Tag Archive | Miley Cyrus

Artistic Foolishness on April Fools Day 


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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

Justin Bieber2-20131021-53Salvaging 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-20121023-77Chief 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 Cyrus2-20140221-6Miley 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

Candice Glover2-20140214-115The 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!

Review: Pharrell Williams, ‘G I R L’


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G I R L easily one-ups Williams’ 2006 debut, In My Mind

Pharrell Williams • G I R L • Columbia • US Release Date: March 3, 2014

Pharrell Williams-20140303-0Arguably, no one had a better year in 2013 than Pharrell Williams.  A longtime veteran of the music game in a numerous capacities, things had become considerably slower for one of music’s brightest beacons.  But then the music heavens delivered some big-time juggernauts via “Get Lucky” (Daft Punk) and “Blurred Lines” (Robin Thicke) that clearly reinvigorated the producer/artist’s career.  William’s accomplishments would be celebrated by a couple of notable Grammy victories and an Academy award nomination for “Happy”, his infectious, number one single from the animated feature, Despicable 2.   Pharrell is no dummy – he knows that you’re only hot for so long and then demand dwindles.  Because he’s ‘hot’ right now, it’s the perfect time to drop his second solo album, G I R L.  It’s not merely a strategic thing either, as G I R L has the quality to back it up.  Compared to In My Mind, G I R L is tons more fun!

Marilyn Monroe” initiates G I R L with a sophisticated, classical-sounding string flurry. And NO, those aren’t MIDI strings, but the real-deal, arranged by – get ready for it – Hans Zimmer (among others, with Bruce Fowler serving as orchestrator).   The overall sound and vibe is ‘Pharrell-ean’, given the expected cues characteristic of the artist, but also incredibly soulful.  As sensational and classy as the production is, Williams’ flawless falsetto seals the deal, particularly given the gentlemanlike tone of “Marilyn Monroe”.  “Not even Marilyn Monroe / Queen Cleopatra please / Not even Joan of Arc,” sings Williams on the refrain, “That don’t mean nothin’ to me / I just want a different girl…can’t another good boy keep it this through.” Essentially, Williams is hopelessly in love, and not even another ‘dime’ could atone for his affection towards ‘her’.  Chivalrous as albeit.

Pharrell2-20140305-72The chivalrous spirit continues on the Justin Timberlake assisted “Brand New”, which may be best summed up by its chorus: “Honey, you got me feelin’ (brand new) / like the tag’s still on me…jumpin’ round in your bag…” Essentially, the boys are saying ‘she’s’ changed them and reinvigorated them; they are renewed.  Sure a lyric like Williams’ “A winner never quits / a quitter never wins / I thought about what I wanted / and you were on my list” is sort of schmaltzy, but it is memorable.  Ultimately, “Brand New” proves to be a pop-soul track that’s clearing #winning.  “Hunter”, the follow-up isn’t too shabby either, though Williams allows for a bit more naughtiness.  Post-chorus lyrics like “My love has come…sex has come” clearly switch from the emotional side of the relationship to what goes down in the bedroom.  Still, Williams keeps things classy enough.  Again though, the falsetto is so ‘nasty’, William’s sensual thoughts can be heard audibly in that upper vocal register.

So much for classy! “Gush” is not referencing ‘gushing’ ocean waves by any means.  But rather than stick that god-awful parental advisory sticker on G I R L, “Gush” has been edited, even if ubiquitous lyric “light that a$$ on fire” slyly remains intact.  The jazzy, soulful harmonic progression is clearly in Neptunian style, aka The Neptunes production.  That said, Williams was the driving force behind that production style, and he produces the entirety of G I R L.  But any who, Williams admits his perverted side didn’t come from his momma: “I don’t know what’s come over me / my momma didn’t raise me that way.”  Still, the continuation of the pre-chorus seems like an excuse only by a man possessed by the three-letter word (“…You lit a fire, from inside of me / that’d light your seat ablaze, girl…”), only confirmed by the chorus (“Tonight I wanna be dirty, girl…do you wanna get dirty girl? Let’s go”). Well, Williams is saying what most guys are thinking, right?

Pharrell Williams2-20140210-66Atonement for improprieties or being a ‘D-O-G’ comes with the undeniably enthusiastic “Happy”.  Sure, many knew that “Let It Go” from Frozen was going to be difficult to beat for an Oscar, but didn’t everyone have sweet spot in their heart for arguably the year’s most positive song? Throwback soul never sounded so relevant in a time where soulfulness isn’t the dominant trend.  That said, “Happy” is so addictive and infectious, that it is undeniable to want to move your body to it and smile.  Really, there’s no more to say – it’s classic.

Come Get It Bae” gets the tall task of following the gem, but the sick grooving number does a good job.  Williams enlists the help of Miley Cyrus, but to hers and his credit, it works.  Sure, the cut isn’t what you’d declare intelligent, but it is irresistible – and sexual. Yep, probably a perfect reason for ‘new Miley’ to guest… “Come get it bae, come get it bae… you wanna ride it, my motorcycle / you’ve got a license, but you got the right to,” Williams sings on the chorus, “Gonna pop a wheelie, don’t try too high / take it easy on the clutch, cause girl I like you.”  That motorcycle certainly can’t be a Harley… just an observation!

After getting riled up on “Come Get It Bae”, Williams settles things down with the help of Daft Punk.  “Gust of Wind” is amongst the albums’ best, featuring exceptional production work, driven by its groove.  Williams’ vocals are clear, soulful, and nuanced, among his best performances of the entire effort.  The chivalrous nature returns, contrasting the freakiness of “Bae”: “When I open the window / I wanna hug you / cause you remind me of the air / I said yeah / cause when I’m feelin’ real low / I remember I love you / I put my hands in the air / and you were there.”

