Panic! At The Disco, Death Of A Bachelor © Fueled By Ramen

New Playlist: 14 ‘House’ Songs

Rather than having the traditional social life that a late twenty-something should on a Friday night (July 1st was the time of this unfortunate happening), I composed and compiled a new playlist entitled 14 ‘House’ Songs More Thrilling Than Chilling at the House. Has a ring to it, don’t you think? It’s all about the house, something I know extremely well.

This playlist isn’t about mingling socially and taking some time away from the computer, tablet, or smartphone screen.  Nope, it’s simply random songs featuring the word house in them because I was feeling it at the time.  Even if it’s sort of a lazy topic, the end results are fun, at least in my eyes.  You should check it out in its fullest beauty when you have a minute to kill.  Even if you don’t have a minute to kill, read it…at least peruse it! The link’s below…YO…

A house: “a building serving as living quarters for families.” ‘House’ is relevant here because every song on in this article features ‘house’ in its title.

via 14 ‘House’ Songs More Thrilling Than Chilling at the House — The Musical Hype

Kendrick Lamar, untitled unmastered. © Aftermath/Interscope

Kendrick Lamar’s Untitled Unmastered Tops on Billboard 200 (Chart Takeaways)

Kendrick Lamar, untitled unmastered. © Aftermath/Interscope

Kendrick Lamar may have surprised with the release of Untitled Unmastered but it’s no surprise he earned the top spot on the Billboard 200. Who else graces the Brent Music Reviews chart takeaways this week besides the West Coast MC?

1) Kendrick Lamar is a beast – simply unstoppable. Not everybody can release a surprise album with success. Kendrick doesn’t have that problem. Untitled Unmastered…no promo…no problem…it’s no. 1…enough said.

2) 2 Chainz’s own surprise album Collegrove can’t match the sales prowess of Kendrick (few can) but the album does start respectably at no. 4.

3) Joey + Rory’s Hymns That Are Important To Us ascends from no. 10 to no. 6. The set has spent all four of its weeks on the chart in the top 10. Joey + Rory Inspired: Songs Of Faith & Family enters the charts at no. 126.

4) Some urban releases receive slight bumps (positional only) this week. The Weeknd’s Grammy-winning Beauty Behind The Madness improves from no. 12 to no. 9 28 weeks in. Kevin GatesIslah rebounds from no. 13 to no. 10 in its sixth week. Bryson Tiller’s TRAPSOUL jumps from no. 14 to no. 11 in week number 24.

5) Granger Smith’s Remington enters the Billboard 200 as the third ranked new release this week. Even so, it starts modestly at no. 12.

6) A fine album, Ray LaMontagne’s Ouroboros didn’t exactly electrify the chart with its no. 13 start, a disappointing start for the reliable singer/songwriter.

7) NewsboysLove Riot starts at no. 14, definitely not too shabby for a CCM act.

8) Charlie Puth’s Nine Track Mind reenters the top 20 this week, improving eight spots from no. 24 to no. 16.

9) Ninja Sex Party’s latest album Under The Covers starts at no. 17.

10) Country veteran Loretta Lynn’s comeback album, Full Circle, debuts at no. 19. Keep in mind Lynn is nearly 84 years old.

11) The 1975 had a horrid second week. I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It plummets from no. 1 to no. 26 in only its sophomore week. Phew!

12) Yo Gotti’s The Art Of Hustle slides 13 spots from no. 16 to no. 29 after three weeks on the Billboard 200.

13) Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are DEFINITELY experiencing that nasty bug called “the sophomore effect.” This Unruly Mess I’ve Made plummets 27 spots from no. 4 to no. 31 after just two weeks in.

14) Bonnie Raitt’s Dig In Deep falls 27 spots from no. 11 to no. 38 in its second week on the charts.

15) Miike Snow’s iii only musters up a no. 47 debut. J. Cole signee Bas does even worse as Too High To Riot enters at no. 49.

16) Steve Curtis Chapman’s Worship And Believe quietly debuts at no. 87. Yep, the numbers aren’t much here folks.

17) Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding’s win for Best New Artist did nothing for the sales or chart position of her new album Emily’s D+Evolution. The set lands at no. 88.

18) The StrutsEverybody Wants barely makes the top 100, opening at no. 99. CLOSE CALL!

19) Wiz Khalifa’s “epic fail” of a run continues with Khalifa. It slips 26 spots from no. 97 to no. 123.

20) It’s More Rain for M. Ward, which debuts at no. 128.

21) Tweet’s Charlene takes a mighty tumble, slipping from no. 42 to no. 130 in week two!

22) Like thanks to its Google Play sale price, Tank’s Sex Love & Pain II reenters the Billboard 200 at no. 132 marking its sixth week on the charts.

23) Week two wasn’t so hot for Willie Nelson. Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin drops 117 spots from no. 40 to no. 157.

24) Not a good run for Vince Gill. Down To My Last Bad Habit started at no. 35 (not great). In week four, it slips 33 spots from no. 136 to no. 169.

