Will Lorde or Daft Punk Steal the Show at the Grammys? Here are My Predictions

Well folks, the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards are now a part of the past and next up is (the best award show), the Grammy’s! I’ll be posting my predictions and news leading into the event so keep checking back (or subscribe on the home page) for new posts.

First up, my predictions for the top categories:

The nominees for Record of the Year are:

Get Lucky – Daft Punk Featuring Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgerz

Radioactive – Imagine Dragons

Royals – Lorde

Locked Out Of Heaven – Bruno Mars

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell

And the winner is: Get Lucky by Daft Punk. Sucks for Robin Thicke because his Blurred Lines hit has yet to win an award, but I think this category will be a toss up between “Royals” and “Get Lucky.” Personally, I’d prefer Lorde to steal the show with her breakout song, and pretty much send a middle finger to the stereotypes of the music industry. But, let’s be real, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” is the quintessential Grammy song of the year.

Daft Punk

The nominees for ALBUM OF THE YEAR are:

The Blessed Unrest – Sara Bareilles

Random Access Memories – Daft Punk

Good Kid, M.A.A.D City – Kendrick Lamar

The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Red – Taylor Swift

And the winner is: Random Access Memories by Daft Punk. Lots of good contenders in this category but once again, it’s the Grammy’s and Daft Punk did a hell of a job selling their album. It was number one in 20 different countries, and they limited the electronic instrumentation to drum machines a custom-built modular synthesizer, and vintage vocoders. It’s also incredible that the music is live – in an age of EDM and trance music, it’s refreshing to hear an album that gives the genre a bit of a different sound.

daft-punk-random-access-memories

The nominees for SONG OF THE YEAR are: 

Just Give Me A Reason – Jeff Bhasker, Pink & Nate Ruess, songwriters (Pink Featuring Nate Ruess)

Locked Out Of Heaven – Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine & Bruno Mars, songwriters (Bruno Mars)

Roar – Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry & Henry Walter, songwriters (Katy Perry)

Royals – Joel Little & Ella Yelich O’Connor, songwriters (Lorde)

Same Love – Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert & Ryan Lewis, songwriters (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Mary Lambert)

And the winner is: Royals, sung by Lorde. Finally! This song gets a Grammy. This one should be self explanatory…the lyrics are quite incredible and the song is still popular. Even old folks like it. Runner up? Macklemore’s “Same Love.” Nothing like a song that questions and changes the way we think as a human race.

Lorde Royals

The nominees for BEST NEW ARTIST are: 

James Blake

Kendrick Lamar

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Kacey Musgraves

Ed Sheeran

And the winner is: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Kendrick Lamar might take this one but I think the odds are in Macklemore and Lewis’ favor. They’ve been a national sensation and it’s quite incredible how they did it. Their song “Thrift Shop” was the first song to reach #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 without the backing of a major label. The Heist meanwhile, reached number 2 on the US Billboard 200 chart. Also, they’ve been nominated for 7 Grammys total, speaking to how much the Grammy voters loveee the duo.

macklemore

The nominees for BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE are:

Brave – Sara Bareilles

Royals – Lorde

When I Was Your Man – Bruno Mars

Roar – Katy Perry

Mirrors – Justin Timberlake

And the winner is: Roar by Katy Perry. To be honest… I have no idea who is going to win this one. It wouldn’t make much logical sense that Lorde should win Song of the Year and not Pop Solo Performance BUTTTT I have a feeling Katy might take this one (or Sara Bareilles). That song basically made my ears bleed b/c its been played so many times at events/clubs.

katy_perry_roar

The nominees for BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE are:

Get Lucky – Daft Punk Featuring Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers

Just Give Me a Reason – Pink Featuring Nate Reuss

Stay – Rihanna Featuring Mikky Ekko

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell

Suit & Tie – Justin Timberlake & Jay Z

And the winner is: Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke. Again, this one is a toss up too but Pharrell has a pretty nice odds of winning doesn’t he? I think Robin’s going to have to walk away with an award tonight, otherwise the entire world will question why the song was so popular in the first place. Yes, it was controversial but…even Marvin Gaye admitted (albeit through a lawsuit) that the song sounds as great as his.

blurred-lines-cover

 

And those are my predictions for the major categories. Win or lose, I’m sure every nominee knows that they’ve won by merely being on the list…still, it would blow to be nominated multiple times and not walk away with one (*cough* Robin Thicke).

The Eleven Best Musical Tributes to Beyonce

Since Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter has officially taken over the world, it seems only appropriate to look at her journey from a fan perspective. Her music has touched a multitude of people from different cultures, races, and cities. The below videos display some of the best tributes to Beyoncé that are on the Internet, as well as covers of her songs. After 5 albums with Destiny’s Child, 5 of her own, a baby and a husband…you have to wonder how she does it all. While the videos don’t display all of the amazing musical tributes that her Bee Hive has created, it does speak to the influence that she has had on fans around the world–not only in changing the meaning of “creativity,” but in many cases, helping fans propel their own careers to the next level (related: How Artists Get Views on YouTube).

