Summer is the most prosperous season for many industries, and pop music is no exception to that rule. Summer 2013 has seen the release of many songs, all clambering for the coveted top Billboard spot. Here are a few noteworthy Top 40 tracks from the summer…so far!

Get Lucky – Daft Punk

This infectious hit single dropped in April but is shaping up to be the song of the summer. It comes from Daft Punk’s long awaited album, Random Access Memories, but many fans believe Get Lucky to be the only worthwhile song on the record. If you liked Get Lucky, check out this music history inspired remix of the song, or Daft Punk’s revolutionary album, Discovery.

Can’t Hold Us and Same Love – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Although Macklemore’s groundbreaking, truly independent album The Heist (a rap album for people who think they don’t like rap) is almost a year old, two of its three hit singles continue to dominate the charts. Same Love is a powerful affirmation of the gay rights movement, and in itself is a very moving song. Can’t Hold Us is an upbeat soliloquy featuring Ray Dalton’s enticing vocals. This writer was fortunate enough to attend their Chicago concert in November, and was blown away by its quality. If you liked those songs, check out the rest of The Heist (which includes Thrift Shop, one of the most popular songs of this decade so far).

The Cup Song – Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect is a goofy movie about college a capella rivalries and adolescent hormones. When the lead character auditions for the club, she sings this song complete with cup choreography. If you liked this song, watch the movie (but be warned, corniness level MAXIMUM!).

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke

Blurred Lines is super catchy, but the music video garnered controversy when the unrated version was released featuring topless models among other distasteful topics. Thicke’s album of the same name, Blurred Lines, is set for a July 30th release. He purportedly intends to feature President Obama in his next video.

Birds whistle in the trees and flora flourishes as we approach the middle of summer, 2013. Young folks aren’t ready to think of school yet, older folks are fervently wishing that September would arrive already and give the young folks something to do during the day, but the forces of nature pay no heed to those inconsequential desires. Time passes, and the inevitable draws near: Lollapalooza 2013 is coming, a fact that old and young alike can easily agree upon. With the countdown to August 2-4 hovering at just over two weeks, that world-renowned music festival is a go-to topic for conversation, and anybody not familiar with this year’s illustrious headliners should certainly take this opportunity to catch themselves up.

Lollapalooza was the brainchild of Perry Farrell, lead singer of alt-rock group and oft-headliner Jane’s Addiction. Originally intended to be a farewell tour for his band, the 1991 romp around the continent with Nine Inch Nails and Ice-T in tow was popular enough to warrant reprisals for the next six consecutive years. The festival-tour ran out of steam in 1998, however, and wasn’t revived until 2003. In 2005, Perry teamed up with C3 Presents and made a permanent home for Lolla in a section of Chicago’s Grant Park. It has since expanded to take over the entire 115 acres of the park with a multitude of stages and other attractions for one August weekend per year.

Staying in line with recent trends in the music industry, Lollapalooza has been plagued with a scalping and reselling epidemic. The phenomenon came to a head this year when three day passes to the festival sold out in an hour flat, only for thousands of tickets to reappear in online marketplaces (such as StubHub) at a significant markup. Nevertheless, Lolla remains very well-attended and is under contract to stay in Chicago until at least 2021.

Keeping an eye on the bands that come to Lolla is often a great way to keep on top of popular music trends. Here are the most anticipated bands for this year.

The Killers-This alternative group is fronted by Brandon Flowers, and is touring to support its new album, Battle Born. Its most popular songs include Mr. Brightside and Somebody Told Me (Hot Fuss, 2003), When You Were Young (from Sam’s Town, 2006), Human and Spaceman (Day & Age, 2008), and Runaways (Battle Born, 2012). This will be its third headlining spot at Lollapalooza.

Nine Inch Nails-This industrial rock group has been Trent Reznor’s project since 1988 (this year marks its 25th anniversary), and supported the first ever Lollapalooza tour in 1991. The band has been on hiatus since 2009, and is very much anticipated for this upcoming performance. It is touring in preparation for their new album, Hesitation Marks, which is due for release this September. Its most popular songs (warning: explicit) include Head Like a Hole (Pretty Hate Machine, 1989), Wish (Broken EP, 1992), Closer and Hurt (The Downward Spiral, 1994), and The Hand That Feeds (With Teeth, 2005).

Other notable, Friday headliners include Imagine Dragons (electro-pop, Radioactive), Lana Del Rey (indie pop, Young and Beautiful), Steve Aoki (electro-house, Turbulence), New Order (new wave, The Perfect Kiss), and Queens of the Stone Age (heavy rock, I Appear Missing).

The Postal Service-This electro-alt-pop moniker was meant to be used only for one album; namely, Give Up (2003). It became a cult classic among a wide audience, so duo Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) and Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel) decided to embark on a brief tour in support of the tenth anniversary of the record and its deluxe edition release, to the delight of fans worldwide. Their catchiest songs are Such Great Heights, The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, and Nothing Better, all from Give Up.

Mumford and Sons-This modern, folk-bluegrass group needs little introduction based on their ubiquity in pop culture of late. They are touring in support of Babel (2012, Best Album Grammy), but suffered a setback recently when their bassist, Ted Dwane, underwent surgery for a cerebral blood clot. They still plan to perform at Lolla, however. Their most popular songs include Little Lion Man and The Cave (Sigh No More, 2010), I Will Wait, and Lover of the Light (Babel).

In traditional Lollapalooza fashion/blunder, these two artists are performing simultaneously on stages in opposite sides of the park, which poses a tough choice to fans of both groups (of which there are many).

Other notable, Saturday headliners include Kendrick Lamar (rap, Poetic Justice–explicit ), The Lumineers (folk-bluegrass, Ho Hey!), The National (indie rock, Demons), Matt and Kim (indie pop, Daylight) and Local Natives (indie rock, Breakers).

Phoenix-Hailing from France, this alt-pop group gained a lot of popularity on the back of their poppy penultimate album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009), even though they’ve been around since 1999. Their new album, Bankrupt! (2013), aims for a more experimental sound, drawing on various childhood influences as well as synesthetic concepts. Their most enticing tracks include include 1901 and Lisztomania (Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix), Entertainment (Bankrupt!), and Consolation Prizes (It’s Never Been Like That, 2006)

The Cure-Formed in the U.K. in 1976, this group rode on the coattails of the British rock age all the way to the alt-rock fervor of the ’90s, and then some. Robert Smith, the only continuous member of the longtime group, has reformed some of the original ensemble in a summer tour, culminating in the Lollapalooza set. Some of their greatest hits are A Forest (Seventeen Seconds, 1980), The Same Deep Water As You and Plainsong (Disintegration, 1989), and Just Like Heaven (Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, 1987).

Other notable, Sunday headliners include Vampire Weekend (pop-rock, Horchata), Two Door Cinema Club (What You Know), 2 Chainz (rap, Birthday Song–explicit), and Knife Party (electro-house, Bonfire).

Go forth and converse intelligently!



Choosing Music for Your Reception

Choosing wedding music that makes everyone happy can be a complicated process. In Parts One and Two of this series we discussed selecting music for your ceremony, cocktails, dinner and special moments. Today we’ll discuss how to create your own musical signature as a couple while satisfying the tastes of your guests during the reception.

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Guests flood the famous Knickerbocker Hotel dance floor at a summer wedding. Photo Credit: Gerber & Scarpelli

So how do you honor your personal preferences while keeping the dance floor packed? The key is considering the music you and your fiancé like, as well as the songs your families and friends will respond to.  People dance to what they know, so if you are not already aware ask your family or friends what artists and genres they like. For example, the Stitely Orchestra played at a wedding where the couple and their friends were Phish heads. They knew that Lady Gaga was not going to get their guests on the floor, so they chose music that reminded them of their shared memories and appealed to their friends. We also played at a wedding where the bride and her family is Bolivian, while the groom and his family is Irish. To satisfy everyone they hired a Bolivian duo and an Irish combo to play during the band breaks; that way their families as well as their friends got to enjoy themselves.


Guests of all ages enjoy the wedding classics! Photo Credit: Brian Hall Photographers

Often, playing older styles of music like jazz or classic rock earlier in the reception helps to include older guests. However, if you want a more modern feeling right from the beginning there are some ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s tunes that can work great in the first set. Songs like “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green, and artists like Adele, Norah Jones, Amy Winehouse, and Taylor Swift appeal to guests of all ages. Avoid songs with a lot of electronic elements in the first set; work up to those auto tune hits that make your booty shake but make your grandparents cringe. Also consider if there are any cultural traditions, songs with special meaning to your group like college fight songs, or sing-along tunes like “Wonderwall.” These songs are great to include earlier in the evening because they keep everyone engaged.

