Madonna raves in her "Bitch I'm Madonna" music video (Interscope, YouTube)

Madonna Shows The World She Still Has Shock Value in “B–ch I’m Madonna” Video


Madonna raves in her "Bitch I'm Madonna" music video (Interscope, YouTube)
Madonna raves in her “B*tch I’m Madonna” music video (Interscope, YouTube)

Raise your hand if you were one of those terrible souls to write off Madonna’s career as of late – just admit your sins and ask for forgiveness. Truthfully, a lot of people probably would raise their hands to such a question it posed, and for good reason. Rebel Heart is a terrific album, but despite its quality, folks didn’t buy it and the album’s impact has been minimal. Despite Madge’s fierceness and asserting herself to be an “Unapologetic B*tch,” “B*tch I’m Madonna,” and “Iconic,” it doesn’t change the fact that she has peaked, is past her prime, and is 57 (as of August 16, 2015). You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but Madonna isn’t too old, and her music video for “B*tch I’m Madonna” shows her haters why she’s Madonna.

Madonna kisses a shirtless dude in the "Bitch I'm Madonna" music video (Interscope, YouTube)
Madonna kisses a shirtless dude in the “B*tch I’m Madonna” music video (Interscope, YouTube)

OR MAYBE, Madonna gives haters more fuel for the fire. “B*tch I’m Madonna” is bold, but arguably it’s a desperate bold because it’s so over the top. Isn’t the expectation that Madonna shocks us in both her music itself and the accompanying music videos? Can “B*tch I’m Madonna” ever supersede the classicism of Madonna’s classic music videos? Nah, but Madonna surely does everything in her power to make “B*tch I’m Madonna” a ‘classic.’

After kissing the shirtless dude, Madonna continues on to the rave in the "Bitch I'm Madonna" video (Interscope, YouTube)
After kissing the shirtless dude, Madonna continues on to the rave in the “B*tch I’m Madonna” video (Interscope, YouTube)

Here’s are observations of things that take place in the video:

  • A quartet of little girls dancing and singing the first portion of the song, specifically the sassiest, least age appropriate line, “cause I’m a bad b*tch”
  • Madonna appears, working out for the briefest of times in the gym.
  • Madonna kisses some random shirtless dude wearing colorful shorts, he watches Madge as she continues walking. Hmm, wonder what he’s thinking…
  • Madonna slaps a passing black girl with a towel on her butt, further asserting just why she’s Madonna? …
  • Diplo is going into a room on a rolling clothes rack. As to why the producer is sitting on it, well that’s yet to be determined.
  • There are two nude Asian girls in a bathtub…well they have pasties on – still NUDE!
  • Madonna does some wild rave moves, dancing with Asian ladies, who happen to have their clothes on – of some kind! There are also some black dudes, including a guy in a firefighter outfit…
  • Celebrities Rita Ora, Chris Rock, Diplo, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, and Katy Perry all get their “B*tch I’m Madonna” quote in…. Cyrus might be is the worst. Kanye West also appears, but he doesn’t get that particular quote in.
  • There are and puppets, one of which has a chain reading “B*tch I’m Madonna” – surprised?
  • Nicki Minaj performs her rap on a portable LCD television screen.
Diplo makes an appearance in Madonna's "Bitch I'm Madonna" music video (Interscope, YouTube)
Diplo makes an appearance in Madonna’s “B*tch I’m Madonna” music video (Interscope, YouTube)

So what does one ultimately make of this video? It’s understandable why some look upon it in disgust as being childish, classless, and played out. Madonna isn’t nearly as culturally relevant as she’s been in the past, so this feels like she’s trying too hard. Then again, it’s also understandable why some might think it’s something that 57-year old Madonna can produce something like this. This definitely feels like a younger artist’s music video (and single itself), so give her credit for her swag and those grillz. When it’s all said and done, the final judgment probably lies somewhere in the middle. The sassy little girls and the girls in the pasties are too much though maybe kissing the shirtless dude in the colorful shorts isn’t too far fetched? Wouldn’t be the first music video as of late with “guy candy” if that’s such a thing.

Miley Cyrus in Wrecking Ball music video © RCA

Miley Cyrus’ Crazy Antics Continue, But Her “Nightmare” Is Tame (Review)


Screen Shot of Miley Cyrus Twerking on Robin Thicke at the 2013 MTV VMAs (MTV)

For all the fanfare of a recent NSFW spread for Paper Magazine (remember when Kim Kardashian broke the internet?), Miley Cyrus’ new song, entitled “Nightmare,” is much more conservative than one might envision. No “dancing with Molly” (“We Can’t Stop”) or coming in “like a wrecking ball” (“Wrecking Ball”) this time. Nope, just simply “trying, to wake up from this / from this nightmare / where everything is, in its right place / but you’re not there, no you’re not there.” However, can’t you totally envision Cyrus coming up with some way to over sexualize and violate “Nightmare” when/should the music video clip bow?

