Mood Music: Guilty Pleasures

Sometimes, fast-paced, nonsensical music is all you need to start the day. Although it’s great to have music filled with meaningful lyrics and intricate, unique instrumentals, it’s also good to have music that’s just pure entertainment, something to listen to as a diversion from life and its problems. It’s good to have a song to dance to in your PJs or belt out in front of the mirror with a hairbrush that’s a bit silly and maybe a bit empowering. Whatever the reason, it’s those guilty pleasures that help us let loose and get down with it.

1. Om Shanti Om Soundtrack (India) – Dhoom Taana

Bollywood music has a soft spot in my heart. Although the language is not mine to comprehend, the pulsating drums and the specialized instruments are easy to appreciate. This track is taken from the soundtrack of 2007 Bollywood hit, Om Shanti Om, which stars superstar Shahrukh Khan and beauty Deepika Padukone and parodies the film industry in India. The soundtrack is composed by a team of highly experienced musical directors and lyricists including script and songwriter, Javed Akhtar, and music directors Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani. “Dhoom Taana”, the sixth track off the soundtrack, is part of a scene where the main character imagines himself with a beauty from the silver screen, aspiring to soaring heights of stardom in order to get this girl. It’s an energetic dance scene with a charming, if not somewhat bumbling attempt of the guy trying to impress the girl. Along with a full orchestra, there’s a great variety of percussion and a trumpet solo in the middle of the track that introduces a different movement within the track. It’s a classic, high energy Bollywood track that’ll leave you dancing for the rest of the day.

2. 2NE1 (South Korea) – I AM THE BEST

There isn’t a genre that screams POP more than South Korea’s particular brand of pop, especially from female supergroup, 2NE1. This four-piece group from Seoul was formed in 2009 and consists of members CL, Bom, Minzy, and Dara who are not only singers and dancers, but fashion icons as well. 2NE1 is known for giving high octane performances with wicked costumes and are sometimes equated to KPop royalty. They share the same label, YG Entertainment, with another famous group, BIGBANG. 2NE1’s success has reached outside shores as well, playing in stadiums in Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and even the US. They released their debut album in 2010 and it quickly reached #1 in South Korea. Their second studio album is set to be released this year but no official announcement has been made yet. “I AM THE BEST” is off their 2011 EP, 2NE1 2nd Mini Album and is the third single that charted at #1 in South Korea. It’s by no means a lyrical masterpiece. The song’s chorus literally translates to “I am the best” and that’s repeated three times and one of their verses means, “If you touch me / you won’t be able to handle it / I’m hot hot hot hot fire”, lines that have certainly been heard elsewhere. The bass holds down the mostly electronic backing instrumentals while the girls sing accompanied by auto-tune. It’s a good song to listen to for mindless fun and twerking.

3. PZK (France) – Les Filles Adorent

This French boy band, comprised of five childhood friends, mixes a variety of genres in their music but mainly hip-hop, pop and electronic. Singing about typical adolescent woes from school to young love to partying, they’re either reviled or loved in their native country as is the norm when it comes to this ambiguous and wide world of pop music.
“Les Filles Adorent”, which could translate to “What Girls Love”, is off their 2009 eponymous debut album and is filled with cheeky lyrics about what these boys think girls like and how they behave. It’s certainly from a teenage boy’s perspective as they lament on how girls play with guys and are sensitive, high maintenance and hard to please. But they sum up their love/hate relationship with the female population in the bridge: “Les filles sont compliquées / mais bon les mecs aussi / ouais / sans elles on serait tous gays” which basically translates to “girls are complicated, but so are guys and without girls, we would all be gay”. The instrumentals are remarkable only by the steady piano chord that is constantly on loop and the upbeat rhythm that keeps the song light and funny without being too condescending.

4. Alphabeat (Denmark) – Boyfriend

Six-piece Danish pop band, Alphabeat, has enjoyed enormous success in their home country and has even managed to break into the international market with their 2007 debut album in the UK. Alphabeat, which was release under the title This Is Alphabeat to the rest of Europe, reached #2 on the Danish Albums Chart but even broke into the top ten in the UK and was certified gold there. The fourth single off this album, “Boyfriend”, is a pretty straightforward song about a girl warning others to back off her man. Sung mostly by the only female member in the band, Stine Bramsen, with the bridge accompanied by male lead vocalist, Anders SG, Bramsen’s voice reaches heights to convey her hysteric possessiveness over her “baby.” With a mixing of synths and a steady piano and bass line, the deep instrumentals solidly balance Bramsen’s high pitched vocals. Even if you don’t have a special someone to call your own, it’s a great song to sing in the shower and belt into your loofah bar.

5. Little Mix (UK) – Wings

If you haven’t figured it out already, there’s a special place in my heart for catchy pop music, especially from girl groups like Little Mix who won The X Factor in the UK just two years ago. They’re the first group to win the reality show competition in its eight year history and their debut album, DNA, has reached #3 in the UK and certified gold in both Ireland and Australia. “Wings” is the #1 single off this album and is the ultimate girl power song. A part of the infectious chorus is “Mama told me not to waste my life / she said spread your wings my little butterfly / don’t let what they say keep you up at night / and they can’t detain you ‘cause wings are meant to fly.” The four members of the group harmonize beautifully, all of them with distinct, powerful voices that somehow blend together well in the pre-chorus and chorus. And if the handclaps, percussion and horns don’t make you want to get up and dance like no one is watching, I don’t know what will.

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