Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Fourth of July: Best Songs and Drinks for Your Party

The Fourth of July is a time for celebrating in style.  The key to having a legendary summer party is to have the best drinks and the best playlist for the occasion.  As Americans, we all know the importance of individuality and fun, which is why there are so many varieties of Fourth of July parties out there.  From entertaining kiddies with their sparklers and hot dogs, to rocking a killer outdoor barbeque with dangerous explosives and excessive bandanas, each Fourth of July party is unique.  

Your party environment relies on the background music to fuel conversation, dancing, and drinking (The “Shots” song, anyone?!). Minimize party planning stress by relying on online music streaming websites to do the playlist creating for you. 

Be sure to crank that Pandora station to randomize song choices, or use Spotify to play specific playlists and songs at the click of a mouse.  You can also use sites like Grooveshark to upload your own music into the streaming mix. 

If you want to have a kickass playlist to suite your party by streaming music and offering up awesome drink choices, the following list has got you covered.

Country Party on the Lake
If you’re planning a party with a “no shoes, no shirt, no problem” motto, a country themed playlist will be a perfect fit.  Start the day off right with some LiberTea to go with those daisy dukes and ball caps. Here are the best songs to plug into a music streaming website that’ll have you screaming “Yee-Haw, America!” 

American Saturday Night” by Brad Paisley - “American Saturday Night” originated from the TV show name “Saturday Night Live” and was the basis for Paisley’s entire album. 
 Only in America” by Brooks & Dunn - “Only in America” was released in June 2001, but the song got grouped in with similar patriotic songs all created in response to the September, 11 2011 attacks.
 All American Girl” by Carrie Underwood - Carrie Underwood shared to Entertainment Weekly that the high note during the bridge in the song is the highest she had ever hit.
Made in America” by Toby Keith - Toby Keith almost left this song off of his “Clancy’s Tavern” album because he thought he had “a lot of America songs.”
 American Beautiful” The Henningsens - “American Beautiful” was The Henningsens’ first single ever released from their debut album.

SIP:  LiberTea

Poolside Pop Party
If your party calls for any combination of dancing, swimming, and socializing, turn up any of these songs to get in the groove.

Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus - “Party in the U.S.A.” was originally written by and intended for pop singer Jessie J., however she decided the track wasn’t edgy enough for her and it was eventually passed to Cyrus to record. 
 Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys - “Empire State of Mind” went platinum 5 times and won 2 Grammy Awards.
 California Gurls” by Katy Perry - Perry has said this song was made in response to “Empire State of Mind.” The song reached number one in over ten countries.
 Fourth of July (Fireworks)” by Kelis - Although the “Fourth of July” title implies a strong connection to U.S. culture, the song peaked at #2 in Belgium.
 American Boy” by Estelle ft. Kanye West - This song by U.K. R&B singer Estelle has been parodied numerous times with new names like “Egyptian Boy” and “Australian Boy.”

Children’s Patriotic Party
If you’re hosting a party for all the kids in the neighborhood, here are a few sing-a-long tunes that will rock their tiny world.

Yankee Doodle - Alvin & The Chipmunks covered this song for their debut album in 1959.
 You’re a Grand Ole Flag - This patriotic march was written in 1906 for the musical “George Washington Jr.”
 Celebration” by Kool & The Gang - This classic party song is still heard today at events like weddings and hit #1 on five different song charts in 1980 and 1981.
Surfin’ in the USA” by The Beach Boys - This summertime anthem was featured in the 1985 Michael J. Fox comedy “Teen Wolf.” 

SIP:  Patriotic Mocktail

Rock ‘n Roll Barbeque
Gather all your Harley-ridin’, America-lovin’, backyard-grillin’ boys and girls to a Rock themed barbeque that will leave everyone wishing every day was the Fourth of July.

American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz - “American Woman” was first released in 1970 by Canadian band The Guess Who and has been covered by many artists, like Jimi Hendrix, in addition to Lenny Kravitz.
 Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynard Skynard - This southern rock song was played in the film “Forrest Gump” as Forrest dances with his friend Jenny in the living room of his Alabama home.
 Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen - Springsteen declined al multi-million dollar offer by Chrysler to have the song be used in commercials.
 Don’t Tread on Me” by Metallica - The musical introduction of the song includes an 8 bar phrase from the song “America” made popular by “West Side Story.”
 American Badass” by Kid Rock - After the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, this song was broadcast over the ship’s PA system upon leaving the port.

SIP:  Go simple, classic, and American with buckets of Yuengling Lager from America’s oldest operating brewery.

