Where's the mass appeal?

Underrated Songs, An Alternative Playlist

Not every song we happen to fall in love with makes it to the hit list or gets released as a single. The songs that are musically and lyrically strong may rarely make their way to the average listener’s playlist. Everyone may have danced to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”, but how many have appreciated the country music and the brilliant storyline of “Ours”? While the former got over a billion views, the latter ended up being one amongst many. Today, the mainstream music can repetitive, as repetition makes for a catchy song that is easy to dance along to. Reviews tell that the songs are brilliant but we feel that there are many other brilliant songs that get looked over and deserve to be heard and loved as well.

The following are 15 of the most underrated songs which we feel should have received their deserved share of recognition

1. Walk the Moon – “Anna Sun”    

Shut Up and Dance’ is a major hit but what set the course of popularity for the band Walk the moon was the song “Anna Sun”. A Brittany Spanos in an article “The Secret of Walk the Moon’s Glittery Feel-Good Rock” said

“Not only did the song give the burgeoning band its first hit, the accompanying video (depicting an underground jazzercise rave) gave them a new identity.” The ‘Anna Sun’ video was really what set us on a course,” recalls Petricca. “We were a party band and college band, a bar band. We definitely always wanted to make people dance, but after the ‘Anna Sun’ video was released at this big paint party that we had in Cincinnati — the first time we had face paint — we realized that there’s this sense of childish wonder and of preserving the inner child that is central to Walk the Moon, down to the sort of Lost Boys in Peter Pan and Neverland face paint.”

Though this single defined Walk the Moon, when compared to ‘Shut Up and Dance’, this song received fewer views. ‘Anna Sun’ was well received by critics but it doesn’t appear in the numbers. Our favorite lines are:

“Fire-crackers in the east my car parked south
Your hands on my cheeks your shoulder in my mouth
I was up against the wall on the west mezzanine
We rattle this town, we rattle this scene

O, Anna Sun
O, Anna Sun”

2. Nicki Minaj – “Grand Piano”

One of the best female rappers at the moment, Nicki Minaj is often mentioned for hit songs like “Anaconda” or “Get On Your Knees”. However, this singer showed us a different side of hers in the song “Grand Piano”, the last from her album “The Pinkprint”. A piano ballad, this song leads the listener to experience a range of emotions. Also, we get to see a vocally strong artist without the use of auto-tuning or studio enhancers to bring out the best.

Our favorite line would be:

“Cold hearted shame you’ll remain just afraid in the dark

The people are saying that you have been playing my heart like a grand piano.”

 3Ed Sheeran – “Afire Love”

Known for his honest music, “Afire Love” is one of the most emotional songs by Ed Sheeran. The fourth song on his album “X”, “Afire Love” is a piano ballad where Ed Sheeran opens up about his grandfather’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease and its effect on his family. Although the song is set to a grooving beat, lyrics grab all the attention. Showing his love for his grandparents in the chorus, the song also shows the other side of the battle; the reunion of his family that the disease resulted in. The tragedy it talks about is well evident from the lines:

My father told me, ‘Son, it’s not his fault he doesn’t know your face’

You’re not the only one”.

4. Lady Gaga – “Till it happens to you”

Sexual assault is something that happens more often than many people realize and many cases go unreported. A common problem in American academic institutions, Lady Gaga gave voice to the problem through this lyrically and visually strong song. “Till It Happens To You” is a rock ballad. Gaga is putting forward an important question to those who think, “it will be fine.” by asking them, “How the hell could you know?”. The song expresses that some things have to be experienced to be understood.  Somehow, though, this song did not get its share of recognition. Gaga is nominated for Grammy, but the song missed the mark in reaching out to its audience.

“You tell me “hold your head up”
Hold your head up and be strong
Cause when you fall, you gotta get up
You gotta get up and move on.”

Tell me, how the hell could you talk,
How could you talk?
Cause until you walk where I walk,
It’s just all talk”

5. Jamie Lawson – “Wasn’t Expecting That”

Lawson was Ed Sheeran’s first signing for his label, Gingerbread Man Records. His single “Wasn’t Expecting That” became immensely popular in Ireland after it was played on Ireland’s biggest radio station, “Today FM’s Breakfast Show”. Though the song was first released on YouTube on January 3, 2011, it was re-released on April 3, 2015.  The Guardian called Lawson “an older version of Ed Sheeran- a bit warmer and more mud-splattered, but similarly acoustic and absorbed by the minutiae of relationships.” The song tells a love story beginning from a kiss and ending with a death. The soft music makes you sing along. The lyrics have you laughing at the surprise of the man when he got a kiss and all he could say that he ‘wasn’t expecting that’, and bring you to cry when she ‘closes her eyes’ and took us all by surprise. It’s a beautiful song of an everyday couple. Though a hit in Ireland, it didn’t garner many views.

