Listening To


Starting a new series where I will fill you in on what I’ve been listening to this week music/podcast wise.

1.) It Ain’t Me

I am a big Selena Gomez fan.  I low-key didn’t become a Selena fan until I found out she had secretly gone to rehab like 3 times.  There is something about the disney star that becomes an adult hot mess that I can’t resist, probably because I relate to them?  Like I’m fairly certain that if I had happened to gain fame when I was FOURTEEN I would have most definitely gone to rehab for “exhaustion” at least twice by now? Right? Wouldn’t we all?  Anyways, Selena has been struggling but she’s also been SURVIVING.  To me this is what this song sounds like, Survival.  This is the song you want to be playing while you dance through life’s hardships.  This song is a combination of heartbreak and hope.  I also love that Kygo messes with Selena’s voice in a somewhat similar way to how Diplo and Skrillex messed with Bieber’s voice on “Where Are U Now”.  Try and not get addicted to this song, I dare you.

2.) Humble




It feels like just yesterday that I was trianing for my first half marathon blasting To Pimp a Butterfly in my ears.  Here we are a few years later.  Im more woke than ever, and more needy than ever for Kendrick’s RAW HONEST REAL visions about wtf is going on in our world right now.

His album has been desrcibed as feeling “very urgent”  THEN HURRY UP AND GET RELEASED is all I can say.

CAN’T WAIT.  Until then I’ll be playing at some point every day.

3.) S-TOWN

The producers of Serial are back with S Town.  FYI S stands for Shit.  Shit town.  This show dives into the shit of life, and finds some beauty along the way.  S Town throws you a curve ball early on.  Suddenly it becomes about something much more than a potential murder mystery.  Without giving too much away, this podcast addresses taboo subjects from bisexuality, loneliness, mental illness, to suicide.   If you happen to be a human being, I recommend you listen to this podcast.


Tavi is making a podcast everyone!!!!! The first episode features an amazing interview with Lorde.  Although this podcast is geared towards teenage listeners, I fully enjoyed it.  Everyone is still that lost 17 year old at heart right?  The highlight of the first episode for me was Lorde sharing a recording of the moment she and Jack Antnoff created the “hook” from her song Green Light. SO GOOD.


Saint Pablo Tour at the United Center Review from The Cheap Seats

Hey y’all. I just got home from witnessing Kanye West perform his Saint Pablo Tour at the United Center in Chicago.  Here’s what I have to say:

He shows up late.  But it’s cool because you know he’s going to show up late.  That’s why my friend and I met up with a group at a bar down the street at 7:30 even though showtime was supposedly at 8.  We drank beer, talked about Kanye, worried that he might rant a lot about Kim and the jewelry heist, took tequila shots, and then rolled over to the United Center around 8:30.

Around 8:45 we were officially through the gates at the United Center.  The next step was merch.  From the start my eyes were on the mint green hoodie with red lettering exlaiming my attendance at this tour.  I’m gonna get real here: we waited in line for MORE THAN AN HOUR for this tour’s merch.  This wait was made better by beer but STILL.  I questioned my own humanity at mulitple points during this time, but since it genuinely felt like everyone was indeed waiting in line to overpay for shirts that would help us tell the world that we saw Kanye live, it felt OK.  Kanye actually started playing while we were 5 people away from the front of the line.  After so many minutes in line we couln’t leave.  I actually spent the first part of Kanyes show in line so I could spend 90 dollars on a sweatshirt.  #honest

After we got our merch we rushed to our seats and enjoyed an hour and forty five minutes of Kanye magic.


I saw Kanye on the Yeezus tour and I can tell you that the Saint Pablo tour is something entirely different.  Yeezus was a show and the main star was KANYE.  The lights were on Kanye at all times.  Jesus came out and talked to Kanye.  Kanye performed from a fake Iceberg.


The Saint Pablo tour is about the FANS.   It’s truly revolutionary.  For almost half the show the lights are only pointed towards fans!!!  There is no spotlight on Kanye.  He is not wearing designer masks.  He is not singing Hey Mama and crying on stage (as beautiful as that moment was four years ago).  He is there for the fans.


Kim was robbed just a few days ago and he didn’t mention it once.