Cyrus seems to be all about the shock value and two years after Bangerz, she wants to thrive off that same shock value that made that project such a success. The question is, will it work for a second time? Yes, controversy piques interest, but overdoing controversy or trying to be more or too controversial can also have the adverse effect. Personally, Miley’s antics are growing much more annoying as opposed to endearing. Still because all press is press, the over sexualized sensation that Miley Cyrus in her current form has become is achieving exactly what she wants.

Miley Cyrus in "Adore You" music video © RCA


But this isn’t about really about Cyrus’ numerous antics, whether it’s the masturbatory sentiment of “Adore,” twerking on doghouse-bound Robin Thicke, or that scandalous, giant penis at the G.A.Y. Club. No, while all those are truly “something,” let’s strip (no pun intended) the gloss and raunchiness and merely examine how “Nightmare” adds up. As aforementioned, personally, nothing about “Nightmare” screams a reinvention or rebooted Miley as far as her second liberated foray is concerned. But then again, “Wrecking Ball” became over sensationalized because of the video clip as opposed to the song itself, which is much more respectable.

Screen Shot From Miley Cyrus' Performance of "We Can't Stop" at 2013 MTV VMAs (MTV)

So here goes nothing. On the first verse, Cyrus is literally dreaming, singing, “In this dream I never see your face / I’m just a step behind.” On the pre-chorus, she’s distraught, adding, “I woke up in a broken dream / with no one lying next to me / It’s not how it’s supposed to be / so why’d you have to go?” So basically, he’s not there, so the chorus confirms the “nightmare” she’s experiencing, as referenced in paragraph one – “But you’re not there.” Verse two offers more of the same fare – “Table’s set for two, but it’s a wasted” and “The quiet’s getting loud” – while the bridge elevates the drama to new heights, capped off by key lyric, “Scared to death but I’m only dreaming.”

Ultimately, the script is predictable – you know exactly where Cyrus is going to from the beginning. This doesn’t make “Nightmare” bad and in a way, it is almost atonement fro Cyrus’ coarse image. That said “Nightmare” is no real extension of Cyrus’ edge that she possessed on Bangerz unless she manages to provide that extra oomph and bite through her antics. One thing’s for sure though – Miley Cyrus is predictably unpredictable.

★★★½

Video screen shots © RCA (“wrecking ball” & “Adore You” music videos) & © MTV (2013 VMA – Miley CYRUS & Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke performances).
Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour © Capitol

57th Annual Grammy Notes


Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour © Capitol

So, I spent the better part of my Sunday night watching the 57th annual Grammys – better known as wasting my time. Why do I indulge in music’s Super Bowl every year when I know that there’s always going to be Grammys given to the wrong folks? I guess it’s the hunger to see how the Recording Academy votes, even if I know the album of the year is likely going to go against the grain.   This year, the album of the year wasn’t even saved as the last award – what does that tell you?

Anyways, here are some notes I took while partaking of the Grammys. Yes, they are literally notes!

1) What better way to open up the Grammys than a rocking performance from veteran rockers AC/DC. There was nothing blasé about the Aussie rockers, whose second song was “Highway To Hell” hell heck yeah!

2) Taylor Swift comes to present the first award of the night, Best New Artist. She does reference the fact she didn’t win the Best New Artist in 2008, and quotes her hit song “Shake It Off.” Make of it what you will, but when the small talk is done, it’s no surprise that Sam Smith came out on top. I mean, who was going to stop him?

3) Anna Kendrick introduces Ariana Grande, who performs “Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart” from My Everything. The performance is definitely more restrained, with Grande getting off to a bit of a shaky start. Once Grande hits her power register, it’s on.

4) Jessie J and Sir Tom Jones take the stage, honoring the recipients of the Trustees Award (Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil). J and Jones perform a duet of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” Then came the award for best pop solo performance. The result was a shock, as Pharrell Williams took home the Grammy for “Happy,” something of an upset against heavyweights like John Legend (“All of Me”) and Sam Smith (“Stay With Me”).

5) Miranda Lambert performed “Little Red Wagon”… that was something! Then, Pentatonix and Gibb presented the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album to Sam Smith for In The Lonely Hour. Again, was there that much doubt? Well, there was some after the previous upset.

