Tag Archives: John Legend

The VMAs 2015 Recap

via People
via People

MTV was hyping this year’s MTV Video Music Awards to be super crazy and off the rails.  There was even talk about the program being put on a slight delay.  Why?  Well, because Miley Cyrus was hosting them and let’s just say she knows a thing or two about crazy.  All you have to do is take a quick look at her Instagram to see why.  Ever since she left her squeaky clean Hannah Montana image behind her, she has redefined what it means to be an attention grabber.  With her hosting the VMAs, things were probably going to get weird…except they didn’t.  It was actually a relatively tame showing from Miley, with the emphasis being put on the multitude of performances.

Nicki Minaj started off the night with a raucous performance of “Trini Dem Girls,” complete with tribal dancing and vaginal slapping, pretty much par for the course when it comes to a Nicki Minaj performance.  She then moved on to “The Night Is Still Young,” where the crowd was met with a surprise when Taylor Swift came out to join her on stage.  If you didn’t know already, the two had some beef brewing between them, but if this performance meant anything, the beef between them had finally been squashed.  What a way to start the show.

With one celebrity squabble crushed another one was built up…by Nicki Minaj of course.  After being presented the award for Best Hip-Hop Video, Nicki Minaj proceeded to call out Miley Cyrus who was standing on the other side of the stage.  Miley Cyrus was talking negatively about her in an interview a while back and Nicki thought the bright stage of the VMAs would be the best place to settle things.  Things didn’t really settle however, but only got worse, leaving us with a pretty awkward moment.

via Hugo Gloss
via Hugo Gloss

Now that we’re on the topic of Miley Cyrus, let’s talk about her hosting performance shall we?  She was pretty tame in terms of the things she did.  She started with a brief little monologue talking about how MTV will probably go back to having no hosts by the time the night is over.  The monologue had some other jokes here and there that pretty much fell completely flat.  Miley Cyrus is better when she does her own thing, without a script put in front of her.  She had numerous wardrobe changes, some more interesting than others, as the night went on.  There were also a number of sketches that were sprinkled in between.  Aside from an “accidental” nip slip towards the end and a head scratching performance at the end, Miley wasn’t really the Miley that most were probably expecting.  In fact, she kind of left me disappointed.  She got progressively more annoying as the night went on and definitely less funny as well.  Perhaps the most surprising thing coming from her end was a surprise announcement of a free album, “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz.”  Pretty bold move…

via Billboard
via Billboard

As far as other performances go, there wasn’t really any “bad” performances.  Macklemore and Ryan Lewis graced the outdoor stage outside the theater with a performance of their newest single “Downtown.”  The Weeknd gave a pretty solid performance of “Can’t Feel My Face,” complete with flames galore.  Twenty One Pilots and A$AP Rocky might have given us the most interesting and different performance of the night with a mash up of their songs.  I didn’t know what to expect from it at first, but I liked it.  Demi Lovato took the outdoor stage with a fun performance of “Cool for the Summer” with surprise guest Iggy Azalea…who no one particularly asked for.  There was also a cool performance from Pharrell Williams of his newest song “Freedom” that took place on the outdoor stage as well.  I thought the stage outside the Orpheum Theater in the streets of Los Angeles was a pretty cool setting in my opinion.

via Zimbio
via Zimbio

Justin Bieber made his return to the VMA stage after a five year hiatus.  That span of five years has been pretty tough for the young rascal and he looked like a changed man last night.  He gave an electric performance of “Where Are U Now,” followed by his newest song “What Do You Mean” which ended with Bieber literally flying in the sky performing some acrobatics.  After making his landing safe and sound, the artist was in tears…for no apparent reason.  Perhaps it was because he felt good to finally be back on stage again after all he has been through…or maybe it was the straps that might have rubbed him the wrong way…your guess is as good as mine.

via ET Online
via ET Online

As far as the televised awards go, Taylor Swift might have to be considered the big winner.  She took home the Best Female Video award for “Blank Space” and Video of the Year award for “Bad Blood,” among others.  Artist to Watch was given to Fetty Wap, most notably for his hit “Trap Queen.”  Best Male Video was given to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars for their infectious jam “Uptown Funk.”  Finally, the award for Best Video with A Social Message went to Big Sean, Kanye West, and John Legend for “One Man Can Change the World.”  Big Sean probably gave the acceptance speech of the night, dedicating it to his late Grandma who was a war pilot.  It was a well-deserved award for Sean.

