I love music, and, like most other areas in my life, the “more unique” the better.
These days it’s very easy to find really good music because of the Internet. There are so many options when it comes to music that there really is no excuse to listen to anything but the best, most-inspiring, most cutting-edge musicians.
Usually, from the time I wake up in the morning until the time I start getting ready for bed, there’s something playing. Sometimes I try to have a quiet drive to work or back home, but about 10-15 minutes in, I have to turn up the tunes.
I’ve always liked a bunch of different genres of music: my first influences were R&B, reggae, a little West Coast rap and country music. Naturally, today I tend love artists who cross genres. Of course, you can always tell a real musician from a performer and it’s hard to have any Milli Vanilli issues due to the media’s constant watch.
Although many of today’s artists are inspired by musicians from back in the day, which essentially keeps their music alive, I think it’s important to support contemporary artists of any medium. If I had to pick a favorite singer -- which is really -- painstakingly -- hard for me to do -- I would have to choose Alice Smith. She’s an American artist from the Washington, D.C., area whose first album, “Lovers, Dreamers and Me” was nominated for a Grammy. She didn’t win, but she’s still quite fabulous, despite that I sometimes wish she, and most of my other favorites, had more publicity. I have this idea in my head that if Alice Smith and I ever met in real life, we’d be inseparable sister-friends. A girl can dream, right? Also, in my head, the lead singer from Little Dragon, my favorite band, and I would be BFFs if we ever met each other. Little Dragon is a Swedish band that I like to stalk on every social media site I can find them on. You can imagine my excitement when I finally found my BFF, I mean their lead singer, Yukimi Nagano, on Instagram. I don’t usually get too crazy over celebrities -- I gave up the popular paparazzi and gossip blogs in college -- but I’m definitely a stan (stalker fan) when it comes to my favorite musicians. Some of my newish favorites are Lianne La Havas, James Blake, Jessie Ware and Valerie June; all of them have unique and distinct voices and musical styles that are hard to ignore.
YouTube is the most amazing invention since the iPod, in my opinion. Although the ads are annoying, it’s a really great way of finding live music and studio-tracks, and streaming album samplers before you purchase anything, and finding up-and-coming artists. My only issue with YouTube is that I usually find a musician’s live music and end up not liking their studio album as much. It’s a blessing and a curse, really, because there have been several new artists that I’ve gotten excited about because of their YouTube videos and then I go to iTunes to listen the album and it’s a letdown. They can be singing the same songs, but it’s just so over-produced, it’s horrible. I guess it’s a testament to their natural talent, without all of the bells and whistles. The neat thing about YouTube is that you pretty much find whatever you are looking for: I found a live video from 1976 of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon,” about two weeks and ago and you really just can’t ask for too much more.
There are a lot of very popular music sites and apps that are making it so easy for people to get their music fix. There are Pandora, Last.fm, Shazam, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Tumblr, and a bunch of other sites that I don’t know about yet. MySpace has also been a really good source for new music, however, they are in the midst of some sort of switch and some of my favorites, most of which have disbanded and who haven’t updated their MySpace in awhile, have lost some of their content.
National Public Radio has some awesome options, too. It has a whole portion of its website dedicated to music and music news. It does Tiny Desk concerts, where it puts lesser known artists in a small space to show off what they’ve got to millions of devoted NPR fans. It also streams new albums for a short while before an artist’s album is available and often feature compilations of songs VJs and DJs and whoever else from around the country can’t get enough of.
KEXP, out of Seattle and hosted at the University of Washington, does a great job featuring talented, contemporary artists. I got to know them through “The Mid Day Show” host Cheryl Waters. They have a YouTube presence and a pretty fantastic website. On YouTube, KEXP showcases a variety of musicians doing live studio performances. They really hit the nail exactly on the head with their choice of musicians for live performances. KEXP has jazz, they have hip-hop, world, they have eclectic music.
Both KEXP and NPR are both well known, dependable and do an excellent job of highlighting artists that may not have radio station play, but are usually more talented and innovative writers, singers, musicians and producers than what we hear on standard radio.