The Sound of Music’s Worst Song – Random Musings

Note: In this post, I refer to The Sound of Music as a “movie.” Yes, I am aware that it is a musical and was a musical before it was a movie. Yes, I have seen both movie and musical multiple times. The song and its placement is the same in both, and since I am more familiar with the movie and I would imagine that is the case for most people, I am looking at this scene as it appears in the film. 


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Okay, before you begin to reach for your battle gear, let me say: I LOVE The Sound of Music. It’s easily in my top ten favorite movies of all time. I’ve seen it more times than I can count, and I could probably quote the whole thing if given some time to do a few more rewatches.

But there’s one part of The Sound of Music that’s always set my teeth on edge. It’s the scene where Maria has just left the Von Trapps and returned to the abbey, where she tells the Mother Abbess that she might be in love with the Captain. Maria is looking for advice, and at first she gets it – the Mother Abbess tells her that she has to go back to the family, she can’t run away from her problems. But the main piece of advice is of course supposed to be delivered through song, this being a musical and whatnot. Therefore, we must consider the Mother Abbess’s main piece of advice to be the song she sings, which takes us to “Climb Every Mountain.” And what does this song tell Maria to do?

Climb every mountain
Search, high and low
Follow every byway
Every path you know

Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
‘Till you find your dream

Ugh.

Basically, the Mother Abbess just handed Maria a musical Hallmark card. Every line of this song is one cliché after the next. Worst of all, it does absolutely nothing to help Maria.

True, the song does fit in nicely with the ending of the movie, where the family literally has to climb mountains to escape Austria, but that only makes the song worse. It almost sounds like it was written solely to be a nice little cap on the story, and then they realized they’d have to include it in the middle of the movie somewhere for the song itself to make sense.

If someone came to you and told you that they might be in love with someone and they were afraid to face this person, what advice would you give them? I’m serious – what would you say? Remove this scene and the song from your mind and imagine that Maria is coming to you instead of the Mother Abbess. What would you tell her?

I don’t know about you, but I certainly wouldn’t tell her to go climb a mountain and follow a rainbow. I’d most likely get a blank stare of confusion back. And, come to think of it, we never see Maria’s response or really any reaction to this song. Because well, how do you react to it? I’ve always imagined Maria saying afterwards “Well, that’s lovely, Reverend Mother, but what should I say to the Captain?”

Even the song itself isn’t very good, especially when you compare it to the others. It’s slow, it’s uninteresting, and, depending on my mood, unbearably screechy. Unlike the other songs in the musical, which say something different as the song develops, “Climb Every Mountain” just repeats itself, except louder and in a different key. “But wait!” you protest. “Doesn’t ‘Edelweiss’ also repeat itself?” Not musically or thematically, no. “Edelweiss” is such a meaningfully subtle song that it fits in well with the scenes in which it appears. It’s true to the story and characters. It is a song that could only be from The Sound of Music. 

“Climb Every Mountain” has no character. There’s no place for it. It’s so generic that you could honestly put it within any scene and it still wouldn’t make that much sense. Most of all, it’s a drop in the level of sophistication in songwriting, particularly lyrically, that we’ve seen from all the other songs in this movie. The other songs are masterfully crafted both lyrically and musically. But not this one. It’s almost like Rodgers and Hammerstein were told they needed to write a song at the last minute and this is what they came up with in their sleep. And the person playing the Mother Abbess in the movie was told she needed to make it as operatic and screechy as possible to give the song some sort of character, even if it was painful.

I kid you not – when I looked at “Climb Every Mountain” on lyric websites, this is how the last verse was transcribed. (Click here if you don’t believe me.)

Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
‘Till you find, your dre-e-e-e-e-e-e-eam!

That’s 8 e’s. And an exclamation point.

Now, before you all begin conspiring to kill me, let me say again: I love The Sound of Music. This does not ruin the experience of watching the movie for me. It just makes it temporarily unbearable, is all.

And if you like the song, fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. But for me personally, I don’t see what purpose the song serves to the story, characters, or overall theme of the film. I mean, is the theme of The Sound of Music follow your dreams? Is that really what it is?