He played everything the fans could have asked for (although I was a little bummed he did not play Hold My Liquor).

This show was about Kayne singing all his fucking majestic hits with his fans.  This show was about Kanye showing us all that he has done RATHER than telling us.

This show was real.  This show was lowkey.  This show was exactly what Kanye should be doing at this point in his career.  Also this show may lowkey may have permanently change the general dynamic of all concerts to come.  #floatingstage.

I was in the CHEAPSEATS but I felt like a million bucks.



My Favorite Song From Bon Iver’s New Album

Justin Vernon is back and I’m happier than ever about it (pardon me I should actually say I’m happily sad about it cause that is the beautiful way his music makes feel :””) )

Can I just say that the first track he released was called “22 (Over S0000n)” (pretend those are infinity signs), came out like 2 weeks before I turned 23.  Very timely. 22 was indeed over soon.

or was it.

Also I’d like to point out the track names for this album.  I support them and was pleasantly surprised by their uniqueness BUT they lead to a lot of humourous moments when you are talking about your favorite songs off this album out loud.  For example for the previous track I mentioned above when you talk about it out loud do you say “22 Over Soon” OR “twenty two parenthesis over S infinity sign infinity sign N”.  It’s so hard to b kewl these days kids!


Anyways the entire is album is out and I’ve given it a listen a couple of times.  I’ve been impressed.  It’s a new direction for Justin Vernon’s Bon Iver project.  Some people are hating on the music a bit and claiming that its experimental crap pretending to be magical music.

But all I know is that it made me feel hopeful.  It made me feel scared.  During my first listen the songs folded there way around my soul and made me feel less alone in the uncertainty that is life and love.

I’m no Pitchfork but Justin would definitely get a hug from me for creating this album.

On first listen the song that stood out to me most was this one. 8 (circle).  Give it a listen and appreciate this great lyric video that comes with it!


Song of the Week

Let it go down in the books of history that during this fine fall week in late September 2016, I, Mona, have become a full blown Billy Joel fan.

And it is because of this song:

I feel like there are two Billy Joel “gateway” songs that can hook ya.  It’s either this one, Vienna, or Piano Man.  For myself it was Vienna (although Piano Man sure is a great tune). Obviously, like any legit Millennial, my first intro to this song was in the movie “13 Going on 30”.  At the end, when Jennifer Garner’s adult life comes crashing down, she returns home and curls up next to her parents in her childhood home.  This song plays over the movie montage and you are filled with nostalgia for childhood.  The lyrics of this song are so poignant.

Caution: Listening to this song may make you feel like everything actually is ok. It may make you start listening to every song Billy Joel has ever written because you are convinced he may hold the keys life.

And it may inspire you to file a leave of absence with your company, and go on a 6 week backpacking trip…. stay tuned 🙂



Tijuana Panthers @ The Empty Bottle

Photo source here– I couldn’t find the name of the photographer!!

Last night I watched the Tijuana Panthers play at The Empty Bottle.  I showed up around 9pm and the place was empty.  Even though The Empty Bottle always ends up filling up, there’s always that initial moment when you wonder if anyone is going to show.  I sat at the bar with a friend and we drank beer as people slowly started to roll in.  Up first was a local band called Dehd.  They have a drummer that can keep a good beat, but overall it was not my thing. Cafe Racer was up next and they brought some awesome story telling and energy.  Their two lead singers are fun to watch and overall it was a very enjoyable set.

Tijuana Panthers came through with their final performance.  They have an incredibly fun (and at times BEAUTIFUL) mix of beach/surf vibes with some rock and a touch of punk.  The show was filled with moments that sounded/felt very laid back and chill and then moments filled with tension.  They were are funny.  They played a song called Crew Cut, that’s an epic ode to the hairstyle.  Also they played another song where they sang about their privileged friends acting entitled about their money which played great because I think everyone in the room could both relate to the feeling of being annoyed with their friends who seemingly have more money, while at the same time knowing they they have been that friend that has been entitled.  Money is all relative.  The song was fantastic.