25) Who had the lowest debut on the Billboard 200 this week? That would be Lapsley who barely nabs a spot with Long Way Home. The album starts at no. 196…

Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color © ATO Records

Why Each Album of the Year Nominee May or May Not Win (58th Annual Grammys)

Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly © Aftermath : Interscope

Ahead of the Grammys we at Brent Music Reviews (aka yours truly Brent Faulkner), examine why each of the five Album of the Year nominees may or may not win come 58th Annual Grammys night on Monday, February 15, 2016. As a refresher, here are the five nominees: 

Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color (6 nominations)

Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly (7 nominations this year; 2 Grammy wins for “i” back in 2015)

Chris Stapleton, Traveller (4 nominations)

Taylor Swift, 1989 (7 nominations)

The Weeknd, Beauty Behind The Madness (technically 7 nominations, though “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)” was attributed to the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack)

Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color © ATO Records

Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color 

Why it might win: Alternative albums tend to appeal to the voters. Look over the past couple of years and alternative albums have dominated the album of the year category, even if they weren’t the popular choice to win. Alternative albums that have been victorious in recent years: Beck’s Morning Phase in 2015 (though won the Grammy for Best Rock Album as opposed to Alternative Album), Mumford & SonsBabel in 2013 (nominated for Best Americana Album and lost to Bonnie Raitt’s Slipstream), and Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs in 2011 (lost in the Alternative Album category to The Black Keys’ Brothers).

But besides the gift of being an alternative album, Sound & Color is an excellent album through and through. The songs are well written, the band’s overall soulful-rock sound is superb, and this was clearly one of 2015’s best.

Why it might NOT win: As good as Sound & Color is, it isn’t the best album of the five. There are no “hits” to be found here, if radio performance/streams come into play; the songs aren’t memorable in that regard either.

Rank of Chance to Win: 1st  

Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly © Aftermath : Interscope

Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly

Why it might win: To Pimp A Butterfly is by far the BEST album nominated for album of the year. Critically, many chose Lamar’s album as their favorite of 2015, awarding it exceptional ratings. To Pimp A Butterfly is also different from Lamar’s first conceptual masterpiece, diving even deeper into various styles, most notable jazz and funk. Still very much a rap album, Lamar didn’t settle on simply sticking to the script of other rap albums, truly opting for a more transcendent, distinct listen. This album SHOULD win and COULD make a bold statement that the Recording Academy will be more receptive to hip-hop albums that they’ve resisted/overlooked over the years.

Why it might NOT win: IT’S A RAP ALBUM and with rap albums comes misunderstanding, particularly to some voters as well as the graphic, profane content that comes along with rap albums. If this were an alternative or rock album, it would be the surefire winner.

Rank of Chance to Win: 2nd    

 Chris Stapleton, Traveller © Mercury

Chris Stapleton, Traveller

Why it might win: This is a solid album that should appeal to more than traditional country fans. The songwriting is strong, Stapleton’s voice is soulful and authentic, and Traveller just feels right. Stapleton has been in the industry for a “minute,” but this is his breakthrough moment and breakthroughs have played well for album of the year nominees in the past. Think of wins by Norah JonesCome Away With Me in 2003, Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1999, or Alanis Morrissette’s classic, Jagged Little Pill in 1996. This could be Stapleton’s time.

Why it might NOT win: As good as Traveller is, the question is, is this album truly transcendent or more magical than others? Yes Stapleton’s breakthrough story is compelling and this album is deserving of a nomination, but does it deserve the “big one?” Eh – it’s debatable. Look for Alabama Shakes to be the first option to pose the seeming upset to Kendrick Lamar or Taylor Swift while Stapleton is likely the second-string option.

Rank of Chance to Win: 4th

 Taylor Swift, 1989 © Big Machine Records

Taylor Swift, 1989

Why it might win: Hits, hits, hits! 1989 is this year’s big pop album chocked full of hit after hit. Name them: “Shake It Off,” “Blank Space,” “Bad Blood,” “Out of the Woods,” “Style” and “Wildest Dreams.” Who can top the hits? None of the other nominees! This is by far the “crowd pleaser” and it doesn’t hurt that the crowd pleaser is in the hands of a previous victorious Taylor Swift, who won album of the year back in 2010 for Fearless as a 20-year old. Nothing else considered, 1989 SHOULD be an/the obvious favorite.

Why it might NOT win: It’s a big pop album. Big pop albums aren’t typically transcendent unless you’re Adele’s 21, which is a more eclectic, deeper affair than 1989 could ever hope to be. Also doesn’t hurt that Adele’s voice is one of the best of all time. 1989 is deserving of the nomination and should be in the discussion as a potential victor, but it’s not a better album than Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color, and arguably Chris Stapleton’s Traveller depending upon who you ask. The fact that Fearless won back in 2010 with similar sensibilities as 1989 (even though it was more ‘country’) might put 1989 at a disadvantage.

Rank of Chance to Win: 3rd

The Weeknd, Beauty Behind The Madness © Republic

The Weeknd, Beauty Behind The Madness

Why it might win: Like Swift, The Weeknd’s has hits on his hands with “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey),” “Can’t Feel My Face,” “The Hills,” and “In The Night.” This album is an urban contemporary album with tremendous crossover appeal in pop circles. The Weeknd also has a distinct voice unlike any other artist, so that helps to distinguish him from others as well.

Why it might NOT win: Though Beauty Behind The Madness is a good album and like the others deserving of this nomination, it’s not necessarily a great album. Both Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift should have a leg-up in the crowd pleasing department, while Chris Stapleton probably has the edge in rankings as far as the long-shot chance to upset the aforementioned big three (Alabama Shakes, Kendrick Lamar, and Taylor Swift).

