Tag Archives: Q.U.E.E.N.

Ashley’s Favorite Music of 2013

Well, here it is. The grand finale of my favorites of 2013. It took me two weeks to compose my thoughts on this topic… Or rather, I’ve been stupidly busy with work that I haven’t had a chance to write it. I like the first excuse better though.

Last year was a pretty damn good year. Favorites returned, new people surprised me, and there were some great indie stuff that popped up in my personal circle. I talked about some of it in the middle of last year, but what made it to the end? Well, let’s start with

Favorite Singles

Honorable Mention: ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry

I hate that I like this song. I hate that Katy Perry songs keep getting in my head and every time I say I don’t like it, it beats me into submission until I do. It happened again with ‘Roar’ to the point I would turn it up and belt Katy’s turn at an empowerment anthem after her divorce from Russell Brand. Though, due to Katy’s writing style, I still think she’s writing about Travis McCoy.

6.) TIE: ‘Get Lucky’ by Daft Punk and ‘Holy Grail’ by Jay-Z feat. Justin Timberlake

Lots of people got sick of these songs rather quickly, but strangely, I never did. Even though I couldn’t get into Magna Carta Holy Grail the way I did Watch The Throne, there were several tracks on the album that completely stood out to me like ‘BBC,’ ‘Picasso Baby,’ and ‘Jay Z Blue.’ The lead single of ‘Holy Grail’ was completely entrancing. I think I might have ended up liking Justin on this track more than on most of his singles from The 20/20 Experience. Well… most…

As for ‘Get Lucky,’ it really was everyone’s song of the year. It was a fun disco track that felt more genuine than any other track on the radio this summer. It also probably sealed the deal for the awesome year Pharrell had. Well, maybe it was that OTHER song, but I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the Canadian Creep.

5.) ‘This Is Gospel’ by Panic! at the Disco

I really only liked about half of Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die. The half I really liked was sexy, catchy and weirdly emotional. The half I didn’t was boring to the point it began to run together. Thankfully, the second single ‘This Is Gospel’ was on the half I liked. It’s a stand out song on the record even without single status due to the sung in a church like feeling of the song and the pure brutal emotion. I’ve cried to this song, and I’m not afraid to admit that. Even if the rest of the album is dull, I’m glad that this is the song that shines.

4.) ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)’ by Fall Out Boy

It’s been a year and a day since this song roared into my life and it hasn’t gotten old yet in the million times I’ve listened, screamed, drove and rocked out to this song. The band came back with a vengeance and this song did a great job of staking their claim in the year of music. Not to mention the Butch Walker handclaps certainly help.

3.) ‘Problem’ by Natalia Kills

This was the year I discovered Natalia Kills and I feel like it improved my life in so many ways. The album Trouble is full of gems, but the lead single ‘Problem’ was blowing cigarette smoke in my face with a smile and I was loving it. ‘Problem’ is an anthem for bad girls everywhere who love their vices and don’t give two fucks about who judges them. As I slipped into that side of me throughout the year, that song played in my head and guided my steps.

2.) ‘Closer’ by Tegan and Sara

I feel like a bad queer girl when I admit that I haven’t really listened to Tegan and Sara seriously. I know I would like them and I love the song ‘Hell,’ I just keep forgetting to listen to them. Still, even with my constant forgetfulness to listen to Tegan and Sara, I fell in love with the song ‘Closer.’ Never has a song so accurately reflected what it’s like to be so completely smitten with someone that all you want to do with them is get them to sit a bit closer to you. You bet I turned this up when I finally heard it on the radio.

1.) ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’ by Janelle Monae featuring Erykah Badu

In an alternate universe, this song became a massive hit, Janelle Monae gets the fame she so rightly deserves, and everyone recognized ‘Blurred Lines’ for the date rape song it is and lets Robin Thicke wallow in obscurity forever. Unfortunately, my physical body does not reside in that universe. However, I still have ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’ and I still have Monae rising, showing the world what she’s made of.


I should note that I usually never cover EPs, but this year had three that definitely stood out to me that are worth noting.

Who's gonna take you home tonight? []

Who’s gonna take you home tonight? []

3.) True Trans by Against Me!

This EP was more of a two-sided single to tide people over as they waited on Transgender Dysphoria Blues (that review is coming, by the way), but splitting hairs doesn’t take away from the fact that this EP is fantastic. It features acoustic versions of the song ‘True Trans Soul Rebel’ and ‘Fuckmylife666,’ which are probably two of my favorite songs on the record. On the record, the songs are plenty emotional, but there’s a personal vulnerability in the EP versions that pack more punch than their electric counterparts.

Must Hear Track: The entire thing. It’s two songs.

