Top 10 Avril Lavigne Songs That Are Still Jams (+ 5 Underrated B-sides)

Full disclosure: The very first album I bought with my own money was Avril Lavigne's Let Go in the fourth grade. I have nearly her entire discography, minus her most recent album, in my iTunes. In fact, I was listening to it on shuffle today, which was what inspired me to write this list in the first place.

You should also know that this list is (mostly) not ironic, and also mostly more upbeat, shout-along-in-your-car songs, rather than ballads. Otherwise this list would be way too long. Happy listening!

Top 10 Avril Songs That Are Still Total Jams

10. Runaway, The Best Damn Thing

Apparently people disagree with me on this one, but too bad. I love it.

9. The Best Damn Thing, The Best Damn Thing

Similar to Girlfriend, but better.

8. What The Hell, Goodbye Lullaby

Honestly the perfect fuck it song.

7. Smile, Goodbye Lullaby

Tbh, I went to get the link for the music video for this one and sat there and watched the whole thing at 12:42 am because I love it so much.

6. He Wasn't, Under My Skin

Honestly the perfect fuck you song.

5. Who Knows, Under My Skin

It's a jam but also super inspiring, so therefore it's the perfect song.

4. My World, Let Go

It's just fun, idk.

3. Things I'll Never Say, Let Go

A gem. A favorite since the wee age of 9. I Love it.

2. Sk8er Boi, Let Go

Can I make it any more obvious?

1. Complicated, Let Go

Ah, that iconic music video dialogue. Even so, still the greatest song she's ever released.

Now that the fun, nostalgic part of the post is over, I'm gonna direct to some of her lesser known b-sides, that I love because they're actually fantastic songs. Most of the songs above were, too, but these are a little more ~artistic~, if you will. Enjoy!

Top 5 Avril B-Sides

5. Take Me Away

Honestly I much prefer this one to the official Take Me Away on Under My Skin (that one's still good though).

4. Once and For Real

I'm just gonna leave these songs without explanation from now, because it's hard enough to narrow down my favorites from this batch without figuring out exactly why I like them so much. Sorry.

3. Move Your Little Self On

2. All You Will Never Know

1. Why

Here's a handy dandy link to literally all of her b-sides. It was really hard for me to pick these five because I legit love them all a lot.

I hope this was a fun throwback, and that you maybe found some new songs that you really like. Avril 4ever.

Much love,
Rachel Shoshanna

Technological Failures and Musical Successes

I promise I was trying to put up a post! I literally just spent three days trying to embed audio into an audition GRWM/how-to post, but had to give up in order to retain my sanity. Clearly, HTML and coding is not something towards which I am inclined.

That's okay though, because I am inclined to singing and dancing, which was helpful for my musical theatre showcase auditions this week. It was definitely stressful, and I spent a good 72 hours this week having yet another vocal identity crisis, but after talking to the music director and finally finding out what songs to bring in for the head of the department on Monday, I'm feeling really good about the whole thing. I wanted some more small group numbers and I only have one, but it's 'The Negative' from 'Waitress,' which I've already worked on before and love. The solos that they've given me to bring in are also great - 'A Cockeyed Optimist' from 'South Pacific,' the standard 'I'll Be Seeing You,' 'Here I Am' from 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,' 'A Fine, Fine Line' from 'Avenue Q,' and 'What Baking Can Do' from 'Waitress.' 

But by far the best part of this week was the dance audition we had on Wednesday. It was mostly for figuring out where each person in the group lies on the dance spectrum - mover, strong mover, and dancer. I'd qualify myself as a dancer, and there are a number of us in the group. But beyond that, the majority of our group are really strong movers, and we had a blast learning a jazz style combination from 'Elf,' and, for the people who wanted to tap (which again, was most of us), a really fun combo from 'Something Rotten.' The discovery that we were all pretty inclined towards dancing definitely inspired our director, because he keeps talking in vague terms about this cool, collaborative idea for the show that hasn't been done at our school before. 

As you might imagine, we're all very excited. I'll keep you updated as things are solidified and we get into rehearsals, but I think it's going be a really good show.

Much love,
Rachel Shoshanna

Awkward Pause

Such was the name of my drama showcase, which played its final performance last night. It was an incredible weekend in which I made my NYC stage debut, and the five weeks of rehearsal leading up to it were some of the most difficult, but also unequivocally the most rewarding weeks of my time at this school. 

Our show centered around themes of identity and how interpersonal relationships interact with that identity. The name of the show came from the pregnant silences that would fall as people's struggles came into conflict. There were nine different scenes put up, and the two that I was in were from "Bad Jews," by Joshua Harmon, and "If I Forget," by Steven Levenson. 

