Peer Feedback C @ Jonathan Valdez

Hey Jonathan, I love that you wrote about Nas. In particular about his song The Message. I didn’t really get into hip-hop until sometime during high school. I remember very clearly, my friend called me up on the house phone (no cell at the time) and told me to check out the song he had just put up on his Myspace page. It was Nas’ The Message. That lead me to listen to the rest of that album and suddenly I was a hip-hop fan. Have you done any digging into Nas’ musical inspirations? For example: Why did he sample Sting? Was there something in particular he liked musically about that specific sample, or was it just a good or convenient fit that worked out so incredibly well? Admittedly I’m somewhat ignorant to the hip-hop world and the heavy use of sampling has always intrigued me. Would sampling a well known and recognizable piece of music help a hip-hop artist gain recognition similar to the way rock bands, or grunge bands such as Nirvana, use cover songs? I think that could be an incredibly interesting topic to research. Great post!

All the best,

– John

Jonathan Valdez Blog Post 7

Reba McEntire vs Shakira (Blog 8)

In April of 1994, country music star, actress and producer Reba McEntire released her eighteenth studio album Read My Mind. This album mixed the stylings of country with soul, swing and pop. It was also home to the hit song Till You Love Me, a song about a determined lovestruck woman, which was Reba’s first song to ever chard on the Billboard’s Hot 100, reaching No. 40 on the US Country Songs Billboard chart. Another single from the album, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter topped the singles chart peaking at No. 2 and was certified 3 times platinum. The album Read My Mind is arguably considered as the creative peak of Reba’s music career.

This album revolved around the ideas of saying goodbye, falling in love and even the controversy topic (much more so at the time) of AIDS. The latter was a song titled She Thinks His Name Was John. Reba said “I was over at Bluewater Music Company and they played me about 10 or 15 (tracks). I took a few, and they said, ‘Hey, before you go, let us play you one song because we know there’s probably nobody else that would sing it but you.’ And they played me She Thinks His Name Was John. I said, ‘I want it.’ And I recorded it. At the time, I didn’t know anyone affected with AIDS, the HIV virus, but I just knew if I could sing about it, hopefully, more people could talk about it and it would bring light to a very unfortunate situation and might help a lot of people. I’m open to any kind of situation in a song as long as it touches my heart.”

A few years later in 1998, colombian singer, songwriter and dancer Shakira released her fourth studio album Dónde Están los Landrones?. For this album, Shakira collaborated with Luis Ochoa to achieve the album’s Latin Pop and Rock en Español sound. Shakira spent nine months working on this album aiming for her vision of “perfection”. Each song ended up with three to four demo tracks each in attempts to finalize the material before starting on the main productions. The hard worked did pay off with the album selling 100,000 copies on the day of it’s release and with one million copies sold by the end of the month, the album was an incredible success. Dónde Están los Landrones? singles included , No Creo and Moscas en la Casa which in english translates to “Flies In the House”.

Personally, though I do not consider myself myself to be a true fan of either artist, I don’t mind their music. For as long as I can remember I’ve always enjoyed hearing both Shakira and Reba when they come on the radio, but I’m not rushing out to buy their CDs anytime soon, just my personal taste. Both of these women have beautiful voices, are incredibly talented and are truly skilled at what they do. Though I lack inspiration from their music, reading about their life struggles and what they’ve had overcome to get to where they are today has greatly inspired me.


Hanson, J. (2006, November 28). Shakira¿Dónde Están los Ladrones? Retrieved from¿Dónde-Están-los-Ladrones/

Journey, J. R. (2009, August 25). Album Review: Reba McEntire – ‘Read My Mind’. Retrieved from

Nirvana to the Foo Fighters (Blog 7)

The late eighties gave birth to one of the most influential rock bands of all time and parent’s to the grunge genre, Nirvana. Nirvana was formed in 1987 by frontman/ guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic. Between the band’s first rehearsal and hitting the studio to start their second album, Nevermind, the band went through numerous drummers. In September of 1990 they found their perfect fit, Dave Grohl. Novoselic stated “We knew in two minutes that he was the right drummer”. The band’s first album with their final lineup was the hit record Nevermind which included singles such as Smells Like Teen Spirit, Lithium and Come as You Are. Nevermind was recorded at Sound City Studios in California with producer Butch Vig. The album took roughly two months to record with the band working eight to ten hours a day. Grohl and Novoselic had their drum and bass tracks finished in just a few days, but the guitar and vocal layers, as well as finalizing the lyrics took much longer.

