Archive for the ‘International Music’ Category

It’s pretty certain most us would like to put 2017 behind us, and move forward to the (hopefully) better and brighter 2018. Musically speaking, 2017 was a decent year, so let’s celebrate all it had to offer (Note: once again, these are solely my opinions, and as usual I didn’t listen to every single record that was released this year.)

Best Rap Album: DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar

I’ll be honest: I didn’t fully get the “hype” behind Lamar until this album came out. It wins because Lamar’s lyrics are smart, honest, and he’s actually saying something. Plus, the album as a whole is a solid mix of rhymes, dope beats, and a whole lotta love.

Guiltiest Pleasure: “There’s Nothin’ Holding Me Back” by Shawn Mendes

He’s so plain and vanilla; boring and unoriginal. Yet this songs makes me dance, and I just can’t help it.

Worst Collaboration: “Something Just Like This” Coldplay + The Chainsmokers

Coldplay has been dead to me for some time now. The minute they shed everything that made them them, I cut the cord. The Chainsmokers were never on my good list, because there’s nothing good about them. This is a musical abomination on so many levels.

Best Collaboration – “I Know You” by Craig David feat. Bastille

David’s smooth vocals against Bastille’s rock operatic ones; David’s R&B sound, with Bastille’s rock-electronic vibe. Mash it all together and what you get is beautiful music. Not to mention: Craig David is back!

Best Latin Collaboration: “Mi Gente” by J Balvin, Willy William feat. Beyoncé

The original of this infectious track has over 1.4 billion views on YouTube alone. Add Queen Bey into the mix and it’s completely unstoppable.

Most Surprising Track: “Rockstar” Post Malone feat. 21 Savage

At first glance, Post Malone leaves nothing to be desired. That should teach me to judge a book by its cover. Although he screams drug addict trailer trash, with nasty grills and hair that hasn’t been washed in months, his music is actually pretty good (I can’t believe I just admitted that.)

Most Disappointing Track: “Walk on Water” by Eminem feat. Beyoncé

This wins this category because in spite of its huge potential, it falls flat. The content of Em’s flow is pretty good, but his delivery is lazy, slurry and sounds a little too much like Macklemore (sorry Em!) Bey’s chorus makes the track listenable, but otherwise, it’s a bit of a snoozefest (I can’t believe I just admitted that.)

Best Indie Track: “Nobody Else Will be There” by The National

It’s moody, dark, and puts your stomach in knots. Everything a National song is supposed to be.

Worst Indie Track: “Feel It Still” by Portugal. The Man

It’s so catchy that it very quickly becomes too catchy, which automatically makes it intolerable. It’s just trying too hard.

Best Club Track: “Unforgettable” by French Montana feat. Swae Lee

I dare you not to bust a move right now.

Best R&B Track: “Skywalker” by Miguel feat. Travis Scott

One of the best tracks off Miguel’s release War & Leisure, it shows off his velvety vocals, a sick beat, and also appeared on HBO’s smash hit Insecure.

Best New Artist: Amy Shark

Delicate vocals full of vulnerability and soul, Australia’s Shark is a singer-songwriter who has managed to dominate radio waves, in spite of the fact she’s only ever released a 6-track EP. Look out for her in 2018.

Worst New Artist: Cardi B

There are just so many things about Cardi B that, despite my best efforts, I just can’t.

Best Track from an Ex-Member of One Direction: “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles

This track wins mostly because the sound is just more to my liking. A little more rock ‘n roll, a little edgier. Niall’s offering was too cheesy boy band pop; Zayn’s was too over the top and all over the place.

Worst Track from an Ex-Member of One Direction: “Strip That Down” by Liam Payne feat. Quavo 

Payne just isn’t vocally strong enough to be a solo act. Everything about this screams someone who’s a little too keen on changing his image. Newsflash, Liam: it’s not working.

Best TV Soundtrack: Big Little Lies

It has everything from Leon Bridges, to Alabama Shakes, to Martha Wainwright. Oh, and this killer theme song.

Best Movie Soundtrack: Atomic Blonde

Question: what’s better than watching a stiletto-wearing Charlize Theron kick ass to the sound of new wave/rock/pop/punk 80s music? Answer: nothing.

Best Canadian Album: Everything Now by Arcade Fire

I will agree that Arcade Fire is definitely an acquired taste. But once you get into them, there’s something unique about the way they make music and put it all together, that sets them apart. This wasn’t their best album, but a solid one nonetheless.

Best Comeback: N.E.R.D.

It’s been 7 years since N.E.R.D. released an album, and 16 years (!) since their anthem “Rock Star” was released. This year’s No One Ever Really Dies is such a force, both musically and lyrically; there’s nothing out there that sounds anything like it. Bravo.

Worst Comeback: Theory of  a Deadman

Technically ToaD put out an album in 2014, but let’s be honest – it’s been at least 12 years since they released anything anyone heard, and, frankly, it should’ve stayed that way. They are, and have always been a poor man’s Nickelback.

Most Underrated Artist: Billie Eilish

Ms. Eilish released her debut EP, Don’t Smile at Me, this summer. At only 15 years old (!), she blew me away.

Most Overrated Artist: Ed Sheeran

Look, I know it’s easy to come down hard on Sheeran, but it’s just as hard not to. His music is formulaic, his vocals aren’t anything special, and he’s a ginger. Somehow, he’s heralded as the best of the best, and his smugness exacerbates with each accolade. I will never understand his appeal.

