Fifteen Songs – Pandora edition (2021)

Going back through my posts from last year, which we can collectively agree was awful (the year, not my posts, though…maybe them, too), I noticed that I failed to keep up with my 4th o’ July(ish) “fifteen songs” tradition. To explain, the “fifteen songs” thing, which I started doing regularly back in 2014, is a “game” in which one sticks their music player of choice on shuffle and then posts the first fifteen songs that show up. For these veritably poetic posts, I had been using my ol’ iPod. And then, in 2019, I used my Pandora account, which brought up a strange list indeed. Since Pandora and me have gotten along quite well over the past many months, I figured I’d do the same again here on this Monday, the officially-mandated July 4th holiday. So, if your head is clear enough from all the weekend hoopla and celebrations, or even if it isn’t, let’s queue up Pandora and get strange!

Song #1: “Für Elise” – from A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack

Is Pandora telling me I need to celebrate Christmas in July? Or maybe that I need more Beethoven in my life? I’m fine with either, really, especially the thought of December, since it is so goddamn hot right now. Though, last year, it was a balmy 65 degrees on Christmas day, which doesn’t scream snowflakes and mistletoe. Still, at least it wasn’t 95, which is something I think I could very well see during my lifetime. What a horrible thought.

Song #2: “Fortune Days” (2020 Remaster) – The Glitch Mob

Do we all hate the fact that YouTube places commercials at the start of their videos now? It’s a thing everyone hates, right? Okay, good. Anyway, I’m going to guess that even if one has never heard of The Glitch Mob, one has probably heard “Fortune Days?” I could be wrong. Maybe it’s just the most familiar Glitch Mob song to me, and the one that Pandora is most likely to first play from their channel. If you don’t know them or this song and happen to like electronic music, give them and this song a shot. It’s really catchy and happy on the ears.

Song #3: “Worst Comes to Worst” – Dilated Peoples

Well, Pandora is off to good start here, I must say. Nothing strange to see here, just some damn fine music. As far as 2000s West Coast hip hop goes, you can’t look past Dilated Peoples. “Worst Comes to Worst” is a great, popular track with an easy-going style.

Song #4: “Saliva” – RJD2

And the hits don’t stop, here on [insert radio call sign]! Ah, but seriously, I’ve been listening to a ton of DJ-driven music on Pandora lately, so I’m guessing it’s picked up on that. More RJD2 is always a good thing. This album here, In Rare Form, is an excellent collection of instrumentals, one that, when put on repeat, can carry me through any given day, shitty or otherwise.

Song #5: “Sister Golden Hair” – America

Hmm, okay, now we’re starting to deviate just a little. I have a couple classic-rock oriented (or, dear god, “oldies”) Pandora channels, but I’ve not listened to them for ages. There was a time late in my high school years during which classic rock was pretty much the only thing I listened to. These days I occasionally tune into the classic rock station in my area, but I swear that every time I turn it in, it’s playing Kansas, Tom Petty, or Def Leppard. Every. Single. Time. Not that I dislike any of them, but come on. Bands like America had some memorable hits, too.

Song #6: “Me and Bobby McGee” – Janis Joplin

Listening to Janis Joplin is an experience; one everyone should try. “Me and Bobby McGee” is one of those “sing to myself while cooking” songs. I can never remember the lyrics, but the wonderful melody is enough. It’s simple and sincere – an easy song to love and a hard song to hate by any standards.

Song #7: “Essential Chrome” – Booka Shade

So we now enter the “what/who the hell is this?” portion of the list, which, knowing Pandora, was bound to happen. (Because that’s the whole point…of Pandora.) I’ve said before that my husband and I share a Pandora account, and I have to be honest…considering that neither of us are huge house music fans, I didn’t know we had any channels of such. Booka Shade is, I believe, a German house band, and that’s about all I know. I don’t hate this song, and I don’t dislike house. It’s just not my first choice when it comes to electronica.

Song #8: “Stand Still” – Sabrina Claudio

Now we’re in fully unfamilar territory, the kind that requires Wikipedia. According to it, she’s an American singer with a handful of singles, a few albums, and recognition via something called the “Billboard Twitter Emerging Artists chart.” Huh. It’s a pretty song, and she has a nice voice. I’m sure her fans love her.

Song #9: “Take ‘Em Away” – Old Crow Medicine Show

I don’t listen to Old Crow Medicine Show very often, but when I do, their folksy jams make for good times.

Song #10: “Ponce Pilato” – Y La Bamba

Have you seen/listened to Y La Bamba’s Tiny Desk concert? It’s totally worth it. Y La Bamba is such an interesting band, one that feels at home with every kind of music, from Latin jazz/funk rhythms to quiet pop-ish melodies, like here with “Ponce Pilato.” Its Pandora channel is just as fascinating, because it’s one from which I never know what to expect next. It’s wonderfully eclectic, to say the least.

Song #11: “19.5” (Reprisal) – LTJ Bukem & Peshay

I might not know LTJ Bukem & Peshay, but I know drum and bass when I hear it, and that is absolutely that. And it’s pretty damn good, at that. Very atmospheric – not grindy or growly. It’s almost like drum and bass combined with trance, which is not really something I knew I needed in my life, but I think I do. I think I most definitely do.

Song #12: “Take Me Home Tonight” – Eddie Money

Ah, now this is like coming home after a long road trip. (Also, RIP Eddie Money.) So, I have a thing for the “everyman rock star,” which was pretty much Eddie Money’s shtick, what with his straight-ahead approach to music, gravely voice, and good-but-he’s-no-George-Michael looks. This song is his most popular, for good reason, but the catalog of music he produced before his untimely death is pretty incredible. His stuff from the late 70s and early 80s, before “Take Me Home Tonight,” is some of the best radio rock around.

Song #13: “Guess Who’s Back” – Rakim

Could we have modern hip hop without Rakim? I’ll leave that one to the music historians. Suffice to say, Rakim’s solo debut, The 18th Letter, is an amazing album. Listen, learn, and love.

Song #14: “Lullaby of Jazzland” – J. J. Johnson

Lately I’ve been trying to get out from my electronica ditch (which is a fine place to be, as far as I’m concerned) with the help of jazz. Nothing complicated, just simple brass- or piano-led jazz; “Lullaby of Jazzland” is a great example of the former. But one of the reasons I listen to a lot of electronica is that I’m able to both enjoy it and tune it out while I’m working. So, it becomes something akin to background noise. I have a hard time doing that with jazz – its fluctuating rhythms distract more than lull, so it tends to pull me out of what I’m doing and into the music. Which is good for jazz, and, frankly, for me. Not sure what it might say about my electronics tastes, though…

Song #15: “Private Eyes” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

And so we end on an 80s pop note. Can’t complain too much when that note is sung by Daryl Hall and (played by) John Oates. And they’re from my current home-away-from-home, too. “Private Eyes” is an all-time favorite Hall & Oates tune; the video is pure early MTV; and I just love it.

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