Lost Queen” is lengthy, but that is because it features a hidden track (I won’t reveal it).  Like the rest of G I R L, “Lost Queen” is enjoyable and well conceived, but it isn’t quite as valedictory as the top echelon, which includes “Brand New”, “Happy”, and “Gust of Wind”.   As for that hidden track that I won’t name, it’s worth the listen.  “Know Who You Are” brings in Alicia Keys, who ends up collaborating well with Williams.  Like the rest Pharrell Williams-AES-121317of the LP, production remains top-notch, but the overall song/songwriting matches up well here too.  G I R L closes with “It Girl”, in which Williams’ falsetto is ripe from the jump.  It’s not as dominant a close as “Marilyn Monroe” opens, but it holds its own.

Ten tracks deep, G I R L benefits from its brevity and overall lack of filler.  Sure, it’s not a perfect album, but ultimately, Pharrell Williams delivers an effort that plays to his musical strengths and is pleasant to the ear.  He doesn’t over-sex R&B like so many of his contemporary and younger male artists tend to do; he keeps things classy.  Mature and enjoyable, G I R L is definitely a winner worthy of numerous spins… or a high play count on the iPod, LOL.

Favorites:

“Brand New”; “Hunter”; “Happy”; “Come Get It Bae”; “Gust of Wind”

Verdict: ★★★★

Heartbreak City: It’s The End For Robin Thicke and Paula Patton


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Speaking from the perspective of a bachelor, being single isn’t too bad.  Sure, you get lonely sometimes, and you may not have someone to share your innermost secrets with but – yeah being single can suck! For those who have found their soul mate (cue the late-great Gerald LeVert’s song “Soul Mate” please), better yet their wife or husband, marriage, if approached equally from both sides, certainly should be the most wonderful thing, like ever… EVER!  I wouldn’t know mind you, but I imagine if I were to find the right gal, were to “put a ring on it” (sings “Single Ladies”), a brother would have it M.A.D.E. Scareface album from 2007.  Sigh, “all this love talk”…. Oops, one of my own lyrics. LOL.

But enough chitter-chattering from moi about hopeless romanticism and emo-love – “ain’t nobody got time for that!” (any number of sources, be it the viral video, Childish Gambino, or otherwise). I’m not usually one to even give a celebrity split the time of day unless its one of Taylor Swift’s endless breakups that turns into an annoyingly-delicious country/pop song (“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, “I Knew You Were Trouble.”, “Dear John”) or of course Justin Bieber.  However, after having such a big year, I can’t leave my boy Robin Thicke out of the gossip – err news.  The news that broke recently was that Robin Thicke and teenage sweetheart Paula Patton are separating following eight years of marriage and being linked together for what, two decades?

Well, we all know that relationships in “Hollywood” (regardless if that’s where they actually take place) are usually short-lived.  But for a while, it seemed Thicke and Patton seemed to work.  As of yet, there are no concrete details on the reasons for the break-up and honestly, and its really none of our business.  That said, much has been said about Thicke’s ‘behavior’ and no that doesn’t completely lay blame nor completely neglect that god-awful, abysmal, and ill-fitting Beetlejuice suit that was violated by Miley Cyrus’ more horrific twerking at the MTV VMAs.  JUST SAYING – It really didn’t help that Cyrus really “won’t stop” and “can’t stop” when she really, really NEEDS TO [BLEEP] STOP! Sigh! Apparently, Mr. Thicke seems to “get around”.  Again, speculation and gossip are horrid things, but one has to wonder, did a potentially “Unfaithful” Robin Thicke drive Patton crazy, making her feel undervalued? Did you catch the Rihanna song reference?

Here’s a “slow motion” version of Miley’s infamous VMAs performance for your enjoyment… or torture.

Then again, one has to question the incredibly controversial “Blurred Lines” and its effect.  Not only was the song raunchy regardless of what he and Pharrell intended, but the video was X-rated.   Yeah men enjoyed it – why wouldn’t they? But ask most married men if their wives would be okay with them filming a music video with nude women? That would be grounds for break-up or divorce for many right there, I can assure you and I ain’t put a ring on no one’s finger!  If the nude females didn’t do it, perhaps the reference to the size of the “crown jewels” would truly be the last straw… If you don’t catch my drift, well watch “Blurred Lines” again for yourself.

Sure, “Blurred Lines” was the biggest hit of Thicke’s career, trumping his more chivalrous “Lost Without U” from 2006 (The Evolution of Robin Thicke).   “Lost Without U” could be argued to be the better song of the two because of messaging, but it only made it into the top twenty.  “Blurred Lines” was the gift that just kept on giving, through theft charges, misogyny, and general bad taste.  The voters at the Recording Academy knew they couldn’t even reward the juggernaut – it’s lack of substance, despite its addictiveness, was just in “bad taste”.  No song references here, sorry!

Robin Thicke-AES-123459Did “Blurred Lines” destroy the Thicke marriage? Likely not, but for as much success as Thicke had after a lengthy career in the period of one year (2013), there has been an equal amount of controversy.  It was once said that “controversy sells”.  While it does to an extent, when does controversy become too much? Same could be said with marriage.  With whatever problem that arises, where is the breaking point? I mean, Keri Hilson said “Every women has a breaking point y’all…” (I think this was before she threw shade at Beyoncé).  When does a spouse’s bad decisions reach past the point of repair and too damaging to patch up?  Being the positive being I am, I hope that Thicke and Patton can one day work out their differences (Yep cue up “We Can Work It Out” by The Beatles) whatever they may be, but as of now, they are “Done.” – The Band Perry.  Go ahead and give me kudos for my country music reference.  Peace peeps!

