State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Author - Eric Dowling

MØ Breaks Out

Karen Marie Ørsted, or as she is known by her stage name, MØ, released her debut album, No Mythologies to Follow. Rocking the popular trend of electronic beats paired with fantastic vocals, MØ is demanding attention right away. The first track opens with such a theatrical and modern open. “Fire Rides” showcases her talents. The album has such a familiar feel to it, sporting a sound similar to EMA, Diplo (who guests on a track), Grimes, and even some Charli XCX. The whole album is kind of like that person you see at a party who looks so familiar to you, but you have never met them before and they are like the most interesting person at the party. No Mythologies to Follow also boats world influences, from Caribbean sounds to distant Icelandic sounds (see Sigur Rós). MØ’s beats and sound shouldn’t be the only thing that you focus on when listening because her voice is so haunting. On some songs you can hear the pain in what she is singing about, and on others you can hear her strength as if she overcame something difficult in her life.

The album definitely has some songs that rise out of the pack, but it is definitely recommend to listen to it as a whole, cohesive album first. “Maiden,” “Don’t Wanna Dance,” and “XXX 88 (feat. Diplo)” are all standouts. “Maiden” combines summer sounds of the Caribbean islands with MØ’s unique vocals. It is the second song on the record, and shows the listener that MØ means business and her sound is something to take seriously, and that its not a carbon copy of Ellie Goulding or other popular female artists making similar music. You hear MØ labor through the verses to show the emotion felt in the song. In “Don’t Wanna Dance” she kicks up the tempo a bit and keeps the beginning simple and lets her vocals star in the song. The chorus celebrates MØ being her own person, sort of an updated version of “Dance to the beat of your own drummer.” Her vocals on the track are so upbeat and happy, which seem to hammer home the message of “Be your own person” and “Don’t be a follower.” Finally, in “XXX 88″ MØ brings out electronic music’s equivalent of Pharrell, Diplo, a producer/ DJ  (also a part of Major Lazer) who makes minimal sounds the life of the party and puts such a high energy to every song he is apart of. The Diplo beat, paired with MØ’s vocals combine for something really special. It showcases the talent that MØ has to offer and her sound even more powerful.

As a whole, the album is truly a testament to the changing style of music, and a meshing of musical genres. Combining electronic beats with simple pop/easy listening vocals, MØ blends the two styles seamlessly, and the album varies in emotion, ranging from soul wrenching ballads to songs that celebrate individuality. MØ is one to keep on your radar, and could potentially blow up across the globe, and since she has Diplo on her side, the transition to globe conquerer should be in a matter of time.

A Springtime Playlist

With the “warmer” weather ahead of us, there are always songs that help us really ring in the warm weather and enjoy it all the better. In order to properly celebrate the coming nice weather, here is a playlist to celebrate the end of the cold and the the day that Punxsutawney Phil predicted so long ago. So here is a quick, down and dirty 21 song playlist that will help you bask in the glory that is the new season and the blooming flowers and sunshine.

1) “April’s Song”- Real Estate

Fresh off the release of their new album Atlas, Real Estate’s calm beachy sound is a perfect way to get you thinking about the new warm weather and, come on, how can a song called “April’s Song” not be included in this playlist.

2) “Bat Out of Hell”- Meatloaf

With the warmer weather coming and being so close to summer, what is like the perfect thing to do on a nice day, go on a drive with the window down and the music pumping. What better song to accompany your road trip than the classic Meatloaf epic “Bat Out of Hell”, a song about a quick fling and just an all around fantastic rock song that just makes you want to sing at the top of your lungs, the song keeps building and building, and just makes you want to drive until you reach the sun.

3) “Do My Thang”- Miley Cyrus

Yes I know not everyone out there is a Smiler, or even a casual fan of Miley Cyrus, but her breakout album has a lot of songs that are fun and help celebrate individuality and “doing your own thing” but the song is sexy, like Miley’s voice and her “rapping” is just gets you motivated to go out and do fun things, and what better way to do fun things in the new warmth of the springtime, go smell the roses and “get crazier than hell.”

4) “Novacane”- Frank Ocean

From his first album Nostalgia, Ultra Frank sings about falling in love with a girl who wants to be a dentist, but from the beat to Frank’s fantastic vocals, this song just exudes laying outside and soaking up the sun. Now I know spring is not necessarily the time to go out and soak up those rays, but aren’t you sick of the cold and the winter?

5) “Smiley Faces”- Gnarls Barkley

This one is simple: gone are the days of five hundred layers and now are the days of shorts and a t-shirt, so put on your “Smiley Face”.

6) “Stay Cat Strut”- Stray Cats

Same as “Smiley Faces”: go outside and strut. We are no longer trapped inside huddled together trying to stay warm, and also who doesn’t like to strut?

