Album Review: ‘Blond(e)’ – Frank Ocean

Waiting is hard, especially if you’re a Frank Ocean fan who has been eagerly awaiting for his follow-up to the critically acclaimed album Channel Orange.

To say that Ocean’s new album is heavily anticipated by the children of the internet is an understatement. But here is an artist who will take his time in creating something out of his soul and as fans of his music, it is important to understand that time is a crucial part of his process. Even if it takes him a long time to create his album, all that needs to be done is to wait.

But who could just sit there patiently and go on with their dreary lives when a singer-songwriter of Ocean’s caliber has showed the world how it feels like to long for love, to look back on life even at  a young age, and make melancholia sound like it should be accompanied by an illegal substance to get the full effect? His ability to control the fluidity of this generation’s ideals about the world into stories is amazing.

In ‘Facebook Story’, it talks about how important it is for the internet generation to legitimize their relationship through their social media connections. On the surface it looks silly, but it’s a stark reality of where we are when it comes to making human connections. ‘Nights’ is a simple song about; you guessed it, the night. But that notion goes away as the song starts to shift and makes you feel the emotions that come with the night time; the longingness, the need to break away, to take on the darkness of the night and run away with it. ‘Nikes’, the only politically charged song in the whole album talks about police brutality and the modern day injustice against the black community. The song itself doesn’t register as something that would talk about a serious issue. It’s mellowed, almost sad, like anger has passed and this is where it is, but the intensity is as heavy as an angry political march.

Compared to Channel Orange, this album is less slick and less put together. But what it lacks in form, it greatly makes up for the emotional connection that it makes. Channel Orange is Frank Ocean looking at the outside and seeing the world, in Blond(e), he’s looking inward taking us along with it. He shows us what kept him busy these past years, and with heavy emotions that swirl in his album, we happily dive.

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Album Review: ‘Glory’ – Britney Spears

Almost everyone will agree that Britney Spears’ greatest album is Blackout.

When Britney Jean came out, it felt like Brit-brit’s sound is making a farewell. It was panned by critics and fans alike, so when news broke out that the ‘Toxic” singer is hitting the studio again to work on a new project, everyone held their breath. Can Britney sustain another flop? Is her sound still relevant in the era where the younger generation of female pop stars who can sing really well have patterned their success on career?

Britney’s ninth studio album Glory not only flips the middle finger on the people thinking she’s done for, but also showing the young ones that she still has a few tricks up her sleeve.

Her iconic albums Blackout, Femme Fatale and In The Zone have an impressive opening tracks. Britney Jean tried to go a different route and went for a mellow opening and trying to showcase Ms. Spears’ softer side. Glory’s opening track ‘Invitation’ sort of marries the two. It’s still a danceable tune but at the same time with Britney’s soft vocals on the foreground, the title does its job and invites you into her album.

Speaking of vocals, while it’s true that Britney is not a top notch vocalist in the pop scene, there is a reason why her voice still continues to standout. Her previous albums capitalized on her ‘little girl’ voice in a sexy dance song.

In this album, songs like ‘Make Me…’ and ‘Clumsy’ allowed her voice to shine. Yes, her voice is still filtered and sometimes sounds perfectly digitized but this time there’s a feeling of being present and engaging in every song. And it’s not just her voice that has taken a positive turn in this album. While her last album had a very heavy EDM influence, this only made Britney’s voice not only robotic but killed its message about being her most personal musical endeavor. Her producers made the right decision to have Britney go back to sounding pop and the result is a very “on trend” Britney.

Songs like ‘Just Luv Me’ and ‘Better’ sounds like a song that could be done by this generation’s pop singers, but under Britney’s voice, the songs are given an experienced and authentic voice about vulnerability, wanting love, and getting it. These little deviations and experiments sonically could’ve made her previous album work.

While it might take a while for some fans to grasp the direction of Britney’s sound, they’d be happy to know that Britney’s back b*****s.

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Selena Gomez

Selenators in the Philippines rejoice!