6) Kanye West takes the Grammy stage for the first time in six years performing his new song, “Only One.” Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj introduce Madonna, who performs her single “Living For Love.” As expected, she shows off that thigh – LOL! Oh and yeah, it was as theatrical as you would expect. She is Madonna after all – 56 or not! Oh and that gospel choir – on point!

7) Joshua Duhamel, Malcolm Butler, and Julian Edelman present the Grammy for Best Rock Album to Beck for Morning Phase.

8) Nile Rodgers and Smokey Robinson celebrate George Harrison by awarding him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Best R&B Performance is awarded to Beyoncé & Jay-Z for “Drunk in Love” – predictable.

9) Ed Sheeran performs “Thinking Out Loud” alongside John Mayer and Herbie Hancock. Hands down, it ranks among the night’s best performances. Herbie Hancock’s thoughtful tinkling on the piano, Mayer’s brilliant guitar (and backing vocals), and of course Sheeran’s pitch-perfect vocals. Chilling to say the least! The Electric Light Orchestra on after Ed Sheeran – can things get any better “Mr. Blue Sky?”

10) Ryan Seacrest introduces Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani, who perform their ‘duet’ “My Heart Is Open” from V. Well it is technically a duet. If nothing else, both are dressed to kill, particularly Stefani in that red dress.

11) Hozier peforms his epic Song of the year nominated “Take Me To Church.” Later, Annie Lennox joins him to sing the harmony atop – she’s definitely still got it! “Take Me To Church” transforms into “I Put A Spell On You” from her Grammy-nominated effort Nostalgia.

12 ) Nick Jonas and Meghan Trainor present the Grammy for Best Country Album to Miranda Lambert for Platinum.

13) The Weeknd introduces Pharrell Williams, who performs his Grammy-winning hit, “Happy.” Williams gets a little help from virtuoso pianist, Lang Lang.

14) Following a segment on the significance of domestic violence and awareness, etc., Katy Perry performs her ballad “By The Grace of God,” definitely an unexpected choice by the pop singer. While the power is felt, the pitch wasn’t always rock solid, but definitely better than expected. Not an easy song to perform in a live setting by any means.

15) Katherine McPhee introduces Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. The chemistry between the two is fantastic. Makes that win for Cheek To Cheek seem like the right choice – at least for one performance.

16) Usher performs “If It’s Magic” from Stevie Wonder’s Songs in The Key of Life. He does a magnificent job, accompanied by harp. Stevie Wonder ends up joining on the harmonica.

17) Keith Urban introduces a Grammy-less Eric Church, who performs “Give Me Back My Hometown” from The Outsiders. You’ve got to appreciate how different Eric Church is from a multitude of country artists, though that pitch at times was shaky. Brandy Clark and Dwight Yoakam proceed. Keeping an overabundance of performances (with no awards given) going, Paul McCartney, Kanye West, and Rihanna perform their new single, “FourFive Seconds.”

18) Taylor Swift introduces Sam Smith and Mary J. Blige, who perform “Stay With Me.” In yet another performance on an awards show where the awards seem secondary, Juanes follows in yet another performance. Sheesh!

Beck, Morning Phase © Capitol

19) Prince presents the ‘album of the year’ award to the ‘dark horse,’ Beck. Yeah, that’s about where the notes stopped – my mouth was agape.

But there was more after album of the year, like the awards for song/record of the year, which both went to Sam Smith. And Beyoncé performed “Precious Lord” (didn’t suit her in my opinion) and John Legend/Common teamed up to perform “Glory” from Selma.

 

 

Nick Jonas, Nick Jonas © Island

The Newfound Appeal of the F-Bomb in Pop Music 


Nick Jonas, Nick Jonas © Island

Nick Jonas becomes the latest former teen-pop star to turn to the dark side. In other words, he dropped the bomb – the f-bomb (cue foreboding, twisted music now)! For the millennial and younger folk, most of us don’t give a flying ‘you-know-what’ about the f-word. In fact, eavesdrop on a high school or college students conversations in particular, and what’s generally considered ‘salty’ language is prevalent – sometimes every other word. Part of it is because, we’ve grown immune to it and culturally, it’s considered acceptable (right or wrong).

What’s the point of this f-bomb tangent? Well, it seems that these days that musicians are buying into casually dropping it, particularly those trying to switch-up the formula or like Jonas, trying to shed the ‘kiddy’ image. No, it’s not like the word has suddenly just made its way into anybody’s vocabulary or that it’s completely brand new to music (ask the rappers), it’s just that in the 10s, it has become fashionable and expected as opposed to surprising. It’s not contained to urban music – it has made its way into pop.

