New Bohemia

It snowed today.  Well…slushed is more like.  Like, it started out as snow, then it rained, then it froze.  So, when I went to shovel my driveway, it was incredibly hard, heavy, and awful.  I could’ve thrown my shovel down and had a meltdown (which was very likely to happen…I hate the cold and the snow…I really need to move to a warmer climate), instead I turned up “New Bohemia” by Transviolet and moved that snow around.

I discovered “New Bohemia” rather by accident.  I downloaded this free game on my phone which was great except it forces you to watch three  commercials (always the same three) every time you start a new game (I know, annoying).  I usually would ignore the commercials, but there was one that played this song and I really liked the fifteen seconds I heard.  You would not believe how hard it was to figure out what the song was, but after extensive research (more than I am actually proud to admit), I figured out it was “New Bohemia” by Transviolet.  Instantly I bought the song from iTunes.

“New Bohemia” is incredibly catchy, and I love the youthful, care-free nature of it. You could literally put it on repeat and get lost in it for hours and it would never get old.  I’m such an old fart that I usually don’t dance when I hear electronic dance music, but this song really gets me moving (in fact, I’m dancing in my seat as  I write this…it’s also good when biking/exercising).  My point is that if you’re looking for new music that will aid you in your snow shoveling or just to freshen up your playlists, check out Transviolet.

Recipients of Album of the Year

As I’m listening to and studying the nominees for the 2016 Grammys, I’ve started looking at past recipients and how the awards have changed over the years.  For instance, the biggest award of the show, Album of the Year, was originally just given to the main artist, but they expanded it to include the main artist, the featured artist(s), the producer(s), the engineer(s) and/or mixer(s) and the mastering engineer(s).  Basically it’s given to everyone who contributes to the album making process, which I think is great because it recognizes everyone’s work and how it contributed to make the album the best of the year.  I actually think they should do this for the genre categories for best album (e.g. Best Country Album is just given to the main artist and not the whole team).  That being said, Album of the Year recognizes everyone except songwriters.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and the Grammys should include the songwriters in this group.  For instance, Taylor Swift won Album of the Year in 2010 for her second album Fearless .  Liz Rose, Swift’s long time cowriter and collaborator, was not part of this Grammy-winning team despite the fact she cowrite four of the songs on the album with Swift (Rose did win Best Country Song with Swift that year for “White Horse,” a songwriter’s award).  Three of those songs Rose cowrote were three of the five hit singles from the album (“White Horse,” “You Belong with Me,” and “Fearless”), one of which won two Grammys (“White Horse”) and one nominated for three (“You Belong with Me”).  It could be argued that without Liz Rose, Fearless would not have been the album that it was because Swift might not have finished the four songs Rose cowrote, or if she did it would not have been at the level they were at that won her Album of the Year.

Swift and Rose winning Best Country Song for “White Horse”

Colbie Caillat, on the other hand, cowrote one song (“Breathe”) with Swift and provided background vocals, earning her the role of featured artist.  This therefore entitled her to the Album of the Year Grammy despite the fact that she worked on only one song on the album whereas Rose worked on four.

Without the songwriters, the album literally could not be made.  How can you produce, record, sing, or make an album if there is nothing written?  You would have nothing to perform.  And is it really fair to give someone who is only featured in only seconds of one song on the album the biggest award of the music industry just because they’re “featured” and not someone who literally is the root creator of the album?

I realize the Grammys have to draw a line of recipients because obviously it take a lot more people to create and promote an album than who would get the award, but I think songwriters are too important to overlook.  Granted, nowadays a lot of the songwriters are the performer and/or producer, but like Rose, some are solely writers.  You can’t have a great album without great songs, and you can’t have great songs without great songwriters.

Best New Artist – My Predictions

Best New Artist Nominees:

  • Meghan Trainor
  • James Bay
  • Tori Kelly
  • Sam Hunt
  • Courtney Barnett

Who Should Win: Meghan Trainor

I’ve been a Meghan Trainor fan for a couple different reasons.  Yes, she comes from my neck of the woods so I feel a certain kinship to her, but I’m really inspired how she combines elements from different genres into her own to transpire her personality.  She is the only artist this year who really expanded the definition of the all encompassing pop music.  I mean, she added horns, the caribbean kettle drum, acoustic bass, ’50s doo wop, and sass to her album to reimage what we’ve called pop for many years.

I can’t say that Trainor’s album or artistry is the supreme best, but out of all the nominees I feel she rose to a level of defining her genre of music in her own terms.

