Posts Tagged ‘Nicki Minaj’

2019 is just around the corner (sigh) so let’s recap the best and the worst of 2018, musically speaking. (Disclaimer: as always, the selections are based solely on my opinion, and I have not listened to every single album/song that was released this year. I’m only human.)

Best Newcomer  – Greta van Fleet

With these guys around, rock ‘n roll will never die.

Best Live Show – The Killers

Blew me away, once again.

Worst Grunge Comeback – Smashing Pumpkins

Almost every member of the original band reunited to release Shiny and Oh So Bright Vol. 1/LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. They shouldn’t have.

Best Collaboration Album – Everything is Love by The Carters (ie Beyoncé & Jay-Z)

This album puts both wife and husband on the same playing field, and finally admits that Queen Bey is actually the boss.

Worst Collaboration Album –  44/876 by Sting & Shaggy

Whose idea was this? Why was this? But mostly, can this never happen again?

Sexiest Sex Symbol – Maluma

That hair, that half smile, that sense of style, that Spanish: impossible to resist.

Best Boy Band Track – “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Backstreet Boys

BSB are the OG boy band. They will always win.

Worst Boy Band Track – “Girls Like You” by Maroon 5 feat. Cardi B

So Maroon 5 isn’t technically a boy band, but close enough. Adam Levine’s voice is whiny (as usual), and as hard as this song is trying to say something, it isn’t.

Best Young Artist – Troye Sivan

At only 23, Sivan’s music has the wisdom, introspection and maturity of someone who’s been around a lot longer.

Worst Young Artist – Lil Xan

At only 22, Lil Xan has managed to make some of the worst music ever, and really should just stop.

Best Rap Track – “Mogambo” by Riz MC

Is there anything Riz MC can’t do? No, no there isn’t.

Worst Rap Track- “Chun-Li” by Nicki Minaj

Is anyone else kind of tired of Nicki?

Best Diss Track – “The Story of Adidon” by Pusha T

The feud between Drake and Pusha T got so heated, Pusha used a diss track to reveal Drake had a son.

Worst Diss Track – “Rap Devil” by Machine Gun Kelly

I don’t understand why this no-name wanna be rapper even tried to take on Eminem.

Most Irrelevant Rap Beef – Ja Rule vs. 50 Cent

Ja and 50 win this one because in 2018, nobody cares about either of them. At all.

Best Break-Up Song – “Thank You, Next” by Ariana Grande

Grande takes the higher road here, appreciating everything she learned from past mistakes, instead of hating, blaming and shaming.

Worst Break-Up Song – “Without Me” by Halsey

She quotes Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River”, and makes it part of the track. Huh?

Best Reggaeton Track – “Te Bote” by Casper, Nio García, Darell, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny, Ozuna

Instant classic.

Worst Collaboration Track – “Havana” by Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug

I just can’t with this song. Nothing original about it, and the extra “na-na-nas” are an earworm no one ever asked for.

Best Collaboration Track – “Nina Cried Power” by Hozier feat. Mavis Staples

All soul, all power, all goosebumps.

Best Video of the Year – “This is America” by Childish Gambino

Was there any other choice?

Worst Video of the Year – “Happier” by Marshmello feat. Bastille

Just to be clear: I love this song. But as a new dog lover, it’s emotionally manipulative, and I’m not here for it. It’s supposed to have a happy ending, but my tears are all sad ones.

Best Drake Song – “Nice for What”

Drake puts the spotlight on strong females, so this track wins.

Worst Drake Song – “In My Feelings”

When a song goes this viral, it should never be played again.

Toughest Musician Death – Dolores O’Riordan 

For me personally, O’Riordan’s was the hardest to handle. Too many memories, and I’m still not over it.

Best Indie Track – “Hymnostic” by Big Red Machine

Anything Justice Vernon (of Bon Iver fame) produces is the most beautiful, eloquent, wonderful, ethereal, musical experience. No exception here.

Worst Indie Track – “Four Out of Five” by Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys went from solid Brit rock, to jazzy elevator music on this track (and the entire album – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.) I just couldn’t love it.

Best Slow Jam – “With You” by Mariah Carey

Mimi will always win at slow jams.

Best Soundtrack – Suspiria

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke wrote and performed all the music on this soundtrack, and therefore nothing else can compete.

Best R&B Album – Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae

Start to finish, front to back, this album will electrify you in all the best ways.

Worst Album of the Year – Man of the Woods by Justin Timberlake

I have no idea what this album was: is he trying to convince us he’s a down to Earth lumberjack? That he’s low maintenance? That he lives in the woods? So many questions, not enough answers.

Album of the Year – High as Hope by Florence + the Machine

It’s no secret I’m a little obsessed with Florence + the Machine, but it’s hard not to be when every new album they release is completely different than their last, but equally impressive.

Worst Song of the Year – “No Brainer” by DJ Khaled feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo & Chance the Rapper.

Didn’t this song already happen? (see “The One”)

Song of the Year – “Miracles” by Chvrches

Play it once, and you’ll have it on repeat for days.