Yes, let’s all admit, when we found out Nick Jonas’ self-titled album donned the often common place parental advisory, explicit lyrics, we knew that he was going to drop ‘the bomb.’ Sure enough, the newly buffed-up pop star slipped it into single “Numb,” featuring Angel Haze. How did he use it – as follows my friends: “F*ck with my head like it’s nothin’ at all.” Ah, the old mind-f*ck reference – so charming. When Joe Jonas told all, he kept it ‘all the way real.’ So much for purity rings apparently.

Check out my cover for @flauntmagazine at flaunt.com! Full feature out later this week!

A photo posted by Nick Jonas (@nickjonas) on

But returning to the point, something about the f-bomb and making yourself risqué and edgy seems to be the formula for breaking through or at least earning listeners interest these days. So many artists, aside from young Jonas, have moved to the dark side. There’s currently a desire for shock value. Honestly, it’s nothing that hasn’t happened previously in music, it’s just reincarnated in a different form.

Jennifer Hudson’s “Walk It Out” found her talking some trash when she confidently sang, “F*ck it, let’s do this today.” Usher, who has always been sexual, took it to the brink on the oral sex themed “Good Kisser,” where he boasted, “You do it so good, you f*ck with my mind.” Original right – Wow! Of course, Miley Cyrus has dropped as many bombs of all kind since her transformation in 2013. “F*ckin’ bangerz!”

Next, we all expect Justin Bieber to go there – he’s dropped enough profanity to ‘float a boat’ outside of his music (“I’ll f*ckin’ beat the f*ck out you!”). And let’s not forget, he slipped in an innocent ‘damn’ into “Die In Your Arms” on 2012 LP Believe as he sang, “Loving you is so damn easy for me.” If sexually mature tracks like “PYD” from Journals or his guest spot on oral-sex themed Maejor Ali banger “Lolly” are any indication, it’s only a matter of time.

The question is, is using this newfound liberal use of the f-bombs in music really a good or viable thing? Obviously Evangelicals, Christians, and the majority of mature, responsible adults will say no. Quickly, how music “didn’t used to be the way” will come right off the tongue, as the parent comes out and says the previously it was implication as opposed to being just plain overt.

Personally, just dropping an f-bomb is not going to set up a career for enduring success, mostly because after a while, the f-bomb loses its edge and allure. People will continue to flaunt something more intense than damn, but eventually it’ll lose its luster like everything else.

Sure, to my parents (mom especially) and folks from the past generation, the f-word will never sound comfortable and honestly, that’s notable from a moral perspective. But to the younger generation where rebelliousness is dominant these days and overtness is the trend, eventually, the casual f-bomb will fade. Will it ever die? No, but eventually, the excitement of such naughtiness won’t matter, just like molly-rap has faded (thank goodness).

Mary J. Blige, The London Sessions © Capitol

What’s the News, B? – ‘Splits-ville,’ Mary’s London, Miley and More


Column “What’s the news, B?” picks out news that stands out during the week.

1) Amber Rose is divorcing Wiz Khalifa 

Wiz Khalifa, Blacc Hollywood © Atlantic

While I’d love to say I’m surprised by this news, I’m not in the least bit. It just didn’t seem like it would last long to me.   As to the reason why – well, as with every celebrity split, there’s usually plenty of drama behind it.  According to Amber Rose, his royal ‘highness’ cheated… (Amber Rose files for divorce from rapper Wiz Khalifa, Amber Rose Accuses Wiz Khalifa of Cheating)

2) Mary J. Blige Is Dropping The London Sessions

Mary J. Blige, The London Sessions © Capitol

Mary J. Blige is dropping a new album entitled The London Sessions. Anytime MJB drops a new album, I get giddy like a schoolgirl… well maybe that’s an overstatement. Anyways, the soul movement is truly alive in England, so it’s hard to imagine this album and its collaborations is anything short of fire. Single “Therapy” is currently available, while song “Whole Damn Year” finds Blige at her pained- best… wait that didn’t sound quite right… sorry Mary!

3) Miley Cyrus Is Who She Is… A Hot mess! 

Miley Cyrus, BANGERZ © RCA

Will this girl ever quit! To quote Mary J. Blige, she’s been doing this for more than a “whole damn year!” Cyrus’ latest head shakable moment: a penis nose. A nose ring would’ve definitely been classier than Cyrus having a nether member on her nose. While I would love to justify this by saying Cyrus was just pretending to be Pinocchio, everybody NOSE that’s just not the case. Add this latest silliness to 10 Reasons Why Miley Cyrus Is A Hot Mess!. She can’t nor won’t stop – and I really, REALLY wish she would!

4) Phil Spector Is To’ Up (From the Flo’ Up!) 

