Ah new release Tuesday, where dreams come true and are broken for many artists who hope their album will sell these days. This Tuesday, April 8, 2014, the releases aren’t exactly star-studded – that would be an understatement. That said, there are some possibilities to choose from, whether you’re looking to go vintage, be spiritually uplifted, or want to stomach an immature pop star’s life…
Ronstadt doesn’t release new music anymore, but the vocalist has released more than enough classic material to solidify her veteran musician status. Duets is a compilation featuring some of Ronstadt’s most notable collaborations with others including “Don’t Know Much” with Aaron Neville and “Somewhere Out There” with James Ingram.
Catacombs of The Black Vatican
Black Label Society
The title should be enough to allure the potential listener – or drive them away (whichever comes first). Catacombs of the Black Vatican is the heavy metal band Black Label Society’s fourth release for mega indie label Entertainment One and their tenth studio album overall.
Welcome To The New
Fair Trade/ Columbia
Jesus freaks everywhere should be rejoicing as one of the preeminent contemporary Christian bands releases their follow-up to 2012 LP The Hurt & The Healer. And yes, I do realize “Jesus Freak” was the title of a dc Talk album and song, not MercyMe – LOL.
Martina McBride’s latest album definitely isn’t your standard country album. McBride covers soul classics including “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”. On a rendition of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home” she brings Gavin DeGraw along for the ride while she gets the assist from Kelly Clarkson on “In the Basement”. If there were a country artist to pull it off, McBride would certainly be the one to do it.
Love & Hate
Entertainment One adds yet another album to the April 8th release date with Joan Osborne’s latest album, Love & Hate. Love & Hate marks the Kentucky-born artist’s eighth studio album. The album follows up 2012 LP Bring It On Home.
Justin Bieber’s Believe
My advice would be to proceed with caution here…really.
The former American Idol contestant drops his sophomore album Celebrate, albeit with little fanfare. Celebrate follows up 2011 debut, Memories of a Beautiful Disaster.
After releasing My Life digitally in 2013, burgeoning R&B artist (another YouTube discovery), release his ‘official’ self-titled debut via Republic.
Sigh, sometimes even the biggest artists make some of the most foolish decisions during their careers. 2014 hasn’t been shy of stupid choices from today’s musicians. There have been enough missteps to make one roll their eyes or simply shake there heads. What better way to ring in April, specifically April ‘Fools’ Day then to examine artist’s moments of shame? Here are four examples of foolishness that make me SMH.
#1: Justin Bieber’s Every Move
Salvaging a successful career initially characterized by its cleanliness continues to become more and more distant for one Justin Bieber. If 2014 was thought to be a year of mature growth and redirection for Bieber, it has been more of a repeat of 2013, only much more extreme. An artist who once thanked “God” and “Jesus” during an acceptance speech seems to have completely given into devilish intentions as of late. Too much noise continues to tarnish the Biebz’s image and definitely does nothing for delivering new music or truly establishing his artistic niche in his twenties. Additionally, the crowd the pop star chooses to hang with is questionable at best. Music seems the furthest thing from the artist’s mind at this point.
#2: Chief Keef’s ‘I.D.G.A.F.’ Attitude
Chief Keef is utter foolishness exemplified…I’m convinced that Chief Keef is going to destroy his own career pretty early on. He truly doesn’t give a buck. I’m no fortuneteller, but all indications would predict this given the irresponsible and rebellious tone of his music in addition to his highly publicized personal issues at such a young age. Songs like “I Don’t Like”, “Hate Being Sober” and the most recent “F*ck Rehab” certainly are neither positive nor redeeming, showcasing an artist who’s incredibly immature and irresponsible. Keef definitely means what he raps about, but perhaps he should choose both better lyrical choices and be mindful of his actions (“actions speak louder than words”).
#3: Miley Cyrus… Enough Said
Miley Cyrus is one of a kind – that’s an understatement. Ole girl took artist transformation to a new level in 2013 and never looked back. Maybe she should have… Personally, reinventing yourself is no sin or crime in the least – its making yourself relevant to gain a bigger and broader fan base. That said, isn’t there a limit to the reinvention that separates it from utter foolishness? Doesn’t shock value have a short leash before it grows incredibly annoying and in bad taste? “Wrecking Ball” wasn’t a shocking song in itself last year, but Cyrus opting for being nude on the wrecking ball was. This year, “Adore You” takes the prize, with Cyrus going so far as to touch herself, to put it kindly. Of course, there’s been all the stories of blunts, tongue action, viral prom date videos, etc. Foolishness – definitely!
