People were waiting for Ariana Grande’s fourth album, a collection of music that would be inextricably tied to the tragic terrorist attack at her Dangerous Woman tour in the city of Manchester last year. Though understandably devastated by the event, Grande bravely returned to put on a benefit concert to honor her fans and bring everyone together. She then dropped off of social media, only offering a cryptic teaser that hinted at new music featuring her heavenly vocals with the caption “see you next year.” As the year rolled on, albums and singles came and went. Though still largely out of sight, rumors continued to pop up that Grande was prepping something big, her most personal album yet according to industry insiders. By the time the singer started teasing lead single “no tears left to cry,” fans were insatiable, and all signs seemed to point to a power ballad about moving past tragedy that would no doubt showcase Grande’s soaring voice. Instead, they got a quirky, buoyant pop song that tricked listeners in the first 15 seconds after a somber intro explodes into an infectious UK garage beat. “I’m lovin, I’m livin, I’m pickin’ it up” Grande sings on the hook.
“I got too many people / I got left to prove wrong,” Kesha sings softly on “Bastards,” the first track on her third studio album Rainbow. With just a guitar and a beautiful, raw vocal performance, Kesha lays the album’s mission statement bare in the LP’s opening moments.
“Been underestimated / My entire life,” she continues in the second verse before declaring “They won’t break my spirit / I won’t let ’em win,” encouraging listeners not to “let the bastards get you down.” It’s a simple message, but one that carries the weight of the world within the story of Kesha Rose Sebert. After languishing in a grim legal battle for the last several years with former producer and mentor Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, who according to the singer/songwriter also sexually and emotionally abused her throughout her career, Rainbow is more than just a comeback album, it’s a musical and personal rebirth.
It’s been four, long years since we last heard from Ella Yelich-O’Connor, otherwise known as Lorde, the brilliant singer-songwriter-producer from New Zealand who took over the world with her debut single when she was just 16 years old. So, what has she been up to since you ask? Well according to Melodrama, her second album released yesterday, she’s been partying, but not having all that much fun.
2017 is just not Katy Perry’s year.
What was expected to be the pop star’s grand return to usher in an era of “purposeful pop” has been a slow motion train wreck, filled with cringeworthy performances and soundbites, bookended with disappointing music. Pair that with a barrage of negative press, and Perry’s fifth studio album, Witness, was starting to look like this year’s ARTPOP, a.k.a. her fall from the top.
After last night’s La La Land dominance at the Golden Globes, it would be easy to say that all is said and done and that its march towards the Oscars is complete. All seven awards, including Picture (Comedy or Musical), Director, Actor and Actress (Comedy or Musical) and Screenplay went to Damien Chazelle’s musical which has been tearing it up at the Box Office. La La Land also boasts top honors from the Broadcast Film Critics and the Toronto International Film Festival, two prizes that certainly don’t hurt when trying to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
La La Land‘s biggest competition was thought to be Moonlight (which won the Drama Globe for Best Picture) and Manchester By The Sea (which won Actor in a Drama). Both films landed Screen Actor’s Guild Ensemble nominations where La La Land did not, indicating weakness from La La Land amongst the biggest voting block in the Academy: the actors. Even films like Beasts of No Nation which only had three credited actors (and only one of them being well known) was able to land a nomination last year. But one film that is absolutely tearing up the box office right now, and won nominations from the Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild that I believe many are underestimating in the long game is Hidden Figures.
Say what you want about Lady Gaga, but she’s never boring. It’s almost impossible to look at her today and see the same pop culture obsessed songstress that sang about disco sticks and paparazzi. Even 2011’s Born This Way, which its truly laughable cover art, seems like it happened a lifetime ago, and hopefully we’ve all forgotten about ARTPOP by now. Continue reading
It’s hard to talk about the first half of the year without immediately jumping to Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Leave it to Queen B to not only set the internet ablaze with yet another surprise release, followed by an amazing Super Bowl performance but pull off the feat of a “movie album.” Interweaving her own personal narrative while also speaking to a much larger audience, Beyoncé presented us with a complex, stunning and emotional journey, while also pushing herself forward as an artist and setting the bar higher (yet again) for everyone who would come after.
So, what else happened this year so far? Frank Ocean finally dropped not one, but two albums. Yeah, you read that right; after countless memes and false release dates we have new Frank Ocean music. Chance the Rapper dropped a masterpiece of his own, Britney Spears is back (though she never really left), Drake scammed his way into having one of the most successful albums of the year, Ariana Grande made the first move into her “Dirrty” era and Rihanna and Kanye both dropped their respective (and also much delayed) projects, and that’s really not even scratching the surface.
It’s been such a front loaded year for music; all the heavy hitters have been releasing everything at the same time. There’s talk that Katy Perry could be coming back sooner than expected, Lady Gaga’s new song drops next week and several heavy hitters have projects that are being rumored to drop in the coming months. But enough about what’s coming, let’s look back at what’s already dropped. Among all of the big releases this year, what’s really stuck out so far?
With all of Nick Jonas’ unapologetic pandering to the gay community, sometimes it’s hard to remember that he actually makes music. No, really, all of his interviews these days seem to be more concerned with teasing and alluding to sexual encounters with men that may or may not have happened. Is he gay? I don’t think we’re any closer to finding out that answer. But hey! his third album Last Year Was Complicated is out.
By now you’ve definitely heard of Fifth Harmony. Even if you can’t name each member, you’ve chanted their undeniably catchy hit single “Worth It” at a party last summer, and for the past couple of months you’ve definitely been blasting “Work From Home” in your car on repeat. Maybe you’ve even heard their brassy “BOSS” or the electro-pop “Sledgehammer” playing in a store at one point. The girl group is certainly on the rise, and their latest album 7/27 is their foray into becoming superstars.