Tag Archives: Music

Review: The Art of Organized Noize

organized noize poster
via iDigital Times

The Art of Organized Noize (2016)

NR

Documentary / Music

Starring: Rico Wade, Ray Murray, Sleepy Brown

Director: Quincy Jones III


Outkast.  Goodie Mob.  TLC.  These groups have done a lot for hip-hop and music in general.  During their rise to fame, they provided a unique sound that was unlike anything anyone had heard before.  They fundamentally changed the landscape of hip-hop.  It’s true that these groups did a lot of good for the industry, but what about the crew behind them…the crew responsible for their music.  The underappreciated group Organized Noize, comprised of Rico Wade, Ray Murray, and Sleepy Brown, were the production visionaries behind groups like Outkast and Goodie Mob.  Their story, told by director Quincy Jones III in his documentary The Art of Organized Noize, is a fascinating story full of ups and downs.

organized noize 1
via E! Online

The Art of Organized Noize charts the rise of Organized Noize from their days working out of a basement in Atlanta to their days in major recording studios working with higher profile artists.  The documentary covers a lot of ground and does a good job at pulling everything together in a nice and easy timeline.  We get to see some early photos from their early days, which is some pretty cool stuff.  The crew talks a lot about their Dungeon Family days (The Dungeon is what they called their old basement where they did a majority of their work) and the family-first comradery that they developed with each other.

A good portion of the story is told through the eyes of Rico, Ray, and Sleepy but they are not alone.  Guys like Andre 3000, Big Boi, Big Rube, Cee-Lo Green, and Big Gipp, members of the Dungeon Family, are also on hand to give their accounts as well.  Notable producers like LA Reid, a big factor in Organized Noize’s success, make appearances as well.  One thing that’s nice about the documentary is that a lot of the history comes organically.  The guys do a lot of reminiscing as they sit around together, which leads to stories being told.  At times this led to some incoherence and off-topic conversations but it never got too out of hand.  There was a bit where they went into their time with drug usage which didn’t really seem to fit with the whole mantra of the story.

the art of organized noize
via Hip-Hop Wired

Towards the end, legacy started to become the topic at hand.  Quincy Jones and Organized Noize brought in a lot of people to talk about their legacy in the rap industry.  There were a lot of Atlanta based rappers that made an appearance, like 2 Chainz, Ludacris, and Future, that talked about their effect on Atlanta as well as the rap game.  Popular producers today like Metro Boomin and Sonny Digital also talked about how Organized Noize influenced them as producers.  This stuff was necessary for a documentary like this because that’s what makes Organized Noize so fascinating.  They never seemed to get the credit they deserved (the documentary talks a lot about this) yet they had such a profound impact on modern artists in the rap game.

It would have been nice if there was a little more archival footage featured in the documentary.  You get an occasional image flashed here and there, but nothing substantial.  The portions were they walked around their old house and their old studio space were cool, but I would have liked a little more.  You could see their Stankonia recording studio in the background of some of their interviews, but it would have been nice if they showed us around a bit.  I appreciate the abundance of interviews, but I would have liked a more substantial visual supplement to go along with them.

organized noize 2
via Okay Player

A lot of rap fans are not familiar with Organized Noize, a crew of producers responsible for a lot of the trends we see today in rap music, which is why this documentary is an important one.  It tells a really evoking story about the most underappreciated group in rap.  They worked day in and day out but never seemed to get the recognition that they’re peers, like Outkast and Goodie Mob, got.  The Art of Organized Noize is a story that you should make yourself familiar with.  Any fan of rap and hip-hop should enjoy this one a lot.

organized noize score

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Review: Straight Outta Compton

via The Bull 101.7
via The Bull 101.7

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

R / 147 mins.

