We’re three weeks into this month’s musical collaborations and it’s time to turn our attention to those hidden gems that never got the recognition they deserved. Whether it be a song that didn’t perform so great on the charts, or perhaps an album track that was unjustly prevented from becoming a single, we all know a tune or two that should’ve had more time in the limelight.
As someone who pays a lot of attention to the charts, I’ve seen a fair share of songs miss out on sales that have ended up going to some questionable music choices. The industry is constantly changing and right now it’s in a place that I can’t say I particularly admire, especially when talented artists get pushed to the side for some club track with little more than a beat and a handful of lyrics. Knowing that my fellow bloggers are fans of some genres that go massively underappreciated here in the UK, I thought this would be a great topic for this weekend’s segment.
It has also given me an idea for something new to talk about on this blog. You can find out more about that at the end of next month!
I’m a very passionate man when it comes to music, and there’s nothing I hate more than seeing great tracks not get the attention they deserve on the UK music scene. There are so many singles that I could talk about on here, but for the sake of the post I’ve cut it down to just three which are also some of my all-time favourite songs. Sales don’t count for everything, but the industry can be extremely cut-throat these days if you’re not churning out hit after hit.
Smile (Avril Lavigne)
This song always lives up to its name every time I listen to it. Quite frankly that’s why I listen to it, because it’s the perfect pick-me-up whenever you’re feeling a bit lonely. The reason I picked this track for today’s post is that it reached a measly 189 in the UK charts. It didn’t even hit the top 100! All the singles from Lavinge’s Goodbye, Lullaby album were disappointingly received in the charts, despite being some of her best, but this is the highlight for me thanks to the excellent production behind the track, as well as its lyrics.
It’s hard not to want to dance when this song comes on because it’s so aggressive and carefree. The music really hits you hard in the verses and then throws a massive party for the chorus, essentially bombarding you with three and a half minutes of crazy energy. It’s pop-rock after about five cans of Red Bull. Chart music these days tends to focus too much on that element of the song and forget that lyrics play an equally important part, but thankfully back in 2011 (when this song was released), things were a little different.
Although ‘Smile’ is written about a lover – what pop song isn’t these days – the chorus is applicable to anyone that puts you in a good mood and helps you find your happy place. Since leaving university, I’ve hardly seen my friends because we all live so far away from each other, but those guys were my rock in third year. Whenever I want to think about the good times – past and future – I’ll always stick on this track and cheer up instantly. They really are the reason that I smile.
Untouchable (Girls Aloud)
Released as the girl group’s final single before their lengthy hiatus, Untouchable is probably best known as being the song that broke their record-breaking string of consecutive UK top 10 hits. Unlucky number 21, eh? Admittedly this track is the most successful of the three I chose to write about having peaked at number 11 on the charts, but that position outside of the top 10 will bug me forever. Especially when it’s one of only two single by the group to miss out on that position, the other being their final release ‘Beautiful Cos You Love Me’.
The full six minutes and forty seconds of ‘Untouchable’ is an enchanting rollercoaster backed by a super-charged synth beat. Although their vocals have been more processed in this song, it adds to the mystical sound of the track that gives it an out-of-world feel. It’s unsurprising, then, that the music video sees the girls flying through space as they fall through the sky and down towards earth.
This song always holds a special place with me because it’s the group doing what they do best and playing around with the pop-music formula. Reminiscent of their top 5 single ‘Biology’, the track breaks up the conventional structure of the song when you least expect it and gives it an extra kick with Nadine Coyle’s dominant vocals. ‘Untouchable’ is two-parts disco pop to one-part ballad, with a sprinkle of electro and synth over the top to create a monumental noughties tune worth more than 11th place.
Kings (The Pierces)
Another song that almost failed to chart in the UK top 200 – although the album it promoted did peak in the top 10 – ‘Kings’ was the first single from alternative duo The Pierces’ final studio release. It’s the follow-up to their Gold-certified You & I from three years prior and sees the pair continue to dabble in folk and indie rock music that has just the right amount of pop elements to try and tackle the mainstream market.
This will probably always be my favourite single of theirs thanks to it’s epic chorus and the way their voices work together beautifully throughout the song. The combination of folk with some synthesised instrumentation creates an intriguing sound that is reflective of The Pierces individual style, without trying to be too “cool”. The song is a bit of a slow-burner, but every new listen makes it that little bit more epic.
I was asked this week to talk about some of my favourite songs that I feel haven’t been given the attention they deserve. Surprisingly, I’m not going to jump down your throat with a bunch of foreign music and demand you listen to it because it’s totally underrated and needs to be heard. I’m only doing that with one of the three. The other two are English, but I’m totally demanding you listen to them anyway because they are awesome and inspirational. Hehe.
