Song Of The Day: 2/14/12 (Rolling In The Deep)

Today’s song of the day is Adele’s terrific performance of “Rolling In The Deep” from Sunday night’s Grammy Awards. It was great to see her up there on stage tearing it up after having throat surgery only a few months ago to fix an almost career ending vocal cord hemorrhage. It would have been horrible to lose such a talent so early in her career, but fortunately we didn’t and she showed us that she could still wail in this performance. I know that this is Valentine’s Day and I shouldn’t be posting a song about a break up, but this is just how it worked out and it’s important to remember that there are a lot of lonely, broken hearted people out there, that also need love, especially today. So show a little extra love (or a lot!!!) to everyone you meet today even if you don’t know them and maybe you can make someone’s day just a little brighter. Remember “All You Need Is Love”. We all do!!!

 

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Song Of The Day: 2/13/12 (Runaway Baby)

Over the next 5 day’s I will be sharing my 5 favorite performaces from this years Grammys. Today I bring you Bruno Mars’, “Runaway Baby”. He always puts on a great, well polished performance with lots of style and energy. I love how he is very obviously doing an ode to Elvis, one of his idols and a has a quick little James Brown moment too. He really get’s the crowd off of their, as he puts it “rich a$$es” and love the bullhorn part. Such a cool performance!!! Bruno is such a talented guy and he’ll definitely go very far if he keeps at it like he has been the last 2 years. I know it was hard for him to lose all his awards to Adele, but he’ll definitely get them next time because he’s got the goods and this was just Adele’s year. But this is Bruno Mar’s performance. The only video I was able to find of the performance is a little poor in quality, but it does the job. Enjoy.

Grammy Wrap Up

So last night was the 54th Grammy Awards and I have to say it was a great show!!! Lots of great performances, although I could have done without a Chris Brown performance, not to mention two of them and a win for him for best R&B Album. Also Nicki Minaj went way over the top in the most weird and unoriginal way possible. Her performance was a jab at the Catholic Church. Like that hasn’t been done before by Madonna and Lady Gaga. It was just weird for weirds sake. It may have been visually flashy, but was just done for shock value with no real depth or artistic value.

Other than those few negative moments, I can’t really complain with how it went. Some of the great performances of the night, came to you via Bruno Mars, Adele, Jennifer Hudson, Coldplay & Rihanna, Glen Campbell, Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney (twice!!!). All the big winners were deserving. And by winners I mainly mean Adele, because she walked away with just about every major award. She took home 6 awards in total, including the big award of the night, Album of the Year, as I predicted. It was pretty obvious that, that would happen. Also Bon Iver took home the award for Best New Artist, as I also predicted.

LL Cool J was the first host that the Grammys has had in many years and he did a great job. He began the evening leading a group prayer for Whitney Houston. Later in the evening, Jennifer Hudson performed a beautiful and moving tribute to Whitney Houston, as well. The only thing that was really missing from the night was a tribute to Amy Winehouse and the inclusion of Don Cornelius in the tribute montage for those that have passed away in the past year. However it was a very memorable night and of the nominees, the people who most deserved it, won for a change. The Grammys had been kind of losing me in recent years with poor choices for winners and weak overall shows, but they won me back this year. I can’t wait for next year!!! It’s MY Superbowl!!!

P.S. Paul McCartney ended the show with the Abbey Road medley. ending with the song “The End”!!! It doesn’t get any better than that. “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

For a full list of winners go here:

http://www.grammy.com/nominees

The 2012 Grammys Are Coming……

So we are just 3 weeks away from music’s biggest night, (or as I call it, the Superbowl of music) the Grammy Awards!!! To be honest I used to get a lot more excited about them, until they started to try and appeal to a younger audience. This aim to reach out to a younger audience has led to a lot more, less “talented” and less experimental/original artists winning. The Grammys problem is they either go to  too old and obscure with their winners or too young and Pop-py (as of late). For instance, I have nothing against Taylor Swift. I like her quite a bit actually, but her winning Grammy for Album of the Year in 2010 for “Fearless” was a little premature. She just hasn’t matured enough as an artist yet, to have earned a Grammy for Album of the Year. As matter of fact her follow up album “Speak Now” was a much better and more consistent album of ever better crafted songs, but she of course didn’t win for her better album or even get nominate for it, she won for her more popular album and that’s just not right. The Grammys aren’t supposed to be about popularity, it’s supposed to be about the quality of the music. For whatever reason it seems like the Grammys are sticking to this new “younger” format, which is evident in the nominations for Album of the Year, as well as other categories in the past 3 years.

