Category Archives: The 30 Day Song Challenge

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 10

Today’s category is…

A Relaxing Song.

Here are the staff picks:

Dan Milliken: “Can’t Go Back Now” – The Weepies

This husband-wife duo’s sound is mega-soothing, the perfect match for a song which gently nudges the listener to persevere through reality’s burdens and chores. When I need relaxation, it’s usually because I’ve stopped feeling like I can. This one helps me realign.

Tara Seetharam: “The Best Keeps Getting Better” – Alan Jackson

As melodramatic as it sounds, no song is truly “relaxing” for me because I have a hard time separating my emotion from music. The best I can come up with is a song that’s “comforting” – and what’s more comforting than signature Alan Jackson?

Kevin Coyne: “Coming Around Again” – Carly Simon

The hook is great, but there’s something so soothing about the instrumentation and her vocal delivery.  It’s actually a pretty sad song, but somehow sounds calming and even a little uplifting.

Leeann Ward: “If I Didn’t Know Any Better” – Alison Krauss & Union Station

There’s just something so soothing about the mix of this song’s melody, Krauss’s angelic voice and Jerry Douglas’ haunting dobro that always relaxes me.

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The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 9

Today’s category is…

A Song That Makes You Want to Dance.

Here are the staff picks:

Leeann Ward: “Cotton Eye Joe” – Rednex

Just as I don’t sing, I also don’t do much dancing. A song that makes me want to dance, however, should also double as my guilty pleasure choice. Chalk it up to association with childhood memories.

Dan Milliken: “Twistin’” – Bruce Robison

Robison is best known for piercing ballads like “Travelin’ Soldier” and “Angry All the Time,” but he can rock a lighthearted uptempo with the best of them, too. “Twistin’” will have you shaking around till you’ve ‘bout ripped your pants and broken your bones, just like the groovy tune’s narrator.

Tara Seetharam: “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows” – Justin Timberlake

My favorite off his kickass Future Sex/Love Sounds album. He literally commands you to dance in the middle of the song – and how can you not?

Kevin Coyne: “Runaround Sue” – Dion

I don’t dance. Sorry. But this is the song that makes my mom get up and dance, so that will have to do.

 

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The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 8

Today’s category is…

A Song That You Know All the Words To.

Staff Picks:

Kevin Coyne: “My Way” – Frank Sinatra

There’s gotta be a thousand songs I know all of the words to, but I’ll pick this one because it took me a while to anticipate all of the odd rhymes with “my way”, most especially the line about “each careful step along the byway.”  Plus I’m just going through a big Sinatra phase these days.

Leeann Ward: No Selection

When I was a kid, I was great at memorizing words, because I’d sing along with songs all the time. Somewhere in my early adulthood, however, I stopped singing around people, therefore, stopped singing along with songs as much. I don’t have a dramatic reason that I can pinpoint for not singing in front of people anymore (I can carry a tune pretty well, actually.), but I do know that not doing so has limited my ability for memorizing words to songs. This is the long way of admitting that I no longer know all the words to a song without having the song playing. Sad, isn’t it?

Dan Milliken: “Natalie’s Rap” – The Lonely Island featuring Natalie Portman

This 2006 SNL classic casts recent Oscar winner Portman as a staggeringly foul-mouthed gangsta rapper. A Dan’s-car staple.

Tara Seetharam: “Any Man of Mine” – Shania Twain

…right down to the shimmying, shaking and earthquake-making.

 

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The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 7

Today’s category is…

A Song That Reminds You of a Certain Event.

The staff picks are:

Tara Seetharam: “I Will…But” – SHeDaisy

My freshmen girls choir performed this song at our high school spring show ten years ago. The photos of me in a tacky red bandana halter top are painful, but the memories of my first taste of high school choir are precious.

Kevin Coyne: “I Wanna Be Sedated” – The Ramones

Our high school tradition was to rewrite a famous song to fit the occasion.  Nineties Manhattan hipsters that we were, we went eighties and the graduation song was “We’re Almost Graduated”, to the tune of the Ramones classic.

Our mascot was Karate Squid. We thought we were cool.

Leeann Ward: “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” – Alan Jackson

This is an obvious choice, but I can’t think of another song that has captured how I felt regarding an event better than this one does, right down to the “I Love Lucy reruns.”

