Beyonce Takes 2013

By Chris McPherson

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I just came to a conclusion about Beyonce. Everyone’s saying she didn’t need to promote her album.

But truly, she really did.

*the pepsi deal*

*the inauguration*

*the lip-sync debacle*

*the live performance at the press conference*

*the destiny’s child super bowl reunion buzz*

*the superbowl*

*life is but a dream*

*bow down*

*grown woman*

*H&M/standing on the sun*

*turnt on the dream’s album (yawn – his album, not the song)*

*part 2 (on the run)*

*cuba*

*the countless leaks of random info (that was usually false)*

Everyone was waiting for her to say something about music in 2013. But it all sounds like a heavily sly and intricate plan. Not your traditional press tour, but this could have been one of the most carefully strategized covert operations pop music has ever seen. The CIA can take some tips from this.

Meanwhile, Pepsi is like, “I paid for all this shit.”

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Keke Palmer Drops Love Jam, Post TLC FIlm

By Chris McPhersonkeke-palmer-work-lik-you-love-me

Keke wants your la, la, la, la, la, love.

Keke Palmer has waned in and out of the spotlight since her debut in “Akeelah and the Bee,” alongside Forest Whittaker in 2006. Since then, she’s starred in Madea’s Family Reunion, completed a tenure at Nickelodeon with her own sitcom  and TV movie along many other miscellaneous acting credits. She even dropped her first album when she was 13.

Now 20, it’s obvious she’s transitioning into womenhood, in her personal life and in the TV screen. After a buzz worthy role on VH1’s TLC film, “CrazySexyCool,” Palmer’s team has wasted no time in introducing some new Keke fans to her beautiful voice , while also treating her old fans with her usual sweet vocals.

Like her most recent work on the 2012 self-titled EP, Keke Palmer, Palmer’s performance rides through “Work Like You Love Me” like summer water at an amusement park. Sometimes she trickles in, other times her vocals come gushing out. She gives and she takes. You can sway to this song. You can twerk to the song. You can even woo a potential lover with this song. Imagine. Sit still. Envision your crush across the room and just give them those bedroom eyes (bedroom cuddling eyes of course, you ain’t easy). Now reel them in. This song is a reeler. Good job, Keke.

“Work Like You Love Me” is available on iTunes now. Buy it like you love me.

What Does Ciara’s Return Mean for R&B?

Her Goodies were once kept safe in a jar, but now they’re Super Turnt Up.

Yes, Ciara Harris, the princess of Crunk, the mistress of the dance floor, the champion of booty shaking music has returned. And this time, things are looking up.

Album Artwork
Album Artwork

If you asked me a year ago about Ciara, I would have replied with a sarcastic “who?” Or directed you to the closest Billboard chart she didn’t make it on. I was always fan of her music (besides Goodies), but she was in a major slump and everyone could tell.

Plagued with record label issues, Ciara’s last album debuted at 44 on the charts. Number like these would put any musician out of work. Instead, she got another record deal and decided to start over. Although I had hope for her, things seemed bleak with three failed singles, however Body Party changed things.

Even though Body Party broke top 40, it peaked at just 25, and in Ciara’s prime she would have at least hit top 10. Nonetheless, it was still an improvement from her previous singles. But part of me feels like Ciara’s career woes say less about Ciara, and more about the state of R&B. It seems like the music industry is in a weird phase where dark, trap beats have consumed urban radio and dubstep-stuffed dance floor anthems have taken over mainstream top 40 music. While there are exceptions to this like Robin Thicke and Bruno Mars, we’re currently living in a world where the Ashantis, Keyshia Coles, and Myas can barely survive. Some could say these women are tired and older. But unlike other genres there have been no new hopefuls successful enough to step up and replace their late 1990s/early 2000s successors.

For every Britney, Madonna and Cher, there’s a Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. And we’ve seen artist like Frank Ocean and Miguel transform the R&B genre to something now called “progressive R&B” (which I’m not 100% for), but when was the last time you’ve seen a young R&B female vocalist take over the radio airwaves. What does this mean for urban music? I’m not sure. But I do know that the music industry is constantly changing and going through cycles. We’ll see where it goes next.

Ariana Grande Loves Sentence Fragments, Baby I

By Chris McPherson

Ariana Grande’s follow-up single, “Baby I,” is not only an certified sentence fragment, but is also a killer hit.

In the wee hours of Sunday night, Grande released her second single from her debut album. Her fan base, often referred to as Arianators, could very well consider the tune their mid-summer night’s dream come true. Within the first hour, the track jumped to number 3 and has been sitting pretty at number 2 ever since.

Her first single, “The Way” debuted at number 10 on the Billboard hot 100 charts and also happened to feel like a sentence that is complete. Could this be a pattern for Ariana? Maybe her next single could be something like, “True to” or “He Makes.” Or maybe “This Day Was.”