Global sensation Selena Gomez will be performing here on July 31 for the Asian leg of her Revival Tour. While the show is sure to be a feast for the eyes of all of her die-hard fans, for those that are just discovering the multi-talented star here are some things about the former Disney star that will surely make you love her even more

1. Body Art

The pop star has seven tattoos and plans to add more in the future. She treasures all of them and represented her state of mind at the time she got them.  One of her tattoos, an Arabic inscription that translates to “love yourself first“ has garnered so much attention from her fans that they too had the same thing engraved on their skins. Selena also announced that she will be including temporary replica of her tattoos as part of the show merchandise. That’s another way to experience her show.

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2. The heart wants to be real

The singer revealed that opening monologue for her music video “The Heart Wants What It Wants” was real. Probably all too real. She further elaborated that the speech was sort of a part of a conversation. In an interview with Ryan Seacrest two years ago she said that after ending her relationship with Justin Bieber, she was in a place in her head where she just wanted to talk to herself and ask all the questions that she had. And that’s what she did in the video.

3 Realest queen of Instagram

Having the most followers and the most liked picture on Instagram has made Selena one of the biggest social media influencer in pop music history. Surprisingly, she doesn’t have an army that curates the content of her posts. Even more surprising? She reads comments from fans. In a recent interview with a magazine, she said that she tries to read all of the comments because her fans are invested to know what is going on with her life and so she feels it just right to return that love.

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4. Date her never

Selena is not a fan of the whole dating process. In a magazine interview last year, she revealed that the entire thing creeps her out. She even recalls an experience when she out with a date with a guy who Googled all about her before meeting her. And that’s one experience she doesn’t want to do again.

5. Friends fan

Selena Gomez loves the show Friends. During her interview with Teen Vogue this year, she said that the show gives her a feeling of being home even if she’s thousands of miles away on tour. She further stated that whenever she feels homesick all she does is put on the show, even just as background noise and it just makes her feel safe. Now there’s something that Selena and a majority of us have in common.

Album Review: ‘Lemonade’ – Beyonce

Yonce is serving no tea, no shade but a whole lot of lemonades.

Now that the initial craziness has died down after Beyonce flashed-released her album after her one hour special shown in HBO, we can now look at the songs in her latest release Lemonade.

This album is both a story of woman scorned by her husband and the trials and tribulations of women everywhere, most especially the African-American women. If Beyonce’s last album talked about the bliss of being married , the sex, and the highs, the songs in Lemonade clearly tells a different story, especially if you’re using Bey as the reference. Sonically diverse, the album encompasses different genre and has Beyonce teaming up with a lot of collaborators and writers. Even her the visuals on her album has strangeness to it that was not seen in her previous work.

Opening with the song “Pray Can You Hear Me”, she begins to the tell the story of a woman undergoing an emotional upheaval as she finds out that her husband is cheating on her. With the line “you can taste the dishonesty; it’s all over your breath” it’s evident that Beyonce is starting to unravel a woman calling out her husband for having side chicks. This serves as a jumping point for her next songs like “Hold Up”, where she talks about how she’s the only one who can love her man like that; in “Don’t’ Hurt Yourself” she issues a warning to leave her husband if he doesn’t stop his extra-marital activities; “6 Inch” tells us how she works hard and keeps it professional even with all these infidelity issues hounding her. The song “Daddy Lessons” talks more about Beyonce’s father and how he made a soldier out of her daughter.

And then it all starts to transform. Gradually. Where the first half was angry, sad, and even despondent, the second half of the album feels and sounds like a resilient woman who in the midst of her anger at her cheating partner still acknowledges that the love is still there and is willing to work it out like in the song “Love Drought.” Beyonce’s rawest recorded vocals is on “Sandcastles” as she sings about building it all back up. “Forward” and “Freedom” sounds like a socio-political song but it’s a personal account of woman moving forward and reconciling with her partner and finding freedom in the act of making up and staying by her man. “All Night” is admittedly the and-they-lived-happily-ever-after song. For now at least. The last song on the album, “Formation” may seem like a sore thumb in the album’s theme but it drives the brand that is Beyonce: women empowerment. She sings to women everywhere that even with all these adversities you can still be a black Bill Gates in the making.

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Song Feature: Parang Tayo Pero Hindi – Angeline Quinto and Michael Pangilinan (Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs 2016)

Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs will not be complete without an entry that delves into the ambiguity of a relationship and the highs and lows of a love that two people are unable to put a label on.

The song talks about two people who are more than friends but are not lovers. Yes, we’ve heard this one before, but Marlon’s simple lyrics put the question out there and forces the people involved in defining what they have.

