Did You Know These Marvel Stars Made Music Because I Sure Didn’t

A few weeks ago I was browsing Spotify’s new Friday releases when I spotted Jeremy Renner’s name (aka Hawkeye in the Marvel movies). Once in a while on social media he’ll post some image of him playing an instrument so I knew he had an interest in music. I just didn’t know he professionally records things and has several songs on Spotify.

So of course I had to listen (and you can too here). He has six songs, all singles, and I recognized a few as covers. Apparently, some of them were done as a campaign for Jeep… Anyway, he’s got a raspy voice that works well for the country/rock genre the songs are in but it isn’t very recognizable as him. Still, it’s not bad to listen to at all. I don’t know if he could ever have a thriving music career, but if he’s having fun releasing songs just for kicks (and that Jeep money), then okay! They’re good! Of course, this will forever be his best song.

And then I clicked related artists. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t Robert Downey Jr and Scarlett Johansson.

Surprised gif.

I knew RDJ sang. Every Christmas I hear his cover of ‘River’ a lot on the radio and I love it. But I thought that was just a one-time thing. I did not know he also has a full album of songs from 2004 called The Futurist. He got out of prison and his plan to reinvent his career was with music, apparently. He’s a pretty good singer, but the music on this album just isn’t for me. It’s a little jazzy and a little slow, kind of like background restaurant music. Plus I found that often the melody he was singing didn’t really match with the instruments, but I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be. I’m not surprised the album didn’t thrive and he chose to not pursue music further. That being said, I can definitely see him in like ten years doing a better, more upbeat jazz album just for fun. He’s classy now and I think he’d be able to do it and not take it too seriously because he’s RDJ.

RDJ's The Futurist album.

ScarJo’s music was…something else. In 2008 she did a solo album called Anywhere I Lay My Head and listening to it was rough. It’s slow, sad, folksy music and you can barely hear her voice over the music. She doesn’t have a bad voice, but this album just was not doing her any favours. I don’t know if she really intended to have a music career, but I just don’t know who would really really enjoy that music enough to see it in concert or something. A year later, though, she did a duet album with some dude named Pete Yorn and it’s still indie music, but it’s way more upbeat and cute and you can hear her a lot better. I kind of liked it. And you know what? She had another album in 2018 with Peter Yorn. Yes, 2018 as in last year. Did anyone know this? She did all that press for Marvel and never once decided to share this? Anyway, the second album is a short EP and I liked it better than the first. Fun poppy indie music that I didn’t mind listening to.

Scarlett Johansson Anywhere I Lay My Head album.

And through clicking related artists again, I then found Brie Larson’s album. In 2005 when she was 16, she released a full album called Finally Out Of P.E., and it’s exactly the kind of music you would expect from a young girl in the mid 2000’s. In the same vein as Avril Lavine and Hillary Duff, it’s just pop music but I kind of dug it, and between her, ScarJo, RDJ, and Jeremy, I liked it the best. If you are into that very specific era of music, I’d even recommend it.

Brie Larson Finally Out Of PE album.

So after hearing all this, I needed to know if there were other Marvel stars with secret music out there. I began searching everybody’s name on Spotify. And wouldn’t you know, several others have dabbled in music to some extent, though only some of it was new to me. Here’s what I found:

  • Zendaya sang a bit during her Disney days, and she sang in The Greatest Showman, which we all knew. But I did not know she also had her own album in 2013, a duet with Chris Brown (which I refused to listen to, he doesn’t deserve my stream), and a few other smaller features on songs.
  • Gwenyth Paltrow sung on Glee and sung in that very forgettable movie Country Strong. She clearly has no desire to make a music career, but if RDJ ever were to do another album, I could totally see her being on it.
  • Samuel L Jackson sang on one single song for his movie The Hitman’s Bodyguard. The song is called ‘Nobody Gets Out Alive’.
  • Tom Hiddleston sang in a movie called I Saw The Light as he played the main character, real-life singer Hank Williams. (Though apparently Hank’s real-life grandson thought Tom didn’t do the singing well…)
  • The following people have sang a few times for the show/movie they were in, but that’s essentially it: Chris Pratt (Parks And Recreation), Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother), and Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
  • Tom Holland was in Billy Elliot in London, so though he’s not on an album, he can at least presumably sing enough for the West End.
  • And Marvel TV people are talented too: Chloe Bennet was a teenage pop star in China, Rosario Dawson was in the movie version of Rent, Iwan Rheon is an indie singer with a full album and a handful of singles, and Olivia Holt has made some music over the last four years (you can even hear her on a cover in Cloak And Dagger).