The 2010 nominees for Album of the Year were as follows:

Taylor Swift – Fearless (Winner)

Beyonce – I Am… Sasha Fierce

The Black Eyed Peas – The E.N.D.

Lady Gaga – The Fame

Dave Matthews Band – Big Whiskey & the GrooGrux King (the exception here)

The 2011 nominees were as follows:

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (Winner)

Eminem – Recovery

Lady Antebellum – Need You Now

Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster (just a deluxe version of The Fame with a handful of added songs, that was nominated the year before and lost, but for whatever reason was nominated again)

Katy Perry – Teenage Dream (really Grammys? really?)

And this year’s nominees are as follows:

Adele – 21 (I’m putting my bets on this album to win. Yes it’s popular, but it’s also quality music.)

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Lady Gaga – Born This Way (she will lose again, as she did for the same album two years in a row)

Bruno Mars – Doo Wops And Hooligans

Rihanna – Loud
Whoever wins, wether it’s a deserving artist or not, there are always great albums that get neglected each year, but I guess that’s just the nature of the politics involved within the academy. One thing you can always be sure of with the Grammys is that they always put on an impeccable show, with great and inspired performances by such a wide range of musicians. So far they have announce that Paul McCartney and Coldplay along with Rihanna will perform and “Rumor Has It” that Adele may make her first singing appearance since her throat surgery, that put the temporary breaks on her skyrocketing career. There has not been any more mention of her performing, but I think the big surprise of the night will be her coming out to sing. I think this is especially likely seeing as I’m pretty sure she will walk away with Album of the Year.

Before I conclude this post I would like to make my prediction for Best New Artist. I am almost always spot on with calling the winner in this category.

The nominees for Best New Artist are as follows:

The Band Perry

Bon Iver

J. Cole

Nicki Minaj

Skrillex

I’m going to place my best on Bon Iver winning. We shall see in a few weeks.

Who do you think will win Album of the Year?

Who do you think will win Best New Artist?

The 10 Best Albums Of 2011: The Year Of Good Music, But Not Great Music

Usually I don’t have much trouble compiling my favorite albums of a year, but this year was different. This list was very hard to compile and not because 2011 had too much great music and not because 2011 had all bad music, but because 2011 is what I have dubbed “The year of good music but not great music”. The list is as follows (I think):

1. Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow / Director’s Cut

I put “50 Words For Snow” as #1, mostly out of principle. This is not her best album, but she is such an amazing, brilliant artist that whenever she drops an album (which is very rare……very rare indeed) she deserves to be #1. She is the complete opposite of what one would call a prolific artist. Her first album “The Kick inside” came out in 1978 and in her thirty-three year career she has only put out ten albums, 6 of which came out in the 80’s, peaking with her critically acclaimed and popular masterpiece “Hounds of Love”. In 1993 she released her album “The Red Shoes” and didn’t come out with another album until 2005 called “Ariel”. This is probably my favorite album by her, right up there with “Hounds of Love”. Now something amazing happened in 2011. Kate decided to put out two albums the first one being “Director’s Cut” which is re-imagining’s of a selection of songs from her two albums “The Sensual World” & “The Red Shoes”. I Put “50 Words For Snow” & “Director’s Cut” together as #1 album because it’s an amazing thing to have had Kate Bush put out 2 albums in 1 year, even if one is of re-imagining’s of old songs. These albums belong together somehow. Both albums are pure Kate and if you don’t know what I mean by that and/or you just don’t get her than you probably won’t like these albums, but they are both just as stirring and moving as anything she has ever put out. It’s maybe not so much the albums that are #1, but Kate Bush that is #1.

2. Adele – 21

I put Adele’s album “21” as #2 mostly out of principle also. The album is full of well crafted Pop-Soul tunes dripping with raw emotion. This is a really good album and she has had an amazing year. She did what no one had expected and somehow broke into the mainstream, which is full of almost 100% bubblegum music. Either that or a bunch of ignorant, annoying Hip-Hop music (see Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now”). She broke into the mainstream simply by being herself and singing beautifully. She’s not your average pop star and that could be what has made her so successful. Maybe people are finally tiring of all the bubblegum and ignorance and that’s a good thing. A very good thing.

