Posts Tagged ‘The Weeknd’

I have to admit right off the bat that this year was not all that impressive when it came to music. Nonetheless, a closer look at the best and the worst of this year is a must. So here we go. (Note: this list is solely based on my choices, having nothing to do with popularity, sales; also, as hard as I try, I have not listened to every single album by every single artist released this year.)

Best New Artist – Hozier

This soulful meets rock ‘n roll Irish bloke knows how to do music well. Really well. From the power of his hit single “Take Me to Church” to the soft simplicity of his track “Work Song,” his versatility shines. He’s going to be around a long while.

Best Canadian Album – Advanced Basics by Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker

I’ll admit this is a bit of a stretch. It’s a crowdsourced 7-track EP, which did not reach to the top of any charts. However, there’s just something so Canadian, so humble, so affable about this band and their music, I couldn’t deny them this title.

Worst New Artist – Magic!

Normally, I try and avoid taking jabs at fellow Canadians, but these guys kind of deserve it. They say they’re reggae-pop, and although there is absolutely nothing wrong with fusing genres together, they execute neither one of them well. It’s like half-ass reggae, with lame pop.

Best Summer Song – “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne

This song just feels like summer. Cruisin’ down the streets, top down, enjoying the summer heat.

Best 90s Comeback – Bush

When I think about this band, all I see is the 90s. They epitomized it: from their sound, to lead singer Gavin Rossdale’s relationship with No Doubt lead singer Gwen Stefani; not to mention, it was the first ever rock concert I attended. Though they’re not the same as they used to be, it’s great to have them back.

Douchebags of the Year – Arcade Fire

I’ve already admitted this year that Arcade Fire confuses me. They make wonderful music that makes everything sparkle, but then they act like morons. They win this title because they insisted their fans show up in a costume or formal attire to attend their live shows. Pretentious, much?

Most Overrated Song – “All About that Bass” by Meghan Trainor

I’m not sure why this song has received so much attention. Yes, it for once highlights voluptuous women (in a non-grotesque kind of way,) but that’s about it. The lyrics are lame, the video’s pastel colours are nauseating, and the 50’s throwback sound is ruined by her nasal voice. I am not about that bass.

Most Underrated Album – Ghost Stories by Coldplay

It wasn’t an album as much as it was a work of art. So much was said, in so few words, as the music did most of the talking. I was completely surprised by the maturity and introspection in this album, as Coldplay hasn’t put out an album true to their abilities in quite some time. Bravo.

Best Rap Album – 2014 Forest Hill Drive by J. Cole

I’m not incredibly familiar with J. Cole’s older material, but he has a lot to say on this album. It’s not the crass hip-hop scene we’re used to. It’s more mature, thought out, and patient. I’m impressed.

Best Collaboration – “Love Me Harder” by Ariana Grande & The Weeknd

The sultriness in her voice, and the velvety smoothness in his, show how each of them bring their own style to the track, their own interpretations of angst and yearning. Add that to the 80s vibe in the music, and it’s a pretty great track.

Worst Collaboration – “Booty” by Jennifer Lopez feat. Iggy Azalea

This obsession with highlighting the female derrière in music this year is absurd. What happened to actually making music?

Guiltiest Pleasure – “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias, feat. Sean Paul, Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona

I can’t help it. Maybe because Sean Paul can do no wrong; maybe because Enrique’s intense gaze makes it feel like he’s penetrating your soul, in a way that makes you giddy inside. The street dancing, the traditional dancing, the overall sexiness of the video makes you want to think this song is lame, but it just isn’t. Baby girl.

Best Choreography in a Video – “Hideaway” by Kiesza

This song is covered in 80s shout outs. From the synth-pop sound, to the wardrobe, to the dance moves. All perfectly executed, in sync, and apparently the entire video was done in one take.

Worst Choreography in a Video – “7/11” by Beyoncé

Maybe I’m showing my age here, but I don’t get this video. It seems to be Beyoncé just freestyle dancing, in what seems to be a home made video. She’s on her balcony, in her bathroom; then randomly drops playing dice on someone’s behind. I think it’s supposed to show her crazy, fun, free side. I think.

Worst Album of the Year – Talk Dirty by Jason Derulo

This album is actually the worst. Jason Derulo is a thug wannabe who can’t dance, trying to pretend he gets all these ladies. Except I’m pretty sure that only happens in his videos, and not at all in real life. I bet anything his idol is Chris Brown too. Get a clue, Derulo: no one wants to talk dirty to you.

