Friday, May 29, 2015

Country music can be intense, but it's worth the trouble

I've gone through a lot of phases in my life. Living in a society that is changing much more frequently than past decades, growing up in this time comes with a lot of changes. Peer pressure is something that has always been relevant, but think about it. Hipsters: Is it cool to be mainstream, or is it cool to be anti-mainstream? Or, by choosing anti-mainstream, are you less cool than those people who go mainstream because it isn't mainstream any more?

Does the word "mainstream" remind you of trout going upstream, or is that just me?

We are in a highly judgmental society that reaches to our clothing choices, our book choices, or our music choices. I would mock girls reading Twilight even though I had been reading the same book joyously two months prior. Don't get me wrong, Twilight is a pretty bad book as far as its portrayal of a healthy relationship, but that wasn't why I was looking down on the book, you see? I mocked those girls to fit in with a larger group of people, mostly men. 2010 was honestly such a year for girl hate, let me be real. 

But, this is about music, not Twilight. The similarities are few and far between at the surface level, but hold your hats, I have one more relatable analogy for you before we get into the meat and potatoes. 

I used to be a full-on country lover, who "hated" rap. Yes, I mocked Queen Nicki. I laughed along when someone called her "Nicki Mange". 

Had I even heard one of her songs? Nope. 

Then, I started fawning over boys in bow ties and started listening to Arctic Monkeys. Bye-bye, Shania Twain. (I still secretly loved you, but you know. Boys with coffee stains on their shirts who talked in iambic pentameter for some reason. So appealing.)

Then, like three agonizing years later, I woke up.

I really believe I'm not the only one in this; it was a beautiful thing. It is like an entire generation of shamed girls snapped out of it, dumped their frat boy lovers, and admitted they loved Nicki Minaj's pink hair. I, personally, am loving it. And by 'it', I mean the absence of the soul crushing need to impress other people by doing certain things while shunning others and mocking people while I was at it. 
As it is now, I would never in a million years say I hated an entire genre of music. Country, rap, indie, (hell, even techno), they are all such wide categories. Saying you hate rap/country/pop/etc is like saying, "Hello, my name is _____ and I'm a close-minded person" or, in my case, "Hi, my name is ____, and I work way too hard trying to impress that person over there who I've never talked to by listening to music they probably like because I have a hard time asserting myself as a human being who deserves to be respected."

All genres of music have taken their beating, especially rap (hello, racism), pop (hello, sexism), and country (hello, classism). In recent years, I have become a big and open fan of rap (female rappers are, in particular, bomb dot com) and pop. However, something I'm still having trouble opening up about is my liking of country music. Granted, a lot of popular country music now is not very good, and not to mention focuses on overused Old South values to appeal to the white population and Christian values to appeal to, frankly, a lot of people. However, saying that, country is a very diverse genre. Fresh-faced singers like Kacey Musgraves are attempting to change that image that has been building up over the years, and I'm really digging her as a person too. 

Women in country such as Martina McBride, the JaneDear Girls, Dolly Parton, the Dixie Chicks, and Reba McIntire have been such impacting role models on me becoming the person I am today. They sang about empowerment from way back in the 1950's, and I didn't realize how much listening to them as a girl made me more independent, more powerful, and more prideful, especially listening to them again recently. Women don't let other women listen to sexist music, and I'm going to follow that rule now as I lead you down the road of feminist and otherwise positive country music. I loved a lot of these songs a while ago, and I love them now. Granted, 98% of the country music I prefer is made by women, but I've always been that way. I can still appreciate Johnny Cash. 

The playlist I've made I believe features a range of sub genres, because sadly, not everyone loves the Steel Magnolias soundtrack (but they should). Though these are all country tracks, really the only similarity is that I like them. Some I like just the sound of, but some like "Devil Went Down To Georgia" remind me of people I care about very much, and I hope you can appreciate that. I hope you can see how diverse music can be, stop being such a Debbie Downer at parties, and maybe find a country song or two you can jam to. It's got a bad rap and rightfully so, but keep your mind open and you'll be surprised. 

If you would like to read more about country music at its odd, shifting place in society, a southern writer for xoJane did a wonderful article on the subject: 

And if I didn't convince you?:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Positive Morning Playlist + Life Tips?

I think I've accepted the fact that I would rather make a playlist than do almost anything else, except maybe watch "Clueless" and "13 Going on 30" while eating buttery red potatoes. (That is, of course, an ideal situation). Until that happens, which it probably won't (but actually, now that I think about it, that isn't a situation that's hard to create), I'll just stick to making playlists. 

Sometimes, you just have to get back to the basics. New bands nobody knows is always fun, but nostalgia is vastly underrated. Not the kind of nostalgia your grandma gets when she remembers segregated schools (*deep, reverberating sigh*), but the nice kind that traces back to days when you were achingly cheerful. I'm still achingly cheerful, but it's more annoying now that I'm not worried about seeming not emo. 2010 was weird, man.

Lately, I've been listening to this playlist in the morning; it makes me really happy, and that's crucial when you have to get up at least four hours before you would in the wild. Works best coupled with at least two obnoxious cats to bat at your toothbrush as you brush your teeth, but not necessary. Finish off with gummy vitamins (get out of my face with those huge, sad, unecessary pills), and you're bound to have a great day. 

I really do think the music you listen to impacts your mood, subconscious or otherwise, so if you want to be more positive, maybe Lana Del Rey isn't the best choice.  

I like a lot of different music, but lately I've been focusing on positive songs with jazz and/or R&B influences, and obviously, tropical songs are a constant. So, here's the playlist!:

To go along with this playlist, I thought I would talk a little about things I have adopted which have really helped me become a more positive, motivated, and self-fulfilling person! Last year was a very dark period for me, and I became very depressed; I had been so "on" all through high school, doing all the extra credit for things and basically giving up my entire soul whenever I did a project. As you can guess, being the energizer bunny couldn't keep up forever, and when I ran out of juice, it was like a sugar crash. At least, that's the best way I can explain it. I slept all the time, I didn't like talking to anyone, and doing homework physically nauseated me. I did it all, but my energy was quickly going into the negatives. There would be times when I would just sit and stare at the latch on the window or the corner of the coffee table; I didn't care to do anything, not even cry.

When finals were over, I realized I needed to do something. I watched movies I liked, I started dancing even when I didn't feel like it, and I blocked everything out except for the people I held dear. I read beautiful books, and I recharged myself. More importantly, I promised myself not to be the energizer bunny anymore. I am not a battery to be sucked dry, and neither are you. Give to others, but take just as much. Say no when you want, buy bright clothes, smile at people who look like they need it.  

Drink a lot of infused water.

Recharge yourself constantly. Literally all the time. When you feel mentally exhausted, pause and take a little time to do the things you enjoy. STAY ORGANIZED, because the less your brain has to worry about remembering everything, the better. Pick the most adorable planner there is. Write down everything. Make lists. Morning routine lists, night routine lists, dog petting lists. Listen to positive music a lot. Not everyone likes upbeat music, but cutting down on music that drags you down or gives negative vibes helps you help yourself. 

Eat food you like. Create eating habits that don't damage you mentally or make you unhappy. Eat a lot of veggies and fruit along with a lot of candy, regardless of whether you want to get fit or not. Keep yourself hydrated because a hydrated body is a happy one that can function, and be at its best. 

Watch chick flick comedies. Good ones like "13 Going on 30" (how many times have I mentioned that movie?) or "Sleepless in Seattle" (God, that movie is after my heart, I swear). 

Love yourself, endlessly.