57th Grammy Award Nominations

Last Friday (Dec. 5th), the nominations for the 57th Grammy Awards were announced. In an attempt to change things up, the Grammys announced nominations for a handful of categories on the CBS Morning Show, which was then followed by random announcements throughout the day by various artists on Twitter, a more-or-less complete nomination list by mid-afternoon, and topped off by the Album of the Year announcement on their A Very Grammy Christmas special. Yeah, it was really weird. I appreciate the effort but I would rather them have stuck to one way of announcing nominees; the nomination concert followed by the posting of the entire list seemed to have worked well in recent years.

Anyways, here are my thoughts on the big category nominees, as well as a select number of other categories.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

  • Beck, Morning Phase
  • Beyonce, Beyonce
  • Ed Sheeran, X
  • Pharrell Williams, GIRL
  • Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour

I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve been able to say that I’ve actually listened to the majority of the albums nominated in this category. Last year, the only album nominated that I had heard in full was Sara Bareilles’ The Blessed Unrest, which was a surprise nominee. This year, the only album I haven’t heard is Beck. To be honest, I was a little surprised to see Pharrell nominated in this category, not to say that GIRL was a bad album (it’s really solid, actually) but when I think “Album of the Year” I think an album that made a huge impact in the past year. By that logic, I think Beyonce might be the frontrunner, though don’t count out the ongoing momentum Sam Smith is enjoying right now. It’s possible that Sam Smith might sweep up all the wins.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

  • Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX, Fancy
  • Sia, Chandelier
  • Sam Smith, Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)
  • Taylor Swift, Shake It Off
  • Meghan Trainor, All About That Bass

Like AOTY, I feel that this category encompasses the biggest songs of the year, that made the biggest impact. So it was no surprise to see Fancy, Chandelier, and Stay With Me nominated in the category. (Though it is curious to see that Stay With Me is nominated here and elsewhere with the Darkchild version.) I suppose I expected Shake It Off to get nominated because Taylor Swift is a popular choice these days, even if I personally find her and the song annoying. I absolutely don’t understand the appeal of All About That Bass; such an overrated and overplayed song. As far as snubs go, I’m quite surprised that Beyonce & Jay-Z’s Drunk in Love wasn’t nominated or even Ed Sheeran’s Sing.

SONG OF THE YEAR

  • Sia, Chandelier
  • Sam Smith, Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)
  • Taylor Swift, Shake It Off
  • Meghan Trainor, All About That Bass
  • Hozier, Take Me to Church

It should be noted/remembered that this category is awarded to the songwriters, to differentiate from ROTY, and I’ve listed the track’s artist just to make things easier (some songs can have a handful or more songwriters who all worked on it, meaning it can get pretty lengthy). Despite the differences, we have an almost identical nominee list to ROTY, with Hozier taking over Iggy Azalea’s spot. While ROTY typically takes the more popular route, I like to think that SOTY is where the Grammys can really make some offbeat choices in their nominations. Yeah, it can sometimes take a lot of people to craft the perfect pop song, but how about recognizing songs with substance and stands for something? As much as I love Sam Smith and Stay With Me, I want Chandelier to win here. Not only is it a fantastic song, but it would be such a big win for Sia who has written so many great songs for other artists over the years, that this would almost be like an all-encompassing win for her.

BEST NEW ARTIST

  • Bastille
  • Brandy Clark
  • HAIM
  • Iggy Azalea
  • Sam Smith

I’ve heard of all these people! There’s not a single “Who?!” in the bunch (though Brandy Clark is almost that nominee). I’m honestly trying to think of what other “new” artists (as defined by the weird Grammy rules) came out in the past year who could’ve been recognized and I’m kind of drawing a blank. Regardless, I’m fairly certain it’s going to be Sam Smith for the win.

BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE

  • John Legend, All of Me (Live)
  • Sia, Chandelier
  • Sam Smith, Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)
  • Taylor Swift, Shake It Off
  • Pharrell Williams, Happy (Live)

Honestly, I kind of don’t like the idea of a live version of a song being nominated. By all accounts, All of Me and Happy could’ve been nominated last year, but the Grammys probably pulled the “it’s eligible this year because it became popular within this eligibility period” despite the fact that the songs got released LAST summer. To that end, there could’ve been so many other performances to consider. Where’s Ed Sheeran’s Sing? Colbie Caillat’s Try? Jason Mraz’s Love Someone? Lorde’s Team? Justin Timberlake’s Not a Bad Thing? And don’t even get me started on songs/performances that aren’t big enough to be recognized by the Grammys (of which there are MANY).

BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

  • Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX, Fancy
  • Coldplay, A Sky Full of Stars
  • A Great Big World ft. Christina Aguilera, Say Something
  • Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj, Bang Bang
  • Katy Perry ft. Juicy J, Dark Horse

As always, what qualifies as pop in this category confuses me, though this year is a little bit more cohesive than most. You can argue that this is pop in the most general of terms, in that it means “popular.” I mean I would’ve put Fancy in the Rap/Sung Collaboration category, and I’m not sure how A Sky Full of Stars is more or less pop than Paramore’s Ain’t It Fun (which was nominated in the Best Rock Song category). Considering Maroon 5 performed in the Grammy Christmas special, I was expecting them to at least get a nod here for Maps, but I guess not. And I was thinking about this the other day, but The Script still aren’t big enough to get any Grammy recognition? Because I would’ve liked to see them nominated here for Superheroes. Actually, you know what song I’m surprised didn’t get a nod? Michael Jackson featuring Justin Timberlake, Love Never Felt So Good.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

  • Coldplay, Ghost Stories
  • Miley Cyrus, Bangerz
  • Ariana Grande, My Everything
  • Katy Perry, Prism
  • Ed Sheeran, X
  • Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour

Really? Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande and Katy Perry all got nods? And again, even though I’m happy they did get nominated, I wouldn’t have pegged Ghost Stories as a pop album. I definitely think Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz deserved nods for their albums Gypsy Heart and Yes!, respectively. I’ve made it known how I feel about Maroon 5’s venture into mainstream pop, but I’m surprised that V didn’t get nominated. I mean, Overexposed got nominated and that was a weaker album in my opinion (though Hands All Over didn’t get nominated either, which again, was a completely underrated album and deserved more love than it got)

BEST COMPILATION SOUNDTRACK

  • American Hustle
  • Frozen
  • Get On Up: The James Brown Story
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Awesome Mix Vol. 1
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

I have but one complaint: WHERE IS THE NOMINATION FOR MY BEGIN AGAIN?! That soundtrack is perfection!

BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA

  • Tegan and Sara ft. The Lonely Island, Everything Is Awesome!!! (The Lego Movie)
  • Ed Sheeran, I See Fire (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)
  • Glen Campbell, I’m Not Gonna Miss You (Glen Campbell, I’ll Be Me)
  • Idina Menzel, Let It Go (Frozen)
  • Scarlett Johansson & Joaquin Phoenix, The Moon Song (Her)

One egregious snub: WHERE IS MY LOST STARS?! Come on now! How am I supposed to have faith that it’ll get nominated for the Oscar, if it doesn’t get nominated for a Grammy?!

Other Notables:

  • With her nominations this year, Beyonce became the most nominated female singer in Grammy history, beating previous record holder Dolly Parton.
  • Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) nominated for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Album.
  • James Franco is now a Grammy nominee. He’s nominated in the Best Spoken Word Album category.
  • Pentatonix have officially hit the big time! The group is nominated for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or Acapella for their Daft Punk Medley found on PTX, Vol. 2.
  • Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ and Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ will duke it out in the Best Music Video category.

At the end of it all, Beyonce and Sam Smith lead all nominations with 6 each. The Grammy Awards will air on CBS, February 8th, 2015.

Favourites of 2013

It’s that time of year, where everybody is getting ready for Christmas and the start of a new year. Meanwhile, entertainment outlets everywhere are doing their “best-of” lists to cap off the year. So to keep up with my own modified version of those traditions, I give you my favourites in music/movies/television of the past year.