BTW, in all seriousness, separation and divorce is no laughing matter.  But I think that many truly perceptive pop culture fanatics could tell something just wasn’t right…

Matt Peterson’s Viral Video Plea To Miley Seems Appropriate…


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Miley Cyrus25-20130917-26The power of love (for Miley Cyrus)? Perhaps! This viral video from Matt Peterson (from January 31, 2014),  caught my attention via Ryan Seacrest.  Take a look for yourself… Peterson did this video up in true Miley fashion – nudity, foam finger, and tongue.  Think back to the VMAs and of course the infamous “Wrecking Ball” video.

Sigh, Miley couldn’t be prouder, even if she couldn’t make the high school student’s prom – or just rejected him, LOL.  Still, “he came in like a wrecking ball” and gets to hang out with Cyrus during her tour.  SCORE…I guess… 

 

The Frozen Soundtrack Remains Atop the Albums Chart


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31-q26oFwyL._SL500_AA280_Beyoncé tried to reclaim the glory of being number one – something that she did for three consecutive weeks, but Disney’s popular Frozen film has also taken the music world a storm remaining atop the Billboard 200.  The numbers are ugly, but a number one album is a number one album right? Well, sort of… Frozen sold only 86,000 copies.  86,000 copies for the top-selling album in the country is pretty modest.  That said, it’s January and the charts are a ‘hot mess’ early on in the year.  ‘Yoncé didn’t find herself to far behind, moving 79,000 more copies of Beyoncé.  The ‘visual album’ has sold like a beast, selling over 1.5 million in five short weeks.  Yes girl, you are “***Flawless”.

51GAgaeFo3L._SL500_AA280_The top ten is pretty quiet this week, though Kid Ink arrived with In My Own Lane at number three.  The drop off between albums two and three is pretty wide though – Ink sold 50,000 copies.  It is what it is.  After that, the top ten keeps Eminem, Lorde, One Direction, Katy Perry and Imagine DragonsMiley Cyrus regains her swag to rejoin ‘elite’ company with horrific numbers (can you say a legit “Wrecking Ball”).  The most shocking re-entrance in the top ten comes from R. Kelly.  Still, according to Billboard, not too many folks were on them Black Panties – the album sold 17,000 copies!  So the top ten ranges between 17,000 and 86,000 copies in sales.  Add the approximate sales totals of the top ten and what do you get? 385,000 copies… It took ten albums to sell that much.  Record execs everywhere are cringing.

51qdjT+U7PL._SL500_AA280_On the Hot 100, Pitbull and Ke$ha keeps things “going down” with “Timber.” They might as well, as little else is going down.  Thankfully, a hot release week should infuse some life into the albums chart next week.  Bruce Springsteen should definitely bring some High Hopes after such tepid numbers this week. Also, don’t count out Jennifer Nettles – surely some of that Sugarland crowd will join her for the solo ride That Girl.  Also don’t underestimate the power of parents buying wholesome music for their offspring.  Kidz Bop, it sells people!   Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings may not be a household name, but those who have a soft spot for retro-soul – the real deal mind you – will eat up Give The People What They WantRecord companies have done a fine job of stacking January 14, 2014 with interesting releases… hopefully people partake.

The 100 Best Songs of 2013: Complete!


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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.

100

“I Luv This Sh*t”

August Alsina featuring Trinidad James

From album: Downtown: Life Under the Gun

August Alsina has one foul mouth on him, but his real talk mixed with the slower, horn-accentuated production is a match made in heaven, if a blasphemous one (see the hook).

99

“Cabaret”

Alice Smith

From album: She

According to highly underrated alt-R&B musician Alice Smith, Hollywood isn’t very kind: “I see no reason for chasing / in Hollywood, got to lose my patience / want this life to be a cabaret…” Hollywood may not be for the ‘faint of heart’, but “Cabaret” it self is brilliant.

98

“Every Man Should Know”

Harry Connick, Jr.

From album: Every Man Should Know

Sometimes the simplest, and most important life lessons to become a gentleman are best conveyed through song, preferably a mix between traditional pop, jazz, and country.

97

“Sophomore”

Ciara

From album: Ciara

Judging by this track, Ciara is far from being a ‘freshman’… definitely. “I ain’t no amateur / baby I know how to handle ya / If you ready for this ride, get your saddle up / I need a boy with some stamina…”

 96

“Golden Salvation (Jesus Piece)”

Wale

From album: The Gifted

We expect nothing less than Wale’s clever wordplay between “piece” and “peace”, particularly on an album titled The Gifted.  Specifically, Wale informs us that too many people don’t want to hear about Jesus or his ‘peaceful’, Christian approach; they’re more concerned about the bling-bling (aka Jesus piece).

95

“Holy Grail”

Jay-Z featuring Justin Timberlake

From album: Magna Carta…Holy Grail

Magna Carta…Holy Grail certainly left plenty to be desired, but few can deny that Jay-Z is one of the kings – all hail, “Holy Grail”!

94

“Unf**kwittable”

Kid Cudi

From album: Indicud 

Basically, Cudi is saying you can’t mess with him… he’s unbreakable… or something like that.

