Case of the Mondays – Grammy Edition: Rihanna, Kanye West, Paul McCartney ‘FourFiveSeconds’

There’s quite a bit to say about the Grammys this year, but it’s Monday, so let’s just try to make it through the day.

This week’s Case of the Monday song is inspired by Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney’s collaborative performance at the Grammys. Whether you loved or hated Rihanna’s cake dress at the Grammys, we can at least all thank God she still has talent.

‘FourFiveSeconds’ is a creative song – bared down to the vocals, and only supported by a few guitars that strum a riff as opposed to a melody. It’s the type of song however, that if you first heard it on the radio (i.e. without visuals), you might think to yourself…”yea, it’s an ok song.” Rather, it’s Rihanna’s passion during the performance that takes it to the next level. I mean seriously, she’s moving around as if she really is about to explode, which isn’t what would be implied by the simple musical backdrop. The world loves the song, as shown by it racking up ~19 million views on YouTube in just 6 days (!). Passion does go a long way in music.

Now I’m FourFiveSeconds from wildin’
And we got three more days ’til Friday
I’m just tryna make it back home by Monday mornin’
I swear I wish somebody would tell me

By the way, it is Monday, so unfortunately, we have four days til Friday. But it’s ok, we can only move up from here.

Grammy First, College Later (or Never)

Take a look at the Billboard Hot 100 today, March 9th. You’ll end up noticing all of the typical names. From Rihanna to Bruno Mars, it’s not a surprising list. One particular song, “Started From The Bottom” by Drake, has gained a lot of popularity and now sits at #6. In his music video, Drake does a satire on his own lyrics (watch the video above), which makes sense when you think about it. Come on, we all know you didn’t really start from the bottom, Jimmy.

Like every famous artist, Drake ‘hustled’ his way to the top. But he also didn’t graduate from college.

As college students, we have to wonder how much of a return we are getting on our 6-figure “investment.” Artists who show real talent are sometimes faced with a choice of getting an education, or chasing their dreams. Which is more important? Better yet, why do they have to choose? Don’t we go to college so we can chase our dreams, or does the institution hinder us from doing so? Most students wind up postponing their dreams in favor of high-paying jobs. And sometimes, those dreams never become fulfilled.

Take a look again at the Hot 100 (the first 10 songs). #3 – #10: none of these artists graduated from college. Just last year, Drake graduated from high school. #1 and #2: Macklemore and Baauer sit at the top…two relatively new names on the charts, with viral singles. Will they last? Only time will tell. Either way, 80% of the artists on the top 10 did not attend college. These 80% have multiple platinum albums and multiple Grammys to show for it. These 80% have decided to postpone higher education for success.*

So the question is: Where does college fit in for musicians? Is there a correlation between success in this music industry and lack of a college education?
Or is it just pure luck? Seriously, we all know a college dropout who is struggling to make it in the business. Either way, the stats are a little daunting for college musicians lying in a pool of debt.

*Will.i.am. will be attending college this year to study computer science

Who wants to be a role model? Not Rihanna

I’m baaaaack!! I hope you’ve all had a great summer. I’m taking Bars and Chords in a slightly different direction this school year but before I get into all of that, I had to write about the interview with Rihanna and Oprah on Sunday. Simply put, I can’t help but notice that…

No one wants to be a role model!

On Sunday, Rihanna blatantly told Oprah that she doesn’t like the title of “Role Model.” Ever since then, a thought has been running through my mind…how can you have 11 number 1 hits, and not want to be a role model?!   In other words, I doubt she made it to the top without having someone she aspired to be like, so why wouldn’t she want others to follow her now? Still…now that I’ve had a bit of time to reflect, I’m starting to believe that most celebrities (especially music artists) would probably have given the same response.

To society, a role model isn’t just someone who tries his or her best. As RiRi pointed out in her interview, a role model tends to be synonymous with everyone’s idea of “perfection.” Whether you admit it or not, all of us expect perfection–for artists to fit into our mold of the A-List lifestyle. And when someone fails to meet expectations, record sales plummet, sponsors walk away, and your favorite artist is left to crawl to the top again.

Still, I can’t help but think about the words of Jessie J: NOBODY’S PERFECT. Technology allows our generation to gain a microscopic view into the lives of our favorite artists, which means that we can easily (and I mean EASILY) expose their flaws. What’s even more creepy is that we’ve listened to an artist’s entire album before the sound engineer finishes his final touches, an artist’s death becomes a trending topic while he’s still alive, a domestic violence case pulls two lovers apart before they even have time to blink…

So who do aspiring musicians look to in an industry where everyone makes mistakes (surprise surprise), and no one wants to be a role model? I don’t have the “perfect” answer for you, but I do know this: for aspiring artists, don’t focus on being a Good Girl (or boy) Gone Bad…start by creating your own dreams and goals instead of looking to live someone else’s. Also understand that fame is not the ultimate goal. In fact, it is often a by-product of hard work (and luck, or bad luck). Your talents, creativity and passion for music should drive you through obstacles.

So, I leave you with a bit of an oxymoron…

RiRi can’t be a role model, but she is, whether she likes it or not. It’s up to her to do her best to project a REAL image of herself, and up to us to stop asking for perfection.

Disagree or agree? I would love to hear your thoughts/comments below or on the FB page!