The Essential Phil Spector © Sony Legacy

Aging happens to everybody, as they get older. No on escapes wrinkles… naturally that is. Well Phil Spector, the legendary producer known for his “wall of sound” approach, is looking incredibly rough to say the least. Sure, prison will do that to the best of ‘em, but for Spector who is in his 70s, well he’s not aging the least bit gracefully. (Phil Spector Aging, Bald in New Prison Photos). As I like to say, “to’ up from the flo’ up!”

5) PornHub Records…Sounds Sketchy 

#ManCrushMonday #mcm @thatsnathan❤ you

A photo posted by Pornhub (@pornhub) on

Anytime the word ‘porn’ is attached to anything, it seems sketchy and definitely NSFW. The big news from the incredibly ‘friendly’ website is apparently they are forming their own record label. Naturally, given the content gracing the adult site, one has to assume the musicians who might eventually release their music on the label would have to be on the ‘risqué’ side of things. PG-13 certainly wouldn’t cut it… (PornHub is starting its own record label, and it wants your ‘erotic folk’ songs). I’ve got jokes, but I won’t go there…

Photo credits: © Capitol (Mary J. Blige), InSTAGRAM / COOLIO, © Atlantic (Wiz Khalifa), © RCA (Miley Cyrus), © Sony Legacy (Phil Spector), Instagram /pornhub
Miley Cyrus, BANGERZ © RCA

The Case Against Miley…


quick change selfie

A photo posted by Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus) on

To say I have never been critical or judgmental of Miley Cyrus in the past would be a flat out lie – I’ve stated strong opinions towards Cyrus. Yes, that popular song about climbing a mountain (“The Climb”) irked me like no other, and don’t get me started about “Can’t Be Tamed” – Lordy, Lord!

A fan I won’t attest to be, but being a music critic, my goal is to judge every artist’s work as objectively and fairly as possible. That said, is it really ‘normal’ for anyone to be swinging naked from a wrecking ball or wearing ice cream in favor of a bra? That should be a big resounding “hell no” (to quote Cyrus).

Recently, via Starpulse, I laid out my 10 reasons Why Miley Cyrus Is A Hot Mess! Yes, Cyrus super fans will cast stones while others might be quick to call me square (I’m a liberal for heaven sakes), but, personally, I find Cyrus’ antics as ridiculous and unnecessary. Sure, she shocked with her promotion of BANGERZ, but after a while, shock value isn’t shocking, but rather annoying.

But to each his own, meaning anyone can make his or her own judgment about Cyrus. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, I’m quite open-minded, but still, I’m not sure I’m onboard with Cyrus hypersexual behavior – it’s a bit much.

Beyoncé, Beyoncé © Sony

MTV VMAs: A Reflection


A photo posted by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

So on Sunday night, that famous (or infamous) show known as the VMAs took place on MTV. It’s sort of funny you know? At one time, MTV actually played true to its name – music television. Not that music videos aren’t broadcast at all, but for a network whose platform seemed to be based in music, it sure has changed over the years. Regardless, that’s besides the point, this is about the 2014 edition of the VMAs. Here we go!

Ariana Grande opened the VMAs with a performance of single “Break Free.” After finishing “Break Free,” the set segues to Nicki Minaj’s raunchy single, “Anaconda.” While “Anaconda” is toned down from the video (no coconut milk, bananas, or whipped cream), that’s not exactly saying much. There is still twerking and those provocative ‘leg exercises’ that definitely seem to be more sex-based than anything else. Oh and yes, the censors did some bleeping! By the way, there was no anaconda itself, thank God!

Predictably Expectedly, Jessie J followed up to kick off the superstar girl trio’s hit, “Bang Bang,” which appears as a bonus track on Grande’s new album, My Everything (the deluxe edition). The vocals from Jessie J and Grande definitely soared, though it was hard to decipher Nicki Minaj’s quick-paced rap. ‘Course, as any number of media outlets have been quick to cite, something was wrong with Minaj’s outfit – the infamous wardrobe malfunction. But the energy was definitely full throttle from the show’s opening showcase by all means.

Following the opener, Snoop Dogg and Gwen Stefani presented the winner of The Best female video. The victorious female was Katy Perry, with a little help from Juicy J on big-time hit “Dark Horse.” As always, Perry’s dress was interesting… She matched with Riff Raff… hmm.

Taylor Swift made her ‘pop’ debut with single “Shake it Off.” Again, energy and the visual component were the highlights of the performance. There were guys in tuxes, backing singers in outfits matching Swifts, and shaking (dancing). Sure, Swift isn’t the horrid live performer (vocally) she once was, but let’s not crown her as prodigious in that department either. But energy, visuals – definite pros!