1. Evolution of Beyoncé by Pentatonix

2. Love on Top (Cover) by Syesha

3. Drunk in Love by Ari Lennox

(seriously thought she was lip synching at first)

3a. Had to add this Drunk in Love cover…this kid is adorable

4. Beyonce Dance Series by WildaBeast Adams

5. Run the World (Girls) – Dance Cover by Black Queen

5a. This is also adorable..

6. Best Thing I Never Had by Tori Kelley & Todrick Hall

7. If I Were a Boy (Cover) by Rachel Crow

Yea, this one went viral pretty quickly..

8. Say My Name (Cover) by Flearoy The Band

9. Cater 2 U (Cover) by Passion & Melvin

10. Listen (Cover) by Melanie Amaro

(Let’s be real, everyone did a cover of “Listen” at one point, but this one was pretty impressive…)

11. Hello (Acoustic Cover)

11a. Hello by Rin on the Rox (using the above instrumental)

And as a bonus…remember this amazing live version of Halo by Queen B herself?

Sail Out or Sell Out: Is Jhene Aiko Really the Next Sade?

“Sail Out means to be free, go with the wind, like a sailboat. I think that’s really important when it comes to peace…inner peace especially. You can’t help anyone else if you don’ t have it together for yourself.” – Jhené Aiko

If you haven’t listened to Jhené Aiko’s new EP Sail Out yet, then you should.

Not because it’s good, not because it will change your life, not even because you have nothing else to do (besides read this article).  You should listen because it will make you a part of history.

That line is dramatic, I know…but it caught you’re attention. Perhaps starting with Kanye West and moving all the way to Frank Ocean and to Drake’s most recent project, the “R&B” and “Pop” records being put out today are…well, different.

Take Jhené Aiko. This is her first project under Artium (part of Def Jam), which was established by producer/Def Jam executive VP of A&R Dion “No I.D.” Wilson, who signed Aiko as his first artist in late 2011.

When speaking about Aiko, he says, “When I heard Jhené, she immediately struck me as the first female voice in what I call the new wave of R&B. She understands full-on melodies and emotion but writes freestyle lyrics on par with hip-hop depth and complexity. In my eyes she’s a modern Sade.”

He seriously thinks she’s the new wave of R&B, a modern Sade at that. To be honest, I don’t really hear it. If anything, she reminds me of the female version of Drake. That stream of conscious [emo, to be frank] type of music where each song compliments the other. Almost as if you were listening to one very long track.

Still I can’t deny the fact that her music is finally garnering a lot of interest—she has been creating music for quite a long time. Jhené was signed under Epic (the same label as B2K) at the young age of 13, but left after 2 years to finish school and “explore her options.” She spent the next several years around the music business, but by 2008 she had given birth to a girl with Omarion’s brother, singer O’Ryan.

Her next project was a mixtape called Sailing Soul(s). This latest EP, Sail Out is a precursor to her first solo album, Souled Out (see the pattern here?).

Even if you aren’t quite in love yet with Jhené’s music, you have to give her credit for her lyrical talent (she wrote all 7 songs on the EP) as well as sticking with a consistent style. The genius behind putting this EP out before her album is that it gives her leverage as an artist. Given the politics behind the music industry and her dropping from Epic at an early age, we can surmise that she hasn’t been given the creative power that she desires. She has been featured on songs by many reputable artists, but has never “broken out’ per say. Building momentum pre-album release not only gives her a broader fan base, but it also gives her creative power for her subsequent performances, music videos, and subsequent projects.

Now, onto the music.

Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Childish Gambino are just a few who appear on her EP. And here are a few of my favorite lines by Ms. Aiko:

“We do not exist in any other instant. Here in this dimension you and I are meant to be. I have waited lifetimes to find you. Now that you’re here I can remind you of the things you’ve been dreaming, times two.“ – Stay Ready

 “I am Alice, I’m in Wonderland. Where’s the rabbit? He is late again. Goodness, Gracious. I can’t wait for him. Who has got the time? Round and round and Round and round we go. It’s just like the same scenario. Good for nothing, feels like somethin’ ain’t right” – WTH

 “wait, now my thoughts so cloudy and my heart so crowded with pain. I am so frustrated like my soul’s been taken away. Broken promise of everything that I thought you were. Thought you said this would never hurt. That’s what it did that is all…I do not fear the thought of falling, thought I could fly…” – 3:16am

“And don’t take it personal, but you’re the worst. You know what you’ve done to me and although it hurts I know…I just can’t keep runnin’ away” – The Worst (see below for the new video)

Sing a Song! Sing a Note! Sing a Chord? My Take on Lalah Hathaway’s New Sound

Firstly, I have to apologize to all of my readers for being extremely late on this post. This should be about getting all of you the interesting music quickly, before mainstream takes over and ruins all of the fun, and I’ve failed here.