Rank of Chance to Win: 5th  

Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color © ATO Records

In conclusion, it would seem if we follow the logic of the Recording Academy in recent years, one of the odd man out will win Album of the Year, hence why Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color was selected as the favorite here. The TRUE favorites are undoubtedly Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and Taylor Swift’s 1989, with Chris Stapleton’s Traveller and The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind The Madness feeling like the long shots. Anything can happen, but Alabama Shakes seems to be in the best position with multiple nominations…   

Adele, 25 © Columbia

25 Chart Takeaways: Adele Makes It Four Straight At No. 1

Adele, 25 © Columbia

It was another great week for Adele. The same can’t be said for new releases – looking at you R. Kelly. 25 chart takeaways – let’s go!

1) Adele continues to dominate the Billboard 200 with 25 – there’s really no other way to say it. Fourth week at #1, bigger numbers than last week. Also, 21 reenters the top 10 (#14 to #10, 252nd week on the charts).

2) Justin Bieber may not be able to dethrone Adele (who can), but album Purpose is doing well for itself, improving from #3 to #2 this week. Nothing for Bieber to be “Sorry” about here!

3) This week it’s all about rebounds – sound fundamental basketball…err album sales/streams. One Direction’s Made In The A.M. rises from #8 to #4, The Weeknd improves from #10 to #5, while Chris Stapleton’s Traveller moves up three spots from #9 to #6. REBOUNDS!

4) They might have A Head Full of Dreams, but Coldplay’s dreams of remaining in the top 3 have ceased as the album slips from #2 to #7 in its sophomore week.

5) She’s back. Yes, that would be Taylor Swift. 1989. Top 10. Rebound from #12 to #9…Book it. It would take your “Wildest Dreams” to keep Swift from another week in the top 10.

6) Jordan Smith, the newly crowned winner of The Voice sees his collection of vocal performances (The Voice: The Complete Season 9 Collection) debut at #11. Smith’s digital songs are the highest debut on the Billboard 200 this week.

7) Country newcomer Cam sees her debut album Untamed land at #12. Again, it’s victim to poor first week sales and popular albums benefiting from elevated fourth quarter sales/streams.

August Alsina, This Thing Called Life © Def Jam

8) August Alsina’s This Thing Called Life debuts a far cry from the heights of 2014’s Testimony. Alsina settles for a so-so #14 start.

9) R. Kelly’s career seems to be waning… The Buffet becomes the first R. Kelly album to miss the top 10, debuting quietly at #16. If you hadn’t already heard, Kelly DIDN’T experience one of his prouder career moments this week during an interview with HuffPost Live.

10) After debuting fifth place last week, G-Eazy’s When It’s Dark Out slips to #18.

11) Bryson Tiller’s T R A P S O U L continues to hover around the 20s on the Billboard 200. This week, it sits at #25.

12) Josh Groban’s Stages makes a nice rebound from #40 to #26, 34 weeks in.

13) Horrid second week for Rick Ross. His Black Market plummets from #6 to #33. Supposedly, sales won’t improve, at least at Walmart stores. Black Market was pulled from shelves and online (allegedly). At this rate, Ross won’t have to worry about it “being so lonely at the top” as he won’t be there much longer…

14) Troye Sivan’s sophomore week was even worse than G-Eazy’s or Rick Ross’. Let’s just say that that Blue Neighbourhood grew even bluer as the album slides from #7 to #44. Pretty sure Sivan wasn’t referring to his chart position when he was singing “Talk Me Down.”

15) J. Cole has some longevity on the charts with 2014 Forest Hills Drive as it spends its 54th week there. This week, 2014 Forest Hills Drive sits at #52.

5 Seconds of Summer, Sounds Good Feels Good © Capitol

16) 5 Seconds of Summer get a much need boost as Sounds Good Feels Good improves 10 spots from #67 to #57 this week.

17) Logic continues to see The Incredible True Story slide. This week it slips 11 spots from #61 to #72, just five short weeks in.

18) Muse sees Drones improve tremendously from #101 to #74. It hasn’t been smooth sailing for the former #1 album, but this week is a victory for sure.

19) Week two finds the Tender Lover – rather The Return of the Tender Lover free falling 40 spots from #39 to #79. BTW for those not in the know, that would be Babyface.

20) Jeremih isn’t batting a 1000 with Late Nights: The Album. It plummets 50 spots from #42 to #92. At least those “Planez” fly high…

21) Grimes’ much-lauded Art Angels reenters the Billboard 200 at #96. Art Angels debuted at #36. This week marks only the album’s third week on the charts.

22) Alabama Shakes’ Grammy-nominated Sound & Color moves up 16 spots from #116 to #100. Now that’s what you call “keeping it 100!”

23) Big Sean may not be “Waaaayyyy up” on the charts anymore, but his Dark Sky Paradise has spent 43 weeks on the charts. This week, Dark Sky Paradise sits at #118.

24) Poor Barrett Baber. He had the lowest debuting collection of the four The Voice finalists (#137). That’s interesting considering he came in third, yet Jeffery Austin bested him (#106).

25) You know, they say folks don’t go to church like they used to. That must be the problem with Jeezy’s Church In These Streets – nobody wanted to hear the gospel. It slips from #89 to #156 after only five weeks on the chart. NOT GOOD…the devil must be lurking…

Adele, 25 © Columbia

25 Chart Takeaways: Adele Makes It Three Weeks At No. 1

Adele, 25 © Columbia

Prepare to be utterly shocked…Adele is tops for a third consecutive week! SHOCKING…said no one ever. Adele’s dominance plus 24 more chart takeaways!

1) Adele. 25. Enough said. Three weeks and big numbers…NEXT!

2) Adele put Coldplay in unfamiliar territory – the runner-up spot. That’s right – A Head Full Of Dreams settled for #2.

