The Radio Killed That Song, but So Did I

Back in sophomore year of college, my roommate had a bad break up with a guy that she had been on and off with for two years.  During the first three months of their break up all she would play is Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day, on a constant loop.  I wish CDs or records were popular then because I would have smashed it into bits after the first month of her playing it nonstop.  Unfortunately, Limewire and iTunes were blowing up during that time, so everything was digital.  Needless to say, my other roommates and I had to endure the pain and the slow death of this great song for months.  As Billie Jo Armstrong’s soft spoken lyrics and hypnotic guitar chords rang throughout our fifth floor dorm room, we beat our heads in with pillows every time it came on.

Why do we feel the need to play a song so much on repeat till we can barely stand it anymore?  It is because we connect with it in some way, but to someone else it becomes a song they can never listen to again.  Think about the radio.  When a song first comes out and you hear it for the first time on the radio, you just can’t wait to hear it again.  So, you switch stations until you find another station that is playing it.  Ultimately, it becomes popular, gets numerous requests, and becomes a song you can’t stand anymore that you turn off the radio every time it comes on.

What happens between the time you hear the song and the time you can no longer stand the song?  I’m going to let you in on a secret – Your life changes.  Last year, I was obsessed with the songs Blank Space (Taylor Swift) and Steal Your Heart (Ross Lynch – Austin & Ally).  I think back to this time last year and realized that a boy had re-entered into my life that wanted to get into a serious relationship with me.  I had no interest in getting serious with anyone as I had plans to move to Los Angeles by the end of the year.  So, my love life became a game instead where I could “steal your heart” and “…I got a blank space baby And I’ll write your name.”  Do I listen to either one of those songs currently?  Nope.

Now, my new obsessions are Stitches (Shawn Mendes) and Black Magic (Little Mix), but not for the reasons you think.  Yes, these songs reflect images of love, but to me, love can be for anything or anyone.  I have been feeling a little broken lately, and these two songs make me think of being whole again.  As friends get married, have babies, move out of state, or make career adjustments, it becomes difficult to stay in touch.  You miss people that use to always be there that you took for granted.  You question your own choices like you are doing something wrong.  I’m not making excuses for anyone because if you truly want to stay in touch with someone you will make an effort.  Even if it is a phone call two years later, or a text message that says “Remember the time we were singing La Vie Boheim in our dorm room with mops and throwing pixie stick sugar at each other?  Those were good days!  I miss you!”  Needless to say, these two songs remind me that anything can be mended with time, a good friend, or having your family closer.  To those who feel a little broken, know that you are stronger than you feel, you will mend quicker than you think, and that those people who have always been there, will always be there; even if it is just a memory.  Sometimes, you need to kill a song or two to get to a good place.


Teaching Non-Dancers to Dance

Photo Credit: Santiago Murillo Photography

Photo Credit: Santiago Murillo Photography

At the beginning of August, my friend Katie got married to her fiancé Charlie.  They are so cute together that it makes you believe that love actually exists.  For their first wedding dance, they asked me to choreograph a routine for them to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.”  I was super excited, nervous, and terrified all at the same time.  I love to choreograph, but my biggest fear wasn’t choreographing the dance; it was creating a piece that they were going to be comfortable doing in a room full of people.

Needless to say I took the approach of teaching these non-dancers as I would a five year old.  This doesn’t mean that I treated them like a child.  It means that I wanted to see what they would do with only a little direction.  I started by showing them a basic step and once they would understand a step I would bring it to the next level by tying that step in with something a little more difficult.  For example, everyone knows the square box step that you did when you were at a middle school dance.  When the guy had no idea what he was doing and he kept stepping on your feet.  That step was the first step we worked on.  They mastered this very quickly, so, I started teaching them how to turn it.  From teaching Charlie how he needed to hold Katie’s back, to where each one of them had to step to make the circle turn in a specific direction.

The thought process behind choreographing their first dance was to make it flow, as well as have them change direction and throw in some tricks.  In most cases, the audience isn’t going to notice if a step has been repetited or not because they are too memorized and impressed by the awesome skills the bride and groom have come to obtain.  Throwing in some one handed spins so the bride’s dress flowed, a follow the leader sequence, and some hand connecting twists and turns can make any dance ignite into a show.

I think the most important factor teaching non-dancers to dance is how dedicated they are to learning.  Katie and Charlie were so determined to get everything I taught them perfectly in sync that we met once a week for a few hours for three weeks to learn the dance.  Once it was taught and choreographed it was up to them to perfect it without me.  They both took the initiative to practice a lot leading up to their wedding.  On their wedding weekend it seemed like every time I saw them they were telling me that they were leaving early from a gathering to go practice.  When I saw the final piece at their wedding I was so proud of the two of them that I could not contain my excitement.   As soon as it was done, I had to jump out of my chair and hug the both of them.

In the end of it all, it is not about teaching someone anything, but how hard they are willing to work to perfect it.

Now & Then – The Soundtrack to Generations Growing Up

Growing up during the 90s, me and three of my friends were obsessed with the movie Now and Then.  We would watch it at my friend’s birthday sleepover ever year and think that we were those girls, and we were going to be them when we got older.  We thought that we would be friends forever, but time changed and we grew apart.  Now, I sit watching this movie in Boston alone and all I can think about are my parents.  We all wonder what our parents were like when they were kids.  Did they like the same hobbies we did?  What were their friends like?  What mistakes did they make?  What was it like for them in their first relationship?  Did they have people they didn’t get along with in school?  What was their favorite song when they were thirteen years old?  Watching this film these are thoughts that run through my head, and I realized that I don’t know the answers to most of these questions.