I watched the video below of Lalah Hathaway a week or 2 ago, and sadly, I’m just writing about it now. Nevertheless, it’s still important to highlight because she may just be changing the face of music as we know it today.

Snarky Puppy is a Brooklyn, NY based group led by Michael League that was formed in Texas in 2004. The band comprises nearly 50 musicians, many of whom were once students at the University of North Texas. They are not your typical band as they perform on a variety of instruments including guitars, pianos, woodwinds, brass, and percussion.

In March of this year, Snarky Puppy and special guests convened at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke, VA to record a series of live performances that would bring attention and benefit to the ongoing work of the center.

One of the performers was Lalah Hathaway, who needs no introduction. She stands at the edge of the stage as a conductor normally would—though a microphone takes the place of the typical conductor’s music stand and her voice takes the place of the baton. Each band member can see her clearly; they do not have music stands either, nor a single piece of sheet music.

Neo-soul, afrojazz, Earth Wind & Fire, grand improvisation, perfect crescendos and decrescendos are all words that come to mind while listening to this song (what comes to yours?).

And then Big band…

The number of talented musicians that grace the stage makes the process seem complex in and of itself. But the music may not be as complex as one may initially believe. In fact, it ‘s foundation is simple. The keyboard begins in half steps and initial transitions are in whole steps – maybe a jump or two in between (a 4th to be exact). Why? Well, check out minute 3. It’s all about the voice, the music creates itself around Lalah Hathaway, as if her voice is the tree, and leaves flow from the branches perfectly (or something).

And then the vibes…

4:40, the backup singers kick in, the band starts vibing, Lalah’s tempo takes off in jazz-influenced ad-libs.

And then the magic…

6:12, I don’t know what else to call it besides a chord – or maybe two simultaneous notes? Lalah sings simultaneous notes with her voice. I think. Is that even possible? Then she does it again. Really, how is that possible? Again. I think, it might be possible Again. IT’S POSSIBLE.

One blogger, Mal Webb had an interesting take on it, writing:

“…I’m fairly sure what she’s doing isn’t actually “overtones”, as in the air in oral cavities resonating to create another note (which are the high overtones or “harmonics” that the Mongolian/Tuvan singers do). Lalah’s is a vibration of the “false vocal folds” (also called “ventricular folds”), which are two fleshy parts either side of the vocal folds that can be drawn together to create extra notes (or noise!). It’s these that create the Tuvan/Tibetan/Inuit throat singing “growls”, as well as death-metal screaming and rock distortion. But what Lalah is doing is a much lighter, breathy contact”…

I’m pretty sure it’s a combination of overtones and the above description – along with two notes. Don’t take it from me though. Let your ears have a listen. 

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.

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.

Cinema Meets Music: Inside the Mind of Music Director, Woodkid

His real name is Yoann Lemoine, but he goes by the stage name Woodkid. He’s a music video director, graphic designer, and singer-songwriter who’s known for directing Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” Drake’s “Take Care,” and other mainstream videos. But he’s also becoming known for taking a different outlook on music, and life. Myspace recently sat down and talked with Woodkid as he walked through his visions behind Katy Perry and Drake’s video, as well as some others. Perhaps the most striking feature of this interview, was Woodkid’s response to the meaning behind his song/video “Run Boy Run”:

I was obsessed with the character you decide to play in life—[whether] based on anger, running way from something, revenge, very strong teenage excitement and invincibility feeling—you can feel [that] in my videos. There’s that teenage scream in my videos. I thought that was interesting because I could link it to a lot of things I love, like fashion. Putting a disguise on your body, cheating who are you are, [it’s] almost an armor around yourself. 

The video is dark, the song is dark, and yet it tells a story…it’s cinematic. Without even seeing the video, you can feel as if you should be watching a movie. The loud drums, the violins, and the overlapping elements of the song are all so intriguing. And somehow, one can’t help but hope that this boy escapes and reaches tomorrow…because we’ve all ran from something at some point another, haven’t we?

run boy run break out from society. 

24 Songs for Graduation

Graduation season is here, and it’s about time to make our slideshows of embarrassing pictures,  reunite with family whose names we can’t remember, and reminisce over the past 4 years. Below are some songs that you may want to consider in making your videos. Or you can just sit here, listen to each one, and think about how life has passed you by. The songs are in no particular order, but beware…you may shed some tears.