via Zimbio
via Zimbio

Let’s be serious though, perhaps the most talked about and most important portion of the night was the presentation of the Video Vanguard Award, which was presented to Kanye West.  It was only fitting that Taylor Swift would be the one to present Kanye his award because of their past VMA history.  Anyway, Kanye soon took the stage and just stood there for a good minute, soaking it all up.  The crowd was going crazy, shouting “Yeezy” chants left and right.  Kanye finally took the mic and started rambling on and on about a whole variety of different things ranging from his daughter to groceries to celebrity beef to award show and the culture that surround them.  I have to admit, I kind of lost him a couple of times, but it was still fascinating to watch.  He ended the big speech with a joke about running for president in 2020 before dropping the mic and walking off stage.  It was a very Kanye thing to do, setting the social media sphere in flames.

via Billboard
via Billboard

Even though the show could have done just fine without the “crazy” antics and mischief from Miley, 2015’s VMAs still had its fair share of fun and talk-worthy moments.  The emphasis was on the performances, which only makes sense in this day and age. No one watches award shows for the awards anymore.  It’s all about which performance topped them all, and this year’s VMAs gave us a whole lot of performances to think about.  I struggle to pick which one was my favorite because they were all equally great and exciting. The VMAs continue to provide a fun award show experience that tops most award shows on TV these days.  I hope this trend continues on…but let’s have Miley sit out next time please?


Here’s the full list of winners from the night…VMAs 2015 8

Video of the Year: Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood”

Best Male Video: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk”

Best Female Video: Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”

Artist to Watch: Fetty Wap – “Trap Queen”

Best Pop Video: Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”

Best Hip-Hop Video: Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”

Best Rock Video: Fall Out Boy – “Uma Thurman”

Best Video With A Social Message: Big Sean feat. Kanye West and John Legend – “One Man Can Change The World”

Song of the Summer: 5 Seconds of Summer – “She’s Kinda Hot”

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Review: Big Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise

via Hip Hop DX
via Hip Hop DX

Dark Sky Paradise (2015)

Big Sean

Rap / Hip-Hop

Label: G.O.O.D. Music & Def Jam


Let’s take a moment and look at what has been happening in rapper Big Sean’s life the past couple of years.  His sophomore album Hall of Fame proved to be a sophomore flop, he had a pretty public break-up with now ex-girlfriend Naya Rivera, found a new (and even more public) girlfriend in Ariana Grande, and he recently signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation label.  That’s a lot of fuel for a big fire.  With Dark Sky Paradise, Big Sean’s third studio album, he manages to kindle those flames to produce his best album yet.

If you want a summary of the things Big Sean reflects on his introspective album, all you have to do is refer to the opening track “Dark Sky (Skyscrapers).”  Big Sean keeps it raw and goes into the sorts of themes that are scattered all over the album, including the girls he has been with, the successes he has had, and some of the mistakes and struggles he has had to deal with along the way.

via juice.de
via juice.de

With a title like Dark Sky Paradise, you would think that Big Sean would follow the apparent progression from his struggles of his past to the paradise that he’s a part of now, but this is not the case necessarily.  It seems like a missed opportunity to me, but it’s hard to argue with how an artist decides to order their tracks.

The album has a really strong start with some pretty heavy beats.  “Blessings” and “All Your Fault”, which feature Drake and Kanye West respectively, go into the successes that Big Sean has had, and how he is literally “blessed” to be at his level.  Both Big Sean and Kanye West go bar for bar on the last verse of “All Your Fault”, which was probably one of my favorite moments on the album.

via xclusiveszone.net
via xclusiveszone.net

These songs then lead to the massive commercial hit “I Don’t Fuck With You”; a song that can be possibly linked to Sean’s relationship with Naya Rivera.  At the surface level, there doesn’t seem to be too much depth to the song.  However, E-40 lends a great verse with his signature style and Big Sean once again gets introspective with the last verse, which he later revealed that he wrote with Naya Rivera on his mind.  The song also contains some good production from DJ Mustard which makes it a heavy-hitting banger.

It was at this point that the album started to trail off a bit for me.  “Play No Games”, featuring Chris Brown and Ty Dolla $ign, and “Paradise” both were average songs that didn’t really do it for me.  However, I can’t deny that the sound of “Paradise” was probably one of the best sounds on the album.  “Win Some, Lose Some”, the first duet with Jhene Aiko, and “Stay Down” were not that special either.

via themostrequested.tv
via themostrequested.tv

It was Big Sean’s second duet with Jhene Aiko, “I Know”, that was one of the highlights on the album.  The two trade verses on a track about the struggles that someone in a rough relationship is going through.  The two both offer their support in a sexy and soulful duet.  “One Man Can Change the World” was another soulful track that dived into the subject of Big Sean’s grandmother, who recently passed away.  She was the “father figure” of sorts during his childhood, and he owed a lot too her, which he talks about on the track.  Sean also brings on Kanye West and John Legend, who were both fitting features on the track of tribute to Sean’s grandmother.

