I wanted to write something about music and my first inclination was to talk about how disappointed I am in what passes for good hip hop on mainstream radio but then I realized I don't want to focus on what I don't like. Instead I thought, why not write something about what's going on in music that I like. The first name that came to me was Lana Del Rey. You may not know who she is but that's okay, I didn't either until a few weeks ago.
I was watching American Idol with my wife and they brought out a new singer (not a show contestant) and talked about how her music was hitting number one across Europe. That got my interest up and I paid attention, always evaluating for successful actions from artists. After only a few lines into the song I was hooked. Her haunting lyrics, the sound sold me. Beautiful visuals of old black and white movies played in the background and the whole aesthetic took me into a new style. That one song alone made my go to iTunes and buy her album.
This is the song (Video Games) that made me buy the album.
When I buy an album I find that I only like a few of the songs but I found myself liking the whole album. The songs were an infusion of many different styles of music, pop, rock, classical, jazz, hip hop, etc. although the theme of the album was simple: lost love. Every single song was about an old love, how beautiful it was and how sad it was that it was over but yet the viewpoint was a mature one. Lana Del Rey understood that it had to end and that it didn't lessen the relationship in any way, it was still a beautiful, pure thing to cherish. She hit something like Norah Jones did on her first album, a place creatively where her voice, emotion and words all worked together to create great music. Not the kind of music you manufacture but the kind where you're trying to really say something because it means something to you.
I was impressed with the album so much I mentioned it to a few friends, including my producer Dan. He liked it right away too. Being a musician I am always trying to figure out the style of a song and what it's supposed to do. I'm sure there's some musicians that just go into the recording booth and say whatever and don't care what the producer does to the track but me and Dan are different. Our group X-Ray Poetz goes after a particular sound, a particular message, with everything we make. When I listen to Lana Del Rey I find her music to be inspiring because she found her sound and her message, and her producer did an equally amazing job and for me it makes my day, my week, my month, to find an artist that found their voice and laid it down exactly how it should be presented.
I recently met an aspiring actress/singer. I was excited to meet a fellow musician and asked her what she sounded like. She mentioned a few popular singers. I asked if she had heard Lana Del Rey yet. She said, "Yeah, but she doesn't sound great live." I thought it was sad that her first words about her were negative, taste aside. I changed the subject but I kept thinking I should have said, "I found her live performance so great it made me buy her whole album," although I think she would have felt invalidated had I gone there. But it made me realize that even amongst artists we can lose sight of what is most important when it comes to art.
Take some time to discover a new artist today, whether it's Lana Del Rey or someone else. We spend so much time consuming much of the same each day. Same food, same TV shows, same company, same route to work, it's worth while to find something different to look at, listen to and feel each day. If we spent as much time and money finding new art to appreciate as we did on stocks, bonds, politics and the evening news, I'm sure our investment would pay off a thousand-fold. Art is not only entertainment to amuse but is also a communication channel for ideas. I hope you're open to receiving some today.
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I'm David Carus. From overcoming one of the most dangerous cities in the country and graduating from one of the most prestigious colleges in America to leading an educational movement as a teacher and running for Congress at the age of 25, I decided the best hope our world has is through art.