Who Will Win: I don’t really know.

I know, great prediction.  But this is one category where I seriously have no idea who will win.  Partly because Best New Artist is such a loose category in that your not really judging the artist on one particular song or album or piece of work, your judging them on their whole artistry.  This year, they managed to nominated five incredible artists.  And after listening to all their albums (I’m very proud of myself for doing that…usually I skim through, but I made myself do that…partly out of dedication but also because I was stuck in massive traffic and had nothing else to do…) I could see each one easily winning it.

Where Is Home

If I made a list of music producers I would love to work/learn/intern with, Joel Little would be high on the list.  I can’t say I’ve heard all his productions…I’ve been looking, but it’s slightly hard because a lot of his stuff is New Zealand based and not released (as far as I’m aware) in America.  Regardless, everything I’ve heard so far is absolutely phenomenal.

You may be familiar with Little’s work as he’s the mastermind behind Lorde, having cowritten and produced her album Pure Heroine, her EP The Love Club EP, and her Hunger Games hit “Yellow Flicker Beat.”    From what I have heard, I think his other work is also mind-blowing.  Little also cowrote/produced Broods’ album Evergreen which is just as great as Pure Heroine.  I heard a snippet of the song he did with Sam Smith, which I was impressed with because I wasn’t sure how he would mix his style with Smith’s.  He has a great way of creating beats and this electric energy within his songs that is so different and refreshing.

You can view his list of credits here.

My love of Joel Little’s work has gotten to the point that I know anything he works on is going to be amazing, so when he tweeted out yesterday that a song that he worked on with Elliphant – “Where is Home” – is out, I instantly downloaded it.  And it’s currently on repeat and stuck in my head.

The thing I love about this song is the great beat, bass, and synth work that Little puts in.  It creates a big and full chorus and makes you want to get up and dance around.

It was also ingenious that he (I’m assuming Little came up with this idea, feels like him) added an electric guitar during the second chorus (1:31) which really elevated the chorus.

So, keep your ears peeled for Joel Little.  The guy is a genius.

Record of the Year – My Predictions

Record of the Year Nominees:

  • “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
  • “Blank Space” – Taylor Swift
  • “Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran
  • “Really Love” – D’Angelo And The Vanguard
  • “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd

Who Should Win: “Blank Space” – Taylor Swift

If I were a Grammy voter, I would determine my vote for Record of the Year by looking at the production of the song, the performance, the message, and it’s impact in music and pop culture.  I would see which song left it’s mark and would essentially be remembered in the future.  Essentially which song was embraced the most by listeners (which is why “Shake it Off” should’ve won last year…anyway…).

This year is full of songs that each fulfill those qualities, but my vote goes to “Blank Space” because it has, I would say, the most unique production style and is structured perfectly to transcend the joke.  Also, I think it has the most impact on pop culture because we still refer to it, it’s still on radio, and it’s music video still gets views on YouTube.  Meanwhile, I don’t think I’ve heard “Uptown Funk” for over a year.

 

Who Will Win:  “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd.

Like I said before, this is a close category and I could see most of these nominees winning.  “Can’t Feel My Face” is no different because it features a great bass lines and drum beats that sets it apart, plus I think The Weeknd’s lower register vocals grabs the listener in.  Also, it just fits a pattern I kind of noticed over the past few winners, style wise.

I will say that “Uptown Funk” is a close second to “Can’t Feel My Face” in terms of likelihood of winning…but I felt I should put my money on one song…. I’m 60% “Can’t Feel My Face” and 40% “Uptown Funk.”

 

Jennifer Lawrence Will Make You Smile

If you’re having a long day, are stressed out, or just tired, watch the clips below.  They’re various recent interviews with Jennifer Lawrence and she just makes you laugh.  When I was studying for finals or exams, I (as well as a lot of people I went to school with) would take like a fifteen minute study break just search on YouTube “Jennifer Lawrence funny moments.” She’s just a down to earth person and she doesn’t take herself seriously.

Anyway, I saw these clips and they made me laugh…thought I’d share the wealth.

Best Pop Solo Performance – Predictions

Best Pop Solo Performance Nominees:

  • “Heartbeat Song” – Kelly Clarkson
  • “Blank Space” – Taylor Swift
  • “Love Me Like You Do” – Ellie Goulding
  • “Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran
  • “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd

Who Should Win: “Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran

Performance categories are always hard for me because each artist has a different singing style, so you can’t judge based on their vocal quality.  I mean, if you put Adele in the category (I know she’s not this year, but next year…) she’d win because Adele could sing my grocery list and it’d be flawless.  Therefore, I’d have to judge this based on which performance grabbed me in the most and had struck me the most, and Ed Sheeran did that.  He doesn’t hold back and really grabs the listener into his song. When he sings on this track, it feels like time stands still.