Guren no Yumiya (Linked Horizon)
Guren no Yumiya is the first opening theme to Attack on Titan, performed by Linked Horizon. Although Attack on Titan is a major hit in the anime world and basically everyone in the fandom has heard its opening, it doesn’t get a lot of love in the rest of the world. Guren no Yumiya is a multi-genre song and features lyrics in both Japanese and German – my two favourite foreign languages. The piece has such an eerie feel to it right from the get-go. It uses only a choir and drums to begin, then suddenly the rest of the orchestra comes in at once but only for a moment, just enough to do a superb key change, then it’s stripped back again to let the techno vocals in. The whole five minute song is a superb combination of elements, including one awesome guitar solo and a creepy German audio clip describing the powerlessness of man against titans overlaying the music.
Top of the World (Greek Fire)
I heard this first on the TV trailer for Big Hero 6. It isn’t used during the film or even in the credits, and it’s performed by a relatively small-time band. There are so many things that are good about this song. Lyrics wise, it talks of someone who was sick of a boring, everyday life so they did everything it took to get to the top, to a dream they thought they wanted but now they are here, it’s lonely and there’s no turning back. Lead singer Phillip Sneed has a boyish charm to his voice, but it’s brilliantly controlled and he pushes out some fabulous sounds. He really gets into character in this one; you can hear resentment and longing in the words he sings at where he’s at. Other than that, the track has a fun, fast paced rock beat and an electric guitar that ties it together. One element that I usually don’t like in songs but that I do in this is its use of crowd overdubbing. It really pulls you back to the late 90s music, both in the way it sounds and how it works as a plot device. I’m just sad they never got a higher recognition for it. To my understanding Greek Fire is currently unsigned.
Lionheart (Demi Lovato)
Number 1 on my list is Lionheart by Demi Lovato. Featured as track 9 on the 2015 album Confident, it was unfortunately made into a single. Not only is it my favourite Demi Lovato song, it’s one of my all-time favourite songs. I always say I like a song with a good narrative, and hell this has it. The arrangement alone makes it sound as if it’s been plucked from a fantasy-action film. The beginning has such a pure sound, it’s like looking into a night sky. Then out of nowhere Lovato bursts this one powerful note and the heavens fall like shooting stars, bringing in this beautiful accompaniment to a desperate voice, hoping that it’s heard by the one who gave her strength in her darkest times. Ahh, it gives me actual shivers just thinking about it. The hairs on my arms prickled when I listened to it and they still do. I can’t get enough of those sombre minor chords, the stripped back singing, the soft piano and the honesty of the lyrics. Lovato has always been open about her struggle with mental illness in the past, and this song reflects it. The world tried to bring her down, but she always had that one person who protected throughout it all and she emerged victorious. It adds another level to the music, particularly when you find out (via her YouTube) that that one person who kept her strong was her dog, Buddy, who died while she was producing the album. She sings Lionheart so emotionally and everything in the song suddenly becomes heart-breaking.
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Hey everyone! Back again for another week of Music March. I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with some songs to talk about that I think are underappreciated. By that I mean the songs that I feel should have been bigger and that ought to have been received better by everyone than they actually were. There are definitely several songs that I can think of that should have been singles but weren’t, so without further ado here are my picks.
Talking To The Moon (Bruno Mars)
Now I wish more people had heard of this song, buts it’s a rare occasion if they do know it. This is one of Bruno’s early songs from his first studio album, and believe me it’s beautiful. I would say it is one of my favourites and I really don’t understand why it wasn’t given the attention it deserves. It should have been released as a single, especially in comparison with the other songs on the album. If you’re a fan of Bruno’s softer, ballad-drive style of music, or of his early stuff, then I think you’ll really like ‘Talking To The Moon’.
My Love Is Like A Star (Demi Lovato)
Ah Demi. One of my all-time favourite singers. Now this song is just utter emotion. Its slow melody and raw emotive lyrics resonate with me anytime I listen to it. The lyrics tell how even though someone we love isn’t there in person, they are always there for us. This song is personal for me and I truly adore it as it reminds me of the people I love. I wish more people knew about it because it instils a great feeling of hope and love within it…I just love it. Okay that’s enough fangirling and getting emotional. (Oops sorry guys)
Wolves (One Direction)
Yes, I know. One Direction cannot be under appreciated, they are/were the biggest boy band in the world. Yes, I agree that is true, but not all their songs are as loved as the others, especially if they are on the deluxe edition of their albums. Hence my pick for this song. Now “Wolves” is a very stereotypical One direction song – its pop and has a good beat. It’s one to dance in your room to, which I love, and it’s not a love song! Shocker! But honestly it’s a great song, you should give it a listen. Just don’t put it down because it’s One Direction and only 14 year-olds should like it. I mean, I’m 21 and I like their music, so take a chance.
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