Archive for the ‘R&B’ 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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On top of being an electronic/hip-hop artist, DJ and producer, Kaytranada (aka Louis Kelvin Celestin) can add 2016 Polaris Music Prize winner to his repertoire – even beating out the likes of Drake and The Weeknd. The Polaris Prize may not be well known to most, but it is probably one of the most coveted awards out there, and that’s because it recognizes the best full-length Canadian album, based on artistry – not sales or popularity.

Kaytranada is a Haitian-Canadian artist based out of Montreal. 99.9% is an incredibly accessible album, because it has something for everyone. DJ tracks sans lyrics, so you can appreciate his 70s funk-like beats with new age twists, and also his super-synth 80s vibes.

He fulfills the guest artist quota on several occasions. UK electronic pair AlunaGeorge appears on “Together” giving it just the right amount of soul; Toronto-based hip-hop instrumentalists BadBadNotGood show up on “Weight Off;” Rapper Phonte lends his rhymes on “One Too Many,” which marry well with Kaytranada’s sounds to create a classic dance track. Most notably, however, is the resurgence of R&B sensation Craig David on the instant hit, “Got It Good.”

99.9% takes the listener on a musical journey. It’s the type of album that can get a dance party started and keep it going. It’s the type of album that can be on in the background at a dinner party. Distinct and precise use of sounds and instruments, and a wide range of vocals make it the type of album that suits all tastes and is appropriate for any occasion. If you’re still not convinced of Kaytranada’s musical prowess, the following video should make you doubt no more: a dancing robot, scat singing and a dope beat. Gold.

 

Let’s put aside the fact that the MTV VMAs have become incredibly irrelevant over the past few years, because they just award the same artists over and over. Let’s ignore the fact that they don’t even televise the awards that actually have anything to do with the creative aspects of the videos. Let’s forget the fact there was no mention of Prince or David Bowie during the live broadcast. Let’s also pretend to believe the MTV VMAs represent all music and not just pop and hip-hop. That said, here are some thoughts on this year’s show.

Kanye does whatever he wants

After years of interrupting acceptance speeches, hating on anyone that wasn’t Beyoncé, Kanye was handed a full 4 minutes to rant and rave about whatever he wanted. It was disguised as a prelude to the premiere of his new NSFW video “Fade” off 2016’s Life of Pablo. His speech was nonsensical ramblings for the most part (as expected) but I’m not sure what MTV was hoping for: he shocked no one, and bored everyone.

Bey is Queen of everything

Slay, slay, slay. That’s all Bey does. Forget all her nominations and wins. Forget the fact that she gave a perfect 16-minute performance of snippets of her entire Lemonade album. Forget the fact everyone’s jaws dropped, and were left speechless. Forget everything you thought you knew about anything: Bey rules all.

Watch the epic performance here

Britney Spears needs to throw in the towel

Poor, Britney. In an attempt to revive her “career,” Britney Spears’ MTV VMA performance was slated as her big comeback. Except she had to follow Beyonce’s epic 15-minute explosion, and there’s no way she was going to surpass that. It didn’t help that Spears looked like old news, struggling to sell her sexuality. She performed her recently dropped single “Make Me” featuring no-one’s-ever-heard-of rapper G-Easy. Her outfit looked like something a figure skater would wear, and seemed to meander along the stage aimlessly, until G Easy showed up, which was her cue to grab his crotch. She needs to realize she’s not 16 anymore, and it’s not longer the 90s – no matter how much she wishes.

Drake vs. Rihanna

After essentially pouring his heart out and confessing his love for Rihanna, Drake went in for a kiss, and Rihanna so awkwardly dodged it. You could hear the viewers cringing, and Drake’s heart breaking  all over the world. Why can’t Rihanna just love Drake back? Also: as if she got some sort of lifetime achievement award for her videos. As if.

The Burning Questions

  • Is Puff Daddy still a thing?
  • Why is DJ Khaled such a fool? Conversely, why is Alessia Cara so adorable?
  • When panning the audience, why did the camera always fall on Kimye and/or Michael Phelps?
  • When did lip syncing during live performances become so widely accepted?
  • How many Kardashians need to be present at an awards show for people to watch?
  • Why is Nick Jonas’ new track called “Bacon”?
  • Why did Alicia Keys get high before dressing up in a tent and presenting?
  • How did Fifth Harmony win? Sexual inuendo is the only “art” in their videos
  • Who are the Chainsmokers and why are they so awful?

Lastly: why am I so old?