Music Monday: My Year in Concerts

As a music fan, I’ve always loved going to concerts. There’s just something about hearing music live that just makes me so happy and feels like everything is right in the world, if only for a couple hours. So for this Music Monday, I thought I’d feature the concerts I went to this year.

1. Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience Tour

JT 2020 Tour

I wrote about my thoughts on this tour back when I saw it, but let me repeat – my dancer’s heart loved every single minute of it.

2. Lady AntebellumTake Me Downtown Tour

Lady Antebellum Take Me Downtown Tour

I’m very limited in my tastes when it comes to country music. Country pop I can deal with to an extent; I can’t handle real southern country twang. When I first heard Lady Antebellum, it was when they released ‘Need You Now’ and I remember thinking these guys are really cool and sound really great. I quickly became a fan, to say the least. After missing out on their Own the Night tour (which I’m still kinda bummed about because I absolutely LOVED that album), I had to make sure I got to see them the next time they were in town, which was for this tour. Though to be honest, I felt really out of place at the concert. Being a minority and a generally awkward person, I’m typically used to feeling out of place. For some reason, I felt VERY odd being one of few Asians at a country music concert (and not wearing plaid – believe me, there was A LOT of plaid). My being-out-of-place aside, Lady A are wonderful live and it was a great concert overall.

3. Gavin DeGraw

Gavin DeGraw

For years, a friend and I had complained about Gavin not doing a show in Toronto. Lucky us this year, he did 2 separate shows. This first show he did was a solo show in support of his Make A Move album. I remember still being sick/jet-lagged from my trip, but I still had so much fun seeing Gavin perform. His opening acts were Rozzi Crane (signed to Adam Levine’s label) and Parachute (a pop-rock band I’ve followed for some time now), both of whom were really solid.

4. Justin Nozuka

Justin Nozuka

It had been years since I’d last seen Justin Nozuka in concert and when I found out he was releasing a new album and coming back to Toronto, I jumped right on it. Personally, I don’t really like the new album; it’s a little too mellow for my tastes. And most of the concert was comprised of the new material so I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more of the old stuff. I still cherished him performing ‘After Tonight’ midway through the show; it was quite a pick-me-up that got everybody grooving and singing along. I just wish there was a little more of it.

5. Michael Buble – To Be Loved Tour

Michael Buble To Be Loved Tour

I love seeing Michael Buble in concert. I always say this but when you go see him, you get a little bit of a comedy show as well. It’s his natural sense of humour and self-deprecation. Once again, he brought out Naturally 7 (a very cool acapella group) as his opening act, and who later returned to do a couple songs acapella with Michael. And one of my favourites parts of the show was actually when Michael performed part of a song by himself, with no accompaniment and no mic – a feat all in itself considering he was playing in a huge arena.

6. Matt Nathanson & Gavin DeGraw

Matt Nathanson Gavin DeGraw

 

I always love seeing Matt Nathanson in concert (this was my 5th time seeing him) and add to that, getting to see Gavin for a second time within 3 months? Yeah, it was a no brainer. Despite the fact that the show was at the Sound Academy, a venue in Toronto I have associated with bad memories. Even so, I had to go see this double headlining tour of two of my favourites. My friend and I actually got lucky and received a VIP upgrade when we got there, allowing us to go to the second floor of the club. But after about 20 minutes upstairs, we made our way back down to stand with the masses; it just felt weird standing up top and what’s the point of VIP if you don’t even get to meet the artists? Regardless of that, it was a fantastic show!

7. Tyler Hilton

Tyler Hilton

It wasn’t that long ago that my friends and I complained about Tyler never playing a show in Toronto, despite the fact that he was constantly in the area (his now fianc√©, Megan Park, is from London, Ontario). Since seeing him in 2012 for the first time, this was show number 5. I remember Tyler was actually battling a bit of a cold and kinda losing his voice, but he powered through his (albeit shortened) set. AND to make up for the fact that he didn’t do as long a set as he normally does, he agreed to do a meet and greet, taking pictures with fans.

