Ah, there is no better time of the year than March Madness… well maybe except for Christmas, LOL! It is a time where brackets continue to be devastated by college basketball teams many haven’t heard of upsetting highly favored giants. As disappointing (when my John Wall-led UK Wildcats lost to WVU in 2010 in the Elite 8) as it is exciting (when my UK Wildcats won the 2012 Championship), there are few things less satisfying than weekends filled with toughly contested basketball games. Still, what better way to celebrate all the basketball madness with some music madness?
I chose 16 albums released between January and March 11, 2014 to play off against each other, tournament style – hey can’t get enough of the “Madness” (Muse btw). Teams were seeded based on my opinion of their quality and how I believe they might be ranked (opinion). Don’t worry, there are some upsets based on basketball tournament trends to keep things interesting (again opinion). Additionally, each game is assigned an actual score from this year’s tournament or tournaments in the last couple of years. The score is meant to be indicative of how well matched respective albums would be in a playoff. Nerdy and pointless – perhaps, but I think its an interesting concept and read (opinion, self-promotion, LOL).
Here’s the bracket:
On March 3, 2014, Rick Ross released the sixth album of his career, Mastermind. At this point, Rick Ross has established himself as one of the more consistent rappers, scoring four number one albums, one number two album (Teflon Don missed no. 1), and five gold-certified albums. Six albums in, an examination of where Ross’ five albums rank seems appropriate. Let’s go!
A death has occurred in the reality television show family – gasp! X-Factor (USA) was kicked to the curb – CANCELLED! Dun dun dun!!! Normally, being the reality television enthusiast that I am, I might be upset by the ending of the show. However with the cancellation of X-Factor, I don’t really give a flip (and yes you know what I mean instead of “flip”). I’m not the only one who does care – few others care either judging by the ratings. X-Factor just didn’t connect on the level that American Idol did when it first came out and even with Idol sagging in the ratings now, it’s still more ‘relevant’ than X-Factor ever was. Sure, the series’ loyal fans are probably hurt to their soul, devastated by its ‘untimely’ ending, but personally, I never connected with the show.
Perhaps the main issue with X-Factor was its relevance, particularly compared to the competition. The format always felt too similar to American Idol, despite extra care to try to distance itself from it competitor. Sure, there was a different means of doing things, but X-Factor felt as if it arrived too late to truly compete with the juggernaut itself, or even NBC’s own popular singing competition, The Voice. With Idol still getting some ratings and The Voice coming up, there was no room for X-Factor to co-exist. Remember that short-lived Duets show when ABC decided they wanted a slice of the singing competition pie (Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Robin Thicke, and Jennifer Nettles)? Or what about the revived Star Search, how did that go? Fox returning with mean judge Simon Cowell on a different show with similar ends just didn’t work AT ALL!
Another facet of the relevance argument is the success of the victors. I struggled through the first season of the show, mainly because there was one voice that really tickled my fancy. That voice was Melanie Amaro, who had absolutely ridiculous pipes. Deservingly, Amaro won, but her singles didn’t go anywhere; commercial success and wining a competition are not one and the same. Even though significant duds clouded her commercial fortunes, there has yet to be an album by the winner of the first season of the U.S. version of the show. It is never good when the winner’s album never materializes. Still, finalists Josh Krajcik, Chris Rene, Marcus Canty, and Rachel Crow would release efforts, all with limited relevance. That last part is an understatement by the way. Record companies certainly didn’t profit off those releases.
Season two would see some shake-ups and even an even more casual viewing from me. Judges Paul Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger exited, as did host Steve Jones. Total bummer – NOT! The replacements seemed interesting enough with Britney Spears and Demi Lovato, however, Spears ended up being a total dud, much like the sales of eventual winner Tate Stevens’ debut album. The acts most interesting were Emblem3 who epitomized the contemporary boy-band and third place finishers Fifth Harmony. Stevens won, but Emblem3 had more success with their album Nothing To Lose. That said, despite its top ten debut, it didn’t exactly light up the charts either. Of course more turnover would occur before the third season, with boring Britney Spears leaving as well as L.A. Reid. As for the third season of the show, well, I bounced too. I did hear Demi exited following what turned out to e the final season. That probably didn’t help matters any.