MUSIC – ALBUMS

  • Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience [The Complete Experience] – My year in music was made all the better with JT releasing 2 new albums this year. Some people didn’t like them for various reasons (songs were too long, not dance-y enough, a little self-indulgent?), but this was hands down my absolute favourite album of the year. I may be biased as a JT fan, but as a music fan, I appreciate that he can take musical risks while still keeping his signature sound. It was perfection to my ears.
  • Megan Hilty, It Happens All the Time – Megan had been known as a Broadway actress before starring in the TV series Smash, and though the show ended up being not so great in its two-season run, it was very much agreed upon that Megan was the best part of it. So it came as no surprise that she managed to get an album recorded and released, filled with original songs and covers. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the album is, particularly with the music selection, as it wasn’t just showtunes. For the covers, I loved her version of Switchfoot’s “Dare You to Move” and then one of the originals “Walk Away” was actually a song that was co-written by Carrie Underwood and Ne-Yo! There is just an easy feeling when you hear the album and I just fell in love with it.
  • PJ Morton, New Orleans – I only came to know about PJ when he started playing with Maroon 5 during the Hands All Over days as an additional keyboardist/vocal to fill out their sound live. Since then, he’s continued working on his own music, while playing with the band in a bigger capacity (taking over for Jesse Carmichael on keyboard while he takes a break from music). PJ had signed to Young Money Records (Lil Wayne’s label) and this album is his first release with the label. For me, this was just a solid R&B album from beginning to end, that really had a throwback sound to it (almost a Stevie Wonder quality to it) but decidedly modern as well.
  • Sara Bareilles, The Blessed Unrest – I feel as though Sara is just one of those artists who are just so damn dependable to make good music. This is her third album and you can hear the progression in her songwriting from her first album to this one. “Brave” is just a fantastic first single that follows in the footsteps of “Love Song” and “King of Anything” being sort of a pop anthem. The rest of the album is filled with wonderful piano pop that often stretches the musicality of it (I’m not sure I made sense there). Point is: she stretches herself as an artist/musician but in a way that fits into her style and personality, so it doesn’t ever feel like she’s trying too hard to do something different.
  • Matt Nathanson, Last of the Great Pretenders – What I said about Sara being so damn dependable as an artist, certainly applies to Matt as well. That the two of them released their albums on the same day this summer was a perfectly awesome coincidence. With this album, his eighth, Matt draws up a 40-minute ode to San Francisco, with all of its eclectic influences.
  • Beyonce, BEYONCE – She surprised the entire world when she secretly released this album on iTunes. I have always respected Beyonce as an artist and have really enjoyed her songs, but can’t say that I’ve been a huge fan. So I have to give her props for everything she did with regards to this album. As a whole, I think it’s her best one yet. I liked that she took different risks with the songs and that it’s a unique sound, but still completely Beyonce. There might not be a typical radio single, but who cares? When the music’s good, that’s all that matters.

MUSIC – SONGS

  • Lorde, Royals – I admittedly was late to the party in terms of hearing this song. I had heard about it but didn’t hear the song itself until sometime in the summer. I was hooked from the first listen. There’s a dynamic about the song that was just so different from anything else.
  • Megan Hilty, Bittersweet Symphony – Season 2 of Smash was a mess but for the most part, the music was still good. For some reason though, Megan’s cover of this Verve song stuck out. I already raved about Megan and her album up top, but I just fell in love with her version of this song. It’s just SO GOOD, I can’t even explain why I love it so much. I’ve always loved this song, but how they did re-did this song with Megan singing, it almost sounds like a different song
  • Ben Hazlewood, Knock On My Window – This is a case of I’m not entirely sure why it’s one of my favourites this year; I just couldn’t stop listening to it. Ben was a contestant on the first season of The Voice Australia and this track came off of his EP that he released. The song itself is pop with a very cool groove to it…and now that I think about it, it reminds me of Maroon 5’s “One More Night.” THAT’S probably why I’m addicted to it.
  • Jay-Z ft. Justin Timberlake, Holy Grail – Jay-Z & JT were just on a roll with their collaborations this year. With all the dynamics of the song, it probably shouldn’t have worked but it did. Justin sounds very melancholy starting off the song, then the hip-hop beat kicks in, with a little Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” sample put in, all serving as a backdrop to lyrics about the fickleness of fame. It is all kinds of awesome.
  • Glee, Make You Feel My Love + If I Die Young – I stuck it out until the end of season 4 of the show and I promised myself I wasn’t going to watch the show again (except the early episodes when it was good). Then tragedy struck with Cory Monteith’s untimely death. I was like everybody else, I wanted to see how the show would deal with such tragedy in their family, so I watched their tribute episode to him and his character. The episode itself was so emotional and it’s a wonder how any of them coped with such a loss. The two songs, sung in the episode by Lea Michele and Naya Rivera respectively, were particularly poignant and wrought with emotion that the tears were out of control just hearing them sing these songs.
  • Kelly Clarkson, My Favorite Things – I usually don’t listen to a lot of Christmas music, especially early on in the season; I usually limit it to a week or two leading up to Christmas. This year, all that changed and it’s completely Kelly Clarkson’s fault because she released a holiday album and one of my favourite songs on that album was this one. I’ve also never been a huge The Sound of Music fan, but good lord I love how Kelly jazzed up this song.