8. Jason Mraz and Raining Jane

Jason Mraz & Raining Jane

For his new album Yes!, Jason Mraz worked exclusively with a wonderfully talented female band, Raining Jane. It was more a collaborative album than a simple Jason Mraz album. That being said, the two took the album on the road, and I got the chance to see them at the historic Massey Hall. Massey Hall is a venue that is known for its amazing acoustics and ended up being a fantastic place for Jason and Jane.

9. Kris Allen and Boyce Avenue

Kris AllenTechnically, it was Boyce Avenue’s show, with Kris Allen supporting, but I was there to go see Kris since I had yet to see him live in concert. Plus, I wasn’t going to say no to a $30 concert ticket. Kris’ set was a short 45 minutes but he managed to squeeze quite a number of songs from all three albums, plus a couple cover songs (Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ and Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’). ‘Monster’, a song from his 2nd album, is one of my favourites from Kris, but man, to hear it live? Kris and his band took it to another level. I even went so far as to compare it to hearing Maroon 5 perform ‘Sweetest Goodbye’ (my absolute favourite M5 song) live. Pure perfection. As for Boyce Avenue, I was familiar with their cover songs but not their original material. Honestly, I thought their originals were a little blah, and I actually got a little bored hearing them perform. Talented guys, just not into them.

10. Justin TimberlakeThe 20/20 Experience Tour (again!)

JT 20/20 TourIt only seemed appropriate that I end my concert year the same way I started it – seeing JT. The guy never ceases to amaze me and I always have SO much fun at his shows. I feel like I’m just gushing at this point, but what can I say, I’m a dancer at heart and loved singing/dancing along.

With 10 concerts, I feel like that’s the most shows I’ve ever been to in a year, and that’s not even including theatre shows, plus TIFF and SDCC. At this point, concert-going is like my life, so I can’t even keep track anymore. Here’s to another fun-filled, musical year in 2015!

Pop Cultured Summer 2014

Suits (03)

Summer is officially upon us. Sure, by the time May rolled around, Hollywood had already deemed it as summertime, based on the number of blockbusters we already got treated with. (For what it’s worth, how AWESOME was X-Men: Days of Future Past?!) For this avid TV fan, May marked the end of the regular TV season, so summer tends to slow down just the slightest bit, but there’s still so much to watch/see/do. So here is what I’m looking forward to this summer in movies, music, and yes, TV.

JUNE

  • 22 Jump Street: LOVED the first movie and seriously could not wait to watch this one.22 Jump Street
  • Suits S4: The student becomes the master and now it’s Harvey versus Mike. It’s undoubtedly weird to not see the two working alongside each other, but man have they set up some interesting dynamics to work with now that Mike is no longer with Pearson Specter.
  • Graceland S2: From Mike Ross to Mike Warren. I loved watching this show last summer and so happy to see it back this summer. This time, Mike’s got the whole house working to help him on a case.
  • Covert Affairs S5: What happens now that Annie Walker is no longer a “dead” rogue agent? I can’t wait to find out.
  • Michael Buble concert: I last saw Michael Buble in concert about 4 years ago. It was actually the first time I had seen him and was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had at it. Come for the music, stay for the added comedy show.