The presentation of Best Male Video proceeded, won by Ed Sheeran. It is based on fan voting, so I’ll refrain from my opining that there was a more deserving winner. Regardless, Ed Sheeran’s “Sing” is great – no shade Ed, no shade!

After a Jay-Z impersonation by funny-man Jay Pharoah (SNL), and some “Chandelier” singing courtesy of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, Best Pop Video was awarded to Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea. Sure, it was a stacked category, but who can deny how big and how addictive “Problem” was? Kind of killed Pharrell Williams“Happy” vibes you might say.

Kim Kardashian ‘West’ (LOL) introduced Sam Smith, who performed his gargantuan hit, “Stay With Me.” Kim K’s dress was – well let’s just say she wasn’t ‘shy.’ But back to Smith… A moving and soulful performance, once more, Smith shows he can sing. But everyone already knew that!

Common spoke on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, speaking on the “powerful instrument” that is hip-hop. Common asked for a moment of silence for Mike Brown, which was definitely a classy touch. Afterwards, Common presented the Best Hip-Hop Video award to Drake for “Hold On (We’re Going Home).” Given the nominees, Drake’s victory seemed like a shoe-in, judging by the folks who likely voted. Again no shade.

Usher and Nicki Minaj would perform next, singing Usher’s latest single “She Came To Give It To You.” The song is enjoyable (particularly in a studio setting), but… We’ll leave it as an ellipsis. Lorde won the Best Rock Video award for “Royals.” She comes off as, um, a bit awkward – just saying. Also, is “Royals” really rock? But whatever, no one’s going to deny it’s a great song or rather great video. Moving on!

5 Seconds of Summer made the girls all scream on a performance of single “Amnesia.” Sure, that’s the track that they are currently promoting as a single, but who wouldn’t have rather heard “She Looks So Perfect?” The girls would’ve really squealed on that one – particularly the American Apparel underwear line.

Fifth Harmony went on to win the VMA for Artist to Watch with video “Miss Moving On” … again hmm. No love for Sam Smith – c’mon now!

Jennifer Lopez introduced Iggy Azalea, who performed current single “Black Widow,” featuring Rita Ora. J. Lo also threw in a self-plug for remixes of her “Booty” single. Jason Derulo and Demi Lovato would also take time to promote themselves, when introducing Maroon 5’s performance of “Maps.” You know, “Maps” is okay, but personally, it lacks the magic of Maroon 5’s best work.

Video of the year was awarded to Miley Cyrus “Wrecking Ball”. That said, Cyrus didn’t accept the award, but rather a formerly homeless teen did. It was selfless from an artist who lately has seemed to have lost her complete mind (if she ever had it to begin with).

But everyone knows the biggest moment of the night – the crème de la crème – was Mrs. Carter, point blank. Beyoncé performed “Mine,” though had to do it without the assist from Drake. She would switch up things, performing “Haunted” next. “Jealous” would also be incorporated into the extended medley, intact with neon lights. Then, that would segue into Yoncé’s naughty “Blow”. The set wouldn’t be complete without “Drunk in Love.” Kind of amazing MTV was okay with “swervin’ on that wood” or follow-up “Rocket.” ‘Course, wasn’t much for MTV to do at that point.

Of course, “Partition” was a must. The stripper poles were… hmm… no words. Then came “Flawless” and yes, Beyoncé went straight for the kill: “Bow down b*tches!” Oh, and there was something for Blue Ivy too – “Blue” that is. Beyoncé closed her showcase with the fan-celebrating “XO.” Jay-Z (with Blue Ivy) would present his wife with The Michael Jackson Vanguard award and the usually poised Beyoncé was rightfully emotional.

All in all, the VMAs were enjoyable. No, there was no girl-on-girl kisses or Lady Gaga in drag, but Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé brought enough ‘liveliness’ to the stage.

Pharrell Williams, G I R L © Columbia

If The Grammys Were in May, Who Might Be Nominated?


Pharrell Williams, G I R L © Columbia

“It’s never too early”, is the old saying, whether it’s in sports, political campaigns, or the Grammy field. It is May, and at this point, some possibilities for Grammy contenders have began to rear their heads. The field isn’t complete mind you – still plenty of time to go – but some potential darlings have established a solid case for themselves (and some surprises as well).

512oYPuD-AL._SL500_AA280_

1

Pharrell Williams

Potential Nominations:

Record of the Year (“Happy”); Album of the Year (G I R L); Song of the Year (“Happy”); Best Pop Performance (“Happy”); Best Pop Collaboration (“Brand New” ft. Justin Timberlake); Best Pop Album (G I R L); Best Song Written For Visual Media (“Happy”)

Of the albums released within the Grammy’s eligibility period, Pharrell Williams’ G I R L may have the highest ceiling in regards to Grammy nominations. While it’s an urban album generally, there are more than enough pop sensibilities about it to make it dominate the pop field. As far as the big four categories (Record, Album, Song, Best New Artist), Williams is eligible for three of the four. Is Williams an album of the year contender – I think so… as of yet.