MOVIES

*This list is obviously based only on movies that I’ve been able to see this year. There’s many more movies that I haven’t gotten around to seeing or are too new (i.e. those darn Oscar-bait/contenders that just got released but are on several critics’ Best Of lists for the year).

  • Now You See Me – Fantastic word-of-mouth over the summer made my expectations high for when I did actually get around to watching it. It was a fun caper thriller featuring magic. The tone of the movie reminded me a lot of Ocean’s Eleven (with a slightly smaller cast of course) and though it wasn’t a perfect movie, it was highly enjoyable. Plus, bonus points for an original screenplay that’s not a remake/sequel/adaptation.
  • Thor: The Dark World – Getting Alan Taylor, best known these days for being a frequent director on Game of Thrones, to go behind the camera for this movie was a wise decision. Not to knock Kenneth Branagh for his work on the first film, but with this movie, you could really feel the scope of Asgard and the other realms. Add to the fact that there seemed to be a lot more going on in this movie than the first, everything just felt better and fuller, as if pressure had been lifted from having to make everything work. Bonus for me was getting to see Zachary Levi taking over for Josh Dallas as Fandral. Again, nothing against Josh, I just love Zac and seeing him on the big screen put a huge smile on my face.
  • Prisoners – First of all, look at the poster and check out the actors billed: almost all Academy Award nominees and/or winners. Not gonna lie, that alone made me go “Whoa” when I first heard about the movie. Then the trailer looked incredibly intense. Then when I finally got a chance to watch the movie, I saw for myself what all the talk was about after it premiered at TIFF this year. It’s a crime thriller that definitely borrowed influences from a bunch of different movies and the end result was just as what the trailer suggested – intense. Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal put in incredible performances in this movie. I myself am so looking forward to attending the In Conversation With Jake Gyllenhaal and Denis Villeneuve (the director of this movie, as well as Enemy, another movie starring Gyllenhaal) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in early January, and hopefully they’ll talk about this movie
  • Gravity – Whether or not it is technically accurate doesn’t matter. Sandra Bullock gave the performance of her career here, essentially carrying the movie on her own, except for brief moments with George Clooney. The movie was exceptional in 3D, as director Alfonso Cuaron made you feel as if you were in space with Bullock. Everything was just visually stunning.
  • Philomena – I talked about this movie in my TIFF wrap-up post already, but I have to say it again, I’m really glad I was given the chance to see it. It’s not the typical movie I’d be interested in, yet after I watched it I was just so impressed by it. The fact that Steve Coogan, known mostly as a comedic actor, co-wrote the heartwarming script based on a true story, was a very welcome surprise and you also get to see a side of Dame Judi Dench you don’t normally see.
  • The Spectacular Now – I had listed this as one of the movies I was looking forward to watching in August, and boy did it ever live up to the praise. On the surface it is a love story, when Sutter (Miles Teller) the popular kid in school falls for Aimee (Shailene Woodley) the quiet girl – sounds cliche doesn’t it? On a deeper level, it’s Sutter’s coming-of-age story – how his unexpected relationship with Aimee changes him, his relationships with his family and friends, and his outlook on life. What made this movie stand out is that it’s not the Hollywood view of teenage life; this feels real with the awkwardness of dating and the anxiety of life after high school.
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – One of my most anticipated movies of the year and it did not disappoint. To some, Catching Fire (both the movie and the book) can seem like a rehash of the first movie with another Games and it serving as the bridge to the third (and fourth, for the movies). It’s not completely wrong to think that way because it’s kind of true. However, you can’t deny all the character development that occurs as we’re being set up for Mockingjay. Director Francis Lawrence also proved to be a great choice to take over for Gary Ross, as he brings a different style to the film.
  • Fruitvale Station – This movie is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a young African-American man wrongly shot in a subway station in the Bay Area on New Year’s Day 2009. The film itself follows the final 24 hours of his life and shows him as a young man wanting to do right by his family, but has to contend with his past. Surprisingly, knowing what was going to happen didn’t make the fateful scene any less shocking because we just spent time getting to know him. It’s certainly a testament to writer-director Ryan Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan for making us sympathize with Grant’s struggles in such a way that it still does shock us when the incident occurs.