Biography / Drama / Music

Starring: O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell

Director: F. Gary Gray


Hip-hop wouldn’t be where it is today without the heavy influence and trailblazing nature of the rap group N.W.A.  It’s a simple fact that’s hard to dispute, no matter how hard you try.  They gave a voice to the people, a voice that people from Compton (and all over the U.S.) could rally behind in the late 80’s.  The ragtag group, consisting of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, DJ Yella, and MC Ren, were just looking to make it big in the streets of Compton, but it was there unique message that propelled them into the country’s spotlight.

via Black FIlm
via Black FIlm

Straight Outta Compton is the story of N.W.A.’s rise to fame, directed by F. Gary Gray and produced by Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and widow Tomica Woods-Wright, wife to the late Eazy-E.  With that kind of pedigree off screen, the film already had a lot of things going for it.  This isn’t Gray’s first radio, having directed Friday with Ice Cube back in the day, and having Ice Cube and Dr. Dre producing the movie gave me full confidence that the story of the world’s most dangerous group was going to be handled with finesse and care.  The one big question when it comes to biopics is whether or not the story is worth telling.  It’s the story and the way that it’s told that can make or break a biopic.  N.W.A.’s story has been well documented and publicized up to this point, but Straight Outta Compton dives a little deeper and gives us a look not only at the group’s rise to fame, but their personal stories as well.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this movie is the top notch acting that came from a cast full of lesser-known actors.  Aside from Ice Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson Jr., who plays his father in the movie and Paul Giamatti’s part as the group’s manager Jerry Heller, the rest of the cast is relatively new to the scene.  Let me break it down: Dr. Dre is played by Corey Hawkins, Eazy-E by Jason Mitchell, DJ Yella by Neil Brown Jr., and MC Ren by Aldis Hodge.  The cast might not be as well known, but they all did a fantastic job at embodying the legends that they were acting as.  Obviously they had mentors in Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, but there was an incredible amount of practice and studying that went into their characters.  Their mannerisms, personalities, and musical styles were all matched pretty realistically.  Two other rappers that garner some screen time are Snoop Dogg (Keith Stanfield) and Tupac (Marcc Rose), who looks eerily similar to his real life counterpart.  It could have just been Tupac’s hologram, I don’t really know.  (I do know I am excited for Tupac’s standalone movie, where Marcc Rose will reprise his role as Tupac)

via New Pittsburgh Courier Online
via New Pittsburgh Courier Online

Another thing that was sort of surprising is that the movie really wasn’t entirely focused on N.W.A.  The first act detailed the creation of the group and its rise to prominence.  We got to see some of the situations that the guys were coming from and how much this group meant to them.  The movie then began to focus on what happened when a group of street rappers from Compton got a ton of money and a big spotlight.  Ice Cube was in disagreement with his contractual situation and decided to branch of on his own.  Dr. Dre’s vision also propelled him to leave the group and pursue his own musical genius at Death Row Records.  We also got to see Eazy-E’s relationship with the scumbag manager that was Jerry Heller.  The guy was manipulative and started cheating the group of their own money.  The scenes involving Eazy-E and Jerry were fun to watch, but also kind of depressing considering you knew that there close relationship wasn’t going to last forever.  Anybody who knows N.W.A. knew there was a lot of internal conflict between the group’s members and Straight Outta Compton manages to capture their stories with near perfect execution.

This movie couldn’t have been coming out at a better time.  The country has been experiencing a lot of turmoil when it comes to blacks living in America and police brutality.  The movie captures angst and the feelings that guys like Ice Cube and Eazy-E had towards the authorities that were looking to bring them down.  We also start to see the government’s involvement in the group’s message.  It was a scary time for the government.  They were scared that this message, reality rap, could spark a revolution in the country that they wouldn’t be able to handle.  N.W.A.’s influence on the masses was undeniable and pretty large.

via Black Film
via Black Film

I was pleasantly surprised that the movie, which has a pretty long run time, went as far as to cover Eazy-E’s struggle with HIV and his imminent death.  Those last moments with Eazy-E on his death bed and guys like Ice Cube and Dr. Dre coming in to say their goodbyes were heartfelt and, at times, hard to watch.  Straight Outta Compton is a fantastic movie that will most likely take the torch as my favorite movie of the year so far.  It’s a gritty story full of hardship and triumph.  Dr. Dre and Ice Cube have coming a long way from their gangbanging days and their stories, along with the rest of N.W.A, are unresistingly intriguing and fun to watch.  You will probably appreciate this movie more if you are a fan of rap, but don’t let that be your barrier to entry.  Straight Outta Compton is a movie worth watching no matter where your musical tastes lie.

Straight Outta Compton

Review: Empire Season 1

via fanart.tv
via fanart.tv

Empire Season 1 (2015)

TV14 / Fox

Drama / Music

Starring: Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Jussie Smollett

Creators: Lee Daniels, Danny Strong


When I sat down and watched the first episode of Empire I had no clue where it was going to end up.  It could have been a surprise hit, or a complete failure; I was not sure.  It had a unique spin on the family drama sphere of television, one that chronicled the life of a family in the hip-hop music business.  If only I knew the raging wildfire that the show ended up turning into as succeeding weeks went on.

