A Decade in Songs: 2010–2020

So… I was reminded recently it’s nearly the end of the 2010s! It feels like so much has happened over the last decade, it boggles the mind trying to remember it all.

I thought it’d be entertaining to do a tag/survey of some kind, and found this one. Basically you just list a song to represent each year as you experienced it. I’m going to try to hit as many genres/artists as possible, because 2010 was the year I started branching out my listening away from classical exclusively.

2010: Fast Food Folk Song – Rhett & Link

Iʼll start with a taco, soft like a cloud
I want mine crunchy, I like to eat loud

This silly song introduced me to the YouTube comedy duo, Rhett and Link. My sister and I became huge fans of them—we used to watch their daily show, Good Mythical Morning, for many, many years. I can’t believe this video was not even 1 year old in early 2010. 😯 Though that year wasn’t all tacos and happiness, overall this song sums it up!

2011: Dreams Don’t Turn to Dust – Owl City

When diamonds boast that they can’t be crushed
Let ’em go, ’cause dreams don’t turn to dust

In 2011, I made it through my first year of college, fell hard for someone, and was writing poetry. I’d recently discovered Owl City, AKA Adam Young, right before the release of his album All Things Bright and Beautiful. I was obsessed with “Dreams Don’t Turn to Dust” and remember blasting it through headphones in the computer lab while doing calculus homework (ostensibly studying).

2012: Laughter Lines – Bastille

I’ll see you in the future when we’re older
And we are full of stories to be told

2012 had some rough moments…it’s a year I look back on with sadness, as well as relief it’s long gone. A Tumblr friend introduced me to this song in either 2012 or 2013, so it fits pretty well.

2013: Terminals – Relient K

It splintered, and I felt horrendous
But broken is when You can mend us

This song is about unexpectedly seeing someone you care about at a busy airport. That actually happened to me in 2013 (although, I was far too shy to say anything 😳 ). It was also the year God lifted me out of my worst mental health struggles. Since then, I think of 2013 as the year my life “started over” for the better.

2014: Face Up – Lights

Look at the people all around you
The way you feel is something everybody goes through

While at uni, I had a “Lights” phase—she’s a Canadian pop artist who used to collab with Owl City and had a similar electronic style. It’s not terribly deep, but this song really spoke to me as I was trying to finish up my senior year, graduate, and find a job.

2015: City Dove – Tori Kelly

City dove, fly between the buildings and fences
Soft inside but rough on the edges

Honestly, I could put almost any song by Tori Kelly here; I discovered her somewhere around 2013, and she became my favorite female singer/songwriter. “City Dove” was the first song I loved off her 2015 debut album, Unbreakable Smile.

2016: Knees to the Earth – Tides from Nebula

For a while, I was obsessed with the post-rock genre. Ranging from wistful to seething, post-rock fit neatly into the dystopian socio-political climate of 2016. Tides from Nebula was my favorite band, and I used to jam to their songs while coding at work or sitting in traffic on the way home (oh, the joys of adulting). “Knees to the Earth” is one of the best tracks from their 2016 album, Safehaven.

2017: Vancouver Waves – August and After

Hibernate until I’m ok again
Tidal waves can’t follow me here

2017 was a lovely year…I made some friends, took on more responsibilities, found new interests, and through my IT job had some unique and fascinating experiences. Around this time, I also drifted away from post-rock and discovered indie folk, through bands like Tow’rs and August & After.

2018: Happier – Bastille

I want to change my mind cause
This just don’t feel right to me

In 2018, my beloved boss and some coworkers left for other opportunities. We were a tight-knit group, as much friends as colleagues. Coupled with some other work-related unpleasantness, it left an emotional impact that took a while to move on from.

2019: Smithereens – Twenty One Pilots

For you, I’d go
Step to a dude much bigger than me

This year was strange and difficult and went by in a blur. I did a lot of hard things, most recently in switching jobs myself. On the bright side, I found a lot of great music/artists, which I plan to share in a future blog post. For now, I’ll just share this adorable song Tyler Joseph wrote for his wife, because it reminds me there’s still “some good left in this world…and it’s worth fighting for.”

Mulan (2020) – Trailer Reaction

The original Mulan (1998) was one of my favorite Disney films as a kid. At the time, it was the only Disney movie to feature an Asian heroine, which left a big impression on me (a half-Vietnamese girl). But more importantly, the story really spoke to me—from the father-daughter relationship to Mulan’s self-doubt and the nuanced character of Li Shang (far more realistic than any Disney prince).

