The commander, the laughter and the fighter

I laid down on the bed in my multi-colored room. Four walls, four different colors. Sky blue, raspberry, bright orange and light green. My thirteenth birthday present: a grown-up room.

Image…and yet, not quite. On the orange wall next to the window, I pinned a Powerpuff Girl poster. A Paramore poster is above it, sure, but the real glint of my childhood shines from the Powerpuff Girl one.

I’ve written about them before. I was obsessed as a kid. Powerpuff Girl shoes, backpacks, socks, purses, shirts, movies, pencil cases, pencils to put in the pencil cases, books, dolls… you get the point.

It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized how The Powerpuff Girls really influenced me.

Here’s how the theme song goes:

Blossom, commander and the leader 
Bubbles, she is the joy and the laughter 
Buttercup, she’s the toughest fighter 

I looked at the poster on my wall. All three of the girls floating, their jets of color trailing along behind them. That theme song ran through my head. Along with my epiphany.

I am all three of The Powerpuff Girls.

I’m bossy like Blossom, sweet (and apparently “cute,” some would say) like Bubbles and a tough cookie like Buttercup.

I like to lead, but I also like to laugh and make other people smile. And when necessary, I can be pretty ferocious, especially when I’m fighting for something I believe in.

The Powerpuff Girls –– along with my mother, of course –– taught me how to be the woman I’ve become. I’m not taking their poster down any time soon.

C’mon, let’s face it, who doesn’t love little kindergarten-age girls who kick ass and save the world, all before bedtime? You’re crazy if you don’t.

15, 16, 17, 18, 19 (Playing catch up)

19.) A song from your favorite album.

“Treasure” from Flyleaf’s Memento Mori 

18.) A song you wish you heard on the radio.

“Pot Kettle Black” by Tilly and the Wall. I love Tilly and this song kicks ass.

17.) A song that you hear often on the radio.

I don’t listen to the radio very often, but I’d imagine this one is probably being overplayed right now (and I love this song). “We Are Young” by Fun. feat. Janelle Monáe

16.) A song you used to love but now hate.

“Decode” by Paramore. Not their best work (its association with Twilight could be to blame, just sayin’).

15.) A song that describes you.

“One Day I Slowly Floated Away” by Eisley.

(The background is weird, I know.)

An evolution of taste

I am currently uploading a few of my old CDs to my iTunes. Now I’m reminiscing about how my music taste has evolved. Care to join me?

The first song I called my “favorite” was “Pieces of Me” by Ashlee Simpson. I wanted her CD, Autobiography, so bad, but never bought it. Instead, I purchased Lindsay Lohan’s Speak, and every Hilary Duff CD available when I was in fourth grade. I danced around my room and sang into my hairbrush.

Jesse McCartney showed up in sixth grade. I bought Beautiful Soul that year and watched Disney Channel every day with hopes he would show his face. I died inside every time this music video showed during Disney Channel commercials: Because You Live

Avril Lavigne snuck in after that. Finally in eighth grade, a friend introduced me to YouTube. I went on to find this:

…and everything spawned from there. Flyleaf wasn’t far behind for me with “I’m So Sick.” Lacey’s voice is just so…different. Their latest album, Memento Mori, is one I can listen to over and over and not tire of it.

Then things got weird. My brothers’ (and friends’) tastes in music severely influenced mine. Seeing AFI on the VH1 Top 20 Countdown on Saturday mornings could make my day. Especially with “Love Like Winter.” I wanted nothing more than to meet Davey Havok and Jade Puget.

Bullet For My Valentine followed, with Marilyn Manson not long after. “Tears Don’t Fall” by Bullet For My Valentine became my new “favorite” song.

I’m not ashamed of anything I listened to during younger years. It meant something to me at that point in time. Each listen brings back a different memory.

For the record…

My favorite song now is “Rain” by Breaking Benjamin (and has been since, oh, ninth grade?), though I have several close seconds.