The show, which gives us a glimpse of the glamorous lifestyle of the Lyons family, proved to get bigger and bigger every single week.  Every week, they would release the numbers and they just seemed unrealistic.  How could a show do this good?  How could a show continue to receive more viewers every week, without going down in ratings?  The pilot was watched by around 9.8 million viewers and the finale clocked in at about 16.7 million viewers, without ever taking any dips or stumbles.  The show, on its quick rise to the top, ended up crushing records, including the record for highest rated season finale by a first year show, which was previously held by the Grey’s Anatomy for its first season in 2005.  The show now stands as TV’s highest rated and most popular show out there, and it’s only just begun for the crew at Empire Records.

via ibtimes.com
via ibtimes.com

Lucious Lyons (Terrence Howard), the owner of Empire Records, is the star of the show.  We find out in the first episode that he is diagnosed with the chronic illness that is ALS.  The one thing we learn throughout the show is that Lucious is not a man to go down without swinging.  He’s a fighter.  He wants to take his record company public, but in order to do that, he needs to find someone to take the throne.  His three sons, Andre (Trai Byers), Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), and Jamal (Jussie Smollett), have to pretty much earn their dad’s trust and respect in order to get a piece of his empire.

We also have the character of Cookie, played by Taraji P. Henderson.  If you have not watched the show, but manage to stay up to date with pop culture discussion, you have probably already heard of Cookie’s character.  With hash tags like #ShitCookieSays, it is easy to see why Cookie was one of my favorite characters from the series.  She is the ex-husband of Lucious who was put into jail because of her and Lucious’s past in the hood.  She was sentenced to seventeen years in jail, all while Lucious built up his Empire, calling it his own.  We see in the show however, that this is not so much the case, and that Cookie has had a big part in the label’s success.  When she gains freedom from the precinct in the first episode, it is immediately care that she is not going to let Lucious have all the fun with Empire’s success.  She wants a part of it too.

via opdnewsfeed.com
via opdnewsfeed.com

The show contains all sorts of themes, including greed, power, and the flashy lifestyle that comes with the hip-hop industry.  It is these kinds of things that separate the show from other family dramas.  It made the show much more interesting to watch.  There were numerous points throughout the season where everybody seems to have their own motives in mind when carrying out their actions.  This leads to lots of juicy conflict and literal hair-pulling drama, especially in the last couple of episodes.  Cookie and Anika Calhoun (Grace Gealey), Lucious’ head of A&R, have a tense relationship and this relationship often provided us some of the best moments from the show.

There are two things that probably contribute to the massive success behind the show, and that is the show’s edgy plotlines, as well as the rich music.  The show, on top of the concepts that I mentioned before, travels to some areas where most shows would never think to go.  Lucious Lyon demonstrates his homophobic nature whenever his son Jamal comes out.  We also see his disdain for white women with Andre’s relationship with his wife Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday).  These two plotlines come up frequently throughout the first season and they painted Lucious Lyon in a pretty negative light.  I applaud the show for hitting these types of themes though, because the show had a lot to say about them.  I think it handled them well.  It is these kinds of themes that permeate the hip-hop industry, which is why it would make sense to tackle them in a show like Empire.  As Lucious says, “hip-hop is controversy.”

via Rolling Stone
via Rolling Stone

Rapper and producer Timbaland was the guy behind Empire’s amazing soundtrack, which includes genres like hip-hop, rap, r&b, and gospel.  If you are making a show about music, you have to make sure that you get the music nailed down right, and Empire gave us a formidable soundtrack, knocking it out of the park.  Hakeem, an up-and-coming rapper, and Jamal, the passionate r&b singer, provided some great musical hits, as well as some of the supporting cast.  The show even featured some cameo performances from the likes of Jennifer Hudson (who actually played the role of Andre’s musical therapist), Estelle, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, Rita Ora, Juicy J, as well as others.  The music was so good, that there is talks about producing a concert series featuring the show’s hit music.