My excitement for the remake was shattered when I heard about the changes the filmmakers had chosen. No Li Shang, no Mushu the dragon?!! Aren’t those characters half of the movie? Horrified, I was sure I didn’t want to see it.

That was where I was at when Disney finally dropped a full-length trailer this past week. I didn’t go looking for it (though it was on YouTube Trending); it showed up in my Instagram feed.

Watch on YouTube

So… I have to admit, I really like this trailer. It shows a very different movie than the original—they didn’t just take out characters, they changed the tone and (apparently) the plot, though keeping most of the core themes and conflicts. Stylistically, there’s no singing or comedy; it has a serious, almost Lord-of-the-Rings vibe. It’s so different, I think I might be able to enjoy it as its own thing. (And not gonna lie…when the orchestra played “Reflection,” I teared up!)

P. S. Not to pat Disney on the back too much, 😉 I have to report I did see Frozen 2 and was rather disappointed. Might review it at some point.

Coping with Depression during the Holidays – A Christian's Perspective

First…I feel the need to preface this by saying this was not written with the idea of generating pity or alarm. In fact, it’s not a topic I would normally blog about. 🙂 But I know this is not an uncommon problem, and my hope in saying it once is that something here will help someone, somewhere.

Over the past decade, I have spent more than a few holiday seasons in intense unhappiness or depression. It’s a social atmosphere that emphasizes love, family, and friendships, and when you’ve got struggles in one or multiple of those areas (or something entirely different), the surrounding sights and traditions can make you feel like you’re miles away. You’re not ungrateful for what you have, but you feel bad and, on top of everything else, guilty for feeling bad.

There is no cure for this, because it is a separate problem, just exacerbated by contrast with the season. There are ways, however, to cope.

Go through the Motions Anyway

Your gut instinct is to tune out from everything…avoid going out, ignore invitations, skip decorating. And if you truly believe this will help, maybe it’s the right thing to do.

In my experience, though, going through the motions of celebration can be, if not healing, at least semi-restorative. You’re not going to feel well, but you’ll probably feel better. With that, avoid the commercialism and focus on the meaningful traditions, such as giving acts of kindness or worshipping through music. Don’t leave yourself out more than your depression already does.

Be Extra Kind

Be especially kind to yourself and others during this time. It is exactly what your emotions don’t want you to do, and so the best act of rebellion against negativity.

I don’t send many Christmas cards, but I try to send a few to people who have made a difference to me over the past year, whether that was a distant friend, a college mentor, or a caring boss. What you write inside doesn’t have to be complicated; keep it simple and genuine.

Also, remember self-care—doing things you enjoy and things that are good for you. You have to love yourself before you can love others. Take care of yourself.

Get Outside More

Some afternoons after work, I just want to lie in bed and drown my sorrows in hot chocolate and YouTube. Sometimes that’s the ideal thing to do. But not usually.

I don’t have any fanciful notions that going outside actually makes you feel better (it often doesn’t), but it’s inarguably healthier than staying inside glued to a screen. A friend of mine once said that being out in cold weather made her feel more alive. I can see that, too.

Find reasons to go outside and disconnect from your comfort zone.

Live Out Advent

The weeks leading up to Christmas hold a dual meaning: the memory of Christ’s birth as a vulnerable child and the expectation of Christ’s return as the soldier called Faithful and True. None of us were there the first time, but we can each consider ourselves part of the sequel, so that Advent becomes something we not only observe but participate in.

What this looks like in actions depends on your situation. It might be anything from a fast of some kind to a change of scene. In any case, pray without ceasing…that is, keep up your conversation with God. You might have to fake a smile to every other human soul, but you don’t have to fake it with Him. Tell Him what you’re going through; write it out if you need to. Remember He came for the broken and the brokenhearted.

Thanks

For Thanksgiving, I’m taking a smallish internet break…should be back sometime next week. Before I clocked out, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who follows my blogs and/or shares their own thoughts, whether that’s on blogs, YouTube, Goodreads, or Instagram. You guys are really cool and I’m grateful to know you all. 🙂

Here’s a self-remixed version of The Hype by twenty one pilots (link to listen on YouTube).