3) G-Eazy’s sophomore album When It’s Dark Out debuts at #5, exceeding the sales of his 2014 debut. These Things Happen debuted better at #3, but with significantly less pure sales.

4) Rick Ross’ luck in the top five of the chart seems to have run out. For the second consecutive album, Ross debuts at #6. Black Market is Ross’ lowest debuting LP in regards to sales.

5) Troye Sivan’s full-length debut Blue Neighbourhood lands at #7 with respectable numbers.

6) The Weeknd spends his 15th week in the top 10 with Beauty Behind The Madness (#10).

7) Taylor Swift finds herself outside of the top 10 once again. 1989 slides from 5th to 12th.

8) Twenty One Pilots sees its sophomore album Blurryface improve 12 spots from #27 to #15.

9) Curren$y’s latest album Canal Street Confidential debuts modestly at #30.

Kid Cudi, Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven © Republic

10) Kid Cudi’s Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven didn’t exactly ‘light up’ the charts. The digital-only effort only mustered up a #36 start.

11) Hmm, folks didn’t welcome back Babyface with open arms. Return of the Tender Lover just barely cracks the top 40 at #39.

12) Jeremih released an album…that’s news to many folks. Late Nights: The Album debuted quietly at #42.

13) Stone Temple PilotsThank You reenters the Billboard 200 at #47 following Scott Weiland’s death.

14) Alessia Cara’s Know-It-All slips 20 spots from #38 to #58.

15) Kendrick Lamar sees his Grammy-nominated To Pimp A Butterfly improve 12 spots from #71 to #59.

16) Logic drops 30 spots this week – OUCH! The Incredible True Story falls from #31 to #61 in just four short weeks on the chart.

17) Mac Miller sees a big jump on the charts with GO:OD AM. After sitting at #180, GO:OD AM rises 118 spots to #62.

18) No confidence whatsoever for Demi LovatoConfident free falls 37 spots from #26 to #63 in week eight.

19) This week, things don’t sound good or feel good for 5 Seconds of Summer. Sounds Good Feels Good drops 32 spots from #35 to #67. Hard to believe this was formerly a number one album.

Jadakiss, Top 5 Dead Or Alive © Def Jam

20) Jadakiss’ Top 5 Dead or Alive drops another 40 spots in week three! The album started at #4, dropped to #44, and this week drops to #84.

Jeezy, Church In These Streets © Def Jam (2)

21) Logic might’ve had a crappy week, but Jeezy’s was worst. Church In These Streets slipped from #34 to #89 – that’s a 55 spot drop!

22) After debuting at #14, Erykah Badu’s mixtape But You Caint Use My Phone drops to #95 in week two.

23) The late Pimp C finds himself gracing the charts posthumously with Long Live The Pimp at #96.

24) Ty Dolla $ign’s Free TC seems to be going nowhere. The effort drops from #86 to #119 four weeks in.

25) It just hasn’t worked out well for Lana Del Rey this go round. Honeymoon slips from #68 to #150 in week 12.

Taylor Swift, 1989 © Big Machine Records

Reaction – 58th Annual Grammy Awards Nominees


Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly © Aftermath : Interscope

The 58th Annual Grammy Awards Nominees have been announced and you know what that means? Yours truly is about to dig in and give his opinion whether the nominees are HOT or NOT – in the most musical way of speaking! Here’s my reaction to some of the categories from the 58th Annual Grammy Awards Nominees!

1. Record of the Year

“Really Love,” D’Angelo And The Vanguard (Black Messiah)

“Uptown Funk,” Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars (Uptown Special)

“Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran (X)

“Blank Space,” Taylor Swift (1989)

“Can’t Feel My Face,” The Weeknd (Beauty Behind The Madness)

Ultimately, the ROTY category is well-rounded, though you might question, where’s “See You Again?” Yes, I know which record that folks are going to pounce on that’s different than the rest – D’Angelo And The Vanguard’s “Really Love.” Yes, it’s the outlier, but the outlier has been victorious in the past, so don’t count it out. Furthermore, D’Angelo deserved at least one big nomination for his exceptional Black Messiah.

Chris Stapleton, Traveller © Mercury

2. Album of the Year

Sound & Color, Alabama Shakes

To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar

Traveller, Chris Stapleton

1989, Taylor Swift

Beauty Behind The Madness, The Weeknd 

So Brent, what are your feelings on this category? Overall, I’m okay with it, save for the snub of D’Angelo and the Vanguard’s Black Messiah. The only surprise that made the nominations is Chris Stapleton’s Traveller. Don’t be surprised if it proves to be an upset over favorites Kendrick Lamar (To Pimp A Butterfly) and Taylor Swift (1989).

3. Song of the Year

“Alright,” Kendrick Lamar (To Pimp A Butterfly)

“Blank Space,” Taylor Swift (1989)

“Girl Crush,” Little Big Town (Pain Killer)

“See You Again,” Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth (Furious 7)

“Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran (X)

The SOTY category is another thoughtfully nominated one – am I really saying this? The pleasant surprise nominees are Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” and Little Big Town’s fine “Girl Crush.” Is there a weakness in this category at all?

4. Best New Artist

Courtney Barnett

James Bay

Sam Hunt

Tori Kelly

Meghan Trainor

Ah, I have a quibble here. Where’s George Ezra and that killer baritone/bass voice of his? Personally, I’m familiar with everyone on this list save for Courtney Barnett, who must’ve taken Ezra’s spot. But like the rest of the big categories, this works.

