Modern Christmas Songs List for the Holidays

In just a few days, Christians all over the world will be celebrating Christmas. This means good food, Christmas songs, family get-togethers, presents, Christmas tree, Nightmare before Christmas and Santa Claus. Some say that this is the most beautiful time of the year and if you agree, then we’re going to make it even more beautiful by compiling a traditional Christmas songs list for you. Start a new tradition this year and let Elvis or Celine into your house and let the old carols rest for a bit. Here are our picks for the best modern Christmas songs that will make the Holidays even better.

10. Dean Martin – White Christmas

This is as classical as modern gets! Famous Dean Martin’s version of White Christmas is so lovely and fairy-like that you’ll want to only listen to this song throughout December. If you do that and you find people randomly shouting at you to stop playing this song, get yourself a pair of headphones and press play with pride!

9. U2 – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

One of the greatest rock bands, U2, has made their version of the classic Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) and it’s really good. If you love U2 and Bono, we suggest you turn your volume way up and enjoy it with your neighbors.

8. Amy Grant – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

This woman really does sing like an angel and this version of the classic Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is really exquisite.

7. John Lennon – Happy Xmas (War is Over)

If you’re a child of the 60s or you simply love the amazing John Lennon, then you should play this song in your house around Christmas

6. Michael Bublé – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

If you’re not much of a rock lover, then we suggest you give Michael Bublé’s version of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). It’s much more mellow and smooth.

5. Taylor Swift – Christmas Must Be Something More

Seven years ago (yes, Taylor is old enough that we can say that little line), Taylor was a young country singer putting out songs like there was no tomorrow. Naturally, she had to put out a Christmas album, because money wasn’t going to enter her wallet just like that! It’s a nice, simple song that will make you love the new Taylor even more.

4. Celine Dion – So This is Christmas

What’s Christmas without a little bit of Celine? This woman can pretty much make any holiday better, with just her songs, so give this one a try!

3. Destiny’s Child – 8 Days of Christmas

If there’s one thing you can’t say about Destiny’s Child is that they’re timeless. They’re talented, beautiful and used to make nice music, but they’re not timeless. Still, this modern take on 8 Days of Christmas is quite funky and still very much cool.

2. Wham! – Last Christmas

If you can live through a Christmas without listening to Wham’s Last Christmas, then tell us how, because we believe it’s almost impossible. So why not embrace this lovely long and sing along with them! Last Christmas, I gave you my heart, but the very next day, you gave it away! Everybody, now!

1. Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas is You

There really can’t be Christmas without Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You, can there? Watching the video and listening to this Christmasy song gets you in the mood for Christmas!

What is your favorite modern Christmas song?

10 Top Pop Songs of 2014

A couple of artists like Pharrell and Pitbull proved once again they deserve the title of international stars, while other artists like Sam Smith and Meghan Trainor found their place on the burgeoning pop scene of 2014. These are the top pop songs you could still hear today on the radio, although they’ve been played all year long.

1. John Legend – All of Me

The piano power ballad created in 2013 is related to Legend’s fiancée, Chrissy Teigen. ‘All of Me’ is the third single from “Love in the Future”, but critics say it is the best example of Legend’s both soothing vocal range and his creative touch of keys.

2. One Republic – Counting Stars

One Republic hasn’t managed to come up with such a successful song since ‘Apologize’, which was released seven years ago. Although it hasn’t reached number one in the Billboard Hot 100, ‘Counting Stars’ spent an impressive 25 consecutive weeks in top 10. Reaching no 1 in the same week when Pitbull’s new single is a direct competitor seems quite of a challenge.

3. Pharrell Williams – Happy

Pharrell hit the jackpot once again. Without a doubt, ‘Happy’ was the song of the summer. After reaching the top, ‘Happy’ stayed among the first ten positions for almost half a year. The success makes sense, as ‘Happy’ was recorded in roughly the same period of 2013 as ‘Get Lucky’.

4. Katy Perry feat Juicy J – Dark Horse

Together, Perry and Juicy J wrote the lyrics to what turned out to be one of the biggest hits of the year. Reaching number one in February, ‘Dark Horse’ stayed in top ten for an impressive 22 weeks. From one point of view, the ‘Southern rap-techno mashup’ is a side of a mature Katy Perry.

