Music Monday: New Music, Old Faves

It suddenly dawned on me on Friday that a number of my favourite artists are releasing (or will be releasing) some new music, in some way, shape or form, and I just had to share my happiness and enthusiasm over the fact.

First, the artist who spurned my realization: Kelly Clarkson. Throughout last week, Kelly went live on Facebook everyday to sing songs that would serve as hints to an announcement that came on Friday. The news? She’s switching labels, from RCA to Atlantic Records. The product of the label change will be a soul album that Kelly will work on this year, for release in 2017. But on top of that, she has also decided to release some free content on, on the last Friday of every month. Said content may include anything from videos to downloads of fan request songs on tour. For instance, on Friday, she released her live covers of “Creep” (Radiohead), “Fix You” (Coldplay), “I’d Rather Go Blind” (Etta James), and “Ready for Love” (India Arie). So the promise of new music, with guaranteed covers every month – I’ll take it!

Another artist who announced a new album is forthcoming, Australian singer-songwriter Delta Goodrem! Early last week, Delta announced a tour (only in Australia, of course), which led many to believe a new album was coming as well. A few days later, Delta confirmed that an album was on its way, but way sooner than most expected; Wings of the Wild is coming out July 1st! Now if only I could find a way to get my hands on the physical CD here in Canada…

Though not a new album of original songs, Kyle Riabko, along with the London cast of Close to You: Bacharach Reimagined released the cast recording of the show (digitally; physical CDs come out July 1st). I’ve been such a fan of Kyle’s for so long and it’s been a very long time since he has released any new music. Of course, he’s been busy working on this musical for about 3+ years, so it’s understandable. This cast recording is the closest thing to new music we’ve gotten in years (not including the Grammy Song of the Year covers he did last year on his website), so I’m going to take what I can get.

Last but not least, Justin Timberlake! So it’s been almost two weeks since JT released “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” but what can I say? I’m obsessed with the song and I can’t get enough of it! And outside of the Trolls soundtrack coming out later this year, I’m hopeful we’re getting a proper album from JT in 2017. Sure, I’m still listening to his previous four albums constantly, but I still want new music! So in the meantime, I’m gonna go listen to “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” again and again.

Unfortunately, nothing new from Britney Spears. Ditto Maroon 5, though they did just celebrate 14 years of Songs About Jane on Saturday, so that’s something? (Not really. I’m waiting for new music from them too.)

Music Monday: Absolute Favourites

If you’ve read the blog or have known me long enough, you probably have a good idea at who my most favourite music artists are – Justin Timberlake, Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5, Britney Spears, Kyle Riabko, and Delta Goodrem. I could go into detail about why I love them so much, but the simple and vague answer is that, there’s just something about who they are and their music that I connect with. There are also a bunch of other artists whom I am a big fan of and really love – Sara Bareilles, Matt Nathanson, Gavin DeGraw, Christina Aguilera, Kris Allen, The Script, Tyler Hilton, James Morrison, Michelle Branch – though not quite at the same level as the other six. That’s not to mention my love of Vietnamese music as well. For this week’s Music Monday, I share with you my favourite songs from my favourite artists (limited to 3 songs each), plus some additional songs I absolutely love (not including any Vietnamese songs in this playlist though, that’ll be for another day/post).


My Blog as a Mixtape

Joie Fatale of Confessions of a Book Pimp wrote a post recently called  “My Blog as a Mixtape”, and thinking that it’s a really cool idea, I got inspired to do it for Pop Cultured Randoms. The challenge is pretty self-explanatory: make a mixtape – five songs on side A, five songs on side B – that encapsulate what the blog is all about.

Now Pop Cultured Randoms is and always has been an extension of who I am: a fan of all things pop culture – music, movies, television. Trying to define the blog in a mixtape however, has turned out to simultaneously be a fun and difficult task. I don’t want this to simply be a compilation of my favourite songs because that’s a hard task and honestly, it’d end up being like 100 songs with half of it being comprised entirely of Justin Timberlake, Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5 songs. That being said, seeing as how I often blog about my favourite artists and whatnot, it’s inevitable that my favourites will indeed be included in this playlist.

Here we go…

SIDE A – Pop Favourites

  1. Justin Timberlake, Let the Groove Get In – I can’t not have JT in a mixtape and though this track isn’t my absolute favourite of his, it is just so much fun to dance to.
  2. Kelly Clarkson, How I Feel – This jem from Kelly’s underrated third album “My December” is pretty much me in a nutshell. The title itself is also very indicative of the blog; I write about how I feel on various pop culture things, so just let me be.
  3. Maroon 5, Sweetest Goodbye – Picking a M5 was so hard but ultimately, I just ended up with, no question, my favourite song of theirs, which happened to stem from “Songs About Jane.” The song is everything I love about M5 – the fusion of pop, rock, R&B; a kind of slow-burning love song that builds to a climax featuring Adam’s longing vocals and the band just jamming, made all the more euphoric when you hear them perform this song live. DAMN I LOVE THIS SONG!
  4. Kyle Riabko, The Rules of the Game – We have a lot of talent coming out of Canada and one of my favourites is Kyle Riabko. He’s an incredibly talented singer-songwriter and actor, who has done quite well for himself on Broadway (he took over for Jonathan Groff in Spring Awakening back in 2008, went on to Hair, and most recently starred in What’s It All About, a reimagination of Burt Bacharach classics for which he arranged the music). I am Canadian and though I don’t regularly acknowledge Canadian talent, do go and check out Kyle’s discography, which is filled with an incredible amount of soul and a hint of indie folk rock.
  5. Delta Goodrem, Waiting for Forever – I’m a little fuzzy on how exactly I came across Delta in the first place, but I’ve been a fan of this Australian singer/songwriter for 10 years. Even as she dives deeper into the pop sound, she holds onto her core of piano-driven songs and thoughtful lyrics.