2.) Pax-AM Days by Fall Out Boy

This eight song EP that the band recorded over a drunken weekend in Ryan Adams’ studio only clocks in at 13 minutes. It’s the very definition of loud and fast with the band only taking one or two takes for each songs. It was an interesting experiment considering how perfectionist they can be. It was loud, fast, and rage filled like the early days, but with skills that don’t make the record too painful to listen to for long. I’m sad I didn’t get to run around a field blasting this album like I originally planned. THIS SPRING IN THE MOUNTAINS…

Must Hear Tracks: ‘Hot to the Touch, Cold on the Inside,’ ‘Caffeine Cold,’ ‘Love, Sex, Death’

1.) Peachtree Battle by Butch Walker

Wherever you are, that's my home. []

Wherever you are, that’s my home. []

I cried like a baby listening to this EP. I’ve cried even harder hearing these songs live. Butch has always been an emotional songwriter, but Peachtree Battle drives right to the heart. When Butch began writing the songs, his father had been on a slow decline in health and Butch began writing the five song EP to come to terms with his father’s mortality. Before the EP released, Big Butch Walker passed away, which ends up magnifying the emotional impact of the songs even more. It’s a personal reflection on the effect one person can have on our lives, especially one as big as a parent. Still, it’s not all about death. There are plenty of life lessons that Big Butch taught Butch in these songs too. Ones that we can all learn from.

Must Hear Tracks: ‘I’ve Been Waiting For This,’ ‘Let It Go Where It’s Supposed To,’ ‘Peachtree Battle’

Favorite Albums

Well, here they are. The cream of the crop. What albums prevailed to be my favorites in 2013?

I’m up all night to get lucky.

5.) Random Access Memories by Daft Punk

I think I ended up liking this album less as the year went on, but it doesn’t mean I don’t think it gets ragged on way too much. Daft Punk has always been about bringing art to electronic music and this album was very much about exploring their roots in several ways. Some of it was disco like ‘Lose Yourself to Dance’ and ‘Get Lucky.’ Some of it was more experimental. A lot of it really, but it works because there really isn’t anyone out there that gets it like Daft Punk. Just because I can get down to ‘Get Lucky’ doesn’t mean I can’t chill to ‘Touch’ or appreciate/rock out to the reverse engineering of ‘Giorgio by Moroder.’ It isn’t Discovery, but we need to stop expecting Daft Punk to make that album again.

Must Hear Tracks: ‘Touch,’ ‘Get Lucky,’ ‘Doin’ It Right’

4.) ARTPOP by Lady Gaga

I was worried about this album, but it ended up pleasantly surprising me in the end. It’s not flaw free, but ARTPOP is definitely one of the best albums Gaga has released. It was an honest and beautiful look at the life of an artist trying to balance her life and art. With some catchy dance numbers and lots of modern art, of course.

Must Hear Tracks: ‘Sexxx Dreams,’ ‘Do What U Want,’ ‘Artpop’

3.) Rated Heart by Professor Shyguy

I'll attack you once, you attack me back!

I’ll attack you once, you attack me back!

Meanwhile, I ended up liking this album more. Maybe I’m a little biased towards my friends, but Professor Shyguy can write a damn good chiptune pop song. Even if I don’t always get what he’s singing about, I can get down without hesitation. I feel like I should have a deeper reason of liking this record so much, but I don’t. It’s geeky, catchy, and fun, which is all I need sometimes. As I said before, “the Poor Nerd’s Justin Timberlake” mixes geekdom and pop music with ease.

Must Hear Tracks: ‘Keywords and Dubstep,’ ‘Weak,’ ‘Destroy Metroid’

2.) Trouble by Natalia Kills

I must confess, when one of my online friends asked me if I had heard the new Natalia Kills record, I had no earthly idea who the hell she was talking about. The album took forever to get on Spotify, but I ended up blasting ‘Problem’ for weeks until it did. Where I started to scream “I PUT MY HIGH HEELS ON SO I’M CLOSER TO GOD” at random points up until I finally bought the album and long since after. Much like ‘Problem,’ Trouble is an album about girls with their middle fingers in the air as they party, but it also shows the motivation and sadness that fuels it. Trouble isn’t just a party record, but a record about broken people putting on their best faces.

Must Hear Tracks: ‘Problem,’ ‘Stop Me,’ ‘Devils Don’t Fly’

1.) TIE: Save Rock and Roll by Fall Out Boy and The Electric Lady by Janelle Monae

I don't know where you're going, but do you have room for one more troubled soul?

I don’t know where you’re going, but do you have room for one more troubled soul?

I debated this for WEEKS. I’ve talked at length about these two albums online and in person to anyone who will listen. I’ve listened to them over and over again that I sing along with instrumentals. I’ve cried and rocked out to both of these artists live. And in the end, I could not decide which album I really wanted to put as my #1 of the year: Janelle Monae’s genre bending entry of love, heartache, and standing up for what you believe in her Metropolis epic or Fall Out Boy rediscovering themselves and setting out to make a record to inspire the next generation of garage bands. Both records meant a lot me last year while being simultaneously fantastic. What else can be said?

Must Hear Tracks:

Save Rock and Roll: ‘The Phoenix,’ ‘Rat a Tat,’ ‘Save Rock and Roll’

The Electric Lady: ‘Q.U.E.E.N,’ ‘Givin Em What They Love,’ ‘Victorious’


Well, that finishes up my favorites of last year. What were your favorites of last year? What did you disagree with me on? And don’t worry, we’ll stop dwelling on last year soon enough. My review of Transgender Dysphoria Blues is next.

