Best Songs of 2015 – Part II

Here we go. This is why I’m excited to be alive for a new year. Who knew music can be so good?

14. Jason Derulo – Cheyenne

I couldn’t believe Jason was capable of such a song. He was a technically skilled singer who made boring ballads and silly sex songs. ‘Cheynne’ is a song that’s as catchy as it is powerful. Jason still sounds like a sex icon but a confused one. It’s a song about falling in love after getting used to getting girls easily and the shock of it all. Even if the title girl goes along with him (“You’re secure to make it”) he’s still overwhelmed by the fact that, for once, he ‘can’t stop’, he’s not in complete power. The musical backdrop suits it, too. A thumping dance track that also sounds a little menacing.

13. Hollywood Undead – Take Me Home

What genre is this, anyway? Hollywood Undead were a great, trashy band at first. This dirge-like song doesn’t sound like they imitate the Metalcore bands that influenced them. The song relies on a stomping drumbeat that makes it all sounds like a funeral march. The hedonistic nihilism now doesn’t sound so attractive. Also, although it has an anthemic side it never explodes into pure stadium-ness. It remains subdued, showing sadness that feels more genuine than any of their previous ballads.

12. Bring Me the Horizon – Happy Song

It’s scary how well it sums up the Nu Metal attitude. It’s emotional release through singing loud and cursing. The use of ‘fucking’ suits the song so well. Sykes sounds depressed, singing weakly throughout the verses and only bursting at the chorus. Sykes never sounds positive or like he’s out of his depression, but he sounds like he’s trying when the band slams and he shouts the album title. It’s one of the best songs about depression. It acknowledges the fact you might be able to solve it, but fuck it, let’s try anyway.

11. Hollywood Undead – War Child

The best example of Hollywood Undead’s attempts at blurring genres. It’s a confusing track which way you look at it. It has a bass drop, only a loud guitar dominates it. The verses are Hip-Hop and the chorus is Pop. All this genre-bending means there isn’t an audience for this. It’s too Rock/Dance/Rap depending on your audience, but it’s also proof you can make music that’s both creative and fit for parties.

10. Everclear – You

Social justice is a big thing now and people now acknowledge males also get raped. This isn’t an MRA anthem about how male victims are proof we don’t need feminism. It’s a chilling song. There haven’t been a song like this since Korn’s “Daddy”. The contrast between the driving riffs and Art’s vulnerability gives us the mix of anger and sadness the situation creates. Everclear always great lyrics, but now they reach a new levels.

9. Grimes – Realiti

We have this perception that reality is harsh. ‘Welcome to reality’ is a phrase we tell people to let them know they need to acknowledge terrible things. This sounds so joyous, though. Reality can be beautiful with mountains to climb. Someone once said Grimes sings like an anime girl and there’s cuteness to her vocals that makes this song even more blissful.

8. Fall Out Boy – Immortals

It’s like “Centuries”, only more friendly. It doesn’t make it any less brilliant. The band’s new found aggression made for an album that’s mostly too loud for its own good but the cockiness here is great. You can imagine the band playing this at a festival, and every band that will play after them will be out of spirits. The vocal acrobatics Stump does destroys anything by Sia or Adele. Vocal acrobatics are a sign of strength, not sorrow.

7. Everclear – Complacent

You’d think Everclear would’ve ran out of ways to write about depression and failure. They had something that no one else had. Failure after failure makes you detached eventually. On “Complacent” they throw themselves headfirst into that idea of giving up. You can hear how Art desperately tries to convince himself that he’s ‘not angry anymore’, but when he sings about not wanting to be that guy he’s weak and faithless. He promises he will try, there’s no hope it will work. It’s not even the best song the band made this year.

6. Everclear – The Man Who Broke His Own Heart

They say that no one will love you until you love yourself. This is a heartbreak song from the point of view of a man who has nothing. He can barely lash out at his heartbreaker. He ruined it all by first hurting himself over and over. Bad lovers aren’t just assholes who use you only for sex. The guy who can’t stop hating himself is just as undesirable, even if it’s less politically correct to admit it. This both gives him a voice, but explains why it was reasonable to dump him. What a pessimistic song.

