News Outlets Bow Down to more Beyonce controversy

By Chris McPherson

Beyonce has had her fair share of criticism for her song Bow Down, but it feels like this is all just a frequency of publicity stunts for the powerhouse performer lately.

First, she said she was going back in the studio to work on her fifth studio album. Then, there was the announcement of her Super Bowl performance and a lucrative Pepsi endorsement deal. Moving forward to her inauguration performance, the backlash for lip syncing, and then her live performance at a press conference subsequently after. And let’s not forget her heartfelt HBO documentary, Life is But a Dream, that even unleashed a tear from my eyes. Leading us all back to the release of the buzz track Bow Down.

This all seems a bit suspicious for someone like Beyonce, who has done a superb job of keeping herself out of the media’s attention. Yes, there were always reports of her, like her domination of Destiny’s Child, her diva demands, and surrogate accusations, but none of this ever hit mainstream media reports. What is this? PR stunts fired in heavy sequence to build enough steam for her new album? A crack in Bey’s security armor? Or are news outlets getting better at acquiring personal information from her life.

Whatever it is, I’m still a fan. I’m not 100 percent behind Bow Down, but it is a great song to dance to when no one is watching. And as the famous internet star, Glozell said in her review of the song, “is this Rihanna or Nicki Minaj?”

Here is a tribute to Bow Down I made with my friend Daisy on Saturday. Some college students sleep all Saturday, I decided to do something semi-productive. Enjoy!

Projecting Similarities, Ariana Vs. Jessica

By Chris McPherson

In 2013, it can be quite difficult task to maintain a successful career in music, while also maintaining originality. I mean, with centuries upon centuries of music, is there any melody or technique someone can use that is completely new? But it can get quite awkward when two similarities pop up around the same time. I’m talking about the music videos for young singers, Ariana Grande The Way ft. Mac Miller and Jessica Sanchez Tonight ft. Ne Yo.

If you watch both music videos, you’ll notice that they both feature the singers in front of a projector screen. Now this may not be the first time anyone has ever done this in a music video, and it probably won’t be the last time. But both of these music videos were filmed around the same time and premiered within a week of each other. So is this foul play? Did someone steal the idea from another? Or is it a mere coincidence?

Luckily this should be the least of the both girl’s worries. Grande, who got her start in 2010 on Nickelodeon’s Victorious playing the ditzy Cat Valentine, is ready to release her debut album almost two years after signing with Universal Republic Records. Sanchez on the other hand, just catapulted to fame a year ago as the runner up for 11th season of American Idol.

As far as the actual songs go, I can definitely say I side in favor of Grande. Although Sanchez’ Tonight  is a certified club banger, there isn’t much going on here besides a nice beat, a nice song, and a nice feature from Ne Yo. This comes as a suprise given than it was made by superstar production team of Mikkel Storleer Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen, better known as StarGate. These guys are the reasons for Billboard number ones like Rihanna’s Diamonds, Katy Perry’s Firework,  and Wiz Khalifa’s Black and Yellow along with a wide set of more heavy hitters. I would have liked more.

Grande on the other hand decided to delve in her inner R&B princess. A sample of the late Big Pun’s Still Not a Player,  I dub this song a homerun. It sounds familiar while also so new, and her power house voice steals the show. Who knew a little girl from Nickelodeon could belt some sweet notes like that?

All in all, do you think the similarities are too obvious?

Cold Hearted Naya Does it Again

By Chris McPherson

Just when you think Naya Rivera can’t get any better, she knocks another Glee number out of the park. Her rendition of Paula Abdul’s number one hit Cold Hearted was not only amazing, but also seems to fill a void that was missing for a while in the fourth season of Glee.

I have been a dedicated Glee fan since the beginning and have watched the plot, characters, music and show as a whole grow since. It is obvious season four has had its ups and downs after the graduation of a large part of it’s main cast. But when Naya Rivera returned to the show this year, I was reminded of what this show was all about. Yes, Rivera made several appearances in the first have of this season, but it seems like she’s taken over the second half and I have no complaints. The show was beginning to seem like a Glee 2.0 with a Rachel Barry subplot that was not as interesting as I would have hoped it to be. Lea Michelle is an amazing singer, but her voice is so Broadway/Theatre trained that I’ve cringed at her pronunciation of some notes in her solos this season.