93

“Let Us Move On”

Dido featuring Kendrick Lamar

From album: Girl Who Got Away

Even English singer/songwriter Dido had to get Kendrick Lamar on the track… can’t blame her.  “Let Us Move On” is arguably the best moment from an underrated album nobody bought.   Well, I bought it to be fair.

92

“Vegas Girl”

Conor Maynard

From album: Contrast

The video is a trip…‘course the song is too.  Conor may still have some ‘schmaltz’ about him, but he also has some swag.  Swag on brother – swag on!

91

“Pusher Lover Girl”

Justin Timberlake

From album: The 20/20 Experience

Love and sex have been compared and likened to everything at this point (thanks R. Kelly).  JT decides to make his lady like a drug dealer, only she deals love instead of say cocaine.  What’s shocking is that this album opener works triumphantly.

90

“Clappers”

Wale featuring Juicy J Nicki Minaj

From album: The Gifted

What does one learn from the ‘cellulite anthem’ “Clappers”? That “Shawty got a big ole butt…OH YEAHHHHHH!!!”

89

“Heart Attack”

Demi Lovato

From album: Demi 

I’m not going to front, I’ve been listening to Demi put her “defenses up” all summer…  I don’t think she could really survive the number of heart attacks she’d receive at the hands of my playlist on repeat though…

88

“The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”

Alice In Chains

From album: The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

While the Bible doesn’t mention dinosaurs (at least that I can remember off the top of my head), I’m not so sure Satan created them… Regardless, this title track from Alice In Chains’ most recent album was among the best hard rock performances of the year, potential misconceptions and all.

87

“While I’m Alive”

STRFKR

From album: Miracle Mile

While I’m Alive” sports an irresistible, danceable groove; Electronic cues further sweeten things while the soulful guitar is the ‘cherry on top’.  Well written, the theme of “While I’m Alive” is getting past the past, broken relationships, and living ‘while I’m alive.’

86

“Bandz A Make Her Dance

Juicy J featuring 2 Chainz Lil Wayne

From album: Stay Trippy

Everyone needs a good stripper anthem in his (or her) lives, right? On the raunchy “Bandz A Make Her Dance”, Juicy J spits: “Bands a make her dance, bands a maker her dance / All these chicks poppin’ p***y, I’m just poppin’ bands…”

85

“Body Party”

Ciara

From album: Ciara

Just when ‘the art of making love’ was getting boring… Ciara’s here to spice things up!

84

“Her Favorite Song”

Mayer Hawthorne

From album: Where Does This Door Go

Yeah, the accompanying music video is weird, even if the ‘dogs’ are meant to represent guys that are dogs (in theory), but the song is brilliant.  “But when she gets home, she puts her headphones on / she plays her favorite song and fades away…” I do the same thing… well not quite in the same context though…

83

“Brave”

Sara Bareilles

From album: The Blessed Unrest

Here’s the gist of the song: STAND UP AND BE A MAN!!!  $%^!

82

“Trojans”

Atlas Genius

From album: When It Was Now

I promise this song is not about a popular brand of condoms or making love… really:  “Take a picture you could never recreate / write a song / make a note / for the lump that sits inside your throat…” I promise!

81

Forbidden Fruit

J. Cole featuring Kendrick Lamar

From album: Born Sinner

I know, I know – I somehow missed this gem on my “50 Best Rap Songs”, but the atonement is on this broader list.  The one-two punch of J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar is nothing short of fire, period.

80

“Love Me”

Lil Wayne featuring Future Drake

From Album: I Am Not A Human Being II

“Love Me” may have been a shallow as everything else was on I Am Not A Human Being II, but at least it was enjoyably shallow.  “Long as my b*****s love me / I can give a f**k ‘bout no hater…”

 79

“Angel”

Depeche Mode

From album: Delta Machine

Sure, this track is titled “Angel”, but it surely must be representing a dark angel… Mysterious, chilling, and ‘bothered’, “Angel” finds Depeche Mode doing what they do best.

78

“Nosetalgia”

Pusha T featuring Kendrick Lamar

From album: My Name Is My Name

The rap IQ on “Nosetalgia” is off the charts, particularly with Kendrick Lamar collaborating with Pusha.   Pusha T proclaims himself the “Black Ferris Bueller, cutting school with his jewels on…what I sell for pain in the hood, I’m a doctor…” while Kendrick Lamar’s slaughtering verse is capped off with “Go figure mother f**ker, every verse is a brick.” True.

77

“Ain’t It Fun”

Paramore

From album: Paramore 

Ain’t It Fun” may be Paramore’s best track EVER.  Driven by a funky groove, the band goes ‘big’ with a gargantuan bass line, full-force punk-laden guitars, and gospel vocals.  ‘ain’t it fun’? – Definitely!

76

“Pop That”

French Montana featuring Rick Ross, Drake & Lil Wayne

From album: Excuse My French

The raunchiest track from French Montana’s debut album is the best.  It’s all about popping… and I’ll leave it at that!

Read More…

The 100 Best Songs of 2013: Part 4 (#25 – 1)


Lady Gaga-20131031-66After 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.

25

“Started From The Bottom”

Drake
From album: Nothing Was The Same

Once more, the hook sums it up best: “Started from the bottom now we’re here / started from the bottom now my whole team f**kin’ here…”

24

“Diane Young

Vampire Weekend

From album: Modern Vampires of the City 

‘Dying young’ in it self is a drag, man, but “Diane Young” and its bubbly sound, quick tempo, and sharp-as-a-tack wordplay is a blast! “Baby, baby, baby, baby, right on time!”