Although there were a couple of missteps along the way, Big Sean hit hard with Dark Sky Paradise.  It’s a cool experience to see the rapper go through his life and the problems he has had to put up with, and then reflect on how they have impacted his life.  There’s some moments on the album where he talks about what it would be like to “lose it all.”  It’s a good reflective question to ask yourself once in a while, but with an album like this, it’s hard to see Big Sean really “losing it all.”  He has picked himself back up from the disaster that was Hall of Fame and has moved on to his Dark Sky Paradise.

dark sky paradise score

The Biggest (Boring) Night In Hollywood – Oscars 2015

Last year’s Oscars celebration was a memorable one.  Ellen Degeneres was the host and she did a fantastic job with working the crowd, while throwing in some pretty crazy surprises along the way.  12 Years A Slave was the big winner of the night, taking home the big award for Best Picture.  Overall, it was a strong night for the Academy.

What about the 87th Annual Academy Awards you ask?  Well, let me just say this.  There were a lot of locks for the award categories.  No one broke the internet.  The host was average at best.  Plus, the show seemed to feel even longer than last year, running past the 12:00 mark.  Does this give you a good idea of how the night went?

via Billboard
via Billboard

The Oscars, held at the famous Dolby Theatre as usual, were hosted by the charismatic Neil Patrick Harris, who has done a fair share of hosting gigs himself; probably best known for his Tony Awards performance.  He started in the same fashion with an exciting musical number chronicling the history of the “moving picture.”  The talented Anna Kendrick even joined him on stage halfway through and Jack Black, by surprise, crashed the number in classic Jack Black fashion.  If the musical number was any indication, the night was only going to get better.  However, this wasn’t so much the case.

Neil was an alright host.  He got the job done.  He had some big shoes to fill though after what Ellen did last year with the hosting job.  Most of his jokes did a fair share of bashing and roasting of the crowd, but most of them seemed to fall flat.  He would just sit there with a charming smile, waiting for people to pity laugh at his jokes.  There was a running bit during the show about a locked briefcase that supposedly was holding his predictions for the show.  There was such a buildup to the final moment, but the joke fell drastically flat when the contents of the box were revealed.  It just contained a slightly comedic summary of the nights happenings.  About halfway through the show, Neil delivered probably his most talked about moment, where he walked out on stage in nothing but his tiny underwear.  However by that point, it just seemed like a desperate attempt to keep people paying attention to a show that just dragged on and on.

via Sueddeutsche.de
via Sueddeutsche.de

There were also a lot of performances, paying tribute to some of the best soundtracks of the year.  Out of the sampling of songs, there were only about three performances that really stuck out.  The first was the thrilling and crazy performance of “Everything is Awesome”, the theme song for the snubbed Lego Movie.  Tegan and Sara, as well as The Lonely Island, wowed the crowed with the energetic performance, probably leaving most confused.  They even handed out Lego Oscars to the crowd, producing some great reactions.   More specifically Oprah who probably had the reaction of the night.

Then there was the powerful and uplifting performance of “Glory” by John Legend and Common from the movie Selma, which was presented the Oscar for Best Original Song.  Set against the backdrop of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and accompanied by a full choir, John Legend and Common managed to make the crowd emotional, with not a dry eye in the house. Lastly, Lady Gaga performed a tribute to the Sound of Music and Julie Andrews.  It was surprisingly pretty good and she nailed all of the songs with graceful bliss.  It was made even better when Julie Andrews herself came out on stage afterwards to present the Oscar for Best Original Score, which ended up going to The Grand Budapest Hotel.

via ABC News
via ABC News

As for the actual awards themselves, there wasn’t too much drama this year.  The big award for Best Picture was pretty much decided to be between Boyhood and Birdman.  Birdman, to my surprise, ended up taking the award.  Birdman was one of the big winners of the night.  Birdman and Emmanuel Lubezki won for Achievement in Cinemetography and Best Original Screenplay was also awarded to Birdman.  The movie’s director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, also won for Best Director.

via Indie Wire
via Indie Wire

The other big winner of the night was The Grand Budapest Hotel, which pretty much cleaned up in the technical categories.  The movie took home the awards for Achievement in Costume Design, Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Production Design, and Best Original Score.  It was good to see the film gain some recognition, considering it was not projected to win any of the big awards of the night.

