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Songs That Touch My Soul, Nine

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We all have them, songs that seem to touch a secret place in your soul – sometimes secret even from you. They can grow and occasionally fester like an open wound, or they can fill you up, inspire you, and occasionally even heal you. Sometimes they don't even reflect your musical tastes. They can be shameful secrets that you keep from family and friends. You feel like a drug addict craving your next fix. At times like those you thank the powers that be for MP3 players — the syringe of those suffering with this affliction.

This is the ninth installment of songs that touch my soul. And as always this edition is full of passion, desire, and lust, and with summer on its way, this one is full of summery pop craziness. This is a form of therapy, this sharing of my neuroses, my secret inner lunacy, the big ball of crazy that is me.

“Near To You” – A Fine Frenzy

“He and I had something beautiful/ But so dysfunctional, it couldn't last/ I loved him so but I let him go/ 'Cause I knew he'd never love me back…” Every time I listen to this song I wonder if A Fine Frenzy – real name Alison Sudol – knows me. More than that, can she read my mind? Feel my ache? So perfectly do the lyrics fit my life that it would seem that she plucked the pain from my heart and verbalised it in a stripped down, alt.piano-rock song. Sung with the gentle passion and longing ache I feel every time I consider the past, and the cautious optimism in which I see the future, this song undoubtedly touches my soul because it reflects my current situation.

“Pon De Replay” – Rihanna

This is an easy one. “Pon De Replay” makes me want to dance, but then that's what it's meant to do. I want to get up and let my hips bounce, belly-dancer style, gyrating in time to the repetitive beat and bass line. This bare R&B/reggae/dancehall track is just repetitive beats, hand-claps, and lyrics that equal a great dance song. Not much more to it.

“Baby, Baby, Baby” – TLC

It's an oldie but a goodie. From TLC's début album Ooooooohhh…. On the TLC Tip , it was the second single released and their first number one single. TLC were all about empowering women, and I like that. “Baby, Baby, Baby” is a prime example of their never-sell-yourself-short attitude. They were hot and they knew it. Their message in this song hits home with me, as it should with every woman: “Well you wanna be loved/ Hey that's O.K./ Cause it falls in line right with my sexuality/ But you gotta be down/ A nickel gotta be true/ Cause otherwise this "B" ain't got no time for you… Well you want my heart/ And all my time/ Well it won't be there if you can't deal with my mind/ Cause a girl like me/ Won't stand for less…” I think that's a message most women would do well to learn, love, and live.

“Fever” – Kylie Minogue

I know pop music has a bad rep, but I really enjoy some pop music. I love Kylie Minogue's music. Kylie's brand of pop reflects her personality; it's fun, upbeat, happy, and can put a smile on your face in nearly any circumstance. Kylie has a unique way of being herself; she never pretends to be more or less than she is and she is never apologetic for her music or her style, and for that I really admire this pint-sized pop princess. The song “Fever” really represents the entire album and with summer just around the corner I have happy, bright, sunny pop music on the brain and Fever fits that bill completely.

Full of bouncy, happy disco-pop songs including that worldwide smash hit “Can't Get You Out of My Head”, Fever is the perfect summer album. With nearly every song a hit, it was considered Kylie's come back album after her departure from the Stock, Aitken and Waterman stable (famous producers of artists including Rick Astley, Bananarama, Samantha Fox, and Dead or Alive, among many), and a long hiatus from the spotlight after a disastrous few albums following the split. Fever was by far her most successful album, filled as it is with gorgeous electro-pop dance music. And it touches my soul, and my hips, and my tummy, and my toes, and my butt, and my smile…

“The Incidentals” – Alisha's Attic

Alisha's Attic is a band that had its success primarily in the UK. English sisters discovered by Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), they were active from 1996 with the release of their BRIT Award nominated début album Alisha Rules the World but broke up in 2001. “The Incidentals”, from their second album Illumina, speaks to the romantic in me, and again this one is about the lyrics. Although with acoustic-pop sounds that are bright and breezy, it really is a great summer love song, but what touches me about this track is its message; it's the incidentals that really turn me on, not the over the top, worn-out, tried and failed romantic gestures.

