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.
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.
My junior year I decided to take a graphic design class. I was late all the time. It was my first time living on a different part of campus and I couldn’t rely on waking up for class 10 minutes before start time and expect to get there right on time.
Every Monday and Wednesday I rushed to class, walking swiftly- well as swiftly as I could. One thing I couldn’t do was walk to class without a pair of headphones to amp up my walk a bit.
I can’t remember what playlist I listened to at that time, but I remember now song I always listened to every day was Cupid’s Got a Gun by R&B singer, Shanell. The song also featured a rap verse by Nicki Minaj. I’m pretty sure I listened to that song every time I walked to class.
Shannel sang “He told me love was pain.”
More than two years later and I’m now in grad school working on news story about bioscience summer camps in Rochester for my public relations internship. My iPod is on shuffle, and Cupid comes on. I don’t think I’ve heard the song since my junior year, I guess I lost interest a long the way.
It brought back to my mind then. When that song was an everyday thing for me. I was 19 going on 20. I barely knew what I wanted to do with my life. I’ve had so many experiences since then. Some great, some egregious. But I’m just glad, I can look back and know that I’ve grown past who I was back then. Yes, I still have the tendency to run into a room five to ten minutes later than scheduled time, but some things never really change.
By Chris McPherson
Yes, it’s been a while since 2012, but I recently had to provide my three favorite songs of 2012 for an internship application and it really got me thinking about my music interests. i figured I’d share my top 3.
Rita Ora had an interesting debut in 2012, with the Rihanna comparisons, How We Do’s highly anticipated, and yet moderate success, and let’s not forget her debut album’s lack of release in the United States. With all of this, Radioactive was a gem on her album, Ora. It’s only right that music genius,Sia, co wrote this song, because it puts me on top of the world when it pounds through my headphones. The line Palms to the sky was my anthem near the end of summer 2012. Despite the fact that it was never released in the U.S. and barely promoted in the UK, this song’s potential will forever light up 2012 for me.
Rihanna made the world dance in 2010 and 2011. We were all relieved that she seemed to be in a better place after dark and gritty, Rated R. But I loved Diamonds because it reminded me that Rihanna has a way of truly pulling in her audience. Yes, We Found Love had me bouncing up and down in the club, but Diamonds meant something more than a nice beat and breathy vocals. Regardless of her relationship status this week, next week, or next month, those lyrics were rock solid emotion. RihGold.
To me, Beez in the Trap wasn’t just a homage to the hypothetical life of a successful and equally ambitious drug trafficker, it was hip hop gold. Crossover appeal for mainstream artists is one of the most coveted things in the pop world, so for Nicki Minaj to release a song like this right after she sang Starships were meant to fly was impressive in my book.
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!
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?
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.
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 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
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.
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?
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
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.
By Chris McPherson
Demi. Demi. Demi. Just a couple years ago, she was singing This Is Me on the Disney Channel screen, all while juggling releasing her first album and her own sitcom.
Photo Credit: Demi Lovato Album Artwork
But in her new release of Heart Attack, Demi has truly shown the world that she has grown past the Disney umbrella. Although she is still with Disney owned, Hollywood Records, Demi conveys a certain level of maturity in this new single.
In my opinion, Demi’s vocal chops were always on point. I would say she’s one of the best vocalist to walk through the Mickey Mouse franchise, but she was often overshadowed by the glory of Miley Cyrus, or the wholesome (ex-bestie) Selena Gomez. I wasn’t thought Demi was a little underrated. And after leaving her Disney sitcom behind, I thought this would last forever.
But Heart Attack can truly be the beginning of a breakout album. Yes, Give Your Heart a Break and Skyscraper were chart toppers, but Heart Attack soared to number one on iTunes in hours. She’s coming back with a vengeance, as well as a little steam gained form her stint on The X Factor.
This could be the beginning of a good thing for Lovato, but lets see if she can capitalize on this success and make it last.
Click below to listen and make your own opinion.