It’s been three months of WFH and we’re now at Phase Two. For many, it is a manic transition to make because the Circuit Breaker was long enough for new habits to form and now, to have to break. We empathise. So here’s AUGUSTMAN’s top music recommendations, whether for keeping your momentum going, or staying prepared for what’s to come. For sure, they’ll make for a playlist to get you up to speed for Phase Two.
‘So young’ — Portugal. The Man
American rock band Portugal. The Man first shot to fame with its single ‘Feel It Still’. It helped the band clinch the “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance” award at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in 2018. To put this achievement into perspective, Portugal. The Man was competing against pop “veterans” The Chainsmokers and Coldplay (‘Something Just Like This’), Imagine Dragons (‘Thunder’), and Zedd and Alessia Clara (‘Stay’).
That said, we prefer the band’s 2017 song ‘So Young’ much, much more. Here’s why: It owns a perfect blend of singer and guitarist John Baldwin Gourley’s high-pitched (and smooth) falsetto and well-timed drum beats. Not to mention, the occasional soft sounds coming from a synthesiser, an organ, and a horn – all the elements to gyrate your head a little when you tune in. We find the upbeat tunes of ‘So Young’ give your repetitive mundane mornings a refreshing start.
‘La Deriva’ — Vetusta Morla
‘La Deriva’ means ‘the drift’. And according to Spanish rock band Vetusta Morla in an interview, ‘the drift’ refers to “the moment that happens after something has gone wrong. Although that can be a frightening picture, it’s a good chance to find new and unexpected paths and to feel that we’re not alone in that situation“.
In other words, however frightening it is to head back to pre-Circuit-Breaker routines for Phase Two; have hope, as cliché as it sounds, and know that everything will work its way out. That’s essentially the message listeners can take from ‘La Deriva’—it’s no wonder that fans and music enthusiasts alike look up to Vetusta Morla’s music for inspiration.
Fun fact: Vetusta Morla’s ‘La Deriva’ is heard on Netflix’s Spanish hit series Money Heist.
‘Natural’ — Imagine Dragons
Roaring drums. Strong anthems. Personal stories intertwined in its lyrics. These are the stuff we love about American pop-rock band Imagine Dragons. The band has released four studio albums to date (Night Visions, Smoke + Mirrors, Evolve and Origins) and received American Music Awards, Billboard and Grammy recognition. With over 70 songs recorded, we pick Imagine Dragon’s ‘Natural’ for the student population.
While we’re proud that Singapore retained top spot as ‘Most Competitive Economy’ for the second consecutive year, we don’t need to scratch deep to see what drives her to succeed as a small nation. And qualities like tenacity and progressiveness can be attributed to its rigorous education system. The COVID-19 outbreak mandated local students to use home-based learning in the form of online lectures and tutorials. The effectiveness of these will be put to the test at the year’s final examinations, no doubt.
On that note, we reckon Imagine Dragon’s ‘Natural’ fittingly empathise with students facing the pressure to succeed and the fear of failing. So as lead singer Dan Reynolds screams: Will you hold the line/When every one of them has given up and given in/A beating heart of stone/You gotta be so cold/To make it in this world. So, be strong and steady.
‘Freaking Out’ — A r i z o n a
If you like the indie genre, but prefer a piece that has a more summer-ish vibe than say, Australian pop group Angus and Julia Stone, press play to American rock and electropop band ARIZONA’s ‘Freaking Out’. After the band, comprising singer Zachary Charles, keys Nathan Esquite, and guitarist David Labuguen, debuted in 2016, the group steadily released two hit studio albums, Gallery (2017) and Aslyum (2019), and looks to cap the year off with concerts (if the pandemic can be managed safely).
The beauty of ARIZONA’s music lies in its consistency. It adopts a formula that works perfectly, and run with it. Every song of ARIZONA’s combine Charles’ soft vocals with the right mix of sounds from the keys and guitar to present a calm intro, before gradually rising up in momentum at different verses, and igniting into a blithe chorus. Like a sports car getting up to speed, if you will. A perfect song to get you into the mood before going to dine with your friends.
‘IDK YOU YET’ — Alexander 23
We end the Phase Two Music Playlist with up-and-coming American artist Alexander 23’s soft-pop song ‘IDK You Yet’. Although Phase Two allows customers to dine-in at eateries and restaurants, it sets a limit of five heads per table. Hence, for those who have a huge social circle or a big family, dining out remains a challenge.
So Alexander 23 sings “I need you now/But I don’t know you yet” so elegantly, like many artists before him expressing the need for love but not finding it just yet. But, don’t take it that you have to dine alone. Just pick your company wisely, and keep it down to five.