Rivera, on the other hand, has been bringing her all. Nutbush City Limits. Girl on Fire. And now, Cold Hearted. Although Abdul’s career was before my time, I have been exposed to her music, and Cold Hearted was one of my favorites. Rivera jazzed up the song by hitting her usual belts with her heavy vocal prowess. Abdul did a great job with this song decades ago, but Rivera stepped it up a few notches from the 1989 single. She can never disappoint when it comes to a big number. Let’s see what more she has this season.

Veronica, Twenty-Four Hours of Twerk

By Chris McPherson

Pop is one of my favorite music genres, but every now and then, a hip hop or R&B tune dramatically grasps my attention and takes over my iPod, a.k.a. my life, then I just can’t get enough. One week, all I could do was rap 2Chainz’ verse to Young Jeezy’s R.I.P.  There are still random moments where I uncontrollably yell, Got a pocket full of dead bread, attached to your girl like a jpeg. Coincidentally, a 2Chainz song has done it again, but this time just his feature to Veronica’s What Happened to Us.

screenshot from video
Screenshot from YouTube video

I didn’t know who Veronica was before her music video popped up on a blog I follow. I was surprised to see her snag a verse from 2Chainz on her song. And with a name that’s solely “Veronica”, searching her can be a rather inundated task. All that I could find was that she may or may not be on Young Money Cash Money Billionaires (YMCMB).

What Happened to Us originally came across as just any other R&B/Hip-Hop debut by another nameless voice that happens to dance seductively to heavily choreographed twerk rhythms. After the first couple of listens, she seemed like a Kelly Rowland reject, which I’m sure many others would perceive her as. As Jessie J is to Katy Perry, and Karmin are to Nicki Minaj, Veronica seemed doomed to live in the shadows of Rowland. The thought of that is quite chuckling, given the fact that Rowland has recently managed to climb from the depths of Queen Bey’s shadow. Would that make Veronica Beyonce’s grand-shadow? Great- shadow? Great grand shadow? Ahh well, moving on…

After almost 24 hours of dozens of on/off listens, I’m hooked to this hood jam. Although I’m a bit turned off by the cliché shower scene of V, the producers and audio engineers for this song did an amazing job of basting her riffs and runs with some down-n-dirty auto tune goodness. Veronica sings Do you love me now?  in the chorus and my body surged with the need to get up and bust a move. And then by the end of the chorus she belts What happened to all the love baby?  where the baby managed to run on for days.

To me, Veronica seems like a product of what a Brandy/ Kelly Rowland hybrid would be. If Brandy’s distinct vocal timbre sat next to Rowland’s attitude and sex appeal on a long bus ride then hopped off the bus as BFFs, it would be called Veronica. It’s been a day since I first heard Veronica, and I hope to see and hear more from her.

Check out the music video and Veronica’s Twitter page @veronicaymcmb

New Artist Alert: Beldina

By Chris McPherson

After a light scan of the blogosphere, today I discovered Beldina. If you troll music blogs daily, you’ll find tons of up-and-coming artists trying to get their music heard. They’ll promote their twitter/facebook page, music on their “official” youtube, and maybe even an Instagram, but personally it takes something special for me to make that click and check an artist out. Beldina managed to do that.

What Can I Say Album Artwork

Beldina just released her new single What Can I Say. A quick google search shows the Swedish singer has been around for a little while: a few songs on Myspace here, a youtube video there, but this new single seems like the beginning of a hard debut for this girl. After a couple plays on repeat I have some mixed feelings toward the single.  By this I don’t mean on whether or not I like it. It’s definitely a solid song, and well-produced. The song uses a diverse array of genres which has me wondering what kind  is to be expected of Ms. Beldina in terms of future music, and dare i say a full length studio album.

The song felt like a mainstream atempt at pop/r&b infused with hip hop. Beldina manages to sing the majority of the song in a soft falsetto coated in a hip hop bass undertone, but somehow supported by some heavy piano keys worked in the middle. There also seems to be some interesting call-outs of a man shouting the title “What Can I Say” throughout the song that felt like a homage to old school 80s rap. All of these different musical elements make it difficult to pinpoint the direction she is headed. Will she use those strong vocals into a pop career like Rihanna, or will she remain in the shadows of R&B like Chrisette Michele. Don’t get me wrong, Michele is a great vocalist, but top 40 is something she’s shied away from. I would say she has the potential to get some radio play in the United States.

