Colour Offensive’s 21 Top Songs of 2014 [From 21-11]

Lets call a spade a spade here. 2014 was a terrible year for music. After 2013 which saw Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Drake, Jay Z, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West all release new albums along with Beyonce’s surprise album at the end of 2013, I think I was spolit for choice musically last year.

Sadly the same cannot be said for 2014. What with the entire focus of music being on ‘who is next to release a surprise album?’ along with claims of ‘OMG she is totally culturally appropriating in her video!’ and most annoyingly the exhausted debate of who and what makes a true feminist in music, 2014 has failed to deliver even ONE good album in a year that showed so much promise.

However, just because the year didn’t ring in any good albums thats not to say it didn’t give us some great songs. So just like last year I am going to list down my 21 Top songs of 2014 for y’all to agree/disagree or not even care about. See, fun for the whole family!

21. Mariah Carey ft Wale ‘Don’t Know What To Do’

After a broken arm, several delays of her latest album, questions about whether she can actually sing anymore and her marriage breakdown it is fair to say 2014 hasn’t been the kindest of years to the superstar. When the album was released it was welcomed with lukewarm sales adding insult to injury which is unfortunate because with all that being said the album wasn’t that bad. Did it have a ‘We Belong Together’ or a ‘Shake it Off’? No. But it did have ‘Don’t Know What To Do’ where Mariah Carey finally explored the genre of disco she annoyingly never explores. The song is fun, breezy and Wale pays homage to the famous line ‘Me and Mariah go back like babies with pacifiers’ originally said by ODB on the remix to Fantasy. Whats not to love about that?
After all these years in the game and numerous comebacks one thing is for sure- even at her worst Mariah can deliver a great pop song.

20. Robin Thicke ‘Get Her Back’

What a difference a year makes. Last year Robin Thicke was enjoying a career high with his song ‘Blurred Lines’ topping the charts all across the world and experiencing new levels of success almost a decade into his career. Fast forward a year, include Miley Cyrus grinding up on him on stage at the VMAs, accusations that ‘Blurred Lines’ actually promotes rape culture and a few questionable photos online and we have Robin Thicke a broken man trying to win back his wife Paula after she filed for separation.
In a bid to win her back Thicke decided to release an album aptly titled Paula which included lead single ‘Get Her Back’. The song itself isn’t anything groundbreaking or original and I can’t help but think it sounds eerily similar to his breakout single ‘Lost Without You’ BUT I’ve always liked Robin Thicke and his music and this was a welcome return to his RnB style which I love so much. Basically the song, like much of the album, was Thicke’s way of winning back his wife through music. Some may say its cute, others may say that this is a private matter that needs to be dealt with behind closed doors.

And what did Paula herself think of the album? Well she clearly didn’t like it because she filed for divorce shortly after it was released.
#MESSY

19. Danity Kane ft TYGA ‘Lemonade’

Speaking of #MESSY, Danity Kane made their comeback to music earlier this year, minus D Woods, with the ladies spending the bulk if the year in the studio and then eventually going on their #NOFILTER tour which funnily enough I only ever saw clips of on Instagram. The during the tour Andrea quit the band after she became pregnant leaving Aubery, Dawn and Shannon left in the band rebranding themselves as DK3. But then not soon after that Dawn apparently punched Aubery in the face an then the remaining 3 girls decided to call it quits. See what I mean when i say #MESSY?!

Despite their short lived comeback, DK3 did give us the brilliant ‘Lemonade’. The song itself addressed their haters (I’m failing to see a band that hasn’t been around for a good 5 years can have haters but anyway) with TYGA delivering a verse which much like the rest of his I can’t seem to ever remember. But what I liked about the song was that it was sassy, confident and a proper girl band song and when they performed it live on their tour they delivered great vocals and just as good choreography which makes it quite unfortunate that the girls never chose to see past the squabbles and follow through.

The album itself was eventually released, probably due to contractual obligations more than anything else, and it was was a solid effort, You can tell it was just a collection of their studio sessions put together but with a bit of fine auto tuning the girls could have been onto a winner.

Sigh

18. Lana Del Rey ‘West Coast’

Yes Lana Del Rey is probably an acquired taste but lucky for me i have that taste her music acquires. ‘West Coast’ was the lead single from her much anticipated sophomore album ‘Ultraviolence’ and I don’t know what is was about this song that I loved so much but I do. Maybe its the hypnotising melody, the seductive delivery or maybe I was so thirsty for new music this year that I latched onto anything I could find. As for the album itself, it was good in parts, a bit blah in others. Highlights include ‘Old Money’ and ‘Brooklyn Baby’ based purely on the fact I listened to them both excessively whilst I was in New York this year walking the streets wistfully feeling like a naive little girl trying to make it in the big city. Okay let me stop there. NEXT!

17. JoJo ‘Caught Up In The Rapture’

As always I find a way to include my darling JoJo into my blog posts and this is no different. 2014 marked the first proper year JoJo was free from Blackground Records and allowed to being the superstar she should already have been for years. So when in February of this year she dropped a Valentines Day EP titled ‘Love Jo’ I was obviously keen to hear what a newly free JoJo had to offer.

Sadly what she offered were 3 cover songs but its JoJo and I knew she’d put her own spin on them. One of those was a cover of Anita Baker’s ‘Caught Up In The Rapture’ and boy let me tell you JoJo did the business on this song! Vocals, production (courtesy of The Internz’), everything was brilliant and  I’ve never heard JoJo sound so good. She was singing like her rent, mobile phone bill, gas and electric bills all depended on it. And the general consensus was she did Miss Baker proud with this cover and made it her own with taking away  too much of what makes the song so great. With her team earmarking early 2015 as the official comeback trail for Miss JoJo I cannot wait to hear what she has in store.