Essentially, there need not be a memorial service for X-Factor at all – no graveside eulogy. X-Factor is sort of like Super Ted (the teddy bear) – “made all wrong from the start”. All Cowell saw was dollar signs, but instead, all the audience got was a less enjoyable American Idol. Be thankful for its demise television watchers because its cancellation truly is no loss. And with American Idol losing its own audience and edge, there is more than enough karaoke to tide us all over.
In January 2014, I reviewed seven new album releases. Sure, there were some other reviews thrown in the mix, including the Arctic Monkey’s AM that I’d slept on previously in September, a Pitbull EP from last November (Meltdown) housing a former number one hit called “Timber”, and a P!nk live tour DVD, but none apply to ‘brand new’ albums. This list ranks those seven new albums I reviewed from 1ST to 7TH – favorite to least favorite / best-reviewed vs. worst reviewed. Here goes nothing!
Tribute, John Newman
Previously, Tribute was summed up as follows:
Ultimately, Tribute epitomizes musical excellence through and through. In an age where many question ‘where the soul has gone,’ Newman shows that soul music is still very much alive. For any further questioning if the British soul movement was a thing of the past in it self, well, question no more. John Newman is legit as they come and he has top-notch material working in his favor on this affair. For pop and R&B fans alike, Tribute should easily tickle your fancy.
“Tribute”; “Love Me Again”; “Losing Sleep”; “Out Of My Head”; “Cheating”; “Down The Line”
Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Against Me!
Previously, Transgender Dysphoria Blues was summed up as follows:
Ultimately, Transgender Dysphoria Blues is an exceptional affair. It both educates and compels, giving voice to a group of people who many don’t understand or know very little about. While Transgender Dysphoria Blues may not answer all the questions those who are green in regards to transgender/transsexuals, it does give the listener a snapshot. Overall, nothing short of high quality from Against Me!
“Transgender Dysphoria Blues”; “True Trans Soul Rebel”; “Drinking With The Jocks”; “Osama Bin Laden as the Crucified Christ”; “Paralytic States”
High Hopes, Bruce Springsteen
Previously, High Hopes was summed up as follows:
Overall, High Hopes isn’t Springsteen’s best album, nor is it merely average. Vocally, Springsteen can still deliver a rousing performance, and the production throughout High Hopes is quite compelling. Perhaps the fact the album isn’t completely new is a bit of a bummer, but there is plenty of quality material to tide casual and hardcore Springsteen fans alike.
“High Hopes”; “American Skin (41 Shots)”; “Just Like Fire Would”; “Frankie Fell In Love”; “Hunter Of Invisible Game”
Give the People What They Want, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
Previously, Give the People What They Want was summed up as follows:
Ultimately, Give The People What They Want is a fantastic album period. Brief at only 34 minutes and consistent from start to finish, there is truly little to criticize. Sharon Jones sounds superb throughout, as do the Dap-Kings. It’s not innovative, but the fact that Jones and company hearkens back to the classic sound, that is refreshing enough in itself.
“Retreat”; “We Get Along”; “You’ll Be Lonely”; “People Don’t Get What They Deserve”
Recovery, Algebra Blessett
Previously, Recovery was summed up as follows:
All said and done, Recovery is a fine R&B album, particularly to be released in a quiet January. There is a classiness and coolness about this effort that is appealing. Algebra never over sings; she always gives just the right amount of oomph and emotion to connect with the audience. Recovery is nothing flashy, but it doesn’t need to be. It is what it is – a narrative that a many of folk have experienced in real life, not merely an R&B album. Kudos Algebra – kudos.