5. Sia – Chandelier

This is Sia’s highest ranked song ever, although the Australian artist gradually climbed the stairs of success. Since working with Zero 7 in the early 2000’s, Sia wrote songs for Beyonce, Rihanna and many others. But ‘Chandelier’, a powerful, yet melancholic, electropop piece, showed that Sia is one of the most complex artists of the moment. So no surprises here, as Sia got everything right.

6. Pitbull feat Ke$ha – Timber

Talking about top pop songs without mentioning Pitbull would be a sacrilege. Whatever Pitbull touches, it turns into gold. ‘Timber’ reached no 1 in January and spent 17 weeks in top 10. Although Pitbull uses the same winning formula, this time he adds a touch of country and folk to get another thing going strong.

7. Iggy Azalea feat Charlie XCX – Fancy

This kind of full on chemistry between the two singers was a well-received surprise by both critics and larger audiences. In June, ‘Fancy’ enjoyed the first position in Billboard Hot 100. Overall, Azalea’s and Charli XCX’s biggest hit stayed in top ten for no less than 17 weeks.

8. Taylor Swift – Shake it Off

‘Shake it Off’ is Taylor Swift saying good-bye to country-pop, the style that made her famous. Along with its fifth album at just 24, Swift turns into a mature international music star. The uptempo pop hit spiced up with a sassy sax conquered the top in September. Now it’s still in the first 10 hottest hits.

9.  Sam Smith – Stay With Me

Critics stated that ‘Stay with Me’ is an instant classic. Sam Smith’s pop ballad highly benefits from its gospel themed chorus, which makes it stand out among other dramatic songs. ‘Stay with Me’ hadn’t managed to attain the first position, although it spent 21 weeks in top ten. The soul themed hit reached no. 2 in August.

10. Meghan Trainor – All About that Bass

Trainor conquered the top in September with this feminist anthem which still stands among the first 10 positions. Eighteen weeks and still going strong because the bubblegum pop retro piece ‘All About that Bass’ is incredibly catchy. There you have it, these are our choices for best pop songs of 2014!

5 Best Free Internet Radio Stations

It seems that the world is going in circles. While classical radios played a DJ’s selection, music lovers discovered streaming services. Pandora Internet Radio is a main choice for U.S., Australian and New Zealand users. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, Pandora is a country dependent service, like other music streaming services such as Spotify.

Even if actively discovering music is particularly rewarding, it can easily turn into a choir. Streaming services have some automated features, but listeners increasingly return to curated playlists. Now radio stations are online and most of them are listener-supported. We are going to focus on a couple of online stations with a hint of the old radio atmosphere. Check out 5 of the best free Internet radio stations!

1. SomaFM

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The San Francisco-based radio station offers more than 30 channels of carefully selected music. During the holiday season, four temporary stations take care of your Christmas mood. Although not a commercial radio station, SomaFM supports itself by selling the Android app and its iOS version, as well as through direct donations. SomaFM really manages to rise up to its presentation as an underground / alternative radio, as you’ll often find songs which are not featured on Youtube. Groove Salad offers downtempo grooves and beats, Secret Agent turns you into a 60’s spy. The list could go on, check it out at http://somafm.com.

2. Radio Paradise

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Paradise is Bill Goldsmith and his wife, Rebecca Goldsmith, who founded the online station back in 2000. Radio Paradise, named after the couple’s location, Paradise, California, is an “eclectic online rock radio”, although you’ll hear some electro and jazz from time to time. As a listener-supported station since its inception, Radio Paradise managed to survive for so long without any commercials. Check out one of the pioneers of online radio at http://www.radioparadise.com.

3. KEXP

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The Seasttle-based radio station has quite a history. KEXP, what was then KCMU, is the first online radio to offer 128 kps 24/7 in 2000. The station witnessed the upcoming of the local grunge scene (Soundgarden members even worked at KEXP). If you’re into indie and alternative rock, you’re probably already acquainted with the station’s rich Youtube channel. Numerous famous bands visit KEXP’s headquarters while in Seattle to play a few songs and answer some well-crafted questions. Check it out at http://www.kexp.org.