16. Sam Smith ‘Stay With Me’

Up until recently I didn’t know quite a lot of people didn’t like Sam Smith but that hasn’t stopped me from liking his music which is why his track ‘Stay With Me’ makes my list for this year. Let me just say the song itself isn’t anything new, by soul music’s standards this is a pretty basic soul song and with the choir (which ended up being his own voice just relayed) it was rather cliche. But I am a sucker for soul music and even more so a choir in any song so I grew to love this song and I even had the pleasure of seeing him perform it live. Homeboy can SANNNNG!

15. Drake ‘0-100′

Never has a phrase been more tweeted/memed/ facebooked/tumblr’d or snapchatted than ‘0-100 nigga real quick!’ thanks to Drake. The Degrassi alumni released this song on a whim just randomly biding his time between albums and thats the one thing I like about Drake. He has mastered the skill of remaining musically relevant between major releases by dropping odd songs online here and there which themselves sound like they belong on part of a bigger project, Basically, theres no filler rubbish from Drake when it comes to his music. Also a song that makes reference to Forrest Gump is a winner in my eyes!

14. Katy Perry ‘Birthday’

Bless Katy Perry, she tried so hard to make her ‘Prism’ era match that of her flawless ‘Teenage Dream’ era but it just didn’t work out that way. After the initial success of Roar, followup single ‘Unconditionally’ failed to make any real impact which made way for the speedy release of ‘Dark Horse’ which doesn’t want to go away even now which is why I am deliberately not including it on my list of songs for 2014. The song has been played to death! Its time to make like Frozen and LET IT GO!!

Katy did release two more songs after Dark Horse one of those being ‘Birthday’ which upon hearing when the first (and only) time I heard the entire Prism album I loved instantly. Its funny that the same woman who burst out on the scene in 2008 claiming to kiss girls is now singing about making birthday cakes but what I liked about this song is that its just a innocent fluffy pop song. Nothing more, nothing less.  Not every song has to have a deep meaning or a moment or even a purpose. Just make music damn it!
The accompanying video was very much American humour but that didn’t ruin the song for me .All it did was make me wonder how stupid everyone must be in the video to not realise that was Katy Perry. Like come on! Those disguises were terrible!

13. Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj ‘Bang Bang’

Let me just set the record straight. The whole reason this song is good is not because of Jessie J and her incessant wailing. If anything the song would be improved 89% if she wasn’t even in it. In fact lets just call this song ‘Bang Bang’ by Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj ft Jessie J.

This song was only released a few months ago which I’m sure gives you a good indication as to how slow this year has been for music when one of the the ‘top’ songs of the year was released only 2 months ago. But this song is just what we needed during a painfully dull Q4. It was loud, it was cheeky and it included a great verse from the new and improved Nicki Minaj.  I’m even willing to look past the awful artwork this song had because of how good Nicki and Ariana (with help from Jessie J(ust shut up) sound together.

12. Jennifer Lopez ft Pitbull ‘Booty’

Everyone knows how much I love and adore Jennifer Lopez but the fact she enlisted the help of Iggy Azaelea for the remix of this song, a song about big assess, when we all know full and well when you need a rapper to talk about ass you go to Nicki Minaj, is both criminal and unforgivable.  This is why I am listing the album version of this song featuring Pitbull instead where ,for a change, I think he adds something great to the song. Do you remember Pitbull before he became ‘Mr Worldwide’ wearing suits and rapping over EDM? When he used to do reggaeton and used to dress like a missing member of Jersey Shore with his tight jeans and tight white t shirt and black sunglasses? Thats the Pitbull I heard in this song and man I used to like that Pitbull!

The song itself is personally one of the best bangers of the year and was produced by the man who can do no wrong- Diplo and written by the guy who can only ever do wrong- Chris Brown. Part of me felt like this song was a case of too little too late in that J.Lo has always been famously known for her ass but that ass baton seems to have been passed onto to the newer generation of artists. But like I said, I love Jennifer Lopez and if she wants to remind the girls of today about how famous her ass is then J.Lo can damn well do that.

11. Fifth Harmony ‘BO$$’

Britney hates them, Katy Perry doesn’t know who they are but I love them and thats all that should matter right now. The girl group, Fifth Harmony, formed on The X Factor USA have had a tough time trying to establish themselves after coming third in the talent show in 2012. They’ve toured malls across America, released songs including ‘Miss Movin’ On’ and ‘Me & My Girls’ (lets act like the latter never happened yeah?) they’ve released an EP, done collaborations with Boyce Avenue, and yet still haven’t got their debut album out. I’m not sure if the fact they’ve done so much without an album out if a good thing or not but this year I found myself growing tired of waiting for them to get their act together.

Until BO$$.

When the song came out the girls did say they wanted to go into a more ‘urban’ direction with their sound which I was always going to be here for and though ‘BO$$’ is ridden with corny pop culture references and slang as well as mentions of Michelle Obama only to have it rhyme with Oprah Dollars, this song is a BOP! And I was happy to see the girls pushing for choreography in their videos even if Normani is the only one who can really dance. With Danity Kane now out of the way this leaves Fifth Harmony  enough space to make a solid name for themselves in a category with only Little Mix to compete with.