My favorite music video is, and will forever be, this one (especially from 2:07 and on): The Leaving Song Pt. II

Now I listen to anything and everything.

Marina is a dreamer

There are 6,080 songs in my iTunes. A majority of it them are by The Beatles and Red Hot Chili Peppers. However, recently I have added more to my collection.

I used to be the biggest fan of bands like Bullet for my Valentine, Escape the Fate (I even met them once) and LOVED Marilyn Manson. I still listen to this music from time-to-time, but I haven’t even bothered with Escape the Fate’s new album. I think this shows just how much I have grown up over the past few years. I put all of my band tee shirts away, and the only one I wear is my newer Beatles shirt. Even my Emily The Strange stuff has been shoved in a drawer; those tee shirts don’t get hung up anymore (though I am currently wearing my Emily yoga pants – they’re so comfy!).

Anyway, I’ll get to the point. Now, the top six artists that I have listened to for the past two years (according to last.fm) are The Beatles, Paramore, Tilly and the Wall, Flyleaf, Imogen Heap, Eisley, The Bird and the Bee and Vampire Weekend. Things have changed, huh?

I have quickly transitioned from being completely closed-minded when it comes to music to listening to anything and everything. I love almost every genre (though screamo does give me a bit of a headache now). Recently, though, I’ve become an indie girl. It’s catchy and I cannot help it.

So, I recently expanded my iTunes library even more. I downloaded tons of Florence + The Machine, Adele, I Blame Coco and many more. However, I knew that I was onto something the moment I listened to a song by Marina & The Diamonds.

Since downloading her music last week, I have listened to her 148 times. She’s all I listen to on my iPod and all I have on CDs in my car. Her sound is just so different from anything I have ever heard before. She’s completely original and creative. Her music videos are INSANE (and I usually don’t watch music videos, but I had to see what hers were like) and her music is just so damn catchy. Her lyrics are completely blunt and awesome; she’s not afraid to express what she thinks. She’s beautiful and talented and does not have to dress like a slut to make it so her music is popular.

From “Girls”:

“Is there any possibility
You’ll quit gossiping about me
To hide your insecurities
All you say is ‘blah, blah’

Girls they never befriend me
Cause I fall asleep when they speak
Of all the calories they eat
All they say is ‘na na na na na’ (na na na na na)”

My favorite song of hers (though it sounds odd) is called “Hermit The Frog.” I think that I’ll be obsessed with her music for awhile. I can’t wait for more CDs to come out.


It’s disgusting

Time moves so fast that it’s disgusting to me.

We have a little over two weeks left of summer and it will be my senior year of high school. It seems like just yesterday I was a little punk wearing jeans from a secondhand store, a Paramore tee shirt and flamingo Vans on my first day of freshman year. I started writing on this blog the summer after my freshman year. Here we are, two years later. My, how things have changed.

I’ve lost a lot of weight since freshman year. It’s not like I was ever chubby, but let’s just say that pants I have from seventh grade don’t fit me anymore (they’re too big). I used to think I was awesome. I was invincible and the senior class then could totally kiss my ass. I was a goth-y punk chick that shopped at Hot Topic and thought she was hardcore. I wore Emily The Strange tee shirts/hoodies (which, yeah, are cool because of my name, but I’ve grown up a little bit) with skinny jeans and Converse. Now, I just don’t care. I want to dress a little more mature, but still want to be a kid. I’m torn between the undeniable reality and frivolous thoughts.

Today were my senior pictures. When my oldest brother Jordan had his done, I was going into sixth grade. It seemed so cool that he was getting pictures professionally done. When Trevor had his done, I was going into eighth grade. Again, it seemed awesome to me. We added one more frame onto the wall next to Jordan’s senior pictures. Adam had his done two years later, and though he was still wearing his braces, he looked great in every picture. It was my turn today; soon my pictures will be added to the senior pictures wall.

