Oh Land, Lupe Fiasco, Guillemots / Making people dance and making people think don’t have to be mutually exclusive…

Making people dance and making people think don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Sometimes you can do both with a catchy beat and thoughtful lyrics. It’s the songwriters’ unicorn to craft a tune that’s catchy enough to ensnare a listener while being lyrical with such a quality that the song is not promptly dismissed. By now we’ve all heard Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” a song with all the characteristics of a successful pop track with absolutely zero substance. It’s fascinating, really, and I’ll admit I listened to that horrible track more times than I should’ve… for research, of course.

Here are a few of my recent favorite finds — artists that balance well the heavy and the high.

I’m absolutely loving Oh Land‘s debut self-titled second album (recommended by suki). Born Nanna Øland Fabricius from Copenhagen, her music exhibits all the eccentric characteristics that make me admire sounds from Scandinavia. Unlike more obscure stuff, Oh Land utilizes catchy melodies and driving percussiveness, which I’m happy to discover is actually a word. This isn’t surprising as Pharrell Williams is listed among the production credits.

It’s no surprise that I love hip hop. I recently purchased Lupe Fiasco‘s Lasers, an album that reminds me a lot of T.I.‘s Paper Trail in terms of celebratory anthems mixed in with more somber tracks featuring meaningful messages. His rhymes are seldom corny — an adjective that can describe at least several verses on even some of the best rap records — and the production on the record is strong. It’s a nice follow-up to Lupe’s previous albums, and it serves as a good replacement for T.I.’s somewhat mediocre recent release.

From the UK and the year 2006 comes Through the Windowpane by Guillemots (pronounced “gillimotts”), another recent discovery of mine via a recommendation through a beer-loving lady friend. What struck me most about them was their fully orchestrated sound — open, lush and ambient, it’s something I really resonate with. Their third studio album, Walk the Line, was recently released on the 18th of April. I’ll make an effort to check it out.