Lemonade. It was never my favorite until Beyonce made it.

“Hold Up” from the album Lemonade, released in 2016

This is my favorite Beyonce song. It’s raw. It’s angry. It sounds amazing. And don’t even get me started on the video. There is something about Beyonce walking down a street with a baseball bat in her hand and a smile on her face that simultaneously frightens and excites me.

Did I get too real right there?

If I did, I learned it from Queen B.

“Hold Up” is for everyone who has ever had their heart broken to the point that their anger takes over and stretches (probably most of us). It’s tragic. It’s powerful. It sounds amazing.

See what else I’ve placed on Project 365 here.

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Look. Where did the cat get these guys?

“Talk Dirty to Me” from the album Look What the Cat Dragged In, released in 1987

Picture it. It’s 1986, your boy AE is 9. He wanders through the music section at K-Mart and stumbles across the above album cover. Through some miracle that is a mix of overworked parents and a recent monetary gift from Grandma, he is allowed to purchase the tape.

He takes it home.

He listens.

He likes it A LOT.

He doesn’t understand “Talk Dirty to Me” at all but he plays it A LOT. It’s the guitar mostly. Thanks CC.

In many ways, Poison’s music was my first introduction to a heavier sound that would eventually lead me to even heavier sounds.

You’ll hear about those later.

See what else I’ve placed on Project 365 here.

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TV. Turn on. Tune in. Zone out.

“AOK” from the album TV, released in 2021

I like all kinds of music, but there is a certain sound that really speaks to me. It’s a calm, relaxing style that I like to think resides somewhere between yacht rock and folk music. There is also a touch of lofi hiphop in the mix.

Verdes is representative of these weird, relaxing grooves. In fact he once said that “AOK” was for people who want to feel at least 2% better.

My daughter introduced me to this song a couple of years ago. Sometimes when I pick the music while we’re driving, I think she regrets this decision because I can’t get enough of “AOK” and a bunch of other Verdes songs.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

See what else I’ve placed on Project 365 here.

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No. I wouldn’t like seeing this kid walk into my class — he’s got that vibe — teachers understand. BUT, I’ll be damned if he isn’t a great rapper. I can appreciate that.

“The Spins” from the album K.I.D.S, released in 2010

I don’t like to think about how tragic Mac Miller’s story is because, based on the few albums he released, he had the potential to be an icon. “The Spins,” from his mixtape, K.I.D.S is proof of this. With quick, fun beats and lyrics that are simultaneously silly and deep, it’s a song that is not only on my “no-skip” list, but my “repeat” list as well.

It’s just a banger, folks, a banger about being young and alive. A lot of good songs, stories, poems, movies, plays, musicals, paintings, sculptures, etc. are about just that.

So instead of lingering on the sadness in Miller’s story for too long, I’ll leave you with the video:

See what else I’ve placed on Project 365 here.

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Coffee and Pie. Two of my favorite things.

“The Lucky One” from the album New Favorite, released in 2001

I don’t know what it is about Alison Krauss’s voice beyond the obvious, but it does something for me. I mean, clearly she can sing. Clearly Union Station is a good band. But Krauss’s voice makes me shiver. I…

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Good. Thing.

“Beyond” from the album Good Thing, released in 2018

In mid-2020, I was dealing with a slew of health issues. Quarantined and with the possibility of open heart surgery looming, I wasn’t doing a lot. On a whim, my wife and I decided to watch Big Little Lies.

I’m not usually a fan of shows about ridiculously rich people and their problems, you know? Unable to pay your medical bills? Your boss is a monster (literal or figurative)? Those are my types of stories.

But I enjoyed Big Little Lies.

A big part of that was the soundtrack which introduced me to Leon Bridges, whose music is both modern and classic.

“Beyond” is one of his best. You don’t just listen to it. You feel it.

See what else I’ve placed on Project 365 here.

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Star Girl. Or something. I don’t know.

“Zero” by The Smashing Pumpkins

“Zero” from the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, released in 1996

Do you remember when Billy Corgan fully embraced Generation X teenage angst? It was before his “hanging out with Alex Jones and talking trash about Antifa” stage. It was even before his “I’m going to put down my guitar and play electronic music for some reason” stage.

It was awesome.

Though The Smashing Pumpkins have released several bangers in their career this one, made, I think, with one purpose and one purpose alone, is the pinnacle.

With lyrics like, “Emptiness is loneliness, and loneliness is cleanliness/And cleanliness is godliness, and God is empty/Just like me,”

the purpose is clear.

Piss off the squares.

I can dig it.

See what else I’ve placed on Project 365 here.

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AE Stueve

AE Stueve teaches and writes in Omaha, NE. Check out all of his available work at aestueve.com