Track Of The Month: Lights – February Air

Hey everyone, thanks for stopping by.

As today is the last day of February I wanted to share my track of the month with you and, given its title, I feel it’s rather fitting.

Electro-pop singer/songwriter Lights has been on the music scene since 2006, and in that time has released four EPs and the same number of studio albums. Her tracks are usually very synth-led, with the frequent use of effects, giving her sound that dance/electro feel. However, in 2010 Lights released an acoustic album of just five tracks – among them, February Air.

This stripped-back version is made up of just an acoustic guitar and Lights’ vocals, providing a complete contrast to the Electro-pop sound of the original. There are also no effects on the vocals here, and rightly so, as she really doesn’t need them. Her delicate tone gives the track a sense of poignancy, adding a whole new dimension that personally, I don’t think it had before.

The stylistic change completely transforms the track into a delicately powerful ballad – so much so that it sounds like a totally different song. However, the alteration really allows the listener to appreciate the lyrics and – almost romantic – mood that the melody creates, as well as Light’s beautiful, natural vocals.

What do you think? Have you heard the song before? Which version do you prefer? Feel free to let me know in a comment. 🙂

It’s also worth mentioning that I’ve been listening to a lot of Ellie Goulding’s ‘Love Me Like You Do’ this month too, but as I posted a review of that previously I thought it unnecessary to repeat myself, so click here if you’d like to have a read of my thoughts on that song.

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Album Cover Project

For this project, we drew inspiration from the themes presented in many of the songs from the album such as love and protection, as well as taking into account the sound of LIGHTS’ voice as it has quite a childlike quality- being quite high pitched- almost like her singing voice makes her sound younger. This is where the idea of the mobile first came from.

We decided to design our album cover as a picture mobile. The idea was derived from the fact that the album is an acoustic one and so has a soothing quality to it, as a mobile would to a child. Likewise the hue of the front cover – whereby the mobile is illuminated by the glow of the bright lights which fade up to dark on the outer edges – is quite soft and warm, which could be said to foreshadow the chilled out nature of the songs included. This in turn, would appeal to people who like music of that nature.
The back of the album cover is in keeping with the theme of the mobile, but depicts a close up of a section of the mobile, which further enforces the themes of the mobile.

Front

Back cover 1

Back cover 2

Also the pictures are very easy on the eye, in the sense that they are not laced with hidden meaning or feature obscenities. This also reflects the music as it is very mellow and the lyrics display the feelings and meaning quite clearly without the listener having to work, or pull it apart to understand it.

The pictures and style thereof were all selected considering the relevance we felt they bare to the sound of the music. They included elements of the childlike and sweet vibe of LIGHTS’ personality – such as the carousel – as well as including pictures that felt and looked like something LIGHTS could have taken herself whilst on tour. For example, we included a picture of Central Park, a tour schedule, a crowd shot and a set list, among other things. We wanted it to look very home- made; like she could have made it herself, as the music is very stripped down and pure in the sense that it is not put through auto tune or any effects and is just vocals and guitar.
The idea of the Polaroid has also become popular in recent years – particularly among bands outside of the mainstream. Paramore’s Hallelujah video featuring a Polaroid board, and You Me At Six’s sleeve for single Finders Keepers also using a Polaroid design. This could be seen to reflect the do-it-yourself nature of bands nowadays that work to be where they are, as a Polaroid is something you can do yourself as it is instant development as you can’t carry the heavy equipment around and don’t have the entourage to do it.

Final cover

We felt that our choice of theme for the album cover was suitable for the music it was accompanying, as acoustic music in today’s society is very do-it-yourself, with websites providing tabs and chords for popular tracks for people to learn and play at their leisure, as well as, the idea of the ‘YouTube star’ and users who play their own acoustic versions of songs to get themselves out there. The YouTube video’s of all LIGHTS’ acoustic tracks being stripped down with just her and her guitar, thus providing an element of inspiration and aspiration for viewers as she is not doing anything difficult – she’s just playing.
This DIY aesthetic is also why we decided to include my friend on the cover as we had the idea that she could be LIGHTS herself on the cover, yet the way she is posed – which coincidently is very un-posed – looking at the floor and placed in the bottom of the cover shows how the music is more of an importance rather than herself. Although, the way she is holding the lights on the mobile could be seen to show how she is still holding her own and how she is very much in control of her own work. The inclusion of fairy lights being a play on the name of the artist.

