Posts Tagged ‘Taylor Swift’

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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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.

Superfame means raking in hundreds of millions, not just millions. It’s having your record go multi-platinum, not just platinum. Young musicians (YM) are as quickly adored, as they are forgotten. In an era of tweets, posts, texts, comments, selfies, hashtags, today’s younger generation is a distracted one. YMs are forced then, to rely on the following elements of superfame in order to stay relevant.

1. Make it Easy

Music is already accessible, but YMs make it even moreso. Subscribe to any (or all) of their pages, and you will constantly be fed, on every feed, some news about them. A click of a button, a tap of a screen, and you can download Taylor Swift’s new single that dropped 1 minute earlier. The push notification on your phone told you it was available.

2. Be Everywhere

That means when they drop an album, drop multiple versions of it over an extended period of time. A deluxe version, and acoustic version, a live tracks version, or even a mixtape. To add to that, minimize the time between consecutive albums, so fans don’t have time to forget about you.

Then, appear on any and every talk show willing to have you. Tour across every continent in the world, and hit as many cities as you can (along with doing radio interviews in each city, combined with some sort of giveaway for VIP passes.) This may seem like Marketing 101, but in today’s generation, it’s beyond overexposure.

3. Social Media, Social Media, Social Media

Use it. A lot, and all the time. YMs have to be involved in social media in order to exist at any level of superfame. They need a Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram account, YouTube channel, etc. Essentially, any form of narcissism so fans get to look at them. Constantly.

It’s a smart, yet creepy way to keep people in tune. To create a “personal” connection with fans, to make it harder for them to ever walk away. While they’re at it, they might as well make up hashtags that can be used across all kinds of social media platforms; after all, #yolo.

4. Change Things Up

Collaborating with another YM at the top of their game; it’s guaranteed success. You reach audiences that normally may never give you the time of day. If your partner is chosen wisely, you’ve now just opened yourself up to a brand new fan base.

Alternatively, inserting themselves in something gossip-worthy is always a good way to do. Even infamy is a form of attention. High profile date, arrest, getting caught with drugs, telling off another YM via Tweet. Anything to turn wandering eyes back onto them.

5. Diversify

Not only saturate every aspect of the music industry, but also to involve themselves in other industries. Write a book (or get their mom to write a book about what it was like living paycheque to paycheque before their kid made it big.) Make a behind-the-scenes (scripted) movie so fans feel like they know you. Star in a TV show. Start a clothing/perfume/accessories/shoe line, or become the ambassador for your hometown basketball team. That way, even if people aren’t listening to your music, they’re seeing you everywhere else.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying the way these musicians approach fame now is right or wrong; it’s just excessive. Though in a way, it has to be in order to keep up with the way the society is going. There seems to be an obsession with what’s hot right now, what’s trendy, as opposed to quality music that’s able to stand the test of time. But today’s generation seems more concerned about being able to follow someone with an Instagram account.

Superfame is necessary in this day and age. YMs have to go above and beyond, have to push themselves. The problem with drawing constant attention though, is inevitably it leads to oversaturation. Inevitably, the instantly gratified generation will get bored. Will move on the next one, because it’s what they’re programmed to do.