5. Melanie Martinez – Mrs. Potato Head

A lot of pop singers tell us we’re beautiful despite what people say. It’s easy to say it when you’re pretty. Melanie is the outcast, and on “Mrs. Potato Head” she finally tells society to fuck off. It’s been a while since someone made fun of our obsession with beauty. Someone needed to write the line “No one will love you if you’re unattractive”. The best thing is how serene Melanie sounds. She’s sneering at society throughout the song and doesn’t even view the Beautiful People as someone worth fighting. They’re just ‘mrs. potato heads’.

4. Celldweller – Heart On

It’s epic. Why Celldweller doesn’t score all sci-fi films? Maybe because they’re not worthy of his music. “Heart On” is a Progressive-Bass-Rock-House music whose every drop is different until it climax in an anthem that sounds pretty hopeless. Klayton sings about all the things he’ll do for the girls, isn’t needing to do all that means she doesn’t care much? The song moves from section to section, never losing its focus. A genius is someone who can connect unrelated things, and here Klayton finds a balance between Progressive, House, bass wobbles, rock and even a pseudo-rap verse.

3. Faith No More – Superhero

It’s worrying at first when Patton screams. We had enough of him doing silly things with his voice. When the chorus kicks in the song reveals itself to be something else. This is the good Faith No More who made angst rock, but weirder. What makes this song so good is how it moves from a simple Nu Metal song to a more progressive atmospheric one. The shift isn’t even sudden. The bridge between the two parts takes the anthemic chorus and the atmospherics of the later part and gives us a smooth transition. Patton also sounds very hateful.

2. Enter Shikari – Aneasthetist

A pattern appears, but then again it’s an ideal one. Songs that encompass multiple ideas and genres are often the best. “Aneasthetist” is barley three minutes long but it manages to do so much – Hip-Hop, Metalcore, Big Beat and sounds effects from a hospital. It’s just the variety. The breakdown is one of Shikari’s best, with hospital sounds making accompanying the saw-like riffs. There’s always fear Shikari will revert to making generic rock (Because this is ‘unoriginal’ because it doesn’t sound like Led Zeppelin) but so far, they’re only getting weirder.

1. Celldweller – Jericho

It’s not as progressive as anything else on the album, but it’s unique. Most songs about wishing for someone’s downfall are anthemic in a way that invites everyone to do vocal acrobatics. “Jericho” always remains subdued. There are no guitars but just a bassline and a stomping drumbeat. All this makes it sound more sinister. Klayton’s vocals doesn’t need to explode, he doesn’t need to convince himself. He sings like he knows that the subject’s person walls will fall, and there’s a cruel smile all over the song.

0. Periphery – 22 Faces

There isn’t anything profound in this song. It’s just perfect. Every part, every line contributes to the whole. The structure is verse-chorus-verse, only every verse and every chorus is different. It makes me wonder why bands who just want to rock out don’t make songs like this. On the final chorus the singer everything explodes, a ‘fuck me’ that sounds spontanous and the riffs hit even harder. There might not be anything emotionally deep here, but this is everything I want in Rock music.

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The Left-Right Political Axis

First I was a leftwinger. Then I was a rightwinger. There was a time I preferred calling myself either Liberal or Conservative. There was even a period where I thought Neoconservativism might be the thing for me. Every time I found a team to be a part of, it felt good. I looked at the other side and called them names, like genocidal maniacs or ignorant racists. Something about that demonizing made me feel weird, though. I wanted to be right, but all I heard from my fellow team mates is that the other side is terrible and gay. Just because someone else is wrong doesn’t make me right.

In the latest elections in my country, the campagnes were an embarassment. I had no idea who to vote for. All they could do is sling mud at each other. I looked at the propaganda films and was shocked. Is that how adults behave? Are the leaders of our country trying to convince me using silly jokes instead of talking about the issues?

The problem was never the Liberals or Conservatives. The problem was in this division.

My first arguement was that neither Leftwing nor Rightwing presents a coherent ideology/philosophy. That was a silly statement. There is no Communist Manifesto for any of them, but the Communist Manifesto doesn’t easily sum up Communism. No school of thought is uniform. Capitalism, Existensialism, Buddhism, Antinatalism, Feminism – these are big, complex ideas that take various forms. Some have more variety than others. Antinatalism, for example, is a very simple idea to grasp. Still, expecting a word to easily sum up an idea is foolish.

So that’s not what was wrong with this axis. What was wrong was how it created sport teams.

It causes a divison into sport teams. There are Leftists, and there are Rightists. They’re fighting for power in the government. This means that the main concern of each side is not improving the country but gaining power and defeating the Other.

