Reading for Monday, 10/7: Choose Your Own Reading

Your responsibility for Monday is to pick your own piece of music writing and explain how it gives you new insights into music that you care about. This will usually come in the form of an album review, but there are other kinds of useful music writing.  Start your post with a link to the URL of the review you’ve found, then write a paragraph on the insights you gained from reading.

For example, if I wanted to read about the music of Kanye West, I might type “Yeezus reviews” into Google and get something like this:

Pitchfork seems like a pretty good place for intelligent reviews. Billboard, Rolling Stone, Spin, and the AV Club are also good sources. I’d even accept a blog post, as long as it seems like a respectable blog (I leave it to you to make the distinction).

Here’s some examples of some writing on music that I find insightful, Nathan Rabin’s column “Then That’s What They Called Music!” (lots of swearing ahead):,53791/,57810/





37 thoughts on “Reading for Monday, 10/7: Choose Your Own Reading


    In this review they analyze the lyrics of the song “The Cave” by Mumford and sons. The two main metaphors found allude to the Odyssey and a St. Francis monk leader. The connections made to the band give a strong supporting argument to backup the metaphors, but more importantly the new insights to the song lyrics expand its meaning. Instead of a catchy jingle it becomes a call for humanity to view the world in a different more realistic way and see what really matters.


    In this review, they analyzed this song and its lyrics. Drake quoted, “Really I think I like who I’m becoming” when he was thinking about this song. He never really boasted any of his skills and when he was singing, but somehow, we can sense that he is drawing our attention. To live in Drake’s music is to come away with his words smudged on you like newsprint ink. It seems like he is singing for his life and it’s like what you say before you die. Listen to the lyrics. We sense that Drake is exhausted when singing, or maybe it’s just his way.


    The article by the Rolling Stones reviews the album El Camino by the Black Keys.
    The Black Keys have a relaxing blues, rock, and R & B sound. Their music allows me to go into another zone and become removed from my current problems. I like how over the ten years and seven albums that Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have been together, that they have stayed true to their style. They don’t conform to what is popular in modern music. They play from the heart and their albums reflect that. On the Black Key’s album cover of El Camino, there is a trashy minivan. According to Rolling Stone, this is symbolic of their first touring vehicle. It reminds them to remember their roots and all the roads they have had to travel on to get to the success they are at today.


    This critic was discussing the comeback of Justin Timberlake. It talks about his new album called the 20/20 experience and how it compares with his seven-year-old album, Future Sex/Love Sounds. Ryan Dombal, the writer of this review, also compares part one and two of these albums and says that the part two may be more risqué than its original virgin. In the song Mirrors, it is discussed that Justin has a much selfless appeal to the song and is very dependent on whomever he may be talking about in it. This is one of my favorite songs because I can relate to it, because in order to be in a relationship you need to be selfless. Dombal also criticizes the use of “horniness” in some of Timberlake’s songs with Jay-Z and his explicit use of words, but hey, not all of his songs can be perfect.


    This article talks about Lil Wayne and his album Dedication 5. They talk about how it is one of the least lazy things he has done in years. They do still call him a little bit lazy though because apparently he seems more interested in his skateboard than in the songs that he writes. I didn’t realize that he had a point in his life where he had a health scare. I guess this album happened after he was coming out of that. Apparently, Dedication 5 is too long for one sitting, uneven, and front-heavy. Personally I really like Lil Waynes songs. He can’t make everything perfect, but it was cool to see what critics had to say about it.


    This is a Rolling Stone review of the album “Waiting for the Sun” by The Doors written in 1968. The author states that the depth of they lyrics is about as trivial as possible at points, and at other points the lyrics are so full of emotion. The critic states that most of the songs are awkward and some imply an almost Freudian message. He states that he band has become too structured around the singer, Jim Morrison, and that the music has become less enjoyable because of it. This is not stated in the article, but I believe that this is a lesson to be learned, in a way. If you focus too much on one thing, other things begin to fall apart.