 6. Eminem – “Till I Collapse”

 

This song is by far the best song by Eminem, in our opinion. It’s special in the sense that there is a rhyming scheme within a rhyming scheme but it’s not without purpose. The scheme makes sense. The song is Eminem’s claim as a rapper, evident from the line when he says

 “Till the day that I drop, you’ll never say that I’m not killing them
Cause when I am not/then I’ma stop (then I’ma stop penning them)
And I am not (not) hip-hop and I’m just not (and I’m just not Eminem)”
.

He wants to be the ‘baddest’ when it comes to music. He does not care about money, and certification is just ‘whack’ for him. What he wants is respect. With Nate Dogg on the chorus, this song can bring the house down. However, like many gems, it too got lost in the crowd.

7. Troye Sivan – “Youth”

With his album “Blue Neighborhood”, Troye Sivan is already a much talked about artist. His voice is unique and his songs are slow, giving listeners full time to enjoy each and every line. The Blue Neighbourhood Trilogy which consists of “Wild”, “Fools” and “Talk me down” forms a narrative about fear of ‘coming out’ has been the most popular portion of the album contrary to the trilogy is the single “Youth” which is about the joy of being with your loved one. The happiness is evident in the feeling of ecstasy he gets after falling in love as he is “Trippin’ on skies, sippin’ waterfalls.” Here, we see a devoted lover giving his youth to the one he loves and yearning for fulfillment. The song is beautiful and deserves some attention. Our favorite lines are:

“And when the lights start flashing like a photo booth
And the stars exploding
We’ll be fireproof

My youth
My youth is yours
Trippin’ on skies, sippin’ waterfalls
My youth
My youth is yours”

8. Taylor Swift – “Ours”

The video very evidently tells for whom this song is made. The love that fills color in the mundane life is shown through video snippets the girl shares with us of her lover who has gone to serve his duty as a soldier. Lyrically, the song is pretty similar to “Our Song” but it has a story of its own that makes it special. Amidst ‘stares’ and the unreliable ‘jury’ who give ‘verdict’ without actually seeing all sides, the girl in the video goes on to live her life through reminiscences of her happy life with her lover. The sixth song from the album “Speak Now”, the song starts as a ballad, picks up the pace as it progresses but overall maintains it slow tempo to unravel her beautiful experience to us. The scaled production did not win as many hearts as if should have, though. Listening to the country music today takes you back to the old Taylor Swift. Our favorite lines are:

“So don’t you worry your pretty little mind / People throw rocks at things that shine”
You never know what people have up their sleeves / Ghosts from your past gonna jump out at me / Lurking in the shadows with their lip gloss smiles / But I don’t care / ‘Cause right now you’re mine,
Cause I love the gap between your teeth / And I love the riddles that you speak / And any snide remarks from my father about your tattoos will be ignored / ‘Cause my heart is yours.

9. Jessie Ware – “Say You Love Me”

Till now, Jessie Ware hasn’t had the luck of making any mark on the charts like her former PMR label mate Sam Smith. The reason is not her vocals or songs, though, it’s just her bad luck which is not letting her win the widespread appeal she deserves. ‘Say You Love Me’, a single from her album “Tough Love”, is co-written by Ed Sheeran. A pop ballad, the song is backed by a guitar. Ware, while sitting and maintaining her poise, takes us on an emotional journey of love where she is asking her lover to confess his feelings.

“Say you love me to my face, I need it more than your embrace

 Just say you want me, that’s all it takes”

 10. George Ezra – “Listen To The Man”

Ezra’s voice that defies his age is not the only unique thing. His talent is unique too. The singer gave a global hit “Budapest” had a lot to offer through his album “Wanted On Voyage”. According to Andrew Le, “Listen to the Man” brings cool with its dissipating cymbals and crunchy, duetting guitar riffs that shuffle effortlessly. There’s a steady, laidback groove that harks to the relaxed White Album version of Revolution by the Fab Four.” [From the post of “Renowned for Sound”]

You don’t have to be scared, you don’t need a plan,”

The line states the motto of the song that is, you need to live the life to the fullest without worrying for the consequences, which makes this song a youth anthem. The video is fun to watch, the casual tussle between Ezra and Ian McKellen makes you sing along and join the ride but unlike “Budapest” which garnered a huge attention, the same did not happen for this song.

11. Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta”

Kendrick Lamar’s album is critically acclaimed, but not very well received by the masses. Third single from Lamar’s album “To Pimp a Butterfly”, “King Kunta” offers a different sound to the whole genre of hip-hop with heavy folk and soul influence. The lyrics are powerful and the song as a whole is a social statement. The lines make it clear:

“When you got the yams (What’s the yams?)
The yam brought it out of Richard Pryor
Manipulated Bill Clinton with desires”

If you’ve read Achebe, you might be aware of the significance of Yam.’Yam’ is considered a masculine crop, a symbol of power in some parts of Africa.

“Richard Pryor is well known for setting himself on fire after freebasing cocaine, while Bill Clinton was overwhelmed by the “yams,” (or power) of the Oval office and took advantage of Monica Lewinsky, betrayed his wife and lied to his country.” (RapGenius) Everyone has a weak point and not everyone is able to handle the power. The point is well made by Lamar.

12. Halsey – “Control”

With a personality like Halsey’s, the title seems bit ironic. The freedom she showcases in her voice, lyrics, interviews and shows prompt us to think “Who’s in control?” A gem in her album ‘Badlands’, Control gives us a sneak peek into Halsey’s escapades, her journey through drugs, sex, and loss. In short, what Halsey called ‘the existential crises’. After her EP ‘Room 93’, Halsey is being noticed by big names in the industry; evident from her duet with Justin Bieber. The album offers a series of brilliantly written songs. ‘New Americana’ is already a hit, but this song offers a bit clearer picture of her which is really important to understand her songs. The sound is new and captivating. Gaining momentum through her unique voice, Halsey should definitely be in your playlist.

13. Little Mix – “Move”

Their first album “DNA” was a chart topper, debuting at number 4 on Billboard’s top 200 charts. Their second album, though, is much more mature and has more of an R&B flavor. Like many other artists have done recently, Little Mix also tried to give this song a ‘retro’ feel that is, of the 2000’s, and they really succeeded. For upbeat music lovers, the song is perfect. The video definitely deserves many more views. These girls are vocally very strong, and can make you groove to their tracks. As Perrie Edwards said, you need to give it ‘few listens’ before laying out your verdict, and in our opinion, the verdict will be in their favor. Our favorite lines:

“Hey baby
Tell me your name
I gotta fever for you
I just can’t explain
But there’s just one problem
I’m a bit old school
When it comes to lovin’
I ain’t chasing you
Hate waiting
I’m on a roll
You’ve got to let yourself go

14. Jazmine Sullivan – “Forever Don’t Last”

This single, followed by “Dump”, shows Sullivan’s prowess as a singer. A love ballad, the song is about her attempt to save her relationship. No one is blamed. Instead, a loss of a beautiful relationship which was meant to last forever is being lamented. With a wide range, the listener could feel the depth in her voice and the gut-wrenching lyrics. Interestingly, this song has been unanimously appreciated by critics but as the trend goes, not every song always gets the attention that it deserves.

Our favorite lines are:

“I had high hopes for us, baby like I was on dope for us baby, chasing a high I would never get back again”

15. Gabrielle Aplin – “Home”

The following quote sums up the song very well:

“The title track is basking in warm nostalgia while gradually unraveling to a background of tender acoustic strums and hushed drum beats. The lyrics seem to tell Aplin’s present story, painting the picture of someone who loves her home dearly, but knows she can’t stay there if she is ever to find herself. Lines such as “I’m a phoenix in the water / A fish that’s learnt to fly / And I’ve always been a daughter / But feathers are meant for the sky” capture the sentiment perfectly, proving that Gabrielle is just as effective on paper as she is on a microphone. It is this type of maturity that may lead you to believe that she is older and has more experience, but the realization that she still has her entire life (and career) ahead of her only raises her figurative ceiling.”

-Sputnik Music

With her EP, “Home”, she has definitely shown that she is worth watching. She is new in the scene, but this is no excuse to ignore her!

Ignorance is not bliss. It’s good to have favorites, but we can also benefit from giving everyone a chance because you never know when will you fall in love with their songs and give them a place in your playlist.

What do you think about the list? What are some songs that you think deserve more recognition than they received? Tell us in the comments or tweet  @CelebMix.

Written by Ayushi

Hi! I am Ayushi from India. The only thing that is consistent about me is my passion for writing and reading. Weaving words to form a story is the best thing I know and the only thing I want to do.
"Writer by nature is a dreamer, a conscious dreamer."
-Carson McCullers

If you want, you can follow me on Twitter using the handle @ayushidelhi1996