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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Talented Musicians on Rising Star

As a music fan, one of my favorite new television addictions of the summer is ABC’s innovative music competition Rising Star.

And of the several highly-talented artists that made it into the second round of competition, these two young ladies are among my favorites. Both have overcome some challenges and both have something amazing to offer.

Megan Tibbits

came out in the first round, and has since advanced to the third with the help of voters on the West Coast who got her through her initial audition, came out with a harp. Yes, I said a harp. And with it she sang and played a unique a beautiful rendition of what is most likely to be one of the year’s top wedding songs, John Legend’s “All of Me.”

April Lockhart

got through the first round easily and compelets in the second tomorrow night. She too offered a unique spin on a song by the Spice Girls (anybody remember them?) called “Say You’ll Be There.” And while Megan’s challenge may have been the use of an unusual instrument, April’s was the fact that she learned to play the guitar and excel at it with just one hand.

Great sources for free media content

A little while back I wrote about the ethical use of content from the web. Keeping with that theme, I figured I would share a few great sources of quality content with the reads of the blog.

Most people have probably heard of the classifications “royalty free” and “public domain.” But, there’s a newer licencing category out there that often ends up offering newer content and with few or no restrictions at all. It’s called “Creative Commons.” And if you’ve never heard of it, you should really check into this.

So, without any further ado, here are the sources I mentioned above:

Search Creative Commons

Search CC

Let’s CC

Let's CC

 

So, you’re not a rap fan?

“I don’t like rap.”

It’s a phrase I hear quite often, especially from members of an older generation. While I can understand ang appreciate that if, your reasoning is sound. For example, if you don’t like the stylistic elements and you’d rather tune in to some jazz, blues, rock or country. However, I can’t stand when anyone makes a blanket statement about ALL of one music genre or another.

That being the case, here are five rap/hip-hop songs I think might just surprise some of the naysayers.

The artistic beauty of dance

I am a long time fan of the show Dancing With The Stars.

And while the series is known at times for having some silly and less than elegant elements, it has also had it’s share of truly amazing performances. Some of these have inspired visually, musically and even emotionally. Here are a few I saw last night that I simply felt compelled to share. The first is newly crowned Olympic Ice Dancing champion Meryl Davis and her notoriously suave partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy. It was dedicated to the journey to the gold medal she and her ice dancing partner Charlie White had been on for more than 17 years. This second video is of  Paralympic snowboarding star Amy Purdy and her choreographically gifted partner Derek Hough. This was dedicated to her father who played an incredible role in her recovery from an illness that cost the athlete her legs. Sit back, relax and take in another example of how art can inspire us all.

Some thoughts on the 2014 Grammy Awards show

While there seems to be an ever-growing number of awards shows out there these days, when it comes to music, the Grammy Awards are still considered by many to be the elite in terms of this particular art form. Sure some might argue that the People’s Choice holds more meaning since it is directly from the fans or that other shows that base their winners primarily on sales figures are more relevant. However, the Grammy Awards are still essentially the Oscars of the music industry.

With all that being said, here are my personal thoughts on the awards show that took place this past Sunday.

On Live Performances:

As has been the case lately, there where a lot of unusual pairings for duet and group performances. A few worked, most didn’t. When it came to the older guys out there, such as the two former members of the Beatles, many of them have lost their vocal skills and really just need to ride off into the Sunset of musical history. Probably the best performances in my opinion were a few of the most subtle. The collaboration between Pink and Nate Ruess stuck out for sure. And the subdued piano playing Hunter Hayes with inspirational quotes on the screen in the background was quite memorable.

On the Nominees:

For the most part, the selection of nominees in each category was pretty good. Of course, the fact that Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift among a few others weren’t up for more was a bit surprising. Two examples of where they mostly went right where the categories for “Song of the Year” and Best Pop Solo Performance.”

On the Winners:

It is the tendency at the Grammys for one or more artists to dominate a few major categories in a given year. Those who decide the winners get hung up on a particular song or artist. Often times they fade away a bit after that. The first part of that equation did follow the typical pattern.  And I suspect the second will as well.

Overall, this year, it seemed as though those who decided the winners tended toward rewarding mediocrity. The bestowed coveted awards on acts with one or two OK songs and sort of left others out in the cold. Good examples of this include wins by newcomer LordeDaft Punk and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

What Should Have Been IMHO:

Of the available options:

Record of the Year should have went to Sara Bareilles for “Brave.”

Song of the Year should ahve been a given for “Just Give Me A Reason” by  Pink and Nate Ruess.

Best Pop Solo Performance should have went to either Sara Bareilles for “Brave” or Justin Timberlake for “Mirrors.”

I could go on but that would make for one long post.

Sara Bareilles

Sara Bareilles

Pink and Nate Ruess

Pink and Nate Ruess

Avril Lavigne’s new album show artistic growth while maintaining pop punk persona

Avril Lavigne is back with her latest album simply titled “Avril Lavigne.”

Avril Lavigne

Over the years, her fans have seen and heard Lavigne grow from a teen to a woman in both her life and her music. In her latest release, she seems to maintain a good balance between her signature pop punk sound and attitude  and a number of other qualities she seems to be experimenting with as well.

Several songs seem to continue her tradition of  punk rebellion and loud music. Others are more simplistic and emphasize the vocals and the an emotional connection with the lyrics. Some even come across with an extra edginess through more explicit wording and even some serious sex appeal.