The first award of the night was given to J.K. Simmons for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the instructor in the 3rd biggest winner of the night, Whiplash.  The most impact speech award was probably given to Patricia Arquette, who won Best Supporting Actress.  She used the time on stage to promote wage equality for women and men everywhere.  She got a big crowd applause.  It’s also worth mentioning that Graham Moore also had a memorable speech, for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game, when he talked about his attempted suicide, and how he wanted all of us to “Stay Weird” and “Stay Different.”

oscars 2015 graham moore

Best Actor went to Eddie Redmayne for his performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.  An emotional Eddie went up there and professed the honor that was bestowed upon him for portraying the famous figure.  On the other side, Julianne Moore won the award for Best Actress, for her role as Alice in Still Alice.  This was one of the least surprising announcements, considering the amount of buzz that was surrounding the award.

It has already been revealed this morning that the ratings for the telecast were down when compared to past years, but this wasn’t too much of a surprise.  The drama just didn’t seem to be there since a majority of the categories were already considered to be predicted to a T.  There also wasn’t a plethora of moments for us to rave about in the morning, with Neil Patrick Harris bringing a dose of average to the gig.  The show needs to revise it’s structure if it wants to move forward with success.  It was a well produced program, but it just didn’t seem to work too well in the current climate.  Does this mean a radical change in format?  Maybe not.  Does this mean no show at all?  Definitely not.  With that being said, something needs to change because the best word I can use to sum up last night’s production was: boring.

via The Guardian
via The Guardian

Here’s the full list of the winners that took  home the golden man last night…

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Milena Canonero

ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Frances Hannon & Mark Coulier

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Ida – Pawel Pawlikowski

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM

The Phone Call – Mat Kirkby & James Lucas

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 – Ellen Goosenberg Kent & Dana Perry

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING

Whiplash – Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins & Thomas Curley

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING

American Sniper – Alan Robert Murray & Bub Asman

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Patricia Arquette for Boyhood

ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS

Interstellar – Paul J Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter & Scott R Fisher

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Feast – Patrick Osborne & Kristina Reed

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Big Hero 6

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen & Anna Pinnock

ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY

Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki

ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING

Whiplash – Tom Cross

via The Guardian
via The Guardian

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Citizenfour – Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy & Dirk Wilutzky

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Glory” from Selma – Lonnie Lynn (Common) & John Stephens (John Legend)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Alexandre Desplat – The Grand Budapest Hotel

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris & Armando Bo – Birdman

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Graham Moore – The Imitation Game

BEST DIRECTOR

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – Birdman

via joe.ie
via joe.ie

BEST ACTOR

Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything

BEST ACTRESS

Julianne Moore for Still Alice

BEST PICTURE

Birdman

The Grammys 2015: Wrap-Up

grammysIf you watched the Grammys last night, you probably heard the phrase “Grammy Moment” over and over again.  It was the main theme of the night.  “So and so is going to make a Grammy moment.”  “Don’t miss the Grammy moment, coming up next!”  The 57th Annual Grammy Awards took place last night, and there were indeed a lot of moments…some more memorable then others.

Right off the bat, the award for Best New Artist, which was presented by Taylor Swift, was given to Sam Smith.  This surprised me a lot, considering the fact that Iggy Azalea was in the category as well.  (Although I really wouldn’t call her “new”)  This was the start of two new trends for the night.  Iggy, who was nominated for four awards, took home a big zero.  On the other hand, Sam Smith cleaned house with a grand total of four Grammy’s, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Album, in addition to his New Artist award.  This was a big night for the emotional Sam Smith, who accepted the awards with a lot of gratitude.

grammys sam smith

Other notable award winners included Beck for Album of the Year for Morning Phase.  This was by far my biggest surprise.  Beck had a pretty successful and critically acclaimed album, but I didn’t think there was that much buzz around his album, especially compared to the other nominees in the category.  Kanye West must have thought the same thing, as he almost performed “I ’ma Let You Finish” Part 2.  Luckily, he refrained from interrupting Beck, but it was still one of my favorite moments from the night.  Others didn’t find it funny, calling Kanye a jerk.  This is true in a sense, but I don’t think Kanye did anything wrong last night…besides his later comments about Beck and his win.  Anyway…

Other award winners include Pharrell Williams for Best Pop Solo Performance for his song “Happy” and Beyonce for Best R&B Performance for her song “Drunk In Love” with her hubby Jay Z.  One surprising omission from the show was the absence of the Hip-Hop and Rap awards being presented live.  All of the awards for these categories were announced before the live show…for reasons I can’t really explain.  Either way, Eminem won Best Rap Album for The Marshal Mathers LP2 and Kendrick Lamar won Best Rap Performance for “I”.  There were a lot more awards that were left out of the picture during the live show, with only nine awards being given out at the big show.  The awards were three hours long and only nine were actually given out?  That only means one thing…performances.

grammys beck

So how were the performances?