    The lyrics in Feel Again by OneRepublic speak about emotions. Specifically the burst of emotion that you get with a new love after a long period of apathy and numbness. OneRepublic describes the feeling of apathy and how without a certain person they feel that apathetic but with a certain person they can “feel again.” Talking about emotions is normal for OneRepublic as the reviewer states, but that is what make people like them, they can connect with their audience on a personal level.


    Katy Perry’s song, Roar, speaks strongly to females and encourages strength endurance even when the world is going against you. I like how the review related the “hey’s” in the music to the Lumineers because I have never thought of that before, but the “hey’s do send chills to me for some reason.They also mentioned, and I agree, how Katy Perry can speak for a lot of people that have been taking advantage of and finally want to stand up for themselves.


    Lana Del Rey’s album “Born to Die” is based off the theme of the American dream, with songs that depict people’s wants and needs. Her songs mention many different concepts such as sexism, drugs, sex, money, life, and death. There seems to be a longing for happiness and perhaps an idea that you can get everything you want and still be unhappy. The critic says her songs take you to a fantasy that makes you wish for reality. The critic goes to say that “Born to Die” is Lana Del Rey’s way of taking you to her own “beautiful, dark, twisted fantasy, but there’s no spark and nothing at stake.”


    In this review, they analyzed Kendrick Lamar’s album “good kid, m.A.A.d city”. It begins by talking about the picture on the album cover. Kendrick as a baby hangs from the lap of his uncle while on the table a 40-ounce sits next to the baby bottle. The picture looks right into the inner life of Kendrick and what he grew up around in Compton. Kendrick’s creative lyrics and fast paced style add to the effect of his message. Struggling to distance himself from the violence of the streets of Compton and gang activity, some of Kendrick’s line deliveries come off as a cry for help and also desperation and confusion. The album is defined by the last track called “Real”. With messages from both his parents, they define the album’s central concerns; which is taking what you’ve learned and with your talent, give it back to the kids with encouragement and teach them to do right.


    Drake’s latest album “Nothing Was The Same” is a turn in a different direction from his last album. He distanced himself from the chauvinistic character he portrayed himself to be in the earlier album– no longer bragging about strip clubs, syrup, and gunmen he claimed to have. He explains that his views are universal and stresses that he is the same as everyone else. Meaning, he goes through the same relationship and life struggles us normal people do. In “Nothing Was The Same”, Drake longs to separate himself from the rap-star exceptionalism that seems to infect the most famous rappers.


    Miguel’s sophomore album Kaleidoscope Dream was his break out album. The review went through how Miguel really showed off his talents in this album by fully using his eliquent vocal range. He has the ability to allow his listeners to feel what he is singning, and in this album he was very open about his love life and different insecurities. The review saw this as his coming out album because, compared to his first album, he was very personal and every song came off geniune and true to him.


    This Coldplay critic claims that their newest album “Mylo Xyloto” is nothing special. He goes on about how each song sounds similar to another artist’s music. He claims that this album “finds Coldplay successfully continuing to explore the tension of wanting to be one of the best bands in the world and having to settle for being one of the biggest.” He takes a whole paragraph discussing how they are limited and how Chris Martin is unoriginal.
    Although I personally disagree with just about every idea in this review, I never knew that people did not think that Coldplay was the best band in the world.


    This critic reinforces my ideas behind rap music, and more specifically, 2 Chainz. In his new album, 2 Chainz continues along the path of great, hard hitting beats behind lyrics that are both funny and absurd. The critic claims 2 Chainz “decided that his approach to 90s nostalgia would be not to make an album that sounded like that decade but rather one that applied the high-budget, slapped-together vibe of a minor Bad Boy-era release to the sounds of modern Atlanta.” This is true in most of 2 Chainz music and most Hip-hop/Rap music that comes out today. Rappers have a definite 21st century, electronic-infused, take on beats; but the rapping hasn’t changed dramatically. In particular, 2 Chainz is famous for this. His beats are excellent and relevant to music of today, but his rapping style is nostalgic of sean paul or lil jon of the 90’s. He’s the “Bad-Boy” of the Hip-Hop/Rap of today.