Song List:

1. Kanye West – “Hey Mama”: Because where would we be without our moms?
2. T.I. feat Rihanna – “Live Your Life“: Really, remember to breathe when you walk across the stage
3. The Script – “Live Like We’re Dying”: Live each day like it’s your last…does life begin or end after college?
4. Nas – “I Can”: The song that gave us hope when we were so young still seems relevant today. You can do it.
5. Plain White T’s – “Hey There Delilah”: Hey there…what’s it like in New York City?
6. Boyz II Men – “End of the Road”: The type of song where you hug your best friend and look up to the sky
7. Alicia Keys & Jay Z – “Empire State of Mind”: Nothing like having an anthem made for the city you live in
8. Jay Z – “A Billi”: Because that’s what we all plan to make after graduation (although plans don’t always work out)
9. Asher Roth – “I Love College”: We do, truly, love you college.
10. Five for Fighting – “100 Years”: Time flies. Thank God we’re not 100 yet.
11. Louis Armstrong – “What a Wonderful World” – You should believe it’s wonderful. You’re about to enter it.
12. David Cook – “Time of My Life”: No description necessary
13. Lauryn Hill – “Everything is Everything”: What is meant to be will be…
14. Michael Jackson – “Man in the Mirror”: In honor of one of the greats. Remember how much you’ve learned from your colleagues, esp. those who’ve changed your life.
15. Whitney Houston – “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”: R.I.P. Whitney. We’re all dancing for you.
16. Outkast – “Hey Ya!”: shake it, shake shake it
17. Kanye West – “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”: wait til we get our money right…
18. Natasha Bedingfield – “Unwritten”: It’s time to start writing our lives.
19. The Rembrandts – “I’ll Be There For You”: We’ll always be friends…hopefully
20. Queen – “We Are the Champions”: We better be champions after the amount of tuition we’ve paid.
21. Kelly Clarkson – “Breakaway”: Make a wish, take a chance, make a change
22. Sarah McLachlan – “I Will Remember You”: tear jerker.
23. Lee Ann Womack – “I Hope You Dance”: I really hope you do.
24. Vitamin C – “Graduation (friends forever)”: As we go on…

Who’s the World’s Next Big Diva?

In light of the upcoming Billboard awards, we as fans have the opportunity to vote for our favorite upcoming “diva”: Andy Allo, Jhené Aiko, or Gin Wigmore. Wait..maybe we should just scrap this whole “Next Big Diva” title. Saying the word diva puts them up to being the next Beyoncé, and that’s just weird. Second, let’s acknowledge now that our votes don’t really count. Andy Allo should win on the basis of most different sound/style and if it wasn’t for Gin Wigmore, Jhené Aiko would win because of her relatively large backing (although I think she sounds too much like Cassie).

But let’s just acknowledge the winner now… congratulations Gin Wigmore. She’s an artist from New Zealand looking to make her mark in the US music industry. With a raspy voice, heavy eyeliner, and an all-around look that is very unique, she’s got the look of a pop star. I’m telling you she’s going to win, but if you really feel the need to vote, do so by May 13th and prove me wrong!     http://www.billboard.com/nextbigdiva

By the way, doesn’t it sound like they all come from a different decade? Or is it just me…

 

Andy Allo

Gin Wigmore

Jhené Aiko

Great New Music: Janelle Monáe – Q.U.E.E.N. feat. Erykah Badu

Hey folks, it looks like women-empowering songs are the theme of the week. Janelle Monáe is obviously well-known for her sleek style–tailored suits with the bow tie, bold lipsticks, and poofy up-dos. But with the upcoming release of her sophomore album, her first new single “Q.U.E.E.N.” is giving us so much more.

Monáe is already well-established in the industry, and as a site featuring so many upcoming artists, we have to wonder how she’s garnered so much interest. Monáe was “discovered” by Bad Boy through MySpace back in 2006, and it seems like the label made a great call. When talking about the decision he made, Daniel Mitchell, A&R at Bad Boy stated, “Yeah. I think the thing with Janelle Monáe is that she’s an artist that’s capable of creating her own movement, and she has her own vibe. I love her music. I think it’s different. Some of it I don’t understand, to be honest with you, and I think that’s the great part of it – I don’t need to understand it.”

So short answer: she was already established. Monáe had an image, and presented something different. Now, she’s releasing this song, not only making us all want to dance and have fun, but also calling on the world to stand up. The end of the video is phenomenal, as she cuts into the smoothness of the song with hard, fast-moving rap lyrics… “March to the streets ‘cuz I’m willing and I’m able/ Categorize me, I defy every label/ And while you’re selling dope, we’re gonna keep selling hope/ We rising up now, you gotta deal you gotta cope.”

Stay on the lookout for Monáe and her new album. It’s probably going to bring a lot of hype.

“Q.U.E.E.N. was inspired by private discussions between Erykah and me. It is meant to make you JAM. DANCE. FUNK OUT. and dialogue later…” – Janelle Monáe