As the show went on, the plot twists and deep intertwined drama started to get more and more intense.  The last four episodes where edge-of-your-seat enthralling and rattling television.  The one gripe I started to have was that some of these riveting twists and turns seemed a little cheap.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but things start to suddenly look up for Lucious by the second to last episode, completely out of the blue.  They used a convenient plot device to make the show more interesting for its second season.  This might be hard to argue with, but I wish they could have handled it with a more realistic solution.  There were a ton of other cheap and convenient plot twists that served the purpose of moving things along towards what looks to be an intense season two.

via Billboard
via Billboard

I started to get the sense that Empire realized how big it was getting.  The first couple of episodes were interesting and entertaining, but as the ratings started to skyrocket towards the sky, so did the show’s vision and scope.  You could almost see the show evolving before your eyes as it drove towards the fantastic finale.  It was a show that gripped me from the get-go, and it kept me wrangled towards the very end.  As the final credits started to role after its thirteenth and final episode of the season, I just felt myself hungry for more.  Season two cannot come sooner enough.  Empire is one of the few shows that can be considered “must watch TV.”  If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend catching up on the first season, because I can only feel that the show is going to get bigger as season two takes the stage this fall, or next spring…but hopefully next fall.

via realitywives.net
via realitywives.net

****SPOILERS BELOW****

The finale pretty much presented us with the main skeleton behind season two.  When Lucious, after realizing he does not have ALS anymore, gives the throne to Jamal, Andre and Hakeem are not too pleased.  They want to do what is considered a “hostile takeover.”  They join forced with Cookie and Anika to basically bring down Jamal and Lucious’ empire.

In the final couple of scenes, we see that Lucious’ dark past catches up to him when justice is finally done.  He is arrested for his murder of their cousin Bunkie and is sent to jail during his tribute concert.  This is bad news for Empire, the newly public company.  This only means that season two is going to be a story of revenge for Lucious.  He is going to use these recent forthcomings as fuel for his comeback.  Season two is going to be one hell of a season if the series’ creators can play the right cards.

*************************

empire season 1 score

Review: Frank

via Film Equals
via Film Equals

Frank (2014)

R / 95 min

Comedy / Drama / Music

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Director: Lenny Abrahamson


Every aspiring musician has to get their start somewhere, even if it is the lowliest job or gig that they can find.  It’s an industry about connections.  You probably suck at first, but due to someone you meet at the right time, you land yourself a gig that will propel you headfirst into the industry.  This is when you better your skills and rise to stardom.  This is the same start for Jon Burroughs (Domhnall Gleeson) in the peculiar comedy titled Frank, by director Lenny Abrahamson.

Frank is a smart, and original, comedy about aspiring musician Jon Burroughs, who finds a job as a keyboardist for a rather enthusiastic and eccentric pop band.  He gets the job after meeting one of the band’s members, Don (Scoot McNairy), who informs Jon about their old keyboardist trying to commit suicide.  It’s now up to Jon to fill in the vacant spot.

via Fat Movie Guy
via Fat Movie Guy

What’s different about this pop band is the band’s front man, simply named Frank (Michael Fassbender).  He’s not your average lead vocalist, touting a rather large and emotionless paper machete head that he literally wears everywhere.  He is also joined by his girlfriend, Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who is rather bipolar and unstable, flipping out at the most unexpected times.  The band is a piece of work, but somehow they manage to get things done.

Now with Jon part of the band, they head off into a distant place to record their album.  The band has a peculiar and weird way of getting things done.  Their creative process is amusing and sometimes alarmingly unnatural, often involving Frank chasing band members around a field with a shovel, or banging random objects in the house with various objects.  A lot of the humor comes from these abnormal processes that the band goes through, and for Jon, they take a lot of getting used to.

via Stand By For Mind Control
via Stand By For Mind Control

All of this preparation is leading up to their debut performance at the SXSW festival in Texas.  Before, the band was just used to playing in front of small crowds who usually had no clue they even existed.  SXSW will be their biggest gig yet, and this seems to have a negative effect on the band.  You start to see a lot more nervous breakdowns from Frank and a lot of things start to go wrong.