I will say it is about time that a African American musician rise from the ashes of the once-chart topping divas of music past. The Ciara’s, Ashanti’s and Keyshia Cole’s cry from the graves of their past success. Don’t get me wrong, those women are/were great in their own right, but they have definitly lost some steam along the way. It was beginning to seem like we were living in a world where only Beyonce and Rihanna could survive as pillars of black songtresses. I was compelled to name Kelly Rowland, but nah.

You can get your own opinion of Beldina at her twitter page @Beldina and her single What Can I Say is below.

The Duff Days Aren’t Over

By Chris McPherson

Disney Channel has done it again. Last night they tugged on my faint memories of an old Disney Channel of the early 2000s. For the past couple of years, Disney Channel has been known to air classic Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOM) around 2 a.m. on weekends, and I was not ready for what they decided to show on Sunday night.

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Usually it’s just another old flick, like the Halloweentown or High School Musical, but Disney went way back and aired Cadet Kelly. How could you Disney Channel? It was way past my bedtime and I could not afford to stay up any later because of my 9 a.m. class. It took me about 15 minutes to find the courage to turn the TV off and get some shut eye.

The hardest part of choosing sleep over Cadet Kelly was missing the chance to take a glimpse into The Ghost of Hilary Duff Past, circa the Lizzie McGuire era. It seems like its been ages since I saw Duff on a Disney Channel screen, and I must say, I miss it.

This all all seems somewhat coincidental since Duff is currently working on a career comeback since giving birth to her first child early last year. If you haven’t been trolling the blogosphere for the up-to-date details on Duff’s next move, no worries, I can fill that void. She will soon guest star on the Fox comedy, Raising Hope. She also just signed a development deal with Fox to produce her own show. And let’s not forget Duff is a woman of many talents. She hasn’t dropped the microphone for good. Hil’s been in and out of the studio for the past year working on new music.

Duff is on her way to the top. She’s managed to do all this while maintaining a relatively private and drama free life, unlike her other teen bopper counterparts.

So Lizzie, Hilary, beloved wife and mother. Do your thing, girl. I’ll be waiting for what you have to offer. In the meantime, I’ll probably search the Internet tonight for an online version of Cadet Kelly.

Also, speaking of Cadet Kelly, has anyone seen or heard from Christy Carlson Romano lately? Apparently she was in the movie as well. But after the end of Even Stevens and Kim Possible, she seems to be kind of off the grid. Where has she been?

The Truth Sinks In, Toni Braxton

By Chris McPherson

For some time now, I’ve tried to act like it didn’t effect. Like I’ve never spent evenings laying on the my living floor listening to Spanish Guitar after popping the CD in the stereo system. Like I don’t want to sway across the room when Breathe Again comes on. Or that Braxton Family Values is not only a show, but a popular search term in my YouTube account. I’m going to miss music from Toni Braxton.

Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic
Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Yes, she recently announced that she won’t be releasing new music, and that she just doesn’t feel the same way about it anymore, but I just feel so cheated, and this feeling has just started to sink in. The songstress that was once making me high, is now making me sad. Toni was an icon for not only people around my mother’s age cough cough – old. But she was a gem of 90s R&B music. And it wasn’t until recently that I went back into the vault of her era that I understood how much of a star she was.

Of course those money issues she ran into a number of times were somewhat embarrassing, but she came back with a dance hit this summer, I Heart You, that went number one on US Hot Dance Club Songs (Billboard). The fact that she wrote and produced such a great song independently without much promotion truly convinced me that she was going to reemerge and let these young gals know she can still deliver. But no. She said bye bye.

This may be a delayed reaction, but I have noticed that it tends to take a while for me to truly understand the gravity of some celebrity news when they occur. In fact, it wasn’t until this past December that Whitney Houston’s death really started to hit me.

The only bright side from all of this is that she is still set to release her eight studio album, Chapter VIII: The Encore of a Gemstone, this year. But after that, she plans to retire from music.

Here’s her first song to reach Billboard number 1.