I was set on all natural stuff. My braces were removed months ago, but even if they were still on, I would have kept them on. I wouldn’t have gone to my orthodontist to go through the painful process of having them remove them for a few days just to get pictures taken with them off, only to have them cemented back onto my teeth. That’s not natural. When we got in the car today, my mom asked me if I had brought along any blush or lip gloss just to brighten up my face a little more. I shook my head. I only dab on a bit of eyeliner and mascara onto my face, with maybe a dab or two of foundation just to complete a look. In other words, I hardly wear any makeup. I never buy anything new makeup-wise because I never need anything refilled. My boyfriend actually prefers me without makeup, which is a plus because almost every day, I go naked on my face.

Anyway, there were some rules today:

  1. I was to wear a certain red shirt for one set of my pictures, by request of my mother, who is paying for them. It only makes sense.
  2. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WITH SOMETHING THAT SAYS “SENIOR” OR “SENIOR 2011.” I simply refuse. I find that completely corny and unnecessary and I think that weird object is just an eyesore in the photo.
  3. Since I don’t wear blush of any kind, my mom kept reminding me to pinch my cheeks. Yeah, okay, Mom.
  4. My mom had to at least take her eyelash curler and pinch my eyelashes with it in a painful manner. Again, thanks, Mom.
  5. My bangs couldn’t be perfect. They had to look just a little tousled because I, of course, am not perfect at all. This relates back to the whole “natural” thing I stressed.

Other than the red shirt, my mom gave me the freedom of choosing other outfits. I wore a gorgeous blue, purple, white and black dress that Robby had requested I try on when he was bored with shopping one time (he just wanted some entertainment). I ended up LOVING it and later on hunted all around Western New York for the dress. I found it. (Insert ugly smiley face that I refuse to actually insert.)

It’s funny about the other things that I wore. Every single piece was something I already owned but had no idea that when I bought it that it would end up among the outfits to be worn in my senior pictures.

I wore this black and red dress thing that I have had since ninth grade. My mom saw it in a JCPenney ad and knew right away that her daughter needed to have it. We made a special trip out to the mall and got it. I have worn it to countless events, but never dreamed it would make the cut for my senior pictures.

A dress we got for $1.00 at a consignment shop in East Aurora was among the many outfits I wore. Who would have thunk?

My comic strip-esque Disney hoodie that I bought in Disney World was worn for some of the shots, as was my track uniform. I made sure to get my track shorts (#12 – I’ve worn them for every track season since seventh grade) and took my spikes with me to complete the look.

It was a great experience and I cannot wait to see the prints! It will be hard to choose, I’m sure. The next thing we’ll need to hire the studio for will be my wedding. But, we’ll get there when we get there.

I’m sorry, Pandora

After another month of writing, I have enough for yet another big purchase. I’m typing on my HP Mini right now, and yes, I absolutely adore Eurydice, but now I have someone/something else on my mind. There’s something I’ve been wanting for a few months now, and right now it seems unbearable to me that I don’t have him (it) yet.

Pandora just isn’t cutting it anymore. This little square 4 GB iPod that I received for my fourteenth birthday was the light of my life for so long. But, in the past month, Pandora has seen more of the ground than she had throughout her entire two year existence. I was the first one in school to have the first video nano, but now it’s outdated and doesn’t have enough storage. She’s right next to me in her little pink leather jacket and is connected to my record player’s iPod jack so I can hear some Tilly and the Wall at a higher volume. But, at the moment I’m really craving some of The Submarines, whose music I did not have room to fit on Pandora.

For about a month I contemplated what iPod I would get after I got my laptop. My first choice was always the iPod Classic. I realized that the iPod Touch is basically for people who just want the apps and aren’t all about the music, which is the sole purpose why I want/NEED a new iPod. I considered the new iPod nano (Chromatic), but then realized that having a video camera on an iPod with so little storage would be tempting and stupid at the same time. Once again, I would be too busy monkeying around with that rather than listening to tunage. I do plan on purchasing an iPod shuffle in the future, just to have to run with or whatever, but it’s not going to be my main man.