5. Best Pop Solo Performance 

“Heartbeat Song,” Kelly Clarkson (Piece By Piece)

“Love Me Like You Do,” Ellie Goulding (Fifty Shades of Grey)

“Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran (X)

“Blank Space,” Taylor Swift (1989)

“Can’t Feel My Face,” The Weeknd (Beauty Behind The Madness)

The biggest problem with this category is how in the world do you choose one over another to win! All five performances are top-notch and if you had to pick one a shade less notable, perhaps you go with Clarkson’s “Heartbeat Song” – no shade Kelly!

Kelly Clarkson, Piece By Piece © RCA

8. Best Pop Vocal Album

Piece By Piece, Kelly Clarkson

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, Florence + The Machine

Uptown Special, Mark Ronson

1989, Taylor Swift

Before This World, James Taylor 

Is there a potential upset in this category? A couple. Kelly Clarkson has pulled off unexpected wins in this category twice (Breakaway and Stronger), so you can never count her out. But, there may be an even bigger upset – and by upset we mean someone who can keep Taylor Swift from getting her hands of this Grammy for 1989. That would be veteran James Taylor, whose Before This World gave him his first no. 1 album at 67 years old.

12. Best Rock Performance 

“Don’t Wanna Fight,” Alabama Shakes

“What Kind of Man,” Florence + The Machine (How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful)

“Something From Nothing,” Foo Fighters (Sonic Highways)

“Ex’s & Oh’s,” Elle King (Love Stuff)

“Moaning Lisa Smile,” Wolf Alice (My Love Is Cool)

This is a tight category – quite competitive. Yes, Alabama Shakes stands out thanks to that album of the year nod, but isn’t Florence + The Machine due? Then again, look at a phenomenal breakthrough track like “Ex’s & Oh’s” which came out of nowhere?

Muse, Drones © Warner Bros

15. Best Rock Album

Chaos And The Calm, James Bay

Kintsugi, Death Cab For Cutie

Mister Asylum, Highly Suspect

Drones, Muse

.5: The Gray Chapter, Slipknot

This is one of the more, um, interesting categories. Interestingly, Grammy darlings Foo Fighters are left out of the mix. James Bay is treated as a rock artist, but couldn’t he have easily been considered pop? Highly Suspect? Huh? Who?

Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color © ATO Records

16. Best Alternative Music Album

Sound & Color, Alabama Shakes

Vulnicura, Björk

The Waterfall, My Morning Jacket

Currents, Tame Impala

Star Wars, Wilco 

This category is always one of the most difficult to win. This year, there are some glaring omissions, despite overall solid picks. The two big omissions – Father John Misty’s masterpiece I Love You, Honeybear and Sufjan Steven’s chilling Carrie & Lowell. At least Father John Misty got some love for BEST BOXED OR SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION PACKAGE.

 17. Best R&B Performance 

“If I Don’t Have You,” Tamar Braxton (Calling All Lovers)

“Rise Up,” Andra Day (Cheers To The Fall)

“Breathing Underwater,” Hiatus Kaiyote (Choose Your Weapon)

“Planes,” Jeremih featuring J. Cole

“Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey),” The Weeknd 

I don’t get the R&B performance anymore. The performances choses are often random and being a big R&B enthusiast, performances that should be nominated are snubbed. I’m on board with three of the nominations: Tamar Braxton, Andra Day, and The Weeknd. Where’s Jazmine Sullivan’s “Forever Don’t Last” or Miguel’s “Coffee”? SMH!

The traditional R&B category (not covered on this article) is more well-rounded.

Miguel, Wildheart © RCA

20. Best Urban Contemporary Album 

Ego Death, The Internet

You Should Be Here, Kehlani

Blood, Lianne La Havas

Wildheart, Miguel

Beauty Behind The Madness, The Weeknd 

Again, R&B has became an interesting field because the nominees are no longer who you expect. Two nominees aren’t surprising though and should be the frontrunners – Miguel and The Weeknd.

Andra Day, Cheers To The Fall © Buskin/Warner Bros

21. Best R&B Album 

Coming Home, Leon Bridges

Black Messiah, D’Angelo and the Vanguard

Cheers To The Fall, Andra Day

Reality Show, Jazmine Sullivan

Forever Charlie, Charlie Wilson 

This is the best picked category of the R&B fields. It is sad that Tyrese and Jill Scott are missing in action, but hard to dispute these five. The weakest might be Leon Bridges’ Coming Home which is a solid album if at times somewhat safe, but his soulful pipes and throwback appeal are hard not to honor. The nominee I’m happiest for? Charlie Wilson – he’s deserved this recognition for some time. That said, won’t this be D’Angelo’s to lose?

22. Best Rap Performance

“Apparently,” J. Cole (2014 Forest Hills Drive)

“Back To Back,” Drake

“Trap Queen,” Fetty Wap (Fetty Wap)

“Alright,” Kendrick Lamar (To Pimp A Butterfly)

“Truffle Butter,” Nicki Minaj featuring Drake & Lil Wayne (The Pinkprint)

“All Day,” Kanye West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom & Paul McCartney 

Interesting list. As far as rap performances, this year has been wide open so I’m not surprised by such a varied list here.

Dr. Dre, Compton A Soundtrack © Aftermath:Interscope

25. Best Rap Album

2014 Forest Hills Drive, J. Cole

Compton, Dr. Dre

If You’re Reading This Its Too Late, Drake

To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar

The Pinkprint, Nicki Minaj

Perfect. Couldn’t have picked this one any better myself!