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Great music and a fun dance party will leave a memorable impression of your wedding celebration. Photo Credit: Timothy Whaley & Associates

The final song will cast a lingering impression of your wedding for you and your guests. Consider whether you want to leave with a romantic ballad like “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne, or a rocking anthem that keeps the energy high to the very end. Songs like “Don’t Stop Believing” or “We are Young” are great at creating a musical climax that reflects the fun and excitement of the day.

The process of choosing your wedding music can be as personalized as you and your fiancé want it to be. Put your unique signature on every musical aspect from the ceremony to reception, just remember that music frames memories and creates a lasting impression of your wedding for your family, friends and guests. But more importantly, how do you want to remember your special day?

Part Two: Choosing Music for Your Special Dances

First Dance. Photo Credit: Anna Guziak Photography

First Dance. Photo Credit: Anna Guziak Photography

It can be tricky choosing wedding music that both you and your guests like. In Part One of this three-part series we discussed choosing music for your ceremony, cocktails and dinner. Today we’ll discuss what to consider when choosing music for your special dances.

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Father/Daughter Dance. Photo Credit: Todd James Photography

When contemplating a song for your first dance, consider whether you want an intimate moment, a playful interlude, or a flashy choreographed show that wows the crowd. What songs make you think of your partner? Is there a song that reminds you of a shared experience? Also think about logistics: how long do you want to be dancing in front of your guests? If your favorite song is too long, work with the bandleader or DJ to adjust the length by omitting verses or fading out. You can also combine two of your favorite songs. For example, a recent couple’s first dance began with Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and faded into “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen. Bottom line, the song should feel personal with lyrics that appeal to both of you.

Here are just a few of the songs Stitely bands have played at recent weddings. Some classics include: “The Best is Yet to Come” by Frank Sinatra, “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke, or “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen. “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes and “Whatever It Is” by the Zac Brown Band are great contemporary options.

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Mother/Son Dance. Photo Credit: Wedding Story Studio

When selecting music for the father/daughter and mother/son dances consider similar questions. Is there a song or an artist that reminds you of your father or an experience you had together? This song could be sweet and sentimental, or fun or outrageous. There is something timeless about older songs like “My Girl” by The Temptations or “You Make Me Feel So Young” by Frank Sinatra, however, if you want a modern feel try “Daughter” by Loudon Wainwright or “I Loved Her First” by Heartland. Mother/Son dances can be challenging since so many great “love” songs are about romantic love. Songs like “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts, “In My Life” by The Beatles, and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder will warm your heart without creeping anyone out.

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Anniversary Dance. Photo Credit: Todd James Photography

                   If you don’t want to toss your bouquet, consider an anniversary dance. During this dance, married guests dance together and leave the floor as an emcee announces increasing lengths of time, ultimately leaving the longest married couple in the spotlight. The bride rewards their longevity with her bouquet. This is a sweet way to celebrate your older guests like grandparents, or avoid an awkward situation in which many of the female guests are too old, young or married to catch the bouquet. Typically this dance is a classic ballad, but if you have a favorite song you didn’t choose for your first dance, use it here instead.

With the musical tearjerkers out of the way, it’s time to party down! Stay tuned for Part 3 next Wednesday in which we’ll discuss reception music that keeps everyone on the dance floor.

Choosing Music for Your Ceremony, Cocktails & Dinner 

The venue is reserved, vendors are booked, and the dress bought; now it’s time to start planning the timeline and musical flow of your wedding! There are a lot of elements to consider, but in this three part series we’ll focus on choosing music that reflects your personality as a couple while keeping your guests of all ages glued to the dance floor.


Photo Credit: Garbo Productions

Music transports you back to certain times in your life. Finding those sweet spots that hit an emotional chord with different groups of people is what choosing your wedding music is all about. First consider the function music will play at your wedding. What kind of atmosphere do you want to create? When you fantasize about your future wedding memories, what do these moments feel like? Clarifying the mood you want to create will help you choose music that will make you, your fiancée and your guests happy.

Your ceremony is one of the few times of the evening when you can be completely musically “selfish.” You don’t have to consider whether your family or friends enjoy or approve of your choices. You don’t have to worry whether your guests will dance or whether the tempo is too slow or fast. The goal here is to create the unique atmosphere that you and your fiancé will remember forever.

So what kind of ceremony are you going to have – traditional, modern, religious? If you like traditional wedding music, stick with the classics and enjoy the timeless ambiance. An increasingly popular trend is to play modern songs with classical instruments such as a string combo. This adds a contemporary edge to your traditional ceremony, or a classical flavor to your modern ceremony. Whatever your preferences, just remember- this is your chance to choose songs that are special to both of you, no strings attached.

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Guests dance between dinner courses during an East Coast Style wedding. Photo Credit: Jolie Images

The music you choose during cocktails and dinner sets the stage for the rest of the evening. This music creates a subtle backdrop for guests to mingle and enjoy their meals. However, in a typical East Coast timeline dinner music also serves to connect important moments like your first dance or cake cutting. Again consider the atmosphere you want during this period. Cocktails and dinner are wonderful opportunities to include music that you really love but might not translate well into dancing. For example, a lot of indie music is great to listen to but lies in a mid-tempo range that makes dancing awkward. A great example of this is Feist’s “Mushaboom.” If you, your fiancé or friends love this music, consider a combo that plays indie & contemporary music rather than the traditional jazz combo. However, if you enjoy the chic ambiance provided by a jazz combo then go with that group.

With dinner completed, it’s time to take the floor for your special dances! Stay tuned for Part Two next week in which we’ll discuss choosing music for these significant moments.

The story of Cathy Knorr and Trevor Webb’s relationship is so darn cute, we couldn’t help but share it. These lovebirds dated for a couple weeks in middle school when Trevor wrote a love letter to Cathy instructing her to meet him at the end of the hall after school and tell him if she wanted to date him. After meeting him and dating for a couple weeks, she broke up with him to go out with another boy. The ex-couple remained friends over the years, even when they both moved away from their hometown. When they both returned, single, they unexpectedly kissed one night and have been together ever since. Having such a sweet and unique set of circumstances in their relationship, they displayed Trevor’s love letter at the wedding (which Cathy had kept for all those years!). What an awesome story! View the full story and photo slideshow here.

This story inspired us to look back at love letters from famous composers and musicians to their honeys. Here are some excerpts from a few of our favorites…

Ludwig van Beethoven to his “Immortal Beloved”

beethovenwriting“Good morning, on 7 July

Even in bed my ideas yearn towards you, my Immortal Beloved, here and there joyfully, then again sadly, awaiting from Fate, whether it will listen to us. I can only live, either altogether with you or not at all. Yes, I have determined to wander about for so long far away, until I can fly into your arms and call myself quite at home with you, can send my soul enveloped by yours into the realm of spirits — yes, I regret, it must be. You will get over it all the more as you know my faithfulness to you; never another one can own my heart, never — never! O God, why must one go away from what one loves so, and yet my life in W. as it is now is a miserable life. Your love made me the happiest and unhappiest at the same time. At my actual age I should need some continuity, sameness of life — can that exist under our circumstances? Angel, I just hear that the post goes out every day — and must close therefore, so that you get the L. at once. Be calm — love me — today — yesterday.
What longing in tears for you — You — my Life — my All — farewell. Oh, go on loving me — never doubt the faithfullest heart
Of your beloved


Ever thine.
Ever mine.
Ever ours.”


Charlie Parker to his girlfriend Chan Woods

“To you;

The way I thought was wrong, having not known, it was right. Here is the proof of my feelings, Don’t hate me, love me forever: — — — —
Beautiful is the world, slow is one to take advantage. Wind up the world the other way. And at the start of the turning of the earth, lie my feelings for thou.

To you
Shame on me.
I love you.”


Johnny Cash to June Carter

“Hey June,

That’s really nice June. You’ve got a way with words and a way with me as well.

The fire and excitement may be gone now that we don’t go out there and sing them anymore, but the ring of fire still burns around you and I, keeping our love hotter than a pepper sprout.

Love John”



Jimi Hendrix to “little girl”

“little girl…..

happiness is within you…so unlock the chains from your heart and let yourself grow —
like the sweet flower you are…
I know the answer —
Just spread your wings and set yourself
Love to you forever
Jimi Hendrix”


Paul McCartney to his wife Nancy, in the form of a song

“My Valentine”

What if it rained, we didn’t care
She said that someday soon
The sun was gonna shine
And she was right, this love of mine
My Valentine

As days and nights, would pass me by
I tell myself that I was waiting for a sign
Then she appeared, a love so fine
My Valentine

And I will love her for life
And I will never let a day go by
Without remembering the reasons why
She makes me certain, that I can fly

And so I do, without a care
I know that someday soon
The sun is gonna shine
And she’ll be there, this love of mine
My Valentine

What if it rained, we didn’t care
She said that someday soon
The sun is gonna shine
And she was right, this love of mine
My Valentine

Take a minute to think about how much the nature of music has changed since the 1800s and even earlier. What used to be available only as a spectacular art displayed through live performance is now available through multiple outlets and in many forms. Nowadays you can find music in grocery stores, advertisements, television shows, waiting rooms, and on your computer at work every day. It is more accessible than ever. In THIS article, the Chicago Tribune discusses a ritual in the world of classical music – waiting until the end of a musical piece to applaud. While some musicians, conductors, and audience members may not mind a more casual approach to applause, it is still considered by many to be an essential part of classical music’s emotional culture.


The article mentions a standout performance from the Rome Opera conducted by Riccardo Muti, in which the audience applause after the Hebrew slaves’ chorus “Va, pensiero” was exceptionally persistent. When it finally quieted down, Muti spoke to the audience of the importance of preserving Italian culture. He even asked the chorus to repeat “Va, pensiero” with the accompaniment of the audience, shown in the video below, in which you can see many chorus members visibly moved by the end of the performance. I don’t know about you guys, but this gave me goosebumps. Whether you are a long-time fan of classical music performances or a newbie who may want to consider checking out a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (or another exceptional ensemble), follow your heart when it comes to applause.


In an interesting new trend reported by, couples are decking out their weddings with lavish flowers, high-end designer dresses, talented music ensembles, and delectable dishes. What’s missing, you ask? The guests! That’s right, according to Today’s report these one-on-one weddings are on the rise. For shy brides out there, this might be your dream wedding. Or for those of you looking to get a little more daring, you can always try a “guerilla” wedding:

However you and your hubby-to-be choose to celebrate, it’s bound to be one of your most memorable occasions. Cheers!



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Looking to get married in a flash? Want to save dough and take some of the planning pressure off your plate? Well now with Bridal Brokerage, you can!

bridal-brokerage-L-m4as8tThis company buys cancelled weddings from couples to help recoup some of the costs, then sells them to bargain-hunting brides and grooms. BB collects info from the selling couple such as wedding date, location, guest capacity, vendors, and costs, and matches weddings to buyers based on the engaged couple’s preferred wedding date, location, guest list, and budget. For adventurous brides and grooms who can be flexible, don’t mind a shorter engagement period, and aren’t superstitious, this can be an excellent opportunity. As a wedding vendor, we’re curious to see if this business soars or flops. We’re definitely keeping our eyes open on this one! Let us know what you think – would you ever purchase someone’s abandoned wedding plans?


Photo Credit: Nazareth College. Click the photo to read about their music therapy program relating to dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.


Music is always an excellent backdrop for a casual get-together and a great form of entertainment for a wild dance party. However, it can also be used as an important tool in the healthcare industry. In this article on Huffpost, Ronna Kaplan of the American Music Therapy Association discusses the new music therapy program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Previous studies have shown that music therapy can help veterans improve their mental status and level of relaxation. Other organizations, such as Nazareth College, are experiencing heightened support for music therapy programs as more and more positive results continue to be discovered.

Know someone who you think could benefit from music therapy? Here are a few music therapy programs local to the Chicagoland area:

The Institute for Therapy through the Arts – Services are personalized to needs of each patient

Tuned In Music Therapy Services, LLC – Speech and communication, motor coordination, and cognition

Communication Clubhouse – Enhance communication skills, as well as social and emotional coping skills

Creative Exchange Music Therapy Clinic – Specializes in autism spectrum disorder