My favorite song that they performed was Prayer Knees.  This beauty of a track comes from the melody.  I enjoyed this song better live than I did off the album.  The melody and tempo flow like a roller coaster through ups and downs, and watching the band perform this was amazing because they more than pulled it off.  You know that when you stop to do the slightly (very) embarrassing act of pulling out your phone and filming a video for snapchat, that the moment must be a good one.  And it was.

The show last night has had me listening to Tijuana Panthers all morning.  If they ever come through town again I will in the crowd.

Fade Music Video Review

Kanye dropped the Fade video a few weeks ago but I’m still watching it.  It’s so addicting.  I figured I do a formal review of it.  Watch it below:

So a lot of the hype and talk about this video was that is was inspired by #PORN, specifically porn from the 70s and 80s.  But if you watch the film there isn’t a whole lot of actual sex in it (at least until the very end… but still it’s pretty PG-13 throughout the entire thing).  In an interview with the director of this video – Eli Russell Linnetz – (who happens to be 24 years old, it’s casual and totally not making me reevaluate my own life), he said that a lot of the Porn inspiration is seen in the oily skin textures rather than the imagery.

I’m not a fan of music videos that degrade women.  Therefore when I first heard that this music video was inspired by porn I basically felt emotions equivalent to this emoji- :/

HOWEVER when I watched it I was really stoked/alittlesurprised to find that (in my opinion) this video was fucking empowering for women (and humans in general, cause we are all one #zenmoment).  Teyana Taylor is celebrating her body, her love, her womanhood, and her life in this video and when you watch it it’s like you’re doing the same.  Through her.

Supposedly a lot of this choreography was actually created for Beyonce (I forget where I read this and I’m sorry I don’t want to google it rn #definelazy) BUT if this is true it’s not surprising.  Taylor isn’t playing the role of “rap video girl” in the background.  She is front and center and she is owning that fact.  She’s not grinding on a rapper cause he has money, rather she’s seen hooking up with her partner, with whom she has a child.  This video may look like something else to people that don’t give it a chance, but I swear Kanye and Linnetz create a DOPE video that has actually made me appreciate this song more than I did on first listen without visuals.


So props to Linnets and props to Kanye for making something that looks totally retro and dated and yet groundbreaking all at the same time.  Truly a special and timeless video.




That is the question I am asking.  I was walking home from work the other day listening to Pandora, when a certain song stopped me in my tracks.  It is called “Alaska” and it is by a girl named Maggie Rodgers.

Here it is:


It’s pretty spectacular.  The song reminds me a lot of what Sylvan Esso created on their album.  She also kind of reminds me of Lorde.  And Justin Vernon.  It’s an addicting/moving/beautiful song and I want more songs like it.

As soon as I got home I looked up Maggie Rodgers, and after googling her for about a half hour I have found more questions rather than answers.  To start, on first google it appears she only has one song.  Alaska is the only song featured on her Soundcloud.  Her twitter is active and clearly being written by her.  She has 13,000 followers and still has some tweets joking about potential fame, although I get the sense that her career is about to sky rocket ( I mean its the best song I’ve heard in a minute…) .  It turns out she has an older folk album.  A song from that album is here:

Here’s the weird thing though.  Why doesn’t she have more recent songs.  Apparently she is working with Pharrell.  I have NO CLUE how old she is.  For all I know she could be 16 or 35.  She clearly has talent so intrigued to know what is in store for her.

I’ve always been fascinated by the marketing that surrounds the introduction of a new “star”.  I remember when Lana Del Rey first entered the music scene there was an uproar in the press when people discovered that Lana Del Rey had attempted to become famous as a singer by a different name a few years prior.  People claimed she was lying about who she was, or that her new brand/image had been created by a marketing team and was therefor inauthentic.  But her albums sold, and today you hear more people praising her songs/brand rather than questioning it.  I also love the story behind Die Antwoord, especially the male rapper Ninja. His real name is Watkin Tudor Jones and he has spent his musical career taking on SEVERAL different acts/characters.  You can spend HOURS following Jones’ story without ever fully grasping who he is.  I get the sense that Maggie Rodgers is currently altering her brand/image to coincide with her introduction into pop culture.  I will be curious to learn more about her and watch her brand and image to flourish int he media as I expect it will within a year or two.