Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Playlist: December 2014

"Do They Know It's Christmas?" (2014)
Band Aid 30

In honor of the Christmas holiday, the thirtieth anniversary of the original Band Aid group, and to help fund the efforts in the fight against this year's Ebola outbreak, some of the United Kingdom's biggest vocalists banded together to record a new rendition of "Do They Know It's Christmas." The group ranges from industry veterans like Sinéad O'Connor, Coldplay's Chris Martin, Bono, and Seal to biggest rising stars of this decade such as Rita Ora, Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding, Bastille, and One Direction. While this new version of the song has been slammed for changed lyrics to reference the Ebola panic, I happen to think it's a touching song for younger generations to connect with thanks to the young, fresh faces in the recording studio. It'll definitely be on my Christmas playlist this year, as well as many years to come.

"Santa Tell Me"
Ariana Grande

Another Christmas song! Ariana Grande has had a massive year with hits like "Problem," "Break Free," and "Love Me Harder" from her sophomore album My Everything, and now she has decided to try and win over the Christmas holiday as well. She released the low-key Christmas Kisses EP last year with little attention, but now with a bit more love from Top 40 radio and music lovers everywhere, Grande dropped "Santa Tell Me" last month. While most people prematurely judged that the track would be Grande's way to live-up to the "next Mariah Carey" title, I knew that she would deliver with a fresh track. Going back to the R&B ways of Yours Truly, "Santa Tell Me" steers away from Grande's recent pop streak and ties in sleigh bells with a modern beat. It's a novelty song that will gladly be added to my personal holiday line-up.

Fifth Harmony

Fresh girl-group Fifth Harmony is finally back with another single from their anticipated debut album, Reflection (due out January 27). The group unleashed "BO$$" this summer to counteract their established "young and innocent" image, a sassy R&B track that is half-rapped and half-sang. Their newest track, "Sledgehammer," dropped last month and carries an irresistible pop sound. While many criticized "BO$$" for being too simplistic and overly-arrogant, "Sledgehammer" is an undeniable earworm begging for impromptu dance sessions. The track was penned by Meghan Trainor, who has seen her own career take off with "All About That Bass" and "Lips are Movin'," but the ladies of Fifth Harmony take on the song with originality and sass. Fifth Harmony is now new and improved, and the wait for their album is slowly killing me.

"The Heart Wants What It Wants"
Selena Gomez

I have already taken on a review of Selena Gomez's greatest hits package For You, but never highlighted last month's release of "The Heart Wants What It Wants." Gomez dropped the song by surprise with even more surprising lyrical content: her heartbreak over her infamous relationship with Justin Bieber stains this track with tears as she sings, "There's a million reasons why I should give you up / But the heart wants what it wants." The track introduces Gomez to a light R&B sound that mixes well to her already-established pop vibes. If her heartbreak wasn't transmitted well enough through her lyrics, the video amps up the emotion as Gomez sobs through a monologue about the Biebs.

"Bite Down"
Bastille vs. Haim

Earlier in the playlist, we found Coldplay and Bastille in the same recording for "Do They Know It's Christmas?" in Band Aid 30. Now, another dream team collaboration has been worked out: Bastille and alt-rock sisters of Haim. The two bands united for Bastille's upcoming mixtape, VS. (Other People's Heartache, Pt. III), which is due out December 9. "Bite Down" is definitely a departure from the groups' respective sounds, but it is far from a disastrous affair. Bastille's Dan Smith is at the forefront of this track vocally, but the Haim trio pipes in behind his lead vocals with great results. The talents of both groups have blended perfectly to please the ears of all music fans.

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