“Recovery”; “Nobody But You”; “Struggle To Be” featuring Q. Parker; “Paper Heart”; “Mystery”
A Great Big World, Is There Anybody Out There?
Previously, Is There Anybody Out There? was summed up as follows:
Overall, A Great Big World delivers a compelling debut with Is There Anybody Out There?. It’s not the perfect album mind you, but its pros easily outweigh its cons. In a generation where optimism in music or anything seems to be rare, A Great Big World deliver an album that thrives on its positivity and reminds the listener its okay to be ambitious and dream. Perhaps Chad and Ian’s tremendous jubilance will rub off on the world. We can only hope.
“Rockstar”; “Land of Opportunity”; “I Really Want It”; “There Is An Answer”; “Say Something” featuring Christina Aguilera
My Own Lane, Kid Ink
Previously, My Own Lane was summed up as follows:
Overall, My Own Lane is a solid album with enough captivating tracks to make it worth the money ($7.99 seems to be the common price). That said My Own Lane also has its flaws, price aside. When Kid Ink settles for clichés like on “Rollin’” for example, he’s not at his best, failing to distinguish himself from others. When he is on his game, however, he’s lethal.
“The Movement”; “Show Me”; “Iz U Down?”; “Murda”; “No Miracles”; “Bad Ass”
John Newman was the best-reviewed album from January 2014, hence one top honors in my rankings. Kid Ink’s album, the worst reviewed of the seven, was by no means a bad album; comparatively, I enjoyed the others more. Although it landed second in the rankings (and nearly at the top), Transgender Dysphoria Blues was definitely the most interesting album of the bunch.
No other act received more criticism for their Grammy success then Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Ultimately, the rap community was pretty pissed off. After so many years of rap being under recognized by the Recording Academy, now an act grabs a victory in one of the coveted big four categories (Best New Artist) and the fans are not pleased. Why the wall of hatred for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis? Ultimately, it’s not so much about the Seattle MC or his producer pal; it’s more about the perception of rap by the Academy voters. With a golden opportunity before them to award the more representative MC of the genre, Kendrick Lamar, the voters decided to go the safe route and in the process further alienate both a genre and make many question the Academy’s credibility.
Face it folks, the Grammys have screwed up multiple times over the years – yes Milli Vanilli comes to mind. In recent times, since OutKast was somehow victorious for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, it seems that the rap album can’t get a break. Every time a gargantuan hip-hop album has presented itself worthy for recognition, the Grammys seem to avoid it like the plague, often only giving it recognition in rap categories. This year, if you were to ask rap purists who should’ve cleaned up the hip-hop categories, the answer definitely would’ve been Kendrick Lamar. Macklemore wouldn’t cross their minds… at least as a ‘traditional’ rap artist.
The Rap Slight – 2005 – Present…
2014 – Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid M.A.A.D. City (0 Grammys)
2011 – Eminem, Recovery
2009 – Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III
2008 – Kanye West, Graduation
2006 – Kanye West, Late Registration
2005 – Kanye West, The College Dropout
Yes, there is another elephant in the room – Macklemore is white and many of the serious rappers are black. Yep, and some folks might be quick to play the reverse racism card here. However, Eminem is highly respected and he’s Caucasian. While Eminem is the best example of a breakthrough Caucasian rapper, he’s not the only white rapper who has received respect from the hip-hop community. Paul Wall certainly had a run when the H-Town movement came-up in the mid 00s. Yelawolf, though not a commercial success, has also proven the legitimacy of his chops as what’s perceived to be traditional rap. Cleveland’s MGK definitely has mad skills, and certainly has little that is pop about him. But does Macklemore truly match the aforementioned rappers? No, he’s certainly different comparatively.
