Hozier © Columbia

The Most Controversial Post Ever – ‘11 Songs That Break Barriers’

Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour © Capitol

Sometimes, as a writer, you have to be daring or you just want to be. Sometimes, shaking things up or maybe even ruffling some feathers shows off versatility. And then of course sometimes, it is just plain off-putting. Recently, you could say that your boy dropped a bomb…of a post that is.

When I was penning the post, I knew it was out-of-the-box, something I wished to accomplish, but I also knew it was both a risk and controversial. The writing itself is not controversial, but the content of the material is. The post, which debuted on Starpulse on Sunday, October 19, is entitled 11 Songs That Break Barriers. The title – specifically ‘break barriers’ should suggest that this is not your every day playlist post. It should also suggest this is a different sort of Brent Faulkner post.

Scissor Sisters, Scissor Sisters © Umvd

Ultimately, even as I shared the post today via social networks to promote it, part of me had some reservations. Sure, I penned the post and wanted to deliver something with a bit of edge, but still, this is also a post like none other. Sure, I’ve delved into atheistic themes within music, not to mention the irresponsibility of rap, but this is something different entirely.

Check it out if you dare, and decide for yourself how you view the post – too hot to handle, just right, or what? Is this post ‘uncomfortable’?

Photo Credits: © Columbia (Hozier), © Capitol (Sam Smith), © Umvd (Scissor Sisters)

Musical Leftovers That Probably Shouldn’t Have Been Ignored


Being the human that I am, I couldn’t possibly review or analyze every single album – dang it!  Like Lil Wayne and Young Money once rapped, “I wish I could love every girl in the world…” (In amended form mind you). Well not that I wouldn’t want to “love every girl in the world”, but in this case, I wish I could’ve listened and reviewed even more albums.  Don’t get it twisted folks – I did some work! BUT…I would’ve loved to have done even more.  Here are some of the albums – some of which I even purchased – that fell victim to the “review later” pile…

Nine Inch Nails

Hesitation Marks 

61irMeqIGQL._SL500_AA280_I totally dropped the ball here.  Prior to Hesitation Marks, I’d reviewed NIN’s previous two albums of note (with Teeth and Year Zero) and enjoyed both greatly.  Naturally, I was excited to hear about a new studio album, but perhaps that excitement waned when ‘urban’ music Tuesday (September 3) stole my heart – Ariana Grande, Tamar Braxton, Jaheim, John Legend, and Raheem DeVaughn. It’s kind of like when you have a girl you are interested in, but then you find one that truly steals your heart and you forget about the one you were previously into…or something like that…



41sbNkaS3hL._SL500_AA280_I’ll be honest with you, the two electronic albums I was concerned about in 2013 were Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, which may very well walk home with the Grammy for Album of the Year, and Lady Gaga’s somewhat mixed ARTPOP (“We could, we could, belong together ARTPOP…”).  That said, it’s pretty hard to ignore a song as unique as “Wake Me Up”, which sounds like a country, folk, and electro amalgam.  As captivating as Avicii’s tune was, he apparently found himself on the wrong side of the listening list…same can be said of Zedd as well (Clarity).  Good news is that Krewella and Kaskade got some reviewer love.

Franz Ferdinand

 Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action

51GkBTBnvlL._SL500_AA280_Like a monogamous relationship, I’d been a follower of Alex Kapranos and company.  I swooned like everyone else when “Take Me Out” rocked back in 2004 while finding the homoerotic, bromance of “Michael” to be, well, interesting I suppose, for a lack of better words.  Following their excellent self-titled debut, I’d skip out on their 2005 follow-up You Could Have It So Much Better (“Do You Want To” bring its main attraction), but would rejoin the army with the excellent Tonight: Franz Ferdinand (“No You Girls”).  I suppose keeping in line with my trend of reviewing every other Franz Ferdinand album I just decided to toss Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action aside.  What’s even stranger is that I purchased it… SMH!

