All posts by Phillip

A Swift Hiatus

For the past ten years, Taylor Swift has released an album like clockwork, every two years.  So, we were sure October 2016 we would see her sixth studio album.

And then we didn’t.

Then she performed on some Super Bowl pre-show thing (I don’t really follow such events), where she performed “Better Man,” a song she wrote for Little Big Town, for the first time.  When I heard Little Big Town’s performance, while Swift wasn’t singing in the recording, I could hear her because of her strong songwriting style.  So, needless to say, I was super excited to see that performance.

It was also at this show where she apparently stated that this show was probably her only one for 2017, and that the people in the audience was at 100% of her tour.

Before we get sad, I have a theory.

Whenever Swift releases an album, it’s usually towards the end of the year and she doesn’t tour or perform in the year the album was released – the tour tends to be the year after.  So, for instance, 1989 was released October 2014, and her associated performances all occurred in 2015.  So, if she releases an album October 2017 – which I sincerely hope she does, and it sounds like she’s making one – then her tour wouldn’t occur until 2018.

An absence of a tour does not mean an absence of an album.

Swifties, there’s still hope!

Most Listened Song

So I was updating my phone there other day, and I noticed you can sort the songs on your phone on iTunes by how many listens, thereby showing which song you listened to the most.  Interestingly enough, the song I listened to the most was “Hold Me Down” by Halsey.

I was rather surprised by this because I wouldn’t say this is my “favorite” song – I mean, it would be on a list of songs I really like, but it wouldn’t be my all time favorite.  I will say, though, the song has one of my favorite lyrics: “throw me in the deep end and watch me drown.”  There’s something about that line that I find rather powerful.

I encourage you to sort your music on iTunes and see your listening patterns/habits.  It’s rather interesting, it kind of tells you what mood you’re in.  When I first started #PhillipsSongOfTheDay – something that has sort of died out (I’ve gotten busier) – I would choose one song a day, and keep a record of it on my phone (then on this blog).  Looking through the list was interesting because I could see my emotional journey or, less cringe-worthy, how my emotions fluctuated over the months.

Best New Artist 2017

With this year’s nominations for Best New Artist I was pleasantly surprised with Kelsea Ballerini’s nomination and the Chainsmokers, but was rather disappointed that Cam didn’t get nominated.  I find the Chainsmoker’s nomination rather intriguing because they never actually released a full-length album…

Anyway, the nominees are:

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • The Chainsmokers
  • Chance the Rapper
  • Maren Morris
  • Anderson .Paak

Who Should Win: The Chainsmokers

The Chainsmokers have come a long way since “#Selfie” with hit songs “Don’t Let Me Down (feat. Daya)” and “Closer (feat. Halsey).”  Their work has been rather refreshing and 2016 was really their year, so I’d say they deserve the Grammy.

Who Will Win: I have no idea

I really don’t know who could win, they seem so even.  If I had to choose, I’d guess the Chainsmokers, but for some reason I have a gut feeling Anderson .Paak may win…I’m not really good at guessing this category.

Record of the Year 2017

The nominees for Record of the Year are:

  • “Hello” by Adele
  • “Formation” by Beyoncé
  • “7 Years” by Lukas Graham
  • “Work” by Rihanna feat. Drake
  • “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots

Who Should Win: “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots

I would be totally fine with Beyoncé, Adele, or Twenty One Pilots winning Record of the Year, but as a fake Grammy voter I cast my ballot for “Stressed Out” because find the instrumentation of it great – the synthesis string work is a real ear-grabber, and the rapped verses and sung chorus really work.

Who Will Win: “Hello” by Adele

Again, I predict Adele will win all her nominations simply because she doesn’t typically lose.  But, hey, “Hello” is an incredible record.

Album of the Year 2017

2016 was a great year for albums – we got new Adele music (finally!), Beyoncé brought us the glorious Lemonade, and so much more.

The nominees for Album of the Year:

  • 25 – Adele
  • Lemonade – Beyoncé
  • Purpose – Justin Bieber
  • View – Drake
  • A Sailor’s Guide to Earth  – Sturgill Simpson

Who Should Win: Lemonade by Beyoncé

It feels like every time Beyoncé drops an album, it becomes a critically acclaimed masterpiece, and she gets nominated for Album of the Year.  This certainly was the case fore I Am…Sasha Fierce, Beyoncé, and now for Lemonade.  And yet, she has never won.  Indeed, after her loss in 2015 to Beck’s Morning Phase, a lot of people  were upset (granted, Beck has been around in the indie rock scene for a while, so his win isn’t totally random).  However, with Lemonade, Beyoncé steps up her game and provides a whole visual experience.