23

“Q.U.E.E.N.”

Janelle Monáe featuring Erykah Badu

From album: The Electric Lady 

Catchy, ‘real talk’, soulful, contemporary, and laden with swagger, “Q.U.E.E.N.” proves to be one of the best songs of 2013, regardless of genre. “Am I a freak for dancing around?” Of course not! Monáe even throws some rhymes in there, further showing her incredible artistic versatility and restlessness. Dance on Janelle – dance on!

22

“Who Do We Think We Are?”

John Legend featuring Rick Ross

From album: Love In the Future

Legend impresses lyrically on the soulful, throwback “Who Do We Think We Are?”  Filled with widely interpretable lyrics including “We love, we love, we love the stars / we could fall so hard…”, Legend seems to reference any number of things including stardom, living up life, and/or literally getting high.  Rick Ross balls hard on his assist: “She gets Chanel / Ski trips to Vail / only the highest grade like trees that I inhale”.

21

“Two Fingers”

Jake Bugg

From album: Jake Bugg

From Jake Bugg’s perspective, life hasn’t been easy – Clifton (England) had its issues, though he’s getting moving forward from a rough past.  On this brilliantly penned, retro singer/songwriter cut, Bugg has to “…drink to remember, I smoke to forget…”, and eventually “…hold(s) two fingers up to yesterday / light a cigarette smoke it all away / I got out, I got out, I’m alive, but I’m here to stay.”

20

“F**kin’ Problems”

A$AP Rocky featuring 2 Chainz, Drake & Kendrick Lamar

From album: Long. Live. A$AP

Basically, even though adding an f-bomb technically intensifies problems rather than solving them, the relief of letting the obscenity slip psychologically makes things feel both calmer and better… something like that! LOL! The f-bombs are here for the taking.

19

“Wrecking Ball”

Miley Cyrus

From album: Bangerz

Thank goodness there was more to “Wrecking Ball” than the atrocious video where Miley Cyrus rides the wrecking ball in the nude.  Miley’s shock value seems to be part of her ‘new Miley’ thing, but “Wrecking Ball” it self stands tall without any extra attention-seeking gimmicks.  The refrain alone is shimmering pop at its best.

18

“Black Skinhead”

Kanye West

From Album: Yeezus

“Black Skinhead” was one of the most unapologetic tracks of the year – no questions asked.  Among my favorite lyrics:  I’m aware I’m a wolf, soon as the moon hit / I’m aware I’m a king, back out the tomb b***h!” There it is!

17

“Power Trip”

J. Cole featuring Miguel

From album: Born Sinner 

All about love or a play on double meanings – you decide on the year’s smoothest rap track that’s got Cole “up all night, all I’m singing is love songs…” Face it – you can’t go wrong when you got Miguel on the track! He’s a beast…a sensual one at least.

16

Eminem

“Rap God

from album: The Marshall Mathers LP 2

Eminem confirms whom the real “Rap God” is as he ‘wipes his butt’ with the competition (not as frankly as he might put it, but I’m trying to ‘be good’ here).  No one is exempt – well maybe except for Kendrick Lamar.

15

“Mirrors”

Justin Timberlake

From album: The 20/20 Experience 

On standout track “Mirrors”, Timberlake graces his audience with an eight-minute juggernaut that straddles the lines between pop and urban music.  His falsetto is sweet as syrup, the vocal harmonies superb, with the strings of The Benjamin Wright Orchestra providing the ‘cherry on top.’  The chorus is among the very best moments: “Cause I don’t wanna lose you now / I’m lookin’ right at the other half of me / the vacancy that sat in my heart / is a space that now you hold …”

14

Miley Cyrus

“We Can’t Stop”

From album: Bangerz 

You know, the sad thing is that when Ms. Cyrus told us she “won’t stop,” well, she told the absolute truth.  Who would’ve thought that referencing twerking and popping mollies would only be the beginning? “It’s our party we can do what we want!” Indeed Miley, indeed.

BTW, what about a little parody fun?

13

“Reflektor”

Arcade Fire

From album: Reflektor

“Reflektor” definitely didn’t represent the expected direction many thought that Grammy-winning collective Arcade Fire would take, given its percussive, danceable groove. The cut dances tastefully though, eschewing today’s EDM cues in favor of a mix of neo-disco and traditional Arcade Fire characteristics.  The songwriting is accessible, with the chorus being irresistibly catchy and simple.

12

“Obvious Bicycle”

Vampire Weekend

From album: Modern Vampires of the City

“Obvious Bicycle” is arguably the most beautiful song from Vampire Weekend’s discography at this point.  Highlights of the mysterious opener include Ezra Koenig’s effortless falsetto, which is ripe as ever on the chorus. “Obvious Bicycle” is nothing short of warm and hypnotizing.

11

“A Couple of Forevers”

Chrisette Michele

From album: Better

Chrisette Michele returns the ‘passion’ and ‘romance’ to R&B with this breathtaking, thoughtful ballad.  “Just a couple of forevers / a couple of forevers / I’m the only one, you’re the only one / together ‘til never…” I’ll be your ‘forever’ CM.

10

“Same Love”

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert

From album: The Heist

This hip-hop anthem embracing tolerance and equality for same-sex relationships was quite a risky, courageous move.  More than just merely breaking barriers, “Same Love” is a brilliant song.

9

“Blood On The Leaves”

Kanye West

From album: Yeezus

Blood On The Leaves” is the crowning achievement from Yeezus. Constructed around a Nina Simone sample (“Strange Fruit”), thoughtful piano, and some awesome biting brass, “Blood On the Leaves” shines like a beacon.