I mean, I guess you could argue that is the theme in some general, generic sense, but I think the movie goes deeper than that. The other songs go deeper than that. Even the cutsie, fun songs which don’t really go too deep go deeper than “follow every rainbow till you find your dream.”

Ugh. 

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A Look At Billboard – Week of 7/11/14

All right, so you’ve probably noticed that the title of this post isn’t “Billboard Top 10” as it usually is. That’s because I’ve decided to become even more annoying with these Billboard posts and basically just jump around Billboard’s list and talk about whatever I find, mainly because I’m sick of talking about the same songs over and over again, or having nothing to say about a certain song. Hopefully I will be able to address new songs and new artists I haven’t before, as well as refresh certain views on artists I have talked about before.

Speaking of which, let’s start with a little band called Maroon 5.

9. “Maps” by Maroon 5

There are many things in this world I hate, and one of those things is Maroon 5. But I’ve realized recently that hate might really be geared towards the main face of the band, Adam Levine. You see, I’ve heard bands that create the same bland, boring songs over and over again (*cough* Coldplay), but there are very few bands whose lead singer’s voice closely resembles an autotuned injured wolf. Every time Adam Levine goes into the falsest of autotuned falsettos, I kind of want to punch something.

“Maps” is no different from any other Maroon 5 song – boring, bland, and incredibly annoying. Because of this, I find that in order to even tell one song apart from the other I have to watch the music videos, which is unfortunate, because Maroon 5’s music videos are just…awful.

The music video for “Maps” features a woman whom Adam Levine apparently had a relationship with getting hit by a car, and we have to watch people bring her bloody, dismembered body into the emergency room, and then Adam Levine sings a song that is, of course, all about him and how she treated him terribly.

Wow. Adam Levine, you are a reprehensible human being. Please stop trying to make music.

All right, moving onto #5.

Who the hell is Sam Smith?

5. “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith

First of all, Sam Smith, if that is his real name, should probably have changed it to something a little more memorable. I mean, you don’t get much more boring than that. Sam Smith. This poor guy is going to be gone by next month. Unless, of course, his music is good enough to keep him in the spotlight.

Which, it isn’t, really, but I will cut “Stay With Me” a little bit of slack because while I don’t think it’s good, I don’t really think it’s bad, necessarily. I like the layers of harmony on the chorus, I like the one itsy bitsy chord that, for a brief moment in time, verges away from the four chords of pop. The song would be improved if Sam Smith didn’t sound like he was singing with a pillow over his face, but I honestly can’t bring myself to hate this one too much. I don’t see it sticking around, but my predictions have been wrong before.

7. “Summer” by Calvin Harris

I’m not at all familiar with Calvin Harris, so I have to ask: does he sound like he has the flu on all of his songs?

11. “Latch” by Disclosure feat. Sam Smith

Bland. And Sam Smith’s voice goes from muffled to annoying.

28. “Me And My Broken Heart” by Rixton

Who the hell is Rixton??! What is happening to Billboard?

I actually think I could get into this song, if I were in a good mood. It uses a chord progression (or almost uses it) that I haven’t heard in a while and is welcome, although I wish they could have used it like Al Stewart did in “The Palace of Versailles.” Which is, like, the best song ever.

2. “Rude” by MAGIC!

I very much appreciate the reggae beat. Now, if only I could erase the premise and the lyrics of this song (neither of which are very good) every time I hear it, it might be a little more enjoyable. Still, I can’t pretend like I hate it.

Oh, yeah, and MAGIC! is possibly the dumbest name for a band.

Ever.

15. “Break Free” by Ariana Grande ft. Zedd

Ariana Grande wasn’t too successful with her huge hit “Problem,” in my opinion, but she’s talented enough to redeem herself. Although teaming up with Zedd, who did the abomination of a song “Clarity,” doesn’t give me much hope.

(After listen)

…Boooring. Moving on.

14. “Classic” by MKTO

Eh…it’s okay, I guess. I certainly don’t hate it. I do wish it actually sounded more “classic.”

16. “Amnesia” by 5 Seconds of Summer

First observation: if you want to be a successful, chart-topping music group, naming your band “5 Seconds of Summer” probably isn’t the smartest idea.

Second observation: I think I’ve heard this song ten million times, under different names by different artists.