Personally, I thought The Heist was a solid album; I gave it a favorable view. That said, the only time I felt it would receive Grammy attention was when “Thrift Shop”, “Can’t Hold Us”, and “Same Love” blew up in pop circles. Still, the three songs don’t align with my idea of hip-hop; they all feel more pop. Generally, so does The Heist, even when the beats go a bit harder. Particularly compared to Kendrick Lamar’s good Kid M.A.A.D City, The Heist just didn’t feel like a perfect fit. Sure, it’s not as extreme as potentially nominating a Black Eyed Peas album in hip-hop categories, but it still seems a stretch. I think this, more than the say ‘race’ that some may point to, make the win more painful to rap enthusiasts.
There are two more reasons for the post-Grammy backlash. The biggest and saltiest rub is that rap’s newly proclaimed savior, Kendrick Lamar, was snubbed. Even Macklemore agrees, and it’s not even his fault! The backlash from the Recording Academy’s out of touch voting actually took away from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis celebrating – which they should. Macklemore doesn’t need to apologize to Kendrick Lamar for winning, even if he does feel guilty. He won… live it up, M. But the Academy ignored Kendrick, arguably the freshest breakout voice in rap in years. But unless one really studies and understands rap for what it is, then being out of touch seems the only option I suppose.
The more troublesome reason for the post-Grammy backlash is the future. Does this rather conservative voting in regards to such an overt, brash genre make it even more difficult for ‘pure’ rap artists and albums to receive their just due? Does pop now begin to invade hip-hop and cause it to have the identity issues that R&B has had in many regards as of late? If rappers are looking for recognition, do they begin to rely on a safer platform to succeed? Maybe this is completely too cerebral, but look over recent times and The Heist definitely seems a departure. I won’t even mention this is the first solo album (Yeezus) that Kanye West has been nominated for that didn’t win…
My personal opinion is that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis did deserve Grammys – I’m just unsure they deserved to sweep the rap category, particularly for Best rap album. At this point though, it’s a done deal and there is no reason for Mack to hang his head down. Still, It just doesn’t quite feel right.
Another year and another Grammys ceremony has come and passed. As always, there were moments that thrilled me while others made me curse under my breath. Luckily, as a music journalist, this guy has learned how to think like the Recording Academy, hence the accuracy of many of my picks this year. Still, even being correct, you have to wonder what the Academy is thinking sometimes. Yes, I’m specifically referencing the fact that Kendrick Lamar was shut out – ridiculous! But here goes nothing examining the awards given.
The Big Four:
Record, Album and Song of the Year & Best New Artist
Honestly, “Get Lucky” had been a lock for Record of the Year all summer. Even with such a tight category, “Get Lucky” felt like the strongest candidate here. Additionally, Daft Punk’s victory in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category was a lock.
Album of the Year: Random Access Memories, Daft Punk
Personally, Good Kid M.A.A.D. City would’ve been my choice for album of the year, but using Recording Academy psychology, I knew Kendrick Lamar didn’t stand a chance – NONE! So ultimately, Random Access Memories seemed the logical, safe choice for voters. It was also a great album and moved some major numbers for an electronic album. Not even Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ brand of hip-hop was going to take this one. Additionally, Daft Punk was a lock in the Best Dance/Electronica Album category.
Here, voters made the best choice in regards to impact. “Royals” was a gargantuan hit, with only “Roar” rivaling in regards to buzz. “Same Love” was a breakthrough record (same sex marriage equality, etc.), but would’ve been a stretch over the most unique record of the bunch. And as good as “Same Love” was, was it necessarily more special than P!nk’s “Just Give Me A Reason” or Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven”?
“Royals” victory in the Best Pop Performance category was also #winning; it was the most unique song/performance of the bunch.
I picked Kendrick Lamar, but honestly, I’m not too angry about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis winning this one. Still, Kendrick is the more valuable long-term artist in my eyes.