Dan Milliken: “Your Cheatin’ Heart” – Hank Williams

Because it’s one of the only songs I can reliably conjure up out of the blue of my memory, it’s been a campfire singalong staple at all two of the camping trips I’ve taken in my adult life. Camping trips are the best.

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The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 6

Today’s category is…

A Song That Reminds You of Somewhere.

Here are the staff picks:

Leeann Ward: “American Pie” – Don McLean

This song and the album from which it comes reminds me of my childhood living room. My dad was almost as much of a music fan as me, but my mom was much more limited in the music that she could tolerate without considering it needless noise. Perhaps having so many children does that to a mother.

However, she never complained when this album was played, even at reasonable maximum volume. So, whenever I hear this song, I associate it with my childhood home, as part of its soundtrack.

Tara Seetharam: “As Long as You Love Me” – Backstreet Boys

I lived in Scotland when I was 12 for about a year, during which I may or may not have been mildly obsessed with the Backstreet Boys. This song –a favorite at my very first set of school dances– reminds me of the treasure trove of experiences I had that year.

Kevin Coyne: “Silent House” – Dixie Chicks

I associate Taking the Long Way with all the major life changes of my late twenties, as that album had so many songs that I was able to relate to because of the upheavals around me.  “Silent House” will always be associated with my childhood home, and how it moved from being a place where memories were created to a place that they were left behind.

 

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The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 5

Today’s category is…

A Song That Reminds You of Someone.

Here are the staff picks:

Leeann Ward: “I Love a Rainy Night” – Eddie Rabbitt

This song reminds me of a college friend who didn’t like country music, but loved rainy nights. After I introduced this song to her, it was the only country song that she could stomach. She’s gone because of a tragic car accident now, but I always think of her with amusement when I hear the song.

Dan Milliken: “Annie’s Song” – John Denver

I never actually got to meet the uncle this song reminds me of. He passed away in an accident in his early twenties. “Annie’s Song” was played at the funeral, and I see my Dad’s eyes travel back there every time he hears it.

Tara Seetharam: “In the Garden” – Elvis Presley

Presley did it well, but regardless of the artist, when I hear this song, I hear my grandma’s sweet soprano in my head. I am forever grateful to her for instilling in me a strong faith –by example, not words– and for giving me my mom, who is every bit as beautiful a human being as she was.

Kevin Coyne: “It Hurt So Bad” – Susan Tedeschi

Three of my best college friends and me, in a car, laughing so hard that we almost drove off the road as one of them sang along with the song. One of those perfect moments in time!

 

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The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 4

Today’s category is…

A Song That Makes You Sad.

Here are the staff picks:

Kevin Coyne: “No Time to Cry” – Iris Dement

Most songs that I find sad don’t have a lingering impact after the last note fades.  “No Time to Cry” cuts so close to the bone that it brings on waves of melancholy. It captures my reality closer than any other song. It’s ironic that a song that talks about suppressing grief so it doesn’t surface is the one that makes the suppressed grief surface.

Leeann Ward: “Goodbye” – Patty Griffin

Suddenly losing my mother-in-law less than a month ago makes this song cut close to the bone right now. I suspect it will for a long time.

Tara Seetharam: “We Belong Together” – Gavin DeGraw

Something about the combination of melody, urgency and DeGraw’s nuanced delivery hits my gut every time I hear this song.

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The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 3

Today’s category is..

A Song That Makes You Happy.

Here are the staff picks:

Tara Seetharam: “Born to Fly” – Sara Evans

Maybe it’s because it reminds me of my adolescence, or maybe it’s because it represents to me the last batch of great 90s-esque country music – but this song makes my heart smile.

Kevin Coyne: “Up!” – Shania Twain

Perhaps too obvious a choice, but its the best representation of Twain’s patented positivity.  The book and reality show are great, but I really hope she gets back in the studio soon!

Leeann Ward: “Say Hey (I Love You)” – Michael Franti & Spearhead

This song simply makes me too happy to put it in the Guilty Pleasure category. It’s lightweight and corny, but it’s infectious and vibrant too.

