Music

Z is for Zero to Hero from Hercules

Hercules isn’t my favourite Disney film, in fact it’s one I didn’t really watch that much when I was younger, but it’s got some great songs.

Zero to Hero is my favourite from Hercules and one of my favourite Disney songs in general. I love how up beat it is and the voices of the Muses – Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Cheryl Freeman and Vanéese Y. Thomas – are phenomenal. I’ve always had a soft spot for gospel music and having a gospel style song in a Disney film is inspired.

I love the lyrics in Zero to Hero too. They’re really fun and have a lot of jokes and references that I definitely didn’t get when I was a kid. The lyrics and the big energy choir phrases, combined with a fast-paced tempo and a rhythm you just want to clap your hands to, makes Zero to Hero a great and memorable song.

This is a song I can never get tired of listening to – I’ve even learnt all the words!

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Y is for You Are Unstoppable by Conchita Wurst

I am a big fan of Eurovision (and Graham Norton’s commentary of it) and Conchita Wurst winning for Austria in 2014 was one of my favourite moments of the past few years.

I love her voice and how unique she was, especially in a competition that’s so big and bold and out there.

I bought Conchita’s debut album as soon as it was released and it’s an album I listened to on repeat for quite a few months. You Are Unstoppable is my favourite song from that album and definitely the one song of hers I’ve listened to the most. It’s an empowering song, about not letting people get in your way and just being yourself. I love how it combines orchestral elements to more pop, upbeat music and it makes this big, powerful ballad.

I’d definitely recommend checking out Conchita Wurst’s music. She’s a brilliant artist.

X is for X-Training by Henry Jackman

X is always the hardest letter when it comes to the A-Z Challenge but luckily, I had a couple of songs on my iTunes that began with the letter X. I’m pretty sure the majority of X posts over the year for this challenge have been X-Men related and who am I to break that tradition!

X-Training is from X-Men: First Class and is featured in this sequence, where Xavier attempts to train the young mutants how to use their powers.

X-Training is my favourite piece of music from the film. It’s upbeat and builds through the song but at it’s heart is these strings which sound amazing. I think I like this piece of music the most from the entire score is because it’s more of a fun, light piece than the rest of the soundtrack, but it’s still got echoes of the main theme from X-Men: First Class.

W is for Wakka Wakka (This Time for Africa) by Shakira ft. Freshlyground

Wakka Wakka (This Time for Africa) was the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cupp and featured Afro-Colombian rhythms and instrumentation with South African guitars. It’s a celebration of going for your dreams and it’s a great World Cup song. In fact, it’s my favourite World Cup song.

I have such found memories of the 2010 World Cup, I was in a bar in Span watching the final when Spain won, so the atmosphere was electric, and this song is wrapped up in those memories. It was everywhere both in Spain and when I was in Malta shortly before the World Cup final.

Maybe it’s because it’s a World Cup song, but Wakka Wakka (This Time for Africa) just feels like a happy summer song. It’s a song that’s been played at friends’ BBQ’s and it makes me feel warm and happy every time I hear it.

It’s also seriously catchy, perhaps almost annoyingly so? It’s definitely an ear-worm but as it makes me feel upbeat and joyful every time I hear it, I can’t get mad if it lingers in my head for a while.

V is for Val Kilmer by Bowling for Soup

Bowling for Soup is an artist I discovered through a potentially unusual route – fan videos, specifically Harry Potter and Teen Titans ones. I remember liking the music that went really well with these fan videos so went and downloaded a couple of their albums and they’ve been sitting on my iPod ever since.

I love the vast majority of Bowling for Soup’s music, but Val Kilmer is one of my favourites. It’s a love song, or rather a song about a guy with a broken heart, but it’s told with a lot of movie references which makes it a lot of fun and different to your typical love song. I’m a cinephile so spotting the different references to actors and films (some of them I still haven’t seen) puts a smile on my face.

I saw Bowling for Soup live in London about eight years ago with friends and it was one of the most fun concerts I’ve ever been to. It was a great atmosphere, and everyone was jumping around and singing along.

Val Kilmer is a fun and catchy song and I love it.

U is for Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie

I grew up listening to Queen and David Bowie thanks to my mum – I have an eclectic taste in music and my mum’s favourite music was definitely a formative influence on my own taste.

Under Pressure is so great because you get two incredible vocalists in one song. Freddie Mercury’s voice is iconic and with Bowie’s unique voice as well you’ve got an amazing duet.

The scat singing that’s present throughout the song makes it feel like these two artists are just jamming together, improvising and having fun. The baseline in Under Pressure has become one of the most easily recognisable baseline’s in music. It’s used in Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby and I’m sure there’s people of a certain age that know it from Vanilla Ice’s song rather than the original – but that’s the power of music I suppose.

I think I like Under Pressure so much because it brings together two brilliant artists in one catchy and memorable song. The combination of artists is probably why I like Dancing in the Street by David Bowie and Mick Jagger so much too.

T is for Take a Hint from Victorious

Victorious was one of those shows I’d end up watching on Nickleodeon when I was home from Uni for the holidays and my mum was at work. I was so lazy when I returned home for the holidays.

I remember watching this episode and being like “Wow!” I’d not seen anything like it in a kids/teen show before. A couple of girls getting fed up with boys who won’t leave them alone, who kept flirting with them and not taking no for an answer, and then these girls called them out on it and showed everyone, the boys, other characters and the viewers that these boys were harassing them, and it was not ok.

Take a Hint is such a catchy, yet powerful song and I love how Victoria Justice’s and Elizabeth Giles’ voices work together. This is another song that features on my Kick-Ass Inspirational Songs playlist and it well deserves a place there as it’s a song that unconsciously gets me to stand taller and be more confident in myself. As I’ve mentioned this playlist so much during this challenge, it’s here on Spotify if you’re interested.

“You asked me what my sign is, and I told you it was stop!” is a fantastic line and it’s my favourite from a song with so many great moments.