#4: Reality Singing Competitions
The biggest reality television enthusiast (myself) has lost interest in reality singing competitions, so much so that I’ve avoided both American Idol and The Voice. And let me just say, I feel like a tremendous burden has been released! With X Factor already booted, how far behind are the rest? American Idol has proven that a viable music career can be built from success on a television show (Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood among others), but it has also shown that it doesn’t consistently happen (Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, and Candice Glover). For every triumph on Idol, what about the disgruntled Idol contestant that didn’t taste that same slice of success? Then for every success, what about those who only got 15 minutes and no more?
The Voice at this point is arguably the more entertaining show of the two given Adam Levine and Blake Shelton’s inseparable ‘bromance’, but aside from an okay opening week from victor Cassadee Pope, the commercial success is missing big time. Entertaining these shows can be to an extent, aren’t they just toying with potential artists, who might benefit more with a different approach to achieving their shot? Foolishness – YEP!
Last year around Grammys time, it seemed a snubbed Justin Bieber did everything in his power to put the attention on himself. This year, prior to the Grammys, Bieber has attention on himself, but it makes his staged publicity stunts last year look pretty tame. After more than a year of horrid, utterly ridiculous and irresponsible behavior, the 19-year old pop star has been arrested for possible drag racing and DUI. At the rate that the singer is going, things are looking just plain awful for Bieber. First it was egg-throwing, now its driving while being wasted and racing. SMH!
As I’ve alluded to several times following Bieber’s career, particularly as of late, his focus seems to have completely shifted from music to excess. The music seems to be taken for granted by the pop star, who with new found cockiness, seems to be more concerned about being a bad boy of sorts. Shirtless instagram photos are one thing, as are tattoos, but a 19-year old who has been viewed as something of a role model and heartthrob for very young fans getting arrested for DUI and even more dumbly for drag racing is troublesome. It’s more troublesome because at 19, Bieber shouldn’t be so entangled in such adult matters. There’s adults who have never been entangled in such ‘adult matters’ as Bieber finds himself.
I’m no Justin Bieber fan, but I knew he was going to blow up when I first began following his career. Somewhere along the line, fame and its privileges have truly ruined him. After the turbulent year of ‘growing pains’ Bieber experienced in 2013, you’d think that the man Bieber claims to be would actually begin to show in his actions and the decisions he makes. Instead, much like last year, things seem to be crumbling apart for Bieber, and that ‘crumbling’ is more extreme than last year. Bieber holds the deck of cards, but they way he plays them determines where he goes not only as an artist and pop cultural phenomenon, but also how he ultimately ends up as a person. At this point, it is safe to say, regardless of what comes of this arrest/charges, Justin Bieber needs help before he goes “a bridge too far.”
After a mixed 2013 (arguably sporting very little ‘swaggy’), Justin Bieber begins 2014 with a bang. Like the majority of headlines in 2013, 2014’s headline could result in the pop star’s biggest faux pas yet. Sure, as appalling as it was, it was funny to see Bieber grow so intense last year at the paparazzi, threatening to “f**king beat the f**k out of you,” but the present incident really is douche bag move. Bieber, being the mature and sensible 19-year old that he is, apparently egged his neighbor’s house. Real mature Justin, real mature. Unsurprisingly, the rebellious Canadian pop star cursed out his neighbor (of course the f-bomb) and seemed proud of his actions. Honestly, he’s the only one that seems to be impressed.
Much like my critical posts last year about the star who suffering from the tremendous growing pains, it seems that Bieber’s privilege could one day potentially be his undoing. For most of us who consider Bieber’s behavior to be completely unchecked and out of control, we hope it is sooner than later. That may sound harsh or hateful, but someone or something is going to have to check this irresponsible Bieber and give him a true reality check. If Bieber previously came over as this humble, innocent kid patterning his musical style and career after Usher, he now comes over as a complete a-hole. Regardless how he felt about his neighbors or what his intents were, Bieber made a very dumb decision to vandalize someone else’s property and seems to show no interest in taking responsibility.