TELEVISION (NEW SHOWS)

  • Orphan Black – I was one of the idiots who didn’t watch this show when it first aired. Despite reading tweets by entertainment writers telling me to watch it, I just didn’t know what it was; I may have also mixed it up with some other show in this brain of mine. Anyways, after getting proverbially hit over the head multiple times to watch this, I binge-watched it over one weekend and was immediately hooked after the first episode (hence the binge-watch). I mean it’s sort of a sci-fi show (it deals with clones after all!), but it also has all this character drama, a hint of a thriller, which also deals with psychological/sociological ideas. Plus, Tatiana Maslany! The girl plays SEVEN different characters with such ease, you forget that it’s just her. Also, being Canadian, I was so surprised to see that this is a Canadian made/set show. I know they say it’s a little ambiguous about where the show is set, but it’s fairly obvious it’s Toronto. The funny thing about all this is that at SDCC, my cousin was all about this show trying to get the autograph signing; she didn’t get it, but I ended up trying to take pictures of Tatiana, Dylan Bruce, and Jordan Gavaris for her during the signing, not realizing I was taking pictures of people I was about to obsess over! Now I can’t wait for my next Comic-Con (be it Toronto or San Diego) so I can try harder and meet these wonderful people!
  • Sleepy Hollow – A sort-of re-imagining of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, where Ichabod Crane wakes up in present day Sleepy Hollow to fight the Headless Horseman. Sounded awesome, with a dash of ridiculous, didn’t it? – which is kind of what it ended up being. It’s a show that ended up striking just the right balance of mythology, character, drama, action, supernatural, campy fun, and humour. Executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci definitely know something about that balance, having worked on Fringe, but Len Wiseman and Ken Olin also bring a lot to the table. And the cast – regulars Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones, Katia Winter; plus recurring stars Lyndie Greenwood, John Noble, John Cho – just make everything work.
  • Almost Human – I was so excited about this show when it got picked up at Upfronts back in May because it’s from J.H. Wyman, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk, the three people who were very much responsible for my beloved Fringe. Then I saw the pilot at SDCC, which re-affirmed my excitement. It’s a futuristic take on the typical procedural and that in itself just makes things more interesting because it’s a new realm of crime and technology. Add to that, the fact that this is like a buddy-cop drama, with Karl Urban’s damaged human, Kennex, being forced to team up with Michael Ealy’s emotional and wickedly awesome robot, Dorian.
  • Trophy Wife – The name has been an issue; a case you thought ABC might have learned from when they aired Cougar Town, a show that was also MUCH more than its name suggested. At times, you can have a hard time grasping how Bradley Whitford’s Pete ended up with either of his two ex-wives – the cold and stern Diane + the carefree Jackie – or his current younger wife, Kate. That suspension of disbelief aside, it’s a really funny and cute show. The dynamics between the adults, as well as the kids, are terrific. They’re all such characters that somehow work extremely well together. And yes, Albert Tsai’s Bert almost always steals the show whenever he shows up.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine – I mentioned in my fall check-in post how this cast works phenomenally well together. It was like a well-oiled machine, right from the get-go, and I count on them for my weekly laughs. I just need other people to also watch this show.

