Category Archives: Song of the Day

Song of the Day: ‘Express Yourself’ by N.W.A.


So, I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly aggressive person. But lately I’ve realized that there are actually a lot of things that I rant about, and my rants seem to be increasing in their rate of occurence. I hung out with Donkeysuit last night and he agreed that I seem more fired up than usual. I’m not entirely sure why this is, but I think it might have something to do with the fact that I’m writing more which in turn is making me think more, about everything (not just music). It’s not entirely unpleasant, to be honest with you. I’m enjoying having an outlet for my thoughts, and if it’s spilling over into my daily life (i.e. when I’m talking to actual humans rather than banging away on a computer keyboard) then that’s cool too.

Anyway, here are a few of my current rants:

  • Phil Spector
    Look, I’m sorry, but I don’t know why anyone out there is remotely surprised that it came to this. Phil Spector had been pulling guns on people for years, people. YEARS. And then he finally went and murdered someone. Yeah, law enforcement officials, couldn’t have seen that one coming. Why didn’t someone lock this man up before he started offing people? The signs were all there. A LIFE COULD HAVE BEEN SAVED.
  • The TTC (Toronto Transit Commision)
    I don’t care that it costs more to take the subway in Toronto than in New York freaking City. I don’t even care that sometimes I’ll be waiting for a streetcar in the freezing cold depths of winter for over half an hour, and then 10 will show up in a row. Those things annoy me, sure, but not as much as the complete lack of customer service exhibited by some of the TTC’s operators, some of whom are honestly so unpleasant that I don’t even know what to say about it. Look, I get it, TTC drivers — you’re exposed to the drooling, unwashed masses all day. I don’t doubt that can be extremely annoying. But it is, in the end, part of the job.
  • People Who Wear Sweat Pants
    Here’s the deal: when you see someone wearing sweat pants, it is a sure sign that they have pretty much given up on life. I’m not talking about the cute Lululemon exercise pants or those flashy Adidas track pants & whatnot. I’m talking about the grey sweatpants, the ones with elastic around the ankles. These are only acceptable on little kids and very old people (on whom they look awesome). When it comes to everyone else…c’mon, just pull your lives together, people. Whatever it is, it can’t be that bad. Tell your friend Spencer about it, maybe I can help. Just stay away from the sweat pants.
  • The Toronto Waterfront
    In the past few years I’ve been to Chicago and Boston. You know what those two cities have in common? Amazing waterfronts. I would like to know who the jackass was that totally screwed up the planning of the Toronto waterfront. It doesn’t even feel like we live in a city on a lake. Seriously. There is so much wasted potential here it makes me want to cry.
  • Sidenote: I know it seems like I’m complaining a lot about my city. I don’t hate it here, in fact I love it, which is why it frustrates me to see a few major areas of city life that are sorely in need of improvement.

Anyway! All of these thoughts rattling around in the old brain have gotten me thinking about the importance of being able to say what’s on our minds, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative, especially when it’s critical or controversial. I don’t know about you guys, but I feel like in some ways there’s been a subtle constriction on freedom of speech in the last couple of years. Is it just me? I mean, why doesn’t facebook have a “dislike” button? Maybe sometimes I don’t like what you’re saying. I should have the right to tell you that, shouldn’t I? It’s not like I’m going to be a total jerk and argue with you about everything. We can handle it if we don’t agree, right? Can we? Maybe we can’t. Maybe that’s what all of this is leading to — people who get totally bent out of shape when they’re told “no” instead of “yes”. But if all we’re doing is going around patting each other on the back then we are not challenging one other and fostering critical thought.

Freedom of speech is important for our society. As Voltaire said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.*

*Actually, this quote is often mistakenly attributed to Voltaire. It was, in fact, his biographer who said it about him, as an example of the beliefs that he espoused.

This is why I’ve chosen N.W.A.’s ‘Express Yourself’ as my Song of the Day. These guys obviously had no compunction about speaking their minds. Somewhat ironically, this is pretty much one of the only N.W.A. songs that doesn’t contain lyrics that are violent, mysogynistic or profane in nature, and thus wouldn’t have been censored for radio play. If I really wanted to drive home my point about freedom of speech then I guess I could have chosen ‘F*ck tha Police’ or something of that ilk, but y’know what, this is a great song and it speaks to the topic at hand.

*There’s no video for this one, obvs. But please enjoy this photo of N.W.A. posing with firearms.