Who Will Win: Probably 25 by Adele

I would not be surprised if Beyonce did win, but I feel like the Grammy’s tend to favor Adele, which technically isn’t wrong – 25 did break records (it sold over 3 million copies in one week, has sold over 10 million copies to date, etc.), and it is a solid album that discusses Adele’s next chapter in her life.

Song of the Year Prediction

Song of the Year is perhaps one of my favorite categories at the Grammys because they honor the songwriter.  Far too often, songwriters are not credited fairly for their work, which doesn’t make sense as there would be no song if it weren’t for the songwriter.

This year, the nominees are:

  • Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan, Beyoncé Knowles, and Michael L. Williams II for “Formation” by Beyoncé.
  • Adele Adkins and Greg Kurstin for “Hello” by Adele
  • Mike Posner for “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” by Mike Posner
  • Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin, and Ed Sheeran for “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber
  • Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard, and Morten Ristorp for “7 Years” by Lukas Graham

Who Should Win: Mike Posner for “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” by Mike Posner

The original version of “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” is incredibly beautiful.  It has the timeless sound to it, grabs at your heart, and you truly feel Posner’s pain.  Out of all the nominees, Posner crafted a world that his listeners travel into, and leave feeling feeling his emptiness and loneliness.  Yes, it’s not a fun experience, but it’s one that leaves me with goosebumps every time.

Who Will Win: Adele Adkins and Greg Kurstin for “Hello” by Adele

It’s not that I think Adele doesn’t deserve to win the Grammy – “Hello” is indeed a gorgeous song – I simply think “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” captured Posner’s pain a bit better.  However, out of these songs nominated, I believe “Hello” was the biggest of 2016.  Adele dominated the charts, and she is indeed incredibly talented.  She has a Grammy-winning streak – she’s won every Grammy she has won since she released 21 in 2011.  So, it seems inevitable that she will win again.

Grammy Predictions 2017

It’s that time of year – we’re one month-ish away from the Grammys, so as usual, I thought I’d share my predictions of who should and who will win throughout the month.  I like to pretend I’m a Grammy voter – which, I’ve been repeatedly told I don’t “qualify” for – and select who I would vote for.  Obviously I can’t go through each category – there are eighty-four categories – so I’ll probably just hit the bigger categories.  Grammy voters don’t vote for every category – they vote for the top four, and then I think they vote within their specified genre.  Anyway…

I Don’t Wanna Live Forever

Recently, Taylor Swift released “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” with Zayn (originally from One Direction) for the new Fifty Shades movie, and while I’m excited for the prospect of new T. Swift music, I find Zayn’s feature…intriguing (to put it nicely).  This is because I dislike when male singers go into their falsetto voice.  It’s not necessary and it’s rather irritating.  Right from the beginning, Zayn sings in a high register – if it was going to be that high, why wouldn’t Swift just sing it.  To me, singing in a lower register and hitting lower notes can be more authentic and natural – using falsetto sounds almost fake (which, depending on who you talk to, is).

Now, I’m not suggesting Zayn’s performance is bad or anything – he does have a nice voice, singing that high for a guy is a gift – I would have just arranged the song different if I were the producer. I would have probably had Zayn sing in a lower register and have Swift sing the major part of the chorus.

If you don’t listen too closely to the song, it’s not bad, but I think overall it could’ve been a bit better.

Parks and Rec

I know Parks and Recreation has been over for a while, but I just started watching it on Netflix and I’m hooked – I don’t know why I didn’t watch it when it was originally being aired (although, it’s kind of great watching a show that has ended because you can binge the whole season and not have to wait months for the new season, or a week for the next episode).

For those unfamiliar, the show stars Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, an ambitious woman working in the Parks Department of Pawnee, Indiana, and it chronicles her (mis)adventures of her trying to make the best Pawnee possible.

The thing I really like about the show is that they did a great job making the fake city of Pawnee seem real and making it a cross platform experience.  You don’t just watch the show, you live it. For example, there’s an episode where Leslie writes and publishes a book on Pawnee, and they made it an actual book you can purchase and read – yes, they actually made up the historical background of a fake city.  Most shows would just make a prop book for the episode with blank pages, but Parks went above and beyond.

When Leslie runs for office, they naturally created her website.  But, they went further and created websites for such minor things.  Aziz Ansari’s character, Tom, starts many different businesses throughout the show, and they created websites for all of them. There’s even one episode where Leslie online dates (the service she used was made up for the show), and they made a website for that made-up service. There’s also an episode where Chris Pratt’s character writes a song for Leslie’s rally and he gets the whole cast to sing it…and they actually recorded it (see below).

I think it’s this dedication to bringing alive all the small details of the show made Parks so successful and create the cult following it still seems to have.  I do have to say that I wish Mouse Rat actually released an album.