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
In case you haven’t heard, Sia has a new song and a new music video.
“The Greatest,” written by Sia and longtime collaborator/producer Greg Kurstin doesn’t stray too far from the typical Sia formula. It’s simple in its composition; “Running out of breath, but I/Oh I, I got stamina” and “Don’t give up, I won’t give up”repeat throughout the song, featuring Sia’s crackling, but powerfully emotive vocals. The uplifting and empowering lyrics are also pretty familiar territory; the hook sees the singer/songwriter insisting “I’m free to be the greatest, I’m alive.” Even the subtle, island-tinged influences alongside the massive pop beat recalls her most recent hit “Cheap Thrills. Even the music video features Maddie Ziegler (making this her fourth collaboration with Sia), with some specific shots and choreography recalling the singer’s past videos.
And yet, for all of its simplicity and familiarity, “The Greatest” is not only Sia’s best music video, but one of the best and most powerful of the year. 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?
It’s been one year since Carly Rae Jepsen dropped one of 2015’s best albums. Those who thought that the “Call Me Maybe” songstress was a one-trick-pony were sorely mistaken. E•MO•TION was an eclectic throwback to 80’s pop nirvana that showcased Jepsen’s sharp songwriting skills beyond just one infectious hook. On the contrary, the songs on this record do such an expert job at conveying feelings and snapshots of time that it’s impossible not to be transported.
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.
In the three years since Ariana Grande burst onto the scene with “The Way” in 2013, she’s become one of the most exciting up and coming talents. It’s hard to remember the last time someone who went from pop ingenue to one of the genre’s fixtures in such a short amount of time. Having already scored two #1 albums and a long line of hit singles (“Problem,” “Break Free,” “Love Me Harder…” the list goes on), while breaking (and making) new Billboard records in the process and being compared to Mariah Carey, it’s a no brainer that Grande has attained such a large level of success in such a short period of time.
That being said, Dangerous Woman, the pint-sized chanteuse’s third album marks a new stage in her career. Where Yours Truly introduced “the voice,” and My Everything skyrocketed her to superstardom, this album cements Grande’s place as pop’s reigning princess.
“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.
The list of people who worked on Beyoncé’s Lemonade is an extensive one, Diplo, Erza Koenig and Father John Misty among them. However there’s one person who’s boasting a close connection to B that’s sending even the most devoted Beyhive members for a loop. She calls herself Nana JJ.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Beyoncé is back. On Saturday night, she dropped her stunning HBO special entitled Lemonade, based on the album of the same name. The album/short film is a continuation of B’s visual album release strategy she implemented with her self-titled fifth album released almost three years ago. Only with Lemonade, it is presented as a whole rather than separate music videos. Though thought to be released exclusively through TIDAL (the streaming service owned by husband Jay Z), the album has dropped on iTunes and, in typical Queen B fashion, is already tearing up the charts.
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.