There were a ton of spots during the movie where I thought there was going to be some deeper meaning, or a larger overall motif.  A movie this weird and silly has to have some sort of general meaning, right?  Well, this wasn’t exactly the case for Frank.  The silliness and the craziness of it all was all just surface level, with no hidden depth.  The silly movie was just a silly movie, which isn’t so bad, but it would have felt a little more satisfying if I took something larger away from it.

via Mojo 4 Music
via Mojo 4 Music

Michael Fassbender’s performance was the highlight of the movie. A majority of the running time saw Fassbender behind the paper machete mask, but you could still sense the emotion of his character beaming from that hilarious thing.  Towards the end, we finally get to have a look at the broken man behind the mask, and we start to discover what he really has to hide.  It was a pivotal moment in the film.  Fassbender’s performance was complemented by the great performances by Domhnall Gleeson and the rest of the supporting cast.  Everybody played their part and in the end, it all sounded right on tune.

It’s also worth mentioning the music, which seems right considering this was a movie about music.  The band’s sound was a mix between pop, indie rock, and some weird techno.  It was a sound like no other, and most of the songs spiraled into a pit of musical nonsense, with noises ranging all over the board.  It’s not something I would listen to during my free time, but it was still entrancing nonetheless.  The movie ended with Michael Fassbender’s performance of “I Love You All”, which was a really heartfelt and emotional song that made you feel all good inside as the credits started to roll down.

via CW Atlanta
via CW Atlanta

Frank was a movie that stands above all in terms of originality.  Its smart witty humor won’t make you laugh until you cry, but it will put a smile on your face. There’s also nothing weirder than watching a movie about a band led by a man with a paper machete head.

frank score

Empire Pilot Impressions

What do you get when you mix the hit musical drama Nashville with the glorious flashy lifestyle of hip-hop?  You get Fox’s Empire, the bold new musical drama from the highly decorated Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, who have worked on projects like Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Precious, and Game Change.  What makes Empire different from the other musical dramas out there is its sense of style, as well as the issues it tackles right away in the pilot.  It’s a vivid look at situation that faces a black family in control of a lucrative record label.

The determined and successful Lucious Lyon, played by Terrence Howard, is the head of the multi-million dollar record corporation Empire Entertainment.  He’s come a long way from his gangsta days in the rough parts of Philadelphia.  He built a career for himself, and rose to the top to get to the position that he’s in today.

via Inquisitr
via Inquisitr

He’s not the only one that can be attributed to Empire’s success.  Lucious’ three sons, Jamal (Jussie Smollett), Hakeem (Bryshere Grey), and Andre (Trai Byers) have all grown right alongside the company from its beginning days.  Jamal is a gay singer, who has never been fully appreciated by his father.  (He also reminded me of Frank Ocean)  Hakeem is an up-and-coming rapper who Lucious sees as a prime asset for the label.  Lastly, we have Andre, who is the eldest of the trio, and probably the most loyal.  He is the company man, a man who wants to take over for his dad when he is gone.

As it turns out, Lucious doesn’t have too much longer with the company, after finding out that he is terminally ill with ALS.  It wasn’t made to clear in the pilot, but I assume that no one else besides himself knows of his condition.  Regardless, he realizes that he is going to have to pick an heir to his throne when he is no longer capable of fulfilling his job.  It’s apparent that the three sons are going to have to fight their way into that chair.

via Black Film
via Black Film

Meanwhile, we meet the cunning Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson), who is Lucious’ ex-wife.  She’s just been released from prison (due to an unknown reason) and she gets to work the minute she sets foot outside the gates.  She wants Empire for her own, considering the fact that she was a big part in its success back in the early days.  Taraji P. Henson gives us a character who is vicious, manipulative, and a little psychotic.  Cookie is going to do anything that she can to take the reins from Lucious.

During the pilot, we start to see where the show is heading.  Lucious sees a bright future for his son Hakeem, and doesn’t accept Jamal’s talent because he’s gay.  Hip-hop’s evident homophobia is something that no too many pieces of entertainment have tackled.  It’s going to be intriguing what the show has to say about it.  On the flip-side, Cookie has a favoritism for Jamal, and she begins to work with him to further his musical career.  I bet that we are going to see a war between Lucious and Cookie; Jamal and Hakeem.  The two have a fondness for each other, but it’s only a matter of time before the war starts.  This is going to leave the perfect place for Andre, who doesn’t have any musical talent, to step right in as the new head.

via TV Equals
via TV Equals

One of the things that worries me about the show is its quickness.  By that, I mean how fast it jumped from situation to situation.  The pilot was a roller coaster of a ride and it covered a lot of ground in such a short amount of time.  Things were starting to heat up and the credits weren’t even rolling for the first episode yet.  I fear that the show is going to burn out after a while.  It’s not going to be able to keep up with its pace.  The action and the drama is going to have to slow down.

