The Struggle: Waiting For New Music

What happened to the days of yore where you got a new album every year?

Album Collection

Album Collection (Photo credit: maddenman2000)

Maybe that’s still the case for Rihanna fans and the like, but not for me. I’m lucky to even get an album every 3 years. So I spend my time patrolling message boards and searching Google news and refreshing singer’s/producer’s/songwriter’s twitter feeds for new updates (Sad existence, I know).

That’s easy with, say LeAnn Rimes, who tweets regularly, but not with Christina Aguilera, who keeps her Twitter pretty much for The Voice (except for recently, with the advent of  “Your Body” – the single and video from her new album coming soon – plus the new album cover shoot… and the song itself leaked yesterday! So there’s some solace!).

I’m also a student, so at least real life takes up time until my favorites release new music… But really, the wait isn’t that long and it’s usually worth it.

The Best Music Videos, Part I

I did a twopart post on the best award show performances, I figure music videos would be a good next step:

Christina Aguilera – “Candyman”

3 Christina’s are better than one. Plus, the campy feel of this video in retro Technicolor really hits at the 20’s 30’s and 40’s vibe Christina was getting at with Back to Basics, the album that has this Andrews Sisters-sampling gem:


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Really Good, Super Dope Award Show Performances, Part 2

The first part was getting a little lengthy, so here’s parte dos! This time, featuring the not-so usual picks for top award show performances:

Janet Jackson’s tribute to Michael at the 2009 VMAs

Sure the Jackson’s might be showing their true colors now, but I believe they really do love each other. Especially Janet and Mike. You can see she danced a little harder knowing this performance was in MJ’s memory. Plus, Beyoncé’s reaction at 1:34 is priceless:

The best part: When Janet dances in sync with Michael at the dance break at 2:42.

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Really Good, Super Dope Award Show Performances, Part I

Earlier, I made a post about why award show performances aren’t as good as they used to be. Well, I’m going to take that a step further and list a few of the award show performances I’ve seen in recent years that have made me think “Now that is a good performance!”

Lady Gaga opening the 2009 VMAs

Before she was trying too hard with the blasphemous religious imagery, Lady Gaga was still a relatively normal pop star with the usual extravagant performances.

The best part: Can you really forget the manic piano playing at 3:20 that led to her horrifically dropping the mic and the (fake) blood on her eye at 4:07? Neither can I.

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Now I Think I’m A Rita Ora Fan

I really need to start paying more attention to much-hyped artists.

Since I’m doing some work contributing for The Jewel Wicker Show, I’m voluntarily exposing myself to music I wouldn’t normally listen to.

Along the way I listened to Rita Ora’s new single “Roc The Life”. While that’s a good song, her first single “R.I.P.” is insane. I can’t stop listening to it.

I need to get over the “I don’t get the hype” thing and just give new talent a listen.

Still not feeling Lama De Roy Lana Del Rey though. I tried her and I don’t quite get it. Oh well!

Stan Wars

First off, I hate the term “stan”. When you think of its original meaning and how extreme it is from the term “fan” (which is short for fanatic, mind you) , it’s just ridiculous.  You actually don’t have to look any further than the Eminem song (or the live performance with Elton John, whichever you prefer) to get the idea of what a real stan looks like. But like most terms in this age, “stan” has become a general term for hard-core fans.

Which brings me to “stan wars”. Particularly in the pop music community, there seems to be an unwritten rule that if you like one artist, it’s completely unacceptable to like another, let alone stan for them. Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera come to mind, in my own experiences in being a fan of both. For the record, I’ve been a fan of Xtina since the “Reflection” video and The New Mickey Mouse Club reruns on Disney Channel. I haven’t stopped since (even the Bionic era didn’t phase me. Hashtag-true-stan) . I became a Gaga fan when I gave her a listen after I got tired of hearing  all the buzz about her. Once I heard The Fame, I was hooked. I even went to see The Monster Ball (wrote a review too!). The Fame Monster was cool too, until the “Alejandro” video. She got too extreme and (unnecessarily complex) for me, so I quit her.

My fandom history aside, Christina fans seem to think that you can’t stan for X and like Gaga at the same time, if only because they hold that Gaga and her team was at least partly behind the failure of Bionic. As plausible as that may (kind of) sound, I don’t have time for entertainment industry conspiracy theories.

On another note, Christina fans (in general) also seem to feel the same way about Beyoncé. I like them both. As a matter of fact, in the BeyHive I’d consider myself a HoneyBey. But to sit here and take ‘stanning’ so seriously is ridiculous*. In the words of Christina Aguilera herself, “There is room for all of us on everyone’s iPods.”

*Stanning can be entertaining though, like the website Stan-Wars.com and, my favorite, their Stan Dictionary and its subentries.  

Award show performances: Not like they used to be

Watching the Billboard Music Awards last Sunday was a mildly enjoyable experience. Actually, it was the most entertainment I’ve gotten from an award show in a long time considering none of my favorites (music-wise being LeAnn Rimes, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, and certainly not Christian-pop singers Beckah Shae, Britt Nicole, and Rachael Lampa) made appearances. But in the process, I’ve realized award show performances aren’t what they used to be.