Romantic Fireworks  After-Party
Unwind after your Fourth of July festivities with some relaxed holiday songs and a pitcher of Sangria to keep you cool. 

Star Spangled Banner” by Whitney Houston - The national anthem was performed by Whitney Houston in 1991 at the Super Bowl and quickly became one of TVs greatest moments and one of Houston’s most memorable performances.
Imagine” by John Lennon - This song became the most commercially successful and
 critically acclaimed of Lennon’s solo career.
United States of Eurasia” by Muse - This song was placed on Muse’s album titled
“The Resistance” and is followed immediately by an instrumental solo called “Collateral Damage.”
American Baby” by Dave Matthews Band - This song peaked at #16 on Billboard Hot 100, which was Dave Matthews Band’s highest peak in the U.S. 
Where We Left Off” by Hunter Hayes - This song appeared on the soundtrack for the 2012 film “Act of Valor,” which starred actual active-duty U.S. Navy SEALs and SWCC.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Comparing Google Glass to Tim Cook’s “Watch” Vision

Google Glass has people wondering about the future of smart devices. Can we expect almost everyone to be wearing Glass-like devices in the coming years? Apple CEO Tim Cook has a different vision for wearable computing: Wrist devices. At the recent All Things Digital conference, he brought to light the validity of this alternative.

The Question of Aesthetics

Despite Google's best efforts, Glass does not look ordinary. One quick look and people can tell you are wearing Glass. Your day-to-day appearance is essentially impaired by wearing Glass. The product itself is attractive, but it is hard to deny that it lacks any subtlety.

A wrist device is straight-forward. It is not distracting to you or anyone else around you. Tim Cook laid this out succinctly stating, "I wear glasses because I have to. I don’t know a lot of people that wear them that don’t have to."

The Wrist is Natural

Watches are no longer a common item to wear, especially for the younger generation. Cook pointed this out himself at the All Things Digital D11 conference stating, "If we had a room full of 10 to 20-year-olds and we said, ‘Everyone stand up that has a watch,’ I’m not sure anybody would stand up.”

While Cook's observation is accurate, you don't need to be a watch wearer to find a wrist device natural. Looking at your wrist is just as straight-forward as the slight look up Glass requires, and more importantly it doesn't have to be in front of your face if you don't want it to. Google Glass gives the eerie sensation of technology being invasive to our everyday lives. A watch-like device can operate as a more intuitive smartphone without getting in your way.

Convenience & Safety

What if you want to take Glass off? Just like with eyeglasses, you probably won't want to carry them folded up in your pocket. Chances are you will need to carry around a case for Glass. The naturalness of a wrist device means you probably won't mind whether it is off or on. Glass has also led people to voice concerns over privacy and safety. While Glass' limited availability makes it difficult to call it either way, it is certainly something to consider.

That Apple Touch

While Cook did not explicitly state that Apple would be going into the wearable computing market with wrist devices, their patents seem to indicate that they will. They have filed patents for a flexible display based device with a slap bracelet mechanic.

While Google is an innovative company that has come out with its fair share of great products, Apple's reputation for innovative and successful products is near legendary. If Apple were to make an 'iWatch', we can have faith that they will be able to pull it off successfully. Combine this with their current product ecosystem, and you could end up with a central controller for everything Apple – right on your wrist. We may already be seeing some hints of design innovation for a new wrist wearable design. Apple recently also filed a patent for devices with displays you can actually press. This could add an entirely new element to touch devices.

Which product will succeed?

How Apple and Google advertise to us is going to be a huge part of which one of these products garners the most success. New technology, like Glass and a possible Apple watch, is supposed to make life easier – supposed to fulfill a need. People are always looking for something, and Apple and Google are hoping they have what we are looking for.

But people don’t make decisions rationally all the time – a lot of decisions are based on emotions. Whichever product stirs the most emotion through marketing will have a better chance of winning the attention, and the money, of consumers.

Consumers are also looking to avoid risk. Yes, we are curious of new products and we love to buy, but we don’t like to think we are risking more than we will gain. Buying a new product always carries some sort of risk – that’s why people often wait to buy the second version of products, so all the kinks get worked out.

Glass seems like a product that people would wait to buy the second time around – it almost seems fragile. It wouldn’t be surprising if consumers held off on the first product and instead opted to wait for the second wave. Since Apple’s plans for a watch device aren’t exactly clear, it’s hard to say which product would come out on top – but what is clear is that if either company delves into what consumers think about when they buy products they’ve never seen before, they have a better shot at coming out on top.