4. WFMU

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Doing justice to WFMU’s history in just a couple of lines is quite a challenge. The listener-supported station, named by the Rolling Stones the best radio station in the country several years in a row at the beginning of the 90s, is famous for its successful freeform radio format. Jersey City-based WFMU is more than just good music. Besides rock and roll, experimental, jazz and psychedelia, you’ll hear classic radio airchecks and cooking instructions. Enjoy it at http://wfmu.org.

5. Nicecream FM

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The guys from That Couch Funk Collective, a Bucharest, Romania-based group of DJs, decided to stream their favorite music in April 2013. If you’re into reworked 70’s funk and soul, as well as other neighboring genres, check out Nicecream FM, where you’ll have “laidback grooves with a slice of panda funk”. No disturbing ads will affect your experience, although this is a free internet radio. Moreover, while listening to those groovy beats, including the smooth bossa nova, you can enjoy a trove of carefully selected retro-inspired photos on the background. Listen to it at http://nicecream.fm.

The Top Country Songs to Re-Hear in 2014

Now, before anybody gets upset, nobody’s claiming 2014 isn’t a good year for country. You can find plenty of top ten type of lists of the best 2014 songs the genre had to offer, but this is not one of them. All we’re doing is revisiting some of the top country songs of the last few decades that we feel must be given another listen. We assume everyone is familiar with tunes from — well — old times, such as the classic Hank Williams, Dolly Parton or Johnny Cash, so the list will consist only of songs that came after 1990. So, without further ado, here is a list of 5 top country songs from the last 25 years that you should add to your current iTunes playlist this week.

 

1.     Kacey Musgraves – Follow Your Arrow (2013)

Despite scandalizing a segment of the country music audience with its “girls-kissing-girls” and drug references, Kacey Mysgrave’s rebellious far from romantic lyrics had a great reception among the genre’s younger fans. She released four albums between 2002 and 2008, yet remained firmly underground until she signed with Mercury Nashville in 2012, which lead to her fifth album making it to top 10: shooting straight to number  1 in US Country chart and number 2 on Billboard. By the looks of it, Musgrave’s — let’s say — modern approach in this line of music, is helping her career as one of the young country artists that you should keep an eye on.

2.     Dixie Chicks – Goodbye Earl (1999)

Before finding themselves in the middle of an Iraq War controversy in 2003 for their comments critical of George Bush, the Texas born Dixie Chicks had some of the top country songs of the 90s. The one you give another listen to in 2014 is another source of controversy, the light-hearted, yet sad Goodbye Earl which, alongside its video, gives the story of two friends taking revenge on one of their male partners for domestic abuse. While the frank depiction of abuse was shocking for those who saw it as being inconsistent with the song’s fun melody, others saw it a story of female empowerment.

3.     Taylor Swift – Mean (2010)

Taylor Swift was only twenty when she released “Speak Now”, but it was already her 3rd album and, since her 2006 self-titled debut she had already experienced her share of negative media attention. This song came as a comeback of sorts at the sort of criticism she deemed as being not constructive, but just mean. Seeing how since 2010, Taylor Swift has become one of the celebrities that is, for weeks on end, attacked by the media for her private life, it doesn’t seem to have shamed the celebrity gossip rags too much. However, almost a decade from her debut she is one of the top selling artists today, receiving a great deal of love from some critics, such as Billboard’s top 20 Taylor Swift hits list, and her being seemingly ever present on radio top 100.

4.     Shania Twain – You’re Still the One (1997)

Could there be a list of country songs from the last 25 years that doesn’t include Shania Twain? Maybe, but it would be a very good one. One of the largest stars of the 90s and early 2000s, Shania Twain played her role in popularizing her music way beyond the borders of the usual genre audience and this song was one of the reasons why that happened. In 2004, Twain retired from performing due to vocal chords issues, but made a triumphal return in 2012 and has announced work on a new album. What better time to get back into some of her top country songs?