Now and Then is a coming of age story about four thirteen year old girls who made a pack to be there for each other no matter what, now and forever.  The film has flashbacks between present day and the 1970s, which in my parent’s case they would have been around thirteen too.   The girls grow up in that year – one them has feelings for a boy for the first time, they deal with death, understanding divorce, the loss of just having faith, and realizing that your parents are not always right.  We put our parents on these pedestals as kids; that they are untouchable, perfect, but in reality they are human too.  They make mistakes, can’t handle situations, and do things the best way they know how.  These four girls meet people throughout the film that teaches them these lessons, and the soundtrack is intertwined in those lessons if you listen closely.

The film soundtrack uses popular songs from the 1970s to set the stage. The movie flashes to the beginning of the summer of 1970 as ‘Daydream Believer’ by The Monkees plays in the background.  This shows the innocence that we all have when we are young.  The belief that anything is possible, full of hope, happiness, and faith.  The girls are riding their bikes on their next adventure singing along to ‘No Matter What’ by Badfinger.  Right after hearing this song, they run into the boys of the neighborhood who are constantly taunting them, which we all know is the universal sign of I have a crush on you.  The girls converse, where they decide it is payback time for all that has been done to them by the boys.  ‘Sugar Sugar’ by The Archies plays as they paint the garage, dancing around and having fun with another; thinking that nothing will ever change, that nothing will ever separate them, but as an adult, people that you always thought would be there, sometimes leave – they get married, create families, and drift apart from their childhood.

As a kid you think that nothing will ever separate you with the people that you care about, but as we get older we lose what’s important.  We get caught up in our own lives and the mundane routine that controls it.  We lose touch with people (family and friends), get caught up in the failures that happen, and forget that sometimes you just have to have faith.  So, I leave you with this, “Things will happen in your life that you can’t stop.  But that is no reason to shut out the world.”   Call that person that you haven’t spoken to in years, break your routine everyday, and dance like a crazy person in the aisle of a grocery store with your best friend to your favorite song.  Continue the soundtrack of your life living with the good, the bad, and the ugly, not everything everyone says (including your parents) is right, ask your parents those burning questions before you can’t, and know that the people of your past are the people that made you who you are today.

Click here for a playlist of the Now and Then Soundtrack, and then go watch the movie!

Music Peer Pressure

As a teenager we all felt the peer pressure of our friends and society about the kind of music we should like, or what is considered ‘good’ music.  As an adult, we read reviews, follow trends, and still allow society to dictate what we buy and listen to throughout our lives.  So what is it about society and the need to follow the crowd?  Recently, I have been reading a book entitled Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment by Anita Elberse, who talks about how people want to follow winners, whether it is the head of a record label pushing an artist to superstar status, to targeting a group of people to grow the popularity of said artist.  The goal and need of the label is to make this artist a winner and to gain followers and momentum within their career, because if they don’t, the artist is dropped and everyone fails, including the artist, the label, and the fans.

A big controversy when I was a teenagers in the late 90s to the early 00s was the battle of the two biggest boy bands in the world – N’SYNC and the Backstreet Boys.  You couldn’t like both.  Nope, you only had the option of liking one or other.  As a teenager I had a secret, which was the fact that I had albums of both bands, and yes I broke the rules.  Do you think I would have ever told my friends?  No way.  As I got older, and got more into the liner notes of the albums I bought, I realized that the  music was written by the same person!  So why couldn’t I like both bands when the music was not only written by the same person, but the same manager developed both groups too?  Another hater group when I was growing up was the group of kids into hip-hop.  The years of the popularity of the Wu-Tang Clan, the Beastie Boys, Diddy, the Fugees, and the starting of Eminem.  Basically, anyone who liked pop music was not in any kind of agreement on what constituted as good music.  Again, I had albums of both the Wu-Tang Clan and Beastie Boys and I can still recite every lyric to ‘Intergalactic.’  Finally, you have the group that is into alternative music, like Jimmy Eat World, Less Then Jake, Goldfinger, Radiohead, Oasis, and Fall Out Boy.  I’m sure you have started to see my pattern here, but this group was more opinionated then anyone.  If this group of teens found out you listened to pop music then they had more then a few words to make you feel degraded and question your own taste.

Like everyone, I had a big fear of what my friends thought of my choices from music to fashion, but why does it matter if the music you listen to is considered winners?  Can’t individuals like music because they like the song?  The voice of the artist?  The technique and the sound of the band?  Back in 2010, when I first heard of Ariana Grande, she was a reoccurring character on a show called Victorious, and everyone of my adult friends made fun of me for watching it since it was a kid’s show.  Now, the majority of them listen to her since she is a superstar.  Leading the trend is always better then following it.  So, sing those songs that get you dancing in the car, or better yet grab that hair bush as you are getting ready for work and become that pop star singing your favorite jam, because guilty pleasures never go out of style.

Love this song, Elizabeth Gillies, and Ariana Grande – circa 2010