Where I come from, we call that talent gif

We all knew that Marvel roped in some mega talented people, but this just really solidifies the fact. As I said, I knew of a bit of this, but overall, I was very surprised to see multiple full albums. Made for one interesting morning as I listened to it all. I’m willing to bet a lot of you are in the same boat I was, so go listen and be as surprised as me!

That’s all for now!

 

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A Review Of Ed Sheeran’s No. 6 Collab Album By Someone Who Isn’t Into Hip-Hop

I haven’t done a post about music in a while because my music habits are a bit weird and lately I haven’t listened to anything new and popular (aka worth talking about here). But just on Friday the 12th, Ed Sheeran released a new album, and it’s different than what you expect because it’s a collab album. It’s called No. 6 Collaborations Project and every song features one or more people.

I like Ed Sheeran. He’s had some great songs, and his last album ÷ was so good. I must have listened to it easily ~50 times. Just on repeat for days. I think he’s talented and has a nice voice, and though I’m sure it’d be filled with screaming 12 year olds, I would go to a concert of his if it was a good price.

Ed sheeran gif.
An icon

But the thing about No. 6 Collaborations Project is that almost all the artists on it are hip-hop or rap artists, and I really don’t vibe with that genre too much. I don’t mind a rap verse in a good pop song and you know I love Hamilton, but overall, it’s not my style. Is it because (in my opinion) rap these days is all about sex and drugs and money? Maybe. Is it because (in my opinion) a lot of the artists sound the same and the music is more about beats and computers rather than lyrics and talent? Maybe. Either way, I was hesitant to see what this album is about because I really want fun pop music and nice guitar ballads, but I knew that wasn’t what I’d get. And I also worried that the enjoyable Ed Sheeran aspect would get lost in the hip-hop. His single with Justin Bieber was decent, but it was more of a Justin song than an Ed song, in my opinion. Ed can ‘rap’ and all, but his music isn’t rap music by any means.

No. 6 Collaborations Project album.

So who better to give a review of a hip-hop album than me, someone who doesn’t really like hip-hop?

Overall, I was impressed with the album. I thought I’d dislike more songs that I liked, but that was me underestimating the power of Ed Sheeran. I listened to the whole album several times (in part for this post) and I didn’t mind doing so. I didn’t LOVE any of the songs; I thought there’d be at least one I’d immediately want to play on repeat, but that’s okay. I didn’t hate any songs either.

Ed Sheeran did a great job of using his singing voice to balance out the hip-hop/rap parts so I think the songs are tolerable for everyone. And I think if anyone was to do a collab project like this, he’s a good one. He fits in well with the genre despite it being different from his norm. Because he does rap a little, it works even more. And when he raps, he’s not trying to emulate anyone else, it’s literally just his style. It’s good rap for me because it’s got a musical aspect rather than a monotone reciting of bars (I’m sorry, I don’t mean to roast rappers/people who like rap). Also Ed didn’t lose himself in the songs that much at all. Or even in the album. There is one song (‘Best Part Of Me’ featuring YEBBA) that isn’t rap/hip-hop at all and it very much sounds like the kind of music we like from him.

This guy's good gif.

Maybe it’s because of all the artists, but all the songs do sound different from each other, and I really respect that. And they’re all pretty catchy and have fun sounds/beats. It’s definitely a more upbeat album, so it’s something you can have on at a party and it’ll work. A lot of rap can sound angry and aggressive, but there wasn’t much of that. ‘Antisocial’ featuring Travis Scott was probably the angriest, but it wasn’t even that bad at all.