Musically, I’ll admit I have criticisms of Bieber – many critics do. But, much like last year, it seems that Bieber is once more going to let his turbulent personal life overtake his music. Last year, the approach certainly didn’t buy the singer new fans. Whether this egging incident is part of Bieber’s desire for attention, a stupid childish prank, or a mix of both, this has nothing to with Bieber’s artistry. For someone who previously stated he should be taken serious as an artist, perhaps Bieber should begin living up to his words and focus on his craft, not doing dumb things that detract and distract. Biebz – time to cut the crap and be a ‘real man’, not a wannabe.
Cutting straight to the chase, Justin Bieber probably had the crappiest year of his entire career. Honestly, it was plumb terrible. It was sort of like my favorite college basketball team, the Kentucky Wildcat’s fall from glory during the 2012-13 season after dominating the previous season with their eighth NCAA title. Yeah, it was that bad. The problem is, even experiencing so many PR miscues, few – save for the most loyal Beliebers – ‘gave a what’. Personally, feeling sympathy for one of the most privileged 19-year olds in the world, whose living a dream that only a select few ever reach just isn’t an emotion that registers at this point. Maybe, as Bieber suggests, it is because he is Justin Bieber that there is such an outcry against him. Perhaps, it’s more that Bieber, who became a success overnight at such a young age, just comes over as an arrogant a-hole, something he specifically said he didn’t feel one Kanye West was (“Kanye West isn’t really an a$$hole…”). Personally, his cockiness has been my rub on Bieber throughout his recent career.
The most recent FAIL speaks to at least partially to the arrogance of the Bieber brand as well. The expectation for the tatted teen-heartthrob has become that everything that he touches turns into gold. Basically, anything that is associated with the Bieber name or brand, will generate a tone of the green stuff for the labels, managers, and of course Bieber. As many apparently didn’t know judging by the numbers, Justin Bieber released his second movie, Believe on Christmas Day. While this film has been referenced a couple of times, the most overt promotional campaign directed toward this documentary seemed to be “all wrong from the start”. Don’t let its seemingly lackadaisical promotion completely fool you though; the PR team has had some subtle tricks up their sleeves. They haven’t been successful per say, but they did do some ‘work’.
Is it such a coincidence that Justin Bieber released and completed his ‘Music Mondays’ just prior to the release of Believe the film? The Music Mondays series were centered on Bieber’s ‘journals’, obviously positioned to be more personal than his bubblegum pop music. In other words, Music Mondays tries to eschew anything remotely sounding like “Beauty and the Beat”. The word ‘journals’ was thrown around not so subtly, leading one to believe that Bieber’s promotional team had bigger plans for random contemporary R&B tracks being thrown around. If there weren’t bigger plans in the works, the release of the mature “PYD” featuring R. Kelly surely had to signify something… it actually drew critical praise throughout online circles, including from me. The ends of those ‘journals’ – an iTunes promotion that groups the tracks together for a brief period of time right before Christmas (December 23) and even more strategically the same week that Believe the film drops. So – If the movie bombs, then that means Bieber is still getting paper from Journals? Seems that way!
While Completing Bieber’s Journals was a huge promotional trick, another risky one failed miserably, in theory. Bieber tossed around this idea he planned to retire at the age of 19… Most hilarious, if ‘hopeful-it-does-really-happen’ joke I’ve heard all year… Anyone who serious thinks this dude is going anywhere – unless his sales completely go under – is cray cray. Bieber has become a fixture, regardless of positivity or negativity, and is quite prosperous to both him self and the industry. Sources seem to confirm that this was another one of Bieber’s completely horrid jokes, much like when he showed his booty on Instagram. While it may have been Bieber just playing around, the timing could also suggest this was another way to drive home some sales for that Believe film.