Well, there were so much that host LL Cool J had to skip his normal comedic (that term used lightly) monologue in order to make room for the plethora of artists that made the stage.  This year there were twenty three performances, kicked off by the rock legends AC/DC with “Rock or Bust” and “Highway to Hell.”  It was a strong start to the show, and it probably had a lot of people confused as to why they were even up there.  Then things started to go downhill…

grammys acdc

We got some love songs from Ariana Grande and the duo of Jessie J and Tom Jones.  The two performances were alright, but they were nothing special.  We then got a rather forgettable performance from Miranda Lambert who sung “Little Red Wagon.”  Surprising to most, Kanye West picked things up a bit with his minimalist act of “Only One.”  It was then Madonna who gave a weird and often times uncomfortable performance of “Living for Love.”

There was then a long string of unmemorable performances that just didn’t make an impression on me.  Pharrell Williams however, gave a cinematic and epic performance of “Happy”, debuting a new elevator boy hat.  I hope the tradition continues every year.  Katy Perry, after a talk about domestic violence, gave a somber, yet dazzling performance of “By the Grace of God”, which was one of the standouts of the night.  One of the other standouts was the much anticipated performance of “FourFiveSeconds” by the trio of Sir Paul McCartney, Rihanna, and Kanye West.  It was an upbeat live showing of a song that just doesn’t get old.  They three had fun with it.

grammys four five seconds

The show closed with two final performances from Beyonce and John Legend, featuring rapper Common.  Beyonce performed an angelic version of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.”  It was a powerful performance that further cemented Beyonce’s status of dominance in music.  As an encore of sorts, John Legend and Common performed the Oscar nominated “Glory” from the Oscar recognized Selma.  It was another epic performance, complete with instrumentals and a full choir.  The Grammys started strong and ended strong…but had a ton of rough patches in between held up by the occasional memorable performance.

The Grammys weren’t what I thought they were going to be this year.  They were kind of a let down.  Yes, some very talented musicians took home there well deserved awards, but I kind of wished there were more awards, instead of the performances that were just thrown in there to fatten up the runtime.  Half of the performances could have been cut out, leaving room for more awards and what ever else they could have come up with.  It was a big night for music, no doubt…but it could have been bigger.

grammys beyonce


Here were some of the winners from the night…

Record of the Year

Sam Smith – “Stay With Me”

Song of the Year

Sam Smith – “Stay With Me” [Darkchild Version]

Album of the Year

Beck – “Morning Phase”

Best New Artist

Sam Smith

Best Pop Solo Performance

Pharrell Williams – “Happy”

Best Pop Vocal Album

Sam Smith – “In The Lonely Hour”

Best Rock Album

Beck – “Morning Phase”

Best Rap Album

Eminem – “The Marshal Mathers LP2”

Best Country Album

Miranda Lambert – “Platinum”

Best R&B Performance

Beyonce ft. Jay Z – “Drunk In Love”

grammys happy


Now, what about my predictions?  Well…here’s how I did…

Record of the Year

I predicted… “Shake If Off” by Taylor Swift

Actual winner: “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith

Album of the Year

I predicted… In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith

Actual winner: Morning Phase by Beck

Song of the Year

I predicted… “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

Actual winner: “Stay With Me” [Darkchild Version] by Sam Smith

Best New Artist

I predicted… Iggy Azalea

Actual winner: Sam Smith

Best Pop Vocal Album

I predicted… Prism by Katy Perry

Actual winner: In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith

Best Dance/Electronic Album

I predicted… While (1>2) by Deadmau5

Actual winner: Syro by Aphex Twin

Best R&B Performance

I predicted… “Drunk In Love” by Beyonce feat. Jay Z

Actual winner: “Drunk In Love” by Beyonce feat. Jay Z

Best Urban Contemporary Album

I predicted… Beyonce by Beyonce

Actual winner: Beyonce by Beyonce

Best Rap Song

I predicted… “I” by Kendrick Lamar

Actual winner: “I” by Kendrick Lamar

Best Rap Album

I predicted… The Marshal Mathers LP2 by Eminem

Actual winner: The Marshal Mathers LP2 by Eminem

grammys taylor swift

Basically, I didn’t do so well.  I knew Sam Smith was going to win some awards, but I wasn’t expecting him to take the show.  I also expected Taylor Swift to take his place with the top song categories.  Obviously that didn’t pan out.  As for the Rap categories, I did alright.  I also did a good job with predicting Beyonce to win big as well.  I could have done better, but I went with the popular route.  I should have known better…