Michael Pangilinan and Angeline Quinto are tasked in interpreting the song and they did not disappoint. It’s refreshing to hear Michael shed a bit of his R&B stylings and approached the song with a more balladeer sensibility. Angeline, on her part is always reliable in delivering emotive vocals reminiscent of her version of “Kunin Mo Na Ang Lahat Sa Akin.” Both singers managed to minimize their signature vocals, Michael with his R&B flair, and Angeline with her powerful belts, but still able to put the right emotion of two people trying to make sense of navigating the complexities of building a relationship and making it official.

WATCH: Here’s the official music video of ‘Parang Tayo Pero Hindi’ by Marlon Barnuevo interpreted by Angeline Quinto and Michael Pangilinan.

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Song Feature: Diamante – Morissette (Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs 2016)

OPM is synonymous with love songs, and Jungee Marcelo’s one of two entries to this year’s competition clearly shows the brilliance of a love song.

The song titled ‘Diamante,’ tells a story of searching for love and and when that love finally appeared, it shone like a diamond. The song is clearly an OPM staple as it talks about love, what elevates it more is the production of the song, which could be used as an original soundtrack for a film. It brings that era where original compositions where used as titles for movies.

Interpreted by Morrissette, the song’s title is given more credibility with the young diva’s clear delivery of the lyrics and ascension to the higher parts of the song. Morrissette gives the right emotion to the song’s story of searching for love and finding that love can be everlasting like a diamond.

Marcelo’s other entry in the competition ‘Monumento’ is interpreted by the country’s top R&B artists Kyla and Kris Lawrence. Putting the two songs side-by-side, it shows Jungee’s talent and love for OPM showing variety in lyricism while essentially talking about the same thing — how good it is to find love. In terms of commercial success, ‘Monumento’ may edge out ‘Diamanete’ basing it on the current EDM laced sound of OPM, but ‘Diamante’ may beat ‘Monumento’ in making it in the finals with its heartfelt lyrics and overall impact.

WATCH: Here’s the official music video of ‘Diamante’ by Jungee Marcelo interpreted by Morissette.

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Album Review: Mind of Mine – Zayn Malik

A year after leaving one of the best boy bands in the world, Zayn Malik just dropped his solo album Mind of Mine. To say that his solo project is an anti-1D sound is a great understatement.

Just like the others before him (Michael, Robbie, Justin), the former 1D member sure made his musical personality known with his initial offering. But unlike his predecessors, Zayn shaped his album into the R&B sphere with the help of producers known for their talent in this genre like Malay. The famed producer was the golden hand that brought us Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange.

Aside from the first single “Pillowtalk,” one of the standout songs in the album is “Flower.” The love song, which was sung in Urdu is one of the clearest views on where Zayn wants to take his music. This is also the biggest nods to his Islamic heritage. It’s a great way to weave his cultural background without making it seem like his doing it for the sake of doing it.

The second part of the album’s quality sort of limps as the sound and beats of the songs started to sound alike that the listener might get lost as to what they’re listening to.

Zayn Malik said that when he left One Direction, he wanted to have normalcy. If down tempo sexy beats, clean falsettos as declaration of feels and smoky produced tracks, then we’re down for this new normal.

Here’s the complete tracklist of Zaym Malik’s ‘Mind of Mine.’

1. MiNd Of MiNdd (intro)
2. Pillowtalk
3. iT’s YoU
4. BeFoUr
5. sHe
6. dRuNk
7. INTERMISSION flower
8. rEaR vIeW
9. wRoNg ft. Kehlani
10. fOoL fOr YoU
11. BoRdErSz
12. tRuTh
13. lUcOzAdE
14. TiO
15. BLUE
16. BRIGHT
17. LIKE I WOULD
18. SHE DON’T LOVE ME

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Album Review: Rihanna, ‘Anti’

Rihanna could not get her IDGAF vibe across any stronger with her eight album ‘Anti.’

Opening with the song “Consideration”, the pop star sings and challenges the listener and her former label if we could take her and her music seriously and in case we don’t, she couldn’t give a rat’s ass about it. The first track is very evident that Riri is taking a different approach in her sound. It has a trip hoppy opening beat that instantly hooks the listener to the song.  Featuring the underground R&B artist SZA in singing the chorus, the song packs a strong message of wanting independence despite its down tempo and chilled production. The short but dopey second song, “James Joint”, obviously  is not just about Rihanna’s love for the organic high but also a love song that talks about being interested in a man who has a history with the police.

