Queen the Greatest
One greatest rock band of all times, seven beautiful songs and nine magical sunsets
Elke and I closed out the old year with a Queen show. Almost Queen, that is. The New Jersey tribute band pulls off a great show and is fun to watch. I would not go to such an event in New York City, but in a small city like Peekskill, it works and has the right amount of swankiness for New Year’s Eve.
It worked even better because we are both genuine Queen fans and even a small-stage reenactment of one of their shows gives us a pleasant jolt of nostalgia. Queen was my first rock concert with their 1982 Hot Space tour. In 1990, when Elke and I met, we experienced together the passing of an idol with Freddie Mercury’s death.
Today, Queen is one of the most successful bands. They continue to hoover millions from the streaming royalty pots for the music they sold decades ago. Is this even deserved? Is “Bohemian Rhapsody” an eternal masterpiece or a self-indulgent spectacle? That is beside the point, like asking if Manhattan’s Chrysler Building is an architectural pinnacle or just a whimsical show of corporate hubris. Both are part of our common culture now and, thus above critique.
Queen for sure influenced my musical taste. Or maybe it was the other way around: liking them has been consistent with my musical taste. Not just because I love good basslines – it is not difficult to find a connection from “Another One Bites The Dust” to Liaisons Dangereuses I talked about last week – but also because I’m drawn to limitless creativity in music. After Queen left their 70s hard rock roots, the sky was the limit for them, and Freddie’s voice, and to a lesser degree, Brian May’s guitar, kept it all together.
Today, such a broad interpretation of genre is much harder because the space is much more populated. Artists have to keep their brand more focused to not sound haphazard. While Queen could sound like Queen, today, there are a million reference points music can be compared to.
Ultimately, I’m happy with today’s diversity versus the larger-than-live rock idols of the past. In that sense, read on to learn about our seven recent Song Picks of the Day.
Song Picks of the Day
Listen/watch all seven songs on YouTube. Follow our daily updated playlists on YouTube or Spotify for the 50 latest Song Picks of the Day.
Elke and I do not coordinate our Song Picks of the Day, so it is pure coincidence that this week’s tracks fit so well together. Enjoy!
Last week’s list ended with a “Moon Maiden,” and this week’s starts with “Moon Boy,” a beautiful chill song about living in the present by UK quintet First Day Of Spring. After that, the Norwegian singer/songwriter Signe Marie Rustad picks up the vibe in “Waiting.” Look forward to the goosebumps-inducing guitar solo in the end.
We stay in Scandinavia with the Danish band Lowly, which often creates immersive musical experiences, and their new song, “Seasons,” is a good example. Then, an encounter with a homeless man in Dublin induced self-reflection for Berlin-based singer/producer Cloud Cukkoo in her latest song, “Anna.”
“Slip Away,” from Sara Noelle’s upcoming third album, is again a song to get lost. “This could be a love song, or not, it depends on how you listen,” she says. Make your choice. Definitely a love song is “Faces In The Firelight,” by Shana Cleveland, who is also a member of the west coast band La Luz. She says: “the greatest act of love might be to wait for someone,” and there is something to that thought.
In the last song for this week, “Misbehave,” LA singer/producer YOUR ANGEL sings about being so sure about someone that you can fast forward through the early stages of a relationship.
New Albums this Week
Check out our curated list of upcoming albums, or find some inspiration among our favorites.
Friday, the 13th was the first big release day of the year, so we finally could pick up our Friday evening ritual again and listen to brand-new music. This week on our (virtual) turntables:
Liela Moss's Internal Working Model features several high-profile collaborations.
Arc, the new EP by Hibou, is a perfect piece of indie rock.
The Montreal-based female duo Mayfly released their EP HIDEAWAY Vol. I with seven elegantly produced future pop songs.
Other Notable Music
“Just Be Good to Me” was a hit by the Atlanta-based S.O.S. Band in 1983. The London-based singer/producer Amaroun turned it into a haunting cover song.
Elke and I are going to the Caribbean for vacation next week. To get us into the mood, we were listening to some reggae music and stumbled over the Easy Star All-Stars, a New York-based collective that records reggae versions of iconic albums, among them Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, OK Computer, or Dark Side of the Moon. Which is going to be the next one? We will learn this Friday!
Last but not least, here are some great new songs of artists we recently included as Song Picks of the Day:
Singer/producer Starya released a fantastic new song, “I’ll Believe.”
Unbelievable what Jackie Mendoza does with a ukulele. Watch the fun video to her sunny new song “Let’s Get Maui’d.”
One always wonders if it is wise to share a beloved place and help it become potentially overcrowded or gentrified. But whatever. The Inn on the Hudson in the above-mentioned little city of Peekskill, NY, has become Elke’s and my retreat during the pandemic. You go there by commuter train and a short walk from the train station. Then book a terrace room and get treated to sunsets like these: