So the Grammy nominations just came out, and guess who is already putting his two cents in about who’s gonna win? This guy is! Yep it is technically ‘way too early’, but who cares? How about some December predictions for what’s gonna go down in January?
The Big Four
Record of the Year
“Radioactive”, Imagine Dragons
“Locked Out of Heaven”, Bruno Mars
“Blurred Lines”, Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell
This is one of the most competitive categories, period. All five of these are worthy records, which isn’t always true. If one feels like it’s out of place, it is Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven”, mostly because it is the ‘oldest’ of the bunch.
Both “Blurred Lines” and “Royals” are deserving of love based on their impact, but just because you ruled the Hot 100 certainly doesn’t equate to a Grammy. If one of these two wins, I’d give the edge to Lorde, who doesn’t have various controversies on her back. Still, rock would get a huge recognition if Imagine Dragons’ mammoth hit “Radioactive” was awarded here. Still, doesn’t Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” seem unavoidable here, particularly if the duo is victorious in the Album of the Year category?
Way Too Early Pick:
Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky”
Album of the Year
Random Access Memories, Daft Punk
Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Kendrick Lamar
The Heist, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Red, Taylor Swift
I’m not even going to curb my biases – I’m rooting for Kendrick Lamar’s rap opus Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. But I won’t even begin to act like it has a shot after hip-hop has been avoided like a plague in this coveted category; its only been a decade since OutKast’s undeniable masterpiece Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was awarded AOTY. But Kendrick also has killer competition within his own genre with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ breakthrough The Heist, which is certainly considered more ‘friendly’ hip-hop. I think both cancel each other out, which leaves Sara Bareilles, Taylor Swift, and Daft Punk. As good as Red is, Taylor Swift has already won for her career-breakthrough, Fearless. Sara Bareilles’ inclusion over bigger pop albums is shocking, but never count out the surprise nominee… sometimes that’s the album that wins. Personally, I think Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories is the frontrunner.
Way Too Early Pick:
Random Access Memories, Daft Punk
Song of the Year
“Locked Out of Heaven” (Bruno Mars)
“Roar” (Katy Perry)
“Same Love” (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert)
Another big-time category, my goodness! All of the nominees here should be jumping for joy that “Get Lucky” wasn’t nominated in this category. Again, I’m going to eliminate “Locked Out Of Heaven”, no matter how good it is; I don’t think it’s Bruno’s year. While I love Pink and approved of “Just Give Me The Reason” (with Nate Ruess of fun.), I’m not sure the no. 1 hit is the best song of the year. If the voters want to go bold (and political), they vote for the fine “Same Love”, courtesy of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert. If they don’t, they’re left with the inspirational breakthrough “Roar” and the ubiquitous “Royals”. If Katy Perry was ever to win a Grammy, “Royals” would be the perfect song. However, that “Royals” is one unique song contrasting its fellow nominees.
Way Too Early Pick
Best New Artist
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Another category where I’m biased to one artist – Kendrick Lamar! Again though, Lamar is up against heavyweights Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Kacey Musgraves unapologetic brand of country is notable from what I heard, but I’m not sure she outpaces the huge hip-hop nominees. Ed Sheeran feels either a year late or a year early, depending on your perspective, but could certainly play spoils. James Blake’s nod is a ‘trap’ for the hip-hop favorites, amplified by his Mercury Prize victory for superb sophomore album Overgrown. I’m truly torn here, so I’ll go with who I think is most deserving, even if it doesn’t come to pass.
Way Too Early Pick
Justin Bieber • “Confident” – Single • Island • US Release Date: December 9, 2013
Justin Biebers’ Music Mondays is the gift that keeps on giving to Beliebers, pop-cultural buffs, and music journalists alike. I mean, I thought Kanye West had something good going with Good Fridays back-when, but my boy Biebz just keeps on surprising and outperforming expectations. The blogosphere goes ape-sh*t with each new excerpt from JB’s ‘journals’. Speaking of those journals, it was recently reported on billboard.com the Justin Bieber will be packaging his Music Mondays releases temporarily as an iTunes only set called Journals beginning on December 16th, 2013. Basically, the teen-pop star is rolling in the dough, and will likely continue to roll with the singles growing more mature. His latest track, “Confident”, definitely shakes off any remnants that might’ve remained from “Baby” or dare I say “One Time”. Chance the Rapper matches his collaboration with R. Kelly (“PYD”), definitely ‘keepin’ it one hunna’.
So how confident is “Confident”? Well, let’s say the self-esteem and self-efficacy are top-notch for sure. Bieber isn’t referring to his own confidence or swagger (for once), but rather the hot lady’s confidence that he’s got his eye on. Throughout, Bieber’s hormones are going crazy evidenced by lyrical moments such as “Then she started dancing, sexual romancing / nasty but she fancy, lipstick on my satin sheets / what’s your nationality / I wonder if there’s more of you” or the later “She said it’s her first time / I think she might have lied…I’m addicted, something like an addict / got me twisted, but I still gotta have it…” Sure, Bieber doesn’t come right out and say it in R. Kelly fashion, but like “PYD”, the suggestiveness is steered more towards sex than not, a clear change of pace in Bieber’s career.