7) “A.D.H.D.”- Kendrick Lamar

Unfortunately with the arrival of spring, that means that finals are right around the corner. Everyone will seemingly be diagnosed with a case of A.D.H.D, trying to avoid finals and procrastinating from studying, and pining to go outside and enjoy the weather.

8 ) “Man of the Year”- SchoolBoy Q

Once you finish finals, you are going to feel like the “Man of the Year” after a successful semester, and now its time to relax for three months and live on top of the world.

9) “Scarlet Begonias (Rareties Version)”- Sublime

Springtime means that the new flowers are in bloom and shooting pollen everywhere. If you are like me you will avoid coming within 100 feet of the budding flowers, but if you are lucky enough to not have allergies, stop and enjoy the beauty of the blooming flowers.

10) “Phantom Limb”- The Shins

This one doesn’t have a spring related title of the song, its just a good song that with the brilliance of The Shins, makes you just love life. Featuring a really simple guitar riff and James Mercer’s distinct vocals, this song will make you really appreciate spring.

11) “Take A Walk”- Passion Pit

It’s nice and warm, so who wants to be inside in your dorm/apartment when its finally nice enough to go outside and enjoy the weather without shivering to death. Go out and “Take a Walk”.

12) “Beautiful Day”- U2

Okay, you all may hate me for doing this one, but “Take a Walk” because its a “Beautiful Day.” Okay, yeah I know that was corny, but it doesn’t mean there’s not a hint of truth to it. It’s finally that time of the year where we can do all of those college stereotypes, play frisbee in the Quad and lay outside and do homework on the campus lawns.

13) “Colossus”-  Tyler the Creator

There are always going to be those people that hate spring, and prefer the cold, dark, depressing winter. If those people were a song it would be “Colossus.” Tyler bemoans having fans surround him at Six Flags, and just wants to ride the rides and keep to himself. Listen Tyler, we get it you can’t cope with the fame, but hey its spring and the amusement parks are open now.

14) “Till I Get There”- Lupe Fiasco

An anthem for summer, when will it come, when will it get here. Lupe may not really be making music anymore, but this song is fantastic, and evidence for why he should never stop making music. This is just a sampling of how summer feels, light breezy and carefree. The chorus of the song is so perfect and has such a good vibe that all you want is for summer to be here and just sit by the pool and relax.

15) “All These Things That I’ve Done”- The Killers

“I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier.” First off, if someone can explain what these lyrics mean, I might pay you some serious money. With spring coming, and the school year ending, people will take the time to look back at the year that was. This song may feel like it should be listened to in front of the fire during a snowstorm, but trust me, once the drums come in and the song picks up, you will understand why it should be in the Springtime Mix.

16) “New Perspective”- Panic At the Disco

What a great motto for the changing season! With the warmer weather approaching, you are going to want to start looking at things in a different light, and what better song to help kick that off than one titled “New Perspective”. Performed by a band of basically two people, the song have just a fantastic upbeat vibe and sound to it, that it makes you really just appreciate the nice weather ahead.

17) “Bang Pop”-  Free Energy

For me, almost no other song makes me think of the summer more than this one. From the sound of the lead singer’s vocals to the bouncy chords on guitar, everything combines to one fantastic song that will have you thinking of the sun and everything warm.

18) “Night Like This”- Karmin

Once again, spring unfortunately brings finals with it. After you are done with your solid two weeks of studying, you are going to want to go out and celebrate the end of an unforgettable year, and this is the perfect anthem. Karmin sings about letting go of the stresses of the day to day world and just letting go and partying like its 1999.

19) “Gold On the Ceiling”- The Black Keys

The sound is almost unmistakable, and no matter if you are a fan of the Akron based band or not, you have probably heard this song somewhere at some time. For a time it was unavoidable, much like the changing of the weather, but also like the changing of the weather it is something to welcome in with open arms. It is a simple song, and just a lot of fun to listen to while you drive around with your windows down.

20) “Champagne Supernova”- Oasis

This is the time where we slow things down a little bit and take time to look back at the academic year that was. The lyrics are poignant and make you think about choices that you had made in the year. But overall, the reason it is in a Springtime Mix is because, with lyrics like “Some day you will find me caught beneath a landslide in a  champagne supernova in the sky,” it has a cathartic feel to it that makes you want to raise a toast to everyone in your life.

21) “Boombastic”- Shaggy

One word: Shaggy.   That is all, enjoy the Mixtape.

Karmin Pulses Into the Scene

A few years ago, Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan were merely Youtube cover artists, now a few years later the band is a tour de force of pop music. Amy has a very distinct sound to her, she has the ability to switch between rapping and singing in an almost seamless and flawless way. This distinct style of music really helps make Karmin stand out in the music world. Hitting it big on Youtube with covers of “Superbass” and “Look At Me Now”, the duo were so close to breaking out. With a little help from a Rolling Stone cover contest, Karmin made it to the mainstream, and have just released their first full length original studio album. The Youtube sensations created a lot of buzz with their visually stunning music videos and catchy songs, and are getting some serious attention and radio play. Their album Pulses has some incredibly catchy and fun songs on it.

