Harry Styles Emerges as Rock Star on Solo Debut Album

Harry Styles: Harry Styles

What do you do in your spare time while on hiatus from one of the world’s biggest-selling and most successful boy bands? If you’re Harry Styles you use that time wisely by dropping a debut album so commanding that it makes you an instant rock star. If you disregard preconceived notions concerning boy bands, as well as stop trying to decipher if lyrical subtexts may or may not allude to Taylor Swift, you will hear the emerging talent of an undeniably credible solo artist. Harry Styles effectually straddles the line between do-it-yourself production qualities and cock rock.

Harry Styles won’t stop Directioners from wondering if and when the notorious boy band will reunite, but it certainly affirms Styles has the goods to become a major solo star. It’s also utterly refreshing to hear a young artist embrace the use of organic elements such as strings, guitar, and choir instead of opting for the exhausted generic sounding beat-driven production gimmicks currently permeating the musical landscape. [Read Full Review]

Watch the “Sign of the Times” Music Video:

Lady Gaga Slays the Grammys with David Bowie Tribute

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Lady “Stardust” Gaga gave an inspired tribute to David Bowie with a show-stopping performance. With help from her creative team known as Haus of Gaga and alongside the legendary Nile Rodgers who served as musical director, Gaga delivered a glammed-up chameleonic performance as she belted out a medley chock-full of Bowie classics which included: “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Suffragette City,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Fashion,” “Fame,” “Under Pressure,” “Let’s Dance” and “Heroes.”

Watch Gaga’s unforgettable homage to her musical hero below:

 

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot

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It’s that time of year again when we find ourselves stretched between the realms of the past, present, and future. But before moving forward, it only seems fitting to consider those brilliantly talented souls we lost in 2015.

Sadly, the music world had to say goodbye to: country singer Lynn Anderson, British pop vocalist Cilla Black, soulful songstress Natalie Cole, gospel singer-songwriter-choir director Andraé Crouch, Grand Ole Opry icon Little Jimmy Dickens, Lesley “It’s My Party” Gore, Motörhead leader Lemmy Kilmister, legendary blues singer/guitarist B.B. King, prominent Nashville producer Billy Sherrill, soul legend Percy Sledge, and the inimitable frontman of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, Scott Weiland, just to name a few. They may be gone, but their momentous musical contributions will be eternal.

Although it’s painful to accept those who are no longer with us, a new year allows us to gleam into the future with great eagerness of what is yet to come. This year promises thrilling new releases from David Bowie (January 8), Panic! at the Disco (January 15), Elton John (February 5), Radiohead, The Cult, Green Day, Lady Gaga, Nine Inch Nails, Katy Perry, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gwen Stefani, Rooney, and Lucinda Williams.

So here’s to a new year, new music, and making new memories in 2016.

At the Closing of the Year

2013

As we say goodbye to 2013 with all too fresh memories of Miley Cyrus’ embarrassing raunch, the aural overkill of Lorde’s “Royals,” and the over saturated blandness of Katy Perry still lingering about, we can only look ahead with hope that 2014 will redeem this year’s failures.

The beginning of a new year always seems exhilarating as it promises a fresh start and a renewed faith that things can only get better. Looking into the not so distant future we can expect new releases from U2, a return to alternative pop from Tori Amos (after her last three classical infused releases), Cher’s final farewell and last hurrah (Dressed to Kill Tour), and after an extended absence from live performing, cerebral shit stirrer Lady Gaga returns to the touring scene with her upcoming artRAVE: The ARTPOP Ball Tour.

Although too much time was wasted during the past few months on less than triumphant spectacles and dashed expectations, 2013 managed to deliver some great musical moments including David Bowie’s return with The Next Day, Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, Cher’s first album in 12 years, Closer to the Truth, Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2, Christian Burns’ Simple Modern Answers, Panic! at the Disco’s Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! and of course Lady Gaga’s heady party record ARTPOP. The year’s end also saw masterfully crafted seasonal offerings by Kelly Clarkson, Erasure, and Leona Lewis, all of which brought 2013 to a fitting and timely end.

With fingers crossed and musical palettes cleansed, let’s close out 2013 by taking a beat to remember how music makes us feel as it permanently finds its way into the soundtrack of our lives. As we prepare to leap forward into a new year, let’s hope our high expectations of better days to come are fulfilled in 2014.

Lady Gaga: ARTPOP

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After more than a year of wading knee deep in the hoopla of Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP, the most anticipated album of 2013 has finally arrived. With all the speculation and hyperbole swirling around this release, you may be wondering if Gaga’s endgame was worth the wait. The answer to that question may best be answered by the theatrical pop provocateur herself within her own lyrics “Enigma pop star is fun/It’s not a statement as much as just a move of passion” (“Aura”) and “Lay back and feast as this audio guides you through new and exciting positions” (“G.U.Y.”).

Touted by many as the must have album of 2013, ARTPOP is a multi-genre musical spectrum that boldly infuses EDM, R&B, and rock with joy, rage, and vulnerability. Its true brilliance is discovered only when you fully immerse your mind and ears into the sum of all its parts, which when combined together, take you on a conceptualized journey through Lady Gaga’s world of dance, sex, art, pop, and technology.