This new direction that her album’s sound has taken is clearly nothing we’ve heard from the Barbados native. Ever since releasing “Music from the Sun” in 2005, the singer has constantly release seven more albums almost yearly. While others will argue that she’s only manufacturing tunes that can be easily consumed but not assimilated by the public, no one can deny that she’s one of the most prolific artists out there.  In this album however, Rihanna still kept her pop sensibilities with more radio-friendly songs like “Kiss It Better” and another collaboration with rapper Drake, “Work.” These two songs feel like finished products by her team, unlike the others but that’s not to say that the other songs are not good. Releasing “Work” as one of her singles for this album was a smart move as the song still shows the chemistry between the two artists.

From then on, the album starts to show you how Rihanna wanted to sound minus the pop production backing her. “Desperado” gives a darker country vibe with her accent turning into a southern drawl. “Woo” and “Needed Me” are both the stoner versions of the independent women. She also covered Tame Impala’s song “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” which probably is one the most stand out tracks in the album. Keeping the same arrangement and just putting her vocals on, Rihanna managed to make the song her own with her delivery of the song’s lyrics: “I can just hear them now/’How could you let us down?’ Maybe she knew that her listeners will be perplexed by her different sonic aesthetic.

Whatever Rihanna is smoking right now, pop stars could take a cue from it and start exploring their own sound. Riri sure did. And even with her IDGAF attitude, this album was the most real and vulnerable she has ever been.

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Music Industry’s Biggest Controversies of 2015

This year’s music industry sung a remix blended with new as well as old songs we are so familiar with. A slight tune of re-invention preludes a promising future to new and up & coming songs hoping to continue to hit the airwaves in 2016.

For one, Adele’s comeback made a big headline making her new song Hello an instant hit. Charlie Puth on the other hand became the newest singing heartthrob with the song Marvin Gaye. And who wouldn’t talk about the transformation and re-invention of Justin Bieber from a “teeny pop star” to a serious singer.

While we saw and heard good things this year, 2015 was also marred by different scandals and controversies…

The music world took on a lot of split ups, twitter wars and upsets this year. From band breakups, and accusations of racism, to a great deal of heated discussions that trended on Twitter. Even Pop Sweetheart Taylor Swift got herself into a Twitter beef that was quickly cleared up, thanks to her way of handling the issue like a true-blue adult beyond her years.  Not to mention a string of incidents from a Grammy upset to a boy band member going to a different direction, here are some of the biggest music controversies of 2015.

A slight Blink that led to disbandment

After more than 20 years of making pop-punk music together, in just a blink of an eye, Tom Delonge left Blink-182.

blink 182

At first sight, it seems that DeLonge amicably left and is on good terms with the group, but it soon became apparent that there was something more than what the fans could see. The tension got real when DeLonge was replaced by Matt Skiba and the former band mates continued to fire social media rants at each other.

Beck beats Beyoncé

Beyoncé’s self-titled album was the biggest thing that any artist has ever done so far. From the confidential production to the surprise release and to the songs, everyone thought that the Queen has arrived to take what is rightfully hers. Well, Beck beat her to the punch. His album Morning Phase nabbed the top honors at the Grammys. The Beyhive was stirred and one of its fiercest supporters Kanye West was not pleased at all. He went on a verbal diarrhea but quickly changed his tune after hearing Beck’s album in full. The public was not as forgiving. They kept the discourse going on social media and roasted the Grammy voters for getting it wrong.

beck and beyonce

Minus One Direction

Zayn has left the building. This was probably one of the most surprising disbandment that no one saw coming. Boy band One Direction and the rest of the Directioners were blindsided as Zayn Malik announced his departure from the group after their fourth album. The fans were right in their hunch that there is more to Malik’s tweets about wanting to forge his own career as heated exchange of tweets started to happen between music producer Naughty Boy and Louis Tomlinson. The growing spat soon ended after Malik cut ties with Naughty Boy and started working Frank Ocean’s collaborator Malay.

minus one direction

What’s good VMAs?