On Wednesday, January 8th, the 2014 ‘awards’ season went underway with the ‘prestigious’ People’s Choice Awards. Not partaking of the event personally (college basketball takes precedent, sorry), being the pop cultural junkie that I am, I naturally watched the buzz afterwards. As interesting as the film and TV categories are themselves, this particular post will key in on the music categories/awards, which are…interesting. The categories for the People’s Choice music awards are as follows: Favorite Male Artist, Favorite Female Artist, Favorite Breakout Artist, Favorite Pop Artist, Favorite Country Artist, Favorite Country Music Icon, Favorite Hip-Hop Artist, Favorite R&B Artist, Favorite Band, Favorite Alternative Band, Favorite Song, Favorite Album, Favorite Music Video, and Favorite Music Fan Following. For the most part, the categories positively allow for music to be widely recognized, which is a pro. So, let’s dig in and analyze the winners!
Favorite Male Artist: Justin Timberlake
For the most part, this category was stacked with sound musical representatives from 2013 (Avicii, Blake Shelton, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, and Michael Bublé). Still, the only other result that could’ve upset Timberlake would’ve been Bruno Mars – or I’d like to think so. I didn’t vote, but I would’ve gone in this direction.
Favorite Female Artist: Demi Lovato
My mother told me if you couldn’t say something nice, don’t say anything a tall. Obviously I didn’t listen. Demi Lovato was definitely a ‘slice of the pie’ from 2013, but was she the majority of it? Apparently a certain group of voters thinks she trumped a category including Britney Spears, Katy Perry, P!nk, and Selena Gomez. Being fair, Britney Spears definitely had an off year and Selena Gomez’s “Come and Get It” was so ‘Rihanna’ it was pitiful (don’t get me started on the album itself). Still, was Lovato larger than Katy Perry or P!nk? “Roar” or “Give Me The Reason”? Nah, “Heart Attack” or not!
Favorite Breakout Artist: Ariana Grande
This was a solid category that included some stiff competition aside from its deserving winner. Austin Mahone will probably have more a breakout year in 2014, while Icona Pop, Imagine Dragons, and Lorde all rode a big time hit.
Favorite Pop Artist: Britney Spears
This win for Britney – no disrespect – leads me to believe this award was based more on her total body of work as opposed to 2013. Face it; Britney Jean couldn’t have possibly been the basis of fans’ votes… just saying. Additionally, voting began more than a month before Britney Jean dropped in stores. After the year that Justin Timberlake or Katy Perry had, you would’ve thought fans might lean in that direction. Bruno Mars and Demi Lovato were also nominated in this category. My vote would’ve been with JT.
Favorite Country Artist: Taylor Swift
2013 was a weak year for country music – sorry country music lovers! Swift was the best option here and likely should be the best option at the upcoming Grammys. The Band Perry released an enjoyable album, but don’t call it a heavyweight. Blake Shelton would’ve been a worthy runner-up while Lady Antebellum’s album Golden was about as exciting “watching paint dry.” As for Carrie Underwood who is always on her game, she didn’t do enough the past year – well save for that Sound of Music remake that was panned.
Favorite Country Music Icon: Tim McGraw
Fair enough. Any of the five are icons: Alan Jackson, George Strait, Toby Keith, and Willie Nelson.
Favorite Hip-Hop Artist: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Hmm. Some hip-hop fans will like this while others will take issue. Macklemore had a big year for sure, so I can see this particular vote. Still, he beat the likes of Drake, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Lil Wayne – hip-hop royalty. But again, The Heist was a huge deal in 2013.
Favorite R&B Artist: Justin Timberlake
Here’s my issue with this category. Timberlake won previously for Best pop artist, so why should he also be considered an R&B artist? Sure, Timberlake is nominated for Grammys in both pop and R&B categories this year, but most of his career he’s been honored as a ‘pop’ artist. Is he more urban-leaning? Definitely. But, should Timberlake carry the torch for two distinct categories? The other side of that is who was nominated against him: Alicia Keys, Ciara, Rihanna, and Robin Thicke. Ciara and Thicke were more active in 2013, but as big of a year as Thicke had as the truer R&B artist of the two, he didn’t steal Timberlake’s thunder. “It is what it is.”