Sam Hunt, Montevallo © MCA Nashville

29. Best Country Album

Montevallo, Sam Hunt

Pain Killer, Little Big Town

The Blade, Ashley Monroe

Pageant Material, Kacey Musgraves

Traveller, Chris Stapleton

Can you say DOGFIGHT? Kacey Musgraves has been victorious previously, so you can’t count her out. Little Big Town’s Pain Killer not only has “Girl Crush,” but also gave us the thrilling “Day Drinking.” Sam Hunt exploded. Chris Stapleton blew up. Ashley Monroe could be fifth, but personally knowing the least about her or her album, I’ve still read positive things. My gut says Hunt, Little Big Town, and Traveller are the ones to watch.

Fifty Shades Of Grey (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) © Republic

58. Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media

Empire: Season 1

Fifty Shades of Grey

Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me

Pitch Perfect 2


This is another competitive, well selected category.

60. Best Song Written For Visual Media

“Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey),” The Weeknd (Fifty Shades of Grey)

“Glory,” Common & John Legend (Selma)

“Love Me Like You Do,” Ellie Goulding (Fifty Shades of Grey)

“See You Again,” Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth (Furious 7)

“Til It Happens To You,” Lady Gaga (The Hunting Ground)

You won’t have to worry about whether The Weeknd or Ellie Goulding fight over the Grammy here – Common and John Legend have it locked.

One Direction, Made in the A.M. © Sony

Thoughts On The 2015 AMA Winners

One Direction, Made in the A.M. © Sony

On Sunday evening, the American Music Awards occurred. Yes, those are the awards where it helps to be popular. That’s not shade (or at least not much), but judging by the winners, it’s obvious which fan bases vote for their favorite artists. While having a choice to vote for an award show is great, particularly given how often a more prestigious awards show like the Grammys come out wrong, the AMAs aren’t without flaw themselves. But enough grumbling, here are some quick thoughts on the winners in the four biggest categories.

Artist of the Year. Once more, the boy band gods spoke and One Direction was awarded artist of the year. My question is WHY? The list even included Taylor Swift, not to mention a breakout artist like The Weeknd yet One Direction win, again. Again, this plays to WHO takes the time to voice their opinions on a broadcast like the AMAs. One Direction has never won a Grammy and arguably, they aren’t the caliber of artist to do so (no shade). However, when it comes to popularity, they come out victorious

New Artist of the Year Presented by Kohl’s. Okay, Sam Hunt getting the nod here is respectable. He’s ushering in the new country movement and for those of us who aren’t all about the honkytonk, twang thing, he’s just what the doctor ordered. Yep, the dude has swagger. Now, whether or not he deserved to best The Weeknd in some folks’ book, well, that’s debatable.

Song of the Year. Taylor Swift had to win something, and she comes out on top with “Blank Space.” No problems here considering it was a stacked nomination field and “Blank Space” was kind of a big deal. Next!

Collaboration of the Year Un-leashed by T-Mobile. Hmm, while Justin Bieber and Skrillex & Diplo ‘did work’ on “Where Are Ü Now,” does it best Wiz Khalifa/Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” or megahit “Uptown Funk!” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars? It’s subjective, but isn’t “Where Are Ü Now” more ‘flavor of the month’ compared to “Uptown Funk!?”

There are more categories, most of which ended up in predictable fashion. There are arguments for and against respective winners (Florida Georgia Line over Sam Hunt – please), but “ain’t nobody got time for that”…analysis that is! Basically, take the AMAs with a grain of salt – maybe even the whole saltshaker!

5 Seconds of Summer, Sounds Good Feels Good © Capitol

25 Chart Takeaways: 5SOS Best Carrie Underwood for No. 1  


5 Seconds of Summer, Sounds Good Feels Good © Capitol

Number one belongs to 5 Seconds of Summer – surprise? No. What if you throw Carrie Underwood’s name in the mix for no. 1, does that make it more of a surprise. Yes. Ultimately, 5SOS Bests Carrie Underwood for top honors on the Billboard 200. That and 24 more takeaways from this week’s chart!

1) 5 Seconds of Summer make it two #1 albums in a row as Sounds Good Feels Good bows atop the Billboard 200. 5SOS outpace established country artist Carrie Underwood in the process.

 Carrie Underwood, Storyteller © Sony Music Nashville

2) #2 isn’t bad – Underwood’s Storyteller settles for the runner-up spot.

3) The Weeknd is having the best year of his career. Beauty Behind The Madness stays put at #3 in week nine. Fetty Wap isn’t doing bad for himself either, moving up one spot from #5 to #4.

4) Blake Shelton can make buzz even when he’s not dropping a new studio album. Reloaded: 20 #1 Hits debuts at #5.

Pentatonix © RCA

5) Pentatonix’s self-titled album slides from #1 to #8 in week two.

6) Andrea Bocelli claims another top 10 album as Cinema starts at #10.

7) Adele’s diamond-certified 21 improves 68 spots from #79 to #11, marking its 245th week on the Billboard 200. Adele’s debut album 19 also has a great week, reentering the chart at #36, marking its 189th week.

8) Arguably his quietest release, DJ Khaled’s I Changed A Lot settles for an unremarkable #12 start.

Demi Lovato, Confident © Hollywood

9) Not so Confident this week, Demi Lovato’s fifth studio album slides 11 spots from #2 to #13.

10) Rod Stewart doesn’t seem to have that same sales magic he once did. Another Country settles for a #20 bow.