Serving as the confirmation to the newfound adult themes is Chance the Rapper, who basically does the ‘dirty work’ for Bieber lyrically on his guest verse. “She the first mate wanna rock the boat / she never forget to ride like a bicycle,” certainly would’ve received some flack had Bieber delivered such suggestive slang. Even so, “Confident” seems like an eye-freak sort of a track if I ever heard one. Ultimately, I’m pretty confident that Bieber’s artistic direction is on an upswing – yep, I really just said that.
- Bieber Strikes Gold on Surprising “PYD” (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Justin Bieber Will Release His #MusicMondays Songs As an Album (celebuzz.com)
- #HYPE Justin Bieber F. Chance The Rapper “Confident” (omitlimitation.com)
- Listen to Justin Bieber’s Collaboration With Chance The Rapper “Confident” (complex.com)
- Justin Bieber ft. Chance the Rapper – “Confident” [LISTEN] (hiphopwired.com)
- Justin Bieber teams up with Chance the Rapper for New Jam ‘Confident’ (news.radio.com)
Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet is one of 2013’s most ambitious albums
Childish Gambino • Because The Internet • Glassnote • US Release Date: December 10, 2013
The saying in basketball is “you live by the three, you die by the three.” What does a basketball saying have to do with a hip-hop you ask? Well, instead of living or dying from shot selection, Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) thrives more often than not from his ambition on his 2013 effort Because of the Internet. Just how ambitious is this affair that hails from the same label that houses Mumford and Sons? Well, it is accompanied by 75-page script featured on the site http://becausetheinter.net. Ultimately, I appreciate Gambino’s willingness to go outside of the box in what sometimes can be a very single dimensional genre only concerned with materialistic things. That said, if there is a rub, it is that Because The Internet is overambitious and sometimes requires multiple listens to completely comprehend. Still, isn’t that part of the fun of a conceptual affair?
I won’t rely on Gambino’s script for this review – you can seek that out for yourself (“ain’t nobody got time for that!”, LOL). But following the anticipatory intro “The Library”, things kick off in, well, WTF mode. From a first listen, deciphering “I. Crawl” is an adventure because it isn’t what the ear expects, period. Because of its uniqueness, it is incredibly appealing after a couple of spins. Gambino contributes plenty of solid lyrics, many filled with clever pop-cultural allusions. In verse one, he slaughters from the onset, eventually referencing Clarissa Explains It All: “Who am I? / Rec League, I ain’t payin’ to ball / y’all B-string like a broke guitar / and I still put it down like the family dog / Yeah I murder some, I murder one / explain it all Ferguson.” Verse two continues to ‘murder’ as Gambino “…scorch[es] winters, I burn autumns / gut n***as, so Kurt Vonne / Elle Varner, got a crush on her / I gotta wait in line for that / ain’t nobody got time for that…” Far-reaching, “Crawl” is a gem.
“II. Worldstar” is no slouch itself, sporting hardcore production work and electrifying rhymes from Gambino. “Blow up / World Star before rap / you already know that / so Fresh Prince, they are about to bring the show back,” CG raps, arguably referencing his acting career prior to rap (Community being his big claim to fame). He’s edgier when talking about his “girl” on the second verse in which he spits “My girl ain’t bad, she more like evil… on Hollywood and Vine / thinkin’ that she Hollywood on Vine / Making movies with her friends all the time / showin’ off her a$$, that’s a net twerk / but I saw through it like a wet shirt …” Low blow? Perhaps, but CG’s word play is undeniable; Donald Glover can rap.
Following a brief 0:44 interlude “Dial Up”, Gambino taps Chance The Rapper for one of the album’s best, “I. The Worst Guys.” Just how bad are these dudes? Well, they leave a cliffhanger on the hook, but it’s obvious where they’re going (“All she needed was some…”). Throughout, CG alludes to the ‘three-letter word’ throughout his verses: “At a Clippers game on the courtside / watch a n***a shoot like a 4-5 / they mad at me too, I got more fire / when these b**ches see you, ‘go home, Roger’.” Yep, you got it; it’s a Sister Sister allusion. Later, Gambino gets rawer, bragging about “…a ménage and murdered the… but, afterwards, it was awkward… I couldn’t finish, got the Uber from her place…” He ends up smoking and “listening to the neighbors” after his sexual mishap… read into that how you wish.
“II. Shadows” possesses a quicker pace than “The Worst Guys”, with a more soulful, driving groove. S-E-X is still on the brain, as Gambino keeps it simple on the hook: “Tuesday afternoon, I ain’t got sh*t to do / but fall in love with you / love me better, kiss me back, listen more…” If that wasn’t enough, he makes the obligatory Jay-Z and Beyoncé power couple reference, though detours twistedly in the same line when he raps “…My aunt say ‘keep the sex game picante’ / the Aunt May and Mary Jane that I was hitting on / we were trying to forget that there was something wrong…” Um Yeah… Like many other cuts, there is a production switch-up, which keeps things fresh and very much alt-minded.