My beloved beliebers I'm officially retiring—
Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) December 25, 2013
The media talks a lot about me.They make a up a lot of lies and want me to fail but I'm never leaving you, being a belieber is a lifestyle.—
Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) December 25, 2013
Ultimately, the promotions have not worked for Believe as it has underperformed even with lowered expectations according to first day numbers. Fear not Bieber, your movie may not have a chance in the least to top the movie charts, but you did manage to top Billboard’s Social 50 chart, if that’s any consolation. That said, the Social 50 chart certainly doesn’t make the rich any richer, unless your fuel is publicity… BUT, does his social popularity, particular with his most devoted fans, still signal Bieber has plenty of pop life in him? Perhaps. There is always a new teen-pop star as well as a fresher trend waiting (likely Austin Mahone), but Bieber’s empire may not come completely crumbling in 2014. Time and the climate of music will be the big predictor of how Bieber will fare in the future.
- Justin Bieber ‘Believe’ Movie Review Roundup: What Do Critics Say? (rightcelebrity.com)
- No One Saw Justin Bieber’s Movie (thewire.com)
- Justin Bieber Enjoys a “Confident” Lady on Music Monday’s Latest (brentmusicreviews.com)
- The Man Behind Justin Bieber (esquire.com)
- Director Jon M. Chu Talks JUSTIN BIEBER’S BELIEVE, Comparing Concert Tours to Feature Films, G.I. JOE 3, RUN, MATCHED, and More (collider.com)
- Justin Bieber Movie Bombs at the Box Office (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- ‘Justin Bieber’s Believe’ Review: Portrait of an Artist Who’s No Longer a ‘Baby’ (thewrap.com)
Journals steps in the right direction stylistically for Bieber, but isn’t without flaws.
Justin Bieber • Journals • Island • US Release Date: December 23, 2013
For a brief time via iTunes (beginning December 23), Justin Bieber has compiled his Music Mondays releases into one digital album, Journals. Over the past two months, I’ve reviewed the previously issued singles from Journals and have added the newly added five to the arsenal. Overall, I’ve found Journals as an album to be a mixed bag. There are some surprisingly bright spots, but there are also some equally unimpressive ones. Here’s a song-by-song examination of Bieber’s Journals… barf – err… yeah.
Here goes nothing…
Throughout 2013, I’ve had the opportunity to review lots of albums. Some were extremely special (Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City among ‘em), while others were D-I-S-A-P-P-O-I-N-T-I-N-G. Not to be a negative noodle or kill anyone’s happy vibe, but sometimes artists lay an egg… a really rotten one. Not every album here is just awful, but contextually, they didn’t quite live up to the hype. Some were rotten eggs though!
Keeping it short and sweet, Britney Spears at times lacked fierceness on Britney Jean. “Work B*tch” was great and “Perfume” successful as well, but other moments found the pop singer only so-so. Among those so-so moments is a questionable duet with sister Jamie Lynn (“Chillin’ With You”) and the boring closer “Don’t Cry” which sits but never catches fire. Throw in the chart numbers and Britney Spears seems like she’s in “bomb city bay-bayyyy!” (*speaks in a Dick Vitale voice).
The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2
Justin Timberlake has the bestselling album of the year with The 20/20 Experience. However, his second installment, The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2, felt incredibly underwhelming both commercially and critically. Sure, no one expected the sequel to match the 968,000 copies JT put up for his first, but the 350,000 copies it bowed with is just slightly more than one third of what the first album sold. As far as the material itself, it is overproduced, overwrought in length, and less memorable than the first. Maybe less was expected from this set, but still, it’s disappointing.
I Am Not A Human Being II
Lil Wayne finally admitted to the fact that he had a “lackluster” year. He really didn’t have to say it… it was written all over the shameful – better yet shameless – I Am Not A Human Being II. “Love Me” built some momentum for the ubiquitous southern rap star, but things went downhill from there. Lil Wayne has never been reserved when it comes to sex in his rhymes, but perhaps he should’ve tried here.
I’m just gonna come right out and say it: The Weeknd wasted a golden opportunity on Kiss Land. It’s clunky, boring, and one-dimensional. Sure, Abel Tesfaye may be truly showcasing ‘himself’ here, but isn’t there more to life than weed and sex? You wouldn’t think so after listening to Kiss Land. “You Belong To The World” is a bright spot, even if it is about a stripper… Not being a hater, but after highly anticipating this album, my iPod tends to skip past it…
The-Dream would’ve actually sat ahead of The Weekend had Kiss Land not been more anticipated. However, IV Play is by far The-Dream’s worst album. Before R. Kelly turned and Oreo into something freaky (“Cookie”), The-Dream shamelessly released the extremely explicit IV Play, including a song named “P***y” which leaves nothing to the imagination. “IV Play” doesn’t either, as The-Dream goes for the kill early stating “I can give a f*ck about the foreplay / I want it now…” Judging by the sales and reviews, people DGAF about this album. Ooh, burn!