    This article is about Big Sean’s first album entitled Finally Famous. The article states that this album solidifies his image of a smooth, fun to listen to artist. Big Sean uses great delivery to make mediocre rap lines into entertaining memorable sayings. For instance, in the song “I Do It”, he says “I need a crib, a big estate, i need a boat and that’d need a lake, i need some salmon and that’d need a plate, i need a chef so i feed my safe.” The way he says this line makes it memorable and makes people want to sing along when it comes on. In essence, Big Sean is one of the most talented and popular rappers in the history of rap.


    While the songs on Matchbox Twenty’s album “Yourself or Someone Like You” has mostly sad songs, the songs have helped my family and me deal with stress over the years. The tone of the songs are mostly sad, or angry, or angsty, but the combination of the voice of Rob Thomas and the musical talents of Brian Yale, Tom Doucette, Kyle Cook, and Adam Gaynor can fulfill anyone’s craving for music.
    The music helps me relax when I’m stressed, unravel when I’m feeling upset, and focus when I’m doing my work. There’s one song in particular that holds a quite a bit of meaning to me: “Real World.” When my brother was an infant, he was a big crier. Whenever he was crying with nothing to stop it, my mom would play this song, and he would instantly become quiet, bringing my four-year-old self and my parents some peace at home.
    I adore this album and listen to it to this day, and I recommend it for anyone looking for new(ish) music to listen to.

  17. Andrew Miller

    In this review, Jay-Z’s latest album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, is critiqued and analyzed. It touches on themes ranging from his gradual and consistent success to his ensuing dislike of certain parts of the celebrity life. He also warns against the apparent appeals of the lifestyle of the rich and famous, quoted by the line, “Bright lights is (sic) enticing, but look what it did to Tyson.” On the other hand, in this example and practically throughout the whole album, Jay-Z balances this dilemma with the fact that he can in fact have whatever he wants and the comfortability that comes with that.

    Justin Timberlake has done it again. He rewarded anxiously awaiting fans earlier this year with his new album the 20/20 experience. Myself (along with many others) fell in love with Justin all over again with the release of his easy listening tunes that feature his to-die-for falsetto. Now, I may be a bit biased, but I am not the only one who thinks Timberlake is doing something right. In this article from MTV, music experts critique his album and his newly released second part. I was happy to know that I am not the only one who believes Justin is one the right track in his career.


    First off, as soon as this was assigned I knew that I was going to present a review for Eminem’s newest single “berzerk.” This was an easy choice, because I have been reading all kinds of stuff about it already in anticipation for Eminem’s upcoming album “MMLPII.” “Berzerk’s” music video features both Kendrick Lamar and Kid Rock. Eminem says in the song, “let’s take it back to straight hip-hop and start it from scratch.” I feel as though Eminem has certainly accomplished this with his new song, and the review even goes as far to say “it would seem tyhat we have the Eminem of old back again.

    Louie Copley


    Miley Cyrus’ new song “Wrecking Ball,” is a song about how heartbroken she was when her fiance’ Liam left her, we assume because she went crazy. Her music video would definitely back up that previous sentence. The video begins with an up close shot of her crying, which would make sense considering what the song is about. The reviews mostly described Miley as scattered and a “hot mess.” I think the only thing in the video that actually went a long with the meaning of the song was the wrecking ball, referring to how Liam ending their relationship broke her down. But I thought that the nudity and visual of her licking the sledge hammer was really random and did not really go with the song.


    This is a review of Macklemore’s newest album, “The Heist”. The song i was most specifically looking at is “Ten Thousand Hours” which is a song that is about the “10,000 hour rule” that says that anyone that practices something for 10,000 hours will be an expert at that trade. After reading this review I learned that Macklemore used this song to talk about how hard he had to work to get to where he is today from where he was a few years ago. Although the song talks about studying art and producing music, the message can be used in alot of other aspects too. i didn’t know what the “10,000 hour” concept was before i read this review.


    In this article they discuss how EDM DJ Avicii pulled off an unlikely hybrid. I for one love EDM music but when i heard that there was a DJ mixing country and EDM together i automatically thought it was going to be horrible. In this article however it describes how Avicii pulls this off and actually gets a hit single by mixing the two genres. This really kind of turned me on to listening to country music. I never said i liked it, I’ve just decided to give it a chance now that i know that they’re are forms of it that can actually be listened to.


