Wednesday, December 13, 2023

GL.23.01: Ilana Bergstrom


100 SONGS: Aaron Bergstrom
GL.23.02: Curt Trnka
GL.23.03: Marisa Plaice
GL.23.04: Isabel Vermaak
GL.23.05: Raffa Pantaleo
GL.23.06: Erik Kristjanson


Feels Good to Be 2023

100 gecs - “Dumbest Girl Alive” & “Hollywood Baby”

Look, I’m a California girl who’s been living in Amsterdam for five long Dutch winters, and whoever said “There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” was lying. (Apparently it was this guy.) Everyone deals with winter blues in their own ways, but for me, I decidedly need something stronger than happy lamps, hot yoga, and therapy. I need … 100 gecs.

After years of brushing them aside, I finally gave 100 gecs a proper listen when “Hollywood Baby” came out in February, and believe me I was SHOCKED when I realized that this is the musical ass-kick I require on those cold and dark days when I don’t want to leave my house. I know they’re probably a vocal coach’s worst nightmare, but Laura Les giving Wheatus and Dylan Brady giving Tom Delonge vocal drag makes me happy. The heavy Sum 41-style power chords energize me. This kind of music can get me through the winter!

A month later, my hyperpop-appreciation exploded when I listened to “Dumbest Girl Alive” for the first time. The THX deep note, the nü-metal guitar riff that makes you want Lil’ Jon to bellow “Let’s goooooo,” and the best “WOO!” of the year are only the beginning. To me this song is better than a triple-shot of espresso, and thank goodness because my stomach can’t actually handle so much caffeine at once.

boygenius - “Not Strong Enough” & “True Blue”

Wait, I’m not done talking about 100 gecs! Turns out, boygenius are massive fans of them as well, and they chose to end their shows this year with an “Dumbest Girl Alive” outro. Taste! And because boygenius fans are cuckoo (more on that in a sec), here’s a thread of videos showing it.

Okay, boygenius time. Things I like about them: nearly all of their songs, their recent appearance on SNL, and their fans who are, let’s say, older than 30 years of age.

What don’t I like about boygenius? Their baby fans. Seriously, are they okay? If you know a boygenius fan who’s younger than 30, can you please check whether they have had any food or water today? My goodness, I’ve never been to a concert like the one we saw them play in London this August. The band had to stop - no exaggeration - a dozen or so times MID-SONG to do safety checks on the audience.


boygeniusmania aside, all I can really say is that I think their music is great, and my two favorite tracks off of The Record happen to be “Not Strong Enough” and “True Blue.” (I’m a Phoebe sun, Lucy moon.) 

Spiritual Cramp - “Talkin’ On The Internet” & “Slick Rick”

Please welcome to the stage my newest favorite band, San Francisco’s own Spiritual Cramp! And when I say “newest” I mean I’d never listened to their music before until November. (Yes, last month.) And by “favorite” I mean the day I started listening to their absolutely excellent self-titled LP was the day I began planning a quick trip to Dublin to see them in concert. (It rocked.) Fast songs, high energy, A+ production, banger after banger. Doom Loop be damned, we have a lot to be proud of in SF.

Wednesday - “Bath County” & “Chosen to Deserve”

Wednesday, the band from North Carolina, not the Netflix show I couldn’t finish, is incredible. I’m amazed that such a young band can nail the essence of earlier decades so well while simultaneously maintaining a modern feel. In particular, “Bath County” has the coolness of the 90s and a song structure that delightfully drives Aaron crazy, while “Chosen to Deserve” just sounds like an instant classic; the kind of song that makes your mind do a double-take and wonder whether this came out in 1973 or 2023.  

White Reaper - “Pink Slip”

On one of my favorite podcasts, “24 Question Party People,” host Yasi Salek asks each of her musician guests what’s the biggest amount of money they’ve ever turned down. The guests tell stories about rejecting requests from political campaigns and various corporations, ranging from about $1500 to $1 million (omg Geoff Rickley, HOW?!). Recen​​tly Alicia Bognanno of the band Bully shared that she had once turned down a low-ball offer for one of her songs to play in a Taco Bell commercial. Well, I don’t know how much money Taco Bell offered White Reaper this year, but the boys decided to Live Más. Anyway, “Pink Slip” is my favorite track off their new album. And now I want Mexican food.

TORRES - “Collect”

Mackenzie Scott of TORRES (not to be confused with MacKenzie Scott of Bezos billions) called this track “the rage song I’ve been trying to write for years,” and, wow, it was worth the wait! Next time you’re pissed off, I highly recommend taking a little stomp around your neighborhood while BLASTING this song. If no one’s around, plan a perfectly timed karate kick or headbang at 2:26. 

Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers - “I Used To Be Fun”

If this is an example of them NOT being fun anymore, can you imagine how cool they must have been earlier? Aussies hold themselves to high standards!

Jessie Ware - “Pearls”

Speaking of fun, Jessie Ware seems to be the most fun mom around. 