Sometimes I feel cold, even paralyzed
My interior world needs to sanitize
It might take some friends and a warmer shirt
But you don’t get thick skin without getting burnt

Nice to know my kind will be on my side
I don’t believe the hype
And you know you’re a terrible sight
But you’ll be just fine
Just don’t believe the hype

Just don’t believe the hype
Take it from me, you’ll be with your kind, yeah
Just don’t believe the hype
Everywhere you go, you won’t be surprised, yeah
(Hype)

Sometimes I feel cold, even paralyzed
My interior world needs to sanitize
It might take some friends and a warmer shirt
But you don’t get thick skin without getting burnt

Nice to know my kind will be on my side
I don’t believe the hype
And you know you’re a terrible sight
But you’ll be just fine
Just don’t believe the hype
(Take me with you)

Just don’t believe the hype
Take it from me, you’ll be with your kind, yeah
Just don’t believe the hype
Everywhere you go, you won’t be surprised, yeah
(Hype)

(We’re gonna rely pretty heavily
On technology
And energy
To cover up the fact that we’re only two people
But I think we can do it)

No, I don’t know which way I’m goin’
But I can hear the way, yeah
No, I don’t know which way I’m goin’
But I can hear the way, yeah yeah
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah
You’ll be with your kind, yeah yeah
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah
You’ll be with your kind, yeah yeah
No, I don’t know which way I’m goin’ (yeah yeah, yeah yeah)
You’ll be with your kind, yeah yeah
No, I don’t know which way I’m goin’ (yeah yeah, yeah yeah)
You’ll be with your kind, yeah

Just don’t, just don’t
Just don’t believe the… (Hype)
Just don’t, just don’t
Just don’t believe it
Just don’t, just don’t
Just don’t believe the… (Hype)
Just don’t, just don’t
Just don’t believe it

Personal Goals, Action Plan for 2020

This year, I’ve decided to get an early start on next year’s goals, at least in terms of planning. Advent starts a week from now; it’s the season of preparation for Christ’s coming (past and future) and marks the beginning of the Christian year. With that in mind, it doesn’t seem too early to start making goals.

Grow Healthier

My hope is to lose 15lb, but the underlying intent is to get healthier, physically and mentally. I don’t lead a seemingly unhealthy life—I get up before dawn, work hard, eat balanced meals, and go to bed at a decent hour. That said, there is a complacency in me which rebels at any moment I am free of this routine, which is to say at least half of the day, and I have other bad habits that are persistent (see below). I know I need to make changes, especially for my mental health.

Ways to make it so: Eat lighter meals, move towards a flexitarian diet, take regular walks, lose detrimental habits.

Learn to Cook

I’ve made some failed past attempts to learn…for whatever reason, cooking intimidates me, and I don’t technically have to (I pay a small rent to live with my folks, and my mom cooks). On the other hand, it’s a useful life skill, and it would really help her out if I could add this to my toolbox of ways I contribute. My new work schedule also makes it convenient to start learning, so that is what I’m going to do.

Ways to make it so: Team up with my mom to cook dinners, make a wishlist of vegetarian recipes to try.

Diversify My Income

A few years ago, I stumbled across the YouTube channel of Roberto Blake, a creative entrepreneur, coach/mentor, and motivational speaker. He encourages people to not rely on a single source of income, and I feel he’s right about that, especially the way our economy is going. In 2020, I plan to find at least one way to make money (however little) outside of my 9–5 job. This will also give me an idea of whether I want to pursue self-employment, something I’ve been considering.

Ways to make it so: Start an online account selling my digital art or maybe T-shirt designs.

Use Money for Good

I strongly believe in setting money aside as a personal safety net (not to mention supplementing retirement and healthcare). At the same time, another side of me believes money sitting around is money wasted—since I’m single with few expenses (and likely to stay so), it often feels like my work is purposeless. I will continue saving carefully, but I also plan to spend strategically.

Ways to make it so: Simplify my budget and recurring payments, increase donations, and support other artists.

End My Internet Addiction

You may not know it, but I have what I would consider to be a real internet addiction. I don’t mean the blogging, podcasting, and learning—the really useful pursuits that make the internet worthwhile at all. No, it’s the hours I waste aimlessly surfing the web, whether it’s on my desktop or on my phone, plus the excessive hours I spend watching YouTube (above and beyond the channels I’m subscribed to). I plan to write more about this in the future, especially from a mental health perspective. Short version is: it’s a serious issue which I need to focus on fixing.

Ways to make it so: Take the time to figure out the root problem and try different ways of tackling it till I find something that works. Reduce my digital footprint and seek out more non-digital pursuits.

These are all somewhat lofty goals for me—there’s a reason I don’t call them resolutions. 😉 I realize I may meet only half of them. The only thing I promise to myself is to make some progress. As we say in software development: iterate, iterate, iterate…

Remembering Dmitri Hvorostovsky

On this day two years ago, Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky passed away, having suffered from brain cancer for several years. He was only 55. I’d known about his illness, but the news of his death came suddenly to me, and it was a real shock.