Digital Booklet - BEYONCÉ

2

Beyoncé

Potential Nominations:

Album of the Year (Beyoncé); R&B Performance (“Drunk in Love” ft. Jay-Z); R&B Song (“Drunk in Love”/ “Partition”); Urban Contemporary Album (Beyoncé)

While Beyoncé might be a stretch in the record/song categories, it will be shocking if Beyoncé’s innovatively issued Beyoncé doesn’t find itself nominated for Album of the Year when nominations are released in December. Additionally, Beyoncé should be a lock in the Urban Contemporary Album category, or if voters decide to, the R&B album category itself. “Drunk in Love” has been the biggest record from Beyoncé, though the sexed-up “Partition” is making a name for itself as well.

61tLB9NYg9L._SL500_AA280_

3

Frozen Soundtrack

Potential Nominations:

Record of the Year (“Let It Go”); Album of the Year (Frozen); Song of the Year (“Let It Go”); Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media (Christophe Beck, Frozen); Best Song Written for Visual Media (“Let It Go”)

It has been a while since a soundtrack garnered as much buzz as Frozen’s Soundtrack has. After so many accolades, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to see the effort receive numerous nominations, centering around the ubiquitous smash “Let It Go”. How legit is Frozen as an album of the year contender? It stands a strong chance of being nominated if for no other reason than its commercial success. However, is a soundtrack – specifically for a PG-rated children’s film – really THE album of the year?

The Black Keys, Turn Blue © Nonesuch

4

The Black Keys / Coldplay 

Potential Nominations (for both):

Album of the Year; Best Rock Performance; Best Rock Song; Best Rock Album or Best Alternative Music Album; 

This is a big-time leap of faith. The Black Keys and Coldplay grace my early Grammy list before I’ve even heard their albums.   Why? Well, both acts have had incredible success at the Grammys with nominations in the big categories. That said, both have also fallen short of the coveted album of the year.   Still, unless the respective album by both are total crap, well, don’t be surprised if rock/alternative are represented by these two critical darlings.

71bnnB+lzdL._SL1500_

5

Katy Perry 

Potential Nominations:

Record of the Year (“Dark Horse” ft. Juicy J); Album of the Year (PRISM); Pop Solo Performance (“Birthday”); Pop Duo/Group Performance (“Dark Horse” ft. Juicy J); Pop Vocal Album (PRISM)

On this particular potential nominee, I’m thinking like the Recording Academy might think rather than so much my own personal preferences. I personally am not sold on Katy Perry even garnering an album of the year nomination, but I said the same about big pop album Teenage Dream back in 2010. There is usually a pop album nominated, and this could be the one IF Pharrell Williams is snubbed or his album was to be constrained to R&B categories. Of the potential nominations, Katy Perry stands her best shot for Pop Duo/Group Performance.

51PXgWbbyIL

6

Miley Cyrus

Potential Nominations:

Record of the Year (“Wrecking Ball”); Album of the Year (BANGERZ); Song of the Year (“Wrecking Ball”); Pop Solo Performance (“Wrecking Ball); Pop Vocal Album (BANGERZ)

Do I personally think Miley Cyrus will receive numerous Grammy nominations? Likely not, however, if the Grammys feel like the rebellious pop star should be rewarded, her best shot seems to be with ace in hole “Wrecking Ball”.   “Adore You” might be considered, but “Wrecking Ball” was the bigger statement. As far as my penciling in Cyrus for a potential album of the year nomination – it’s a big time stretch. But, remember when Perry’s Teenage Dream and Rihanna’s LOUD (one of my least favorite albums by her) received nominations? But if ole girl has the ‘Justin Bieber’ effect, she’ll likely fall short of glory.

510nrTStAjL._SL500_AA280_

7

John Newman 

Potential Nominations:

Best Pop Solo Performance (“Love Me Again”); Best Pop Vocal Album (Tribute)

John Newman isn’t likely to be acknowledged the way he should at the upcoming Grammys, but he may snag a nomination for his infectious, retro-soul track “Love Me Again” and even more of a stretch for Pop Vocal Album Tribute.

51qdjT+U7PL._SL500_AA280_

8

Bruce Springsteen

Potential Nominations:

Best Rock Album (High Hopes)

With rock having a somewhat quieter year it seems, Springsteen stands a shot at Best Rock album.   I doubt Springsteen breaks into the big categories, but you never know.