8

“If I Had A Tail”

Queens of the Stone Age

From album: …Like Clockwork

Characterized by a killer driving groove, a classic rock-worthy anthemic chorus, and standout songwriting, “If I Had A Tail” yet another gift that keeps on giving.  “If I had a tail / I’d own the night / if I had a tail / I’d swat the flies.”

7

“We Can’t End This Way”

Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite

From album: Get Up! 

Soulful, gritty, and organic, this blues-gospel number is truly a gem.  The backing gospel choir truly puts the cherry on top.  After all, “we can’t end this way!”

6

Do What U Want

Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly

From album: ARTPOP 

Taken at its most literal (aka sexually), “Do What U Want” is a good song.  When examined figuratively (empowerment, non-shallow things), it’s just plain awesome.  If there was ever a question of Lady Gaga’s vocal abilities, she squashes them deader than a doornail here.

5

Roar

Katy Perry

From album: PRISM 

The lyrics say it all:  “I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter / dancing through the fire / cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar…” You better “roar” Katy!!!

4

“God Is Dead?”

Black Sabbath

From Album: 13 

Atheists and Christians alike can appreciate this hard-rocking joint… well to an extent (at least the question mark is in place).  To Ozzy’s credit, later on in the track he states, “I don’t believe that God is dead…” Still, the communion (sacrament) seems compromised when Ozzy states “The blood runs free / the rain turns red / give me the wine / you keep the bread…” Oh well.

3

Blurred Lines

Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams

From Album: Blurred Lines

Even after multiple controversies surrounding “Blurred Lines” (misogyny and potential ‘artistic theft’), Robin Thicke’s career is thankful for the gift that just kept on giving. You can’t deny how catchy it is, or how slick ole boy’s falsetto is.

2

“Royals

Lorde

From album: Pure Heroine 

Now this teen has real swag… Justin Bieber, take notes!  “And we’ll never be royals / it don’t run in our blood / that kind of lux just ain’t for us / we crave a different kind of buzz…”

1

“Get Lucky

Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams

From album: Random Access Memories

The groovy, sexy “Get Lucky” only makes the act of ‘making love’ even more enticing.  Pharrell sings it best on the golden hook: “She’s up all night to the sun / I’m up all night to get some / she’s up all night for good fun / I’m up all night to get lucky…” Yeah boy!

Be sure to check out the previously released parts with songs #100-76, #75-51, and #50 – 26.

Miley Cyrus’ “Adore You” Continues Down The Provocative Path


Miley Cyrus-AAG-017241

Is it just I, or does Miley Cyrus keep milking this risqué, unapologetic thing to the excess?  SMH, in fact SMFH!  Miley Cyrus got that “fifteen minutes of fame” with her shocking artistic makeover and now that the buzz has cooled/settled off a bit, she keeps on seeking more and more attention.  Ole girl said she “can’t stop” and “won’t stop” and true to her word, she hasn’t.  Perhaps to some this is a blessing (if a blasphemous one) while others of us are pretty tired of the outrage, oversexed image that Cyrus has identified herself with.  I’m quite open-minded, and “It is what it is”, but still, it’s…um… very provocative.

As usual in her latest music video – third single “Adore You” – Ms. Cyrus is out to shock the world just like a buzzer-beater shocks a basketball team.  When I reviewed Bangerz back in October, “Adore You” wasn’t among my favorite tracks.  I thought it was too slow and lacked punch to be the opener of Bangerz. Hearing it now, the song is more appealing, though by no means the ‘end all, be all’.  Still, Cyrus finds a way to make even a lethargic ballad like “Adore You” plumb controversial.

Miley Cyrus-20130917-29After the violation of teddy bears, a foam finger, and a wrecking ball respectively, it truly seemed like there was little left for Miley to do.  So without any object to desecrate, she decides to touch herself…yep.  Perhaps some will find Cyrus’ pleasuring titillating, but personally, it’s a bit much.  Few will deny they enjoy a little eye-candy in their music videos, but still, whatever happened to a thing known as ‘subtlety’?

The ‘sexy’ music video has now been supplanted by the ‘sexual’ oversexed music video, and there is a difference between both. Just because one word stems from another, doesn’t mean they are really one and the same.  This is a misconception that too many artists and music video directors seem to have.  “Adore You” is just another example of this.  2013 was filled with plenty of sexed-up vids including offerings from Kanye West (“Bound 2”) and Robin Thicke (“Blurred Lines”).  It’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be dying anytime soon.

The 50 (+1) Best Albums of 2013


Kanye West-20131126-42

Ranking the very best albums of any year is incredibly difficult; there are always misses.  2013 was filled with some triumphant musical moments, though not all of their parent albums were necessarily ‘worthy’ of being considered the best of the year. Because of various factors, this list has its surprises and like any album reviewed, its triumphs and flaws.  One thing’s for sure – the top ten to fifteen albums are pretty close to the cream of the crop from my perspective.  Here are the 50 (+1) best albums of 2013!

1

Vampire Weekend

Modern Vampires of the City

XL

51Tqebc+IZL._SL500_AA280_The Ivy Leaguers outdo themselves on this eclectic, alt-rock tour de force. Stacked from start to finish, Ezra Koenig and company deliver sharp wordplay and highly liberal thinking.

