Let’s hear from the ladies

My job as a copywriter means that most of my day at work is spent typing away at a computer. And our department’s unhealthy obsession with Slack means that we don’t talk too much out loud (look, you can’t speak a giphy of a kitten), so I usually have my headphones in. And since there’s only so many times I can listen to the music from Hamilton*, I generally turn to podcasts.

One thing I really like about podcasts is that, like other maker-focused platforms such as YouTube, there is room for a hugely diverse array of voices. Not relying on traditional production/publishing means that you can find podcasts about any topic, created by any type of person. While I listen to podcasts ranging from the paranormal to the musical to the educational to the financial, one of my favourite things about podcasts is how many are female-created and female-focused. Here are a few of my top picks:

*just kidding, I could listen to it on repeat for forever

 

Stuff Mom Never Told You

Who hosts it: Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin

What it’s about: How Stuff Works has a number of podcasts (another one shows up later on this list!) but Stuff Mom Never Told You is definitely my favourite. Some episodes focus on historical events or figures that may have been misrepresented or ignored in popular media and education; others explain common things  that often affect women like colorism, cuddling, and comics.

Check out this episode: Feminist Witchcraft

Continue reading “Let’s hear from the ladies”

Advertisements

Shakira, self-titled & Juanes, Loco de Amor (both 2014)

shak album

If I say I love Shakira, there may be one or two people who know me that might be surprised, but probably they already know too. (Certainly anyone who has ever gotten drunk with me is aware, given that for some reason one of my favourite topics of drunk conversation is how, while Shakira and her footballer boyfriend Gerard Piqué are a cute couple, she is a goddess and could still do so much better). Anyway, my adoration of her makes me predisposed to love anything she does, including her new, eponymous album. Still, even stepping away from my massive bias, I can say with certainty that Shakira is weird and wonderful and great.

Although there are a few of her songs that I adore in any language, I’ve always preferred Shakira’s Spanish music to her English songs, whether it is because the lyrics make more sense when not translated to fit the melody or just because I think her voice is meant for the language. I wish there were more Spanish songs on this album, but “Loca por Ti” is a gorgeous track that reminds me of Sale el Sol. And I definitely prefer the Spanish version of her first single, “Nunca Me Acuerdo de Olvidarte,” to the English.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy Shakira’s English music nearly as much. I immediately loved her second single, “Empire,” and so far it remains my favourite track on the album. It reminds me in a way of a James Bond theme in the way it starts slow and relies on Shakira’s vocals to soar. Surprisingly, a song I really enjoyed upon first listen was “Medicine,” the country track featuring Shakira’s The Voice co-judge Blake Shelton. Although I’m generally not a fan of country music or Shelton’s work in particular, Shakira’s famous vibrato is perfect for the genre and she harmonises well with Shelton; it’s not a great song, but it’s so earnest I find myself liking it anyway. Another track I love is “Chasing Shadows,” written by Sia, with the blend of beauty and quirkiness that is pretty much the epitome of all things Shak.

A few of the songs are cringe-worthy on the level of Taylor Swift’s most preteen-obsessive: mainly “23,” the track most obviously written about Piqué, and the bland but probably radio-friendly “Spotlight.” While Shakira has had some notably weird lyrics in the past (“lucky that my breasts are small and humble so you don’t confuse them with mountains“), “Girl meets a boy / surrender to his charms / leaves her old boyfriend / and crumbles in his arms” aren’t interesting enough to be memorable, and the music sounds more like it could fit into Swift’s Red than Shakira’s oeuvre.

Others suffer from similarities to previous, superior works, like the duet with Rihanna, “Can’t Remember to Forget You,” which I can’t help but compare unfavourably to her “Beautiful Liar” duet with Beyonce. On the other hand, while “Dare (La La La)” is meant to be this World Cup’s “Waka Waka (Esto es Africa)” and it’s not as good as that (because let’s face it, there aren’t many songs better than “Waka Waka” and you’re lying to yourself if you don’t love it) I can still see myself listening to it on repeat while running, cleaning, doing homework… in pretty much all aspects of my life, as I do the earlier track.

Musically, the album has more interesting sounds than some of her recent work. As mentioned, there’s the country song, but on other tracks its a Caribbean vibe that reflects Shakira’s Barranquilla Colombian heritage, a power-rock sound on others, a few stripped-down ballads, and the usual bellydance-worthy pop music.

 

Continue reading “Shakira, self-titled & Juanes, Loco de Amor (both 2014)”