Album of the Year – Rose Ave. by You + Me

Although this album wasn’t a blockbuster hit, it still stands apart from the rest. Combining the talents of Dallas Green (of City and Colour) and Pink, they created an indie rock/country/soul album which hit all the right notes. Her powerful, emotional vocals; with his soft-spoken, and  equally emotional vocals, made every track on the album shine.

Worst Song of the Year – “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj

I can’t. I just can’t.

Song of the Year – “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith

He’s powerful, vulnerable, and writes lyrics that really hit home. His emotions run deep, and are felt in every note, every inflection. The gospel-like choir in the background just gives that extra heat to the track, allowing Smith to become it. He is this song; and so are all of us.

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.

A wrap up of this year’s highs and lows in music, as I heard it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Best Americana Album – The Lumineers by The Lumineers
Americana is a musical genre that encompasses traditional American style, including country, bluegrass, folk, etc. With a surge of artists entering this field recently, The Lumineers stood out most this year. Their self-titled debut was infectious from beginning to end. Well done.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Best Dream Pop Album – Valtari by Sigur Ros
Dream pop is a music genre that is rapidly becoming more and more popular. It blends rock, pop and ambient music and is mostly instrumental with faint vocals (if any) which tend to blend in with the music more than stand out in front of it. The perfect combination to send you into a dream and Icelandic band Sigur Ros took it to the next level on their sixth studio album. Just listen.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Best Canadian Album – Hello Hum by Wintersleep
A great rock ‘n roll album, with a distinct east coast feel to it. On repeat for several months.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Worst Thing to Happen to Canadian Music – Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger’s Engagement
She used to sing about “Sk8er Bois”. He fronts Nickelback. She married Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 and dated Brody Jenner. He sings the same song over and over. She’s 28, he’s 38. On their own they’re embarrassing enough to our country but now they’re joining forces, tying the knot and becoming one. God help us all.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Best Thing to Happen to Canadian Music – The Weeknd
It’s no secret Canada lacks in representation in the hip-hop/R&B genre. Drake has been doing his best to keep the genre afloat, but he can now take a breather and let The Weeknd do some of the work. A soulful voice guaranteed to reel you in, is all over his three-disc debut album Trilogy. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Female Album of the Year – Born to Die Lana Del Rey
Her songs are beautiful, soulful and her vibe is a throwback to the 60s with a touch of modernity. Her voice is sultry and able to grab anyone’s attention with all its subtleties. This whole album says so much with so few words. Just breathtaking.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Artist Whose 15 Minutes are Up – Lady Gaga
Her antics are played out: her male alter ego Jo Calderone turned no one’s head; sexual ambiguity is so last year. Her unusual fashion sense is tired: shock for shock sake stops being shocking pretty quickly. Though she has had several hit singles, they’re interchangeable. Gaga, it’s about time you got over yourself. We all have.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Douchebags of the Year – Green Day
Green Day planned to release three albums over the course of four months starting in November 2012. Relax guys, you’re not that popular. At a music festival in Vegas, lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong threw a hissy fit/temper tantrum claiming the band’s set got cut short. He yelled out profanities and smashed his guitar on stage, while his bandmates followed suit. It always surprises me how they made it past the 90s.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Biggest 90s Comeback – The Cranberries
This year saw album releases by several 90s bands, including No Doubt, Soundgarden, Counting Crows, Smashing Pumpkins and Our Lady Peace. The Cranberries win because not only did they reappear after an 11-year absence, but they have neither toured since then nor has any band member gone solo or formed other bands. A true comeback.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  English/Irish Boy Band Most Likely to Succeed – The Wanted
Most band members are in their 20s, therefore a fan base past pre-teens and they co-wrote some of their songs. One Direction, their toughest competitors, are much younger (late teens) and were discovered on the UK version of the X-Factor. They’ll be famous but it will be short-lived. The Wanted may not rise as fast, but will last much longer.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Most Unfortunate Band Break Up – Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters announced an indefinite hiatus earlier this year. It’s technically not a break up, more like a separation or a pause in their music careers. As of now they have every intention of getting back together, but only time will tell. Here’s hoping.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Most Fortunate Band Break Up – INXS
