Every Open Eye is CHVRCHES’ second album…and awesome.
Recently, I’ve begun feeling my music taste evolve. I’ve started craving – the only way I can describe it – loud music. Electronic, synth, EDM…whatever, as long as it was loud and carefree. So I’ve been looking for new albums to fill this. I remembered reading about CHVRCHES (which I believe is pronounced “churches”) and their latest album, Every Open Eye, and how it was “insanely good,” so I picked up a copy. As soon as I put the album on, I was happy.
The first track, “Never Ending Circle,” is incredible. It starts off with this “loud” bass/synth thing and vocalized “oh” that just hits the spot. It reminds of eighties Cyndi Lauper and a little bit of Madonna, but infinitely better. “Never Ending Circle” is followed up with “Leave a Trace” which keeps you listening, with a great chorus and hook. At that point, you’re trapped (in a good way) into listening to the rest of the album.
The album is full of – want for a better word – “loudness” while having great moments of tenderness (listen to “Afterglow” to witness Lauren Mayberry’s (lead singer) amazing vocals). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have have to find tickets to the next CHVRCHES’ concert in my area…
A week or so ago (or, perhaps, a month? Time flies…), Taylor Swift posted videos of her performing acoustic versions of “Wildest Dreams” and “Blank Space” at the Grammy Museum. And, they are stunning. The “Wildest Dreams” version is particularly fantastic, the solo guitar with the reverb transforms the song and makes it even more beautiful. The acoustic “Blank Space” reminds us of her country background and reminds us that she hasn’t completely shed her roots.
Check them out below, I seriously recommend the “Wildest Dreams” one.
So, I will admit that recently I’ve had “Good For You (feat. A$AP Rocky)” by Selena Gomez stuck in my head. I think it has some clever lyrics and interesting vocalizations. The more I listen to it, the more I pay attention to Gomez’s vocals, which has got me wondering why she wasn’t nominated for a Grammy for her vocal work.
Revival is Gomez’s second solo studio album, her fifth overall (she has three with her band Selena Gomez & the Scene) and features “Good For You.”
If you forget the fact that it’s Selena Gomez singing and listen to how she sings the song, it’s actually quite substantial for the 2014-2015 music period. She does this soft, murmured vocal that effectively grabs the listener in, in rather a haunting way. This is something that wasn’t done through the year, and it is a huge step outside of Gomez’s past work. While the song as a whole includes influences of hip-hop, R&B, and electric slow jam, it’s her vocals that really create the character and life of the song.
If Gomez sang the song solo (without the feature), I think she could’ve gotten nominated for the Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance. Maybe. Probably. If politics didn’t come into play. However, because she has A$AP Rocky featured on the track, it couldn’t qualify for the solo performance category. It could’ve, on the other hand, been nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, but it never stood a chance with this year’s nominees. When you have five nomination spots in a year of major collaborative hits (e.g. “Uptown Funk,” “See You Again,” “Bad Blood,” etc.), it was obviously going to lessen the odds of “Good For You” being nominated. This has to do with the fact that Gomez’s vocals and A$AP Rocky’s rap don’t meld as fluidly as Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar on “Bad Blood” or Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth on “See You Again.” Both those songs feature two artists from opposite musical worlds coming together to create a unified front. Meanwhile, Gomez and Rocky aren’t necessarily dependent on each other. I think a strong collaboration would require the song’s success to be due to the fact all parties involved hold equal weight in it and elevate the song. If we look back at “Bad Blood” – a song released to radio in both a solo and duo format (the song originally was a Swift-only song before Lamar remixed it and added his verses) – the song was transformed and elevated with the collaboration. Sure, the solo song is strong, but the version with Kendrick Lamar is a completely different animal and is elevated from the original. If you take Lamar out of “Bad Blood” it doesn’t stay the same. However, the Gomez-only and the Gomez-Rocky version of “Good For You” literally sound the same. You could take out the rap or put it in and it wouldn’t help or hurt the integrity of the song. That isn’t a slight against either artist, it’s just how the song is structured.
A month or so ago (time flies, doesn’t it?), there were rumors flying around that Netflix was going to revive the beloved Gilmore Girls like they are with Full House (titled Fuller House). I saw pictures floating around the internet of them recreating the sets, making many of us believe the revival is going forward.
I saw an article on Facebook or Twitter or somewhere that suggested that they would introduce a new love interest for a main character, but the creators wouldn’t said if it was for Lorelai, Rory, Luke, or Emily (since Edward Herrmann has passed before the revival, they’re going make Emily a widow). I have no idea if this is true, but it would be stupid for them to revive the show and not have Luke and Lorelai together. I mean, it literally took them seven years for them to get together (and stay together). So, if the show is revived and Luke and Lorelai and not married or in a committed relationship, then what’s the point?
If this rumor is true, I would think the love interest is for Rory. The show ended with her ending her relationship with her college boyfriend, and now she’d be finishing up her first major reporting job (following Obama’s career from campaigning through his administration). Since she probably was on the road for eight years, it would make sense for the limited series to showcase Rory coming home to Stars Hollow and meeting a new guy.
The only question is, albeit random, will Melissa McCarthy return as Sookie now that she’s the mega-comedy star? I don’t think the show could work without her.
The 2016 Oscar nominations came out today, and it’s all very exciting. I came up with a hypothesis for figuring out the winners before the show, which I’m testing with the Best Actress category.