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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in Music


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To Abercrombie and Fitch: My weight was never my worth

I know I usually try to make this blog a blog about geeky media and retrofuturism. Hell, I have some thoughts on Iron Man 3 that will come on Friday. I’ve seen it twice. There are a lot of thoughts there.

However, there was something that popped up that made me want to make this personal for just a minute. I already retold this story in private once this week. Might as well share it with the world.

There’s been a story circulating around the internet recently about Abercrombie and Fitch and why they don’t stock any clothes for women above a size 10. Long story short? It’s pure high school logic. I’ll let the quote from CEO Mark Jeffries explain.

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either,” he told Salon.”

Basically, the reason Abercrombie and Fitch doesn’t sell larger sizes to women is because in their CEO’s head, girls with a little more weight don’t belong and will never be his narrow definition of cool.

Now, I’m going to share with you something. Something that was way buried down in my Livejournal until now. It’s a picture of me about to go to my Junior year Homecoming in high school.

Let us 'awww' at the version of me who has no idea what's going to happen to her in the next six years...

I was never really made fun of for my weight when I was in school. At least not that I remember. I know I had issues showing off my stomach for a while due to the fact my mother didn’t want me wearing things that showed off my midriff and I always gave her looks when she tried to insist I was “beautiful” instead of “chubby” as if I couldn’t be both at once. But for the most part, I was bullied in school for my panic attacks (which, spoiler alert, I will be talking a lot about in my Iron Man 3 review) and my nerdiness.

However, it was that homecoming dress that made me realize that my weight was going to be an issue to some people, and not necessarily the people I went to high school with.

I’ll admit, I dress girlier now than I did in high school. Hell, I probably dress girlier now than I did in college. But in high school, most of what I wore were t-shirts from Hot Topic and jeans from Old Navy. T-shirts and jeans don’t give you as many issues, especially with the vanity sizing from Old Navy. But when it came time to find that dress in that old picture, it suddenly became very obvious that finding nice clothes was not going to be as easy as finding a pair jeans.

My mom and I searched for almost two hours across multiple shops in the mall for a dress for the Homecoming dance. All the dresses I liked were nowhere near my size and all the dresses in my size were just completely horrid looking. Shapeless blocks with garish prints that reminded me of my grandma. At some point during this whole thing, I nearly broke down crying in the middle of Macy’s because I was worried that I would not find a dress I liked and I would have to go to Homecoming with a tortoise shell tent that I settled on because all the cute black dresses only fit on girls half my size.

But eventually, we found that little black dress sitting lonely on a rack somewhere in the back end of the store. I tried it on. It fit great. We took it home and I wore it to the dance and to many events after that. I still have it somewhere. It’s a good Little Black Dress.

I wish I could say that was the end all, be all to my weight/clothes issues. But over the years, I realized something: I’m on the borderline, and there is no such thing as consistency in the sizing of women’s clothing.

When I say borderline, I mean that I can fluctuate anywhere between being considered the national average and plus-sized depending on a company’s sizing. This leads to a lot of frustration when trying on clothes across stores. A size 14 in Old Navy jeans may fit me perfectly, but a size 14 shirt from H&M feels like it’s trying to squeeze me to death and leads to my PR Research group looking very annoyed at me when I’m trying to explain that the shirt they want me to wear to match with the rest of them does not fit and will make me look more unprofessional if I wear it than if I just wear a white button down that doesn’t match, but fits and makes me look like a regular human being.

It can be moments like that in a college library bathroom that make you feel like people like Mark Jeffries have won. I can’t fit into some affordable designer clothes. Clearly, I was never meant to be cool or fashionable.

However, it’s when I passed all my classes and kept the HOPE scholarship alive for another year despite all the personal roughness that was going on in my life at the time, the issue of a shirt not fitting was a minor issue.

So Mark Jeffries, here’s what one of those plus sized, not-so-cool kids has to say to you:

I may be chubby, but my sense of style goes beyond your narrow view of who should wear your clothes. And my outfits have cost less than one shirt in your store. I may be purposefully excluded from wearing your clothes, but why would I wear some generic polo shirt and pre-frayed jeans when I can wear galaxy leggings instead?

I was not a cool kid in school, but being a misfit has allowed me to find other misfits. While people like you struggle to hold onto some narrow high school worldview of what’s cool and not cool, we’re creating things goes beyond some brand.

I won’t fit into your clothes or clothes from most stores of the A&F ilk, but that’s no measure of who I am. I am a writer, a creator, a fire spinner, and a media enthusiast with a brain like Netflix. I worked my ass off in school to get an education that expanded upon all of this. I try my best to be aware and good, and that’s a never ending process. I’m plus-sized, but that hasn’t stopped me from being awesome, intelligent, and attractive.

To paraphrase Janelle Monae: Even if it makes you and the people you want to attract to your store uncomfortable, I will love who I am.

And I’m not the only one.


Posted by on May 9, 2013 in Personal


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