(Rich Gang, Maybach Music, Now)
Music compilations are a necessary evil, but they’re just that – evil. Usually Maybach Music have their stuff together, or at least they did on the fine Self Made 2 (I still bump “Bury Me A G”). This time, the crew didn’t seem to care as Self Made 3 was just al’ight. Rich Gang took their name to heart on their horrid self-titled album, which relied way too much on being wealthy. As for the previously issue music Now series, the timing of included songs continued to plague. So over it.
Excuse My French
Excuse My French wasn’t a bad album, but it also wasn’t a special one. Even after listening through the entire effort, “Pop That” remained the main attraction. There were some other cuts that were worthy of continual spins, but not to the degree of the raunchy banger.
I’m going to say what everyone has been thinking – B.o.B. has had a swag reduction since B.o.B. Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray. Strange Clouds was respectable if forgettable, but Underground Luxury is just uninspired. Sure, homeboy tries to infuse his personal side into his rhymes, but there is still a disconnection he can’t seem to shake. That disconnection is lackadaisical material my friends… whew!
Falling in Reverse
Sometimes you go out looking for new music and you come back with a total mess on your hands. Fashionably Late is that total mess. Rap and rock don’t always work together, and Falling in Reverse create the perfect script of ‘what not to do’.
When I listened to this album, I didn’t even know what a paracosm was. That should’ve been the first bad sign. The main problem with Paracosm is that it is too mellow. I mean, I like to chill, but not all the time…
P.S. Somehow I didn’t even mention just how horrible that Justin Bieber album, Believe Acoustic was! SMH!
- Britney Spears’ ‘Britney Jean’: What the critics are saying (cnn.com)
- Did Britney Spears Kiss Ryan Gosling? (rollingstone.com)
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)
Justin Bieber – “Change Me” – Single – Label: Island – US Release Date: December 2, 2013
“Girl I’m ready if you’re ready now / oh, as I’m ever gonna be / if you’re with it then I’m with it now / to accept all responsibility…I don’t wanna be the same…” Whoa! For his most recent installment of Music Mondays, Justin Bieber delivers a thoughtful, mostly piano-accompanied ballad entitled “Change Me”. Lacking the sensuality of his pivotal “PYD” featuring R. Kelly and the funkiness of last week’s “Rollercoaster”, Bieber is definitely more moody here and heartbroken for sure. The tempo is slow, matching the drag of Bieber’s own emotions.
A definite pro about “Change Me” is that Bieber shows, perhaps for the first time, his willingness to ‘bend’ within the relationship. It appears to be overdue mind you, but at least it seems Bieber has soul-searched and arrived at that point. This is evidenced by the chorus: “Maybe you could change me / maybe you could change me / maybe you could be the light that opens up my eyes / make all my wrongs right / change me, change me.” That newfound ability to listen and grow is further shown on the second verse, with lyrics like “If I’m screaming, talk quieter / understanding and patient…” or “Be like serenity / help reposition my mind / take a chance, make a difference, in my life.” Say what you will about Bieber, but he’s definitely thinking and aiming deeper than before.
“Change Me” may not possess the same swagger of his two previous offerings, but still Bieber sounds mature and much more ‘grown’ than anything he offered on 2012 studio effort Believe. For once, you feel that at least the ‘bad boy’ is backing up his desire to be a man with more masculine, grown music to match. Another possible takeaway is that Bieber is actually trying to get his act and life sorted out. Maybe that’s reading to much, but the Music Mondays lyrics are his journals correct? Overall, I’m on board.
- Justin Bieber Releases New Song “Change Me” – Listen Now (popnewsint.wordpress.com)
- Justin Bieber Releases New Song “Change Me”–Listen Now! (eonline.com)
- Justin Bieber Is Here With a New Song Called ‘Change Me’ (celebuzz.com)
- Music Monday: Justin Bieber Drops Soulful Ballad “Change Me” (popdust.com)
- Justin Bieber Has a “Bad Day” (Music Mondays) (brentmusicreviews.com)