Left and Right are presented as a dichotomy. You’re either Democratic or Republican. You have to choose a team. Once you choose a team, you have to stay loyal to your team. That means never, ever agreeing with the opposite team.

vlcsnap-2015-08-31-19h21m34s025How people react whe encountering different opinions

Once a team takes hold of an opinion, the other team must not agree with it. Gay Rights is often attributed to the Left. That’s why I see Rightwingers here being hesitant to support it. Instead of trying to promote Gay Rights, many of them talk about how the Left uses it to ‘gain power’. There is some truth to that. The Left uses it to paint the Right as narrow-minded, homophobic and evil.

Another example is how people on the Right will rarely criticize the Ultra-Orthodox Jews. Despite all their supprt for the army, they won’t criticize a group who refuses to help defend the country. If you so believe in defending the country, you should be just as harsh on those who refuse to serve because they’re reading a book. Because the Ultra-Orthodox are on the Right side though on subjects such as security (I’m pretty sure most of them object to a Palestinian state), people on the Right remain silent on their parasitic behavior.

These teams have stopped promoting issues. Neither the Right nor Left is doing anything with Gay Rights. All they’re doing is using it to pain the opposite team badly.

In truth, there are no opposite teams. It’s all Spaceship Earth. All people should have an interest in What Is Best for the Country. Of course people will disagree on What Is Best because everyone comes from different backgrounds. Yet how will we know what is best, how will we improve our country if we don’t try to improve our understanding?

Both the Left and the Right want to live in a secure country. The Arabs want it, too. Unless someone is suicidal, no one really wants to live with rockets flying over their head all the time. The question is, how we make the country more secure? Sadly, the Right and the Left are too attatched to their answers. The Right is too afraid of the Arabs. The Left is too afraid to acknowledge there is racism, homophobia and hatred outside our walls. These people don’t want to find the right answer. They want the answer they already have to be right, no matter what.

So long as we want our answers to be right rather than to find the right answers, we’re looking for enemies to beat down instead of learning.

I’m not a Rightwinger nor Leftwinger. There are some ideas I consider myself a part of, but even then my version of them is my own. Do not ask what box to put me in. Ask what’s in my box instead.

Further reading: Policy Debates Should Not Appear One-Sided

The Elections in Israel

There were elections in Israel. If you haven’t heard of it, Israel is a country that’s known to make Muslims feel bad because of its rather secular laws and all the gays that don’t get executed. If you have followed the news of the election, you probably heard Netanyahu won. You probably also encountered a lot of insults with very little evidence that made you wonder whether 13-year-old Rage Against the Machine fans now run the news agencies.

Here are a few views from inside.

The elections are for the Knesset, the lawmaking body. The more votes a party gets, the more Knesset Members (KM’s, also known as mandates) get in. Then, after everyone finds their seat the coalition and opposition form. Coalition will always be bigger than the opposition, and it’s the governing body. It won’t necessarily be led by the biggest party. You don’t just need a lot of KM’s, but you also need a lot of other parties by your side.

Parties sometimes join forces and run for the elections as “lists”.

These are the big parties:

Likud – led by Netanyahu, recognized as the main right-wing party
Zionist Camp/HaMachane HaTzioni – A united list of Labor/Ha’Avoda party and The Movement/HaTnua’a. It’s recognized as the main left-wing party, and is led by Herzog from Labor.
Future/Yesh Adit – Led by Yair Lapid, is recognized as centrist
The Jewish Home/HaBait HaYehudi – a more far-right party led by Nafatali Bennet, and represents the more religious population of Israel
Meretz – The far-left party, led by Zehava Galon.
Israel Our Home/Israel Beitenu – A secular far-right party, let by Avigdor Lieberman, generally associated with the secular Russian population
Shash – An Ultra-Orthodox party
Judaism of the Torah/Yehadut HaTorah – Another Ultra-Orthodox party
All of Us/Kulano – Led by Moshe Kachlon, formerly part of the Likud
The United List – A union of the biggest Arabic parties. The controversial Chanin Zoabi is here. There’s a decent amount of illegalities going around in this party that are probably overlooked in order not to seem racist.
Together/Yahad – A much more far-right and religious party. It’s led by a former member of Shash, and includes Otzma LeIsrael (Power to Israel), a very far-right party that’s known to be borderline racist

There are also a lot of small parties, such as:
Green Leaf/Ale Yarok – A party whose sole purpose is the legalization of marijuana. It’s popular among self-centered morons
The Greens/HaYerukim – A party with an evironmentalist agenda
The Pirates/HaPiratim – Part of the global pirate movement
Orr/Light – A strictly secular party dedicated to the seperation of church and state
Economy Party/Mifleget Kalkala – A weird thing that sits very close to satire.