And so, the choice was unanimous. Next week when I get my check, I’m off to the Apple store to pick up Orpheus and let him join my electronic family (Pandora, Narcissus and Eurydice; I have yet to name some other things). I will most likely end up buying the silver iPod classic, just so it’s not identical to my brother’s black one. He and Pandora will have to share my iHome, but I think I’ll put Pandora into retirement for a little while. She’s done a good job for two years and deserves a break. I’m just excited to finally be able to go from every Brand New CD to Paramore’s released and unreleased music to Vampire Weekend to John Mayer to Lady GaGa all on the same iPod. The thought of having my entire music library in my pocket is exhilarating. I can’t wait to put song after song on an iPod without having to take something off, first.

Paramore’s brand new eyes

I love it. I’m pretty sure it passes by All We Know Is Falling and I definitely like it better than RIOT! The lyrics and melodies the band display on this album really speak of the struggles they have faced over the past year.

1.) “Careful” – A bold opener; not unlike “For A Pessimist I’m Pretty Optimistic.” It really shows that Paramore has grown up and earned their brand new eyes. They’re not the naive power-pop band anymore. They’ve witnessed more of the world now and have become wise because of it.“You can’t be too careful anymore…”

2.) “Ignorance” – It’s awesome, duh. It shows the heavier side of the problems Paramore has faced. “Don’t wanna hear your sad songs/I don’t wanna feel your pain/When you swear it’s all my fault/’Cause you know we’re not the same.” The music video for this is especially impressive. It’s dark, dreary, slightly demented, yet perfect.

3.) “Playing God” – Another glimpse for those of us who are on the outside looking in. Hayley Williams speaks for herself, yet it sums everything up for the whole band. Here, she tells about how she’s not perfect, but neither are they. “Next time you point a finger, I’ll point you to a mirror.”

4.) “Brick By Boring Brick” – My favorite part is when the boys join in the last twenty seconds of the song with the “ba da ba ba da ba ba-ah.” Course, I’m a sucker for guys that can sing. It’s cute how she ties in the part about how the wolf’s going to blow it down. It’s perfection in my book.

5.) “Turn It Off” – Williams’ lyrics are absolutely beautiful in this song. I can’t get over their beauty and how they just make this song.

6.) “The Only Exception” – My personal favorite. I love slow songs that have the lovely sound of someone strumming a guitar calmly. It gives me a nice break from the headache-inducing metal I listen to. This will definitely be added to my “Calm” playlist on my iPod. I don’t especially like how low Williams goes on the “are” of “you are the only exception,” but it works. It really does.

7.) “Feeling Sorry” – Another peek into the band’s life. Williams has no time for feeling sorry, and she makes that clear.

8.) “Looking Up” – Listen to the lyrics and it will give you goosebumps. After the songs she wrote with lyrics that tell of her desperation to settle everything, it’s refreshing to hear these lyrics. They almost threw everything away; everything that Hayley dreamed about. “It’s not a dream anymore… God knows the world doesn’t need another band (whoa-oa-oa, whoa-oa-oa) but what a waste it would have been (whoa-oa-oa, whoa-oa-oa).” She took it for granted, but now they’re back and in my mind there’s no doubt anymore about whether they will stay intact. “We’re just getting started.”

9.) “Where The Line Overlap”“No one is as lucky as us.” Sums it up, right there. Definitely a good listen.

10.) “Misguided Ghosts” – The guitar part in this song melts me. I love Hayley’s voice when she sings along to it.

11.) “All I Wanted” – An epic ballad on Paramore’s part. Hayley’s voice is breathtaking when it carries up to that highest note (listen to it and ye shall know). I think they should have ended the album with “Looking Up,” but this definitely works. The first part of the album is full of their frustrations, then they are settled, and these last three songs come in. Yeah, I guess it’s perfect.

