Welcome to Detours Picks!
To celebrate one of our favourtite days of the year, for this month we’ve decided to spotlight songs from albums with green artwork!
Everyone has guilty pleasures, they come in different areas of interest and vary from how guilty we really feel about them. For this months version of Detours picks, the boys and I decided to expose our own guilty pleasure songs for your entertainment! This was hard for me because over the last couple years I’ve personally tried to expand my musical taste as much as possible. As a song writer you never know where inspiration is going to strike or which new artists will get you excited so I’ve had quite a few recent guilty pleasure listens. For this exercise I went with one of the classic, trailblazers of our generation, love or hate her, Miss Taylor Swift. I specifically chose I Knew You Were Trouble, because well, I think its a banger.
I Knew You Were Trouble, in my opinion, is one of the best examples of Taylor’s ability to write in a wide range of genres. At the top of the song we get this indie pop guitar, very rhythmical with a nice story building lyrical accompaniment. After this, it goes into the first chorus which introduces an interesting little half time part with some piano chords, still staying pretty tame. Then, Taylor does something that I personally did not see coming. She drops into a synth bass dance drop that rides out the half time and takes the song into not only a different genre, but a different world. It’s such a big moment because it feels like it really explodes and pushes what was once a country pop artist into a totally new space.
One of the coolest things about it is that when she hits back into the verse after the monster dance beat chorus, it actually works. She just goes right into that same indie pop guitar part, this time with a faster entry on the electronic kick. It leads into the pre chorus and hits us with a fast building crescendo, and when the classic dance drop happens, we know exactly what to expect. It’s the perfect placement of that initial piano chord half time chorus that prepared us. Thats what I love about this track, it has these moments that are so boldly different, but she finds these clever tricks to make them flow together. Some people will love it, some will hate it, for me its my guilty pleasure.
When I think about a guilty pleasure song I think of that song that you’re embarrassed to admit kinda slaps. There are many songs that fit in this category for me, but I’m going to go with Unwritten by Natsha Bedingfield.
Growing up with a younger sister, we always shared the music privileges in the car. And believe me I put up a stink when I was forced to listen to many of the songs she would choose, and she felt the same about my choices. But one of those songs that I secretly bopped along to was Unwritten. It has an interesting melody in the verses, using a lot of semi tone movement. Which leads to the pre-chorus that perfectly sets up a super catchy chorus. This song is the definition of an upbeat and uplifting pop song, which makes it fit even better in the guilty pleasure box.
Another feeling that accompanies the guilty pleasure is also a sort of cheesiness. This song has got some super dated tones, like that drum machine intro or the string stabs in the chorus which make it even more of a guilty pleasure. Also the lyrics are super cheesy and feel good, filled with semi inspirational, hallmark card sayings. It’s almost like watching a movie that’s so bad it’s good, you revel in the cheese and the pure silliness and that makes it hit just the right spot.
Green Day’s American Idiot will always be my guilty pleasure album, and the standout track for me has to be Jesus of Suburbia. The song is the perfect embodiment of early 2000’s pop-punk with its signature edgy lyrics, and I have to admit that I love it for that. It’s probably a very influential song to me in more ways than one, being my introduction to rock opera concept albums, and long, multi-part medley songs. I think it’s the varied nature of the song’s structure that appealed to me originally, as it never gets dull, even over the course of its 9-minute runtime.
This song is also important to me, as one of the first tracks that I learned to play, back when I was first teaching myself bass guitar. I can still remember how satisfying it felt to be able to play along through all 5 parts! More than that though, American Idiot stands out as one of the first albums that I sought out and listened to by myself, way back in 2005 or so. Prior to that, my taste in music was more or less the same as my parents, and the CDs I listened to were those that were already in the family record collection. It resonated even more with me when I reached my early teenage years, and even though it’s a genre I don’t listen to much anymore, this album still holds a place in my heart, and I have to give it credit for that.
I’m going with a lesser known Canadian artist from the 80’s for my guilty pleasure pick this month, it’s Gowan!
Released in 1987 as a single and on the album Great Dirty World, Moonlight Desires is one of my quintessential synth soft-rock tunes. By today’s standards, the instrumentation is so brashly 80’s it’s almost funny. There’s a beauty in that though, embracing every cliché of a genre while still creating something original. This song ticks a lot of production boxes of the era: gated reverb on a drum machine, check; sparkly reverbed out lead lines, check; squishy synth bass, check; synth strings AND synth brass in the bridge? Check. And with supremely catchy lyrics and melodies, there’s no wonder the single charted, peaking at #2.
My early memories of this song are mostly from car rides with family, listening to 97.3 fm (both as “Toronto’s Easy Rock” and “Boom 97.3”) and being exposed to everything from Stevie Wonder to Madonna to Bon Jovi. Singing along with my mother and listening to the hooks of classic pop songs really influence my approach to songwriting, when great melodic moments come by you in a song, the ear gets addicted to those moments. Think of when just a small section of a song gets stuck in your head, maybe it’s only a couple of seconds long, but it bounces around up there, sometimes to an infuriating rate. Moonlight Desires is basically constructed with those brilliant melodic moments as the bricks, and the ridiculously 80’s instrumentation as the mortar. It’s one of my little perfect guilty pleasure pop songs. And check out that music video!