#TBT: Music in 1981

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After not checking the iTunes store for 2 weeks, I checked it out today and I was like “WTF this is the worst Top 10 list I’ve ever seen.” Although right now my iTunes library is on shuffle and I’m also like “WTF this is the worst music I’ve ever heard.” So, take that as you will. This caused me to reflect on the good days of music. Naturally, I’m starting with 1981, which, since I wasn’t technically (but really in no way shape or form) alive, I’m relying on a lot of Google to point me to the big moments.

1. MTV Launched on August 1, 1981

…And 31 years later, we’re still dealing with it. But really, it was awesome in 1981. Whereas now its tagline is probably something along the lines of “I want to be Made into a Jersey Shore Teen Mom,” when it was launched, it was “I want my MTV.” Real surprise: the “M” actually stood for “Music.” LOL. Yeah. Anyway, they opened with The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star” and with that music videos were born. It was 24 hours each day of music videos – what could be better than that? MTV gave name to people like Michael Jackson and Madonna (well the Madonna of the 80s – the name she has now is all on her own). To think that we went from “Ladies and Gentleman, rock and rock” to “Next on 16 and Pregnant” in 30 years is just pathetic.

2. Kim Carnes – “Bette Davis Eyes”

This was the number 1 song of the year according to Billboard’s end of the year charts. And that’s also really all I have to comment on about this song.

3. This song was released.

And then we all wished we were Jessie’s Girl. Also, if you don’t know this song then you’ve been living under a rock because every good samaritan should know every lyric (or at least be able to make up some really good substitutes like me) to this song.

4. This album was released.

On July 31, 1981, Journey released the album Escape and it included one of the greatest songs (duh, in my opinion) ever: “Don’t Stop Believin’.” However, that song is clearly only of the greatest songs ever in my opinion because it peaked at number 9 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Other singles off this album included “Who’s Crying Now?” at #4 and “Open Arms” at #2. But like really, who cared about any song other than “Don’t Stop Believin”? Oh, that’s just me? K.

5. Bob Marley passed away.

On May 11, 1981, Bob Marley passed away due to cancer. But don’t worry, to this day, every teenager still goes through a phase in his life where he gets high and pretends that Bob Marley is singing the anthem to his life.

Grammys Review

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Disclaimer: So, it’s 1am and I’m attempting to write a review of the Grammys because my family asked me to multiple times. I only mention this because I want them to read this and recognize that I just spent approximately 10 hours doing homework today and if I become sleep deprived, I blame them. 

The Grammys… I think the best way to sum up the Grammys is to just go over a few highlights – both good and bad.

1. Taylor Swift

Here’s what was wrong with Taylor Swift at The Grammys: everything. First, her performance. When did Tim Burton sign on to direct her Grammy performance? Or was that some creepy take on Alice in Wonderland? Either way, no. And seriously, did I not say I never wanted to hear that god awful song again? I’ll be honest, I didn’t catch the supposed diss on Harry Styles because about 45 seconds into her performance, my twitter news feed of everyone wondering who in their right mind decided that Taylor Swift of all people should open the Grammys and wishing she would get off stage became much more entertaining. However, if the diss to the 19-year-old 1D singer did happen, can someone please remind T Swift that she’s 23 years old and just seems pathetic? Then we have to discuss her dancing during The Lumineers performance because that just made me want to barf and then throw my television out the window. 

I guess some actual comments regarding music could be made too… as in, Taylor Swift use to be original and she used to have talent, but in my opinion, she’s just as sold-out as the rest of the other musical artists nowadays. 

2. Ed Sheeran & Elton John

This truly made me die and go to Heaven for a bit. This is music in case anyone needed a refresher. It also put Taylor Swift to shame. As if Ed Sheeran’s voice wasn’t enough, the Grammys added Elton John, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with Elton John (at least, until Juanes covers “Your Song” and translates it into Spanglish).

3. Carly Rae Jepsen

…didn’t win an award so I still have faith in the Grammys. 

4. LL Cool J’s closing performance

So after watching Taylor Swift’s opening act, I’m sure you were all thinking the same thing as me: “Well this can’t get any worse.” Wrong. False. WTF. Because then LL Cool J announced that he needed to do his part in the Grammys. Wrong. False. WTF. Hosting was your contribution to the Grammys – you did not need to perform too. Even bringing Travis Barker and Co. on the stage didn’t help this performance. Then I’m sure you were all thinking the same thing as me again: “Oh this can’t be the way the Grammys ends! Surely something better will come along!” Except all that came along were the credits…

5. Elton John, Mavis Staples, Zac Brown, Alabama Shakes, Mumford and Sons, and T Bone Burnett performed “The Weight”

For full video check out TheDailyBeast.