Best Cover Song: “Bitter Sweet Symphony” by London Grammar 

The key to a good cover song is to maintain the integrity of the song, while putting your own spin on it. London Grammar has done exactly this with The Verve’s 1997 classic. Grammar stripped it down, and made it more haunting. As far as covers go, it’s perfection. Not to mention, lead singer Hannah Reid kills it on vocals.

Worst Cover Song: “You Get What You Give” by Felix Cartal

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you’re going to cover a song, make sure it’s a song that’s worth covering. The New Radicals’ original from 1998, wasn’t a good song. It was mediocre at best. Then completely changing the sound from pop/rock to techno is an even worse decision.

Best Live Show: The xx 

I’ve been to my fair share of concerts, and I can say without a doubt, The xx came out on top this year. Their music builds up so subtly, until it takes over and pulls at every emotion inside your body. The only option you have left is to dance off the emotional wreck you have become – it’s the best way to heal.

Worst Album: Reputation by Taylor Swift

Swift needs to take a chill pill. Her attempt at shedding her “good girl” image is so predictable, and so not working. No one believes her to be this villainous vixen (except maybe her millions of fans.) She tried to throw shade at the Kardashian-Wests, her music gets worse and worse with every album, and she needs to stop with the red lipstick.

Album of the Year: I See You by The xx

This album has the ability to make you feel things you never thought you could feel; it’ll make you hear things in ways you never thought possible; it’ll break your heart, sweep you off your feet; it’ll understand you like your best friend, and hurt you like your past love. All while making it impossible to resist dancing like no one’s watching.

Worst Song: “Take a Knee…My Ass” by Neal McCoy

This requires zero explanation.

Song of the Year: “Performance” by The xx

The first time I heard this song, it permeated through my skin, invaded my soul and sunk my heart; time actually stopped. The story it tells is one that resonates with us all, and its honesty is so real, it hurts. In a good way.

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I came across an article a while ago, stating this year’s supposed summer songs have fallen short, and I couldn’t agree more. The pop world has let us down once again, and given us lame, played out tracks that are so been there done that. How are we supposed to enjoy our summer now? In spite of this, I’ve decided compile a list – I just had to get more creative.

“Handclap” – Fitz and the Tantrums

This track comes off Fitz and the Tantrums’ self-titled third studio album. They blur the line between rock and pop here, giving them more reach. It’s catchy/infectious, involves synchronized claps (it’s even in the title!) It passes the ultimate summer song test too: you definitely want to blast it and sing along with your car windows down (and not be embarrassed about it.)

“Free” – Broods

This track from New Zealand brother-sister duo is not to be missed. It’s grungier than your typical summer dance track, but it’s anthemic and empowering. You just can’t help but hit repeat over and over once it ends, because that good a feeling is so addictive.

“Hasta Que Se Seque El Malecón” – Jacob Forever

No summer song list is complete without a little Latin flare. It’s your standard reggaeton track, and I mean that in the best way possible. Your hips  want to sway, you want to dance, and even if you can’t exactly sing along or understand the lyrics, it doesn’t matter. You hear this, and all you see is partying somewhere warm, beachy, drinks flowing; it’s irresistible.

“Wow” – Beck

Okay, so I have no idea where/how Beck came up with this track. He’s known to be rock/indie, and although his music has always been a little offbeat and eccentric, I’ve never heard anything like this from him” it’s borderline hip-hop. The music is perfectly produced and executed, and just keeps building and building – it’s a dope track even without lyrics. I never thought Beck would be on a summer jam list, but that just shows how talented he really is (right, Kanye?)

“The River” – Bishop Briggs

Briggs is a British musician who has taken the indie scene by storm with this track. Musically, you hear a bunch of different sounds coming together, and it’s impossible to ignore the hook. Vocally, she hits all kinds of ranges showing her versatility as well as how strongly she’s feeling the music. All you want to do is enjoy the crap out of this song.

Enrique Iglesias has been a busy guy. Son of singer Julio Iglesias, he can sing in Spanish and in English. He is romantically linked with Anna Kournikova, and he recently had his signature mole removed. What keeps him most occupied, however, seems to be his obsession with dance. He recently dropped his single “Bailando” off his upcoming album Sex + Love. It reminded of one of his earlier tracks,  “Bailamos.” Here’s a look at both of them.

Bailamos

English translation: Let’s dance/We dance

Language: Spanglish

Versions: 2

Album: Cosas del Amor (Limitied Edition) 1998; Wild Wild West Soundtrack, 1999

Premise:  Enrique loves some girl, and just wants to dance with her, he loves her so much. He urges her to let the rhythm take her over. He makes it clear that he’s hers. Most importantly, he insists that tonight, they dance.

Videos: One is super sexy, super Latin, flashing lights, in a dance club. Hands going everywhere, disco balls, glitter, and on-stage couple grinding. The other, is muted, slowed down, and more a pining kind of love, but also features a group dance. At the end of both of them, Enrique gets the girl.

 

 

Bailando 

English translation: Dancing

Language: Spanglish

Versions: 2

Album: Sex + Love, 2014

Premise: Enrique loves a girl and the way she moves. He does not want the night to stop; he wants to be with her, live with her, and most importantly dance with her.

Videos: Both follow Enrique and his “boys” – Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno, and Sean Paul (English version only) – running around the streets of some warm-climated country. There’s a lot of traditional group dancing vs. contemporary street dancing. There’s even choreo with soccer balls. At the end of both of them, Enrique gets the girl.

 

 

I could only come to one conclusion after this detailed analysis: it’s the same damn song.