Production-wise, the summer R&B pop song shimmers with pop sparkles with heavy R&B instrumental undertones, essentially the best of both worlds. The trajectory of Ariana’s successful music career is quite surprising. Yes, her vocals are unmatched, but you don’t really see many Nickelodeon stars hitting the big time on the music charts. There are comedic greats like Kenan Thompson, entertainment execs and hosts like Nick Cannon, and the recent tabloid nexus Amanda Bynes. But Ariana is reaching new territory for Nick alumni.

Grande has recently gotten a lot of comparison to Mariah Carey, but I’m infidelity feeling Christina Aguilera, circa “Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You) in this new song. I can just see a 90s inspired music video with an all white backdrop surrounded by a bunch of dancers in baggy jeans and neon sweats suits.

No doubt, “Baby I” is sure to thrust Ariana once again into the spotlight and send her well on her way to super stardom. And with a debut album slated to drop September 3rd, nothing can stop this powerhouse vocalist.

Jay-Z Likes Expensive Clothes You Can’t Afford

By: Chris McPherson

oJay-Z is vogue’ing on the rap game.

His 12th solo album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, has proven to be one of the most talked about albums of the year. In fact, with a million records already sold to Samsung, MCHG has topped the charts with over 500,000 sold in the first week. But the album also shows that when it comes to style, HOV, too, has much to talk about.

The 16-track record marks a new journey for Jay-Z. As he manages his rap career and various business endeavors he also tackles the role of being a caring husband and supportive father (something he never had). He also looks back at his dark past of drugs, violence and hardships. Through all of this Jay-Z happens to share growth and a matured sense of style and fashion. For instance, while the most of the rap game has been popping molly, Jay proclaims, he’d be much more comfortable wearing Tom Ford instead.

In “Picasso Baby,” he gives a shoutout to Italian designer, Roccardo Tsci and Givenchy. “Roccardo Tisci Givenchy clothes, See me thrown at the Met. Vogue’ing on these ni***s” Jay-Z has been spotted wearing Givenchy designed clothes on numerous occasions, while Tisci designed the album artwork for Jay-Z previous collaborative album with Kanye West, Watch the Throne.

The song “Tom Ford” could very well serve as the style mecca of the album. Jay-Z spends over three minutes proclaiming the fashion designer’s name, “Tom Ford, Tom Ford, Tom Ford.” He then goes on to say, “Spend all my Euros on tuxes and weird clothes.” And let’s not forget the hook where Jay-Z seems to separate himself from most rap lyrics in 2013 “I don’t pop molly, I rock Tom Ford.” Molly has become popular trend in the hip-hop world and it’s seemed like every rapper endorsed the use of the recreational drug. But Jay-Z would rather be wearing a designer tux. Fashion is his drug.

In the Rick Ross assisted track, “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt,” Ross shares a footwear oxymoron. While he pays homage to athletic shoe and apparel giant, Reebok, he also mentions Nike’s swoosh slogan immediately after. “Reeboks on, I just do it, n***a.” Very clever Rozay.

Jay-Z recruits R&B vocalist Frank Ocean to sing the hook on appropriately named track, “Oceans.” Ocean sings “I hope my black skin don’t dirt this white tuxedo.”

Okay, time for some accessories. Jay-Z sets his eyes on a Rolex Sky-Dweller Watch in “F.U.T.W.,” Fuck Up the World for short. Rose gold, his choice. “High Yellow sky dweller and the rose gold.” He then alludes to the late king of pop and all-around style icon, Michael Jackson. Well not exactly him, but his socks, describing them as “trill.” “You know a n***a trill as Michael Jackson socks.”

He then grabs his shades in “Part!! (On the Run)” with his wife, Beyoncé, by his side. In a sequel to their 2002 duet, “’03 Bonnie and Clyde,” he raps “Blind me baby with your neon lights, Ray Bans on, police in sight.”

Jay-Z continues to explore his fashion evolution in the song when he raps, “This ain’t grey sweat suits and white tube socks, This is black leather pants and a pair of stance, Socks is my synopsis is clear.”

Besides commending Miley Cyrus’s twerk skills in “SomewhereInAmerica.” Jay-Z compares himself to Michael Jordan’s sneaker empire, “I’m just bringing it back, Like Jordan Packs.” He does so again in “Crown” when he says “Jordan 1’s and dungarees.”

“BBC” seems to be the second-most fashion filled song on the album (behind Tom Ford). It also happens to be the most crowded, featuring guest vocals from Pharrell Williams, Swizz Beats, Beyoncé, Nas and Justin Timberlake. There must have been a party in the studio that day. A fashion party.

With lines like “To the polo fleece to the bombers,” “Fila sweats, 88 I rocked a mock neck” and “peep the features Unlaced Adidas,” “BBC” is all about style. A few other lines like “Bally shoes, Gucci sneakers” and “Versace plates for Basquiat, Collab from Versace place” exemplify much more expensive taste.

