The Island Def Jam Group, Mariah Carey
Yesterday morning I listened to Mariah Carey’s 43 Best Songs playlist on Spotify. I’ve always been big on classic, pop-ballad Mariah. You know, the artist her first husband, Tommy Mottola wanted her to be. I’ll admit that is kind of selfish on my part since she has always been influenced by hip hop artists. But as I listened past those songs she created in the early years of the 2000s decade, I (re)realized something. No, Mariah’s voice isn’t up to the same par it used to be when she released “Vision of Love” in 1990. It’s not even at “Hero” level. But she’s found away to utilize her voice in other ways. Integrating rap/urban/club (read: black) elements in her music means she gets to be a vocal actress. Breathy vocals and rap-sung verses do her favors on the non-single “Migrate” from 2008’s “E=MC²”.
Looking back though her discography, it’s easy to see that Carey has always tried to tread the line between maintaining a pop audience but still being authentic to herself and the kinds of tunes she wants to reflect her. Rap mixes pepper her collection. Fused with club songs are the revamped style of ballads she’s adopted within the past decade or so. Continue reading
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In case you missed it, Lady Gaga has made her gimmicks relevant again by getting puked on. That’s right. Gaga went on stage at SXSW Thursday and performed her song, “Swine,” and all kinds of strange things occurred. The singer looked naturally disheveled as she stood pounding drums in undies, fishnets and an apron. (The latter is from an earlier bit where the singer poured beer and sausages on herself and over the audience after she was tied to a roasting spit like an actual swine). Along side her, ‘Vomit Painter’ Millie Brown stood downing green paint from a water bottle. The ladies then proceed to climb a mechanical bull. Gaga played the piano while Brown chugged blue paint and threw it up on her scissoring partner. You can watch the performance for yourself below, but the discussion doesn’t stop here.
I like J.Lo. I really do. No, she doesn’t have killer pipes nor has she exactly been at the top of her game for the past few years. Before you could at least count on her to put out a song with a killer beat. “Dance Again” is pretty inspiring and at least made you want to bust a move. “I Luh Ya Papi” just doesn’t get to that point. The single, featuring French Montana, is the epitome of lackluster. It’s been getting fairly mixed reviews but the only thing decent about it is that it’s not EDM-based (thank goodness for that). The versus manage to save the chorus some, which is just a droaning “I luh ya, luh ya, luh ya papi” sung over and over.
The video helps make the single a little easier to get through. Jennifer is super cute in the intro. She and her girls are going over concepts for the video when her friends make a novel suggestion: what if the tables were turned and the women objectify the men for a change? And so, J.Lo wonders about the possibilities. Yachts full of half naked men, their undies pulled down to reveal pasty buttocks. Cars adorned with men along the sides, dripping soapy sponges down their heavily muscled abs. Jen looks great as usual, rocking signature hairstyles and flashing that famous bottom in skin-tight clothing. She even hits the dreadful Nae-Nae but makes it look playful enough. Check out the video after the jump. Continue reading
Shakira isn’t known for her ballads. She’s definitely not known for arena rock anthems either. She’s known for her hip gyrations and ethnic-pop infused tracks. Yet she seems to meld the two in something of a light pop confection.”Empire” is nothing like the kind of song we’ve come to expect from the Colombian. It is stripped down in the versus. Orchestral builds join the verses to the chorus. Once the chorus comes the singer’s vocals are backed by heavy percussion and strings. Continue reading
For the past few years so much of pop music has been infused with EDM. This craze has caused many an artist to hop on the bandwagon and Ne-Yo was one of them. He tells Billboard’s The Juice (rather boastfully it seems) that he was a “pioneer, leading people into whatever the next thing was gonna be.” But now Ne-Yo wants to get back to his urban roots. On his sixth studio album he’ll be abandoning the synths and bass production featured on 2012’s “R.E.D.” in favor of more soulful fair.
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Last night, Lady Gaga fueled speculation that the title track to her third studio album, “ARTPOP,” could become the next single. She showed up on the “Tonight Show” to perform the quirky song. In pure Gaga fashion, she toned down the single for the live show and opened by playing the piano. Electro keyboard and drums join in later as she jerks her way down the white staircase she’s perched upon. Continue reading
If the cat between the vertically situated legs didn’t tip you off, Estelle has made her musical return in a raunchy way. The lead single from her EP, Love & Happiness Vol. 3 How Stella Got Her Groove Back, has been likened to Beyoncé’s present overtly sexual image. Pop stars and R&B darlings have made a habit of shocking the general public by revamping their image in a sultry way. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the British soul import has made this change too. After being away from American listeners for two years, the singer returns with her explicit single “Make Her Say (Beat It Up).” Continue reading