Acoustic music has become of a much higher demand in recent years, with the emergence of things like Radio One’s ‘Live Lounge’ and BBC’s 5.19 show, which encourage live acoustic performances in the studio. As well as this, there is the popularity of how mainstream bands such as ‘The Script’ incorporate acoustic into their music.
When considering the album’s content, I would expect the average listener to be of a young disposition, -yet mature enough to understand the themes and emotion involved in the tracks- between 14 and 21.
I would also expect a level of personal identification due to the DIY nature of both the content – acoustic – as well as the cover its self, which may give the audience something to aspire to, or they may also see ‘themselves’ on the cover.
Similarly, the pictures we used on the mobile were a reflection of what we felt everyone’s childhood dream is: being famous and going on tour, as – as aforementioned – we wanted the idea to be that these were pictures LIGHTS could have taken herself whilst on tour.
We wanted to use quite delicate and feminine text on the cover to reflect the sound and attitude of the content. As well as this, it affirms the DIY ethic of the album as it is very much a handwritten style, which looks sophisticated whilst still being readable.

Lastly, we included the typical authentication features of an album, such as a barcode and the logo of the record label, as well as a disclaimer stating who the content was written by and the company it was composed and produced for, as well as the year and details of its release.

Tracks I’m loving.

Right so I decided to do these shorter versions of the ‘playlist series’ for songs I can’t get enough of and have constantly (not literally but ya’know) on repeat. So, You know the drill…

The Fray – Never Say Never.

Haunting Piano, Great vocals and range there-of, Amazing lyrics…what else do you need?

Lights – February Air (Acoustic)

Ok, so what to say about Lights? She’s not very mainstream (or not that I’m aware of) and I must admit, I don’t like her normal electronic style; her vocals either sound too high or too low and she sounds as though she’s put through auto tune.
However, her acoustic sessions on YouTube prove that she really doesn’t need the frills and gimmicks and she sounds so much better with her natural vocals. I think this song proves that point, she shows good range and the inclusion of high notes in the chorus add to its beauty, and lyrically I think it’s flawless. Very catchy song that showcases Lights’ genuine singing talent.

Take a look? :

http://www.youtube.com/user/lights?blend=1&ob=4#p/u/38/sVHODgr-Y0A

Bruno Mars – Grenade

Ok so, for one, Bruno Mars’ voice is perfect! It’s so smooth and flawless, it’s like it glides, you never hear his voice wavering or cracking when he tries to hit high notes and it seems so effortless, but at the same time with a lot of passion (particularly in the chorus’) which makes it very easy to listen to.
Lyrically I’d say the chorus is more prominent than the rest of the song, but in most cases the chorus is the ‘hook’ IE. the most catchy part of the song. I’ll admit, they’re not the best lyrics I’ve ever heard, but they work. (and Mars’ voice alone can make up for the shortfalls!)

The subject matter of the song once again centres around his feelings for a partner and it’s one of those songs that a girl would hear and think ‘ I want Bruno Mars to sing that to me! ‘ …or at least I would! haha.
So good song with absolutely flawless vocals! Love it! 

Pink – Fucking Perfect

Pink’s songs never cease to amaze me! They’re always very beautiful with a huge element of honesty and truth to them; like she’s not afraid to say how she feels and open up about issues in her songs. I’ve loved all her previous work, including the ‘I’m Not Dead’ album, which seemed to show more of the emotional and personal side to things. Her songs had done before – for example, ‘Don’t let me get me’ and ‘Just like a pill’ – but this album seemed more centred around personal issues, for example, ‘Conversations with my 13-year-old self ‘and ‘Dear Mr. President’.
This song seems to continue into that thread, and the video in particular shows the dark side of being made to feel “Less than perfect” which is a huge issue in society with people feeling the pressure to fit in, and Pink seems like she’s always been a bit of a mis-fit, which is the great thing about her as she’s her own person and isn’t afraid to be herself.

I think that is a great message to promote and this is a very touching song about self acceptance and it’s sung with such emotion that it is another song that shall be one of Pink’s best.

Miley Cyrus – Who Owns My Heart?

I’m just on a bit of a Miley Cyrus kick right now! I’ve always liked the ‘Miley’ side of things as opposed to the ‘Hannah’ side of things, so songs like ‘See You Again’, ‘Seven Things’ and more recently ‘fly on the wall’, ‘Can’t be Tamed’ and ‘WhenBruno  I look at you’.
I think it’s good that she is trying to break out of the Disney thing and be seen as Miley, even though it has taken a while. 

Yes, her style is changing and she has been getting criticism for it, but she’s growing as an artist and as a person getting older and growing up so she does have a right to change, and a lot of the things you see, like the clothes she wears or how she dances, isn’t much different to how the majority of girls today do things anyway.
I love the song and think she sings it well and personally, I think she looks absolutely stunning in the video!

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