First, this years nominees:
Cate Blanchett – Carol
Brie Larson – Room
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
In the past few years, the actor who ended up winning the Oscar tended to win the Golden Globe and/or SAG award. I went back and looked at the past winners for the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama and Best Actress in a Comedy, and sure enough the Golden Globe winning actress from either the drama or comedy category ended up winning the Oscar (most often it was the drama category). The only four exceptions were 1981, 1995, 1996, and 2001 where the winner was a nominee in either category but did not win the Golden Globe. Still, this pattern held together for the past fifteen years, which makes me conclude the winner is either going to be Brie Larson (who won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama) or Jennifer Lawrence (who won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy).
Given the fact Larson was nominated for the SAG award and will most likely win it as Lawrence was not nominated, I feel Brie Larson will win the Oscar (which is exciting because I’ve sort of been a fan of hers since the early 2000s…long story). That’s my early prediction based on logic and spotting patterns in the Academy’s voting history. The only movie I saw of the five nominees was Joy, which I thought was fantastic and that Jennifer Lawrence totally deserves the Oscar. I thought she was better in Joy than in Silver Linings Playbook, which she won the Oscar.
Anyway, it’s probably too soon to call it, but I thought it was interesting that the pattern of winners went all the way back to 1980 (it probably went further, but I gave up checking).
Rachel Platten exploded over the summer with her hit song “Fight Song.” After struggling for many years, Platten wrote the song as an ode to never giving up on her dream. Finally that dream was realized when she delivered Wildfire on New Year’s Day, her major label debut album.
Wildfire is Platten’s major label debut album, featuring “Fight Song” and “Stand By You.”
Overall, Wildfire is a very strong debut. With the snappy anthem “Stand By You,” the fiesty “Hey Hey Hallelujah,” and the tender and sweet “Better Place,” the album shows Platten’s great range and ability to draw her listeners in (and keep them…even more important). She brings back visions of Vanessa Carlton with sweet piano melodies while having instances of vocal ability reminiscent of Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, and Kelly Clarson. While most artists these days seem to focus on the negative and the depressing emotions, Platten has a Swift-esque way of delivering her truths in a positive, optimistic way – something that grabs hold and spreads like wildfire. To sum up the whole experience of listening to Wildfire: I didn’t regret my decision to purchase her album.
Highlights from the album include: “Stand By You,” “Hey Hey Hallelujah,” “Beating Me Up,” “Fight Song,” and “Better Place.”
This is not my inner Swiftie shining through, I truly think Swift had the strongest albums of the 2015 season after listing to all nominees. In fact, Billboard reported it as being a “cultural juggernaut,” a term they did not use for any of the other nominees. The fact that it had such a powerful impact in pop culture and is such a sonically strong and cohesive album, it deserves the Grammy. The other nominees are certainly strong contenders, but none of them are “juggernauts” like 1989.
Who Will Win: 1989 – Taylor Swift
There is a chance 1989 will not win simply because Taylor Swift has already won Album of the Year. Only a handful of artists have won this top prize more than once. This seriously isn’t a reason not to vote for her, but politics do come in to play with Grammys…unfortunately. But, I can’t see the Grammys giving this to anyone else as 1989 had such a huge impact on music. Although, we were all surprised last year when Beck won for Morning Phase against Beyoncé’s self-titled album, which many considered the shoo-in.
Who Should Win: “Bad Blood” – Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar
While Florence Welch’s voice in “Ship to Wreck,” like anything she sings, is pure gold, and while “Uptown Funk” and “See You Again” were perhaps the anthems of 2015, “Bad Blood” has the most cohesive collaborative nature to it. The song emits the anger and frustration through Swift’s parts but it is even more enforced by Lamar’s sharp raps and attitude. Swift and Lamar come from two different worlds (the former from the country-pop, the latter from rap/hip hop), and yet they can cohesively make a song together. If you read the collaboration on paper before listening to it, it would look like a joke and like it shouldn’t work. But it fits like a glove.
Who Will Win: “See You Again” – Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth or “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
If we vote based on which song is the biggest, it would be a tie between “See You Again” and “Uptown Funk” (although, I was reading in Billboard that “Uptown Funk” was the number one song of 2015 by a significant margin), so it’s close which one will win. I, again, think “See You Again” will win simply for the fact it’s an ode to the late Paul Walker…I also think it’s this reason why it will win the Golden Globe and get nominated and win the Academy Award. I’m not suggesting it’s not a good song or isn’t deserving of any recognition, it just has that aspect of it to make it shine a little brighter in a group of close nominees.
Last night released her new music video for “Out of the Woods” and it is awesome!
I think it’s the most visually stunning out of all the music videos from 1989, which says a lot because they were all pretty spectacular. I especially like how it visually tells the story of the struggle of the relationship: after the relationship ended (“she lost him”), she had to go through many struggles, as people do, to move on (“she found herself and that…was everything”). She represents the struggles through the many different wilderness/weather problems. Which I total relate to living in through the hell of New England winter.
Also, it was filmed in New Zealand, a place I’ve always sort of wanted to go to. I had a teacher in middle school who once told me the toilets in New Zealand flush in the opposite direction as they do in the U.S. I’m not sure if she was just pulling my leg or being honest, but that was the start of wanting to visit. Since then, I’ve seen pictures and books where you can bike through canyons and valleys and it looks gorgeous. This video just emphasizes the beauty of New Zealand…well…someday I’ll go…hopefully…maybe.
Anyway, do yourself a favor and start of 2016 on the right foot and watch “Out of the Woods” video!
P.S. Happy New Year.
"Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve." – JK Rowling