TELEVISION (RETURNING SHOWS)

  • Nikita – I’m going to keep this short. My favourite show/obsession just ended its run as one of the most underrated series in recent memory. I’m going to miss it SO MUCH.
  • Arrow – If there’s a show that just continually tries to outdo itself, this is it. Through the second half of the first season and going into the second, the writers just know no bounds. Particularly with this second season, where it seems like DC just let them go nuts with the universe and include whatever character they want. I think it’s a real testament to everyone involved with the show that they can make people like me, who don’t know the source material, still be excited about a character reveal. They’ve just done such a great job building their version of Starling City, plus Oliver’s world and relationships, that it’s very easy to get wrapped up in what’s going on.
  • The Mindy Project – Mindy is on a roll. This rom-com + workplace comedy is non-stop laughs, not just from the leads but also by the supporting characters. I don’t know what to say about it, except that more people need to be watching it! I mean where else are you going to see Chris Messina dancing to an Aaliyah song? (Seriously, watch it for yourself. It is hilariously awesome.)
  • Suits – I love this show. There’s some legal stuff that happens on the show but that’s not important. The important thing is the relationships that occur between the characters and how they seemingly riff-off each other. That, plus the pop culture references! In all seriousness though, this is a show that is the very definition of a dramedy – a drama series that infuses a lot of humour and heart. One of the best examples from this season is how they handled what seemed like a throwaway storyline involving Louis and a cat, and gave it the same depth and weight as any other legal case.

That’s it from me. Here’s hoping for the best in 2014!

When Songs Sound Similar to One Another

I woke up yesterday morning to my local radio station promoting the fact that they’d be playing the new Katy Perry song Roar every hour, so no one would miss it. A few minutes later, they played the song, and as soon as it started, I started thinking to myself “Why does this sound familiar?” Once the chorus of Roar kicked in, I found myself singing instead “Say what you wanna say and the let the words fall out/ Honestly, I wanna see you be brave” It turned out that Katy Perry’s new song sounded eerily similar to Sara Bareilles’ Brave. I’m not the only one who noticed, since in no time at all, others made the connection. Responses to the similarities ranged from:

  • Brave >>>>> Roar (I’m part of the group who shares this opinion)
  • The similarities are minor/ I don’t see the fuss/ Can’t they just co-exist?
  • They’re two totally different songs!

What’s funny is that both songs were written by different people, who just happened to be on the same wavelength and decided to write songs that ended up being quite similar to one another. Problem is, Sara’s song has been out since April. And compared to Katy, Sara is a minor artist, so while radio stations are rushing to put Roar on repeat, Brave hasn’t been heard as much (here on Canadian radio anyways) and now is only recognized because of this “controversy.”

 

Anyways, all this talk about these two songs sounding similar to one another got me thinking about past examples, and one of my favourite memories from college. See, two of my friends and I were studying/doing homework for the one class we had together, and somehow we started talking about music (clearly not studying). At the time, Chris Brown had a song out called With You. My friend Chris and I talked about the merits of the song, and it came up that it was pretty much Beyonce’s Irreplaceable, Part 2. Our friend Ian never made the connection before and so we made him REALLY listen to With You. Within seconds, he started singing “To the left, to the left” over top of the Chris Brown song, and his look of realization was the equivalent to the How I Met Your Mother “glass shattering” when they realized each others’ annoying habits. It was kind of hilarious. Then we started going with other songs that sounded similar or had similar elements: Rihanna & Ne-Yo’s Hate That I Love You and Ne-Yo’s Sexy Love; Leona Lewis’ Angel and Jordin Sparks’ Tattoo, to name a few.

 

Also, who could forget the controversy that occurred when Beyonce released Halo and Kelly Clarkson released Already Gone. Kelly Clarkson doesn’t take s**t from anybody, so when she has an opinion about something, girl let’s it be known – and she was none too pleased with Ryan Tedder, who produced both songs. As far as releasing the songs as a single, Beyonce was first, but in the production of the song, Kelly’s was first. For me, this was the beginning of when I started to not like Tedder as much. His songs started having an element about them that sounded the same.

 

Any other songs out there, released at relatively the same time, that sound alike? Songs that sample other songs are an entirely different story. I’m talking two seemingly different songs that share similar qualities.

New Music from Justin Timberlake & Destiny’s Child?!

Today, the entertainment world just keeps giving us great news. Following the Oscar nominations this morning, we got a one-two punch of new music news.

*NOTE: Please excuse my fangirl freakout that is about to happen*

First, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE IS FINALLY MAKING NEW MUSIC! Over six years after the release of his sophomore album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, Justin Timberlake posted a video to his website this morning stating that he’s ready to get some new music out there, with a countdown to what is presumably the release of his new single. Midnight, January 14th. Countdown is ON!