    In this article they discuss Miley Cyrus’s new album “Bangerz.” They discuss how her new racy image and style is apparent in her music. Also, they bring up how her newer music is different than her past music yet still traditional to her roots on Disney Channel. Some people think that she’s not comfortable in her new outrageous and obnoxious image but I think she’s still trying to adjust into her new skin. Basically, the crazy, outrageous, bizarre, and untraditional things that appear in her life and music are what draw fans to her fan base.

    Christie Gleason

    Lady Gaga’s Marry the Night has much deeper meaning than just a high energy pop song to dance to. Lady Gaga wrote and directed a fifteen-minute music video to show the world her rise to fame with Marry the Night. The setting changes multiple times, which all add to the struggle Gaga underwent to finally sign with her present record label. She begins in a hospital bed at a psych ward where she explains monarch controlling and how others can drastically change people’s reality. This is all after her first record company drops her because they think she will never make it. She’s told she needs to change her image, move away from ballet and become more of a hardcore and eccentric hip-hop dancer. She’s told by other dancers that MTV will not want her unless she’s a good enough hip-hop dancer. The scene quickly turns to a dark fiery scene to show that everyone has a dark side. As she becomes a better dancer and people start to notice her, she struggles to remain in control of her body. She reveals her secret of bulimia, and her self-loathing as she destroys things throughout her apartment. Gaga is continuously thinking back on how she was rejected throughout the video. Once she begins wearing huge hats, crazy make-up and is the star in front of all her back up dancers, she proves to the world she is the super star she knew she could become. Many symbols pop up throughout the video as well such as red to show the sacrifice she put her body and mind through to become famous. Also the cheerios she throws all over accounts for celebrities struggle with self-image. In the end Gaga becomes who she really wants to be and shows everyone she’s a star resulting in a record deal with Interscope Records. When I initially saw this video I picked up on small things but never dreamed that this video would have this much meaning, down to each of Gaga’s outfits. This review really makes me look at music so much differently now.


    In this review they pretty much trash Mumford & Sons album Sign No More. The whole time the writer just complains how dramatic the band is in their lyrics “Every hoedown on Sigh No More… conveys the same sense of hollow, self-aggrandizing drama. And they pull that shit on every track.”, clearly despising the bands sound by calling it a “hoedown”. The writer criticizes that the band is never deep in their work and ends by saying “Mumford & Sons are in the costume business. They’re playing dress-up in threadbare clothes.” calling them unoriginal and main stream. This article made me realize how dark and sometimes graphic their lyrics can be, but I completely disagree, i think Mumford & Sons sounds are completely unique, their use of banjo solos clearly grasp the mood in their lyrics. I find their dramatic lyrics entertaining and their melodies are quit soothing. Their songs tell a story and their folk rhythms keeps my feet taping in approval. This is still my favorite album of all time!


    My album review was on the album Goblin by Tyler, the Creator. This review talks about how the rise of Tyler came about and also talks about the overall themes of the album. It talks about how their dirty lyrics have a significant meaning to them. They bring up how the album kind of has many different parts. There are parts that are funny, some that are scary, and some that are just plain weird. I enjoyed this review because they looked at the positives to the nasty themes and lyrics. It was a very interesting read.


    I chose to read a review by Rolling Stone Magazine about Maroon 5’s album, “Overexposed”. The reviews are just as good as the music on it. Adam Levine went a bit of a different route from his usual sappy songs. The album includes many different styles of tracks, from slow and sad to happy and hopeful. I 100% agree with what the analyst had to say. I just hope this top seller isn’t the peak of their career.