I would have liked to see more collabs with artists of different genres, though. Some country, some older artists, a band, ect (I know Chris Stapleton is country, but their song was a rock song). Unless Ed really set out to have most of the songs hip-hop, some more variety would have been nice. But at least he got big names in, making it more appealing. In 2011 Ed had an EP called No. 5 Collaborations Project and all the artists he featured are people I’ve never heard of. Maybe they were all UK artists. I haven’t listened to that album; it was before I knew him or his music.

My favourite songs are ‘Take Me Back To London’ featuring Stormzy, ‘Beautiful People’ featuring Khalid, and ‘BLOW’ featuring Chris Stapleton and Bruno Mars. Most of the song ‘Way To Break My Heart’ featuring Skrillex is good too, but I really dislike the EDM-style editing on the chorus. Ruins it for me.

If you’re like me and don’t particularly enjoy hip-hop or rap, I wouldn’t advise paying money for this album. It’s worth listening to on Spotify for sure, though, especially if you like Ed Sheeran. And if you do enjoy these genres, then I think this album will do you well. I hope Ed returns to his regular pop music in the future, but No. 6 Collaborations Project was pretty good and I’m sure it was fun for him to make with everyone. You can listen here on YouTube or here on Spotify.

Have you listened to this album? Do you like it?

 

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10 Glee Songs Better Than The Originals (To Celebrate Glee’s 10 Year Anniversary)

I was obsessed with Glee when it was on, and though it’s been over for many years now, it’ll always have a special place in my heart. It changed my life in many ways, even if it was a flawed show. As the seasons went on, it got more and more flawed, but the one thing that remained solid throughout was the music. Glee made its mark by being able to take old music and new music and present it in new ways to new audiences on a scripted TV show through very talented people. I respect that. On my phone I have several hundred Glee songs, and though I don’t listen to them all that often and there are some I could probably delete, there are a lot that I still don’t skip over and ones that I think I’ll have on my phone forever.

Today is May 19th, and ten years ago today, Glee aired for the first time. For some reason, Fox decided to air the pilot after American Idol in May and then wait until normal Fall TV to air the second episode. Though I didn’t start the show until halfway through the first season, I thought it’d be fun to use this day as a chance to gleek out about some of the amazing music Glee served to us over the six years it ran. So here are 10 songs (in no particular order) that I think were better than the originals.

  1. ‘Blackbird’ sung by Kurt and the Warblers (Season 2)
    Kurt’s sweet voice with that glorious Warbler harmony that is light but adds an extra element to the song? Iconic. Not to mention that this song was a pretty important moment for Kurt and Blaine.
  2. ‘Tongue Tied’ sung by the New Directions (Season 3)
    This song has so much energy and such spunk, and I think the Glee cast was able to bring new life into it. The original is still fun, but the voices are kind of drier and raspier, which I don’t like as much.
    Related image
  3. ‘Wide Awake’ sung by Jake, Kitty, Tina, and Unique (Season 5)
    The original version of this song is upbeat but forgettable. Glee’s version is memorable. I adore this slowed down version. It’s deep and sweet and they harmonize so well.
  4. ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ sung by New Directions (Season 1)
    This is one of the Rolling Stones’ more laid back songs, and Glee took its funky beat and elevated it. It’s got a more rock base and it shows off the talent of many in the group. Of course they won sectionals with this.
  5. ‘We’ve Got Tonight’ sung by various members of New Directions (Season 4)
    Bob Seger’s original song is nice, but having the mix of voices here brings a lot to the song. It’s more powerful and romantic, I think.
  6. ‘I Can’t Go For That/You Make My Dreams’ sung by New Directions (Season 3)
    Both of these are great songs on their own, but in true Glee fashion, putting them together in a mashup created something so fresh and fun. They work together so perfectly.
  7. ‘What Kind Of Fool’ sung by the Warblers (cut from season 2)
    Darren Criss and those perfect Warbler harmonies never went wrong. They were able to put so much passion into this song. It was never in the show but made it onto the Warbler album. The original is sung by Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibbs, and while she has a nice voice, his is kind of nasally, and the song is really too slow and breathy at the start, while the Warblers’ is just so nice throughout.
  8. ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ sung by Rachel (season 3)
    I may be a bit biased here because I can’t handle the Bee Gees for more than a song at a time, so I like that Rachel didn’t need to do any forced high parts and this song could thrive. Plus, this one has more emotion behind it, I think.
    Image result for glee how deep is your love
  9. ‘Try A Little Tenderness’ sung by Mercedes (season 2)
    The original song is rather slow until the end, but Mercedes managed to spice it up and bring so much soul to it. She always stood out in Glee songs because her voice was so powerful and this was one solo where I think she really shone.
  10. ‘I Gotta Be Me’ sung by Finn (season 2)
    I think this was one of Finn’s best. It was fun, didn’t force him out of his vocal range, and worked well for his character who really developed over the seasons.