5.     Johnny Cash – Hurt (2002)

Now, this song may not be quite the right country song to play at a summer karaoke party or dance on at a wedding for more than one reason. One would be that it was sang by Johnny Cash quite a while after he departed from his country roots and the other one being that it is a cover of the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails. Nonetheless, the intensity with which Cash sang the song, paired with the fact that it was one of his final releases makes “Hurt” an absolute milestone. Trent Reznor, who first penned the song in 1994, was taken aback by Cash’s version, stating that “Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps… Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn’t mine anymore…”

The Amy Winehouse Rehab Story: Album and Struggle

When Amy Winehouse burst unto the British scene in the early 2000s with the cool and fresh take on soul that her debut album “Frank” held, she stood in stark contrast to the endless stream of talent show stars that were being churned each year. Moreover, she seemed to bring back not only a sort of music and style that was neglected by the mainstream for a few decades, but the kind of old-school cool that was missing from the music scene. Further down the line, when her off-stage antics of substance abuse overtook her career as the focus of media attention, the Amy Winehouse Rehab phenomenon and comparisons with the rock-stars of the 60s and 70s became even more appropriate, but increasingly tragic so, a story that culminated in her demise, age 27, in the summer of 2011. Here are 5 Amy Winehouse songs that complemented her life and struggles, and which you can watch on YouTube.

1. Rehab

In 2005 and early 2006 Winehouse went through a period of drinking, heavy drug use and weight loss, the first public signs of a future rollercoaster of such spells, issues augmented by the death of her grandmother in 2006, described as a “stabilizing influence”.  That period coincided with the writing of her sophomore album, “Back to Black”, which further increased her fame and visibility, becoming one of the best sold albums of the decade, for which mp3 versions millions of people rushed to download. It also included the mega-hit “Rehab”, an anthem of rejecting institutional support for her issues, which went on to become closely associated with her career and lifestyle. It’s a song that manages to live on in any version, be it the original or almost any remix.

2. I Hear Love Is Blind

Her love life was not spared the drama that the rest of her life was mired in, either. Throughout her 2 years-long marriage with Blake Fielder-Civil, the two were famous for having loud and violent arguments, with Winehouse admitting on several occasions of being violent against him after she had been drinking: “if he says one thing I don’t like then I’ll chin him”. Just a few months after their wedding, they were photographed in the street, bloodied and bruised, after an alleged fight. Later on, Winehouse spoke of the marriage as being “based on doing drugs”, while Fielder-Civil’s parents called for her fans to boycott her music, fearful that the two newlyweds would commit suicide together.

3. In My Bed

While on a break with her on-off boyfriend and future husband in 2006, Winehouse also dated singer-songwriter Alex Clare. The affair would have been easily forgotten if Clare wouldn’t have went ahead and sold the story to notorious, now-defunct, tabloid rag News of the World, which took a break from their usual Amy Winehouse Rehab Scandal coverage to  publish the piece under the now famous headline “Bondage Crazed Amy Just Can’t Beehive in Bed”. In addition of making for a great listen, watch the stunning video created for this song.

4. Back to Black

The end of her marriage was every bit as dramatic as the beginning. In January 2009, she was spotted in holiday in Santa Lucia with actor Josh Bowman, where she said that she was in love again and didn’t need any drugs, referencing the roles of drugs in her relation with Fielder-Civil and that “for the time being I’ve just forgotten I’m even married.” Shortly after, her husband filed for divorce and despite saying that she doesn’t want to divorce her husband and that “I still love Blake and I want him to move into my new house with me—that was my plan all along”, the divorce remained uncontested and was granted just a few months after. Undoubtedly, both the chords and lyrics meaning of this song remain, even after her demise, incredibly touching for her fans throughout the world.

5. You Know I’m No Good

A US reporter once described Winehouse as a “victim of mental illness in a society that doesn’t understand or respond to mental illness with great effectiveness”. She also described herself as being manic-depressive and her well known bouts of self-harm and generally self-destructive behaviour lead to her to seek assistance in having her involuntarily committed, just weeks after the “Amy Winehouse rehab miracle”, which was a two-week long voluntary admission to a treatment centre in early 2008. That year she quit illegal drugs, but ended up relying on alcohol to treat the withdrawal, a pattern that lead to her death by alcohol intoxication in 2011.