Music Monday: Current Obsessions

I love the feeling of hearing new music; there’s just something so exciting about it. While there are a lot of songs on the radio I really can’t stand, there are quite a few radio hits and a few songs from recently released albums that I’m currently obsessed about.

  1. Keira Knightley, Lost Stars – It brings me absolute pleasure to see Begin Again (fka Can A Song Save Your Life?) finally get released and people loving it. I saw it at TIFF last year and just fell in love with both the movie and the songs, so it was an excruciating wait to get my hands on the soundtrack. There’s actually two versions of Lost Stars, the other sung by Adam Levine, but surprisingly I love Keira’s version more. There’s a sort of pure quality to the mix and her voice, that I really love.
  2. Nikki Yanofsky, Necessary Evil – Nikki Yanofsky is a Canadian talent, whom you may remember as the voice of the official Olympic song for Vancouver 2010. Regardless of that fact, she just released a new album with the help of the legendary Quincy Jones. This song got me right away when I first heard it because I immediately started picturing an Argentine Tango being choreographed to it. [The barometer of how much I like a song now depends on whether I can picture choreography to it…despite not being a dancer.]
  3. Ed Sheeran, Don’t – You thought I was gonna pick Sing, with all its Justin Timberlake/Justified inflections, which I still love but I’m obsessed with Don’t. It samples a Lucy Pearl (remember them?!) song and just has this awesome R&B groove to it.
  4. Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea, Problem – That 90s R&B throwback sound with the horns? LOVE.
  5. Tessanne Chin, Everything Reminds Me of You – Tessanne’s recently released debut album is actually the first Voice winner album I’ve bought. This song in particular seems made to fit in with Top 40 radio in the same vein as Emeli Sande’s songs, which is part of the reason why I really like it. If you listen to the other songs on her album, you can really hear her Jamaican influences mix well with the pop/R&B sound. Everything feels authentic and doesn’t feel like it was haphazardly put together.
  6. Maroon 5, Maps – I was a little bit wary about the song because I feel like Overexposed (their previous album) was playing too much as mainstream pop. There were still some songs that I really loved, but the album as a whole didn’t do it for me. Maps though, is a little bit more true to form for the band; it has a quality that plays well to Top 40 radio but still feels more decidedly Maroon 5 than most of Overexposed. Jesse Carmichael being back certainly helps, as does the fact that it doesn’t sound so Ryan Tedder-y despite him having a hand in producing/writing the song.
  7. Michael Jackson ft. Justin Timberlake, Love Never Felt So Good – Let’s be real, this song just feels good.
  8. Coldplay, A Sky Full of Stars – Let it be said that even when Coldplay is experimenting with their sound, their songs still sound distinctively theirs. You can tell it’s a Coldplay song and this one’s no exception.
  9. Hayden Panettiere, Don’t Put Dirt on My Grave Just Yet – OK so this is kinda old but for some reason, I can’t stop listening to it. It’s the right amount of country with a little bit of an edge that I seem to gravitate towards.
  10. John Mayer, XO – John Mayer doing a cover of Beyonce’s XO and it is awesome. After two very folk-ish albums, him doing this cover just made me think: Where has this John Mayer been for the past 5 years?! It sounds like the JM I used to know and love! Will he keep this up for the next album? I don’t know but I hope so!

Looking Ahead to the 2013 Grammys

I don’t often write posts looking ahead to events and making predictions, but then a funny thing happened. While watching TV with my family a few weeks ago, Canadian network CTV aired a promo for the re-release of Katy Perry’s album Teenage Dream and I said to my siblings “Look at that! Music sucks so much right now, that they have to advertise an album that has essentially, been out for 2 years” (the re-release itself has been out for months.) To which my brother responded, “It does suck…So what are they gonna do for the awards stuff?” My brother, for the record, could care less about the Grammys (or any other awards shows for that matter), but for him to make such an observation, that’s kind of a big deal. And so the question is: With pop music not being entirely great this past year, what will come of the Grammys with its focus being on appealing to the mainstream audience?

*NOTE: My music knowledge is far greater in the pop category, so forgive me if my focus is on pop music*

Generally speaking, in terms of the overall Grammys, it is in my honest (and slightly biased) opinion that Kelly Clarkson will come out on top when nominations are announced. Stronger was such a great album, not to mention the title track itself is one of the best songs all year (that you’re probably still not sick and tired of hearing). After Kelly, I think Coldplay’s a pretty solid bet for nominations for their album Mylo Xyloto, as well as Grammy favourite John Mayer for Born and Raised.

The category that scares/worries me the most, as has been the case for the past few years, is Best New Artist. I feel like it gets harder and harder to determine who the best new artist is, because there hasn’t really been a standout new artist. I mean last year, Bon Iver won, where he was up against Nicki Minaj, The Band Perry, J-Cole, and Skrillex. If it wasn’t for the fact that he had won a Grammy at the 2011 show, I would’ve bet my money on Bruno Mars being nominated and winning the category; but he did win, making him ineligible in the category for 2012, per Grammy rules. Guesses for who could potentially be nominated? I think Ed Sheeran has made enough of an impact to garner a nod and even a win. Representing Country, I’m going to take a wild guess and say Thompson Square or Hunter Hayes (based purely on observation). Representing Hip-Hop, I wonder if Childish Gambino can sneak in there. Which means 2 spots left, that could go to any of the following who had hit singles this past year: fun., Ellie Goulding, Carly Rae Jepsen, One Direction, Karmin, Gotye.

So some predictions (however off-base they will probably be) in some of the categories:

RECORD OF THE YEAR

  • Kelly Clarkson, Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)
  • Coldplay, Princess of China [ft. Rihanna]
  • Jason Mraz, I Won’t Give Up

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

  • Kelly Clarkson, Stronger
  • Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto
  • John Mayer, Born and Raised
  • Florence + the Machine, Ceremonials
  • Miranda Lambert, Four the Record

BEST SOLO POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE

  • Kelly Clarkson, Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)
  • Jason Mraz, I Won’t Give Up
  • Adele, Set Fire to the Rain
  • John Mayer, Shadow Days
  • Ed Sheeran, The A-Team

BEST POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE BY A DUO/GROUP

  • Maroon 5, One More Night
  • Coldplay, Princess of China [ft. Rihanna]
  • Taylor Swift, Safe and Sound [ft. The Civil Wars] —> I really think they’re going to put this under pop, if nominated, just because the Grammys can be weird when it comes to this category

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

  • Kelly Clarkson, Stronger
  • Maroon 5, Overexposed
  • Florence + the Machine, Ceremonials
  • Jason Mraz, Love is a Four Letter Word
  • John Mayer, Born and Raised

The Grammy nominations will be announced live on their annual Nomination Concert on December 5th, airing on CBS. Taylor Swift will be co-hosting with LL Cool J, and Maroon 5 will be one of the performers. Until then, any thoughts as to who might get nominated? Who really are the best new artists of the past year? Can we possibly see some lesser known (but equally talented, if not more) artists get nominated this year? Sound off!