“III. Telegraph Ave. (“Oakland” by Lloyd)” fits this effort as perfectly as everything else because of its unorthodox nature. R&B singer Lloyd handles the first portion of this cut, before Childish Gambino takes over. He references the album title and theme within his rapped verse: “All the girlfriends saying ‘ here we go again’ / rich kid but he act like a gentleman / last one didn’t end like it should’ve been / tow dates and he still wanna get it in / and you’re saying it’s because of the Internet / try once again and it’s on to the next chick / X-O the O face on your exes right…”
Child Gambino is on autopilot on both “Sweatpants”, featuring Problem, and on promo single “3005.” The most memorable line from “Sweatpants” has to be the repeated gem “Rich kid, a$$hole: paint me as a villain”. Gambino confirms he’s an “a-hole”, epitomized by his cocky, confidence (“Don’t be mad cause I’m doing me better than you doing you…” or “I’m winning so they had to dump the Gatorade / and I don’t give a f**k ‘bout my family name”). On “3005”, Childish Gambino is dedicated through the end of time – specifically year 3005 – to his boo. “…F**k these other n***as, I’ll be right by your side / ‘til 3005, hol’ up,” he proclaims on the hook. Gambino playfully illustrates the ‘play’ between him and his ‘ride or die’, which is, well bold. Ultimately, “Sweatpants” and “3005” make a sick, one-two punch.
“Playing Around Before the Party Starts” is literal; there is only a piano playing, LOL. “I. The Party” the follows is pretty brief, but despite being only a minute and a half in length, it allures. How does CG cap it off? Like this: “I invite all these people to my mother f**kin’ house / Get the f**k out of my house!” After the party comes a horrible druggy, mental state of sorts, via “II. No Exit.” The focus of the track’s protagonist is a spider… specifically a “brown recluse”. The spider itself doesn’t seem important, but what’s more disturbing is just how f**ked up Gambino sounds here; he literally has “no exit” mentally. Of course, brief instrumental interlude “Death By Numbers” proceeds… hmm. Yet another suite follows.
“I. Flight of the Navigator” is all about love and romance. Honestly, if you’d heard the earlier “Worst Guys”, you’d wonder if this was the same guy. “Just hold me close my darling,” Gambino sings on this alt-R&B number. Hey, emo-rap is the new gangsta, right? If “Flight of the Navigator” was too ‘sensitive’, “II. Zealots of Stockholm [Free Information]” is easily the album’s most manic and possibly creative showing. At first, it seems that Gambino seems content slated in the alt-R&B/alt-rap sub-style, but a change of pace makes what seems to be a predictable cut much more unpredictable. After rapping, even more surprises grace “Zealots” including an uncredited female guest spot, and another production switch-up. Gambino’s second verse yields some of his best rhymes: “Heathen, it is a struggle just to keep breathing / existential asthmatic, puff puff pass addict… making moves but they sleeping on me / we can kick it like it’s FIFA, homie…” He even gets socially conscious: “I never understood the hate on a n***a’s preference / when every marriage is a same sex marriage / same sex everyday, monotonous…” “Zealots” rocks. “III. Urn”, an interlude, closes the album’s final suite.
Three tracks remain on Because of the Internet. “Pink Toes” finds Gambino collaborating exceptionally with Jhené Aiko. “Pink Toes” ends up being fascinating because basically the protagonist is ‘slanging’ drugs and his girl (played by Aiko) rides with him regardless. Gambino and Aiko seem to have similar attitudes, perhaps best summed up by the outro: “I never worry ‘bout it / I have my n***a count it / she’s dressed up in gold…” On “Earth: The Oldest Computer”, the memorable year 3005 returns once more: “3005, the year that we fear, only God will survive / to be alone is alive.” Most unique (or odd) about this track is a guest spot by the brash Azelia Banks, who is controlled here…
Closer “Life: The Biggest Troll” has one of the more interesting hooks of the year as follows: “Andrew Auernheimer / pulling on her weave / it’s that Andrew Auernheimer.” Who is Mr. Auernheimer you ask? He is famous hacker known by the name weev; there has been plenty of press in regards to Auernheimer. This allusion definitely matches the title of the effort, Because the Internet. While the internet and weev are both associated with ‘trolling’, Gambino considers life itself and perhaps even his character within this narrative to be the biggest troll. “Man made the web, you don’t need a name / man made of faults, I ain’t too ashamed… trolling, trolling, trolling these n***as /rick rolling these n***as, they mad cause they don’t know any better…” As ambitious and perhaps even as confounding as other cuts, “Life: The Biggest Troll” closes Because the Internet exceptionally.
Ultimately, Because the Internet ends up being one of the year’s more interesting, creative efforts. While it overreaches with its script and concept, there is plenty of wealth for the listener, particularly the multidimensional listener to embrace. Childish Gambino is an incredibly underrated MC and musician, but he shouldn’t be following this enjoyable affair.
