Favorite 4335. “We Don’t Care” by Kanye West

Album cover video:

West is asked to sing something uplifting for the kids in the Into track. This song is his reply.

I feel like any commentary I might give the song is going to lessen its impact if you’ve not heard it before. I encourage you to listen to it before you read my very brief thoughts in the next paragraph.

“We Don’t Care” is more than a little brilliant. It comes across, on first listen, as glorifying drug use, but upon closer listening reveals itself to be more of a critique of how the obvious financial success of drug dealers in black neighborhoods sets a really bad example for the children of those neighborhoods. In the next sketch, the same gentleman who asked West to sing “something uplifting for the kids” completely misses the point and chews West out.

Fascinating and appropriate start to the whole album.

4334. “Intro” by Kanye West

Album cover video of this opening skit:

Kanye West is one of the finest American musical artists of this century. While I only have three of West’s albums in my library, each one is remarkable for its depth, challenging (and even thrilling) musical choices and observations about life in the 21st century. While he’s a sometimes controversial public figure and that’s sometimes inseparable from the music, you should familiarize yourself with his work just to be able to speak intelligently about the state of music in the 21st century (its better than most people my age think).

2003’s brilliant and often challenging debut album was titled The College Dropout. A frequently autobiographical collection of songs, skits and samples, The College Dropout is often hailed as his finest album.

West famously dropped out of college to pursue music full time and this album is largely about why he did that and how he became successful. It also covers some broad issues, like faith, the black experience in the United States, how we use things to cover up our feelings of self loathing, and a wide variety of other topics. The lyrics are by turns insightful, profane, sympathetic, misogynistic, supportive of women, both critical and supportive of drug use, and, in a word, complicated. The album itself works best as a single continuous listen. I’ve listened to it several dozen times now and it keeps revealing new things to me.

West reminds me of another music figure who had strong Christian values but sang about drinking, murder and escape just as much as Jesus and love – Johnny Cash.

Anyhow, this :20 second opening track sets up the first song, “We Don’t Care.”

Favorite 4333. “Fight Fire With Fire” by Kansas

Official video:

Kansas is a moderately huge hard rock band, best known for “Dust in the Wind” and “Carry on Wayward Sun.” While those are very memorable songs, I’m not enamored enough of either of them to add them to my library. Maybe in a few years. Who can say?

“Fight Fire With Fire,” on the other hand, I love – from the meaty 80’s hard rock synthesizer work to the impassioned vocal (and inscrutable lyrics), there’s just so much to love about this song. I associate it with 1983’s “How Can I Refuse” by Heart – a solid song by an established band that deserved much more attention than it received.

Excuse me, I’m off to rock out for four minutes.

4331. “Too Shy” by Kajagoogoo

Official video:

That video was made by a bunch of blokes before they became famous – famous for this one song in the U.S., though they had other hits in the U.K.

It was hard to take Kajagoogoo seriously in 1983. I mean, excessive haircuts were the thing back then, but they were one bird-shaped hairdo away from Flock of Seagulls. Even today, they struggle with hair, though perhaps its a bit more ironic now than then.

Their debut album, White Feathers was produced by Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran. “Too Shy” was a number one single in the UK (before Duran Duran had had a number one single), but the band almost immediately ran into trouble. Lead singer Limahl – who had been hired by the other four – was fired either due to differences of artistic opinion or jealousy (depending on who you listen to) and even though singer/bassist Nick Beggs has proven to be a really neat character in the years since their heyday, he wasn’t able to keep the band interesting for a pop audience.

I think we can all agree with AllMusic review Stewart Mason who credits the songs success to a combination of Nick Beggs’ bass line and Limahl’s committed vocals. Hard to tell what he’s committing to – I guess he really cares that this girls is Too shy (hush hush, eye to eye).

I was trying to find another Kajagoogoo song that I liked enough to put in my library but failed.

Favorite 4330. “Constant Craving” by k.d. lang

Official video:

“Constant Craving” is lang’s biggest U.S. pop hit (though she had some large country hits as well). Its a gorgeous, rich song about longing – I mean, obviously.

lang had a musical theatre background and I think that comes out clearly in the power of her delivery. You can survive in musical theatre as a mediocre singer if you can commit to the emotions of the songs (trust me, I know). lang, of course, is an exceptional singer, so combining her lovely voice with her deep, deep well of emotion has produced some truly fabulous songs – perhaps none more fabulous than “Constant Craving.”

4328. “The Mind of Love” by k.d. lang

Official video:

Honestly, k.d. lang’s work is woefully underrepresented in my library. Let’s just leave it at that.

lang is one of the great vocalists of the last 40 years. Evidence:

That’s the definitive performance of that song. No, seriously. I can’t watch it without just gushing tears.

Anyhow, I think part of the reason I only ever picked up a single k.d. lang record is because her music was too painful for me. My girlfriend at the time originally made me buy her IngĂ©nue CD and I’ve associated lang’s music with my ex and the painful break-up that followed shortly after I bought that record ever since. The CD left with the ex.

I’ve since downloaded three of my favorite songs from that CD and, pleasantly, can just enjoy the songs now without the emotional baggage. Looking at the picks on the AllMusic page, I wonder if I chose the songs based on that list or if its just a coincidence.

“The Mind of Love” is a song that comes across (to me) as being about that moment when you fall in unrequited love and have to try n keep it together in front of the person you’re in love with. lang’s voice is, as always, remarkable both in terms of technique and emotional content.

“K” Preview

Oh, holy cats. Last time we did this I honestly thought I’d be writing about songs that start with the letter “K” in May of 2014. Its taken me a whole extra year to get here. A year and a month.

I started writing about the “J” songs in October of 2013. That is nuts. Now, it turned out I ended up writing about 550 songs in the “J” category instead of 362 songs (thanks largely to Johnny Cash and Jonathan Coulton) but come on now, I shouldn’t have taken like a year and like nine months to get to here.

All right, so, back on point, there appear to be 221 songs in my “K” section. I’d really like to finish K before September. I mean, just so I can work on three letters this year (there’s a ton of “L” songs). I’ll do my best.

Some major highlights:

Kanye West (47 Songs)
Kate Bush (55 Songs)
Kevin Rowland (10 Songs)
King Crimson (13 Songs)
The Kinks (24 Songs)

Back in October of 2013, there were only 159 songs by artists in my “K” section. I hope it doesn’t expand exponentially again!

In an effort to get myself writing more, I’m going to give myself permission to continue making the entries a little shorter. I always want them to be long and well thought out and usually fall very short in both regards. At the moment, I just want to get myself back in the habit of writing and allowing myself to keep these brief if I don’t have more to say will, one hopes, increase my output. I still have a lot of songs to cover.

4327. “SexyBack” by Justin Timberlake

Official video:

I accidentally downloaded “SexyBack,” which I’ve got to admit is a weird little song. My favorite part of it is the “coach” like backing vocal that sort of sounds like its telling Justing what to do next (“to the chorus!”). Its really weird to me that this song was his first number 1 hit and not the vastly superior “Cry Me A River,” but I’ve never been accused of being a good judge of what’s going to be popular.