My characters from the two scenes were very similar as far as the stock character went, but their personalities and how they dealt with their problems were so different from one another, and also from me, and that made figuring them out a real challenge. What helped was the people I was working with - all of them were so in it and so committed to figuring out the scenes and what made them work, that it made my job easier. 

All of our performances were great, but while we up there this week, we really learned the kind of difference an audience can make. We gave it our all every time, but audiences are also active participants in a theatre experience, and sometimes they don't hold up their end of the deal. When that happens, you just have to power through and stay in the moment. Other times, though, the audience is so thoroughly invested that the work is halfway done for you; you just get to go out there and enjoy the time to explore the people and moments you've spent so much time getting to know. 

Our final performance was that kind of performance. The audience was packed and our energy was high, and we just took the advice our director had been giving us for weeks which was - fuck it. Go out there and fuck it.

And fuck it, we did.

Shamefully Crawling Back to the Blog

Hey y'all. Long time, no see. I've been busy with musical theatre school, and it takes a lot more of out you than you'd think, so I've barely had time to be on the internet, let alone write whole blog posts.

But I'm in my last semester, which means time during the day and classes at night, so I'm back with a goal to write something for this space every day, be it catching up on travel posts from trips that happened months (or in some cases years) ago or talking about the stuff I'm auditioning for (how did I get typed out of Oklahoma?? how??). I'm in drama showcase right now, and I have my last two performances today, so maybe I'll talk about that too! In any case, I'm making a real effort this time, and with my life finally feeling together and like it's moving in the right direction I have hopes it'll stick. 

Today, it's a life catch up! In addition to being in school, I have moved out of my parents place and into my own with some friends from said school. We're up in Morningside Heights, we've been here for 3 weeks, and I love it already. There are a bunch of restaurants and bars right around the corner that are fantastic, so we don't even have to walk very far for some excitement. In fact, a place called The Craftsman just opened, and I think my 24th birthday celebration next weekend will start there. 

Also, for the first time in my life, I'm actually using a planner the way it's meant to be used! I troll Backstage and Playbill for audition listings and then write down all the ones I think I could go for, what I need, and where they'll be, and then - shocker - I actually manage to get my butt down there. It's amazing what the proper preparation can do for your ability to get things done. 

I have to go get ready for this last day of performances (we've got a matinee and an evening show), but here's to a new year (three months in), a renewed blog, and a new me!

Much love,
Rachel Shoshanna

Travel: Sevilla

The wanderlust has been hitting me hard lately, which clearly means I should finally finish up the travel series I started last summer (edit: two summers ago) with my trip to Spain.

Obviously, it's been a while, and I will never be able to remember the names of the restaurants we went to, try as I might. However, I still remember what we saw and did, and still have tons of photos to share, so hopefully this post might be helpful, even if it is three quarters of a year (edit: nearly two years) late.

This is a photo taken inside the hotel we stayed at in Sevilla, called Las Casas de la Judería. As you can probably guess from the name, it was located in the Jewish Quarter of Sevilla, and it was one of the coolest hotels I've ever stayed at; it was filled with underground passages and private courtyards, creating a beautiful and slightly mysterious atmosphere. Here's a view from the balcony outside our room.

We also got lost.

The Royal Alcazar was my favorite thing we saw in Sevilla, and also possibly my favorite thing we saw in Spain. It was filled with glorious gardens and beautiful architecture. Just look at the pictures.

We also had the chance to see some truly stunning flamenco dancing at one of the premier flamenco rooms. Unfortunately, there are no great photos as dancers do, in fact, tend to be in motion when they perform. 

(While staying in Sevilla, we also took day trips to Granada, to see the Alhambra, and Córdoba, to see the Mezquita and the Sinagoga. Both cities and all three sites were beautiful, and I already have too many photos in this post so I will stick with my original plan to make Córdoba and Granada a separate post.)

On our last day in Sevilla, we finally went to the cathedral. My whole family at this point was bit sick of all the cathedrals we'd seen, so we weren't exactly excited to go, but we knew we probably should. Ultimately, we were very, very glad we did, as it ended up being the most beautiful of all the cathedrals we saw. I'm not one to typically feel the holiness of those sites (though I can appreciate the beauty), but in this one, I felt it. Deeply.

The elephant in the room is obviously that this post is nearly two years overdue, and I started the draft for it over a year ago, but I'm back now and committing for real. I'm making a pact with myself to write a post every morning when I get up, even if it's about something silly, like a dream I had. I feel like my life is finally coming together and going the way I want it to, and I really do think the blogging will stick this time because of it.

Much love (and happy St. Patrick's Day),
Rachel Shoshanna