“I. Crawl”; “I. The Worst Guys”; “IV. Sweatpants”; “V. 3005”; “II. Zealots of Stockholm”; “Pink Toes”
- Childish Gambino “Because the Internet” Album Review (neverdielame.com)
- Childish Gambino – Because the Internet Review (http://www.youtube.com/user/brooksurbanleakz/videos)
- Video: Childish Gambino Feat. Chance The Rapper “The Worst Guys” (neverdielame.com)
- New Post: Childish Gambino- SweatPants (deadendhiphop.com)
- Childish Gambino: because the internet – review (theguardian.com)
So some things went down in music this past weekend, as they always do. But being December, it’s naturally busier within the holiday season, with more ‘hustle and bustling’ happening. Some of the hustling and bustling was just too colorful not to mention, so watch me ‘go to work’ folks!
Selena Gomez’s Bad Night
Friday, December 6, 2013
Apparently, Selena Gomez got incredibly frustrated on stage at the Jingle Ball 2013 and left her set early after microphone issues. According the Us Weekly, this involved a colorful f-word many frequent during those rebellious teen and collegiate years. Ultimately, from what I gather, didn’t seem like the greatest moment for the young star… I wouldn’t have wanted to “Come & Get It” anyways – remember my review of Stars Dance? Just saying!
Does Carrie Underwood Have an Even Worse One?
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Carrie Underwood apparently didn’t do The Sound of Music justice, or at least the critics give it the big thumbs down. Actually, no only was it the critics, but also one of the original cast members, Kym Karath. I mean, all I have to do is do a Google search of “Carrie Underwood Sound of Music” and the links of reviews and buzz are infinite. USA Today features an article entitled Carrie Underwood ‘proud’ of ‘Sound of Music’, certainly a defense from the country superstar to the critical panning. An obvious sign of frustration from the usually cool, collected singer? Killing ‘em with Jesus via tweet:
Plain and simple: Mean people need Jesus. They will be in my prayers tonight… 1 Peter 2:1-25—
Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) December 07, 2013
Personally, I enjoy Carrie Underwood, but one of her shortcomings for me is how her personality translates artistically. She definitely has a voice on her, but few could also be a credible replacement for Julie Andrews. Classics are difficult to remake for a reason –their classics. I was not privy to the NBC performance, however it didn’t sound like a good idea when I heard it was going to occur.
The Grammy Nominations Are In…
Friday, December 6, 2013
On Friday night, the Grammy nominations were announced at the annual Grammy Nomination Concert. This was the first concert I missed and for two reasons – (1) I forgot and (2) I was more focused on watching my Kentucky Wildcats play a basketball game versus Baylor, which they dropped 67-62. Oh well, at least the nominations were much more up my alley than they have been in previous years, which is shocking. Among the nods that most pleased me were big time nominations for Kendrick Lamar (Good Kid M.A.A.D. City), Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (Thrift Shop), Daft Punk (Random Access Memories), and Lorde (“Royals”). Among puzzlements were an album of the year nomination for Sara Bareilles’ The Blessed Unrest and Justin Timberlake’s snubs in the biggest categories of record, album, and song of the year. Sigh, you win some, you lose some I guess. By the way, Billboard has an interesting read on Grammy Nominations Concert: Things You Didn’t See on TV.
Robin Thicke Gets Support from Soul Vet in Defense of “Blurred Lines”
Saturday, December 7, 2003
There’s been a ton of controversy surrounding “Blurred Lines” despite its monstrous popularity. Before the cool “Royals” came along and dominated the single headlines, there was “Blurred Lines” which just kept on going and going and going – yeah sorta like the Energizer Bunny. Anyways, with a lawsuit pending over whether Thicke ‘lifted’ “Blurred Lines” from Marvin Gaye’s classic “Got to Give It Up”, Earth Wind & Fire’s Verdine White provided his two cents, defending the same point that I made that Thicke did not ‘cop’ “Blurred Lines”. I’ve always said the inspiration was there, but there are differences where the music theory is concerned between both songs.
Disappointing Pending Album Sales for Britney Spears?
Friday, December 6, 2013
Britney Spears’ new effort Britney Jean hasn’t exactly been a critical smash (see Metacritic), but does that always matter if you can offset the bashing with album sales? Why Of course not as money is money! The problem is, Britney Jean’s pending numbers are looking pretty skinny. And we thought that Lady Gaga had a bad week contextually with ARTPOP. According to billboard.com, Spears is expected to sell between 115,000 and 120,000 copies of her latest. While there are artists who’d kill for those numbers, they don’t match the singers past triumphs and may hold her from no. 1. Going back to the critical thing, well, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with Britney Jean, but it had its moments. Single “Work B**ch” was among ‘em.