October 15, 2013 Releases

41hjJ6RgVnL._SL500_AA280_Something must’ve been in the water on October 15 – or perhaps the budget, LOL.  After purchasing and reviewing the hits from the previous week (Miley CyrusBangerz and Panic! At the Disco‘s Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die), the ball was dropped the following week.  The only release that got love on Tuesday, October 15 was Mary J. Blige‘s A Mary Christmas.  Who was slighted this particular week – Paul McCartney‘s NEW and Pearl Jam‘s number one bowing Lightening Bolt.  Ouch rock veterans…I think I just threw up a little seeing my missed musical opportunities.  Don’t hate me Eddie Vedder…

Country albums…

51PkZT7n5PL._SL500_AA280_One genre that often found itself often tossed aside in my listening stack both physically, digitally, and streaming-wise was country.  I do enjoy country music, but I’ll also be the first to admit it isn’t my go to genre.  A few fortunate albums became blessed with my reviewing touch, including two Luke Bryan albums (Spring Break…Here To Party and Crash), Alan Jackson (Precious Memories Vol. II), Lady Antebellum (Golden), and The Band Perry (Pioneer).  However, many fell by the wayside including releases from Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Kacey Musgraves, and American Idol victor Scotty McCreery. Interesting fact is that I bought McCreery’s album at Walmart on Black Friday for $6.96… Let me add though that save for Alan Jackson’s gospel set, I wasn’t incredibly impressed with the albums I did review…just sayin’!

There were many others shunned, but ’tis the life of a music journalist…sigh.

Chart Moves, September 11, 2013: Ariana Grande Tops


Chart Rewind (Highlights), September 04, 2013

51yRS7ThmxL._SL500_AA280_Avenged Sevenfold found themselves in a familiar place, no. 1, with 159,000 copies sold of Hail To The King.  Hip hop had another showing, but definitely not comparable to the summer trifecta of Kanye West, J. Cole, and Mac MillerBig Sean debuted at no. 3 with 72,000 copies of Hall of Fame while Juicy J landed right behind him at no. 4 with 64,000 copies of Stay Trippy.

By the way, what about those acts that got no love? Franz Ferdinand debuted at no. 24 with Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. Mandisa’s latest Overcomer landed at no. 29.  Goodie Mob’s comeback effort (Age Against The Machine) truly received nada, debuting at no. 30.  I suppose you win some and you lose some.

Grande Leads The Charge

Ariana Grande-GFR-020808Ariana Grande debuts atop the Billboard Albums Chart with 138,000 copies of Yours Truly sold.  For most of the week, it seemed that Grande would be dueling with a reintroduced Tamar Braxton for the number one spot. In the end, the young Mariah Carey-favoring singer/actress takes her rightful crown. Tamar Braxton debuts at no. 2 with Love & War selling 114,000 copies.  For an adult contemporary R&B album, that ain’t bad at all folks.  Honestly, I’m shocked that Braxton moved six figures… you just never know.

Nine Inch Nails debuts expectedly at no. 3 with 107,000 copies of Hesitation Marks sold.  Unfortunately, the 107,000 copies is a far cry from Nine Inch Nails’ previous major label efforts.  Still, six figures in this day and age is respectable.  Maybe these new kiddos just don’t know about Trent Reznor. Sigh.

41o5xUIKO+L._SL500_AA280_John Legend lands at no. 4 with with Love in the FutureLove in the Future sold only 68,000 copies, down from the 133,000 copies that graced his last solo effort, Evolver (2008).  That said, Love in the Future did sell more than Legend’s collaborative album with The Roots, Wake Up! According to Billboard.com.  For an artist with such soul and talent, it is sad that 68,000 copies was the ceiling.  Better than the 55,000 copies prognosticated originally.

Jaheim doesn’t have his greatest sales week either, as Appreciation Day received little appreciation ultimately moving only 58,000 copies good for a no. 6 bow.  Jaheim has never moved gargantuan numbers, but in 2006, Ghetto Classics did debut atop the Billboard 200 with 152,000 copies sold.  2007 effort The Makings of a Man just missed the top ten (it was a December release), but sold a career best 176,000 copies.  Even 2010 effort Another Round had little to hold it’s head down about; it sold 112,000 copies good for a no. 3 bow. But 58,000 copies? That ain’t going nowhere.

Katy Perry Roars On

Really, what else is their to say… Katy Perry already told you we’d hear her roar. And she’s roaring at no. 1 a second week.  Case closed.

Who’s Got Next?

51gNJ-wAuTL._SL500_AA280_Several new efforts materialized on Tuesday, September 10.  This includes Keith Urban’s Fuse,   2 Chainz’s B.O.A.T.S. II, Janelle Monáe’s The Electric Lady, The Weeknd’s Kiss Land, Sheryl Crow’s Feels Like Home, Goldfrapp’s Tales of Us, Trombone Shorty’s Say That To Say This, Sean Kingston’s Back 2 Life, Kaskade’s Atmosphere Earth Wind & Fire’s Now, Then & Forever, Gloria Estefan’s The Standards and Arctic Monkey’s AM Ones to watch? Keith Urban, 2 Chainz, Sheryl Crow, and possibly The Weeknd.  Curious to see how the sales come out for these albums.