Favorite Band: One Direction
All I can say is yuck… you can change the first letter of “yuck” if you wish. This is definitely the ‘popular’ choice, which would be the point contextually with these awards. Still, hard to ignore “Radioactive” or “Demons, right Imagine Dragons? Furthermore, I guess the lines of a ‘band’ are truly “blurred” here categorically speaking.
Favorite Alternative Band: Fall Out Boy
I like Fall Out Boy. That said, where is the love for Imagine Dragons? C’mon people! Mumford & Sons and Muse are about a year late by my estimations. Paramore did score a no. 1 album in 2013, but perhaps it wasn’t ‘big enough’.
Favorite Song: “Roar”, Katy Perry
“Roar” was the best choice in a stacked category that included the no-love-receiving “Radioactive” (Imagine Dragons). Others slighted were “Just Give Me A Reason” (P!nk featuring Nate Ruess), “Mirrors” (Justin Timberlake), and “When I Was Your Man” (Bruno Mars).
Favorite Album: The 20/20 Experience, Justin Timberlake
This was, or should’ve been a no-brainer. However, the category was varied, including albums from country superstar Blake Shelton (Based on a True Story) and Michael Bublé (To Be Loved). Also included were Miley Cyrus (Bangerz) and Robin Thicke (Blurred Lines). Personally, there were ‘better’ choices besides the five nominated, but whatever.
Favorite Music Video: “Roar”, Katy Perry
If there were ever a time One Direction would stand a chance to receive my vote, this would be it. “Best Song Ever” as a music video was quite entertaining. “Wrecking Ball” (Miley Cyrus) was ‘too hot to handle’. Of the five nominees, which also included P!nk and Demi Lovato, the best choice was made.
Favorite Music Fan Following: Lovatics, Demi Lovato
Neat category, but I’m apathetic to the nominees and the result. Congratulations Lovatics.
Overall thoughts? Well, at least the people have a choice. Can’t block our votes!
After a year filled with numerous albums and even more songs, choosing 100 of the best is an incredibly difficult task. Like with the best albums of 2013, there will be surprises as well as snubs. Sometimes the snubs are oversights while at other items there are just so many notable songs that some just get lost in the mix. Regardless, here are 100 songs I found to be notable in 2013.
From album: Black Panties
Oreos everywhere has been violated… enough said.
From album: Britney Jean
To Britney done told y’all – you better get to work! “Work B**ch” is the best song from a lackadaisical Britney Jean.
From album: Beyoncé
Examine the entire song or even excerpted lyrics and you’ll understand why it graced this list: “Can you lick my skittles / that’s the sweetest in the middle…” Couple that with R. Kelly’s “Cookie” and something is definitely going down in the bedroom…
“For The Rest of My Life”
From album: Blurred Lines
Well, at least Robin Thicke followed up “Blurred Lines” with a lovely ballad with some substance. Still won’t get the skeptics off his back about “Blurred Lines” though, LOL.
From album: Reflektor
Front man Win Butler has a message for you young guys – don’t be so selfish about sex/endeavors when it comes to your girlfriend(s)!
From album: A Love Surreal
The lyrics speak for them self: “Baby, you’re a winning hand / a game change, I’m on the roll.” I want a winning hand… Hehe.
“Here’s To Never Growing Up”
From album: Avril Lavigne
In case you’re wondering, Avril hasn’t grown up any. If anything, she’s prolonged her carefree youth with curse words. Cheers to eternal youth!
“Love and War”
From album: Love and War
Another instance where the lyrics speak for them self: “We stay on the front lines / Yeah but we’re still here after the bomb drops / we go so hard we lose control / the fire starts then we explode / when the smoke clears we dry our tears / only in love and war.”