Joe Jonas’ Confessions
December 1, 2013
So Joe Jonas has revealed he is “not that innocent” this past week via a New York Magazine article, Joe Jonas: My Life As a Jonas Brother. Someone get Usher’s 2004 Confessions album cued up, will ya? What is more surprising is just how rebellious the former Disney star has been considering the façade being ‘put on’. Sure, if any other 20 year old discussed losing his virginity it wouldn’t be shocking (probably just another notch on the belt as they say), but it becomes sensational news with a Jo Bro. I mean, did were we ready for such a brash tone from Joe throughout the article? While Jonas’ sexual history is ultimately his business, perhaps it was his Miley Cyrus / Demi Lovato marijuana dare that is more troubling, considering they are couple of years younger than Jonas and at the time of the great ‘lighting up’, they would’ve been like 14… Hmm. The Hollywood Reporter did a fine job of summing up the confessions.
As far as the reactions, well they range as to be expeced. Dylan Sprouse and Zendaya, both of Disney fame had reactions (Former Disney Stars Respond To Joe Jonas’ Confessional). Personally, I’m both interested yet apathetic. It is interesting to find out that Joe Jonas was more like your normal young adult than Disney wanted to present, but the other side of that is, so what?
- NBC’s “The Sound Of Music” – Starring Carrie Underwood – Is a Massive Rating Success (roughstock.com)
- Carrie Underwood ‘Proud’ Of ‘Sound Of Music Live!’ Performance After Original Star Blasts Her (contactmusic.com)
- Who the Von Trapps Wish Could Replace Carrie Underwood in ‘The Sound of Music Live’ (abcnews.go.com)
- In Defense of Carrie Underwood (entertainment.time.com)
- ‘Sound of Music’ — and Underwood — largely a success (newsday.com)
One Direction do the predictable – debut at no. 1 and move lots of albums. Midnight Memories managed to sell 546,000 copies, giving the Brit-Irish boy band its largest sales week ever. 2012 sophomore album Take Me Home moved 540,000 copies to give the band a second no. 1 in the US. It was history when their debut effort, Up All Night, debuted in the top spot in early 2012, though its numbers were just a fraction of what the last two studio albums have sold (176,000). As for newbies on the chart, Garth Brooks does some work as Blame It All on My Roots sold 164,000 copies good for a no. 3 bow. That is awesome considering it’s a box set. Box sets tend to be more expensive and generally move less copies. Given it’s release during the Black Friday hubbub and its exclusivity via Walmart, it’s not shocking Brooks had some takers. Besides One Direction and Brooks, the week was all about previously releases efforts.
Eminem once more was forced from the top perch to no. 2, but sold 199,000 more copies of The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (already platinum). Others holding over include The Robertsons’ Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas (no. 4), Katy Perry’s Prism (no. 5), Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red (no. 6), Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP (no. 7) and Luke Bryan’s Crash My Party. What is significant about those albums? They all sold > 100,000 copies. Miley Cyrus also and Now 48 close out the top ten at nos. 9 and 10 respectively, but sold 79,000 and 77,000 copies, breaking the >100,000 copies sold.
Lorde’s Hot 100 reign is officially over with “Royals” – well at least for the time being. It was a nice nine weeks for Lorde, who has no reason to hang her teenage head. Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” climbs it way back to the no. 1 spot. “Wrecking Ball” is the song that just can’t keep people from talking, really! Better yet, it can’t keep people from making their own versions…
Whose Got Next? Britney Spears of course, but the numbers are looking relatively small, with Billboard prognosticating between 115,000 to 120,000 copies sold. Yuck Britney! Why those numbers suck? Well, Britney is usually a lock for no. 1 or at worst no. 2 like Blackout, however, the numbers may not be strong enough to hold back previously released (aka holdovers) from charting ahead of the pop diva. Could Spears be blocked out of the top 3? Possibly. Besides Britney, it’s a pretty boring week for new releases.
- The 2013 Fourth Quarter Music Releases Underwhelm… (brentmusicreviews.com)
- One Direction’s ‘Midnight Memories’ Tops U.S. Album Charts (variety.com)
- On the Charts: One Direction Making ‘Memories’ at Number One (rollingstone.com)
- One Direction land a third US number one album with “Midnight Memories” (thecelebculture.com)
There are so many things to be thankful for in life, or at least I think so. What better during Thanksgiving and the holiday season then to have a playlist filled with ten ‘songs of thanks’ to spin? Exciting huh? The artists featured on this playlist are thankful for various things in life – some quite relatable and others maybe not so much. Regardless, there should be something here for everybody (sorry country fans…).
From No Angel
This may be the most obvious “thank you” song to include. “Thank You” courtesy of Dido was an important track for a number of reasons. Number one, it is one of the English singer’s biggest hits, peaking at no. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Number two, “Thank You” was sampled on one of Eminem’s most important singles, “Stan” from The Marshall Mathers LP. What exactly is Dido thankful for? “I want to thank you for giving me the best days of my life / Oh Just to be with you is having the best day of my life”. Sounds like she’s found the man of her dreams. Aww!
