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.
“I’m the shh, be quiet, I been on the no-hater diet,” Meghan Trainor proclaims on the opener to her second album, Thank You. “Watch Me Do” is a far cry from the cutesy, doo-wop sound that dominated much of Trainor’s debut album Title. When she sings, “I get all choked up, and see how much I made/ And I feel so good, like James Brown in his day,” it may shed some light onto Trainor’s state of mind following her meteoric rise to fame, but it also tells us a lot about the album itself. It’s funky, upbeat and sees the singer/songwriter exuding a confidence that was missing in her previous work. And while you may find yourself nodding along, you can’t help but notice the weak composition. There’s talk of “breastases” and “textes from exeses” which sounds as awkward as it reads. Trainor may have upgraded her sound, but her songwriting is still in need of some growth.
Mariah Carey does not get the respect she deserves.
You don’t have to look far to find someone on Twitter ready to catch her next vocal slip up. When she released Me. I Am. Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse back in 2013, a tidal wave articles were published lambasting the singer for the album’s disappointing commercial performance (despite some pretty great reviews). But Mariah has been there, and done that. She’s played the game, set precedents, created trends within popular music and broke countless records along the way.
There is always the designated “star” of any high profile group that is destined for a solo career. Perhaps the best examples of that theory are Beyoncé Knowles and Justin Timberlake. With emphasis on Beyoncé, the two have established themselves as two of the top recording artists working in the industry today, truly establishing themselves as solo artists. Zayn Malik looks to continue that trend.
Gwen Stefani has been away from the pop music scene for some time now. If you don’t count the No Doubt “comeback” album that never really was, 2012’s underrated Push and Shove (and I don’t), it’s been almost a decade. 2006’s The Sweet Escape was a mixed bag of a record, containing some really stellar tracks (the album’s title track, “Early Winter,” “4 in the Morning” to name a few) but was bogged down by too many filler tracks that never lived up to the level of her No Doubt efforts, or even her now iconic solo debut album Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
Though she can churn out a basic, infectious pop anthem (“Wind It Up,” “Rich Girl,” “Hollaback Girl”) Setfani is at her best when she’s being personal. “What You Waiting For,” “Cool,” “Early Winter” and No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” are all essential listens, and each detail a story or conflict straight from the singer/songwriter’s life.