Awesome Music from Around the World – Now with Maps!

September 7, 2011

I created an interactive map world map listing every country that I’ve gathered awesome music from. Check it out here, or via the image below:

I hope to have a new entry featuring music from Russia, Uruguay, Mali and other locations coming soon, as well as an update on some non-blog related work. Stick around!

My goal is to get an entry for all 180-something countries in the world, so if you have a suggestion, pass it along!


Awesome music from around the world, Part 4

March 25, 2011

After just over a year, Stretchyourmind is back, with five (and then some) new awesome songs from five new countries. This batch includes Ugandan mwooyo, Brazilian new wave, and  self-effacing German rock.

31. Somalia: K’naan – Wavin’ Flag


Somalian-Canadian artist Kn’aan wrote this song to call attention to the bloodshed and upheaval that have plagued Somalia and many other African countries for decades. Coca-cola went and sponsored a new version of the song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup that kept the hook but replaced any reference to poverty and unhappiness with lines about about happy people waving flags. Both versions are still miles above other versions of the song featuring Will.I.Am or Canadian supergroups.

32.  Brazil: CSS – Move

This is a fun electronic/rock number. Dressed up like a bunch of Carrboro hipsters, CSS (short for cansei de ser sexy, or “tired of being sexy”) drive around the countryside taking some impressive but technically dubious photos using trick photography.

33. Germany: Die Prinzen – Deutschland

Die Prinzen (“The Princes”) crafted this catchy little number that manages to tweak German habits and culture (they aren’t being entirely sincere when they sing about the joys of German cars or about Germans being the friendliest people on Earth) while also working as an anthem celebrating Germany. Shades of “America, F— Yeah,” anyone?

34. Uganda: Maurice Kirya – Boda Boda

Maurice Kirya races through Kampala to get to his loved one in this sweet example of  the mwooyo (according to Kirya’s website, a blend of soul, Afro-fusion and R&B) genre. Kirya deliberately chose a woman with albinism to play his soulmate in this video to show albinos in a positive light and to reduce stigmatism associated with that condition in parts of Africa.

35. Panama: Los Rabanes – Commanding Wife

Los Rabanes, a cumbia/rock/reggae/ska band, often sing in a blend of Spanish and English, reflecting the strong influence the presence the U.S. military has had on their country. In this boisterous, bouncy, infectious tune, the singer describes the problems that come with having a life partner who “wants to destroy my life.”

35.5 Zimbabwe: Tinashe – Zambezi

I already covered Zimbabwe’s Tuku Mtukudzi in a previous entry, but in the interest of sharing great world music I had to include this entry as well. In this haunting song, Minashe recounts the story of a doomed young couple, originally told to him by his mother. You can also catch the more upbeat, visually appealing, thematically inappropriate video of the song here.

Awesome Music from Around The World, Part 2

February 1, 2010

Here’s my second entry in my “Awesome music from around the world” series, featuring great music from India, Zimbabwe, Finland, Iran, and six other countries. Enjoy!

11. France: Carla Bruni — Quelqu’un m’a dit

I asked  a friend about music from France, and she said “everyone loves Carla Bruni.” After hearing this song, it’s easy to see why. Carla Bruni, now Bruni-Sarkosy, is the wife of France’s president Nicolas Sarkosy.

12. Nicaragua: Revuelta Sonora — Tululu (Revuelta remix)

This is another video that works nicely as a short story, this time following a cute but mischevious scamp who steals a camera from a tourist couple and uses it to take photos of his friends, family and neighborhood. Come for the chance to see a glimpse of Nicaragua’s Afro-Carribbean city life; stay for the great music.

13. Japan: X Japan — Okkusenman

The punk-metal band Japan X takes a song from the 1988 nintendo game Mega Man 2 and turns it into a rocking yet wistful rumination on the loss of childhood innocence. The melody holds up well after more than 20 years, and the simple yet effective animation helps to tell the story.

14. Zimbabwe: Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi — What Shall We Do?

Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, Zimbabwe’s most popular musical artist, has been singing and touring for more than 30 years. His song “What shall we do?” manages to be both poignant and hopeful (which is impressive if you know anything about Zimbabwe’s political and economic situation).

15. Finland: Lordi — Hard Rock Hallelujah

Straddling the line between “awesome” and “awesomely retarded,” the Finnish band Lordi is like the drawings come to life out of the notebook of a creepy 15-year-old’s notebook. The band dresses up in full demonic costume for videos, concerts, and interviews and has it’s own elaborate origin story and mythology.

16. Moldova: Nelly Ciobanu — Hora Din Moldova

Featuring traditional costumes, circle dancing, and wide, expansive shots of….fields of sheep, Hora Din Moldova (“Dance of Moldova”), Moldova’s entry for the 2009 Eurovision contest. It’s a little quaint, but everyone–the singer, dancers, and camera crew seem both earnest and proud of their country, and the song is a good one in its own right. I’d choose this underdog over a more slick, polished video that could have come out of anywhere in a heartbeat.

17. Democratic Republic of the Congo: Baloji: Congo

Hip-hop artist Bajoli breaks up his video about his home country into three parts. He starts rapping alone over a spare beat of African drums. He then picks up the pace and breaks out the guitars and backup singers. In the third section he slows down again, bringing out traditional African dancers and a gospel chorus. Great stuff.

18. Chile: Los Prisioneros — El Muro

Corte el muro (“take down the wall”) sing Los Prisioneros, a Chilean rock band who crafted this song protesting the proposed wall between Mexico and the United States. Statistics accompanying the video help to illustrate the harsh conditions immigrants often have to face as well as the benefits workers from Mexico bring to the U.S.

19. Iran: Abjeez –Eddeaa

Melodie and Safoura Safavi lead the Abjeez, a Persian pop band. I have no idea about their video is about (anyone speak Farsi?) but the song is very catchy and the video was good enough to win at New York City’s Tribeca film festival.

20. Northern Ireland: Panama Kings — Golden Recruit

The Traveling Wilburys of Northern Ireland, this group is made up of a number of musicians from other Northern Irish bands, two of whom left the group called The Queer Giraffes. If they join eight more bands with silly names this year, they’ll get their 11th one free.