“Thank Me Now”
From Thank Me Later
Yeah I know, Drake is totally not giving thanks to anyone, but rather asking for thanks. This is evident on the hook, where Drizzy raps “You could thank me now, go ahead / thank me later, yeah I know what I said / but later doesn’t always come so instead / it’s ok, you could thank me now.” What’s my favorite Toronto homeboy saying? Oh something to the effect to “give me my flowers while I can still smell them.” I think if you transcend beyond Drake’s confidence, you’ll see he’s really saying to take time to say thanks now because later’s not promised.
From Blueprint 3
To be such a cocky and confident dude, Jay-Z seems a bit more humble on “Thank You” from Blueprint 3: “Thank you, thank you, thank you, you’re far too kind / hold your applause, this is your song not mines / thank you, thank you, thank you, please hold your applause”. He’s also pretty humble and thankful to God as he raps “There is no reason to treat me like I’m somehow from outta heaven / heaven knows I’ve made my mistakes, thank God, what a guy as I say my grace…” Even with his thankful, humbling moments such as the aforementioned hook, Jay-Z still is a baller…baby, don’t get it twisted: “Please don’t bow in my presence, how am I a legend / I just got ten number one albums, maybe now eleven…” (yep, he’s actually got more than that now).
From All of Me
Grammy-award winner Estelle (“American Boy” featuring Kanye West) was in contention for another grammy for R&B vocal performance on the thoughtful, emotional “Thank You”. One of the bright spots from her third album All of Me, “Thank You” finds Estelle thanking her man “…for making me a woman”. Sure, it may not be what we all have in mind as we gather with our family and feast on Thanksgiving, but I’m sure many can relate and attest to the same thing as Estelle does.
From Raw Footage
So this is one of those, ‘not your traditional thank yous by any means’. Ice Cube is thankful, but not for traditional reasons. The background on this cut is in that mindset that “hip hop is dead”. Because of this, the the ‘rap savior’ has come to resurrect it… I feel like I need to repent now for blasphemy. Basically, Ice Cube is thankful for, well Ice Cube. How so? See the hook: “Thank God, the Gangsta’s back / and we don’t gotta put up with this brainless rap…” Ice Cube’s the gangsta, and both he and us apparently should be thankful for that, I guess.
Mariah Carey, Joe & 98º
“Thank God I Found You”
Nothing like a big-time number one hit to ring in the holiday season. That is exactly what the superstar collaboration of R&B singers Mariah Carey and Joe and boy band 98º is on “Thank God I Found You”. Even though the subject of the artists thanks is their respective relationship, they give the thanks to God for providing that relationship. I’d do the same… if I weren’t single, LOL.
Angie Stone featuring Snoop Dogg
“I Wanna Thank Ya”
From Stone Love
Angie Stone remains one of my favorites from the neo-soul era of soul (how I wish that that era in soul music would return!). Anyways, I’ll tell you that my gal is not singing about being thankful for God, family, or friends – at least not just any friend. She is thankful to her man: “And I’m feelin’ everything you do / your love is gangsta, I wanna thank ya.” Snoop Dogg is thankful for his love too: “I thank God above that you were sent to me.”
“I Thank God”
From The Wonderful World of Sam Cooke
I believe the words speak for themselves: “This wonderful world we live in / is God’s masterpiece of art / and I live each golden moment / with his love in my heart.” Truly, if only more of us could carry this same sentiment Sam. Those prudent words stated, Cooke goes on to sing “I thank God / for blessing me / with eyes to see / each wondrous day”.
DJ Holiday and Gucci Mane
From Trap Back
So with more thoughtful thank yous also come, well different calibers of thank yous. Here on yet another simply titled “Thank You”, Gucci Mane raps “Pause the track for a second / I just wanna say thank you / all this money I made / I don’t wanna be ungrateful.” Prior to that, ole boy also raps “Fell in love with bricks / …I love my plug / my girlfriend broke up with me / cause she said she tired of them drugs…”, but that’s beyond the point, right?
“I’m thankful / for the blessing / and the lessons that I’ve learned with you / by my side.” Depending on how you read into the aforementioned lyrics excerpted from the chorus of Kelly Clarkson’s titular song from her debut, you might get two reads; either she’s thankful to the most high or her boo. I’d say she’s thankful towards her man, but the lyrics throughout are pretty open-ended.
In a ‘down’ week for albums sales this week, unsurprisingly given a lack of star power bowing… no offense to those artists releasing albums mind you. Eminem finds himself in a familiar spot once more as The Marshall Mathers LP 2 ascends to no. 1 after spending a week at no. 2 behind Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP. Eminem managed to sell another 120,000 copies of TMMLP2, putting its three week totals at approximately 1,122,000 copies sold (792K + 210K + 120K). Yep, Em has yet another platinum album to his name and selling another 120,000 copies – six figures, is impressive in this day and age. As for his fine feathered friend Lady Gaga, she takes a massive tumble from the penthouse to no. 8 after selling a somewhat disappointing 258,000 copies last week. This week, she only moves 46,000 copies, making her overall totals stand at just 304,000 copies over two weeks. Could Gaga end up merely achieving a gold record with ARTPOP? Only time and most importantly sales will tell.