JULY

  • San Diego Comic Con!: SO FREAKIN’ EXCITED! I had so much fun last year with it being my first time, I am determined to have even more fun this year.
  • Matt Nathanson & Gavin DeGraw concert: After having complained before about not having seen Gavin DeGraw in concert, this will be the 2nd time this year that I get to see him. The fact that he’s touring with one of my personal concert faves Matt Nathanson is just icing on the cake. Guaranteed to be a great show.Matt&Gavin
  • Jason Mraz “Yes!”¬†album: Why wouldn’t I be excited about a new Jason Mraz album? This one just happens to be a little extra special in that he worked on the album with a group of supremely talented female musicians, Raining Jane.
  • Lucy: The one movie this month that I’m quite excited about is this one, starring Scarlett Johansson as a woman who is accidentally caught in a dark deal that has turned her into a superhuman. Every once in a while it’s nice to see a movie that isn’t a remake, adaptation or sequel.
  • Extant: Halle Berry makes her foray into TV this series, starring as an astronaut who is trying to readjust to life on Earth after a year in space. Her experiences in the past year however, might now change the course of history.
  • Witches of East End S2: What happens to the Beauchamp ladies now that Dash and Killian’s powers have reappeared after the death of their mother and Joanna’s son has crossed realms? Frankly, I can’t wait to find out.
  • The Strain: Guillermo del Toro’s take on vampires is going to be interesting and probably scary horrifying.
  • Begin Again: I saw this movie, when it was called Can A Song Save Your Life? at the Toronto International Film Festival last September. Since then, I have been waiting anxiously to not only see the movie again but finally own the soundtrack. I LOVE the music in this movie and it’s been killing me not having the songs. Soon enough…

AUGUST

  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon, Vin Diesel as Groot – what’s not to get excited about? Previews for the movie make it seem a lot more light and fun than all the other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and here’s hoping it’s as good as it seems.Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Movie-Production-Art
  • The F-Word (aka What If? in the U.S.): Daniel Radcliffe stars in this Canadian-made romantic comedy about a guy who seemingly meets the love of his life. The catch? She’s already got a boyfriend so they strike up a friendship instead. See, the F-word in question is friend, as in “the friend zone.” Silly Americans changing the name of the movie for nothing.
  • Step Up All In: Yes, this is the 5th movie in the Step Up series. This one includes actors/dancers from all the previous ones, though don’t be expecting to see Channing and Jenna (unless of course they do a super secret cameo). And let’s be real, I’m just a sucker for amazing dancing.

That’s what I’m looking forward to this summer, in a nutshell. What is everybody looking forward to?

53rd Annual Grammy Award Nominations

It’s that time of year again! Award season is upon us, with nominations for some of the biggest names in movies and music are slowly announced. Last night, with the official live nomination concert, we found out the nominees for this year’s Grammy Awards. And as usual, here comes the accompanying rave/rant blog post!

RECORD OF THE YEAR

  • B.o.B. ft. Bruno Mars – Nothin’ On You
  • Eminem ft. Rihanna – Love the Way You Lie
  • Cee-Lo Green – F**k You
  • Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind
  • Lady Antebellum – Need You Now

I absolutely love how rap & hip-hop is so dominant in this category. All these songs are without a doubt some of the best and most well-received songs of the year. This is gonna be a tough category, but if I had to choose which will win, I think I’m gonna have to give the edge to Eminem & Rihanna. This is Eminem’s year. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Lady Antebellum won because of the number of rap & hip-hop songs nominated alongside them, and voters could be split.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

  • Arcade Fire “The Suburbs”
  • Eminem “Recovery”
  • Lady Antebellum “Need You Now”
  • Lady Gaga “The Fame Monster”
  • Katy Perry “Teenage Dream”

I’m surprised that Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint Vol. 3” didn’t get nominated, but there’s no doubt whatsoever that Eminem is winning this.

SONG OF THE YEAR

  • Ray LaMontagne – Beg Steal or Borrow
  • Cee-Lo Green – F**k You
  • Miranda Lambert – The House That Built Me
  • Eminem ft. Rihanna – Love the Way You Lie
  • Lady Antebellum – Need You Now

As always, this category is not to be confused with Record of the Year. This category awards the songwriters for any given song, while ROTY awards the artist and producers of a song. If Lady Antebellum does not win for Record, they’ll win here. The song was just so damn good. I remember them performing this song at last year’s Grammys, and that was it, I became a fan after that performance.

BEST NEW ARTIST

  • Justin Beiber
  • Drake
  • Florence and the Machine
  • Mumford and Sons
  • Esperanza Spalding

Drake is taking this, hands down. If for some reason he does not win, I sure as hell hope that Florence and the Machine win. Justin Beiber? Really? And I don’t even know who the other 2 are. I’ve heard the name Mumford and Sons in passing, but that’s about it. I really don’t know who Esperanza Spalding is. You know what would’ve been great? If Matt Morris or Ry Cuming got nominated, although granted, they were longshots. I would’ve even taken Kris Allen or Adam Lambert, but the only Idol to have been nominated in this category was Carrie Underwood, and that was because she was a lock to win (which she did).