The plan is for them to release their album ‘Reflection’ in the new year after it was pushed back twice so lets hope 2015 marks the year these girls finally get serious.

Check back here in a few days for the rest of the countdown from 10-1!

The Jay Z + Beyonce ‘On The Run’ Tour Is An Exercise in Copy & Paste.

Jay Z & Beyonce's 'On The Run' Tour

Jay Z & Beyonce’s ‘On The Run’ Tour

 

Hi!

Remember me?

I’ve kinda been AWOL from my Blog for the past month or so but rest assured my devoted legion of readers (yes, all 2 of you) I finally have some free time to update this thing!

So let me get right to it. This week saw the start of Jay Z and Beyonce’s long awaited and highly anticipated joint arena tour ‘On The Run’. The pair put their egos aside and shared the stage together for a 2 and a half hour show which saw them both revisit a back catalogue of their greatest hits, both solo and duets.

As with anything Jay Z and Beyonce do it was made into a spectacle, a once in a life time experience, an event so big that if you were not there then you may as well resign to the fact that you have failed at life. Its what we have grown to expect from the couple, everything they do is supported with a huge hype campaign behind it. Because that all  it is; hype.

And that my children is the issue I have with this tour. Moan and groan and roll your eyes all you want but I have an opinion and I’m gonna share it damn it!

Before I go anything further I want to make something clear before the BeyHive start sharpening their knives and find ways to trace my IP Address to track me down and attack me;

I DO NOT HATE BEYONCÈ

Now repeat it slowly and then again 5 times.

Why must I take such measures? Because her fan base, the die hard fans of hers, are stupid as hell. Y’all are so aggressive and so beyond reason that the only two words you probably took from that statement was ‘Hate’ and ‘Beyonce’.

I like the music she comes out with and have in the past enjoyed her performances but I’m not blinded by her into thinking she is immortal and the second coming of Christ. In the past few years I’ve really grown to dislike the way she comes across and even more how her fans perceive her.

But anyway let me get back to my point. Yes, I don’t hate Beyonce BUT this ‘On The Run’ tour is nothing but an exercise in copy and paste from her Mrs Carter World Tour which ended 6 months ago just this time with the odd appearance from Jay Z.

And the fact that the couple are happily charging people in excess of $300 per ticket to see a a carbon copy of a tour a few months ago is ludicrous. Sure, charge someone however much you want if you’re going to give the audience something new and exciting but I watched the videos posted on Instagram and blogs of the tour and its literally the same old routine, same old titty bounce, same old hair flip, same old growl, same old EVERYTHING!!!! If I remember correctly the last time I watched a Beyonce performance which was actually fresh and exciting it was her Glastonbury 2013 show, ahh those were god times!

I cannot comment on the atmosphere of the tour but I’m sure it was enough to make people turn a blind eye at the fact they’re watching something that has been done since Beyonce started her Mrs Carter World Tour in early 2013, which by the way did not feature ANY new music but was still happy to charge up to £80-£90 per ticket.

But do you know why they can get away with it? Like I said before its hype. You just have to look at the promotional trailer the couple created in support of of the tour. It was so self indulgent and over the top that in the time it took them and everyone involved to write, shoot and produce it that they could have spent the time devising new choreography for Beyonce and new staging and production for Jay Z all in support of a tour which currently offers nothing new!

By this point the BeyHive probably want to stone me to death in front of an audience in a stadium in Afghanistan but girls and boys I am allowed my own opinion. Especially when it comes to Beyonce and Jay Z. There seems to be some unwritten rule that you can’t speak ill of the couple without receiving backlash. Poor Keri Hilson had Beyonce albums THROWN at her because rumours suggested she wasn’t fond of Beyonce and now accordingly to Timbaland, Keri is working on a song called ‘Sorry’ which is intended for Beyonce as an apology.

Pardon me while I roll my eyes into another dimension.

I am in no way discrediting Jay Z or Beyonce’s talent. He can rap, she can sing, he is a brilliant businessman and she can dance. They’re both great at a lot of things but the best at NONE.

And this tour is just further proof of this because all they have done is regurgitate Beyonce’s world tour, stick Jay Z in between and package it as this ground breaking event.

However, I don’t blame Beyonce for wanting to go back on tour so soon because I think she’s realised she no longer has a strong presence on the charts anymore. She can’t compete with Rihanna and Katy Perry in terms of hit singles so she’s focused on making money through touring which is where the BIG money is at. But you’ll only reap the benefits of that big money from your tours if you give your audience something new and fresh and don’t just recycle your old shows. She’s only able to get away with this now because of the hype machine behind her portraying Beyonce as this God like figure who us mere mortals should bow down to.. but that can only get you so far until people realise they are being duped and sold the same product time and time again.

Perhaps only then both Jay Z and Beyonce will come back with something fresh and new and not just another concert telling us how much better they are than us and how they’re so rich with Beyonce doing her predictable titty bounce and hair flip in between.

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Nicki Minaj- Pills N Potions is NOT What The Doctor Ordered

Nicki Minaj- 'Pills n Potions' Single Cover

Nicki Minaj- ‘Pills n Potions’ Single Cover

If you cast your minds back a few months ago you will remember I wrote a piece expressing some much needed advice I felt Nicki Minaj needed to hear about her and her career.

Fast forward to now and I like to think Nicki Minaj somehow found her way to my blog and took heed of my advice because the last few months have seen a change in Minaj that has been welcomed by literally everyone. She has toned down the wigs and costumes and gone back to a much more understated image, the tracks she has been releasing online ,’Lookin Ass’ &  ‘Yass Bish’ ,have seen her showcase more of her rapping against hip hop beats and the way she has come across in interviews has been quite likeable.