Recommended Spins: “Obvious Bicycle”; “Unbelievers”; “Diane Young”; “Finger Back”; “Worship You”; “Ya Hey”

Seals The Deal:  “Obvious Bicycle”

2

Kanye West

Yeezus

Def Jam

51xNTn2L83L._SL500_AA280_Give credit to Mr. West where credit is due – previously Yeezus probably wouldn’t have landed in the top five, let alone the top two.  But as with certain wines and cheeses (Swiss namely), there is an aging process to provide a delicious and satisfying taste.  The same could be said of West über-ambitious Yeezus – or something similar that is!

Recommended Spins: “Black Skinhead”; “I Am A God”; “New Slaves”; “Blood on the Leaves”; “Bound 2″ featuring Charlie Wilson

Seals The Deal: “Blood on the Leaves” 

3

Janelle Monae

The Electric Lady

Bad Boy

51q3xK+M7zL._SL500_AA280_Don’t put the fork in R&B music just yet – Janelle Monae delivers the year’s most intriguing R&B album that brilliantly encompasses numerous styles and keeps things both classic and progressive. One of a kind, all should bow down to JM.

Recommended Spins: “Give Them What They Love” featuring Prince; “Q.U.E.E.N.” featuring Erykah Badu; “Primetime” featuring Miguel; “Dance Apocalyptic”; “Dorothy Dandridge Eyes”

Seals The Deal: “Prime Time” featuring Miguel

4

Daft Punk

Random Access Memories

Columbia

41FJb1q2VyL._SL500_AA280_The best, and arguably most exciting electronic album of 2013, is shockingly less futuristic compared to its colleagues, drawing back to old-school pop, disco, and soul. Throwback it is, Random Access Memories is one of the year’s finest albums regardless of genre, and stands a solid shot of winning the Grammy for album of the year.

Recommended Spins: “Give Life Back to Music”; “Giorgio By Moroder”; “Lose Yourself to Dance” featuring Pharrell Williams; “Touch” featuring Paul Williams; “Get Lucky” featuring Pharrell Williams; “Fragments of Time”

Seals The Deal: “Get Lucky” featuring Pharrell Williams

5

John Legend

Love in the Future

Columbia

41o5xUIKO+L._SL500_AA280_John Legend redeems himself big time on his fourth studio album Love in the Future following a somewhat disappointing effort in 2008′s Evolver.  While there are some more contemporary ideas here, Love in the Future is more about Legend flexing his soulful muscles, a niche he perfectly fits.

Recommended Spins: “In The Beginning”; “Who Do We Think You Are?” featuring Rick Ross; “Made To Love”; “All of Me”; “Stay The Night”; “Tomorrow”

Seals The Deal: “Who Do We Think We Are?” featuring Rick Ross 

6

Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite

Get Up!

Stax 

51dp0nxPTmL._SL500_AA280_Blues albums rarely rack up huge accolades on a ‘big stage’, but Get Up! is that incredibly worthy exception.  Soulful and consistent through and through, Get Up! Easily ranks highly among the year’s gems.

Recommended Spins: “We Can’t End This Way”; “I Ride At Dawn”; “Get Up”

Seals The Deal: “We Can’t End This Way”

7

Black Sabbath

13

Republic 

510gRIX6xfL._SL500_AA280_More than just the agnostics, atheists, and secularists will be pleasantly surprised with Black Sabbath’s most important album in years. Why is album 13 so important? It reunites the whole Black Sabbath crew (save for the drummer) for the first time 35 years!  Dark and foreboding, yet ‘sinfully’ appealing, 13 is quite the epic heavy-/black-metal album.

Recommended Spins: “End of The Beginning”; “God Is Dead?”; “Zeitgeist”;  “Live Forever”; “Dear Father”

Seals The Deal: “God Is Dead?”

8

Drake

Nothing Was The Same

Republic 

41E34dng69L._SL500_AA280_Drake didn’t necessarily ‘step his game up’ on Nothing Was The Same – he just continued to flex his emo-/ alt-rap muscles like the pro that he is.  NTWS is filled with gems, all completely different from one another.  One thing’s for sure, he may have “Started On The Bottom”, but Drake is on top of the game by all means.

Recommended Spins: “Tuscan Leather”; “Started From The Bottom”; “Wu-Tang Forever”; “From Time”; “Hold On, We’re Going Home”; “305 To My City” featuring Detail

Seals The Deal: “Wu-Tang Forever” 

9

Beyoncé

Beyoncé

Columbia

31-q26oFwyL._SL500_AA280_Beyoncé shocked the world with her surprise fifth studio album, Beyoncé.  Even so, that’s not the reason ‘Yoncé makes this list.  Ultimately, the R&B chanteuse delivers a sharp, risqué fifth effort that separates itself from the rest of her discography and many of the other releases from 2013.  Both shocking and alluring, Bey does her thang.

Recommended Spins: “Pretty Hurts”; “Haunted”; “Drunk in Love” featuring Jay-Z;  “Blow”; “Rocket”

Seals The Deal: “Drunk in Love” featuring Jay-Z

10

Arcade Fire

Reflektor

Merge

51wzw69ySAL._SL500_AA280_Few might’ve expected for Arcade Fire to follow-up their album of the year winning effort The Suburbs with an album like Reflektor  (I didn’t).  However, as all-over-the-place as Reflektor is, there are plenty of moments for alt-rock fans to cheer about.  Danceable, conceptual, and ultimately incredibly unique, Reflektor cracks the top ten best of the year, easily.