John Legend-MSA-010190

9

John Legend

Potential Nominations:

Record of the Year (“All of Me”); Song of the Year (“All of Me”); R&B Vocal Performance (“All of Me”); R&B Song (“All of Me”)

Legend’s album Love in the Future is ineligible for Grammys, following its loss last year to Alicia KeysGirl on Fire in the R&B album category. The question is, is single “All of Me” technically eligible, since its been the promotional single for Love In The Future for some time? If it is, it could garner the soulful singer/songwriter potentially four nominations.

There are many more possibilities, such as Aloe Blacc (“The Man”), or several country albums in contention for Best Country Album from artists like Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, or Hunter Hayes, but this list is just the starting point.

3 Quick Musical Takeaways for Tuesday May 12, 2014


Solange Knowles-JTM-066713

Takeaway #1

  • Solange went all ‘angry black woman’ on Jay-Z, while Beyoncé maintained her normal demeanor as her man was being attacked… Hmm, so much for having “99 Problems and a b**ch ain’t one”.  Apparently, the younger Knowles is the feistier one of the two, unleashing her inner firecracker for the entire world to see.

Miley Cyrus 3-20140507-159

Takeaway #2

  • Miley Cyrus’ shock value knows no end!  She truly “came in like a wrecking ball” in 2013, and has yet to stop.  Maybe she should STOP as her antics and necessity for attention have become annoying and predictable at this point/ Anyways, whether it’s trashing her ex-fiancé or simulating sex on an inflatable nether body part (André 3000 would reference this as “the love below”), Miley’s antics truly know no end.

Jazmine-Sullivan-r04

Takeaway #3

  • My boo (I can dream can’t I?), Jazmine Sullivan is back in the music game with new single “Dumb” featuring Meek Mill.  Her voice is still popping, just like that “Lip Gloss” Lil Mama rapped about a couple of years back.

https://soundcloud.com/jazminesullivanmusic/jazmine-sullivan-dumb-featuring-meek-mill

Review: Various Artists, ‘Now 50: That’s What I Call Music’


61WxNLXs-FL._SL500_AA280_

Now 50 makes better musical choices compared to previous ‘Now’ compilations

Various Artists • Now 50 • UMe • US Release Date: May 6, 2014

Another ‘glorious’ Now That’s What I Call Music compilation has graced the music industry – Yippee (*says in a sarcastic voice*)! The series to its credit does a great job of filling the more casual, big-thinking music lover’s collection with some of the biggest singles of pop music.  The problem for me is that the series draws less praise for its timing of some of those big singles.  In other words, it’s a crapshoot of sorts.  Sometimes singles are in their prime and are hot, and other times, things have sort of cooled. Now 50: That’s What I Call Music is more of the same, but there seems to be some great song choices this round.

Jason Derulo3-20140225-46If nothing more, the first three songs are a homerun.  “Happy” (Pharrell Williams), “Dark Horse” (Katy Perry featuring Juicy J), and “The Man” (Aloe Blacc) – that’s a great way to kick off anything. “Happy” is the most relevant of those as of late, but “Dark Horse” and “The Man” are still fresh on the mind.   Those aren’t the only strong choices –“Turn Down For What” (DJ Snake & Lil Jon), “Talk Dirty” (Jason Derulo featuring 2 Chainz) and “All of Me” (John Legend) are all relevant, popular joints.  In regards to the amount of hits, it seems that Now 50 has got things better together than some of the previous compilations.

518Kz0k78ZL._SL500_AA280_That said there are a couple of question marks.  “Young Girls” courtesy of Bruno Mars is a bit old, no matter how great a track it is (Unorthodox Jukebox the album bowed in December 2012).  “Adore You” was a recent Miley Cyrus single, but the flame has been out for a while it seems and was never as great as either “We Can’t Stop” or “Wrecking Ball”.  The inclusion of a song like “#Selfie” (Chainsmokers) is somewhat clever, though compared to the most top-heavy hits of this compilation, “#Selfie” doesn’t quite have the same lifespan or memorability.  And then of course the ‘Now What’s Next!’ tracks always raise some eyebrows. Sure, Mary Lambert’s “She Keeps Me Warm” is deserved of being a ‘Now What’s Next!’ song, but the buzz surrounding the song has waned.

Ultimately, Now 50 is what it is – a compilation.  It’s not perfect, but it fills gaps within the playlist.  Does little for me, but then again, when you have a bloated music collection like mine, who needs a compilation – Just saying!

Favorites:

“Happy”; “Dark Horse”; “The Man”; “Talk Dirty”; “All of Me”

Verdict: ★★★½