Maybe I’m just a dramatic person who has watched too many movies, but I’ve often found that periods of my life are captured by the music I was listening to at the time. As it’s the end of my Ruby Princess experience, I’m getting reflective, so here are the five albums that defined this cruise ship experience for me, in reverse order of impact.
- Most-repeated track(s): “Crash and Burn Delight,” “Roller Coaster”
This is the only album in my list to which I’d listened extensively before getting on the boat. It’s the first original album produced by a group renowned for their funk-jazz-fusion covers of pop songs on YouTube – Justin Bieber’s “Baby” and Britney Spears’ “Circus” being two of their best, in my opinion. It’s great music for working out or just for feeling good about yourself.
- Most-repeated track(s): “Hello,” “River Lea”
I’m almost always late to the party, and I confess to picking up Adele’s CD only a few weeks ago, while everyone else fell in love with it around Thanksgiving. But it’s delicious. Adele’s moody album meshes quite well with my tendency towards melancholy, and I’m thinking about writing a whole blog post about what “Hello” means to me and my past. I probably would have listened to even more of this album by now, except that #2 on this list came into my life shortly after and hijacked my iTunes playcounts. This CD is great for crying into your bowl of ice cream or staring sadly out the window while recalling your old loves.
- Most-repeated track(s): “The Bricklayer’s Beautiful Daughter”
Now we’re getting to the music that actually encapsulated portions of this contract! My sister Katie sent me this two-CD set of William Ackerman’s new age guitar music back when I was in Alaska, and it quickly became a favorite. It’s incredibly relaxing, the kind of “new age” music that has harmonic and structural complexity (a.k.a., even my jazz snob husband enjoyed it). During that part of the contract, I was doing lots of exploring and hiking on my own, and I was often in bed by 10:30 or 11 at night. I’d turn this CD on shuffle around 9 pm and just zen out until bedtime, sometimes even letting it play me to sleep. Its soothing beauty reflected my calm, comparatively unemotional state quite well. Fantastic music for tasks like working or writing (like right now) or for relaxing at the end of a long day.
- Most-repeated track(s): “The Schuyler Sisters”, “Satisfied,” and “Cabinet Battle #1”
If you’ve spoken with me in person in the last three weeks, I have mentioned this album to you. Probably exuberantly and passionately, possibly loudly. (Sorry.) Remember how I’m always late to the party? I’m months behind everyone on this one, but I’m making up for it in fervor. This is the soundtrack for the current Broadway show, Hamilton – you know, the one that has all of New York in a tizzy? The one you can’t get tickets to for months? The one that has legitimately changed the face of musical theatre?
I confess, I listened to all the buzz about the show and figured it was probably good, if overhyped. The thing is, none of the buzz is hyperbole. As Ben Brantley, the tough-to-impress theatre critic of The New York Times, put it: “Yes, it really is that good.” AND IT IS. The music is beautiful, engaging, fun, and the lyrics and story are mesmerizing. And I haven’t even seen the show! I just love the soundtrack. I’m hoping that some of the tracks wind up on actual Top 40 radio; it’s been decades since that happened but if any show could cross over, it’s Hamilton. It’s also what squeaky-clean me has always wished hip-hop and rap on the radio could be. (Love the genre but typically am alienated by the lyrics.)
This is a great album for anyone that likes musical theatre, history, the future of art in America, and/or YouTube’s Epic Rap Battles of History. Just set aside time to listen through the whole thing! It is completely worth it.
- Most-repeated track(s): ”Making the Most of the Night,” “Let’s Get Lost”
I feel silly for putting a simple pop album ahead of the soundtrack to the most revolutionary Broadway show since Hair, but in terms of impact on my life, it’s accurate. I discovered Carly Rae Jepsen’s album almost by accident during Magic To Do rehearsals, early in October. One of the production crew was playing it when I happened to walk through the theatre en route to lunch. I caught a short snippet of a chorus and had to know what it was. It was quite surprising to me that it was Carly Rae Jepsen, whose music hadn’t really impressed me on any level before.
I’m still not sure which came first, the album or my change in behavior, but E-mo-tion either caused or captured a very intense, emotional period of my life. I felt giddy and free, like I was in junior high once again (those being my most joyful years in school), and it felt like whole sides of me were unleashed I hadn’t known existed. My bedtime began to push midnight, 1 am, occasionally even 2 am, and I found myself craving social interactions with my castmates. I played pool and foosball, I went clubbing, I started ballroom dancing. I discovered new outfits in my closet. I began experimenting with my hair styles. I often had spontaneous dance parties to this album in my room, just me and my mirror.
Ironically, this was at the same time as the most stressful rehearsal process I’ve ever had. Perhaps, due to lacking an outlet for my frustrations and other emotions, I was venting through uncharacteristically wild behavior. (Though let’s be honest: it was still pretty darn tame – just wild for straight-laced me.) I may never know what was going on in that month, but it was amazing and painful all at once. And then it evaporated. Disappeared almost overnight. I’m not really sure why.
These days, it’s great music for working out or getting ready for a night out. I still love the album, but now it causes just an echo of the feelings I was experiencing. Part of me mourns the loss of Party Emily, as I called her, but part of me is relieved that I’m back to the fairly boring version of myself I’ve known all these years. I think I scared myself with…myself. But it sure was fun. Almost like being a kid again – the kind of heady, hormonal ups and downs we forget actually comprised our childhood.
So that’s it! The major musical moments of this cruise ship contract. Have you ever had an artist or an album define a period of your life? I’d love to hear if anyone else has had a personal soundtrack. Sometimes I feel like it’s just dramatic little me…
Though I am an employee of Princess Cruise Lines, all opinions are mine only and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.