Goodbye Summer, Hello Leather (Top 10 Songs of the Summer)

Hello World!

Since my little hiatus, a lot has happened in the world of music—too much really, but not enough at the same time. The summer is known for a lot of things in NYC, from tourists swarming Times Square and ConEd thriving in overpriced bills, to lots of weekend BBQs and getaways to popular beach spots (no matter how gross they are). But perhaps most of all, it’s known for its wonderful music festivals and shows. So I’ve compiled a list of interesting events, and of course, the top 10 songs of Summer 2013. 

Based on Billboard, iTunes, MySpace, the VMAs, and my own bias (sorry, I refuse to include Miley on here), here’s the list:

  1. Avicii, “Wake Me Up”
  2. Robin Thicke, “Blurred Lines”
  3. Daft Punk, “Get Lucky”
  4. Jay-Z, “Holy Grail” (I mean, we could highlight the whole album, really)
  5. Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
  6. Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive”
  7. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, “Can’t Hold Us” (seriously, this is played at least once an hr on the radio)
  8. Ellie Goulding, “I Need Your Love,” “Burn” (& “Fall Into the Sky” if you so please)
  9. Miguel, “Adorn”
  10. Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX, “I Love It”
  11. Kendrick Lamar “B*tch, Don’t Kill My Vibe
  12. Lorde, “Royals” (I know I said 10, but she’s probably going to blow up, so just think of it as a bonus)

So to recap this summer…

Daft Punk took us into another decade* (once again) with Random Access Memories

Kanye West & Billie Holiday made us shiver

The hippies of the 21st Century took the “high life” to another level

Jay Z and JT changed the face of music once again

And most importantly of all…I ran into Robin Thicke (more to come on this), and then a week later, Miley twerked on him

So was your summer in NYC a success? I hope so. And if not, I hope you’re at LEAST taking advantage of Made in America this weekend. Either way, there’s a lot of new music coming up so be sure to check the FB page/back here every once in a while.

Oh, and just in case you didn’t know…LEATHER IS BACK.

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Is Jay-Z Taking a Pay Cut?

If you watched the NBA Finals game last night, you probably saw Jay-Z’s advertisement, announcing the release of his new album Magna Carta Holy Grail. In addition to the mastermind himself, the ad features some of the most talented producers in the game: Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, and Rick Rubin. Immediately after the ad aired, the world took to the internet — fans announced their excitement, and most seemed to agree that this was a genius marketing strategy.

So what is the deal exactly? Well, the first million Samsung Galaxy users will be able to download an app that provides access to Magna Carta for free, 3 days before the rest of the world gets access on July 4th. But what the world didn’t see in the ad, are the gritty details behind this deal.

Samsung paid Jay-Z $5 million upfront for the rights to release the album to 1 million users for free. Think that sounds like a lot? Think again. Most albums range from $10.99 to $12.99. That’s 1 million users x $13 = $13 million, versus $5 million. And because Jay-Z is Jay-Z, chances are he gets close to 70% of the revenue from his album sales.

Now how much of a coincidence it that this announcement was made a few days after Kanye West’s album leaked all over the internet? And then what about J. Cole’s? In the world of Hip Hop, album leaks aren’t a new phenomenon. Perhaps this is why Jay-Z is starting this #newrules campaign. He recently tweeted (which he never does):

Tweets

See Jay-Z may be taking a “pay cut” based on strict album sales, but he’s getting a pay raise in terms of net revenue. In 2008, he made a $150 million deal with Live Nation, part of which includes a $25 million upfront payment to Jay-Z and $10 million per album for a minimum of three albums over the next decade. In other words, Jay-Z is already getting paid for this new album release. In addition, he not only has a leg up for any upcoming tours based on the Magna Carta album, but also made a major deal with a $195 billion company. This deal will shape the future of the music industry, creating a platform for other mobile companies to compete with Apple’s music sales.

So what’s the bottom line? It’s not just about album sales. In fact, it may not be about album sales at all. Platinum status? Good luck to Billboard on calculating this one.

Is Judith Hill the Next Jennifer Hudson?

Back in 2004, a young Jennifer Hudson was voted off American Idol’s Season 4. Despite her impressive rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” during the prior week, America chose 6 other contestants to advance into the top spots. Now, almost 9 years later, Hudson’s career has far surpassed those of any of her fellow contestants’ careers –even the singer that won, Fantasia Barrino. Hudson’s success took off when she starred in Dreamgirls. Now Hudson sports a Grammy, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award, and an Academy Award…just to name a few.

So what’s the moral of the story? Well, when it comes to TV shows, America’s voters don’t always know best. Success isn’t handed out on a platter in the music industry. A singer may have an incredible voice, but without the proper work ethic — the do what you have to do to make it type — chances are, that singer won’t have a long successful career.

Fast forward to 2013, another controversial vote occurred last week during America’s The Voice.  Judith Hill, mainly known for working with Michael Jackson in preparation of his “This is It” Tour, was voted off the show. Ironically enough, America chose 6 other contestants to move into the next round, the exact number of contestants that advanced past Jennifer Hudson.