There were some debuts, though as alluded to, nothing extremely anticipated. Five Finger Death Punch release their second album of the year, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 2. The second volume arrives at no. 2 matching the peak of the first. What doesn’t match are the sales. Volume 1 moved 112,000 copies while this installment settles for a respectable, but lest robust 77,000 copies. As we know, if an artist releases two albums in one year with similar concept/theme, usually the second one receives less enthusiasm commercially. Justin Timberlake experienced this as his triumphant The 20/20 Experience sold 968,000 copies its first week while The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 was met with much less enthusiasm selling on 350,000 copies. Both debuted at no. 1, but the numbers and the sustainability have been markedly different.
Other debuts? The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack debuts at no. 5 selling 55,000 copies. Daughtry underwhelms with his entry at no. 6 selling 55,000 as well. Those numbers are far off from Daughtry’s first two albums 2006’s Daughtry (304,000) and 2009’s Leave This Town (269,000). Yo Gotti debuts at no. 7 with I Am, selling a respectable 48,000 copies. Of the charts new debuts, Gotti has the most to be proud of. KTCZ’s Cities 97 Sampler, Live From Studio C: Vol. 25 bows at no. 10 with 40,000 copies. Holdovers for the week besides Lady Gaga and Eminem included Now 48 (no. 3), …A Robertson Family Christmas (no. 4), and Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red (no. 9).
On the Hot 100, Lorde’s “Royals” continues to be one of the year’s most unstoppable forces as the ‘little song that could’ spends its ninth consecutive week at no. 1. Even so, according to Billboard, Eminem’s hot joint “The Monster”, featuring Rihanna is looking for that no. 1 spot. As we know, Em and Ri-Ri have had some star power in the past with ‘monster’ single “Love The Way You Lie”. Watch out Lorde, you may not be ‘royal’ too much longer!
Who’s Got Next? No brainer, it’s One Direction. Mark my words, Midnight Memories, the quintet’s third album in two years will sell big. Besides 1D, the other new releases pack less of a punch. Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day) and Norah Jones release a remake of an album by The Everly Brothers entitled Foreverly (the remake is of Songs Our Daddy Taught Us from 1958), but it doesn’t seem to be a powerful commercial title. Pop/Vocal veteran Barbra Streisand can never be ignored as she releases Back to Brooklyn. Voice victor Danielle Bradbery releases her self-titled debut, but who knows if it will have match the numbers of previous victor in the country genre Cassidee Pope, who sold 43,000 copies of Frame by Frame. Regardless, the week will belong to One Direction.
- Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP Hits No. 1 (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 Debuts Big (brentmusicreviews.com)
- The 2013 Fourth Quarter Music Releases Underwhelm… (brentmusicreviews.com)
Former teen-pop singer Aaron Carter has filed for bankruptcy, following numerous other celebrities who have found themselves “in the hole” you might say (hasn’t Toni Braxton done this like twice?). Carter has had some issues since his fame waned, and has never reclaimed his place as a pop force within the music industry. For any former teen star, it seems to be an arduous task to make one’s self relevant in a incredibly trendy, ever-changing music industry. The question for Carter is does he have any interest in being a pop star again? Could making that awesome comeback album change his life for the better or could the taste of fame cause him to backpedal?
According to a CNN article referencing Carter’s bankruptcy, his publicist Steve Honig seems to suggest Carter is now doing ‘good’ or on the right track you might say. That is definitely a ‘come-up’ in itself and probably best for Carter at this time following issues. However, I can’t help but to envision the the once corny, but popular teen-pop star coming back with a cool, swag-laden studio album fitting in right with his contemporaries. No I’m not touting Carter as the best vocalist in the world or even better than a pool filled with pop-stars, but couldn’t an indie-released pop album with an addicting lead single possible get Carter on his feet? Think about it, a hip-hop oriented pop single with a guest rapper just might change Carter’s fortunes and give him some paper, right? I dunno, just some thoughts I guess.
- Aaron Carter bankrupt (kamkos.wordpress.com)
- Aaron Carter files for bankruptcy – Philly.com (blog) (philly.com)
- Aaron Carter Files For Bankruptcy: ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ (hollywoodlife.com)
- Aaron Carter Files for Bankruptcy (eonline.com)
- Gone For Broke: Aaron Carter Files For Bankruptcy (popwrapped.wordpress.com)
- BREAKING NEWS: Aaron Carter Is Broke As Fuck (welovefun.wordpress.com)
- Aaron Carter Files For Bankruptcy, Claims He Only Has $8,000 In Assets (huffingtonpost.com)
- Pop star Aaron Carter files for bankruptcy (washingtontimes.com)
Need ten jams to spin? Here’s my list of ten of November 2013’s hottest joints!