On the album, Karmin shows their musical range, mixing up their musical backings from a piano, to full on Dub Step beat, to a guitar. Pulses shows how musically mature Karmin has become since those Youtube days, where Amy would sing/ rap and Nick would play the keyboard. For those that have been following Karmin since Youtube, you can really hear how far Amy has come vocally. She has always been a strong rapper, but her singing has improved so much since the beginning. This transformation makes Karmin one of the most exciting bands to watch for in the coming years, because they have so much potential to still work with. Starting off the album strong, Karmin’s first single is “Acapella” and it is a fun song where Amy sings about the perfect man that her father wants her to be with. Every lyric, every verse, show you how much fun Amy and Nick had while making this song, and it makes sense that this was the first single off of the record. As the album progress, Karmin drops a song that every college, and hard working person can relate to with “Night Like This” a song that celebrates those that work hard and want a fun night to forget about the “real world” and just have fun. With a fun beat, and Amy’s rapping and singing combination in full force in the song, it is one that will be played at many parties in 2014. Even when Nick comes into the song, it adds such a great contrast to Amy’s voice and it makes such a great song. Finally, the song “Gasoline” is another fun song on the record. With lyrics that show true passionate love, these are lyrics from people in love. The song is just a fun song, enough said.

Karmin have made it big, and this is their break-through into the pop world. The album has everything in it to make it a fantastic album and popular with the public. There are good beats, original style, and lyrics that are sung with meaning. All of these elements show how big Karmin has the potential to be. With a sound that is so distinct and original in 2014, the band should be commended for that.

G I R L Gets Us Ready for Summer

By: Eric Dowling

 

Pharrell is not a vampire, but he may be some sort of god. Coming off of the fantastic year he had in 2013, Pharrell is looking to keep that steam going with the release of his first solo album since 2006’s In My Mind with the release of G I R L, he isn’t trying to break any new ground on this album, but it is just another medium for Pharrell to hone his incredible producing skills and show the world why he is so important. Earlier in 2013, Pharrell scored the soundtrack for Despicable Me 2 and the highlight from the film was the super catchy pop song “Happy” later Pharrell continued his dedication to the song by filming a 24-hour long music video. The first single from G I R L, “Happy” makes everyone want to get up and dance. When you put in  G I R L, you are taken back to an age of music where it was about fun and getting up and dancing.

For Pharrell, making a pop record is not something that is foreign to him, producing hits like “Hot In Herre” by Nelly to “Cry Me a River” by Justin Timberlake to “Frontin’” by  Jay Z. The album starts off in a very non-Neptunes way, a full orchestra, in his first of many odes to women, “Marilyn Monroe” has Pharrell crooning in his unmistakable falsetto that has made him one of the biggest pop stars in the last year, and in the song he gets emotional. He opens up about a women that he loves and wants the world to know how much this woman means to him. The standouts on the record are “Hunter”, the Daft Punk collaboration “Gust of Wind” and “Come Get It Bae” with a guest verse from Miley Cyrus. In “Hunter”, Pharrell whips out one of the most ridiculous lines in a song that I can remember, “Duck dynasty’s cool and all, but they got nothing on a female’s call.” like it’s just so absurd that you laugh at the ridiculousness of the line, but if an up and coming singer would sing that line, people would jump at them and discredit their merit as a writer, but Pharrell makes such a dorky verse cool. The music on the song is a huge throwback to his Neptune’s tracks with a 70s sounding bouncy beat, but now he adds in the added layer of his high voice for a track that will have you up and dancing. As for the Daft Punk collaboration, Pharrell brings a sound to this record that really stands out, he slows it down a little, and adds everyone’s favorite French robots to really help take the song to the next level, it’s nothing like “Get Lucky” but it has such good energy and you can see that Pharrell is using this song to show how much he loves woman, or one girl in particular. Pharrell has said that this album is his way to honor women as a whole and let them know that they are worth something, and you hear that resonate in every song, with a strong support of the female sex. Finally, the great “Come Get It Bae” starts off simple with a guitar riff than evolves into something much funkier. Pharrell comes in with his distinct voice, and Miley comes in on the chorus, and brings such great contrast to the song that when its all put together it works so well.

Everything together this album just is so much fun, that it makes you want the summer so badly that you know most of these songs will be the soundtrack to like everyone’s summer. From the sound and results of this album, it looks like Pharrell will be dominating the radio once again this summer, and that is perfectly alright. We all could use a little more Pharrell in our lives, it just makes everything much more funky.