Third observation: 5 seconds of summer is probably all 5 Seconds of Summer is going to get on Billboard, relatively speaking.

20. “Boom Clap” by Charli XCX

This song is literally the most annoyingly dangerous thing in the universe. I almost didn’t put it on this list because I knew once I typed the title it would start playing in my head and never ever leave. I’m serious. It’s an absolute parasite of a song. It will suck out your major thought processes and leave you with nothing but a loud, obnoxious pop song playing in your head for eternity. Don’t listen to this song if you haven’t done so yet. Escape it while you can.

17. “Chandelier” by Sia

I can’t understand a single word she’s singing. She sounds drunk.

38. “Come With Me Now” by KONGOS

Now THAT’S what I’m talking about! Accordions! Guitar solos! ROCK! Actual rock chords and beats and vocals! YES!! ME LIKE!

Other observations…

I’m glad to see Coldplay’s song has dropped so low. I’m also sad to see that the Michael Jackson/Justin Timberlake song has as well. 😦 Much sadness.

Does Ed Sheeran only release songs with one-word titles?

Jason Derulo really has a song called “Trumpets,” which I assume is composed of the leftover sound bites from “Talk Dirty.”

There’s a new Iggy Azalea song at #97 right now. Why do I have a feeling it’s going to be higher?

Upcoming Reviews

Hello invisible audience, I just thought I’d give everyone an update on what my plans are for future reviews and stuff, since I’ll have a little more time now and because you really, really wanted to know. I can tell.

I thought I’d just go by category, since I’m crazy enough reviewing a bunch of different entertainment mediums anyway.

Books – this category has been pretty stagnant for a while now. Books are the most time-consuming things I review, since they take the longest to get through and I usually don’t bother writing a review for one if I don’t have much to say; it’s just not worth the effort. That’s why I rarely read books solely for the purpose of reviewing them. If I happen to read a book that I think warrants a review, I’ll go ahead and do one, but you really can’t tell which books those will be until you, well, read them.

That being said, I am going to do a review of The Hobbit pretty soon, mainly because I am planning to watch the movies, which I haven’t seen yet, and I’ve been rereading the book in order to prepare. Since I’m going to post reviews of both the movies, I figured I might as well do one for the book too. So keep an eye out for that sometime soon.

Movies – Like I said above, I’m planning to watch both Hobbit movies and do reviews on them. I’m a little scared based on what I’ve heard about them so far, but I will try and ignore all other opinions in order to form my own.

Aside from The Hobbit, I think I might try to do all the X-Men movies, or at least watch all of them, sometime this summer. That’s right, I haven’t seen any of the X-Men movies, and I really hope I don’t have to have much background in terms of the comic books or the TV show because I really don’t have that kind of time. It may or may not happen depending on my schedule and how much time I want to give the series, but I’m curious about the franchise, especially about this new movie that has just come out and is supposed to be very good. We shall see.

Music– Music is the easiest and most flexible category simply because it doesn’t take as much time (apart from the Top 10 list, which took forever). I literally do music reviews whenever I feel like it, and I will review anything, except for rap, since I don’t know anything about it.

Everything Else – Short stories are whenever I have time. Random stuff is whenever the spirit moves me. X-Files reviews are also on a whenever-I-have-time basis, although I think I might try and start a regular schedule with those. We’ll see.

Oh wait, one more thing– This is my second shameful attempt at self-advertising. If you happen to like something you’ve read in this blog, share it! Help a writer out, will ya?

Thanks everyone. Hope to review lots more soon! 🙂

Music Review – Al Stewart

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We’re going back in time, folks.

Al Stewart has been one of my favorite artists for a very long time and it’s a little sad he isn’t better known. For those who are familiar with music from the 70’s, he’s the guy who wrote the song/album “Year of the Cat” and “Time Passages.” Both of which are really good albums, but he’s made more. A lot more.