In order to get into the Knesset, you need to get a certain percetentage of the votes. That percentage is loosely translated as “Block Percentage”. A common thinking in many Israelis is to only vote for parties that can pass this percentage. Votes for parties that don’t pass don’t count in the end.

Now, which party gained my vote?

Choosing was a tiring process. I haven’t encountered enough reasons for or against Netanyahu. He did a few moronic things, such as responding to a report regarding rising prices with “Yeah, but Iran”. The Jewish Home is too religious. Like Likud, I haven’t encountered a reason to vote for Zionist Camp. If anything, the fact they poured so much money into a campagne that’s nothing but ad hominem made them look like little kids. The few times I saw interviews by Herzog, he seemed like he cared much more about replacing Netanyahu than anything.

Kachlon, aside from the reform he did with the mobile companies, didn’t seem to have much to offer. There wasn’t anything bad there, but nothing for it. Lapid seemed like a great option, but there was a lot of criticism against him. Some of which was horseshit (“He didn’t do anything!” the previous Knesset lasted barely 3 years), some of which made sense (He wasn’t very consistent, and what he said didn’t reflected in his actions). While I respect Lieberman’s bluntness, his party says little but keeping Israel safe. He actually has potential to be a right-wing party that’s also about secularism, but he doesn’t take his party much further.

While I agree with a lot of Meretz’s views, their method seems to be mainly “We’re not right-wingers!”. Their leader is especially very emotional. When it was revealed that a lot of members in Jewish Home are against gay marriage, Galon wrote a long Facebook post that was supposed to make me think Bennet and his buddies are on some ISIS shit. Lapid just mentioned he was for gay marriage. Meretz also seem to be totally unaware of the realities of Islamic terror.

The Ultra-Orthodox parties and the United List are a no-brainer. The Ultra-Orthodox parties care about almost nothing but the interest of the Ultra-Orthodox. The United List contains a few extemists (Chanin Zoabi is the most famous ones) who are actually breaking the law. Yahad is supposed to be on the extreme side of the right-wing, much more than Lieberman and Bennet. While I think Israel should remain ‘Jewish’, as in, this is the ethnic majority, the religion must stay out of the gouvernment.

So, I found myself looking at the small parties, the ones who don’t pass the percentage.

Green Leaf were worthless. They had a few interesting points in their website, but it was obvious their main concern is marijuana. The only reason to vote for them is if you’re a self-centered teen who thinks marijuana is actually going to save us. The Pirates had great ideas, but Orr had better.

There was a great Facebook post by Orr where they pointed out that the division is, in fact, not between right/left wings but between the religious and the secular. They are right. Meretz to Israel Our Home, all of these parties are talking about the same subjects. They have different views, but there is room for dialogue. The Ultra-Orthodox parties, however, are concerned mainly with their populations and ditto for the united list. Orr, unlike Meretz, also recognize we’re fighting a religious enemy. This is not just a nationalistic conflict, but a religious one – between Islam and secularism.

Orr didn’t pass the percentage, obviously. They barely got 500 votes. I don’t care. They’re the only ones who deserve my vote.

As for the result, my main disappointment is the structure of the coalition. Herzog and Netanyahu fought like little kids, and now we’re stuck with Ultra-Orthodox parties in the coalition. It’s too bad they couldn’t see that it’s better for the country if they both sit together, rather than apart. I don’t know if I can blame them.

If I learned anything from the Israeli media during the elections, it’s that there’s no room for debates. Leftists are drugged idiots who will sell us and kill us all. Rightwingers are paranoid schizophrenics who want to kill every single arab. Political debates are terrible. People try to convince you to vote for their party not via evidence or logic, but by raising their voice and strawmanning. The idea that a party you won’t vote for can still have valid points escaped people. Go tell a Likudnik that Meretz’s secularism is needed, and he’ll go off on how crazy they are. Tell a Herzog fan that we need the right-wing’s caution, and you’ll be called a murderer.

The thing I worry about the most is not how the coalition will function, but that we haven’t hit rock bottom of discussions. Anti-intellectualism has been aggressively promoted, and I fear that in the next go round it will get even stronger. I hope not.