After the initial mixes of each track were complete, both the band and their producer Vig were far from satisfied with the sound. Cobain then chose to bring in Andy Wallace, co-producer of Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss, to oversee the mixing process. Novoselic stated “We said ‘right on’, because those Slayer records were so heavy”. Wallace did his magic and at first the band loved what he had done. Though, after the album was released, the band was displeased with the polished sound the album had taken on. Cobain stated “Looking back on the production of Nevermind, I’m embarrassed by it now. It’s closer to a Mötley Crüe record than it is a punk rock record.”

Shortly after Cobain’s death in 1994, Nirvana’s drummer Dave Grohl set off to form a new rock project, the Foo Fighters. The band’s debut self titled album credited Grohl as the band’s only official member. So just before the album’s release date, Grohl started recruiting members. Then in 1997 the band got back into the studio to work on the project’s second album/ whole group debut The Colour and the Shape which included hit singles such as Everlong and My Hero

Like Nirvana’s Nevermind, Foo Fighters’ album The Colour and the Shape took only two months to record, this time at Grandmaster Recorders in Hollywood. Bassist Nate Mendel stated that Grandmaster Recorders was “a small studio that sometimes moonlighted as a porn set, and looked the part.” At the start of recording, the band’s drummer, William Goldsmith, left the group. This lead to Grohl performing the majority of the drum tracks while Goldsmith’s takes remained on only two songs. The composition of the album touched home for all the members, though mostly Grohl. This was a time when Grohl had just started to become comfortable with his voice and started writing lyrics with meaning. Much of the lyrics revolved around Grohl’s recent divorce, he stated “Wow, I can actually write about things I feel strongly about and things that mean something to me and things I wouldn’t normally say in everyday conversation.”

Personally, I have never been a fan of Nirvana, I remember everyone is middle school being absolutely obsessed with the band. I listened to every one of their albums multiple times trying to like them but, it just wasn’t in my taste. In my own humble opinion, the best thing Nirvana ever did was introduce Dave Grohl to world. I have been a fan of the Foo Fighters since the very first time I heard them on the radio. They were one of the bands that inspired me to take up music in the first place. Even years later when I was just starting to learn audio recording techniques, Grohl’s influence on me was still present. His documentary on Sound City is what sparked the “tone hunter” in me and in turn drove me to dump my solid state amps and nearly go broke buying tube and analog gear.


Dooley, S. (1991, May 02). This Day in Music Spotlight: Nirvana Begins Recording. Retrieved from

Peters, M. (2011, March 25). Foo Fighters: The Billboard Cover Story. Retrieved from

Robbins, I. (1991, November 28). Nevermind. Retrieved from

Schiller, M. (2007, August 22). Foo Fighters: The Colour and the Shape. Retrieved from

Here I Go Again vs Raining Blood (Blog 6)

Being considered by some to be a “metal” band, the blues rock/ glam metal band Whitesnake hit the scene in 1978. They released their debut album Trouble the same year. Their self titled seventh album was one of the band’s largest successes and included the hit ballad Here I Go Again. The original version of the song was recorded in 1982 and released on the album Saints & Sinners. It was the 82 version that included the lyric “hobo” in the line “like a hobo I was born to walk alone”. David Coverdale, who formed Whitesnake after leaving Deep Purple, later change the line to “like a drifter” for fear that audiences may mishear the lyric “hobo” as “homo”.

The 1987 re-recorded single mix (not the album mix) is the one that everyone knows today. The keyboard opening was dropped starting the song by going straight into the verse. The guitar solo was replaced with a solo played by Dann Huff and the singles mix also contained a lot more added keyboard. Overall, after listening to all versions of this track, I feel that the 1987 album mix is not only better than the single mix, but by far the best of the three versions of this timeless power ballad. This song was even used by the boxer Micky Ward who claims to have used to songs for inspiration before fights and whilst training.

From a much heavier side of the world world, the trash metal band Slayer is considered to be one of the biggest names to come from the metal scene. Their 1986 track Raining Blood, written by Jeff Hanneman, from the album Reign in Blood, has become one of the most recognizable songs across the world. In an interview with Revolver, Hanneman reminisced that when he first showed the song to the rest of the band, everyone aside from Kerry King, who is credited for finishing the song, absolutely loved it. Even their producer Rick Rubin said “It’s done. It’s perfect.” after they finished recording it.