Closing out the album, Jay-Z dedicates a track to his one-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy Carter. He does this while also name-dropping a major brand. “Baby needs Pampers.” You probably won’t see anyone rocking Pampers on the red carpet any time soon, but they are a vital fashion choice every parent is thankful for.

Beyonce Keeps it Simple

By Chris McPherson

In my nightly scan of the blogosphere I find millions of things. Unreleased songs with promise that never see the light of day, the newest sliver of juicy details celebrity gossip (FYI: Miley and Liam are now sleeping in different rooms—so sad), and a megastorm of new images. Last night, I came across an interesting photo of Beyoncé that I really liked. Here’s why.

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If you popped “Beyoncé” into any search engine, you’ll get a world of data. But try an image search and you’ll see the R&B (sometimes pop, gotta make that money), in a wide array of different “wigs” literally and figuratively. You’ll see pictures of her in movies, on stage performing, and some promotional endorsement ads. No matter which “wig” (project) the songstress may be fronting, she’s usually seen in a blonde wig. Blonde Beyoncé is pretty much the main Beyoncé. I can safely say it’s her most frequent choice.

Recently some new pictures have leaked from her and Jay Z’s controversial trip to Cuba. Looking thought the images, seeing her stripped down without much makeup, or extravagant clothing and extensions. Just simple long dark BROWN braids. I must say it was refreshing to see her like this.

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I know that it’s a bit ridiculous for me to take the time out to focus on Beyoncé’s hair decisions, but it was a nice break for her. I think that she should rock the braids more. I’m not saying I’m some natural fanatic, I’ve seen that black women have been gravitating towards wearing their hair more natural and long box braids (90’s Brandyesqe) have climbed back into trends, but I think Black women—intact any women should be able to wear their hear any way they see fit. But I will say that seeing Beyoncé with a simpler look never made her look more beautiful. And the huge bleach blonde Beyoncé I saw today on the Pepsi ad in Times Square won’t change my views on that.

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Pop Music and Potential Employers, Come and Get It

By Chris McPherson

Good music is something ubiquitous. Turn on your radio. Plug in your TV. Or just hop on YouTube for something to jam out to. But meaningful music can be hard to find.

Songs like Rihanna’s We Found Love make you wanna spin around in circles in euphoric motion for hours and never get dizzy or nauseous. Other tunes like Macklemore’s Thrift Shop may invoke an urgency to find the nearest vehicle you have the keys to and drive down a significant boulevard, while singing the lyrics like you’re wearing pre-owned clothes with questionable odors. While Pink’s Just Give Me a Reason may bring up some serious feelings that you can only express in an empty room full of pillows, ice cream and a television playing Reba reruns for hours (which in fact does happen everyday – she’s a survivor). But enough of country star Reba’s magnificent reign on daytime cable tv. Songs with meaning make you feel something.

Screenshot from music video

Selena Gomez, sometimes referred to as Sellie G, Beibs’ Baby Mama, and Disney Princess # 3, released her new song, Come & Get It, a couple weeks ago. It’s safe to call the single a “hit,” since it landed on the Billboard Hot 100’s top ten last week at number six, her highest peaking single to date. I will say this infectious tune, pickled in seduction, but somehow marinated in sex appeal, has been a guilty pleasure of mine. But where is the meaning? How does this apply to my life? I mean, I don’t have someone I can encourage to “come and get it.” I mean, I could probably write a song called “I’ve been ready, does anyone want it?”

So I sat down and tried to understand the deeper meaning behind this song. Was there a hidden allegorical thread behind these lyrics. Maybe there was a speck of symbolism within the three minutes and fifty-two seconds of pop gold. Then I thought, “Eureka, I’ve got it.” No I didn’t. But I did find that the song could serve as an anthem for the thousands of college students who are now out searching for jobs.

If you are one of these people, tell those search committees, recruiters and HR professionals, “so baby whenever you’re ready [insert five seconds of ‘ayy’].” At the end of my next job interview, right after I say goodbye, but before I leave the room, I’m gonna say, “When you ready come and get it.” Then say “na na na na” as I walk away.

When Senorita Gomez says, “When you ready come and get it,” “it” is clearly a metaphor for the hard work and dedication you plan to bring to the potential employer and/or company. Duh!

So thanks Selena, you’ve got the world dancing, and the job seekers thinking. Who doesn’t want a new employee who knows how to sing seductive lyrics to them. When you hit your interviewer with the “come hither” eyes, make sure they know you mean business. On a resume that skill can easily be filed as “persuasive mindset” or “strong communications skills.”

Thus, next time you hear Selena’s new jam, think, “will this song get me hired.” And then immediately answer yourself (it’s okay this one time because I told you so) “Yes. Yes, it will.”

“I’m not too shy to get your coffee, I got no regrets” – Come & Get It (Workforce Remix)