Nicki Minaj 2.0

Nicki Minaj 2.0

With all that being said the real testament to Nicki Minaj’s rebranding was always going to be the first single off her third studio album ‘The Pink Print’. She has said in interviews the album is taking her back to her roots and when asked by Rap Up she said it is a record that will remind people why they fell in love with Nicki Minaj because  she feels people need to remember that.

Yesterday she revealed the lead single off of the project titled ‘Pill n Potions’ along with a bosom filled single cover in keeping with the stripped back image she has adopted as of late. Is the song everything we wanted from Nicki Minaj at this point? Is this her return to form? Has Mixtape Nicki finally been allowed to shine?

Take a listen

 

 

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Sorry but what is this?

Its safe to say this is not what I expected from Miss Minaj considering her latest releases have all been so HipHop orientated focused on the rapping.

She said she would not be making a song like ‘Superbass’ on ‘The Pink Print’ and promised us she was going back to her roots yet this song is produced by Max Martin and co written by Esther Dean. Why are those names important? BECAUSE THEY WERE THE ONE BEHIND SUPERBASS!!!!

I can appreciate that is a step up from Starships, lets be real ANYTHING is a step up from Starships but Im confused with what she is actually doing right now. I would have thought naturally after ‘Lookin Ass’ and ‘Yass Bish’ that she would continue that sound for her lead single and not do a complete 180 and everything she said the album would promise. Then again this is Nicki Minaj and she has been known to fall back on her words many a time.

Also with is being summer next month I don’t understand the logic in releasing a haunting ballad just as everyone else is wanting to hear raging party anthems in the sun. If I remember correctly the last time a ballad was THE Summer anthem of the year was back in 2005 when Mariah Carey released ‘We Belong Together’ and ‘Pills and Potions’ is not a fraction of brilliance that ‘We Belong Together’ still is today so I don’t know what she is doing here.

Im going to try and not hastily dismiss ‘The Prink Print’ era before it has even begun based on the one song because it really is just ONE song but any excitement or faith I had in this era being the one where Nicki, Mixtape Nicki, returns are slowly dwindling if this is is an indication of whats to come.

Regardless of what I think radio will eat this song up for breakfast lunch and dinner and you can get prepared for 10-15 year old girls quoting lyrics to this song as captions on their Instagram selfies.

 

Pill n Potions is NOT what the Doctor Ordered.

Pill n Potions is NOT what the Doctor Ordered.

 

 

7 Brilliant Songs You Have Never Heard

brilliant_music

I guess I’m feeling charitable today because I’ve decided to share with you some brilliant songs which you may not have heard of by artists you also have no clue who they are.

The Internet is a great place and being the ardent music fan that I am I love finding new music by new artists as well as seasoned professional dabbling in different sounds and genres.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you probably think all I listen to is pop music by singers such as Britney, Beyonce, Lady GaGa and Rihanna and though this is true to some degree, I do enjoy a variety of songs from a variety of genres!

Hopefully you’ll find a song here that you love because ,really, these songs are all great in their own little way.

Katharine McPhee ‘Love Story’

WHY WASN’T THIS SONG A NUMBER 1 WORLDWIDE HIT?!?!?

If the Youtube comments are anything to go by, I am not alone in thinking this when it comes to this song! Katharine Mcphee was the runner up on the 5th season of American Idol and I’m not going to pretend I know anything about her time on the show because I don’t *oops*. I came across this lady when her song ‘Over It’ was played in the background of an episode of MTV’s ‘The Hills’. (it was the episode where Jen Bunny hooked up with Brody Jenner knowing full well Lauren liked him and Laurent even bought her diamonds on her birthday *OMG DRAMA!!!*) I was in America at the time her debut self titled album was released and I decided to buy it because I enjoyed the first song so much. And ‘Love Story’ instantly stuck out to me above everything else. The song is now 7 years old and never got the success it deserved, everything about the song is just so on point!

Chris Brown ft Big Sean -‘Shit God Damn’

Its becoming a trend that I find songs of Chris Brown’s that I like off of his mix tapes instead of his albums, case in point this song. ‘Shit God Damn’ is a track off his ‘In My Zone 2′ mixtape released in 2010. The mixtape followed in the success of his joint mixtape with Tyga., ‘Fan of A Fan’ and was received positively by bloggers, critics and fans. Of all the songs on the tape this one is my favourite and one of my all time favourite songs he has ever done. Its just so chilled out and showcased a far more vocally capable Chris. Its a shame we never get to see THIS side of him more often when it comes to his albums eh?!

Jelluz ‘Deeper’

If you’re from the UK you will remember the days of Channel U! The channel acted as an outlet for UK MC’s and singers to get the exposure they needed for their music. The likes of Tinie Tempah, Dizzie Rascal and  Tinchy Stryder all started on Channel U before breaking into the mainstream. And I should tell you that the channel was VERY low budget, most videos were recorded on mobile phones outside council estates BUT everyone so often someone with real talent would pop up, And in this case its UK Mc Jelluz. I loved this song the moment I heard it almost a decade ago. What I love about this song is that on a channel that had MC’s rapping about how hood and thuggish they are, Jelluz came and released a song about being in love with his girl and it was a breath of fresh air I tell you! YouTube comments indicate that the girl who sang the chorus sadly died a few years ago which in a weird way increased this song’s popularity even more. You may not be a fan of UK Rap but give this song a listen and tell me at the very least it isn’t beautifully written.