I personally consider myself a headbanger, but Slayer has never really done much for me. Neither has any other thrash metal band. As a musician, I find the work of both Slayer and Whitesnake influential towards my own material, but neither band is a first choice of mind for pleasure listening. Both bands have been entitled as being metal, thought, considering metal is supposed to be hard than rock, give the tracks a listen and see for yourself if Whitesnake falls into the large genre of metal when compared to the legends of the metal world Slayer.


Dick, J. (2015, July 26). Interview: Whitesnake (and ex-Deep Purple) Frontman David Coverdale Is a Charming Badass. Retrieved from

Grow, C. (2011, October 07). Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman Talks About “Raining Blood” Retrieved June 19, 2016, from

Smith, R. (2009, November 23). Death by Power Ballad: Whitesnake, “Here I Go Again”. Retrieved from

Mad World and Orange Crush (Blog 5)

Being very familiar was Gary Jules’s version of Made World, but never have heard the original Tears For Fears version, I felt this was an appropriate choice. Tears for Fears hail from England starting out in 1981. The band was founded by the two, of four, remaining members Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith after parting ways with their first band Graduate. Roland and Curt wanted to break into a more synth pop type sound. Their hit single Mad World was released in September of 1982 on the band’s debut LP The Hurting.

According to Roland Orzabal, he wrote Mad World when he was only 19 after hearing Duran Duran’s Girls on Film. He thought to himself “I’m going to have a crack at something like that.” He had spent most of his teenage years depressed to a point where he “couldn’t even bother getting out of bed” and ended up dropping out of school when he was 18. Mad World was an artistic outlet for his depression. According to Smith the whole album was an outlet for their feelings of rejection, anger and abandonment, “The Hurting was really a way to get it out f our system”. The chorus line “The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had” was inspired form a psychology book The Primal Scream as a reference to the book’s author’s idea that nightmares can actually be good “because they release tension.” Ian Stanley, who became the band’s keyboardist, gave the duo of Orzabal and Smith the chance to play with his equipment and record. After recording a demo version of the song with Orzabal singing, Orzabal disliked it and turned to Curt and told him to sing it instead and “suddenly it sounded fabulous”.

It’s interesting to note that aside from Mad World and the rest of the album having been recorded with the use of drum machines, synths, and other electronic instruments, most of the songs on The Hurting were all originally written on acoustic guitars. Mad World was a huge hit topping the charts in both the UK and the US inspiring thousands of people with it’s somewhat dark lyrics, catchy melodies and, at the time, trending sound. The song was later covered by Gary Jules and Michael Andrews for use in 2001’s film Donnie Darko bringing the song back into the limelight. Recently the band Seether took inspiration, or ripped off (you decided) from Mad World for their recent hit Words as Weapons.

In 1980 coming out of Athens Georgia, the alternative rock band R.E.M. appeared on the music scene. Their sixth album Green was release in 1988 which included the band’s hit song Orange Crush. Scratching the surface, both musically and lyrically this song is very different from the Tears for Fears’ track Mad World. Musically Mad World is very much a synth pop song while Orange Crush is very much at home in the genres of alternative rock and jangle pop and it has been categorized. Though digging beneath the surface, it’s interesting to discover that Orange Crush has somewhat of a dark side as well. Despite referencing the orange flavored pop drink, the lyrics “orange crush” is actually a reference to the use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Now with that understanding, the song’s lyrics take on a much different picture than the bubbly upbeat radio friendly song to which most people sing “I’ve got my SPRITE, I’ve got my orange crush” instead of the actual lyrics being “I’ve got my SPINE, I’ve got my orange crush”. 

I for one have been in Love with the song Mad World since I first heard it as a teenager. It’s inspiration has fueled multiple of my own original songs. Also, being someone who loves to hide lyrical meanings behind metaphors. Orange Crush has given me a few ideas of songs I am currently in the process of working on.


NA. (na). Mad World. Retrieved from

NA. (na). “Orange Crush”-R.E.M. Retrieved from

Rickett, O. (2014, January 23). How We Wrote Our First Record: Tears For Fears revisit ‘The Hurting’ Retrieved from

Simpson, D. (2013, December 10). Tears For Fears: How we made Mad World. Retrieved from