Inspired to make the kind of record she’d like to listen to with friends, Gaga’s party opus is raging with mad beats, anthemic choruses, and a phantasmagoric album cover. Although it’s doubtful ARTPOP‘s lyrics will stop global warming or result in world peace, they are cunningly veiled to entice you into contemplating their deeper connotations.

Unpredictably, recurrent collaborator RedOne is only credited here on one track, with the bulk of material composed and co-produced with DJ White Shadow, Madeon, and Zedd. Perhaps RedOne’s input could’ve nixed ARTPOP‘s one and only massive hiccup, “Jewels N’ Drugs” (featuring T.I., Too Short, and Twista). Not only does this bland hip-hop attempt sound like an outtake from The Fame, it also abruptly dampens the album’s vibe and disrupts its otherwise flawless sequential flow, especially as it appears immediately after the dance pop genius of “G.U.Y.” and “Sexxx Dreams,” which sound uncannily like the rebellious teenage love children of Prince and Mariah Carey.

Fortunately, things quickly get back on track with the 1-2-3 punch of the manic “MANiCURE,” which details an obsessive love that can only be sated by a night of hot and lusty sex, followed by the R. Kelly duet “Do What U Want” and climaxing with the transcendent dreaminess of the title track, in which Gaga confesses “The melody that you choose can rescue you.”

During the drug and alcohol penance “Dope” (inspired by the cancellation of the final leg of the Born This Way Ball and originally debuted during her iTunes Festival set as “I Wanna Be With You), Gaga delivers her most honest and vulnerable vocal performance to date while belting out the sparse, emotionally raw ballad, which sounds equally impetuous and remorseful.

Gaga recently described ARTPOP as “reverse Warholian” and “music for music junkies,” which sums up the album quite effectively. With its genre-blurred edges and Spaghetti Western intro, it’s a musically chaotic hodgepodge as unique as the artist herself; edgy, inventive, and multifaceted. Although arguably ostentatious and extreme, there’s no denying ARTPOP is a sexy and seductive, yet quirky slice of pop nirvana that only Lady Gaga could serve up.

The Return of Lady Gaga

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After beginning 2013 underneath a dark cloud ultimately resulting in the cancellation of several tour dates followed by surgery and intensive physical therapy, Lady Gaga has finally arisen looking like she’s vowed to make up for lost time. New details are beginning to emerge on a weekly basis about her forthcoming album ARTPOP, interactive app, new single and music video.

Lady Gaga is set to release new music for the first time in over two years on August 19th. “Applause” will be Mother Monster’s first single from her highly anticipated upcoming multimedia epic, scheduled to drop in November. She recently unveiled the cover art of her soon to be released new single (above) showing the performance artist with mime-like multicolored makeup smeared across whiteface. The lead single is reportedly an upbeat track “full of happiness” and judging from the lyrics teased so far (“I stand here waiting for you to bang the gong/To crash the critic saying is it right or is it wrong/Give me that thing that I love/Put your hands up make ’em touch”), that description sounds accurate.

During a recent interview with Women’s Wear Daily, Gaga confessed “I had broken my hip. Nobody knew, but when we got all the MRIs finished before I went to surgery there were giant craters, a hole in my hip the size of a quarter, and the cartilage was just hanging out the other side. I had a tear on the inside of my joint and a huge breakage. The surgeon told me that if I had done another show I might have needed a full hip replacement. I would have been out at least a year, maybe longer.”

“Applause” will be released simultaneously with an accompanying music video (directed by Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin), followed by its debut live performance at MTV’s Video Music Awards on August 25th.

ARTPOP promises to be an immersive multimedia release, which Gaga describes as “a musical and visual engineering system that combines music, art, fashion and technology.” Co-produced by Gaga with Zedd, DJ White Shadow, Dallas Austin, RedOne, and Fernando Garibay, ARTPOP is scheduled to be released worldwide on November 11th.

Our New Year

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As one year ebbs and a new one begins, it always seems apt to reflect on the bygone before hurling full speed ahead into the future…

Sadly, the music industry mourned the loss of  some legendary and iconic individuals in 2012 including: Whitney Houston, Davy Jones, Earl Scruggs, Dick Clark, Levon Helm, Donna Summer, Robin Gibb, Marvin Hamlisch, and Etta James. It’s always tragic to see such a long list in any given year. Although they are gone, their contributions will be remembered and honored posthumously.

The past year also saw some decidedly notable musical contributions from Tori Amos, Kenny Chesney, Susanna Hoffs, Matthew Perryman Jones, Madonna, Alanis Morissette, and Carrie Underwood, as well as the high octane trilogy delivered with a gutsy 1-2-3 wallop from Green Day.

Now we look ahead to 2013, which promises to deliver some highly anticipated new releases from Panic! at the Disco, David Bowie, CherJosh Groban, Darius Rucker, Stereophonics, Brad Paisley, Depeche Mode, Mariah Carey, Lady Antebellum, Justin Timberlake, Beady Eye, Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, and Lady Gaga.

As we bid adieu to 2012 and to those we lost along the way, at least we can look ahead to 2013 with a renewed spirit and high expectations of good things to come on the musical horizon.