Robin Thicke -‘Mission’

Yes! Despite what everyone seems to think, Robin Thicke does have other songs aside from ‘Blurred Lines’! ‘Mission’ is an album track taken from his 5th studio album ‘Love & War’ released in 2011 and it does a brilliant job of showcasing Robin Thicke: The Vocalist which I feel people don’t give him enough credit for. The song is under  3 minutes long  but thats more than enough time to be completely hypnotised by this guy’s voice against a simple guitar and soft drum beat. I’m actually happy radio didn’t latch onto this song because radio would have overplayed this to death like another song of Robin’s. *AHEM*

Stacie Orrico – ‘Is It Me?’

Good old Stacie Orrico! If you remember she came out with a song called ‘Stuck’ in 2003 and then had a few more modest hits on radio and then disappeared which sucks because she is a real talent who deserves to be heard. Stacie had a song called ‘I’m Not Missing You’ and in the music video at the end a second track begins playing which is of course ‘Is It Me’? I’ve always thought this song sounds strikingly similar to Jay Z’s ‘Dead Presidents’ and if you listen to both songs you’ll know what I mean. I will love this song forever and ever purely for the lyrics;

My Mister Right’s probably hanging round my window pane
While I look through only watching the rain

What kind of beautiful poetry please?!

JoJo- ‘Thinking Out Loud’

Speaking of talented ladies you didn’t think I was going to share with you some of my favourite songs no one has heard of and not include my darling JoJo did you? This woman’s entire discography is full of brilliant songs no one has ever heard of but one song that stands out to me above them all is ‘Thinking Out Loud’ which is taken from her 2012 mixtape ‘Agape’. I will only say this once; JoJo is one of the best and most skilled female vocalists in the industry and anyone who is sleeping on her talent needs to wake up ASAP!

‘Thinking Out Loud’ only lasts ‘1:07′ on the mixtape because Jo thought her vocal performance of the rest of the song wan’t good enough which we all know is a crock of shit. Girl could sing the phonebook and slay. But in that 1:07 run time Jo showcases her beautiful vocals as she sings about seeing her ex for the first time after a break-up. She was meant to release the full length version to the song around this time last year but obviously it never came to actually happening. I’m hoping JoJo deciders to put the full length version on her third studio album which can finally be released *PRAISE THE LORD MOST HIGH!!*

Etta Bond/ Raf Riley ft Lady Leshurr ‘Boring Bitches’

I don’t even know what genre this song comes under. Is it dub step? Is it trap? Ska? I don’t even know but that doesn’t stop me from absolutely loving the hell out of this banger. ‘Boring Bitches’ is taken from Etta Bond & Raf Riley’s EP ‘Emergency Room’ which I came across in 2012 thanks to my dear friend Natalie. The song is basically Etta Bond calling out all those girls who go to clubs purely to stand around and look pretty as opposed to actually dancing and having fun. Let me tell you the amount of girls I saw when I was at university who just stood there with their vodka and coke pouting in selfies with their friends was insane. I wish this song was around when I was  at university! Lady Leshurr’s verse only adds to the intensity and velocity of this track which Etta and Raf  created.

50 Cent: He Got Rich & Stopped Tryin’

50 Cent

50 Cent

 

Damn homie, in high school you was the man homie. Fuck happened to you?

Who would have thought 50 Cent’s own line on ‘Wanksta’ would come back to bite him in the ass 10 years later?

For real though, I have been wondering this for the past week or so. 50 Cent really did experience one of the biggest falls from grace I have seen in rap music.

50 Cent's 'Get Rich of Die Tryin' album cover

50 Cent’s ‘Get Rich of Die Tryin’ album cover

When I was 13 I remember when 50 came on the scene with ‘In Da Club’ and from the get-go he became the biggest rapper in the world. His debut album ‘Get Rich of Die Tryin’ sold 800,000+ copies in its first week in America, reached Number 2 in the UK albums chart and by the end of 2003 it had sold over 12 million copies, 9 of which were sold in America alone!

50 wasn’t alone in his quest for rap domination as we saw when his second album ‘The Massacre’ came out in 2005. He brought along his crew known as ‘G-Unit’ which comprised of Olivia, Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, Young Buck and of course The Game. After the success of ‘Candy Shop’ which features Olivia, G-Unit began releasing their own music with tracks like ‘Wanna Get To Know Ya’ ft Joe and ‘Stunt 101′.

It didn’t stop there however, each artist within G-Unit began releasing their own solo material with Lloyd Banks dropping ‘On Fire’, The Game releasing ‘How We Do’, Tony Yayo dropping ‘So Seductive’ and the only female RnB vocalist in the group Olivia releasing ‘Twist It’. And who had a hand in all these songs alongside them? 50 Cent of course!

Now do you understand the juggernaut that was 50 cent back in the early to mid 2000s? He dominated all areas of HipHop either by himself or with G-Unit and their impact and music was inescapable. Hell, they even had a clothing line! And what made 50 Cent’s success even more monumental was that he took down Murder Inc who came before him. Ja Rule, Ashanti, Irv Gotti et al all have 50 Cent to blame for beginning of the end of their careers.

Dynamic Duo Ja Rule and Ashanti

Dynamic Duo Ja Rule and Ashanti

Fast forward to 2014 and you really have to wonder how the hell did 50 Cent fall so far down after having everything and being at the top for so long?!