Dan Milliken: “The Magic Position” – Patrick Wolf

It’s like if you could listen to a rainbow – one with a pot of gold. Big, romantic, and catchy, with hand claps and foot stomps and only a teeny smidgen of indie irony. (Not as dirty as the title might suggest, either.) Well worth YouTubing if you haven’t heard it.

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The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 2

Today’s category is… A Song You Hate.

Here are the staff picks:

Dan Milliken: Travie McCoy featuring Bruno Mars, “Billionaire”

I usually don’t hate music if it’s blatantly awful. That usually makes me love it. (I have especially great affection for the universally maligned “We Built This City” thanks to the efforts of Twitter queen Megan Amram.) What grates on me is the technically listenable stuff that is still, slyly, really bland and stupid. Travie McCoy offers some decent verses here atop an aesthetically pleasant track; but it all goes to wash if you try to digest the lyrics of Bruno Mars chorus, which earned extra hate-points for always tricking me into thinking “Santeria” was coming on the radio last year.

Tara Seetharam: Jason Aldean, “She’s Country”

There are certainly more fundamentally offensive songs out there, but this one elicits from me inexplicable anger. From its pounding pseudo-rock arrangement to Aldean’s spitfire delivery (of ridiculousness like “honey-dripping honey from a holler in Kentucky”), everything about the song feels so aggressive. And if you’ve ever been subjected to the rap re-mix without at least a drink in your hand, you have my deepest sympathy.

Kevin Coyne: Brad Paisley, “Little Moments”

It’s the most frustratingly condescending tribute to a wife since “Honey.” At least that Bobby Goldsboro classic was released before the women’s rights movement was in full swing.  Sure, at least he doesn’t kill her off in the end, but is death really a worse fate when compared to your husband living for those little moments when you show what a stupid little woman you are?

Leeann Ward: Darryl Worley, “Have You Forgotten?”

I can digest Toby Keith’s angry anthem much easier than Worley’s patronizing piece of manipulation. Even though I’m just as relieved as anyone to have Bin Laden gone, this song, like few others, still gets my blood boiling.

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The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 1

Inspired by a recent trend on Facebook, the staff of Country Universe is launching our tweaked version of The 30 Day Song Challenge.

Every day, the staff will share our picks in a different category.  We hope that all of our readers will do the same in the comments!

We’re not limiting ourselves to the country genre. All of us are primarily country fans, but our tastes run wider and deeper than that.

The category for Day 1 is…

Your Favorite Song

Staff Picks

Leeann Ward: “One More Year” – Kacey Chambers & Shane Nicholson

It’s nearly impossible to choose a definitive favorite song, but I can pretty reasonably settle on “One More Year” as one that I haven’t tired of in three years despite my husband’s penchant for playing certain songs repeatedly until I can hardly stand even a great song after a certain saturation point. Such is not the case with “One More Year.” I’m still impressed by its understated devastation every time I hear it.

Dan Milliken: “Days Go By” – Keith Urban

The first time I heard it, on a fuzzy radio station in the background, it sounded like “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me” redux. Within my first proper listens, it had me dancing around my dining room. “Days Go By” takes a sad truth – that time is constantly slipping away from us – and twists it into a joyous, mandolin-clanging celebration of life and the time we do have. Carpe some diem, y’all.

Tara Seetharam: “Bless the Broken Road” – Carrie Underwood

It’s hard to find words that speak to the personal connection I’ve formed with this song, so I’ll let my favorite line sum up its lyrical poignancy: “Now I’m just rolling home into my lover’s arms” is as best a description of the ease of true love as I’ve ever heard. As I said in my very first Country Universe post, I’ll take this song in any form by any artist (literally – I have over ten versions on my iPod), but if I had to choose, the conviction in Underwood’s acoustic version is second to none.

Kevin John Coyne: “Hung Up” - Madonna

No matter how much I like a song, I always go through periods where I’m tired of hearing it, and will skip it from time to time when it pops up on shuffle. That’s true about every song I love except this one, which I never tire of. I don’t know if it’s the way the ABBA-borrowed hook fades in and out, or if it’s the insanely catchy chorus that she sings nine times and it’s still not enough.  It’s the perfect pop song by the perfect pop artist and nothing else sounds as good in comparison, even from her own deep catalog of ear candy hits.


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