Review: Title

via Idolator
via Idolator

Title (2015)

Meghan Trainor

Pop / Soul

Epic Records


When “All About That Bass” was released by Meghan Trainor this past summer, she did all of us a favor (or misfortune) by putting that song in our head for days and months to come.  It was an addicting song with a catchy throwback style that put Trainor on the map.  It was her debut, and she came out swinging with an empowering song about having confidence with your body size.  Now Trainor has released her debut album, titled Title.  (Yeah, I said that right.  No typo)

The album keeps with the style of “All About That Bass” by introducing a sound that we haven’t heard too much of before.  It’s a mixture of pop, hip-hop, and doo-wop with a retro flair that’s reminiscent of the 50’s and 60’s.  It’s a sound that we haven’t heard too much of in the current pop sphere, and it’s a sound that is solely Trainor’s.

via Zing.vn
via Zing.vn

The album starts off with everybody’s favorite, “All About That Bass”.  We then get songs like “Dear Future Husband” and “Close Your Eyes” which have the overarching theme of body image.  Trainor is a little bigger in size, and she embraces it with these songs.  They’re pretty relatable and empowering for those who share the same body image.

The album then shifts to Trainor’s love life.  We get a plethora of songs about falling in love, breaking up, and the struggles of letting go.  It’s stuff that we have all heard before.  (That’s pretty much what pop is turning into these days.)  The doo-wop ballad “Like I’m Going To Lose You” featuring the talent of John Legend and the up-tempo and energetic “Bang Dem Sticks” were some of my standout favorites from this portion of the album.

El Remix
El Remix

The other single that was released from the album was “Lips Are Movin”, which also happens to be one of my overall favorites.  It’s a bouncy song about Trainor’s confidence with breaking up with her ex.  She’s done with him and his lies.  It’s confusing however because only a couple of songs later we get “My Selfish Heart”, which features a much somber Trainor kissing up to the guys that she has broken up with.  All confidence and that “bad-girl” style is gone.

There’s nothing new in terms of substance from Trainor’s offerings, but it’s her musical talent and unique sounds that keep things fresh amid the sea of love ballads and break-up anthems that populate the pop industry today.

via Allsongs.tv
via Allsongs.tv

If Meghan Trainor is going to turn into a massive pop-star, she is going to have to leave the tired concepts of love and break ups behind.  Her songs about her body image in the beginning were some of my favorites.  They were unique and we don’t have too many of those songs like that in this current climate.  It’s all about unrealistic expectations for women, and Meghan Trainor slashes those expectations down with style.  I hope that we continue to see this in the future.  All in all, Title was a strong debut from the pop sensation that filled our ears last summer.

title score

Review: Burning Bridges

burning bridges coverBurning Bridges (2014)

Ludacris

Rap / Hip-Hop

Def Jam


It’s been a long time since Ludacris has graced the rap scene with his presence.  If you can remember, last year Ludacris released his mixtape #IDGAF, but it was 2010 when he released his last studio album Battle of the Sexes.  So yeah, it’s been a long time…but that doesn’t mean that Ludacris has been vacationing in the Bahamas either.  He’s been hard at work with the Fast and Furious films, as well as his next studio album Ludaversal, which is scheduled to come out next March.

Then, out of the blue, we get an announcement of a small little EP titled Burning Bridges that was going to be released in anticipation of Ludaversal.  It was announced to be coming out in December, and now the mini album is finally here, all six tracks in all.  It’s a feature heavy project, but it still gives us a nice little dose of Ludacris.  It’s also only a Google Play exclusive, so it’s not going to be filling a lot of ears either.

Gabrielle's Angel Foundation Hosts Angel Ball 2014 - Inside

 

The main theme that can be found on the album is Ludacris’ attitude towards the critics and the people that have been giving him a lot of flack lately.  It’s completely made known in the album that he could frankly care less about what the people say.  It’s songs like “Problem” featuring Cee-Lo and “In My Life” featuring John Legend that show he is going to keep doing what he does best, and he’s going to continue to stay relevant in the music industry, given the time he has taken off.

My two favorite songs of the EP were “Money”, which featured Rick Ross and “Burning Bridges”, which featured the interesting collaboration of Jason Aldean.  “Money” is a track about the evils that come along with money and wealth, which I found ironic considering the song was coming from the guy who put out “Money Maker.”  Nonetheless, it was a great song that showed of Luda’s signature flow.  “Burning Bridges” was partly interesting because of the collaboration that came from Jason Aldean.  He was the last person I would expect to be on the album, but his country sound actually made the song quite fantastic.