Recommended Spins: “Reflektor”; “We Exist”; “Here Comes the Night Time”;  “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)”; “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)”; “Porno”

Seals The Deal: “Reflektor”

Read More…

Five Music Takeaways from 2013…


61yONCH4jQL

Ah, there is always plenty to write about the music industry and the number of trends that come and go, as well as those remaining constant.  2013 was another interesting year, whether merely for its pleasant surprises or its disappointments.  Many observations will and can be made of the year musically and pop-culturally in regards to its artists.  While my inner musical nerdy side wishes that I could nitpick and analyze every facet microscopically, I’ll rely on a Childish Gambino rhyme to express why that’s not possible: “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” What I do have time for is to share five takeaways I gathered from music in 2013.  

1

Pop music was ‘down’ overall, but had its moments…

51PXgWbbyILMaybe I’ll be stoned (not that I care), but I wouldn’t consider 2013 a particularly great year for ‘pop music’, at least how most year’s are traditionally evaluated.  Sure, Justin Timberlake carried the torch single-handedly with his surprise comeback The 20/20 Experience (both albums debuted at no. 1 with 968,000 and 350,000 copies respectively) until things percolated with releases from Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Lorde, and One Direction, but generally, pop’s impact seemed slower than usual.  Other than big-time late pushes, who else was there to help a brother out?  I mean John Mayer seems to have lost his swagger – Paradise Valley didn’t have a great footing, bowing modestly at no. 2 with 144,000 copies.  Yeah 144,000 copies would be great for most, but not considering Mayer’s track record.  Pop/R&B starlet Ariana Grande was impressive on Yours Truly, bowing at no. 1 and selling an impressive enough 138,000 copies, but the album hasn’t had sustainable success per se.  

2

R&B music continued to limp commercially compared to other genres.

51Y8U1sKI3L._SL500_AA280_This isn’t news, but R&B hasn’t been nearly as competitive as it was, say, five years ago.  This year, the genre’s artists continue the uphill struggle for commercial footing.  The fortunes haven’t improved, with most of the genre’s stars settling for sub 100,000 copies selling bows.  It’s sad because there were some exceptional releases courtesy of Fantasia, John Legend, Chrisette Michele, TGT, K. Michele, and Jaheim amongst them.  All sold < than 100,000 their debut week with only Fantasia coming close (91,000 sold of Side Effects of You).   Still, a few artists got a sound start. Tamar Braxton’s Love and War sold 114,000 copies its first week out while Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines moved 177,000 copies.  Take the victories when and where you can get them I guess.

3

Country wasn’t nearly as dominant or relevant as it’s been in the past…

51AN-VnY7bL._SL500_AA280_I’ll admit I slept on country music throughout the year, but can you blame me? There was once a time where new releases from Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, and Toby Keith were among the most anticipated releases regardless of genre.  All these folks released albums in 2013, but who’s talking about ‘em? Alan Jackson even managed to release two!  Country still managed to have its bright spots with the likes of Blake Shelton and a rising Luke Bryan holding down the fort, but others dropped the ball.  The Band Perry didn’t have the commercial impact that I’d have predicted, while Lady Antebellum’s Golden was about as much fun as watching paint dry when compared to previous albums.  Then there’s the newbies, who I can’t personally keep up with, mainly because they’re impact is quite minimal commercially.

 

4

Rock/alternative delivered some of the years most sensational albums.

41HOLOY507L._SL500_AA280_Rock and alternative music had a much more triumphant 2013 than other genres from my perspective.  That doesn’t mean they were necessarily commercial powerhouses, but they did deliver some knockout punches critically. Black Sabbath’s 13 and Queens of the Stone Age’s …Like Clockwork both outperformed expectations commercially, not to mention how awesome both albums were in regards to the material.   Vampire Weekend (Modern Vampires of the City), The National (Trouble Will Find Me), and Arcade Fire (Reflektor) delivered exceptional efforts that also put up respectable chart numbers in the alt department.  Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (Push the Sky Away), certainly no household name to most, STRFKR (Miracle Mile), and Atlas Genius (When It Was Now) were among other alt bright spots failing to receive big-time commercial recognition, but definitely were critically praised for exceptional studio releases.  There were others as well.

5

Like rock, hip-hop/rap was a bright spot in 2013. 

51xNTn2L83L._SL500_AA280_You know, for a while, it seemed that it was a popular sentiment to consider hip-hop as being “dead”.  Perhaps hip-hop was dead briefly, but 2013 has shown no death or funeral for the genre, which had some gargantuan commercial impacts on the music industry. Big sales from Eminem, Drake, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and J. Cole definitely pumped some meds into a sagging musical economy (792K, 658K, 528K, 327K, and 297K debuts), not to mention had us head-nodding, LOL.  Other hip-hop albums also captivated us with solid 100,000+ starts, including Kid Cudi’s Indicud (no. 2, 136,000 copies), A$AP Rocky’s Long.Live ASAP (no. 1, 139,000 copies), and Mac Miller’s Watching Movies With the Sound Off (no. 3, 102,000 copies).   Others fell below that 81LFx7SM8AL._SL1400_‘threshold of success’, but gained our attention nonetheless: Tyler, the Creator (Wolf, no. 3, 80,000 copies), Earl Sweatshirt (Doris, no. 5, 49,000 copies), and A$AP Ferg (Trap Lord, no. 9, 32,000 copies).  “Hip-hop don’t stop.”

Of course there are plenty more takeaways…there’s always more takeaways.  Lady Gaga’s underwhelming showing would be worth noting, while Miley Cyrus definitely deserves a headline all by herself.  Daft Punk and the successes of electronic music itself are quite notable, but I’ll save those for a later time.  Enough analysis and opining for one post!

 

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