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?

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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.

New Frank, Same Ocean

By Chris McPherson

Well it’s safe to say that 2013 is the year of Frank. Hot off the tails of releasing a album in the top 10 on Billboard, and winning two Grammys, homeboy is on top of the world.

Courtesy of entertainxthis.wordpress.com
Courtesy of entertainxthis.wordpress.com

Although much of his media buzz stemmed from his coming out story, there is no question that Ocean has the talent to back it all up. Especially in his newly leaked track, Eyes like Sky.

Although this is a leak, it has not been confirmed when this song was recorded. If recorded recently, I would definitely think this is a glimpse into upcoming music to come for Ocean. The guitar strummed song is somewhat of a turn in direction for Ocean as an artist. A musician who has been universally praised for having such a unique musical style, I was a bit surprised at how main stream the song felt.

This could have easily been sung by Usher, Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, or any other male pop/R&B vocalist. I always saw Ocean to be in his own world when it came to his music, but, we all have to make money some how, and radio- friendly music is the fastest way to the bank.

I for one am excited to hear more. I’m a shameless slave to pop and mainstream top 40 music, so sing on Frank, sing on.