Hands down the best moment of the Grammys. If you can argue that, then you don’t know what real music is. I’m so happy this was the group that did a tribute piece – I’m so sick and tired of seeing untalented musicians honoring some of the best music talent in history. Also, if I see one more social media post about people not knowing who Mavis Staples is, I’m going to cut them off from music because they’re clearly listening to absolute sh*t (sorry, Mom).

6. The Awards

Honestly, I think they did a great job awarding extremely talented musicians. By far and absolutely unarguably, Mumford & Sons’ Babel deserved Album of The Year more than any other nominee. The other nominees in that category were truly tremendous albums, but Babel was just so spectacular.

The award for Best New Artist was a little disappointing because in my opinion, I feel that The Lumineers are much more original than Fun., but regardless both bands have a certain degree of originality to them. However, real fans of Fun. would recognize that they are not a “new” artist since their first album came out in 2009 – catch up, Grammys.

Best Pop Vocal Album should have gone to Florence and the Machine’s Ceremonials and not because that is my favorite band but because I’ve listened to both Ceremonials and Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger and, while Stronger is great, Ceremonials is just heavenly and a true forward progression in the music industry.

Taylor Swift won a Grammy, but it was for a song that included The Civil Wars so I’ll allow it – not that anything I disapprove of really matters to anyone but me.

7. Carrie Underwood’s … Dress …

So at first, you’re like “oh Carrie Underwood’s wearing another big dress so she doesn’t have to actually move on the stage” and then quickly you’re like…. “wait, why is her dress a projection screen?” Seriously, I love Carrie Underwood’s voice and I think she’s truly talented despite my hate for country music, but the dress. I want whoever planned this performance fired. I couldn’t even pay attention to the song because I couldn’t figure out what was going on or why.

8. Ellen

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Until next year, Grammys. Try to get some better openers and closers though.

Songs I Never Want to Hear Again in 2013

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The popular music of today is absolutely terrible and while I do listen to it, I would also not miss most of it if was never played again. Also as a disclaimer, I fully admit to listening to all of these songs multiple times, alone and at the numerous college pregames, which without drunken college students, I’m pretty sure none of these songs would ever even make it to the public.

1. Toby Keith – “Red Solo Cup”

This song is literally about a red solo cup… a red plastic cup… Nothing else. No deeper meaning. No metaphor. Just a cup.

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2. Psy – “Gangnam Style”

This song is actually worse than Rebecca Black’s “Friday.” It’s not even in English, yet it’s also not even all in the same language; at least commit to one consistent language. Have you ever actually looked at the translation of the lyrics? No, probably not because that would take actual effort. The lyrics are literally, “A classy girl who knows how to enjoy the freedom of a cup of coffee.” That is almost worse than Justin Bieber telling every teenage girl that they would survive starvation as long as they love him.

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3. Taylor Swift – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

No one was ever trying to get back together with you, Tay, I promise. And no one likes it when you stop the general flow of the song to talk in the middle in an annoyed voice.

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4. Madonna ft Nicki Minaj – “Give Me All Your Luvin”

This was just another pathetic comeback for Madonna. It’s almost worse that Madonna was good music when music was still good. She was the queen of pop and then she comes back in 2012 with a song that only illustrates her inability to correctly spell the word love. Honestly, she paired with Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. while chanting “L.U.V. Madonna” and thought it would be a good song? Never play it again.

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5. Flo Rida – “I Cry”

If you would like to hear this song, may I suggest listening to the original and better song by Bingo Players. Hint: the title of the song is “Cry” and Flo Rida will never actually give them any credit for it.

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6. Rihanna ft. Chris Brown – “Birthday Cake”

Here’s the first thing that’s wrong with this song: Rihanna featuring Chris Brown. If you really need an explanation on why that’s bothersome, type “Chris Brown beats Rihanna” into Google because that will sum it up in the most vulgar way. Then google “Jenny Johnson and Chris Brown” because that’s the best comedic summary of him as a person. I remember the first time I heard this song and thought about how terrible it was so I tried to look it up by the lyrics, but failed when I realized that the only lyric was “cake.”

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7. Drake – “The Motto”

Because “YOLO” should have never become a thing.

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8. Skylar Grey ft. Emimen – “C’mon Let Me Ride”

I had a lot of hope for Skylar Grey after the P. Diddy single “Coming Home” and her help on “Love the Way You Lie.” Then I heard “Invisible” and I had even more hope for her. The hope even continued growing after hearing the Kaskade remix of “Invsible” and the DJ R3hab remix of “Dance Without You.” And then I heard “C’Mon Let Me Ride” and I no longer have any hopes for her in the music industry. There is no aspect of this song that should ever be considered catchy or good.