What appeals to me about Al Stewart is, of course, highly personal. As a soon-to-be history major, I rejoice at any historical reference made in songs, books, movies, etc. Al Stewart is a history buff and many of his songs are about just that – history. It’s extremely refreshing to listen to songs that are about things that actually happened, and not just vague love ballads. I mean, I love vague love ballads as much as the next person, but we have plenty of them. Plenty. What we need are more songs about the French Revolution, the Winter of 1708-1709 in Western Europe, female pilot Amy Johnson, the League of Nations, English Naval Commander Lord Grenville, immigration to the United States in the late 19th – early 20th centuries, and 29th US president Warren G. Harding. And yes, Al Stewart has written songs about all of those things.

My inner history geek persona is salivating right now.

Did I mention he’s British?

And Al is short for Alistair?

And Jimmy Page played on one of Al’s earliest albums, pre-Led Zeppelin?

And that he’s a wine collector?

And that even though he hasn’t enjoyed as much fame as many other artists he still continues to make music, simply because he enjoys it?

Al Stewart is probably the most consistently good lyricist I’ve heard, especially for the amount of work he’s done. You could literally take 90% of his songs and read them as poems, and they’d be absolutely lovely. They’re very word-heavy and vocabulary-rich, but not in an overwhelming or convoluted way.

For first-time listeners, I would recommend starting with the albums Year of the Cat and Time Passages, since that’s classic Al Stewart and they’re both just fantastic albums. But I also really love 24 Carrots, which is probably his best album in terms of how it works as a whole, and Modern Times.

Have a listen! He really is one of my favorites.


For the extra curious, here’s a link to Al Stewart’s website and Wikipedia Page.

 

A Look at Billboard Top 10 – Week of 4/12/14

Life has been so busy these past few weeks that you can imagine my excitement when I had a few spare moments and thought to myself, “Oh, goody! I can make a blog post! Let’s look at the Billboard Top 10!”

Yeah, not much is different from when I last looked.

Sure, things have gotten shuffled around a bit and there are some new additions to the Top 10, but all in all it’s still essentially the same list. “Happy” is still No. 1, although in my opinion it’s well-deserved, and we still have that abomination of a song by Katy Perry, whose managers must have pulled some strings somewhere because I cannot fathom how such a dull, plodding song is at No. 3. “All of Me” is still at the top and is as bland as ever, and Lorde’s “Team” is surprisingly still very high.

But we do have some new songs on there, so let’s take a look.

First of all, I have to mention “Let It Go,” which is the obvious one. People have been freaking out so much over this song (and the movie) that it’s almost impossible for this song not to be in the Top 10 – in fact, it’s at No. 5 and I’m surprised it isn’t higher. I’ll say for the record that I don’t dislike this song, although I did not think it was the best one from the movie and I’ve never been a fan of Idina Menzel. I suppose I’m just tired of it. But it’s a good song. I must be fair.

I can’t stand “Pompeii,” which shouldn’t be an enormous surprise to those who have read my “Top Ten Worst Songs of 2013” post. I just don’t like music of this sort – indieish British bands who try to make universal anthems about NOTHING. This song’s premise is stupid, its lyrics are stupid, its music is unremarkable and it frustrates me deeply.

I tried to listen to “The Man,” but found it so unfulfilling I didn’t make it past 45 seconds.

“Turn Down For What” is not a song, but a conglomeration of the various noises emitted by autotuned robot chipmunks. It is unbearable.

Glancing past the top 10…

No. 11, “Best Day of My Life,” has raffle lyrics worse than Maroon 5’s “Daylight” (see Top Ten Worst Songs of 2013 for a definition of “raffle lyrics”).

No. 12 – I remember nothing about it except it’s not worth clicking on the open tab to see what the title of the song is.

No. 13 – Ke$ha. That is all.

No. 14 – JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE STOP BEING TALENTED AND MAKING SHITTY SONGS.

No. 15 – See No. 12

No. 16. “Hey Brother” by Avicii. Didn’t like it.

No. 17 – “Drunk in Love” by Beyonce – I don’t know what to say about this song except that I feel incredibly dirty for some reason whenever I listen to it. Ugh. Makes me shudder.

No. 18 – One Direction sucks

No. 19 – “Say Something” Oh, good, it seems to be losing popularity. I’ve developed a real hatred for this song since my last Billboard post. What an utterly talentless attempt at meaningful songwriting.

No. 20 – #SELFIE Is not a song. It’s a joke.

It’s a joke, right?

Right?