Bryson Tiller, T R A P S O U L © Bryson Tiller / RCA

11) Bryson Tiller sees his T R A P S O U L continue to hang right around the top 20/top 30 of the Billboard 200. This week, the album improves from #28 to #21.

The Game, The Documentary 2.5 © Entertainment One

12) The Game is clearly fading. The Documentary 2 drops 16 spots from #11 to #27, while the younger The Documentary 2.5 slips 23 spots from #6 to #29.

13) Chris Tomlin sees Christmas album, Adore: Christmas Songs of Worships debuts at #31.

14) Sam Hunt’s mixtape (country artists release mixtapes?) Between the Pines: Acoustic Mixtape, debuts at #33.

Machine Gun Kelly, General Admission © Bad Boy / Interscope

15) After a respectable debut at #4 last week, Machine Gun Kelly sees his sophomore album General Admission slip 30 spots to #34.

16) Janet Jackson takes a mighty tumble as Unbreakable drops 27 spots from #14 to #41, just four short weeks in.

Harry Connick, Jr., That Would Be Me © Columbia

17) Harry Connick, Jr.’s latest album, That Would Be Me, quietly lands on the chart at #47.

18) Marianas Trench debut at #53 with latest album, Astoria. Hmm, #53 doesn’t yield major level swag – or numbers!

19) Dropping 50 spots is never a good thing. Just ask Coheed and Cambria, whose The Color Before The Sun free falls from #10 to #61.

Lana Del Rey, Honeymoon © Interscope

20) Not much of a Honeymoon for Lana Del Rey as the album continues to drop, this time 12 more spots from #58 to #70 in only six weeks.

BØRNS, Dopamine © Interscope

21) Despite how awesome BØRNS’ debut Dopamine is, the album slipped 68 spots from #24 to #91 in only two weeks.

22) No lovers came when Tamar Braxton called – Calling All Lovers dips from #67 to #103 after just four weeks.

23) Not to pick on Toby Keith, but would he have been better off NOT releasing his flop of an album 35 MPH Town? In just three weeks the album has sat at #14, #66, and this week #144. That’s a 78 spot drop this week!

Tyrese, Black Rose © Voltron Recordz

24) Tyrese’s Black Rose improves 28 spots from #175 to #147.

Avicii, Stories © Island

25) Avicii continued his drop this week – and no not a bass drop! Stories slipped another 51 spots from #135 to #186.

Pentatonix © RCA

25 Chart Takeaways: Pentatonix Beats Demi Lovato For Top Spot

Pentatonix © RCA 

Ah, there was quite a fight for the top spot on the Billboard 200 this week. Ultimately, the a cappella darlings bested the former Disney pop diva, though neither album exactly set a new precedent for album impact or sales. Those takeaways and more!

1) Pentatonix’s self-titled album of originals won the battle to top the Billboard 200, meaning Demi Lovato’s Confident settled for runner-up.

2) The Weeknd doesn’t seem to be budging much from the top of the charts; it’s #3 this week. Beauty Behind The Madness has already surpassed gold status.

3) Machine Gun Kelly sees his sophomore album General Admission debut at #4. Similarly, 2012 effort Laced Up also landed at #4.

The Game, The Documentary 2.5 © Entertainment One

4) No such luck for a repeat top-five performance for The Game; The Documentary 2.5 debuts much more modestly at #6. The Documentary 2 slid from #2 to #11 in week two.

5) Selena Gomez’s Revival did last just one week, as it slips from #1 to #8 in week two.

6) Coheed and Cambria see The Color Before The Sun debut at #10.

7) Kidz Bop 30 missed the top 10, settling for a modest #12 start. Hmm, Are the Kidz fading?

Janet Jackson, Unbreakable © Rhythm Nation / BMG

8) Janet Jackson falls six more spots this week as Unbreakable slips from #8 to #14 in week three.

BØRNS, Dopamine © Interscope

9) BØRN’s Dopamine debuts at #24. The album itself is sexier than the debut… just saying!

10) Joe Budden takes All Love Lost to #29. Considering it was such a low profile release, a top 30 debut isn’t too shabby.

11) Don Henley’s Cass County ‘drops double’ – it slips from #18 to #36 in week four.

12) Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly improves from #60 to #43 in week 32. Good Kid M.A.A.D City also rebounds from #72 to #55.

13) Despite the success of single “Cheerleader,” newcomer OMI’s debut album Me 4 U only mustered up a #51 debut.

R. City, What Dreams Are Made Of © RCA

14) R. City’s debut What Dreams Are Made Of drops 27 spots from #25 to #52.

15) Mac Miller isn’t having his best run. GO:OD AM slips 19 more spots from #34 to #53 after a short five week stay on the charts.

16) Mac Miller isn’t the only artist suffering from lackadaisical sales. Lana Del Rey slips from #39 to #58 in her fifth week in, after starting in promising fashion at #2.

17) Meek Mill hasn’t been the same since throwing Drake under the bus. Dreams Worth More Than Money slips 14 spots from #47 to #61 in week 17.

18) Toby Keith’s 35 MPH Town is going nowhere. In week two, the once popular country singer’s album fell 52 spots from #14 to #66. Another country artist, Jana Kramer, experienced a sharp second week decline as Thirty-One slipped from 10th to 68th.

Tamar Braxton, Calling All Lovers © Epic

19) Poor Tamar Braxton. Despite the awesomeness of Calling All Lovers, it’s a flop. It began at #5, fell 25 spots to #30 in week two, and this week it falls 37 spots to #67.