I have my theories.

50 Cent didn’t predict that HipHop would evolve to the state it is in today. Ask yourself this, 10 years ago when 50 Cent was at the top of his game did you think that a light skinned actor from Canada would become the world’s biggest and most prolific rapper? Nope, neither did I.

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Music is like fashion, it goes throughout trends and just like before 50 Cent and G-Unit there was Murder Inc after 50 Cent and G-Unit came Lil Wayne and Young Money. Notice how this is exactly the same thing that happened with Pharrell when he was at the top of his game? Suddenly Timbaland and Danja came along and took his audience and then EDM came along and took theirs. Us consumers of music are a fickle and un-loyal bunch of people I tell you!

It wasn’t only that the public began to lose interest in 50 Cent as a rapper but also what he was rapping about became redundant. 50 Cent and G-Unit are essentially Gangsta Rap, they rap about clips and nines, hoes and bitches and getting shot nine times. Thats all well and good and worked brilliantly when 50 Cent first came on the scene because he lived that life and he experienced that struggle. But after his first album, he got rich and started living a much more affluent life yet was still rapping about living on the streets. Eh?!

There was a disconnect between 50 Cent’s lyrical content and his fans who knew that he wasn’t ‘about that life’ anymore and it came across as contrived but 50 doesn’t know anything else to rap about but the streets whether he lived in them or not.

Also with the emergence of Lil Wayne and Young Money focus shifted less on gangsta rap being the main style of rap to grab the consumer’s ear but instead it was all about punch line rap. You know what I’m talking about. Lil Wayne’s ridiculous play on words with lines like ‘That Pussy in my mouth had me lost for words’ or ‘Bitch, Real G’s move in silence like Lasagne’ became the new hot trend.

Not only was 50’s brand of HipHop becoming dated in a growing Young Money era but he started causing silly feuds with anyone and everyone. From his own friend The Game to an unphased Kanye West. Remember when 50 vowed to retire from music if his third album ‘Curtis’ sold less than Kanye West’s ‘Graduation’? Well, Kanye won the battle but still today 50 is throwing shots at Kanye who seems to not even give a shit.

On top of all that, a recent interview with The Breakfast Club revealed that 50 isn’t even on talking terms with anyone else from G-unit. Not only is he starting fights with other rappers but even the ones in his own team he can’t seem to keep the peace with. 50 Cent is burning every single one of his bridges to the point that no one wants to be associated with him. What a mess!

Personally, the biggest cause of 50 Cent’s downfall isn’t that HipHop has changed or his habit of starting fights with anyone and everyone its the simple case of his music being completely shit. In my eyes the last ‘good’ song 50 Cent released was ‘Ayo Technology’ which attempted to ride the wave of Timbaland’s success in 2007 but anything after that has been mediocre at best.

Its crazy to think the guy who brought us ‘In Da Club’ and ‘Candy Shop’ is releasing garbage like ‘My Life’ with Eminem and Adam Levine. Like dude, WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?!?!?! It clear to me that its a case that once 50 got rich he stopped trying musically and everything he has done after ‘The Massacre’ has gotten progressively worse with time.

I wish I had some sort of advice to offer 50 Cent which could potentially put his career back on track but HipHop has moved on so far without 50 Cent that you have to ask yourself if HipHop even needs him anymore? He’s become a laughing stock amongst other rappers who use his own line ‘Damn Homie, In high School you was the man homie. Fuck Happened to you?’ as a sly dig at the former G-Unit frontman.

I’ll always enjoy 50 Cent’s first two albums, they are classics in my eyes and were the soundtrack to my teenage years growing up. But whether there is a place for him in this  era of HipHop where the likes of Rick Ross and Drake are top dog I’m not so sure. It could be a case of 50 Cent being an rapper who will be remembered as an artist who was only relevant during a certain era of music, similar to what Brandy is with RnB. He may not have the versatility to appeal to the HipHop lovers of today but when Gangsta Rap made its revival in the early 00’s everyone will remember 50 Cent was at the fore front of it all and for a few years he was the man that ran the show and no one can ever take that away from him.

 

#TBT Ashlee Simpson’s ‘Bittersweet World’ Album

Ashlee Simpson 'Bittersweet World' album cover

Ashlee Simpson ‘Bittersweet World’ album cover

So today is Thursday and in the world of Instagram it is #ThrowbackThursday so I thought I’d apply that little trend to today’s blog post. I want to share with you an album from many years ago which I always felt like it never got the attention it deserved.

The year is 2008, oh what a great year that was. Lady GaGa did not exist, Rihanna finally scored a number 1 single with ‘Umbrella’ and Katy Perry burst out onto the scene with ‘I Kissed A Girl’. Amidst all of this, Ashlee Simpson released her third studio album titled ‘Bittersweet World’.

Now a little back story for anyone who isn’t familiar with Ashlee Simpson; she is the younger sister of Jessica Simpson and started her own solo career in 2004 with her debut album ‘Autobiography’. In 2004 Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey were hot property thanks to the success of their reality soap opera ‘MTV’s Newlyweds’ and it was only natural for Jessica’s little sister to capitalise on the new found success her sister was enjoying. Ashlee had her own MTV reality show called ‘The Ashlee Simpson Show’ which acted as a vehicle for promotion for her debut album.

The overall sound of her debut was in the vain of Avril Lavigne and FeFe Dobson. Basically a pop/rock girl with attitude but far more Hilary Duff than P!NK. Despite mixed reviews the album sold pretty well selling 300,000 copies in its first week, a figure which some megastars struggle to reach today.