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The last track on the album, “Good Lovin” which features Miguel, was the only song to be released before the EP’s release.  It’s a sobering little tale about the relationship struggles that both Ludacris and Miguel have to go through.  It’s a deeper song, which is a welcoming sign.

Burning Bridges seems like it is the definition of an “underground release”, but it is still worth a listen.  Ludacris is back, and he is just as good as he was before.  The EP did succeed in it’s purpose, which was to get me excited for what Luda has in store with his upcoming project Ludaverse.  In the meantime, this should hold you over.

(It’s also free on Google Play right now, so there is really no excuse for you to not pick it up…just saying)

 

It’s Time for the United State of Pop 2014

It’s that time of year again!  We are a little under a month away from the conclusion of 2014.  It’s the time of the year when we reflect back on what a year it has been.  We analyze what was good about the year, as well as some of the rough patches that we want to forget.  We also look back at all the memories that the year brought us, the memories that we won’t want to forget.

Or, if your DJ Earworm, you drop the hottest remix of the year…

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Every year, DJ Earworm is the mastermind behind the United State of Pop, an annual mash-up of the top songs of the year.  It blends chart-topping hits that we couldn’t get out of our heads into one song that we will get stuck in our head yet again.  This year he entitled the remix “Do What You Wanna Do” and the mash-up is pretty great.

It features a wide range of artists, including the likes of Iggy Azalea, Taylor Swift, Sam Smith, Katy Perry, Meghan Trainor, Pharrell Williams, Maroon 5, Jason Derulo, YG, Ariana Grande, Lil Jon, and much more.

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This year’s remix was interesting, because it blended the soft and smooth sounds of Sam Smith with sounds as chaotic as Lil Jon’s “Turn Down For What”.  As hard of a task as that sounds, DJ Earworm did a remarkable job, once again, at capturing the year in music.  It’s has a slower tempo, but that is because of the decline of EDM music in the top 25, as referenced by DJ Earworm himself.  It serves as a brilliant time capsule that we can go back to year after year.

Or, if you want to watch the music video mash-up, which is equally as great…

Finally, here is the full track list of songs that are featured in the remix:

A Great Big World – “Say Something” (feat. Christina Aguilera)

Ariana Grande – “Problem” (feat. Iggy Azalea)

Bastille – “Pompeii”

Dj Snake & Lil Jon – “Turn Down For What”

Hozier – “Take Me To Church”

Idina Menzel – “Let It Go”

Iggy Azeala – “Fancy” (feat. Charlie XCX)

Iggy Azeala – “Black Widow” (feat. Rita Ora)

Jason Derulo – “Talk Dirty” (feat. 2 Chainz)

Jeremiah – “Don’t Tell Em'” (feat. YG)

Jessie J – “Bang Bang” (feat. Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj)

John Legend – “All of Me”

Katy Perry – “Dark Horse” (feat. Juicy J)

Lorde – “Team”

Magic! – “Rude”

Maroon 5 – “Animals”

Meghan Trainor – “All About That Bass”

Nico & Vinz – “Am I Wrong”

One Direction – “Story of my Life”

Passenger – “Let Her Go”

Pharrell Williams – “Happy”

Pitbull – “Timber” (feat. Kesha)

Sam Smith – “Stay With Me”

Taylor Swift – “Shake It Off”

Tove Lo – “Habits”

The 2014 American Music Awards – Recap

The 2014 American Music Awards have come and gone, and it was certainly an action packed show.  The night was hosted by everybody’s favorite, Pitbull.  I guess hosting award shows is what Pitbull does now, because he seems to do a lot of it.  He did an alright job, but his opening monologue was hit-and-miss and some of his jokes just came off plain creepy.  (Yeah, I am looking right at that “Booty” joke)

Fan choice award shows, especially fan choice music award shows, tend to make me grumble.  It’s when one band gets a massive following to stand behind them and vote them to the top of every category that they are nominated for.  Yes, this may speak to an artist’s talent, but this always isn’t the case.  Sometimes a band can get a massive following do to their looks, for example.  A massive fan-base is not always proportionate to an artist’s talent.

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With that being said, it was One Direction that took home the most awards of the night at the Nokia Theater in L.A., including the big one; Artist of the Year.  For Artist of the Year, the band was up against the likes of Iggy Azalea, Luke Bryan, Beyonce, and Katy Perry.  All four of those artists, in my opinion, probably deserved the award the most.  But since there was no committee voting for the awards, it was the fans that had the final say.