    In this review of the album “Nothing Was the Same” the song “Paris Morton Music”, is analyzed and shows how Drake looks at his life now that he became a different person than he was back then. He started and focused on himself and now after four years of continuous fame he can look back and see that he is on top. Analyzing his lyrics, he thinks about showing up at his high school reunion, watching everyone “go through security clearance.” We can all see that he has separated from most people he grew up and went to school with. Now he is contemplating how he can go back and see who they have become. Drake continues to mention, “Tables turn, bridges burn, you live and learn” portraying how his success came and how sometimes bridges may have to be burned when focusing on your goals. It also analyses how he is upset that his family is starting to treat him differently as if he “is the man now, like they didn’t grow together,” another way fame has changed his life. “He might like who he’s become, but you can hear he doesn’t expect anyone else to,” the lyrics show his life evolving and the great things he has accomplished but also how upset he is due to his family changing because of him.


    In this review goes back to Avicii’s older single “Silhouettes.” It also talks about the diversity and vagueness of EDM. EDM has common traits such as “wind-up builds and earthquaking drops” but each artist has their own style. Avicii’s music is house music with “candy-coated pop melodies.” One of his singles,”Levels,” is one of EDM’s “defining singles” and is known for Etta James’s short optimistic vocal hook. As with “Levels” Avicii’s “Sihlouettes” has the same type of optimistic vocals only they last the whole song. The reviewer claims that Avicii is one of few artists that can make music enjoyable in both in his “headfphones” and “on festival stages.” And by combining “FM pop hooks” with the positive vocal tracks gives Avicii’s music a very pleasant vibe.


    I choose to read a review on Luke Bryan since he will be here this week on tour. The article was about his cd “Crash My Party” that came out this year. The article writer, Chuck Eddy, did not seem to enjoy it that much saying that Luke Bryan could not match up to artist like Kenny Chesney (another country singer) . Eddy also said a positive thing about the cd. He said that the songs “Out like that” and “Blood Brothers” brought back the “blaze of glory” from Bon Jovi’s songs.

    I picked Lady Gaga’s song You and I to read about. In the article posted above it says the song is about going back anyone or anything in your life that had meaning to you. She put such detail into her video to make it complex and confusing for her audience. In the video there is an ice cream truck on the long road she is walking down. This article reveals that it symolizes painful childhood memories and past experiences on the path to your future. This video has a ton of hidden symbols I normally wouldn’t notice.
    ~Kaitlyn Klingberg


    In this review they analyze Les Misrables sound track. This particular album is interesting because the entire movie is music and only a few single words are spoken without musical accompaniment. Joy Rosen, the reviewer, did not like how the music was written or many of the singers, Russell Crowe in particular. While Anne Hathaway and Sacha Baron Cohen’s voices did get positive reviews, the overall review described the album as “a bunch of movie stars who can’t really sing”. I have to disagree with this review because I thought the singing was phenomenal, especially considering that the entire thing was live. I agree that the male voices in the movie could have been better, but I do believe that songs like One Day More were put together and performed perfectly.


    This analysis of Jay-z’ song “Empire State of Mind” really emphasized the meaning of the song. This is not just a mindless rap song it is filled with meaning about what New York is to Jay-Z. For example when he says, “If Jeezy’s paying LeBron, I’m paying Dwane Wade” he is talking about the deal that he gets on drugs. He pays less than anyone to get the things he wants. This analysis showed me the intricacies of a song that most people would not see. This song also touches on the role of women in the city and some of the places he used to deal drugs. Although to most people this song is just glorifying New York to me this song means more than that after reading this analysis.

    Timmy Corrigan


    In this review they analyzed Drake and his insecurities of becoming an upcoming rapper . “I’ve never been part of a year when so many legends are dropping projects,This is what Drake said when he was interview with rappers such as Kayne west and Jay-Z dropping albums Drake was afraid his album was not going to be heard as much as he wanted it to be . This analysis showed that Drake had enough confidence to dropped his album even though two proclaimed legends in Hip-Hop dropped there albums as well . Confidence is one major factor that makes you or breaks when it pertains to becoming a rapper .

  35. In the new drake album he goes from talking about his thug life like guns drugs money and girls to more of an emotional soft type. He’s always talking about girls and his daily stresses as a famous artist in today’s music corporation. My favorite song is come thru where he sings about a girl he needs to see. So he says get in the car and come thru. Drake might be the only rapper not talking about drugs, money, or guns now a days.

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