We also saw a little glimpse at Lucious’ relationship with his childhood friend Bunkie Campbell (Antoine McKay).  The two were friends since they were fourteen in the streets of Philadelphia.  Ever since Lucious started working on making Empire a publicly traded company, he has started to leave Bunkie in the dust.  Bunkie naturally doesn’t find this situation ideal and he wants his cut of the money.  Towards the end of the episode, we get a scene that involves Lucious killing Bunkie near the river, with that being it for him.  This was a letdown because I was interested in the character of Bunkie.  I thought he was going to play the role of the “wild card” in the growth of Empire.  Unfortunately, he was taken out of the picture rather abruptly.

via TV Equals
via TV Equals

I have a feeling that Empire is going to be a big hit however.  The music that executive music producer Timbaland brings to the show has a genuine and original feel that has a lot of style.  The music complements the daring and alluring flair of the show.  It’s a unique family drama that looks to explore the hip-hop culture, as well as the families and record labels that make it possible.  It’s going to be a fun show.  I have no clue who is going to take control over Empire Entertainment, but I do know that it’s going to be all out musical war.

The Grammy Awards: My Predictions

It’s that time of year again.  It’s the Grammy’s, dubbed music’s biggest night.  Just like previous years, the competition looks pretty fierce.  Some artists will get lucky, while others will be locked out of heaven.  The anticipation for Sunday night is getting radioactive as the lines are getting blurred on who will win.  It will be royal.  Sorry, that was a lame attempt at using the record of the year nominees.  Anyway, on to my predictions…

(Bold lettering denotes my winners)

*I included all of the major categories and/or the ones that matter the most to me.  Obviously there are a lot more categories that I am not mentioning.

Record of the Year

*Get Lucky – Daft Punk (feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers)get lucky

*Radioactive- Imagine Dragons

*Royals – Lorde

*Locked out of Heaven – Bruno Mars

*Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke (feat. T.I. and Pharrell)

Album of the Year

*The Blessed Unrest – Sara Bareillesthe blessed unrest

*Random Access Memories – Daft Punk

*Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City – Kendrick Lamar

*The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

*Red – Taylor Swift

Song of the Year

*Just Give Me A Reason – Jeff Bhasher, Pink and Nate Ruesssame love

*Locked out of Heaven – Ari Levine, Philip Lawerence and Bruno Mars

*Roar – Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry and Henry Walter

*Royals – Joel Little and Ella Yelich O’Conner

*Same Love – Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert and Ryan Lewis

Best New Artist

*James Blakekendrick lamar

*Kendrick Lamar

*Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

*Kacey Musgraves

*Ed Sheeran

Best Pop Solo Performance

*Brave – Sara Bareillesroar

*Royals – Lorde

*When I Was Your Man – Bruno Mars

*Roar – Katy Perry

*Mirrors – Justin Timberlake

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

*Get Lucky – Daft Punk (feat. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers)stay

*Just Give Me A Reason – Pink (feat. Nate Ruess)

*Stay – Rihanna (feat. Mikky Ekko)

*Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke (feat. T.I. and Pharrell)

*Suit & Tie – Justin Timberlake (feat. Jay-Z)

Best Pop Vocal Album

*Paradise – Lana Del Ray2020 experience

*Pure Heroine – Lorde

*Unorthodox Jukebox – Bruno Mars

*Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke

*The 20/20 Experience -The Complete Experience  – Justin Timberlake

Best Dance/Electronica Album

*Random Access Memories – Daft PunkRandom-Access-Memories

*Settle – Disclosure

*18 Months – Calvin Harris

*Atmosphere – Kaskade

*A Color Map of the Sun – Pretty Lights

Best Rock Album

*13 – Black Sabbaththe next day

*The Next Day – David Bowie

*Mechanical Bull – Kings of Leon

*Celebration Day – Led Zepplin

*…Like Clockwork – Queens of the Stone Age

*Psychedelic Pill – Neil Young with Crazy Horse

Best Alternative Music Album

*The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You – Neko Casevampire weekend

