I’m stoked beyond belief.

In case you missed it, I posted a mega guide to convention-ing split in two parts so visit those posts here:

  • Part One: What Con To Attend, Ticket Purchasing, Buying Photo Ops & Pre-Sold Autographs, and Planning Ahead
  • Part Two: Special Requirements, What to Bring/Wear, Autographs & Selfies, Photo Op Etiquette, The Merch/Artists Area, and More!

Today’s post was fitting given that I have earbuds in right now! Music is in my blood. I’ve been singing and playing instruments from a young age and I love listening to music regardless of what mood/situation I’m in. Whether I want to jump around in my room or unwind and relax, you can usually find me humming along, bobbing my head, or singing at full volume.

These five artists were with me all throughout 2017 – I even got to see 3 out of 5 in concert last year! So here I am, wanting to tell you about them all. Let’s go!

Bloke & Bird

Where do I even begin with this duo? Jennifer Akerman and Lorenzo Jansson’s music was my biggest discovery of 2017 and to say that I’m addicted is an understatement.

I first listened to Bloke & Bird thanks to The Walking Dead’s Tom Payne; lead vocalist Jen happens to be Tom’s better half and he shared their music on his social media platforms. All I’ve gotta say is thank goodness he did!

The beats and riffs are so damn catchy, and Jen’s voice has a gorgeous, ethereal quality to it. Their music is both familiar and unique at the same time, crossing genres and and vibes with every track. A song like Bon Voyage makes me feel like I’m cruising through Santa Monica at sunset with the top down, tracks like Dig That Sound and Brooklyn Kid‘s youthful energy makes me want to dance around my bedroom (I will neither confirm nor deny whether I’ve done that…), and It’s Alright‘s ’90’s-esque slow jam is the perfect Friday night unwinding tune.

I’m currently listening to the acoustic version of Animal Style which allows the nuance in Jen’s voice to shine. Just lovely. My point is that they’ve got songs for every mood – and I blast them all on repeat. (God, how I wish they’d release more… or tour… or both!)

Between their current music and Jen’s upcoming musical pursuit The Final Child, I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings – or perhaps more accurately, what Jen and Lorenzo bring to 2018.

Coldplay

IMG_3885I’d say that none of the acts I’ve listed in today’s post need me to talk about them to get them more exposure, none moreso than these guys. I’ve listened (unironically and unapologetically) to Coldplay for half my life and while I may not have religiously listened to every track of every album, they have numerous stand-out tracks that have influenced me over the years.

They stand out to me in 2017 because I had the amazing opportunity to see them in concert back in September. For half the concert, I felt like I was back in high school, singing along with thousands of others to Yellow or Viva La Vida. Equally as enchanting are their newer songs, like Sky Full of Stars. As you can gather from this list, I tend to be quite fond of artists and songs even moreso if they’re in my vocal range. Having performed both alone and in bands throughout high school and university, my lower range led me to always performing male parts, and so my abilities influenced my preferences.

IMG_3887Chris Martin and the band had energy unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. He was jumping, leaping, running, laughing, and that energy was palpable throughout the arena. Say what you will about Coldplay, but their music is absolutely undeniably ear worm  material. While some find the lyrics to be cheesy, I find them to be heartfelt and quite beautiful. Also… you’re heartless if the guitar solo crescendoing near the end of Fix You doesn’t stir you and make you even the slightest bit verklempt.

If you’re as passionate about music as I am, getting to see a band you’ve followed for years live is a transcendental experience.

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Ed Sheeran

IMG_1397Say what you will about this man but his concerts are like nothing I’ve seen before. His was another concert I had the opportunity to see in 2017. Ed performs alone on stage and simply utilizes his looping pedals to layer the different elements of his music one on top of the other in order to create the songs. There’s very little small talk between songs; instead, Ed focuses on his music and often dives straight in from one song to the next.

Ed impacted me in 2017 for the same reasons why John Mayer’s first three albums continue to be some of my favourite music of all time. His songwriting is incredibly personal; the lyrics are conversational and often autobiographical. As a writer, I love stories and storytelling. Listening to Ed’s music is like reading a story about his hometown or a slice of his life and every time, I find myself both transported and enraptured.

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There’s a beauty in the simplicity of his lyric, in the complexity of his layers of sound, and whether I’m listening to the tear-inducing Supermarket Flowers or the sweeping anthemic shout-from-the-rooftops Castle on the Hill, I always find myself not only aurally engaged in his music but emotionally engaged as well. Over the years I’ve found that I enjoy music even more when I have an emotional response to it and Ed’s music is no exception.

Hamilton: An American Musical

Alas, no, I have not yet seen Hamilton, but 2018 brings me hope that I’ll finally get to with my best friend when we travel later this year! I’ll say this: Lin-Manuel Miranda is a wordsmith. An absolutely unbelievably talented wordsmith. His words and this entire musical has brought American history to the forefront to an entire generation that thought it was a middle school snoozefest history class.

His words and music orchestrated by Alex Lacamoire, directed by Tommy Kail, and brought to life by the likes of Christopher Jackson, Daveed Diggs, and Leslie Odom, Jr. still sends shivers down my spine every time I listen through the entire album.

While I’ve only seen bits and pieces of Hamilton through what they’ve shared over the years, I know that it’s visually simple yet jarringly beautiful as well, with costuming and choreography that just add to the beautiful layers of the story.

If you’ve been under a rock for the last two or three years and still haven’t listened to Hamilton… go. Get on YouTube and go. You won’t regret it.

John Mayer

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My final entree in this top five is the artist I’ve known the most and the longest. I was introduced to John Mayer thanks to my friend Rach. In 2002, shortly after starting high school, she introduced me to his album Room For Squares. The moment I heard My Stupid Mouth for the first time, I was hooked. His earnest lyrics, the conversational tone they took, and his compositions for the guitar blew me away. Much like Ed Sheeran now, there’s a beauty in how simple John’s music is.

Over the years, my love affair with him and his music waxed and waned (no, I’m not a huge fan of the super bluesy stuff, nor am I a particular fan of the country era), not to mention the whole era of John being – well, for lack of a better word, a douchecanoe.

Be that as it may, his music’s impact on me is undeniable. I chose to pick up a guitar after listening to Room For Squares. Half taught by Rach and half self-taught, John’s music singlehandedly drove me into music and performance beyond choir and vocals alone, something that I still love doing to this very day.

In the near-16 years since I first became a fan, I’ve seen John in concert three times, the most recent of which was in early 2017. Seeing and hearing old classics, new tunes, and perhaps most impact fully, his rendition of Free Fallin’ live was nothing short of magical. No, John, you’re not remotely perfect, but I owe you, anyway.


 

As you can see, I have a long-standing love affair with singer-songwriters and their guitars. Of course, I did listen to countless other artists non-stop last year, and a lot of ’80s music after Stranger Things came out, but these five artists dominated my Spotify account and I’d love for you to listen to them, too.

Who did you love listening to in 2017? Introduce me to new artists!

I’ll be all up in the convention all weekend but head back here on Monday for my recap. If you’re attending, I hope to meet you – please say hi if you see me! I’ll be posting on Instagram (@jenofthemoon) and Twitter (@theshortcrust) all day. 🙂

Have a great weekend!

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