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9. Flo Rida – “Whistle”

We just really did not need another song that when translated from radio-appropriate to its real meaning is simply telling every listener how to give proper oral sex. First 50 Cent tainted my 12-year-old mind by telling me that lollipops were simply magic sticks that needed to be sucked, and now today, young minds are tainted with Flo Rida telling them to put their lips around the whistle and start real slow.

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10. Nicki Minaj

There is no one song. Let’s just get rid of Nicki Minaj.

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However, you can play Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” every day.

JJAMZ is my new jam. And yeah, this is a corny title…

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Wait, really… how did I not know this group existed? The music industry combined Maroon 5’s James Valentine, Rilo Kiley and Bright Eyes’ Jason Boesel, Phantom Planet’s Alex Greenwald, and The Like’s Z Berg…. and it slid past me? I love it. I can study to it or I can dance to it. I absolutely love it. And you should too.

From TotalAssault:

JJAMZ Premiere New Video for “Suicide Pact”

Los Angeles indie-pop supergroup JJAMZ have just premiered the new lyric video for “Suicide Pact,” the title track from their critically acclaimed debut album. The clip is a black and white found footage affair featuring the upbeat song’s melancholy lyrics in both English and French. “Suicide Pact” is the third single from the album, following “Never Enough” and “Heartbeat.”

Created by director, Eddie O’Keefe, the footage in “Suicide Pact” was pulled mostly from fifties and sixties teen delinquent b-movies. “I’m a big fan of that cinema sub-genre and so most of the footage was pulled from my own collection of exploitation nonsense,” says O’Keefe. “A few sequences were taken from anti-drug public service announcements as well; stuff you might have seen in health class in 1959.”

JJAMZ, initially started as a break from each member’s respective bands, is comprised of Maroon 5’s James Valentine, Rilo Kiley and Bright Eyes’ Jason Boesel, Phantom Planet’s Alex Greenwald, The Like’s Z Berg, and Michael Runion.

Time Out New York called Suicide Pact “the year’s best indie-rock record, full of sticky tunes, chewy guitar textures and some excellently icy vocals.” The band will appear at a handful of showcases this weekend for CMJ Music Marathon in NYC, and will then kick off a run of fall dates including Boston, Washington, Philly, Chicago (full schedule below).

The band will close out the tour in Los Angeles with a special performance at The Troubadour on November 7th with Mini Mansions supporting. Tickets for the show are available now on Ticketfly.

Suicide Pact is available now on iTunes via Dangerbird Records.

CMJ Schedule:
Oct 17 – The Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY (The Hype Machine showcase @7PM)
Oct 18 – The Bowery Electric, New York, NY (The AudioPerv showcase @9:20PM)
Oct 18 – Santos Party House, New York, NY (Neon Gold Records Showcase @11:30PM)
Oct 19 – The Studio at Webster Hall, New York, NY (CAA showcase @10PM)
Oct 20 – Spike Hill, Brooklyn, NY (Baeblemusic showcase @9PM)
Oct 21 – Great Scott. Boston, MA
Oct 22 – Jammin Java, Washington, DC
Oct 23 – North Star Bar, Philadelphia, PA
Oct 26 – House of Blues, Chicago, IL
Oct 27 – The Blue Moose Tap House, Iowa City, IA
Oct 28 – Triple Rock, Minneapolis, MN
Nov 7 – Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA (Mini Mansions supporting)

Calvin Harris new album, 18 Months, video preview

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Calvin Harris new album 18 Months due out October 30th

18 Months on iTunes: http://smarturl.it/CH18MonthsDLX

The track listing for 18 MONTHS is:
1. Green Valley
2. Bounce (feat. Kelis) (***)
3. Feel So Close (***)
4. We Found Love (feat. Rihanna) (***)
5. We’ll Be Coming Back (feat. Example) (***)
6. Mansion
7. Iron w/ Nicky Romero
8. I Need Your Love (feat. Ellie Goulding) (***)
9. Drinking From The Bottle (feat. Tinie Tempah)
10. Sweet Nothing (feat. Florence Welch) (***)
11. School
12. Here 2 China w/ Dillon Francis (feat. Dizzee Rascal)
13. Let’s Go (feat. Ne-Yo) (***)
14. Awooga
15. Thinking About You (feat. Ayah)

(***) = Available Now

Calvin Harris’s latest single “Sweet Nothing” with Florence Welch

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So, I won’t completely admit to downloading this song on September 20th when it first hit YouTube, but I will say that prior to the early release today, my iTunes play count was up to 78 plays. This song taunted me too much to not give it an early listen; I mean, they started advertising “Sweet Nothing” all over Facebook in July. You can’t combine two of my favorite things – Calvin Harris and Florence Welch – and expect me to remain completely legal.