Advertisements

Okay, so I’ll be the first to admit: I’m not the biggest Kanye West fan. It’s not that I don’t think he’s any good – he’s had some tracks that I dig, he can rap, he’s a great producer, but his albums were just never my style. Not to mention, his incessant tom foolery and antics very easily put me off him all together. What kind of musician tries that hard to be in the spotlight? That probably explains why I never really gave any of his music a fair chance, and why it took me nearly 6 years to attempt to listen to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

I hate to say it, but it’s a work of art. West wrote and produced every track (with help, of course;) managed to make his social commentary, use his vulgarities, get sinister, all the while maintaining a solid musical landscape, and keeping listeners in tune with all of it. The key thing on this album was collaboration. Stars from the hip-hop/R&B game like Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Kid Cudi, Raekwon, John Legend and Pusha T all have writing credits. Swizz Beatz and RZA assisted in the production area, and most surprisingly, indie artist-producer Bon Iver also appears on the album. Talk about unstoppable.

It’s like West took the best of the best in the field, got everyone to work together, and made one of his most musical albums to date. How did I miss this? Honestly, I vaguely recall the single “Runaway” being released as a lengthy video, and I just didn’t have the time/patience for Kanye, Kanye and more Kanye. But this is album is so Kanye, in the sense that it’s not Kanye at all, therefore making it exactly Kanye – you know what I mean?

West is a great musician. He can rap, write, produce. He obviously has a specific vision when it comes to his art, and  My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the first time you can see it. Maybe it’s high time West packs up the craziness, calms down on his Tweets, and just really focuses on his craft. He has some genius inside him – imagine what he could do if he fully tapped into it.

Music promotes diversity, and there’s a place for all of it in this world. It’s a global form of expression, irrespective of race, culture or geography. It’s an art fueled by passion and creativity. It’s inspiring, healing and moving. But that seems to be a thing of the past. Like people, music evolves and changes over time. Nowadays though, music has changed so much that is has completely lost its meaning.

Maybe it’s a generation thing; maybe today’s artists are bored and can’t find anything to sing/write about, so they find anything to sing/write about. The Beatles reached such great heights when they did because their music promoted peace and love in a war-torn planet. Musicians were making statements, standing up for what they believed in, using their creative energies to tell us how they felt. But the current generation of musicians is part of a society that is so driven by money and excess. Every career decision is based on profits, while the quality of music takes a back seat.

Maybe it’s the Internet’s fault. A couple of decades ago, social media wasn’t even a term, and now everything revolves around the online world. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts are used to keep fans in the loop, along with YouTube and Vimeo. As a result, people care more about Kimye, than Kanye’s music. You hear less and less about a musician’s work, and more and more about their personal lives (ie who’s dating who, etc) This generation of musicians lives off social media, and knows how to use its power to their advantage. As such the quality of their music suffers, because everyone (themselves included) pays less attention to it, so what we get is (at best) decent karaoke singers with no appreciation for the art of music:

Take the recent Twitter feud between Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj. Synopsis: Minaj felt shortchanged because her video wasn’t nominated for some award (even though she was nominated for other awards) and she blamed it on racism towards black female artists. Her track “Anaconda” did have millions of views, but here’s a thought: maybe people watched it because of its shock value, or maybe because of how much it resembled porn. Swift, who sings about ex-bfs and ex-bffs, took the Tweet as a personal attack, then they argued about feminism, then everyone apologized. Petty and narcissistic, not to mention, don’t they have anything else to talk about?

Recently, rapper Meek Mill accused Drake of not writing his own lyrics, which lead to a rap beef between them. Instantly, Drake (or his ghostwriter) put together not 1 but 2 diss tracks to claim the throne in this battle. But when 2 people got shot at his after party, he goes silent for days. Maybe because his PR people told him to, maybe he didn’t know what to say. But how about you rap about that, Aubrey? How about you use your mega-super-ultra fame to address that, instead of (having your ghostwriter) post a blog about it. If he’s revered as one of the best rappers of his time (so lucky Tupac isn’t around anymore,) why doesn’t he prove it and actually say something?

Maybe it’s the fans’ fault too. We eat up the drama too easily. We salivate at controversies, so those in the music industry don’t actually have to care much about their music. They can rely on auto-tune, image, production tricks, and other cheats to make themselves appear better, so why bother putting in any hard work, when they can take the easy way out? Because we let them get away with it. We let them make money off sub-par material, because our expectations for quality music are so low, even mediocrity stands tall. This Rihanna track is a perfect example: here’s an incredibly talented artist capable of so much more, but decides this is what she wants to use her success to say. Where’s the substance?

I get it. There’s enough crap and misery going on in this world, not everyone wants to hear about it in the music they listen to regularly. I also get that music is subjective, so I’m not saying every artist has to be dark and brooding, or that every musician has to make political statements or start some sort of revolution. I’m even okay with fun songs designed to make you dance in a club. But just because a track has a dope beat, that doesn’t give it the right to be about nothing (ie “Turn Down for What.”) I’m just asking for a little more effort on the musician’s part to make music for the love of making music; not because they need even more money than they already have. Their music should make us feel something, really feel something inside; it should mean something. But only a select few artists (like these guys) are doing that these days.

Music today doesn’t require the same amount of artistry as it once did. Anyone can be a DJ, all they need is a laptop. So many musicians sample beats from older songs, and just put a new spin on it. It’s like there’s nothing left to make music about, except there’s so much left to make music about. Musicians aren’t musicians anymore; they’re just fads. The majority of the current generation of musicians don’t seem to care though. They have so much reach, so much influence, so many people paying attention, ready to listen. But they use their voice to make money instead of making a difference. They no longer create art, because they don’t have to. That’s why music’s dead.