I can’t discuss Ashlee Simpson and not mention her infamous Saturday Night Live performance where she was caught out lip-syncing when the wrong backing track started playing and Ashlee, looking like a deer caught in head lights did the only thing she could do in this situation; she did the Irish jig. Its been almost 10 years since the incident and I never quite understood why she did that but moving on.

Not deterred by the negative press she received, Ashlee charged on and realised her second album ‘I Am Me’ in 2005. It sold 200,000 copies in its first week, a decline on her debut but its a figure some artists would kill for today in 2014. Again the sound was pop rock and it received scathing reviews from critics such as Rolling Stone who awarded it one and a half stars. Ouch!

Now the year is 2008 and Ashlee Simpson releases her third studio album ‘Bittersweet World’. Unlike her previous two albums, the sound of this album was less about the guitars and more focused on production. Simpson even she wanted to make ‘singer song writer’ record but changed her mind in favour of a ‘fun dancey album’ which still retained some elements of her previous pop/rock work.

You are probably wondering why she decided to go in a completely different direction with this album but you have to remember that in 2008 everything you heard on the radio was produced by either Timbaland or Danja Hills. The ‘urban’ sound that they developed became the ‘pop’ sound of the late noughties and Ashlee was simply staying on trend musically. Also the whole pop/rock sound which was so popular in the early 2000s was losing its footing on the charts and Ashlee realised this and acted accordingly. Its a shame Avril Lavigne still hasn’t quite realised this but whatever.

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Ashlee in her music video for ‘Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)’

The album received mixed reviews, as all albums from Ashlee seemed to do but I decided to listen to this album with an open mind because I had grown used to associating Ashlee Simpson with pop/rock so when I heard she was following in the footsteps of Nelly Furtado (‘Loose’) and Madonna (‘Hard Candy’) and going all urban on me I was intrigued to say the least.

The lead single ‘Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)’ was produced by Timbaland and was a throwback to the  synth-pop sound of the 80s with a modern twist. It was catchy as hell, the production was slick and the music video showed a more creative and colourful Ashlee Simpson. The song failed to make much of an impression here in the UK charting at Number 24 but that didn’t stop me from listening to the rest of the album.

And my God this album was good. It wasn’t focused on a girl heartbroken singing about how her boyfriend of 15 minutes did her wrong. This was a grown up Ashlee Simpson singing songs about sex and real relationship struggles and she was having fun with it.  The tracks ‘Boys’ and ‘Hot Stuff’ followed in the urban/pop/dancey sound Ashlee was going for with this project and they were fun, breezy, catchy pop songs. And the lyric ‘Use your head but not that one one, track mind ‘ on ‘Boys’ still remains a personal favourite today.

But the album wasn’t a complete urban/pop/dance frenzy, Ashlee did stick true to her promise that the album would still feature song elements of pop rock and this can be seen in ‘Little Miss Obsessive’.  A pop/rock power ballad which harked back to Ashlee’s ‘Pieces of Me’ debut single. As with everything related to this album it never got to be great! It was intended on being the album’s second single but by this point interest in the project was fading and Ashlee found herself to be pregnant which brought this album and its entire era to abrupt end before it even had a chance.

Ashlee hasn’t released an album since ‘Bittersweet World’ and despite her fans wanting new music from her (I have tweeted her many times asking for a new album!) she has showed no signs of returning to the studio anytime soon. I guess she is just happy being a Mother at this point in her life.

If  ‘Bittersweet World’ ends up being the last ever solo album by Ashlee Simpson then she can at least be proud she ended it with a brilliantly crafted urban infused pop album. Much like everything which came from that era in pop where everyone went urban, ‘Bittersweet World’ doesn’t sound dated at all and plays very well today against the electro pop/EDM genre which exists today. By no means a genre defining album, Ashlee let her creative juices flow on this album and you can see it which gave us the ‘Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)’ which will always go down as a forgotten pop masterpiece.

Hopefully in 20 years times my children will discover this album and appreciate its greatness because it really is  a brilliant and enjoyable body of work which Ashlee never received her due for.

I will not rest until #JusticeForBitterSweetWorld is served!

I will not rest until #JusticeForBitterSweetWorld is served!

 

Should Mariah Carey Just Retire?

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey

This is a debate thats been going on for years and shows no signs of coming to any real answer and you still won’t find an answer here but this past week I’ve found myself thinking the same thing; Should Mariah Carey Just Retire?

What with the shambles of a campaign that is her upcoming studio album and public interest in Mariah Carey’s music overall continuing to decline perhaps its best for the vocal powerhouse to bow out gracefully (and wearing clothes) and allow the next generation to shine.

For anyone who enjoys music of any genre knows the name Mariah Carey, its like the two go hand in hand. Regarded as ‘The Voice’ she enjoyed massive success early on in her career in 1990 ( I was 1 years old at the time so I literally have grown up with her music) and is the best selling female artist of ALL TIME with 175 million albums/singles sold worldwide. On top of that she is the only artists to score a number 1 single in every year of the 1990s.. could you see Beyonce or Rihanna or Lady GaGa doing that in this day and age?

But over the years she has been famed more for her apparent diva behaviour and reluctance to wear any clothes rather than her music. In 2001 when she released the ill-fated ‘Glitter’ movie it was panned by critics and she became a laughing stock to the industry. Coupled with growing signs of emotional and mental instability (do you remember the time she rolled up to TRL wearing nothing but a vest and hot pants handing out lollipops to a confused audience and even more confused Carson Daley?) Mariah was losing her grasp on the public both musically and as a celebrity.

