By Patrick Hosken & Emilee Lindner
Comfort zones and blind spots. That's what we dove into this weekend when we decided to give these songs a spin for this weekly edition of "Our Weekend In Music." Every now and then, it's good to venture into the dark territory of unknown music -- or at least, unknown to you -- and stuff you've never heard before because it helps you remember who you are. It reminds you of what you like and what you absolutely can't stand.
That's what this series is for, anyway -- to remind us to keep digging. Let's go listen.
I knew something about facial obscurity and semi-nude Shia Labeouf music video choreography — but I didn’t know the music. And those 11 seconds of “Reaper" changed things for me. I wanted to hear the rest of the song, and when it finally dropped on Thursday, it changed things even more.
The first time, I listened to “Reaper” three times in a row; on the third go-round, I yelled the last line of the chorus -- “No baby, not today!” -- into my empty apartment and no doubt frightened the feral cats who sometimes pop up to squeal outside my bedroom window. When she sings that line, she brandishes her voice boldly like a loaded weapon.
Sia will release her new album, This Is Acting, on Jan. 29, as a strong statement of her songwriting abilities, especially since it’s comprised of songs originally written for other artists. She reportedly wrote “Reaper” for Rihanna with help from Kanye, which makes sense given the song’s pulsating electricity.
I know Sia’s also shared a handful of other This Is Acting songs -- “Cheap Thrills,” “Alive,” “Bird Set Free” and “One Million Bullets” -- which means I’ll be busy falling into those ones until the 29th. Selfishly, I really can’t wait to see where this collection takes me. Unselfishly, I can’t wait to talk about it with lots and lots of people. --Patrick
David Bowie: "Blackstar"
Before I got news of Bowie's passing early this morning, I had dug into Blackstar, in which Bowie eulogizes himself, many say. Untainted by the recent events and doused in my ignorance, here's what I wrote:
Another dose of real talk: Although a lot of my favorite artists today have pulled some sort of inspiration from David Bowie, he's not a go-to listen for me. I fell asleep during "Labyrinth," I can't write epic think pieces about him, and, like my pal Brenna Ehrlich, I definitely can't throw on a Bowie wig and throw him a party. To be honest, I first heard "Blackstar," the lead single off his 25th album, while playing ping-pong at Rough Trade on Saturday -- which seems appropriate, given that I was in a record store, but it would've feel even more appropriate if I were holding a seance in the alley behind the store, instead.
It seems like no one can really describe what Bowie is singing about -- although saxophonist Donny McCaslin says it was written about ISIS. And no one can actually make sense of the video either. But I will say this: The vocals alone, with his creepy harmonies and a tone that sounds like it belongs in a Gregorian chant in a medieval church, are what moved me. Add that to drums that stutter over themselves, a reverb that goes on for lightyears, a saxophone that sounds like it's hiding something and a bouncy synth that shoots lasers into space, and, suddenly, I don't care what he's singing about. I'm embracing the weird, and that's what Bowie wanted. --Emilee