Award show performances are always crafted and calculated with an agenda so that you’re talking about the show in one way or another the next day, but all music performances have tons of thought and creativity put into them…maybe I shouldn’t say all…

I won’t bother talking about lip synching because that happens. It’s just apart of this modern era of music performances. Britney Spears is (in?)famous for it, but I’m betting you can name at least one performance of hers that was memorable despite her miming.

Now they just say “Katy Perry (or whichever interchangeable pop star of the moment) will have a performance everyone will be talking about” just to make you tune in. And then you watch, see some bad lip synching or quavery live singing and you’re left thinking, “That’s it? That’s what ‘everyone’ will be talking about?!” and a disgruntled look on your face (at least that’s what happens to me).

Regardless, the three hours spent watching the BBMAs (and missing the second episode of The Next Food Network Star) wasn’t a complete waste. I had some good Twitter convo with followers and fellow viewers, got some retweets, and more followers (and my Klout score went up a point! If anyone even pays that much attention). But above all, I got a mention by one of my journalistic inspirations – Ms. Hoda Kotb, thanks to an annoying Carly Rae Jepsen performance.

Next thing you know I could be a paid intern in NYC for the 4th hour of Today.

Compared to the Backstreet Boys, One Direction can’t compete

Similar to what started the original boy band craze, the British invasion of  bands like One Direction and The Wanted (but let’s be real, it’s mostly One Direction) have teeny bopper girls stateside going insane. It’s like Disney Channel stars 2.0 and times 1,000. Even people my age are getting into these guys. But not me.

This new era of boy bands is seriously lacking.

Back in my day (“my day” being the bubblegum pop explosion of the late ’90s/early 2000s), the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC was where it was at. And while I was a fan of both, the talent of BSB surpassed that of *NSYNC. (Be honest, looking back *NSYNC was clearly a vehicle for Justin Timberlake to breakout on his own as a solo superstar, much like Destiny’s Child was for a certain Beyoncé, but I digress…) I mean Nick, A.J., Howie, Kevin and Brian could all sing lead. Sure, Nick and Brian (and to a lesser degree A.J.) got  most of the leads, but all those boys could harmonize and sing well on their own.

I don’t think One Directioners can say the same for their beloved band – at least not to the same degree.

But I will give them credit: the level of cheesiness isn’t the same since they don’t all dress alike and frost their hair.

Friday "Fun fun fun fun…"

I was wondering if this was a joke or not, but I guess not. Turns out Rebecca Black was serious, since the 13-year old Ark Music Factory artist is an aspiring entertainer (although she got mostly negative reviews…). In spite of the heavy auto-tune assist, Black has over 2 million YouTube views, so it can’t be  that bad…not to mention she has the entire Twitterverse talking about her.

Check it out for yourself below. Honestly, I’m finding it pretttty catchyyyyy….

Christina & the National Anthem…

Ever since 1999, I’ve been a Christina Aguilera fan. In all those years, I’ve noticed a lot of unfairness towards her, especially in the past year, that are unwarranted. To top it off, people are speaking hatefully about my girl’s performance of the National Anthem at SuperBowl XLV. For those who don’t know, she mistakenly repeated and flubbed a line of the song. Most didn’t notice it, but “the media” (as much as I despise that term) and a number of hateful individuals made a point to make her honest mistake known – so much so that Christina issued an apology to the Associated Press, saying “I can only hope that everyone could feel my love for this country and that the true spirit of its anthem still came through.” I certainly think it did (she had a footballer crying at 1:37), but see for yourself:

(It’s at the 0:51 mark, if you must know.)

The hatred blew up the blogosphere so much EW.com’s Tanner Stransky called for forgiveness: “Can we all take a minute and just calm down please? I’m not condoning what happened — Aguilera messed up part of the ever-important national anthem, switching out the line “O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming” with her own creation of “What so proudly we watched, at the twilight’s last gleaming” — but it was just that: a simple mistake. She didn’t hurt anyone. The world is still spinning.”

If you don’t like Christina’s singing style, fine. I get that. But I’m sure the mistake she made was genuinely due to being thrown off. Claude Kelly (a producer she’s worked with on Bionic – don’t make any comments about it’s sales either…) put it well in a post from his Tumblr blog: “Singing live and a capella at the Superbowl is about as hard as it gets…for even the most seasoned performer. Acoustics are a huge issue. in a stadium that big, sound has to travel much farther than it does when your singing the anthem at your local little league game. This means, you are hearing the echo of your voice several seconds after you actually sing it. which is not normal. its very easy to lose your place, your tempo, and your pitch.”

Christina’s had a tough 2010 – professionally and personally, but let’s not forget her film debut, Burlesque, is doing well an international box offices, and she’s going to be performing at the GRAMMYs in a tribute to Aretha Franklin, which could be “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”,  part two.

My girl is down for a minute, but not out. So stop whining.

Image: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.com