Happy Valentine's Day to yourself! For this special edition of the collab blog, the collective created a playlist for self-love in all its forms. Whether you're looking for inspirational songs with affirmative messages or braggadocios lyrics that'll have you struttin' your stuff, this playlist will have you stoked to be your own best valentine.
Artist: Bring Me The Horizon
Where do we even begin to digest the amount of self-love found in Bring Me The Horizon’s new music? We could talk about frontman Oli Sykes’ self-love that gave him the strength to walk away from a toxic marriage (giving him plenty of lyrical content for the band’s latest album, amo, in the process). We could also talk about Sykes’ self-love for admitting that he “didn’t want to scream anymore [and that he] wanted to sing from the fucking rooftops,” after going to rehab for a ketamine addiction in the early 2010s, signaling a change in artistic direction that began a deviation from Bring Me The Horizon’s metallic roots. We could talk about the band’s collective self-love for completing their career-long transformation from a MySpace-era deathcore band, to a pop group that has more in common with Justin Bieber than Job for a Cowboy, at the expense of alienating many of their oldest and most ardent fans. “Medicine” is a song that reflects on a toxic relationship once it’s over - you rarely realize such a relationship is bad for you while you’re actively in it. It isn’t until you break up that you realize that person was hurting you. Once you're on the other side and that person is out of your life, your outlook on life slowly but surely becomes a little brighter. Musically, “medicine” is a pop number that’s about as heavy as a goose-down pillow, but it makes you want to join Sykes on those rooftops and sing your heart out to let the world know you weren't the problem. Some might say Bring Me The Horizon have sold out, but I think “medicine,” along with amo as a whole, took a lot of courage to write and release, and the result is some of the most authentic pop I've heard in a while.
Song: “Revolution is my Name”
Album: Reinventing The Steel
In his classic poem, “Song of Myself,” Walt Whitman begins by proudly proclaiming “I celebrate myself and sing myself.” His portrayal of the “self” in that poem is not necessarily that himself as a person, or even of an individual, but more of a narration for all with acknowledgment that he shares the same energy as the universe as a whole. The “self” is a universal, powerful entity that has transcended all physical capacity, and his poem is a celebration of all of which one is capable. This imagery provides a stark contrast from his realist description of the gritty details of real life in pre-Civil War America throughout the rest of the poem. Likewise, Pantera’s Phil Anselmo begins “Revolution is my Name” by celebrating himself and singing himself, while drawing attention to how life in post-Vietnam War America shaped his mindset growing up. In his second verse, he evokes Whitman’s “self” to become one with all who hear his message and transcend the struggles of the real world. Anselmo takes it one step further by not only illustrating the “self” as all-powerful, but everlasting. I like to think Walt Whitman would dig “Revolution is my Name,” and that he’d appreciate Dimebag Darrell’s groovy riffs on this one, too.
Kurt B.'s Picks
Song: “I Believe In You”
Artist: Frank Sinatra (with Count Basie and His Orchestra)
Album: It Might As Well Be Swing
Robert Morse’s performance of this showstopper in the 1967 film adaption of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying is a masterpiece of rubbed-faced, pick-yourself-up physical comedy. Sinatra, teamed with Basie for their second album-length collaboration, dials back the goofiness and infuses Frank Loesser’s inspirational lyric with laidback cool. Dig the way Blue Eyes’ delivery switches up rhythmically, landing compliments in a flurry of welterweight love taps, then elongating “believe” like he’s rolling out a red carpet for you and you alone.
Album: Head First
“I woke up with the rising sun/I was blinded by the light” sings Alison with outstretched arms, kick drum thumping like adrenaline. As soon as I hear the opening of “Alive,” endorphins flood my brain, blood rushes to all my extremities, and my synapses go off like microwave popcorn. Such a sublime song for opening DJ sets (especially after, say, a long hospitalization, quitting that awful day job, or another well-publicized breakup). Plus the Xanadu Goes To Hell video is hilarious, and laughter makes good medicine.
Album: Acoustic Soul
Like many who grew up in the 90s/early 00s, I used to spend the mornings in my adolescent years watching TRL before going to school. I never consciously realized when I was younger that none of the girls in the music video looked like me, but I still felt like I was holding myself to a norm of beauty standards set by the music industry. I’ll never forget the first time turning TRL, seeing India.Arie come up on the screen with that big sunflower in her hair, and watching that shot of her check herself out in the mirror with a bold, radiant smile. It felt like the first time I was seeing a real human woman on my TV screen. More than just being “not the average girl in the video”, she was the first voice of self-love I had heard coming from the screen. She reminded women everywhere that you can love yourself unconditionally, regardless of your clothes, body type or whatever, because we are all queens. I'm sure a lot of people now might say the lyrics are too cliche, but self-love sure as hell wasn't cliche compared to anything else in the mainstream back then. And though I’m even really not into singer-songwriter positive acoustic jams, this song will always be my self-love anthem because the message is so simple and so authentically pure. Go on, love yourself, and everything’s gonna be just fine.
On the surface, this doesn’t read as a self-love song at all.
I am flesh, bones
I am skin, soul
I am human
Nothing more than human
I am sweat, flaws
I am veins, scars
I am human
Nothing more than human
The lyrics are blunt. The melodies are dark, robotic, and cold. But through its unaffectionate veil, this song is pure heart, vulnerability and strength. Sevdaliza is owning everything it means to be a living, breathing being. It’s a realistic portrait of who we are as humans. We bleed, sweat, fear, and exist far from perfection. But we can own that. That strength is power, and owning your worth through your human flaws is the most honest and authentic version of self-love there is.
Song: “Can’t Enough of Myself”
There’s the humble self-love songs compiled of positive affirmations, and then there’s the downright braggadocios songs for when you’re feeling your jusshh! Sometimes you just need a bright, bubbly jam to feel yourself to, and this song will have you feelin' yourself so hard you'll be bursting self-confidence out every damn pore. Santigold is all about being your own biggest fan and fully feeling that fantasy. No shame in being unapologetic about it. This Valentine’s Day (whether you’re single or not), go ahead and strut your stuff and let the world know just how extra you are.
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