Glee had over 600 songs, and coming up with this list was hard. Glee often had songs that were great, different, or on par with the original (as expected), but I really wanted songs that specifically stood out to me as especially better, and I think these 10 do a great job highlighting just how amazing this aspect of the show was.

I’ve been thinking about rewatching the show for a while now (I haven’t really seen it since it finished), and writing this post definitely made me want to even more. But I’m also worried that I’ll not like it or see its flaws more and end up souring the image of it that I have in my heart…

Anyway, if you were a Gleek like me, I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane. Were there other songs you enjoyed more than the originals? Do you miss Glee too?

Glee logo.
And that’s what I miss on Glee

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Christmas Songs I Dislike

I know this post’s timing is a little weird given that last week I wrote about people who were looking for fights and ruining Christmas content for everyone else, so I’m starting this off by saying that though I dislike these songs, I’m not trying to get them off the radio and I’m not shaming anyone who likes them. There is a difference between ‘this is an inherently bad song’ and ‘this is a song I personally don’t like hearing’. Plus, this is my last post before Christmas, so now is the only relevant time to share it. I know it’s a little hypocritical, but it’s not my intention.

I’ve expressed a love for Christmas music before, and while I can happily have a Christmas radio station playing all day (I have it on all day at work), there are a few songs I don’t love. Not every song can be a hit or appeal to everyone.

Santa Baby‘ by Michael Buble

Even the Christmas music king can have some weak spots, and I think this song is one for Buble. Instead of flirting with Santa, he’s befriending him in a bromance way. It sounds good on paper because it is a unique twist on the classic song that I normally don’t mind, but this is just weird to listen to. It’s awkward. I mean, “Santa, pally?” It’s time to stop.
Leslie Knope not liking something she's listening to.

I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas‘ by Gayla Peevey

I’ll admit that this song is cute in a kiddy kind of way and damn it if it isn’t catchy, but it’s also annoying and too silly. Why a hippo? I don’t know or care. I heard that it’s one of my most requested Christmas songs (on the station I listen to, at least) and that just boggles my mind because there are SO MANY better songs out there. I hate getting it stuck in my head.

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth‘ by various artists

Again, this is a cutesy novelty song that it’s just kind of annoying and I’d rather hear almost anything else. Are kids even that desperate for their front teeth to grow in?

Christmas Don’t Be Late‘ by Alvin And The Chipmunks

The Chipmunks are the ultimate form of annoying music. I am so thankful that trend of Chipmunking regular songs and uploading it to YouTube is over. If this song was sung with regular vocals, it could be decent, but instead we’re stuck with the screechy rodent voices.

Fairytale Of New York‘ by the Pogues

This song is somehow widely recognized as one of the best Christmas songs but I can’t fathom how because it’s not that great. The male vocals sound like the singer was tone-deaf and drunk, and it’s not really a pleasant song. I don’t mind the change in pace and the female vocals, but it’s not enough to make me enjoy it.