SIDE B – Random

  1. Tony Lucca, Baby One More Time – This song is a reminder of what I loved when I was growing up (Britney Spears, pop music) and how much (or little, it’s debatable) my tastes have changed. What I have always loved is a good cover, and this one done by Tony (who was on the Mickey Mouse Club back in the day with Britney, JT, X-Tina, Ryan Gosling) on the second season of The Voice was just all kinds of genius.
  2. Gavin DeGraw, I Don’t Want to Be – “I don’t wanna be anything other than me”; how is that not everyone’s motto? As much as we try to run a successful blog/life/whatever, at the end of the day we just have to do what works for us. The song was also the theme for one of my favourite TV shows One Tree Hill, so this song will always have a special place in my heart. Plus, now every time I see Gavin in concert performing this song, I picture the OTH finale with the whole gang singing along.
  3. Jay-Z & Linkin Park, Points of Authority/99 Problems/One Step Closer – Here’s where we get truly random. If you actually met me in person, I don’t think you’d expect me to be a fan of either of these acts, let alone the fact that Collision Course is quite possibly one of my favourite albums. I love me a good mash-up, which by extension brings forth the fact that I love a lot of different music, and this entire album was filled with them. The rap and alternative rap-rock melds so well and truly personifies the random part of the blog.
  4. Legally Blonde the Musical, There Right There – My adoration for musicals is a lot more believable than the Jay-Z/Linkin Park pairing. Say what you will, but Legally Blonde is one of my favourite movies (I will always stop to watch it if it comes on TV) and not surprisingly, I fell in love with the musical. With this song, it’s equal parts silly and awesome.
  5. Thanh Bui, Mirror Mirror – Holding onto my Vietnamese heritage is something that’s important to me and one of the best ways for me to do that is through music. Every once in a while I’ll blog about a Vietnamese entertainment show called Paris By Night. PBN is amazing to me because though its focus is on Vietnamese culture and music, it is by no means just some concert. The production is actually done by Hollywood standards.; they hire the best in the business from their directors, lighting, camera crew, dancers, etc. This song in particular appeared in PBN 96 as a featured performance by Thanh Bui, a singer/songwriter out of Australia (he was a contestant on Australian Idol), and what makes it so special is that it’s actually written/performed in equal parts English and Vietnamese. It’s a pop song in the veins of OneRepublic (circa the “Apologize” days) and so well-crafted, it pleases me to no end to have a song that melds all these parts of me (Vietnamese, Canadian, music fan) into one.

Geez, that was difficult. You have no idea how many changes I made and what songs almost made the cut, but in the end, I’d say this is a pretty decent mixtape that properly represents Pop Cultured Randoms.

Thanks again Joie for the idea!

Music First Listens

There’s a funny thing to be said about how technology, or moreso the internet, has an effect on how we listen to music. (Well, in reality, it can relate to all aspects of entertainment, but I want to focus on just music.) With the exception of artists releasing singles before their album drops, prior to an album getting released it often happens that the album gets leaked onto the internet whether officially (like through where you are able to stream the entire album a week before it’s out) or unofficially (just your normal websites). When an album actually gets released, you can go on iTunes, the artists’ website or whatever and hear 30-second snippets of all the songs on the album. The point is: you can hear an album before you buy it.

Recently, I went to see Maroon 5 in concert again, and one of their opening acts was a new artist by the name of Ry Cuming. The Maroon 5 guys are good friends with Ry, so they’ve been supporting him through having him come on tour with them and encouraging their fans to check out his album when it got released in July. Knowing that Ry was opening for Maroon 5 and obviously being a big fan of theirs, I decided to check out his album. Unfortunately, Ry’s album isn’t being distributed in Canada, so I couldn’t just go to HMV and pick it up; instead, I ordered it off of Amazon (good ol’ trusty Amazon!) It then occurred to me that it had been a really long time since I had bought an album without having heard it first, with absolutely no preconceptions. I bought an album, not knowing what I was going to get.

I read somewhere online recently an interview that Drake did, where he addressed his album “Thank Me Later” leaking a good 2 weeks before its release. He said he didn’t care all that much about the leak because it meant that people could hear what they were getting before they bought the album. It’s a sentiment that I definitely agree with. I mean sure, the bad thing about albums getting leaked before their release is that it’s out there for free. But if people really like it, then they’ll buy the album.

Now, I’m one of those people who still like buying the physical CD and not off of iTunes, so for me, I just think back to the days when I was younger and bought CDs, not knowing what the music was like. I mean sure, when you download an album or stream it online before it comes out, you’re listening to the songs for the first time, but the feeling’s not exactly the same. It’s happened to me on several occasions where I listened to the leaked album, love it, play it on repeat, and then it actually gets released, I buy it…and that’s it. I pretty much buy the CD, take it out of its plastic, and then put it on my shelf. The idea of buying the physical album, putting it into your CD player and listening to it, now just seems lost with the times.

So back to the catalyst of this post, consider me pleasantly surprised when I got Ry Cuming’s album, put it into my computer and just listened to it. It was a nice feeling (and a very good album). Thinking about it now, I think the last time I bought an album without listening to it first was Kyle Riabko’s “The Parkdale Sessions.” I think when I got the album, I realized that I already had a couple of the songs, but the rest was all new to me and I loved it. Granted, I’ve been a Kyle Riabko fan for a long time, so pretty much anything he did, I was gonna support him regardless. But yeah, it was different to buy an album by someone I didn’t know and not listen to the music before I bought it. In all honesty, it could’ve been terrible, but let’s just call it musical instincts, in the belief that it was gonna be good. Having other musicians support and endorse you and your music kind of helps too.