They’re not a RIOT! band anymore. They’ve calmed down, reassessed things and have come through with an album that is sure to be another hit once it hits stores in the US tomorrow. I have already listened to it probably almost ten times, and I’m not going to stop any time soon. That much is for certain. Their brand new eyes don’t get boring.

“Ignorance” is my new best friend

I think I have listened to the song “Ignorance” over ten times. And sure, that’s not a lot compared to the people that have played it 500 times and more, but that’s a big number for me. I don’t like to listen to the same song all the time; I like to mix it up a bit. Listening to “Ignorance” over 500 times in one sitting would make me hate it.

It still sounds like Paramore. The title looks like a word Paramore would use. I’m sure that if I were to taste the song it would taste like Paramore (whatever that flavor is). Hayley’s voice seems a little edgier in this song than any song I have ever heard her sing. It’s still beautiful, of course, but this makes me anxious to hear the other tracks on the new album Brand New Eyes. I have a live version of “Where The Lines Overlap,” but it’s so hard to listen to something that has screaming from people at the concert in the background. I guess I will have to wait until September 29th.

All We Know Is Falling is still my favorite Paramore album and has been since its release in 2005. Maybe this Brand New Eyes will top it. I don’t know though; it’s always hard to beat the original.

I cannot wait until September 29th.

BrandNewEyesgroupshotIGNORANCEhayleysingingbiglollipop

It all started with a record player

A few weeks ago, I bought myself a record player. I was ecstatic to find it at such a good price, and was beaming as I walked out of the store with the box in my arms.

When we got home, I immediately took it into the Living Room and set it up. My parents taught me how to use it and to be careful not to jump around whilst listening to it. My mother and I ventured into the cave (our basement) to retrieve some of their old records to bring back some of the past. We carried armload after armload upstairs to the Living Room and left them in stacks all around the room. I left the ones I bought earlier that day (Coheed & Cambria and a Fueled By Ramen package that were extremely cheap) on the couch and my dad and I had a look-see to pick out what I should listen to first.

I thought my brothers would think it cool for me to have purchased a record player, but they avoided me like I had the plague. They seemed pretty pissed off and jealous that I got to one first and because my parents’ old one needs a new needle thing. Trevor especially because I bought Coheed & Cambria. Because he likes them, I’m not allowed to. Oh well.

My dad sat on the couch as I rifled through stack after stack, holding record after record up seeking his approval. All of the ones with his name written on them were the ones approved – all of the ones with Barbra Streisand on the cover were kept in a pile that I would not listen to. Sorry, mom.

I have discovered a whole new music taste thanks to my record player (though it does have a CD player, radio and iPod hookup included, I tend to listen to records on it more). I found out that I love the bands Sweet, REO Speedwagon (You Can Tune A Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish), Joan Jett & The Black Hearts, The Knack, Boomtown Rats, Supertramp, Cheap Trick, Pink Floyd, London Town and some Pat Benatar. I still love Escape the Fate, Paramore, Tilly and the Wall, and all of the other bands I have always loved, but I am now broadening my music taste. It’s cool to think that my parents played these records once at the same age I am now. I wish I could go back and meet the teenage versions of them. My mom and I would be identical, and I bet my dad and I would have fun listening to music together – just like we do now.

XX is greater than XY (My latest NeXt article)

Take out your iPod, select the “Music” option and click on “Artists.” Scroll on through from A to Z and count the number of bands that are composed of only males. Male-fronted bands probably make up the majority, correct? It might interest you to know that some females in this world can rock harder than the opposite sex.

The three female-fronted bands that nearly everyone in the teenage crowd has heard of are Flyleaf, Paramore and Evanescence, but there are plenty more out there in this world that are none too popular. While Lacey, Hayley and Amy Lee’s voices are indeed beautiful, there are other gorgeous female voices that deserve just as much attention.

