Horror and the supernatural in the music of Tori Amos

Tori Amos and the supernaturalIn her music, Tori Amos often uses images that evoke horror or the supernatural. Demons, witches, magic, legends, ghosts… But trying to discern the precise meaning of these lyrics poses a problem. The lyrics paint moods and images, unconcerned by their obscurity and resistance to threads of logic. I would even say she takes a magical approach to writing words, more interested in what they conjure than in being direct or realistic. Still, one seeks to understand what the songs mean. I’ve chosen five songs to explore how Tori uses the supernatural. Continue reading →

The Fifth Dimension and singing about racism

The Fifth Dimension - Age of AquariusIn the 60s and 70s, pop music lyrics began focusing on issues of brotherhood and racism like no time before or since. Peace and love were in the air, fueled by growing outrage over the war in Vietnam and mistreatment of black Americans. The sweet pop style of The Fifth Dimension lended itself to a gentle approach, in contrast to the clever and overt lyrics of Sly Stone’s 1968 “Everyday People” or the edginess of Nina Simone. But like so many other artists, the Fifth Dimension confronted racism through their music. Even when they acknowledged pain, though, the songs focused on uplift and hope—on the optimism of what was possible. Continue reading →

A list of the most popular songs that “jump”

Image of people jumpingMusic is rhythm, so it’s natural that the word “jump” would feature in numerous song titles. I’ve compiled a list below of the most popular songs that sing about jumping. Stylistically the songs range all over the map, from jazz to rap. Everyone, it seems, wants to jump. Many of the songs were hits. In cases where the songs are not as well known, I’ve focused on prominent artists and bands. The list appears in reverse chronological order, with the most recent songs at the top. Continue reading →

Stamping out dangerous hate music

Image of "hate music" circle and slash over musical notesSpotify drew applause this week, in the aftermath of the Charlottesville domestic terrorism attack, with its announcement to remove hate music from its site. I wholeheartedly support this decision, but we must be very careful to articulate when it is appropriate to censor music and when it is inappropriate. Numerous instances of misguided censorship litter history. I even wrote a song, “Dangerous Music,” about this history, which you can hear below. Continue reading →