Judith Hill’s presence on the show has been fairly controversial. Many argue that she is already a professional, and that the show should be about amateurs trying to make it big. But when asked about why she went on The Voice, Judith Hill answered with a very different reason:
“I had all sorts of weirdos coming at me [with possibly shady offers], and I didn’t know who to trust. I was kind of overwhelmed. You know, a lot of people may promise you the world or say certain things. I did get into a few different situations, and I learned quickly that these people weren’t right for me or they had other motives that weren’t clean. I learned a lot. It was good to go through that process and realize that I’ve got to be careful.”

Shows like American Idol and The Voice give artists opportunities to not only develop their style and character, but to also gain a huge fan base. This gives them leverage. As opposed to auditioning for a record label, which has substantial power in determining how artists should be “shaped” to sell records, successful artists from The Voice are already recognized by the world–a world that is waiting for a new album. Last week, Judith Hill performed her own rendition of Will.i.am’s “That Power” (see below). Some could argue that it was an even better version than the original. Unlike many of the other contestants who looked nervous and awkward on stage, Hill graced America with her unique style, big hair, and amazing musicianship. Yet, for some reason, she was voted off.

So we have to wonder if Hill gained enough leverage to guide her own career and avoid the “weirdos,” despite being voted off early. Only time will tell, but if I had to put money on it, I’d say that she may just wind up with a few more Grammys that Jennifer Hudson herself.

Kanye Premieres Controversial “New Slaves” Videos

Kanye’s swarming the world with his new music videos, premiering on a wall near you. His lyrics are racy, and the marketing plan is genius. If you’re in the NYC area tonight head out to one of these locations to see the next premieres:

1:15am – Louis Vuitton – E 57th St & 5th Ave

1:30am – Prada W 56th St & 5th Avenue

They throwing hate at me
Want me to stay at ease
Fuck you and your corporation
Y’all niggas can’t control me
I know that we the new slaves
I know that we the new slaves

Rumor Has It…Beyoncé’s Preggo

Beyonce preggo

After the Daily News came out with the story a few days ago, sources from E! news and others are beginning to confirm it: Beyoncé is pregnant. The speculation took off after the singer was forced to cancel her show in Belgium on Tuesday. Doctors had advised her to rest “as a result of dehydration and exhaustion.”

Oh the life of being a celebrity. Everyone speculates about YOUR stomach, and YOUR future child that hasn’t even gotten through the 1st/2nd trimester. Needless to say, we do love Beyoncé, but don’t envy her right now. Good luck B. And good luck to all of the Mrs. Carter ticket holders who probably just wasted a ton of cash.

Ray J Releases “I Hit It First” Video

Earlier today, Ray J officially released his music video for his controversial single “I Hit It First.” After Ray J adamantly claimed that the song was not about Kim K (yea right), the video not only includes a Kim K look-alike but shows Ray J watching Kim K on E Television in the last scene. So either Ray J really wants his money or he’s a bit of a stalker. Either way, if there’s anything we can take away from this, it’s 2 words: stupidity sells.

HiFadility Drops New Album: The Gateway

It’s past midnight, kids. I don’t know about you but nothing gets me through late night studies, wandering thoughts, and aimless web browsing more than music. And on this wonderful night, the universe is blessing us with some great new tracks: the sounds of emerging DJ/Producer HiFadility, referred to by Maya Gaul, CC ’13. Inspired by the likes of Miles Davis, Theolonius Monk, and Duke Ellington, HiFadility’s music seems to interplay between jazz, soul, hip-hop, and really nothing that exists quite yet–hence the excitement surrounding his new album. Titled “The Gateway,” it represents the portal a traveler passes through before a journey — this project is an introduction to the laid-back vibe and direction of the The Traveler.

So far, I like what I hear. Smooth jazz vibes, nice electric guitar solos (“L’Amore”), and some dope syncopated beats (“I am H.E.R.E.”). But don’t let me sway you too much just yet. Check out the link below and decide for yourself. HiFadility’s full project is slated to be released next month.

What do Jacob Snider and Lady Gaga Have in Common?

“This is how it feels to be boarding a moving train
smoke from the sky
blinding your eyes
all of your dreams can be real life
all of your dreams can be real life…”
– Jacob Snider

Jacob Snider is probably one of the most talented lyricists on Columbia’s campus right now. His lyrics flow like poetry, and his voice seems to penetrate the hearts of his listeners. The lyrics above from his song, “Real Life” must seem ever so “real” to him right now, as he not only joins the ranks of Lady Gaga, but Macy Gray, Counting Crows and countless other artists in being chosen by Broadcast Music, Inc. for “Pick of the Month.”  The idea of this award is to give artists exposure to the music industry through access to a top-rated venue at a discounted price. In other words, it’s a sure way to advance one’s career and fan base outside of campus.

As I always say, it’s always a good idea to take advantage of these performances now — you know, before we wind up having to pay hundreds of dollars for Lady Gaga tickets. Jacob Snider is scheduled to perform at Rockwood Music Hall tomorrow, April 23rd, at 9 pm. It’s a free show, 21+. Unfamiliar with Jake’s music? I’ve got you covered. Check out his SoundCloud below, and if you’re short on time go ahead and skip to “Real Life.” More info can be found about him at jacobsnider.com.