Who Will Probably Win: “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd

I feel like I’m going to write this a lot, but any one of these nominees could win.  They each have very emotive performances, so it probably will come down to politics…

Still, The Weeknd, does have an exceptional vocal performance on “Can’t Feel My Face.”  I personally enjoy when he sings in his lower register.  Still, I’d prefer to see Ed Sheeran win because he does this vocal thing in the last chorus that feels more real than The Weeknd’s performance.  But, again, it’s a gut feeling…

Song of the Year – Predictions

Song of the Year Nominees:

  • “Blank Space” by Max Martin, Shellback, and Taylor Swift (Taylor Swift, artist)
  • “See You Again” by DJ Frank E, Charlie Puth, Wiz Khalifa, and Andrew Cedar (Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, artists)
  • “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran and Amy Wadge (Ed Sheeran, artist)
  • “Girl Crush” by Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey, and Liz Rose (Little Big Town, artist)
  • “Alright” by Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Anthony Spears, and Pharrell Williams, songwriters (Kendrick Lamar, artist)

Should Win: “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran and Amy Wadge (Ed Sheeran, artist)

While all the nominees this year are very strong contenders and each could easily win the Grammy as each made their mark in the 2014-2015 period, “Thinking Out Loud” is by far the most timeless song.  Whether you listen to it in the car tomorrow on the way to work or in fifty years while you watch your grandchildren grow up, “Thinking Out Loud” will always be relevant.  The magic behind it is that it draws you in and makes you feel something in your heart.  Whether you’re in love or not, it makes feel the warmth and passion that is Sheeran’s love.

Will Probably Win: “See You Again” by DJ Frank E, Charlie Puth, Wiz Khalifa, and Andrew Cedar (Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, artists)

I just got a gut feeling on this one.  As much as I think Sheeran deserves this Grammy and I would love to see Swift up there (specifically because she successfully utilized satire in “Blank Space” while crafting a ingenious pop song),  I feel like the fact “See You Again” was a tribute to Paul Walker will lead it to victory.

But, as I said, it’s really close and I wouldn’t be shocked to see any one of these songs winning.

On a random but fun note, Liz Rose, a cowriter of “Girl Crush,” was a long time cowriter with Swift.  They wrote the majority of Swift’s first album together.  They were nominated together for “You Belong with Me” in 2010 for Song of the Year and the won the Grammy for Best Country Song for “White Horse” that year.  Funny how they’re nominated against each other this year.

My Predictions

I decided this year I’m really going to do my best and listen to all the nominees in the eighty-three categories for the 2016 Grammys and make make my decision of who should win and who will probably win.

I’m not actually sure if I will have the time or the mental will power to get through all those categories…even the most devout audiophile have their limits.  But, I decided that in forthcoming posts I will analyze the nominees of a category after I listened to all of them and detail who I believe who should win and who will probably win.  Kind of like what I did last year, but in more detail and depth.

Wish me luck!

Grammy Nominations Are Finally Here!

A couple days ago the 2016 Grammy nominations came out!  I realize I’m a little behind here, but I’ve been rather busy…Anyway, the reason I get so excited for the Grammys is because it’s a celebration of music.  I mean, even if your favorite artist, album, or song doesn’t get nominated, at least there is a show embraces the value of music and celebrates the fact that every year music is made and shared with people.

This year, I wasn’t disappointed with the nominations.  I was practically bouncing off the walls with all of Taylor Swift’s nomination (including her third nomination for Album of the Year (and hopefully her second win)).  I would also like to mention that she was nominated for the first time in the Best Music Video category (for “Bad Blood”)…something I previously mentioned could and should happen…

I was very pleased they nominated Cam for “Burning House,” although I thought it also deserved a Best Country Song nod.  I was even pleased to see Elle King get nominated for “Ex’s & Oh’s,” which is such a great song.  However, I think Meghan Trainors Title did deserve a nom for Best Pop Vocal Album (she did get nominated for Best New Artist) and Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” deserved some sort of recognition.

Once I sink my teeth into the nominated albums and songs (I’ll admit I’m not familiar with all the nominees in the eighty-three categories), I’ll post my predictions.

Let the countdown begin to Feb. 15th!