I rank the songs as follows:

1. “Rock N Roll” – A+

This track has a cool beat with a rebellious tone. It’s loud, it’s fun and it’s classic Avril.

2. “Here’s To Never Growing Up” – A

The song is catchy and has a nice hook, one of the standard qualities of her songs.

3. “17″ – B+

This one is a bit more poppy and comes across with a nostalgic feel.

4. “Bitchin’ Summer” – C

It seems to have a more stripped down quality and is pretty average overall.

5. “Let Me Go” – C+

This one is deeper and more emotional which may be due in part to the fact that she’s singing it with her husband of Nickleback fame.

6. “Give You What You Like” – B+

The track comes across with a bit of a slower, haunting feel.

7. “Bad Girl” – C+

It’s kind of a flashback to 80′s rock with a bit of a retro vibe.

8. “Hello Kitty” – C-

There’s too much emphasis on rap/hip-hop qualities. it’s highly unusual for her and very synthetic.

9. “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” – C+

This song features a pop rock sound and isn’t bad overall.

10. “Sippin’ On Sunshine” – B+

It’s a simple, fun and catchy tune with a feel good quality about it.

11. “Hello Heartache” – C+

This song focuses on vocals more than anything and comes across with a very sincere vibe.

12. “Falling Fast” – B+

The light, serious simplicity and pure vocals makes for a good song.

13. “Hush Hush” – B+

She closes out the album with a track that is both soft and sweet.

All in all, I would recommend this album to long-time Lavigne fans as well as those who might be interested in seeing a different side of this pop punk princess.

Angry chick songs that this male blogger actually likes

In the world of music, there are no shortage of “angry chick” songs in which a woman rocks out some level of either rage of discontent regarding relationships with men. While many of these may annoy those of us with a with a “Y” chromosome, there are some occasions on which the song is so catchy or the rage comes across as so attractive that it’s hard not to like the song.

With that being said, here are a few such songs that I really do enjoy:

99 Times

By Kate Voegele

Crush, Crush, Crush

By Paramore

Everything Back But You

By  Avril Lavigne 

I knew You Were Trouble

By Taylor Swift 

Do you like “angry chick” music? What are some of your favorite songs that fit this vibe?

The fantastic musical talent of Janelle True

While I really enjoy a diversity of musical artists…

once in a while you come across someone who is either new on the scene or simply a talent that you have never heard of before. This was the case for me with the artist  Janelle True.  As it turns out, I found out about her through a random email and took a moment to listen to a few of her clips from Youtube. All I can say is, wow!

From the little that I’ve learned, her sound comes across as simple and sweet with a beautiful melodic tone. She’s young but her vocals sound like those of someone well beyond her years (in a good way) and she herself states that her many influences include jazz and the blues.

She’s due to release her debut album in mid-September and if what I’ve seen and heard so far is any indication, I suspect it will be a critical and financial success.

Check out the video below:

Unlikely mergers of musical styles

So, I am currently visiting my brother in the wonderful state of North Carolina. And while here, I’ve had the opportunity to experience my most recent dose of rural living. The small town in which he lives has a weekly concert (usually bluegrass or country) every Friday during most of the summer. And while attending one session, I ran into one of the neighbors and during the course of conversation he mentioned an interest in County Rap which sounds like something completely fictional. But you know what, it’s real. This got me thinking about a few genres that probably don’t seem like they go together but exist nonetheless. In fact, in some cases, they’ve even become rather mainstream and produced very popular artists.

Here are just a few examples of such musical styles and the artists that fall into them.

Country Rap

This style seems to combine two completely different worlds and cultures. Also sometimes called hick-hop, the emergence of this genre is sometimes credited to artist Bubba Sparxxx staring around 2001. More recently Cowboy Troy has been a rather notable figure while some other bands include The Lacs and Boondox.

Bubba Sparxxx

Pop Punk

While pop is by it’s nature, popular among the masses, punk has often been considered counter culture. But it turns out that sometimes , you can actually be a little rebellious and somehow still sort of mainstream. The princess on Pop Punk is Avril Lavigne and a few others categorized in this style are Blink 182, Paramore and No Doubt. 

avril lavigne

Christian Rock

With the origin of rock in the 1950′s, much of America and the rest of the world was outraged. Many even considered it evil. Back then who would have thought that Christian music could have ever merged with this rebellious style? Lots of people and bands apparently. Some of which include Jars of Clay, Reliant K and Fireflight.

Jars of Clay

Upbeat song, not so upbeat content

There are so many catchy songs out there.

But quite often, we probably get caught up into the fun, upbeat music without paying all that much attention to the lyrics. But if you take a moment to stop and really listen, you might be surprised that the content of the song you love doesn’t necessarily match the upbeat feel of the background music.

Here are a few examples for your consideration:

Broken Hearted by Kamin

The age old story of unrequited love.

Broken Hearted Karmin

Follow Me by Uncle Cracker

A happy go lucky ode to infidelity.

Uncle Cracker Follow Me

Payphone by Maroon 5

Maybe a sad breakup story can actually sound quite happy.

Payphone Maroon 5

Mack the Knife by Bobby Darin

There’s nothing like a fun and catchy tune about a murderer.

Mack the Knife Bobby Darin

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