20) Eclectic/alternative newcomer Raury debuts at #78 with All We Need.

21) Jamie Lawson, who is signed to Ed Sheeran’s Gingerbread Man Records, debuts at #87 with his self-titled album.

Dr. Dre, Compton A Soundtrack © Aftermath:Interscope

22) Dr. Dre’s Compton slips 24 spots from #66 to #90, 11 weeks in.

Tori Kelly, Unbreakable Smile © Capitol

23) Tori Kelly sees her Unbreakable Smile improve 36 spots from #162 to #126.

24) Miguel’s Wildheart reenters the charts at #132.

25) Avicii’s latest album, Stories, slips 63 spots from #73 to #135. Can you say epic flop?

Taylor Swift, 1989 © Big Machine Records

58th Annual Grammy Nomination Predictions – The Pop Categories!

Taylor Swift, 1989 © Big Machine Records

The Grammy nominations will be unveiled before we know it. Before they are, here’s a look at who might snag nominations in the pop categories. Yes, that means Taylor Swift is a factor. Here we go!

Best Pop Solo Performance 

Ed Sheeran, X © Atlantic

Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”

Taylor Swift, “Blank Space” (1989)

The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face” (Beauty Behind the Madness)

Meghan Trainor, “Lips Are Movin” (Title)

Rachel Platten, “Fight Song”

Kelly Clarkson, “Heartbeat Song” (Piece By Piece) 

There are plenty of alluring, deserving pop solo performances this year – it’s just a matter of preference. Saying that this is Taylor Swift’s category to lose would be a massive understatement, no matter how great or popular “Blank Space” was. If the category looks anything like the aforementioned, it could be a crapshoot.

If you buy into the hype of Ed Sheeran being nominated for “Thinking Out Loud” on technicality (outside of his true eligibility period), that instantly intensifies the competition for one of the finest tracks on his X album. Even without him, what if The Weeknd gets a pop nomination for “Can’t Feel My Face” – definitely a better fit in the pop category than urban categories – that also stiffens things.

Trainor’s “Lips Are Movin” is no slouch, though “All About That Bass” was the breakthrough for her, while “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten is so uplifting. Don’t forget about Kelly Clarkson, who can pull off an upset easily it seems. There are others who would be a home here too, but it would be surprising not to see Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran (in some shape or fashion) nominated here. 

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Mark Ronson, Uptown Special © RCA

Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk” (Uptown Special)

Maroon 5, “Sugar” (V)

Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar, “Blank Space” (1989)

Meghan Trainor featuring John Legend, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” (Title)

Kelly Clarkson featuring John Legend, “Run Run Run” (Piece By Piece)

Twenty One Pilots, “Tear In My Heart” (Blurryface)

Pop Duo/Group also has plenty of worthy contenders. “Uptown Funk!” is likely the favorite, no way that you shake it. Sure, this would be a likely category to nominate Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar’s remix of “Bad Blood,” but there’s also the possibility that should it be nominated, it is placed in the Best Rap/Sung category. Taylor swift nominated in a rap category potentially – whoa!

Even if “Uptown Funk!” is the favorite, watch out for Maroon 5’s “Sugar,” which was nothing short of sugary sweet. If for some reason there’s an eligibility issue, could the explicit “This Summer’s Gonna Hurt” get a nod here? Also if Meghan Trainor has an abundance of nominations, she could see her duet with Grammy darling John Legend pop up here, perhaps more so than that schmaltzy retro-pop collaboration with Charlie Puth – just saying! Kelly Clarkson could also get John Legend another nod with “Run Run Run,” one of the years great, if underrated duets. What about all this non-love for Twenty One Pilots? Personally, it would be great to see “Tear In My Heart” get some love here.

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

Josh Groban, Stages © Reprise

Josh Groban, Stages

Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap, The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern

Diana Krall, Wallflower

This hasn’t been the greatest year for traditional pop in its most traditional sense. Josh Groban definitely fits the mode with Stages. Tony Bennett’s collaboration with pianist Bill Charlap is a possibility as well IF this is the category that the particular album is nominated in as opposed to a jazz category.   There’s also the return of Diana Krall with Wallflower, which covers classics including “California Dreamin’” and “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.” We all know if Tony Bennett is nominated here though, WATCH OUT! 

P.S., could Nina Simone tribute album Nina Revisited get the nod here if voters “stretch” – would that be far-fetched?

Best Pop Vocal Album

Florence + The Machine, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful © Island

Taylor Swift, 1989

Florence + The Machine, How Big How Blue How Beautiful

Meghan Trainor, Title

Kelly Clarkson, Piece By Piece

Twenty One Pilots, Blurryface

Adam Lambert, The Original High

Tori Kelly, Unbreakable Smile 

George Ezra, Wanted On Voyage

James Bay, Chaos and the Calm

If there is one category that is Taylor Swift’s to lose, it would seem to be Best Pop Vocal Album. While Taylor Swift is one of the surest nominees in the album of the year category, there are technically better albums positioned beside her (Kendrick Lamar should be a lock there as well). That said, if 1989 isn’t given “the big one” at the Grammys, it could earn Swift her first award for an album since Fearless won both album of the year and best country album.

Who is Swift’s biggest competition – Florence + The Machine and Kelly Clarkson. Adam Lambert is deserving of a nod for The Original High, as are Twenty One Pilots for Blurryface, but both could be easily overlooked. The Weeknd might even muster up an nod here for Beauty Behind The Madness given the pop success and pop crossover appeal. Still, hard to see Taylor Swift miss on this one.