Second piece of music news for the day, Beyonce has gone on record that Destiny’s Child will be reuniting and releasing new music this year as well. A compilation album of love songs by DC, will be released just in time for Valentine’s Day, and will include a new track. Their last album, Destiny Fulfilled, was released in 2004. Odds are Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams will most likely join Beyonce when she performs at the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

And here I thought there was nothing to look forward to in music this year…

The Now + Then of Music

It’s a subject that I often think about, most often when listening to the radio, and that’s how music has changed over the years. I’m a person who doesn’t particularly like listening to the radio, but seeing how part of my job involves driving around everywhere in a car that isn’t mine, I’m forced to listen to the radio. Honestly, my dislike of listening to the radio really has more to do with my frustrations with it. A lot of the more popular stations in my area (and I’m sure this applies in a lot of places) seem to play the same songs over and over again. This summer, I consider it a good day/drive if I didn’t have to hear a song featuring any one of the following artists – Pitbull, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, LMFAO, Rihanna…the list could go on, but the point is my idea of a good day has been rare. Also, you know it’s a bad thing when the radio can turn a song from one of your favourite artists and make you not like it because of the song being overplayed – in this case, it’s Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” The last time this happened was when Sara Bareilles was hitting it big with “Love Song” and everyone was playing it. It was a lengthy amount of time before I could actually listen to that song again.

I’m very well aware that the radio stations I choose to listen to are the popular ones, so they will be playing a lot of Top 40 stuff. At the same time, is it too much to ask for a variety of songs? I find it kind of sad that I have to listen to a radio station from Buffalo (if I can pick up the signal) to get an actually good variety of music. When I can actually pick up the signal for this station (Star 102.5), I get to hear, for example, Colbie Caillat, Sara Bareilles, Matt Nathanson. And it’s not just the songs that they’re famous for (“Bubbly,” “Love Song,” “Come on Get Higher” respectively) but their newer songs (“Brighter Than the Sun, ” “Uncharted,” “Faster”)! Of the more popular stations in this area, if I had to choose, I would listen to CHUM 104.5 and Magic 106.1 more often than 91.5 The Beat, Z103.5, and Virgin 99.9 because they give me a slightly better variety of music. Sure they’ll play the Top 40 stuff, but they also play older songs, which I appreciate.

Yes, this is all preference and people’s definition of what is considered good music varies; this is strictly my opinion, my thoughts. Fact of the matter is, these stations that play a better variety of music, both old and new music, gets me thinking about the songs I grew up with, because these stations plays those songs.

I’m 23 now, and if I look back on the past 10-15 years of music, and compare it to now, I would much prefer listening to the older songs. If you really think about it, the early 2000s were great years for music. We can laugh about the whole boy band thing that started in the 90s and continued on, but you can’t tell me that an album like NSYNC’s “Celebrity” doesn’t hold up today. You listen to some of the singles off that album (“Gone”, “Girlfriend”) and you can still hear it on the radio today. If we want to talk R&B, I would gladly listen to Usher’s “My Way” and “You Make Me Wanna” over his newer stuff. I would pick Aaliyah over anything these days. Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” and “Baby Boy” over “Run The World (Girls).”

Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve never been particularly fond of the dance music genre, but I look at the songs from back then (making it seem like it was THAT long ago, but it kind of wasn’t) and they seem to have a timeless quality to it as opposed to a lot of songs these days. These songs come on the radio and I still enjoy it as I did 10 years ago. I could just be cynical, but I can’t imagine the popular songs of today, holding up well, and still be good 10 years from now. With a lot of artists these days trying to make dance music, it feels almost dated. It’s a little hard to explain. All I know is that, now more than ever, I love and appreciate the artists who write music with meaning and heart, and they really try to make good music and not just follow what’s popular. Don’t get me wrong, I get that every artist wants to grow and experiment with new sounds at some point. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with sticking with what you know, what you do best, and showing what you’ve learned through your songwriting.

Music, like everything else, goes through cycles. So maybe right now, we’re in a little bit of a lull. And while a sizable group of popular artists are trying to make a dance record/album/song or trying to make everything a big spectacle, others are falling through the cracks of people’s consciousness, despite releasing albums with great music/songwriting/intentions. And honestly, this really just goes back to my longstanding wish that more artists get the recognition they deserve. Plus hopes that I can turn on the radio and not hear the same 10 songs or so, ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME.

Rant over? For now…