Iggy Azalea was also a big winner last night, wrapping up all of the awards for the hip-hop category.  There is some interesting commentary that can be had about this as well, given the recent controversy between Eminem and Iggy.  If you haven’t heard already, Eminem released a snippet of the song “Vegas” of his newest album that contained lyrics about physical harm and rape directed at both Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea.  Iggy ended up getting back at Eminem by calling him an “old man” and speaking her thoughts on Twitter.  Both Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea were at the awards last night, and it was Iggy that got the last laugh.  She was facing both Drake and Eminem for the two hip hop categories, and she came out on top for both of them.

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In her speeches, she name checked Eminem (in the lightest way possible) saying that because she got the award, she knew she was heading in the right direction.  These two awards were the first two AMAs she has ever received.  Her mentor T.I., who seemed to have picked up the role of peacemaker in light of all of Iggy’s harassment, was right by her side during the acceptance.  It was a big night for her.

Other notable awards included Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist, which went to Sam Smith.  The Favorite Rock/Alternative Artist award went to Imagine Dragons, who has been having a pretty big year.  The Favorite Country Album award went to Brantley Gilbert for his third studio album Just As I Am.  Taylor Swift also won big, being the recipient of the Dick Clark Award for Excellence.

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But anyway, the American Music Awards, in my opinion, are about the performances and the moments that come along with them.

Taylor Swift kicked off the show with a bang, performing her newest hit “Blank Space.”  She transformed the stage into a black-and-white striped mansion and danced all throughout the halls with her army of back-up dancers.  It was quite a spectacle and a great way to kick off the show.

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There were a lot of acts that involved first time live performances of a lot of songs.  Imagine Dragons sung their newest hit “I Bet My Life” with an energetic and sentimental performance.  We also saw Lil Wayne later in the show debuting his new song of the Carter V, “Start A Fire”, with Christina Milian.  We also got a performance by Sam Smith and A$ap Rocky, who performed “I’m Not The Only One”.

The most fun performance of the night probably came from Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj who performed the hit “Bang Bang.”  I always like when they play this song live because it’s easy to see how much fan the trio have with the song.  You can tell that they never get tired of it.  Fergie also had a colorful and exotic performance of “L.A. Love” with DJ Mustard and YG.  There were some massive set-pieces and a lot going on onstage.  It’s was a performance that evidenced that Fergie is still relevant in today’s music sphere.

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Ariana Grande gave a brilliant acoustic performance of her songs “Problem” and “Break Free”, which really showcased the true talent of the young artist.  Her performance was finally topped off with a rendition of her newest song “Love Me Harder”, which featured the vocal magic of The Weeknd.  Those two on stage together was a pretty awesome showing.  We also got “emotional performance of the night” from Selena Gomez, who sung her deeply intimate “The Heart Wants What It Wants.”

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There were a bunch of other performances, some lackluster and others completely fine.  The most intriguing performance was Garth Brooks, who came live from North Carolina and performed the song “People Loving People” to a large arena crowd.  We also had Iggy Azalea and Charlie XCX, who both gave performances of their songs “Boom Clap” and “Fancy”.   Iggy Azalea went back on stage with Jennifer Lopez at the end to close out the show with “Booty.”  The performance was not big enough to close out the show, but it did deliver on the promise of high levels of booty.

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Like I said before, there was a lot going on during last nights festivities.  I may not have agreed with most of the winners, but I knew I wasn’t going to before the show even started.  However, there was a lot of great performances that made up for it.  Pitbull should also stop hosting awards shows.  That is all.

The full list of winners can be found below:

Artist of the Year: One Direction

New Artist of the Year: 5 Seconds of Summer

Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist: Sam Smith

Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist: Katy Perry

Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group: One Direction

Favorite Pop/Rock Album: Midnight Memories by One Direction

Favorite Country Male Artist: Luke Bryan

Favorite Country Female Artist: Carrie Underwood

Favorite Country Duo or Group: Florida Georgia Line

Favorite Country Album: Just As I Am by Brantley Gilbert

Favorite Rap/Hip-hop Artist: Iggy Azalea

Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album: The New Classic by Iggy Azalea

Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist: John Legend

Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist: Beyonce

Favorite Soul/R&B Album: Beyonce by Beyonce

Favorite Alternative Artist: Imagine Dragons

Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist: Katy Perry

Favorite Latin Artist: Enrique Inglesias

Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist: Casting Crowns

Favorite EDM Artist: Calvin Harris

Single of the Year: “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry, featuring Juicy J

Top Soundtrack: Frozen

Dick Clark Award for Excellence: Taylor Swift