3. Theophilus London – Timez Are Weird These Days

The eccentrically named Theophilus London is a Brooklyn rapper who was born in Trinidad. His album “Timez Are Weird These Days” is the best debut album I’ve heard in a while and was also most certainly the best and most original Hip-Hop album of the year. But to call it Hip-Hop might simplify it a little too much. Yes he’s predominately a Hip-Hop artists, but he dabbles in Rock, Techno, Reggae etc. He’s what I have dubbed “Alternative Rap” (e.g. A Tribe Called Quest, OutKast, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi etc.) and lord knows we need some kind of alternative to most of the rap out there. And speaking of Kid Cudi, Theophilus actually sounds a bit like Kid Cudi. So if you like the Kid you’ll probably like the London. The album is catchy, original, funky and it’s number 3 on my year end music list. Enjoy.

4. Lenny Kravitz – Black And White America

Now before this album came out, I hadn’t heard anything about it. I didn’t even know Lenny Kravitz was still active as a musician. Well actually I did, but I didn’t think he was doing anything interesting enough to speak of. Sorry Lenny. I’ve always liked and respected Lenny Kravitz, but never expected him to land on one of my top 10 year end music lists. With that said his album “Black And White America” is quite a refreshing surprise. It’s full of 70’s style, chic, Funk-Rock and if you know anything about me, you know I love the Funk. The album is a contemplation of America’s Black and White cultures and how they coexist and the progression of relations between the two races over the past 50 or so years. I read somewhere that “Black And White America” sounds like something that would be in President Obama’s iPod and I have to say that it probably is. You know what else it’s also in my iPod (or in my Spotify app in my iPhone). Looks like myself and Obama might have more in common than our dashing good looks. It’s great to see that Lenny Kravitz not only has a rocking new album, but will also be co-starring in the upcoming “Hunger Games” series. Welcome back Lenny.

5. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire

I first heard Ryan Adams when I started dating Shannon. I have to admit that at first I wasn’t really sold on him or his style, but over the past 2 1/2 years, he’s really grown on me. I started to get into him by asking Shannon to contribute some songs to my music journals and she suggested a few of his songs. My music journals are 2 disc compilations of songs that speak to where I am at that point in my life. Now I wouldn’t call myself a Ryan Adam’s expert, although I have heard a few of his albums, know that he used to be a big drug addict, that he’s really into Metal even though he is more of a Folk singer and that he’s married to Mandy Moore, but the intimate collection of songs on “Ashes & Fire” makes me feel like I know him like an old friend. The album was co-written with Norah Jones and produced by Glyn Johns who worked with The Beatles on “Get Back”. The album is very Bob Dylan-ish, but don’t quote me on that because I’m also not a Dylan expert. “Ashes & Fire” is a quiet, cool, Folksy ride worth going on and from what I’ve heard from Adam’s experts, a return to form after a few questionable albums. It looks like Ryan Adam’s has risen from the ashes and fire.

6. The Throne (Jay-Z & Kanye West) – Watch The Throne

Jay-Z and Kanye West made an album together under the moniker, The Throne? Yep and it was awesome and totally braggadocios or as they have called it, luxury Rap and it is quite luxurious. It’s dripping with different sounds, such as spaceships taking off and monkeys screeching and it samples Otis Redding, which never hurts. It does focus on materialism a bit, discussing such things as how many watches and cars they have, but it’s also contemplative at times about such things as the struggle of succeeding in America as a Black American for example. Jay-Z and Kanye West are two of my favorite rappers and they did not disappoint on “Watch The Throne”. As a matter of fact they surprised me. I know that Kanye West has more of an experimental, conscious side and that Jay-Z is more of a straight down the line rapper and I think that they combined both of those sensibilities very well. “Watch The Throne” is mostly unlike any other Rap album out there and that’s a good thing. When you take 2 of the best rappers alive and put them on the same album together it leaves you pondering who the King of Rap is. Well obviously that title (throne) goes to Jay-Z, but he better watch the throne because Kanye isn’t playing any games. He is the Prince of Rap for sure and he’s looking to Marry Kate AND Ashly. Apparently Kate Middleton isn’t enough for him.

7. Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto

When I heard Coldplay was coming out with a new album, I was needless to say, uber excited. I am a pretty big Coldplay fan. When I heard what the name of the album was, I was, well, confused. When I heard why they named it that, (something about some guy named Mylo playing the xylophone on or with his toes or something……I think) I became even more confused. But once I listened to the album it all made sense. It’s Coldplay doing what they do, making anthem Rock tunes with lots of oohs and aahs thrown in, that can be played on top 40 radio and be sung together by the whole family. The only problem here is that the album didn’t land at number 1 on this list or at least in the top 3 for me, which I was expecting and almost certain that it would. The album is good and some songs are even great, but it’s just not as good as what they’ve done in the past. On previous albums I’ve loved every song. On “Mylo Xyloto” I can’t say that, that was the case. They have like 5 or so really good songs and the rest or, well, not bad. It’s the power of the 5 or so really good songs that carried it so high on to this list. If it wasn’t for those, this album probably wouldn’t have made the cut, which is a shame because like I said, I love Coldplay. They are one of my top 10, all time favorite Rock bands, but that’s for a different post. Maybe I just expect perfection from them all the time and this was good, but not perfection like their other albums. Still it was good enough in a year of “just good” music to land it at number 7.

8. Lupe Fiasco – Lasers

Lupe Fiasco is one of the best and most intelligent rappers out there. On his first 2 albums “Food & Liquor” and “The Cool” he proved that he was not only super talented and “The Coolest”, but he was also very thought provoking and not afraid to speak out about the government and injustices worldwide. Oh and did I mention he’s Muslim, which I think gives him a very unique perspective. It may be his all around originality and desire to speak on touchy subjects in his songs, that his record label had “Lasers” shelved for years. I guess record companies and the powers that be, rather have us listen to mindless music that all sounds the same, than to give us something smart and fresh. When work first began on “Lasers” it was titled “L.U.P.End” and was intended to be his third and final album, because of what I take to be his desire to get out the music industry that he had such a strong distaste for. During the long wait for “L.U.P.End” his fans got so impatient with Lupe’s record label holding back his new album, that they started a petition to have it finally released. The passion of his fans and desire to show record execs must have lit a fire under Lupe because when the album finally came out not only was it as thought provoking as ever and also super catchy, but the title had changed to “Lasers” showing us that he is not done yet and that we are far from the L.U.P.End”.

9. Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi – Rome

Danger Mouse is a very interesting fellow. He has worked with artists from a cross the musical spectrum, from MF Doom, to Cee-Lo Green, to James Mercer of The Shins, now to Italian film composer, Daniele Luppi on a concept album, titled “Rome”. The concept is that it is a soundtrack to a fictional spaghetti western film, starring Jack White of The White Stripes and Norah Jones. Danger Mouse is a very interesting fellow indeed. Listening to the album is kind of like listening to a music box. It’s very quite and beautifully composed. The vocals of Jack White and Norah Jones compliment the whole atmosphere created by the music, perfectly. It’s really unlike any album I’ve ever heard, as it should be, when you’ve mixed in all the aforementioned, very different ingredients and ideas. You know what they say, “When in Rome do as the Romans do” and go check out “Rome”, partner.

10. Mayer Hawthorne – How Do You Do

Mayer Hawthorne is another very interesting fellow. He is an ex Detroit rapper who now sings as if he is some sort of 60’s Soul crooner and looks like none of the above. He looks like an insurance salesman or something. But his music speaks for itself. It’s cool and classic and while his new album “How Do You Do” is not much of a departure from his first album “A Strange Arrangement”, my number 2 favorite album of 2009, it is at least on par with his previous work. He gets slightly in touch with his Rap roots on the song “Can’t Stop” feat. Snoop Doog, although there is no rapping, not even from Snoop, who opts to take the Soul crooner route as well, to quite enjoyable effect. Maybe a big part of why I like Mayer Hawthorne, is because of how different he is and how opposite he is from what you’ld expect him to be, which I always look for and love in an artist and have always strived for in myself. “How Do You Do”? I’m just fine as long as I’m listening to Mayer Hawthorne’s new album. Thank you very much.