For those of you who are just hearing “Sweet Nothing” today, I both applaud you, and welcome you to one of the best collaborations of the year. It’s not even just Florence’s voice that attached me to this song; without Calvin Harris, the goddess herself couldn’t even complete this tune. In fact, it isn’t even until the chorus of the song that Flo’s power flies out of her vocals. Throughout the song, Harris’s beats are the heart and center of the song. There’s literally never a dull moment in the song: Calvin keeps pushing the beats, building suspense all the way up until the chorus.

The fifth official single from his album, 18 Months, due out October 30th, “Sweet Nothing” has got to be some of Calvin Harris’s best work. Even without Flo, the beats themselves could have made for a fantastic dance song; we were just lucky we got Flo’s vocals added.

Download here!

Ellie Goulding’s new album, Halcyon, out October 9th, 2012

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Article first published as Music Review: Ellie Goulding – Halcyon on Blogcritics.

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With her hit single, “Lights,” Ellie Goulding made a name for herself, and the United States quickly fell in love with her. Her name was plastered everywhere as “Lights” became one of the most covered songs of the year, being remixed by DJs such as Kap Slap, Max Gordon, and the most popular, Bassnectar. Since “Lights,” Ellie Goulding has had many other hits to keep her popularity including “Starry Eyed” and her cover of Elton John’s “Your Song.” Now, over a year past the release date for her first album, Lights, Goulding is releasing her second album, Halcyon, on October 9, and listeners can expect that same amazing sound they are familiar with.

Halcyon is full of electronic sounds, beautiful harmonies, and amazing vocals. It’s hard to choose the must-listen songs because, in all honesty, every song is a must-listen. The first single from Halcyon, “Anything Could Happen,” features a very upbeat sound, which is especially apparent in the chorus, where the electronic rhythm takes over. In addition, the broad range of vocal levels that Goulding expresses is partnered with exceptional harmonies. “Anything Could Happen” does a great job for setting the stage for many of the songs on the album such as “Hanging On,” “Figure 8,” and “Don’t Say a Word.”

People might most be familiar with “Hanging On” from the single that Goulding partnered with Tinie Tempah on, which can be found on the deluxe edition of the album; however, the version on Halcyon is just as amazing. The song starts with an increasing electronic beat accompanied by high-pitch vocals. When the beat drops at the chorus, the music seems to overcome the vocals before leveling out and finding equilibrium. Unlike anticipated, the beat does not remain constant throughout the song, but instead becomes heavier toward the end of the song.

“Figure 8” starts off suspenseful, beginning as if the vocals are stirring up the beat – they almost resemble a chant. Then, the chorus picks up the overall feel of the song with a very strong piano beat lingering in the background, as if someone was pounding the keys with all of his or her might. However, what brings about that familiar Goulding sound is the calm and steady electronic beat that builds up throughout the entire song, from beginning to end.

Another song with a very suspenseful beginning is “Don’t Say a Word.” The song starts off with a very slow beginning: a haunting feel that allows us to hear the range of Goulding’s vocals. The song gives us a feel for the deeper, darker side of Goulding’s sound. Ultimately, “Don’t Say A Word” moves into a very electronic beat, similar to “Figure 8,” while still maintaining the vocals that are unique to it.

On another note, Halcyon also features songs on a completely different spectrum. “My Blood” is an absolute must-listen. At the start of the song, for the first verse, the vocals almost do not even resemble Goulding; it definitely provides a new, unexpected sound from her. No fear, however, because the chorus is the same familiar voice that we expect from her. In addition, the song features extremely fantastic harmony and piano accompaniment. I’m not sure why, but this song truly makes me want to dance in the rain.

A personal favorite, “Explosions” really confuses you because you expect something completely different due to the title of the song, but instead you’re surprised in a good way. This song has so much going on and so much packed into four minutes. “Explosions” features a very choir-like sounding harmony, strings rather than an electric beat, a piano that joins the strings with a very fast paced and repetitive sound, and finally percussion that joins in with a very steady and soft beat. The background music almost seems to tell a story, truly expressing the meaning of the song.

Finally, the title song, “Halcyon,” features a calm, steady beginning beat with speedy lyrics and beautiful harmonies. Then, the chorus begins, truly separating itself from the rest of the song. What also stands out is the post-chorus sound, which is filled with fade-ins and fade-outs that just bring more attention to her amazing vocals.

Overall, Halcyon will just continue to make fans fall in love with Ellie Goulding. She maintains her unique vocals throughout the entire album. In addition, she continues to show her electronic side while introducing a new, deeper side of her vocals. Simply put, Halcyon is a must-listen album.