Song of the Day #3,511: ‘Hard Times’ – Paramore

Paramore claims the #11 spot on Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop poll with their sprightly single ‘Hard Times.’

Despite the calypso beat and pop art video, this is song was inspired by a bout of depression suffered by lead singer Hayley Williams. The juxtaposition of music and lyrics makes for a pleasantly disorienting experience.

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Song of the Day #611: ‘Hard Times (Live)’ – Mary J. Blige

My wife is a big Mary J. Blige fan but I’ve never really given her much thought (Blige, that is, not my wife). She strikes me as a run-of-the-mill R&B singer… and I readily admit that impression is based on my complete ignorance of her body of work.

But Blige really stood out for me at the Hope For Haiti Now telethon, performing the 19th century Stephen Foster classic ‘Hard Times’ (also known as ‘Hard Times Come Again No More’). This was no doubt the oldest song performed on a night when most artists reached into their own catalogs and Blige’s soulful rendition imbued it with the depth it has earned over a century and a half of sorrows.

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