A few bands that fans of Paramore might enjoy are: Hey Monday (of West Palm Beach, Fla.), Damone (from Waltham, Mass.), The Material (which started out in San Diego, Calif.), and New Years Day (of Anaheim, Calif.). Cassadee Pope of Hey Monday and Noelle LeBlanc from Damone are sure to gain more fame in the next few years with their voices leading the way.

Colleen D’Agostino of The Material has a beautifully clear voice that is irresistible. One might think that a female singer changes the gender of a band’s fans, but both Roi Elam from The Material and Ashley Costello of New Years Day disagree: “I don’t really think so,” said Elam, “I see an equal amount of guys and girls at our shows.”

“Nooo … not at all, and I was surprised by that,” exclaimed Costello. “When we play I see just as many guys in the crowd as I see girls. It’s really cute.” New Years Day has often been described as the female version of Fall Out Boy. Yes, here and there a likeness is detected, but New Years Day is a band all its own. “I feel like a lot of people took more notice of us because there was a girl singer, but it’s also very hard,” said Costello. “There are so many guy-fronted bands that I feel sometimes the female-fronted band gets pigeon-holed and maybe a label won’t look at us.”

Many people are skeptical of females being in rock bands, but listen to some New Years Day, and let Ashley change your mind in “Temecula Sunrise” or “My Sweet Unvalentine.”

Pretty close to one another in your iPod should be two bands: Fireflight from Eustis, Fla., and Flyleaf of Texas. Both bands are Christian rock, bordering on metal, and are led by females who know what they are doing.

The lyrics that Dawn Richardson and Lacey Mosley sing are powerful and attuned to God. “We all contribute our own parts and help each other to improve upon each other’s suggestions,” said Dawn. “Both Justin [guitarist/ background vocalist Justin Cox] and I work on the lyrics but I am the main lyricist, I imagine me being a girl does affect the way I write…” Nobody would think Flyleaf and Fireflight are all about God, but listening to their lyrics very carefully can help you realize just how much their faith influences the artists in these bands. “We write about what we have gone through in our lives and how God’s love has brought us through,” said Richardson.

Think the farthest thing from the music made by Flyleaf and Fireflight and you have a band called Save Ferris from Orange County, Calif. Although they are no longer together, their deliciously quirky sound and clever lyrics do not fail to entertain. Check out “Under 21” or their cover of “Come On Eileen” (originally by Dexy’s Midnight Runners) and enjoy some ska. Monique Powell is now a solo artist, but her voice was perfect for the likes of Save Ferris.

Ask me: who is the exact opposite of Save Ferris? I will think about it for a second before I reply with one word: Kittie. Don’t let their adorable name fool you — this is a cat you do not want to cross paths with.

Kittie strikes me as the female version of Slipknot — Morgan Lander attacking the listeners with her voice. After many changes over the years, currently rounding out this all-female quartet are Mercedes Lander on drums/vocals/piano, Tara McLeod on guitar, and Ivy Vujic playing bass. Originating in Ontario, Kittie has been around for years, putting many a CD out. Check out “What I Always Wanted” or “Paperdoll” and behold the scarily musical meow that is Kittie.

From Amy Lee to Dawn Richardson, Ashley Costello to Morgan Lander, some females can really rock. So put away the Avenged Sevenfold or Metallica CD and go try something different and new. Found on my iPod is a playlist called “Female-fronted bands.” Maybe you should create one as well, and drag all of the music from these bands onto your iPod.

Also worth listening to: Within Temptation, Garbage, Automatic Loveletter, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, 1997, Meg & Dia, The Donnas, Be Your Own Pet, Letters to Cleo, The Morning Of, Veruca Salt, Lacuna Coil and The Veronicas.

“Being the only girl in a band is awesome. It has just as many pros as it has cons. I’m always protected, but then again I am always picked on by them. It’s like a little sister-big brother relationship,” said Ashley Costello.

Emily Steves is a sophomore at Gowanda