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Life can be hectic. Time moves fast and we are always busy! In line with this issue's encouragement to 'Slow Down and Simplify', here's our Top Ten of anthems to help you do just that!
10. Follow Me - Uncle Kracker
It’s been debated whether this song was written about heroin or about having an affair – but don’t get the wrong impression. Without looking too much into the lyrics ‘Follow Me’ is such a great tune, a simple but catchy guitar line and the smooth vocals make it all seem so relaxed. The lyrics do help this; the chorus of "Follow me, everything is alright", whilst more vulgar in actual meaning and context, do give an impression that actually things will be okay - as does the whole song. It’s one of those that you listen to and just instantly feel more relaxed, giving you the urge to let go of your worries because life isn’t so complicated after all. DD
9. One Way St. - Jhené Aiko ft. Ab-Soul
I wrote in the last issue about how Jhené’s music has such a calming effect on the listener, and this song epitomises that serenity. The hook - “Going the wrong way down a one-way street” - could apply to any kind of rebellion, but to me the song plays as a rejection of the pressures we put on ourselves (“Melancholy, mediocre mess, maybe I should just give it a rest now, I just gotta get this off my chest, lately I have been so f***ing stressed out”). I also love how the song switches between muffled vocals and lucid rapping, as if drifting in and out of sleep. MM
8. Video Games - Lana Del Ray
For anyone who read my ‘Malibu Theory’ this song fits that category. Whilst I had always been aware of ‘Video Games’ I was completely indifferent about it until hearing it again recently. The understated instrumental perfectly sits beneath Lana’s unique vocals and gives the song a really beautiful feel about it. I had always labeled Lana’s songs before as sounding somewhat miserable or boring but I’ve recently gained a new appreciation for her slow, simplistic and emotive style. Sounding like a classic from some 20th century era Hollywood work, ‘Video Games’ is one of those songs that I could close my eyes and listen to on repeat. DD
7. Peace of Mind - Avicii
“Dear society, you are moving way too fast, way too fast for me” - the opening lines of this song feel so pertinent, and captures that sense of being forced to move through life at a speed that someone else dictates. The general message of this track is given even more poignance and urgency from the fact that it was the stress of constantly travelling and touring that contributed to Avicii’s mental health struggles and untimely death. ‘Peace of Mind’ ends on a plea that feels both innocent and hauntingly modern at the same time - "Can I get a little peace of mind?" MM
6. Falling – Duke Dumont Remix – Haim
This is something I recently discovered hidden as a late bonus track on Haim’s brilliant ‘Days Are Gone’ album. I wasn’t really sure what I would make of it as ‘Falling’ in its traditional form is a fantastic song anyway, but Duke Dumont manages to change the whole inflection. A simple but satisfying synth chord sequence and a basic drum beat are the main elements which are supported by snippets of Haim’s original vocals and the whole thing just sounds so chilled. There’s nothing really magical or complex about what Duke Dumont does with the song mechanically, but in terms of the feel it has completely transformed into a simple, mellowed classic that would be a joy in my headphones on a sunny beach somewhere. DD
5. The Life - Kenny Chesney
‘The Life’ tells the story of a hard-working businessman who encounters a sun-tanned, barefooted islander named José while on holiday, and is subsequently inspired to reevaluate the way he lives his life. Similarly to Zac Brown Band's ‘Chicken Fried’, José shows him that it’s the little things that matter most, like playing your guitar and having good times with good friends. ‘The Life’ always feels like a window into a completely different way of life to the one we usually think we should chase after, and my favourite moment is when José shows the main character that there’s more than one way to ‘make a living’ - “I said I make a good living back home where I’m from, he smiled and said, ‘Amigo, me too’”. MM
4. Peak - Drake
To be honest, this was a toss up between ‘Peak’ and ‘Summer Games’, but while both are great songs, ‘Peak’ really encapsulates the simplicity better. You could probably characterise the whole song with two elements: the most stripped-back bass and snare 1, 2 drum beat you’ve ever heard and a chorus which includes some sort of sound effect playing a rising 2, then 3 note arpeggio. That is literally it. Drake’s vocal then navigates around these and fills out the rest of the song. Although it doesn’t give me that same smile on my face that other songs in the playlist do, the simplicity of the whole thing and its lethargic tempo just make it feel like the world slowed down for a second - and to be honest I need that sometimes. DD
3. Chicken Fried - Zac Brown Band
Another one of my all-time favourites (and not just because I love fried chicken…), this song in many ways acts as a recipe for some homegrown happiness. Zac’s essentials include seeing ‘the love in my woman’s eyes’, ‘the touch of a precious child’, and ‘turning the radio up’. It underlines to me that the most valuable things in life aren’t objects, rather it’s those priceless moments spent with the people we love. But it also reminds me that those moments are even better with a little bit of chicken fried… MM
2. Footsteps in the Dark, Pts. 1&2 – The Isley Brothers
Any fans of Ice Cube or 90’s Gangster rap in general will instantly recognise the instrumental of this song for its use in ‘It Was A Good Day’ – and it’s clear to see why it was chosen for this. The whole song just feels laidback, and even though I haven’t really got any memories to associate with it, it sends me to a sunny day driving round with the windows down without a care in the world. That was ultimately the message that Ice Cube’s song was going for – the perfect day where everything feels just right. ‘Footsteps in the Dark’ (and ‘It Was A Good Day’) are slow, smooth and simple in the best way possible and instantly put a smile on my face. DD
1. . Simple - Florida Georgia Line
Okay, I’ll admit this one is a bit on the nose in terms of this issue’s theme. But it’s one of my favourite songs of all time, and I listen to it whenever I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. It’s full of inspirational bon-mots about tuning out all the noise and decluttering your mind. In today’s digitalised world, we’re bombarded from all angles by controversial headlines, opinions and gossip, with news channels and social media pages jostling noisily for our attention. This song is a tribute to the mental health benefits of unplugging and keeping it ‘simple like a six-string - the way this world was meant to be’. MM
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