I’m On Top Of The World! – Imagine Dragons

Last week I wrote about Lorde, one of the sudden, big hits of recent years. She’s so young that some of the question is, how genuine is she, how much will she maintain who she is now into the future? She sings so much of being small, but has become so big that you have to wonder what the future holds for her.

Night VisionsThe discussion, about how genuine she is, and if it will last, got me thinking of a different band – another recent rise to fame. A band whose name and first full album I keep seeing listed as a top-selling album – 2 years after its release. The album is Night Visions, and the band is Imagine Dragons.

My wife Holly and I were fortunate enough to see Imagine Dragons in concert last year. And by fortunate, I mean that we planned far in advance, got the tickets, and flew many thousands of miles to see them. And what we saw was a band that seemed truly, humbly pleased with their fame, who seemed overwhelmed with it all.

Waiting on this for a while now… Paying my dues to the dirt

Continued SilenceA quick scan of the Wikipedia page about the band shows that some of it was luck that they hit it big, filling in for someone else (Train) at a large concert. We started following them with their early 2012 EP, Continued Silence. And then Night Visions came out, and has been hanging out on iTunes, at least, as one of the top selling Alternative albums ever since, whenever I’m looking for new music.

A lot of their music has been coming out, bit by bit, on EPs, and after the album even, on soundtracks and one at a time. Part of their success has been in the ability for people to get their hands on their music digitally, rather than only through traditional albums.

That also says to me that they’ve been making music for a while, have been putting it together bit by bit, have been trying to figure out what people might like, and what they like to play. As the lyrics say – “been dreamin’ of this since a child.”

And now, they’re on top of the world.

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Victory’s Contagious – Lorde

You’ve probably heard of her. Award winning new artist. Young. New Zealander. Lorde.

I found her through Pandora, when it started working Royals into my playlists. But I’ll get back to Royals. It’s what I’ve encountered in the rest of her music that makes me want to talk about her.

She’s swept music by storm, and I have a few thoughts about why. If I were to sum it up at first here, it’s because the music is so smart. No, there’s a better word. It’s wise. Wise beyond her years. She’s 17. And at the age, she has the potential to become to voice of a generation – or to become the next fallen icon. But let’s take some time getting there!

Maybe the Internet Raised Us…

In preparing for this post, and listening to Lorde’s Pure Heroin a whole bunch of times, I’ve been trying to think of a term to describe her. And maybe the term is conscious innocence. As in, she knows she’s young. Knows that things are going to get more “real” (whatever that really means…) in the future, but that for now, the simple life is hers. 

She sings a lot about bruises, dreams, and clean, white teeth. Simpler sorts of observations, about life, about people. She’s drinking orange juice. It’s childhood and adolescence. But it’s like she’s got the age and wisdom to be reflecting back on it and reminiscing, while also being right in the thick of it.

There’s also the talk of fame. There’s plenty of times where she calls out the rich, the powerful, the famous. She speaks truth to power. The ridiculousness of modern stars. Their excesses. 

However, she juxtaposes this with talk of her own rising fame and stardom. She talks about her impending first plane ride, about how she still likes hotels – something she recognizes may well change as she starts to travel and perform. 

Here’s some of her lyrics, to show what I mean:

Lorde Lyrics

Her songs describe the cusp of stardom, the end of adolescence and innocence, and do so in a way that expresses such self-understanding that it’s easy to see why she has captured the imagination.

All Work and No Play…

However, is that all it is? I wonder. Do people just love her because she’s saying things that not only sound true, but feel true?

Or, when she’s calling out the powerful and the famous, are some of these people waiting for the hypocrisy?

We see so many young stars who end up falling into the worst habits of stardom: the drugs and alcohol, the stupid stunts to prove they’re someone else other than the young star we once knew and loved. Think in recent years of Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes, Miley Cyrus, and Justin Bieber. Okay, maybe not loved with these stars, at least not for me… but you get the point. They fall apart.

Are we watching Lorde because we’re waiting for her to fall? Or at least, are some people? Is the media, maybe, especially?

And after singing so much about it, wouldn’t Lorde’s fall just be that much the worse? But the thing is, it seems like she sees it. She sees the risk, the danger. It’s there in the lyrics. Will she change? Will she give in to it?

I don’t have the answers. Listening to the music, I don’t think Lorde knows. I guess it’s wait and see.

We’re Bigger Than We Ever Dreamed…

So we’re back to Royals, I think. This song encapsulates all that I’ve said, the simplicity of the life that Lorde is coming from, and the life of luxury of the stars whose ranks she’s joining. It encapsulates everything she’s saying, and thus was a perfect first single.

It has all the features of a one-hit-wonder, as well. Catchy tune, memorable chorus – the sort that you work on trying to memorize and figure out, so you can sing along. And different in sound from other songs on the album.

If this is all you’ve heard of Lorde, you’re missing out. There’s more. And it’s good. I really hope this is an artist we’ll be listening to for many, many years to come – that she holds to her ideals, that she keeps being wise beyond her years. 

I definitely recommend checking out her award-winning album, Pure Heroin! But what do you think about Lorde? Let me know in the comments below!

@compgeeksdavid blogs at Sourcerer about music and comics. His main blog is Comparative Geeks — you can check out his other work there!

Weekend Music: Dueling Harmonicas

Video

These are the Srgo Brothers playing at a telethon in 1984. Just wait the comedy out. Once they really get rolling, they’re spectacular.

The Wit and Wisdom of the Lumineers

One of the most interesting bands I have found in recent years is the Lumineers. They are hard to describe in a few words, hard to nail down to a genre or style. iTunes describes them as “front porch Americana.” Not a bad start.

I want to consider a few of the great traits of this band, to share with you what I like about this band, and to share why I think you they deserve a listen – if you haven’t already! Their eponymous first studio album came out in 2012, so I’m at least hoping there’s more to come from them soon.

In the meantime, this is a band from Denver, and I’m from Denver, and it would be neat to see them play there sometime! But for now, my sense of the Lumineers.

A Sense of History

One of the things that stands out about the Lumineers is their sense of history. They sing songs set solidly in the past, and seem to capture some of the feeling from the time. They tap back into the Roaring Twenties, World War II, and Vietnam.

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