That's not good gif.

My Favourite Things‘ from the Sound Of Music

My biggest beef with this song is that it’s not really Christmassy. It mentions a few things related to the season (snowflakes, mittens, sleigh bells…) amongst many other things (bee stings, roses, doorbells…), so I don’t qualify it as a reasonable Christmas song. It’s not a bad song, I just don’t want to hear it between November 15th and December 26th. Similarly, I don’t think ‘Hallelujah’ is a Christmas song at all, Pentatonix.

Last Christmas‘ by Victoria Duffield

I am not a fan of this girl’s voice at all, and so I certainly do not appreciate it in my favourite Christmas song. On top of that, the dance beat is just really generic and doesn’t fit in well with the song at all. It’s trying so hard to make the classic Wham! jam a dance song but it just ruins it for me.

 

The good news is that these songs don’t play that often. I did some light estimates (look at me, doing math!) and I think that this year I’ll listen to over 200 hours of Christmas music (just over 8 full days) and the above seven songs take up a small percentage of that time, so I think I’ll survive.

What Christmas songs do you not love?

 

And since, as I said, this is the last post before Christmas, I just wanted to wish everyone a good holiday! My family’s plans aren’t anything super wild, but it’ll still be nice to get some time off work and see some relatives.

Merry christmas gif.

 

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Why I Love Christmas Music

I was at a party last year and I was talking to this dude, a friend of a friend, and he mentioned how he could tell I didn’t like the super loud EDM that was blasting around us. He was right. He asked what music I was into and I told him: “Pop music. Like, radio stuff…Broadway musical soundtracks…and Christmas music.” He was kind of surprised. “Christmas music?” he asked. “I never heard anyone say they liked that.” I informed him that it was the best and every year I get hyped for it. I saw him at another party a few months later. He remembered me. “Oh, yes, you’re the one who likes Christmas music.”

I guess if that’s my social legacy, it’s pretty nice one. Better than sneeze girl (Just kidding, I am very proud of my sneezes! Keep an eye out for my 2017 sneeze count!).

A lot of people say they like Christmas music, though they mean that they don’t mind when it plays in the mall in December and they don’t mind hearing it on the radio when they drive to the grocery store. I don’t just like it. I love it. As soon as my local radio starts Christmas music (mid-November), my radio does not turn off unless I’m asleep or I’m watching TV. I know every song. I know the lyrics to every song. I can recognize every version within seconds. I never tire of hearing them.

Buddy the elf reciting the christmas elf motto

And it’s weird because as that guy at the party said, most people don’t really love Christmas music like this. But I’ve been thinking about why I love it. What is it about Christmas music that makes me and some other people love this specific genre so much?

I think it’s because it’s so encompassing. There are happy songs and sad songs and religious songs and funny songs and upbeat songs and slow songs and songs that aren’t even about Christmas and songs about snow and songs about sand and ethnic songs and lyric-less songs and old songs and new songs and so much more.

And there are so many covers and versions that the genre never gets stale. It’s so great that known singers and up-and-comers can share in the holiday cheer. (Related: this post on non-traditional Christmas jams)

The Grinch commenting on Christmas music

I guess I just love that for a little over a month, radio stations dedicate themselves to playing solid holiday music and that even the sad ones still make me feel happy because they do represent Christmas and all it has to offer. For a whole month, I don’t have to hear annoying auto-tuned songs about binge-drinking and whatever other nonsense pop and rap music is about these days and enjoy the happy, simple themes of Christmas music.

Christmas music is, for the most part, pure, and I am thrilled that though music changes and styles change, Christmas music stays the same.

And that is why I love Christmas music and always, always will. My passion for it matches and even surpasses that of Dwight’s.

Do you love Christmas music? On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you love it? What’s your favourite Christmas song?

P.S. Also leaving this here…can you help me find this Christmas song? I’m pretty sure I made it up, but just in case…

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