Things showed little signs of improving when she released her first album on her new label Island Records in 2003 titled ‘Charmbracelet’ which failed to catch the attention of the public and critics cited her as washed up and a has been. But then two years later she silenced EVERYONE by staging, in my opinion, one if not the most spectacular comebacks I have seen in music when in 2005 she released her career reviving album ‘The Emancipation of Mimi’. The album and more so the single ‘We Belong Together’ put Carey back on the map and everyone paid attention to her for the first time in years. She was schooling these little girls on how its really done.

To cut a really long story short, since then she has released more albums, ‘E=MC2′ and ‘Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel’ which never garnered the same success as ‘TEOM’ but it was the Emancipation album that gave her career a new lease of life and a new sense of relevance in this new era of music which allowed the two albums that came after it to even exist.

BUT

In more recent years Carey’s voice has failed to live up to expectations when it comes to her live performances and its gotten to a point now where most of her performances are blatantly mimed. I mean, we all know she can sing but when you’re known as ‘THE VOICE’ I’m sure the audience actually want to hear it. Granted her voice isn’t what it once was, over time things deteriorate its only natural but no one can touch her when it comes to her vocals… or can they?

A name that many of Mariah’s fans (known as ‘Lambs’) despise; Miss Ariana Grande. Comparisons between Grande and Carey have been rife since the moment a video of Grande singing Mariah’s song ‘Emotions’ surfaced online. Fans claimed Grande was copying Mariah and trying to be her while others said that Ariana is the new and improved Mariah and that she is irrelevant now.  Mariah has only spoken about the ‘rivalry’ once on The Breakfast Club saying she wishes everyone longevity in their career. If you know Mariah Carey you know that there was some intended shade in there somewhere!

But you see the thing is that Mariah isn’t THE dominant artist anymore, she enjoyed a career revival in 2005 but after that she’s fallen somewhat back into crowd with the likes of Beyonce ,Rihanna, Katy Perry and Lady GaGa being THE big names in music today. Thats not to say Mariah’s impact on music is in anyway no longer valid, far from it.  Most of the girls that have come after Mariah cite her as one of their biggest influences, Rihanna even thought she could sing ‘Hero’ just like Mariah at a local school talent show. When you click the play button below I am not responsible for the pain and agony your ear drums will suffer. Just FYI.

The impression I get from Mariah Carey today is that she is trying to play catch up to all these younger singers and its coming off as desperate. You know like how in Mean Girls Regina George’s Mum doesn’t want to be a regular Mum but a ‘cool’ Mum? Something like that. She always seems wearing next to nothing, which is fine like I said before in my post about Beyonce and the sexualisation of her image I have no qualms in women wanting to express their sexuality, but in the case of Mariah it looks embarrassing. I mean she was dancing and awkwardly trying to look seductive in her song ‘Beautiful’ with Miguel all the while her panties were on show the entire time.

Which brings me nicely into her most recent album campaign. This campaign has been marred with setbacks, a broken arm, more setbacks, constant buzz singles and a real lack of public interest. The album, which was meant to be called ‘The Art Of Letting Go’  but has since been scrapped for an unknown title, is meant to come out on May 6th and there has been literally no hype or movement to indicate this impending release. Fans have gone online to blame her manager Jermaine Dupri for not knowing how to manage Mariah’s career and setting her up to fail which is probably true, Im not sure but coming from someone who isn’t a Mariah Carey ‘stan’ but enjoys her music the fact is the public just are not interested in this new album.

Its common knowledge that a lot of people consider ‘old school’ Mariah Carey circa ‘Always Be My Baby’, ‘Honey’, ‘Dreamlover’ and ‘All I Want For Christmas’ to be her best work and that her newer more ‘urban’ sounding tracks like ‘Obsessed’ just aren’t doing it for the public. Remember when Britney Spears said in an interview with Ryan Seacrest that she loved old school Mariah Carey? Says it all really.

Is this such a bad thing though? It happens to every artist where they go through a lull in their career but Mariah Carey already came back from that in 2005 and like I have said already, the woman has nothing left to prove! What with her valentines day single ‘You’re Mine’ completing bombing on every chart is appeared on I don’t see why Mariah and her team cannot see that no one is here for her new music anymore.

I would really hate for Mariah Carey to still think she can take back her former glory from the likes of Beyonce and keep trying to be on top again when even I think she knows she’s past her time. Music has changed and she has to accept this! It would just ruin her name as one of the best voices of all time and rather than being credited for her influence and impact on pop music, she’d just be remembered as a laughing stock. Her stint on American Idol and her feud with Nicki Minaj did neither side any favours and it showed that Mariah is unable to co-exist with the new generation of females driving pop music. And it also showed that Nicki Minaj doesn’t know how to show respect to a music royalty like Mariah Carey but lets not get into that.

Mariah probably won’t retire anytime soon, she seems stubborn like that but what she needs to do if she wants to keep releasing music is to stop competing with these little girls and stop worrying about sales and chart positions and polls. This woman has accomplished more in her career than any of these new girls in the game ever will and at this point Mariah should be enjoying her ‘Legend Era’ as her fans have coined it. If she wants to make music then let it be for her fans and not for the Billboard Charts because as sad as it may be, there is no place for her on there anymore and she needs to accept that!

Sorry Bout It

Sorry Bout It