“Do What U Want”
“Applause” may have been a bust of sorts, but Gaga got herself together with the help of one of R&B’s most salacious presences, R. Kelly. Playing on words, “Do What U Want” accomplishes Gaga’s love for double meanings. If examined sexually, Gaga presents herself as, well easy. But when examined less pervertedly, Gaga is suggesting she is more than her body and could care less how you scrutinize it, etc.
(Trill O.G.: The Epilogue)
Bun B probably isn’t most of the present generation’s ‘go to’ MC, but the veteran UGK MC is nothing short of a beast. Here, his late, great partner Pimp C delivers a masterful hook, while Bun is joined by Lil Boosie and Mississippi underrated MC Big KRIT. KRIT also handles the production work, which seems like the perfect match for the 42-year old Bun B. My favorite catch line, “Them thighs come with that shake / b**ch in yo mind, ho I got cake.”
R. Kelly may just be R&B’s most popular commodity again as Justin Bieber taps him for arguably his best Music Mondays release to date, “PYD” (“Put You Down”). Previously, the Biebz has been whining about heartbreak and Selena Gomez namely, but on “PYD” he wants to get… well, down. No more of the G- and PG-rated Bieber where “damn” is as far as he’ll step from his teen-pop roots… he’s ready to step it up a notch. And if we didn’t understand his intentions, him and Kelly repeatedly iterate the acronym throughout (“P-Y-D, P-Y-D”)
(Sail Out – EP)
From the first track “Vapors”, one knows that Jhene Aiko’s EP Sail Out is something special. Playing doubly as a weed-smoking joint as well as a yearning for an ex- who was good in bed, “Vapors” is both brilliant and highly representative of the newfound alternative R&B movement. “Can you hit it again?” never sound more telling from Aiko’s cool, calm, and collected vocal perspective.
“Water And A Flame”
(Loved Me Back To Life)
Celine Dion’s latest album has plenty of strong songs that tickled my fancy, with the Daniel Merriweather cover “Water And A Flame” amongst ‘em. The original is little known as Merriweather isn’t a big name in the United States. Regardless, if Merriweather never receives his deserved recognition, at least one of the greatest pop singers provides a stirring rendition here.
(The Marshall Mathers LP 2)
What more is there to say, Eminem delivered the hottest rap track of the year this side of Kanye West’s “Blood On the Leaves” and Kendrick Lamar’s epic rap verse on Big Sean’s “Control”. If I’d been Big Sean, I would’ve fought to have gotten “Control” on Hall of Fame, even if it meant delaying it (it’s sold abysmally anyways). But this is Eminem’s moment and quite an electrifying moment it is indeed.
(Us Against Them)
“Homeless” is among the cream of the crop from Jake Miller’s debut album Us Against Them. Vocally, Miller sounds solid as he sings plaintively on the chorus: “Here I stand in the cold / I try to knock as you change the locks / now I’m all alone / where am I supposed to go / if you are where my home is, I guess that makes me homeless.” The serious vibe of the sung vocals is matched by Miller’s more agile, rhythmic rapped vocals. While it’s a ‘bummer’ as far as its overall tone, it is at least a standout ‘bummer’.
“The Art of Letting Go”
Mimi’s latest single, “The Art of Letting Go”, finds one of R&B’s preeminent divas doing what she does best, BALLADS. Whether she’s singing in her lower register or ascending to her upper register with every bit of her emotion, Carey compels the listener and makes us think of our own moments when we’ve struggled to let go. “The Art of Letting Go” is filled with exceptional, memorable, and prudent lyrical moments including “Evidently your words were merely lies / reverberating in my ears / and the echo won’t subside / there’s a deep deep loss of hope…” from verse two. The bridge confirms that “Baby letting go, baby letting go / ain’t easy…”
“A Song About Love”
Recently I reviewed Jake Bugg’s sophomore effort, Shangri La. While I had mixed feelings, I certainly had rave reviews for one particular standout in “A Song About Love”:
“Is that all you wanted? Songs about love? / Is that want you hoped you would find / when it’s burning inside / but a song about love’s not enough.” Poetic by all means, “A Song About Love” seems to be the most complete performance of the album. The metric shifting “A Song About Love” certainly offers the incredible nuance and an overall unique selection Where many of Bugg’s songs seem quite simple, “A Song About Love” definitely steps up the game.
Another Lady Gaga track really? Yep. “Dope” is completely different from “Do What U Want”. Sure, it sounds as if it shouldn’t be a substantive track, but Gaga’s intents are quite notable, more so than some of ARTPOP’s ‘looser’ cuts. On the sole ballad from the album, Gaga opens herself up to vulnerability, suggesting that despite her past screw-ups with substances, she needs her man “more than dope”. Sure she’s literal and dope doesn’t lend itself to the greatest heart-warming moment ever, but her personalized touch truly shines here.
- Bieber Strikes Gold on Surprising “PYD” (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Review: Bun B, ‘Trill O.G.: The Epilogue’ (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Review: Jhene Aiko, ‘Sail Out (EP)’ (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Justin Bieber and R. Kelly Join Forces on R&B Song (rollingstone.com)