80s band INXS lost their lead singer Michael Hutchence years ago. Eight years later, the remaining band members appeared on Rock Star in search of a new lead singer, and found one in JD Fortune. Aside from releasing one mediocre album, and a little touring, not much else was accomplished by them, so they finally announced their break up this year. Some things are better left untouched.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Band Who Should Break Up – Maroon 5
The band should be renamed the Adam Levine Show because he is seemingly the only member. Every video stars him, he’s a judge on The Voice and often lends his whiny voice to other musicians on their tracks. The band might as well cease to exist because Adam Levine can do exactly what he’s doing with any band. So why not just break up already and put us all out of our misery?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Best Collaboration Track – “Sweet Nothing”  by Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch
Calvin Harris collaborated with several musicians this year including Rihanna, Ne-Yo, Tinie Tempah and Kelis. He’s a talented dude, whose music consistently makes you want to let loose. But what sets this track apart from the rest, is the fierceness of Florence’s voice – there’s no contest.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Worst Collaboration Track – “Good Time” by Owl City feat. Carly Rae Jepsen
Take Owl City’s shrieking teenage girl voice, add Carly Rae Jepsen  – the 27-year-old responsible for the unforgivable “Call Me Maybe.” Combine with cheesy lyrics (ie “Hands up if you’re down to get down tonight) and a super lame video. The result is a track eerily similar to 2004’s cringe-worthy Shania Twain/Mark McGrath collaboration, “Party for Two.” I’ll post both for comparison but just a warning: no good time will be had.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Most Able to Pull Off Dating a 25-Year-Old – Madonna
Madonna is 53. Boyfriend Brahim Zaibat is 25.
J-Lo is 42. Boyfriend Casper Smart is 25.
You do the math.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Most Surprising Song – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift
Swift’s songs are usually predictable, overplayed and an after thought. She has the squeaky clean, girl next door, goofball image. But this song is clearly a jab at an ex-boyfriend (apparently Jake Gyllenhall), and she manages to pull it off by making him look like a complete idiot, in a very tasteful way. Surprising because it’s unexpected and pretty ballsy, especially for Swift.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Best New Artist – Alex Clare
Clare went from releasing a debut album in the UK that nobody heard, to an overnight sensation in North America due to his single “Too Close” appearing on a Microsoft commercial. He wins this category for ingenuity. In his music: fusing electronic, rock and pop together with heartfelt lyrics and endearing vocals. And in his music videos: they’re odd, confusing and definitely make you think.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Best Live Show – Garbage, Osheaga Music Festival, Montreal
                                         Ben Harper Acoustic Tour, Massey Hall, Toronto
                                         The xx, Massey Hall, Toronto               
Garbage for returning after seven years away and showing up like no time had gone by. Ben Harper for demonstrating true musicianship through his instruments and his voice, while performing all by himself. The xx for making it impossible to sit still and leaving every fan awe struck for days.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Worst Album of the Year – Wild Ones by Flo Rida
For spawning tracks like: “Whistle Baby,” easily the dumbest song of the year; “I Gotta Feeling” and “I Cry,” both sampled from other artists; “Wild Ones” which features Sia, who also appeared on David Guetta’s hit “Titanium” released about a week earlier. Bottom line: Flo Rida wins this category for making an album of the most unoriginal music.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Album of the Year – Coexist by The xx
There aren’t enough words to describe how incredibly beautiful, heart wrenching, soulful and musical this album is – it makes you want to sigh, love and cry all while having a dance party. Once you hear it, you can’t un-hear it and that’s a wonderful thing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Worst Song of the Year – “Starships” by Nicki Minaj
Minaj got out-rapped by an eight-year-old on live TV on her own track “Superbass”. She has decided to dress as either a cartoon or Lady Gaga in public. She is also responsible for songs like “Stupid Hoe” and “Beez in the Trap.” But of all the ridiculous and tacky things Minaj has brought to the music world this year, “Starships” wins: the video is unwatchable, the lyrics easily written by a ten year old sci-fi enthusiast and whenever it plays, I run for cover.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Song of the Year – “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra
This song first took off when Burlington band Walk off The Earth did a cover and put it on YouTube. It immediately went viral and drew heavy attention to the original track by Belgian-Australian musician Gotye. The music is light and fun despite the sadness and anger that runs through it. Kimbra’s vocals take the song to the next level and pull even harder at the heartstrings. Couldn’t get enough of it all year.