I’d fallen in love with opera through the great tenors such as Plácido Domingo and Joseph Schmidt, but it was Dmitri who, over time, came to epitomize opera for me. It goes back to that wonderful day in 2012 when I went to see Un Ballo in Maschera at my local movie theater, where—live in HD!—Verdi’s dark tale played out as a 20th-century political drama. Dmitri stole the show as Renato, the betrayed, crazed husband to Sondra Radvanovsky’s Amelia. His rendition of “Eri Tu” was unforgettable:

Through my last unhappy years in college, I listened to a lot of opera as an escape, and while I discovered many excellent artists, Dmitri remained my perennial favorite for his soulful voice, stage presence, and diverse repertoire. I built a YouTube playlist of nearly 30 of his best performances, though there were many more I could have added. One of those not on the list is a song called Nostalgia by Igor Krutoy, showing Dmitri could sing operatic pop just as brilliantly as traditional opera:

Now that he is gone, it feels like a hole in the heart of opera. I haven’t been to a Met Opera Live in HD production in over a year; some of the joy is lost, maybe irreparably, when I realize I’ll never again see him live, playing dastardly Verdi villains or Tchaikovsky’s anti-hero Onegin.

I’m grateful his legacy at least lives on through his recordings and YouTube videos. He will always be remembered.

Faouzia’s Tears of Gold: Concept vs. Music Video

Today was the highly anticipated release of Faouzia’s new single, “Tears of Gold.” I’ve been looking forward to it ever since she dropped a demo last June, so I was ecstatic when it showed up in my YouTube feed today.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Faouzia: she’s a 19-year old Canadian-Moroccan pop singer with an incredible vocal range. I stumbled across her some time in the past year—YouTube recommendations, where else 🙂 —and can’t get enough of her voice. She hasn’t released any albums yet, but she does have a series of fantastic music videos and acoustic performances on YouTube (which I’ll be featuring in the future!).

So, how does the finished “Tears of Gold” compare to the concept version? Well, here’s the original:

And here is the music video for the fully produced song:

Personally? I have to say I prefer the original version. The new one isn’t bad per se—it’s catchy and bold and sounds like it would (will?) be on the radio. But that’s just the thing: stylistically it’s more mainstream than her previous singles, whereas one of the things I’ve loved about Faouzia’s style is it’s not mainstream. She usually releases acoustic versions later on, so I’m holding out hope for a piano/vocal solo.

The music video is…serviceable. Way better than her last one, but I’m forever spoiled by the fairy-tale aesthetics of her older videos. (Also—did that snake just come crawling out of a Taylor Swift set?) I do think her makeup is stunning in this; will probably try to recreate it at some point.

Overall, I don’t dislike the full song. I mean, I’ve probably listened to it 20 times (and counting) today, so it’s clearly growing on me. 😀 And while I wait for the acoustic version, I’ll proceed to binge-listen to her other songs, too, because that’s how it works.

“Tears of Gold” Lyrics

Mama always told me that I was too naïve
Gave away my trust for pennies

I said ‘Don’t you worry’
Didn’t think that I’d be broken down and crying
Help me

Wrecked? Check
Heart? In debt
All you do is come around
Just came here to collect

Wrecked? Check
Heart? In debt
Don’t you know that I cried tears of gold for you
I sit here poor for you
Collect my pennies and my dimes
That’s why you love it when I cry

Platinum love for you
I’d give no less for you
Generosity’s my enemy
So I’m broke and your heart’s rich
Because of me

Know that this is my fault
Gave a little too much
Knew that this was gonna happen

But I’m not gonna lie
You can make me cry
A thousand times
I come running back like
What is going on?
Where’s my head?

Wrecked? Check
Heart? In debt
All you do is come around
Just came here to collect

Wrecked? Check
Heart? In debt
Don’t you know that I cried tears of gold for you
I sit here poor for you
Collect my pennies and my dimes
That’s why you love it when I cry

Platinum love for you
I’d give no less for you
Generosity’s my enemy
So I’m broke and your heart’s rich
Because of me

And the worst part is I’d do it all over again
No, the worst part is I know it’s never gonna end
I keep coming right back like a maniac
I keep coming right back like–

Oh woah

And the worst part is I’d do it all over again
No, the worst part is I know it’s never gonna end
I keep coming right back like a maniac

I cried tears of gold for you
I sit here poor for you
Collect my pennies and my dimes
That’s why you love it when I cry

Platinum love for you
I’d give no less for you
Generosity’s my enemy
So I’m broke and your heart’s rich
Because of me

Source: Lyrics.com