Ariana Grande featuring Mac Miller
From album: Yours Truly
Basically, young Mariah is at work, and she gets the assist from Easy Mac. Did I mention Grande sounds angelic? And ole boy keeps it clean…no ‘birdcalls’.
“Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)”
From album: Reflektor
A tragic story given Eurydice’s death and Orpheus’ infatuation with his late lover (Greek mythology), “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” finds AF front man Win Butler singing “I know you can see / things that we can’t see / but when I say I love you / your silence covers me…” Ultimately, “Awful Sound” matches the ‘all over the map’ nature of its parent album.
From album: Yeezus
Ever controversial, Kanye West manages to resurrect the horrid past of African-Americans, particularly playing up past shortcomings and present stereotypes (“Y’all throwing contracts at me / y’all know that n***as can’t read…”). Even so, agile and edgy rhymes make “New Slaves” worthwhile.
From album: No Beginning, No End
Jazz and soul music create a beautiful union on the signature cut from José James’ superb album No Beginning, No End.
“Wild For The Night”
A$AP Rocky featuring Skrillex
From album: Long. Live. A$AP
A$AP is partying hard, and he’s bringing an unlikely buddy in Skrillex with him. What more can be said – clubs are bumping!
From album: Watching Movies With The Sound Off
Based on some of Mac Miller’s lyrics, the goose bumps he be giving his girl are serious, cause when he dies he “bet she f**k my hologram…” He’s confident in his, err – he’s confident, we’ll leave it at that!
From album: Three Kings
This song has been my ringtone for minute, really! TGT absolutely slaughter the chorus: “Now I know / it ain’t ever worth your heart / and it ain’t ever worth your tears / and it ain’t ever worth those scars that might not heal / I need, I need, I need (you)…” Hey, us guys sometimes need that masculine R&B perspective, even when it’s sensitive!
“Where Are We Now?”
From album: The Next Day
Sometimes it is simplicity that carries a great deal of weight: “Where are we now, where are we now? The moment you know, you know, you know…” Bowie slays this ballad, no questions asked.
The Flaming Lips
From album: The Terror
Three words: “LUST TO SUCCED!”
From album: One True Vine
“Holy Ghost” – a cover from band Low – finds Staples commanding and soulful atop folksy production work. While she’s reserved, Staples still packs a punch, particularly when her 74-year old voice cracks with expression.
“Don’t Swallow the Cap”
From album: Trouble Will Find Me
The National’s “Don’t Swallow the Cap” shines, despite its pessimism (“…I have faith but don’t believe it / it’s not there enough to leave it…”). Sporting exceptional songwriting as well as a solid arrangement/production, characterized by keyboards, haunting strings, and pummeling drums, “Don’t Swallow the Cap” is arguably the valedictory track from Trouble Will Find Me.
“Take This Dirty Water”
From album: The Diving Board
On brilliant track “Take This Dirty Water”, Elton John combines facets of gospel, blues, and rock. Incredibly soulful and feel-good, “Take This Dirty Water” is easily one of Elton John’s most distinct and best songs in years.
Kanye West featuring Charlie Wilson
From album: Yeezus
“Bound 2” bucked the trend of most of Yeezus; it sounded more like West’s classic material with soulful sample intact.
“Strictly Reserved For You”
From album: Victim of Love
Every bit of Charles’ love – well, it’s “strictly reserved for you.” Aww, the feeling of feeling loved.
From album: ARTPOP
Didn’t you know you’re worth more than a dime bag any day in Lady Gaga’s eyes? “I need you more than dope.”
From album: Black Panties
When it comes to R. Kelly, well, everything seems to revolve around a three-letter word. Here, the salacious 46-year old R&B singer/songwriter is a “sex genius”, supposedly.
Tyler, The Creator
From album: Wolf
As written previously, Tyler, The Creator is the “cowboy on [his] own trip”; he holds his own destiny. Be sure to check out the previously released first part with songs #100-76, as well as upcoming parts #50 – 26, and #25 – 1.