BEST FEMALE POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE

  • Sara Bareilles – King of Anything
  • Beyonce – Halo (Live)
  • Norah Jones – Chasing Pirates
  • Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
  • Katy Perry – Teenage Dream

Because I’m a big fan, I want Sara Bareilles to win. However, her chances are a little on the low side, due to Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.

BEST MALE POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE

  • Michael Buble – Haven’t Met You Yet
  • Michael Jackson – This Is It
  • Adam Lambert – Whataya Want From Me
  • Bruno Mars – Just the Way You Are
  • John Mayer – Half of My Heart

If we base it on previous years, John Mayer practically has it in the bag. But he’s got serious competition this year. Personally, if I had to choose, as much as I love “Just the Way You Are”, I love “Haven’t Met You Yet” more.

BEST POP PERFORMANCE BY A DUO OR GROUP WITH VOCALS

  • Glee Cast – Don’t Stop Believin’ [Regionals Version]
  • Maroon 5 – Misery
  • Paramore – The Only Exception
  • Sade – Babyfather
  • Train – Hey Soul Sister (Live)

First of all, GLEE IS NOMINATED?! Not just for a compilation soundtrack (which they are nominated for), but for an actual song. I mean, don’t get me wrong I love Glee, it’s just a little surprising, that’s all. Secondly, why is it the live version of “Hey Soul Sister”? Regardless, Maroon 5 HAS TO WIN! Chalk it up to me being biased, I don’t care, I just want them to win.

BEST POP COLLABORATION WITH VOCALS

  • B.o.B. ft. Eminem & Hayley Williams – Airplanes, Part II
  • Herbie Hancock, Pink, India.Arie, Seal, Konono No 1, Jeff Beck & Oumou Sangare – Imagine
  • Elton John & Leon Russell – If It Wasn’t for Bad
  • Lady Gaga & Beyonce – Telephone
  • Katy Perry ft. Snoop Dogg – California Gurls

I have a strong feeling that Herbie Hancock and co. will take this. Never underestimate the veterans, not to mention that’s a lot of people in one song. Otherwise, I would think that Lady Gaga and Beyonce would take it.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

  • Justin Beiber “My World 2.0”
  • Susan Boyle “I Dreamed A Dream”
  • Lady Gaga “The Fame Monster”
  • John Mayer “Battle Studies”
  • Katy Perry “Teenage Dream”

I can’t believe Beiber is nominated here. SERIOUSLY? You’re telling me that his album is better than Maroon 5’s “Hands All Over,” Sara Bareilles’ “Kaleidoscope Heart” or Florence and the Machine’s “Lungs”? REALLY? I’ll take Susan Boyle’s nom because it sold a ridiculous number of albums, Gaga because it’s Gaga. But Beiber? COME ON! I hate to go against John Mayer in terms of his music, but I’m pretty sure Katy Perry’s gonna win.

BEST RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION

  • B.o.B ft. Bruno Mars – Nothin’ On You
  • Chris Brown, Tyga, Kevin McCall – Deuces
  • Eminem ft. Rihanna – Love the Way You Lie
  • Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind
  • John Legend, The Roots, Melanie Fiona & Common – Wake Up! Everybody

Another tough one to call, but ultimately will be down to Eminem & Rihanna vs. Jay-Z & Alicia Keys.

And that’s all from me. Most of my comments are with the Pop categories anyways. What can I say? I’m a pop music fan first, everything else second. Overall, Eminem received 10 nominations, followed by Bruno Mars (for performing/producing/songwriting) with 7, and Jay-Z, Lady Antebellum & Lady Gaga each with 6 nominations. The Grammy Awards will air on CBS, February 13th, 2011.