And now, it’s your turn. What’s got you ranting these days? Tell us all about it.

Song of the Day: ‘Changes’ by Stars


Have you ever felt so tired that you just want to lie your head down on your desk, feel the comforting coolness of the hard surface against your face, and close your eyes? Or maybe crawl into bed and lie in someone’s arms, so silent, so still and peaceful, all the noise and the static from the world and life and job gone, that blissfully comforting exhaustion you feel when your bodies fit perfectly together and everything just…stops. The knowledge that it’s only a short moment in time, and nothing lasts, ceases to really matter. All conscious thought derailed. Sometimes lying in someone’s arms really does feel, well, perfect…and yes I am fully aware of how supergross and cheesy that sounds. But it’s true.

Anyway, this song makes me think about all of that. So it’s my song of the day. Enjoy!

*Note: there is an official video for this song, which can be viewed here (NSFW), but I dunno, sometimes I just prefer fewer visuals.

Song of the Day: ‘Open Season’ by High Highs

high highs

I recently spent a weekend in Boston at a high school mini-reunion of sorts. It wasn’t an official school reunion — just a gathering of a group of friends. I attended two different high schools, both in Singapore (the tiny little island republic off the tip of Malaysia that is probably most famous for caning an American citizen, who was also a friend of mine). The first school I attended, United World College, was an international school. The second, Singapore American School, was also international but with a high concentration of Americans, as is probably no surprise given its name. Anyway! This was a UWC reunion, and my lovely friend Eija was kind enough to let us crash at her place all weekend, plying us with booze and BBQ and Moomins (she’s a Finn too. They’re all a bit demented. Although, to be fair, when I was little my mom used to tell us stories about a peanut named Penelope who wore an orange wig and a bikini and lived in the White House with Jimmy Carter and his family).

“Why I am supposed to care about any of this, Spencer?” you are asking yourself. Well, you’re not, really, except for this part: one of my friends who was at the reunion now lives in Brooklyn and is in a band, and it turns out they are insanely awesome. You guys, seriously. They’re called High Highs and they have four tracks available right now, either through iTunes or their website. They also have an album coming out in the fall.

So here’s my Song of the Day, ‘Open Season’ by High Highs. Enjoy!

Song of the Day: Sweet Disposition

sweet disposition

I heard this song, by Australian band The Temper Trap, recently on an episode of Greek (which is tragically now off the air, but I managed to record some episodes on my DVR and have been catching up on them this past week). Sweet Disposition plays during a scene in which one of the frat houses throws an epic End of the World party, during which Casey realizes that she’s still in love with her ex-boyfriend, lovable slacker Cappie. She breaks up with her current boyfriend Max and declares her love for Cappie, but he tells her it won’t work out between them. Luckily we know that he secretly still loves her too, because he sits on a rooftop looking melancholy while this song plays in the background. You will no doubt be reassured to know that Cappie and Casey do eventually end up together. I haven’t seen the rest of the seasons (damn you DVR for not taping anything past this episode!!) but I watch a lot of TV and I know how these things work. In teen-oriented dramas, the star-crossed main couple ALWAYS ends up together. It’s like a law or something (the only exception I can think of being Joey choosing Pacey instead of Dawson, but by then we were all rooting for Pacey anyway, amiright? Joshua Jackson, I LU, call me!)

ANYWAY. Sweet Disposition was used perfectly in this context since it’s exactly the type of song employed to great effect in television/movies (teen or otherwise) to express romantic longing, particularly the moment when a character comes to a realization about their feelings for someone. I am a complete sucker for these moments. If you’re reading this right now and thinking to yourself “God, Spencer is SUCH a girl,” you are absolutely correct. Hearing this song got me thinking about the best date I had in high school. It was with a boy I had a super huge crush on, and we watched Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure together. If that doesn’t sound particularly romantic to you, what can I say — I really love that movie. Not only is it a classic, it is now forever linked in my mind with that wonderful/horrible/excruciating feeling you get when you like someone and you aren’t sure if they like you…..but then YES! it turns out that they totally like you too and it is AWESOME. Sigh…

So that’s why Sweet Disposition is my song of the day — because it reminded me of lying on a couch with my high school crush watching one of the best movies of all time & wondering if he was going to kiss me (he did — YAY!) The ability to transport you back to an exact moment in time like that, now that’s the power of a great pop song.

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