*Trouble Will Find Me – The National

*Hesitation Marks – Nine Inch Nails

*Lonerism – Tame Impala

*Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

*Power Trip – J. Cole (feat. Miguel)holy grail

*Part II (On the Run) – Jay-Z (feat. Beyonce)

*Holy Grail – Jay-Z (feat. Justin Timberlake)

*Now or Never – Kendrick Lamar (feat. Mary J. Blige)

*Remember You – Wiz Khalifa (feat. The Weeknd)

Best Rap Song

*F**kin Problems – A$AP Rocky (feat. Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar)kanye

*Holy Grail – Jay-Z (feat. Justin Timberlake)

*New Slaves – Kanye West

*Started from the Bottom – Drake

*Thrift Shop – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (feat. Wanz)

Best Rap Album

*Nothing Was the Same – Drakeyeezus

*Magna Carta…Holy Grail – Jay-Z

*Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City – Kendrick Lamar

*The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

*Yeezus – Kanye West

Best Performance on the Grammys

(I know this is not a category, I just feel like picking who is going to have the best/most talked about performance on the Grammys on Sunday.  Since there are so many, I will pick 4 winners.)

*Beyonce and Jay-Zbeyonce and jay z

*Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day) and Miranda Lambert

*Bruno Mars

*Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams & Stevie Wonder

*Hunter Hayes

*Imagine Dragons

*John Legend

*Juicy J

*Kacey Musgraves

*Katy Perry

*Keith Urban

*Kendrick Lamar

*Lorde

*Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

*Madonna

*Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Blake Shelton

*Metallica and Lang Lang

*Paul McCartney and Ringo StarriHeartRadio Music Festival - Day 2 - Show

*Pink and Nate Ruess

*Robin Thicke and Chicago

*Sara Bareilles and Carole King

*Taylor Swift

*Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue

Beats Music: The Music Service for You

beats_music_3Streaming services are abundant and plentiful these days as apps like Spotify, Pandora, and iTunes Radio are taking over listener’s ears.  The people behind the wildly popular Beats headphones now want a piece of the pie.  Last Tuesday, Beats Music, the newest streaming music service on the market, was released and it is on a mission to take down juggernaut services like Spotify and Pandora.

Unlike those previously mentioned service, Beats Music is making an attempt to actually give listeners what they want to listen to.  Services like Spotify and Pandora give us recommendations and playlists based on numerous algorithms and calculations based on our listening tendencies.  Beats Music is actually using an editorial staff that will determine which songs we should listen to.

The editorial staff, headed by Trent Reznor (from Nine Inch Nails), consists of music critics and musicians alike, all with the mission of recommending tracks that are hot and worthy of your ears.  They do this by curating tons of playlists which range from artist introductions to top 25 lists to essential playlists.  With the amount of playlists that are being curated, it will be impossible to not find something new.

When you first open up the app, you create an account and the service gives you a bunch of genres and tells you to pick the ones you love and the ones you hate.  It then gives you a bunch of artists and again asks you which ones you love and which ones you hate.  Using this information, the app creates a section titled “Just for You”, which gives you a bunch of albums and playlists that relate to your tastes in music.

If you are in a situation that requires a certain type of sound, then the service has you covered in that department too.  There is a section in the app called “The Sentence” which will give you a playlist for the craziest of situations.  It will ask you where you are, how you are feeling, who you are with, and what do you feel like listening too.  For example, I generated the sentence, “I’m at home & feel like jet setting by myself to dance.”  I ended up getting a playlist full of Daft Punk, more specifically “Give Life Back to Music”, which was the first song on the playlist.  This is a unique feature that is one of a kind.

Lastly, the service allows you to create a library that can consists of songs that you like on the different playlists and even full albums.  The service is not looking to have the “most tracks” but it looks to have the “most tracks you care about”.  All of your favorite albums will be on the service in their entirety.

The only thing that may be a detractor to the service is the “subscription” only model.  There is a seven day free trial, but other than that, there is no free option.  The service will cost $9.99 a month, which is pretty much an industry standard.  There is also talks about an annual subscription too which may end up being cheaper than the monthly option.  This may seem like a big financial investment, but it is worth the money for its wealth of unique features and its appealing interface.14.01.21-Beats_Music

Beats Music is looking to change the streaming music service game by advertising itself as a companion that will “think for you” instead of just giving you a list of songs based off an algorithm.  Beats Music may actually have a chance of dethroning the likes of Spotify and Pandora.