“It's just the little things, the incidentals/ It's like you wouldn't even notice when you really turn me on/ It's the little sparks that fly and then land like dynamite/ It's just, it's just the simple things, pure incidentals/ It's like stayin' up 'till midnight and talkin' about, absolutely nothing… It's like breathin' on the back of my neck and makin' me feel weak inside…”

That's where the real romance lies in a relationship, in the little things. Those are the things that really show you care about someone, that you're paying attention, and that you really understand. And in the end, once you have stripped away all the sex, politics, and tangible pleasures, all the crap that doesn't really make life better, when it's all stripped away, you just want someone who understands you. Someone who can see all your craziness, all the quirks and eccentricities, see all that, and love you anyway. Not just love you but see how beautiful all that is and adore it, too. Now that is romance.

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About A.L. Harper

  • Josh Hathaway

    “Near to You” isn’t my favorite song off the AFF disc, but it’s a good song and I really do like that album an awful lot.

  • A.L. Harper

    My favourite songs always change with my mood and current emotional state, but I still, after more than 100 listens, adore One Cell in the Sea.

  • Josh Hathaway

    I’m that same way with most albums where my favorite song changes from time to time depending on the mood. One Cell in the Sea is a great album.

    Oh, and Kylie Minogue is icky.

  • A.L. Harper

    Kylie is fucking fabulous!

  • Josh Hathaway

    She’s a low rent Madonna with a better accent (and I think Madonna is atrocious, too).

  • A.L. Harper

    Which only serves to prove that you know nothing at all about Kylie.

  • Christopher Rose

    There are many good reasons to hate Kylie but on the other hand she is way more interesting and talented than many of those dreary old rock bands. Yes, you know who! And Madonna is way better than Kylie.

  • Jordan Richardsona

    There are no good reasons to hate Kylie Minogue. Period.

  • sean paul mahoney

    I agree there’s no good reason to hate Kylie.
    In a world, where pop stars are trying to bare their shallow souls with hallow music, it’s refreshing that Kylie simply makes pop music. She’s not trying to “save the world” or reinvent the wheel. She’s simply having fun and shaking her tiny booty. And somehow that seems more genuine.

  • Christopher Rose

    You’ve obviously never heard her Stock, Aitken and Waterman stuff or seen “Neighbours”…

  • A.L. Harper

    I agree with Sean Paul. Her past is a good example. She has never shied away from the fact that she was Charlene, or from her ST&W years. Never tried to hide her shame. She has also never tried to be anything other than a fun disco-pop star. She would never claim to be a performance artist, or save the world by exposing her breasts to the world. She is just a pop star. I like that about her.

  • Christopher Rose

    That’s not my point though, I have heard and seen that stuff and it was total dreck. She may be great now some of the time but the claim was that there is no reason to hate her.

    Furthermore, you both seem to be trying to suggest that her music is somehow less of a construct than other kinds of music, which is also total bunkum. There is no such thing as “just a pop star” and some of her more recent work has actually been pretty arty.

    Come on, admit it, you are both wearing Kylie coloured glasses!

  • A.L. Harper

    Well I admit that I do like to stare at her perfect ass… but beyond that I will not admit too.

    Did you really use the word bunkum? Seriously Rose, how old are you? I thought you were about 40-ish, but bunkum places you at about 90.

  • Christopher Rose

    As I’ve mentioned before, A.L., I just have an enormous… vocabulary. My mental age tends to vary in the same way as your favourite songs, with a range somewhere between 5 and 500, whilst my flesh remains forever teenage. How about you?

    I thought “bunkum” would appeal to your Bronte reading American soul, but we could go with the more contemporary bullshit if you prefer. Either one describes quite accurately the fetid gushing about Kylie displayed above. Mwuah!

  • Glen Boyd

    ….and his vocabulary is exceeded only by his modesty.


  • Christopher Rose

    As opposed to having one’s vocabulary exceeded by one’s ego, eh, Glen.