We bring you some of our favourite tracks from around the world.
Tous Les Mêmes- Stromae
Belgian-born Stromae, best known for his world-renowned hit ‘Alors on danse’, blends his love for hip-hop with electronic music. While many probably love the catchy dance tunes that he creates, his lyrics address many issues regarding absent parents, isolation, and race and gender roles. ‘Tous Les Mêmes’ somewhat controversially addresses the role of genders in the lyrics, as it is a dialogue between romantic partners. Stromae effectively depicts the different stereotypical behavioral traits and attitudes of men and women. In the music video, Stromae is dressed half as a man and half as a woman, which is most noticeable with his hair and green light effects for Stromae and pink for Stromaette. In the beginning, it seems that he is defending women for the mens’ seduction. But as the song progresses, he depicts the way in which women tend to also act in relationships, emphasizing paradoxical reasoning i.e. saying one thing but meaning the other. However at the end, Stromae clearly stresses both men and women are equally responsible for a relationship’s health. Overall, Stromae combines both catchy uplifting beats with meaningful lyrics, which tends to be left out in many mainstream songs.
On Top- Flume feat. T. Shirt
Flume, aka Harley Streten, started producing music at the age of 13 and released his debut self-titled album in 2012, peaking at number 1 on the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association). Flume genuinely has a wide electronic palette, cohesively crafting compositions with elements of hip-hop, ambient pop, and R&B. Flume has regularly teamed up with Chet Faker, an up and coming soul singer, and produced bangers such as ‘Drop the Game’ and ‘Left Alone’. However, the track that caught my eye the most is ‘On Top’ featuring New York based rapper T. Shirt. In general, I’m honestly not the biggest fan of MCs spitting over EDM tracks, but the combined effort of T. Shirt’s flow and Flume’s instrumentals really did work well together, especially with the progression of melody and bars throughout the song.
Que Bonito – Bomba Estéreo
Bogota’s finest Bomba Estéreo describe their music as “electro vacilón” or tropical electro or “psychedelic cumbia”. Cumbia is a diverse music genre finding its origins in Colombia and Panama. Beginning as a courtship dance in the 19th century, Cumbia is a cultural fusion of native Colombian and Panamanian sounds, infused with Spanish and African influences. Bomba Estéreo undoubtedly adds a whole new dimension and modern take on this eclectic genre. Qué Bonito is the epitome of Bomba Estéreo’s kaleidoscopic style as it is influenced by traditional asymmetric Afro-Latin beats and blended with futuristic sounds. \
Shiki no Uta – Nujabes & MINMI
Nujabes, or Jun Seba (spelt backwards), was one of Japan’s major hip-hop producers and has released two albums Metaphorical Music and Modal Soul. ‘Shiki no Uta’ translated as Song of the Seasons, which was originally ‘Beat Laments the World’ in Metaphorical Music, is a solid track driven by mesmerizing and mystical melodies and syncopated beats, fusing both elements of jazz and R&B. MINMI, a Japanese singer-songwriter as well as hip-hop, reggae and soca musician, eloquently incorporates powerful imagery and literary devices in her yearning yet inspiring lyrics (http://www.animelyrics.com/jpop/minmi/shikinouta.htm) personifying each season most prominently in the chorus and ultimately puts the icing on the cake. Unfortunately, in 2010 Nujabes passed away in a car crash in Tokyo, yet his music and spirit lives on. RIP.
Saree Ke Fall Sa- Nakash Aziz and Antara Mitra
Saree Ke Fall Sa, from the Bollywood movie, R…Rajkumar, has always been one of my favorite tunes to get myself up and going. This song is about a guy who is in love with a girl wearing a saree and he metaphorically expresses how he is the one for her by comparing his qualities with the fall of her saree. Fall is the cloth sewn at the bottom of a saree that makes it thicker and more durable. The vivacious beat with the tuneful instruments is so energetic and always brightens my day, especially in old grey St Andrews.
O Caminho do Bem- Tim Maia
I originally heard O Caminho do Bem from the movie City of God and instantly fell in love with the beat, Tim Maia’s voice, and last but not least the funky clavinet riff. After spending time in the US as an illegal teenage immigrant, Tim Maia became the major pioneer of the revolutionary movement, Black Rio. Maia transformed Brazilian music by appropriating American soul and funk music with local genres such as bossa nova, samba, and baião. Although this movement was most prominent in the music industry, fans of this movement began to adopt African-American culture, mostly in fashion. It has come to the point where it is obligatory to play Tim Maia at any party in Brazil regardless of social status, exemplifying his musical significance in Brazil.
Eat you up- BoA
BoA originally made her debut when she was only 13 years old with her single ID; Peace B and has come a long way since then as she is 28 and big in both the K-Pop and J-Pop scene. Her multilingual singing in Korean, Japanese, Chinese and English has let her dominate much of Asian music industry but also allowed her to extend her reach to the West. Eat You Up was actually one of my favorite songs and music videos in 2008 and it turns out the instrumentals, except for the drums and singing (of course), are set in reverse (which I didn’t realize until recently). This song is quite unique compared to much of Asian pop since it really does have an urban feel to it. Additionally, the video truly displays BoA’s edge since her techniques are quite different from other K-Pop music videos and her dance moves really do stick out. In the music video, BoA exposes an air of confidence and goes to a dance audition with her friends where her force is so strong that it destroys the audition hall, which really works well with the lyrics.
Things Will Never Be the Same – jj
This track is definitely one of my favorites from Sweden’s enigmatic duo JJ. The song’s melodic sea-punky synths and violins coupled with Elin Kastlander’s atmospheric voice sounds distinct from other experimental bands. JJ playfully experiments with a plethora of genres, synthesizing their own idiosyncratic style- I couldn’t even exactly pinpoint what genre they are. They have sampled much pop and hip-hop tracks either exclusively in their lyrics or instrumentals including Miley Cyrus’ ‘We Can’t Stop’ in ‘Dean & Me’ and Weezy’s ‘Lollipop’ in ‘Ecstasy’. However, JJ manages to abstract the samples to the point where they almost become unnoticeable but still do a great job creating such a unique vibe.
Words: Siv Nilsson