Miley Cyrus - “Flowers”

I used to work in an office space that played the “Bruno Mars Radio'' playlist on repeat, and despite me trying to drown it out with my own headphones, I know songs like “When I Was Your Man” like the back of my hand. So the first time I heard “Flowers,” I turned into that awkwardly staring brown dog meme. Like, “wait a second, how do I already know the lyrics to this brand new song?” Fortunately, the internet immediately confirmed I was not psychic or anything, and, coincidentally, it was Miley’s ex-husband Liam Hemworth’s birthday. It was a Swift-esque move by Miley, and I respect it.

Caroline Polachek - “Welcome To My Island”

Some songs are “just good” until you hear them live, and Caroline Polachek makes sure you walk away from her performances with a whole new appreciation for her music because it’s not good, it's exceptional. “Welcome To My Island” is THE song with which to open a show, and it deserves a prime spot way up front in the HEY!list canon

Dua Lipa - “Dance The Night” & “Houdini”

I think these two Dua Lipa songs are interesting because one’s placement in a motion picture is everything … and the other just has a music video. 

Before Barbie, “Dance The Night” was a mid-tier forgettable pop song, during Barbie it was electric and instantly iconic, and after learning that Mark Ronson and Dua Lipa rewrote the lyrics after viewing its particular dance scene, everything clicked, just as it was designed to do. The extra effort from our give-us-nothing pop princess gave us a super cute moment of movie magic.

On the other hand, I loved “Houdini” instantly, and I give full credit to the bassline. Here’s what goes on in my head when I listen to it:

They say I come and I go *BAM*

Tell me all the ways you need me

I'm not here for long *BAM*

Catch me or I go Houdini

Those “bams” are me flipping my hair. Whether I’m running, dancing, grocery shopping, or sitting at home. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing or how nonsense the lyrics are, that beat controls me.

Ava Max - “Choose Your Fighter”


Jay Rock, Anderson .Paak, Latto - “Too Fast (Pull Over)”

God I hope this song makes Trina even half as happy as it makes me. 

Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar - “AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM”

I’ll take any excuse to include “AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM” on a 2023 list, but I’m especially grateful that the reason is Kendrick. This part?

What, wait, what? Ayy, what?

Go, Stink, fuck it up, go, Stink, fuck it up

Go, Stink, that's what's up, go, Stink, I'm in love 

I’m in love, too.

MUNA - “One That Got Away”

MUNA is hotter than ever, they opened for one of the world’s biggest tours this summer, and their music DOES NOT MISS. I can’t wait to see and hear what they do next.


Olivia Rodrigo - “all-american bitch” & “vampire”

I’ve heard plenty of elder millennials say things about wishing Olivia Rodrigo and her music were around when we were teenagers, but I personally disagree. Despite always having the taste for angsty, angry songs, I’m certain my snooty teenage self would’ve dismissed Olivia straight away due to her Disney background and her various cheerleader costumes. Luckily girls my age (39) know better ;) 

Both SOUR and GUTS open with angry, guitar-heavy tracks that I - a geriatric Olivia fan - can unabashedly enjoy. She knows her age AND the quiet/LOUD formula for success. A young woman snarling the line “I know my place and this is it” just hits so hard. 

“vampire,” on the other hand, exemplifies a different kind of female rage; the anger we feel towards someone who’s wronged us, as well as the anger we feel towards ourselves when we’re ashamed we let it happen. Vampiric metaphors aside, this theme is so relatable to women of all ages. 

Big Thief - “Vampire Empire”’

If there’s one music-appreciation lesson I’ve learned in the past five years, it’s that I shouldn’t jump to conclusions about Big Thief songs too quickly. Even if I don’t like them right away, I am wrong. The songs are right. I do not make these rules! My first listen to “Vampire Empire” left me feeling a little meh. Classic Ilana. But good thing I remembered the rules and kept listening to it. This song is awesome and I especially love the way Adrianne sings “falling, yeah” like a 90s rock goddess.

Blondshell - “Disappointment”

Speaking of the 90s, I’ll tell you what’s disappointing: the fact that Sabrina Teitelbaum was born after I owned No Need to Argue, the Cranberries album that I instructed my mom to buy for me in 1995 with the Wherehouse gift certificate that I received for my fifth grade graduation! I remember whose birthday party I attended that day, how I described the album art to my mom (“it’s the one with the couch”), and how happy I was to finally play “Ode to My Family” and “Zombie'' on cassette whenever I wanted. It was TEENAGER music, and it was A Very Big Deal that 10-year old me owned it. This is all to say that the songs on NNtA are incredibly important to me, and I think that Blondshell’s cover of “Disappointment” is goddamn gorgeous and beautiful. 

Indigo de Souza - “Younger & Dumber”

Uh oh, emotions! It’s hard to listen to this song without ruining your makeup - even Indigo herself couldn’t talk about it before we saw her play it live in July - so perhaps save it for a time when you’re ready to experience Big Feelings. It’s a tough listen but a beautiful reminder to be kind to both our current and younger selves; we’re all learning to outgrow our dumber years.

No comments:

Post a Comment