Nicki Minaj does not take being snubbed out of the VMAs sitting down. Her Minajesty called out the award show for not including her music video Anaconda in the list of nominees, and in a barrage of tweets implied that racism and archaic standards of beauty were the reasons why the show left out her music video. The VMAs chose to keep silent but another nominee, Taylor Swift, entered the Twitter match and had some strong words for Minaj. Like a lot of publicized Twitter feud, the two cleared the air and even managed to perform together on stage.

On the local side, the Pinoy music scene was not without its controversy and newsmakers. From an indefinite hiatus to calling it quits and to starting a solo career, here are some of OPM’s controversial items of 2015.

Taking a break and Breaking up

Two of the most relevant bands in the OPM scene have decided to call it quits. Well, Kamikazee stated that it will be just temporary while Cebu-based rock band Urbandub will be hanging up their music instruments for good.

kamikazee

The Jay Contreras-fronted band with hits songs Narda and Martyr Nyebera thanked all of their fans for the support they bestowed upon them for 14 years and urged to continue supporting OPM song. Kamikazee held their last concert “Huling Sayaw” at the SMART Araneta Coliseum last December 10, 2015.

Urbandub also had the same message of gratitude towards all of the fans who followed their 15-year career.

In an interview, lead vocalist Gabby Alipe said that they will be focusing on their families since each of them have started having their own. He added that it wouldn’t be same if they continue singing with one member missing so they have decided to take a final bow instead.

Queens Reign

It was not all tears for OPM as reigning queens Sarah Geronimo and Regine Velasquez added more feathers on their crowns. Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez was recently named by the Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI) as the best-selling OPM artist of all time. The diva has sold almost eight million copies of her albums in the country and almost two million across Asia. She also has eight multi-platinum albums under her belt that have sold almost 300,000 units.

Meanwhile, Popstar Royalty Sarah Geronimo also brought pride to the country by besting 26 artist from around the world with her song Kilometro. Geronimo’s song competed in the 10th International Song Contest: The Global Sound and bagged the Gold Global Sound award. The ISC Global Sound, in its Facebook account also lauded Geronimo for being the first Asian country to win the contest.

sarah g from the top

Sarah’s comeback concert “From The Top” was also tagged as one of the fastest selling concerts, having sold out VIP tickets in a matter of hours after tickets sale was opened.

Read: VIP tickets for Sarah G’s From the Top Concert now sold out

Indeed, 2015 was definitely an eventful year for the music industry but we look forward to another year of exciting music both on the foreign and local music scenes.

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5 Covers of Adele’s “Hello” You’ll Say Hello To Over and Over Again

There’s only so much “Hello” by Adele that a person can take. It’s such a heartbreaking song that listening to it multiple times may leave one broken and damaged even if they’re not going through an emotional breakup of some sort.

Luckily there are different covers of Adele’s comeback single which has the same effect. But since it’s delivered by different people, the song has become more than a just song about a person reminiscing about how a relationship ended.

Here are five of the best covers of Adele’s Hello which will make you say hello to over and over again.

1. The School girl from South Korea

This South Korean school girl has remained on the down low. But with her loving, low-key cover which she performed in a classroom with only a piano accompanying her and the typical school background noise, the song was given a more realistic feel.

2. Leroy Sanchez

This is probably one of the most watched “Hello” covers. Sanchez who also did an amazing cover of Sia’s “Elastic Heart” proved that no note is too high for this Youtube cover star. His amazing vocal range and natural vibrato gave the song new layers of emotion.

3. Hello in Sign Language

One of the most unique interpretation on “Hello” is by American Sign Language interpreter Molly Lou Bartholomew. She has a YouTube channel which features American Sign Language versions of hit songs like John Legend’s “All of Me” and Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” Her cover gives those with hearing problems a chance to enjoy and savor the song.

4. Emotive RnB cover

A lot of male artists did their own cover of Adele’s song but William Singe puts a different spin to it. Highlighted by a great music production by mixing drumbeats, Singe added a layer of depth that gave his version an RnB edge without taking away the song’s emotion.

5. Hello Funny Lady

For those who have visited Miranda’s YouTube channel, they know what to expect from this funny lady. Who else would take on this heart-wrenching song and turn it into something that will have people laughing in tears.

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