Album Review: Demi Lovato’s “Confident”

Well poised and assured, Demi Lovato fires up with her latest album Confident. But here’s the catch, she sometimes sounds that she has too much of it.

Lovato’s fifth studio album still echoes her battle cry: self-empowerment and being in your own skin. The first track “Confident” made sure that Demi’s voice booms louder than the heavy drums and multitude of horns as accompaniment. The message however, will make you question if there is something wrong with being confident, and surely the answer will be just like Lovato’s.

The succeeding tracks has the same musical DNA as the first one. The two songs maintain the upbeat pace of the album with “Cool for Summer”, using  catchy piano loops in the intro. “Old Ways” on the other hand lays out Lovato’s very public early personal problems.

The album then shifts to low gear and on a slow tempo. The cohesiveness yet too familiar ballad take, gave the album its romantic perspective. A stark difference from the earlier tracks.Listeners might be surprised with the 180 degree change.

Given the album’s hit and miss tracks, consider Lovato’s voice the best instrument in the album giving the needed power in some of the snoozier songs. This is a big help in the album’s transition from fast to slow with an ending track that will tug anyone’s emotions.

Demi may be a vocal beast but she sometimes exerts too much power that we think might strain her voice as she ages. To continue with this style, her asset might be also her undoing.

Overall, Confident delivers , heads up, its message albeit the weird change of pace.


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Album Review: Bleachers’ Terrible Thrills Vol. 2

Jack Antonoff clearly knows how to frame the female perspective in his songs. Taylor Swift’s collaboration with Antonoff yielded “1989” which Antonoff co-wrote three songs.

Aside from this, the Grammy Award winning songwriter also released an album which re-interpreted the songs of his band’s album “Strange Desire.” The album “Terrible Thrills Vol. 2” features a lot of relevant female acts in today’s music landscape and they all sang using their own style.

​One of the widely recognized voices in pop music of late is Carly Rae Jepsen, who made an appearance in the album and sang the track “Shadow.” Jepsen’s version showed the pop star’s trademark playful vocals. Her rendition of the track truly made it her own and could probably be thought to belong in her own album.

​Another female singer who graced the album was Sara Bareilles. Antonoff and Bareilles co-wrote the song “Brave” and its message quickly made it to be one of the most popular anthems for positivity. Bareilles’ sweet and soulful voice added another layer of character to the track “Wild Heart.”

​Tinashe also lent her voice to the cover the hit single “I Wanna Get Better.” The song’s upbeat track mixed flawlessly with Tinashe’s sexy and soulful voice made it one of the most innovative re-imagining in the album. Tinashe gave a more R&B vibe to Antonoff’s indie pop influence.

Bleacher’s Terrible Thrills Vol. 2 track list:

1. “Wild Heart” (feat. Sara Bareilles)
2. “Rollercoaster” (feat. Charli XCX)
3. “Shadow” (feat. Carly Rae Jepsen)
4. “I Wanna Get Better” (feat. Tinashe)
5. “Wake Me” (feat. Lucius)
6. “Reckless Love” (feat. Elle King)
7. “Take Me Away” (feat. Brooke Candy & Rachel Antonoff)
8. “Like A River Runs” (feat. Sia)
9. “You’re Still A Mystery (feat. MØ)
10. “I’m Ready To Move On/Wild Heart Reprise” (feat. Susanna Hoffs)
11. “Who I Want You To Love” (feat. Natalie Maines)


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Album Review: Disclosure’s “Caracal”

Replicating an album’s critically-acclaimed formula is a double-edged sword because an artist will not want to sound the same as their previous work and run the risk of repeating their aesthetics. But at the same time they still want listeners to immediately recognize them through their already recognizable sound. Disclosure’s sophomore album “Caracal” sure feels like this dilemma.

​The Lawrence brother’s successful first album Settle made everyone to notice the two boys’ house music. Not only did the singles from the album charted, it also put an up and coming singer onto the forefront by the name of Sam Smith.

​Caracal attempted to recreate the vibe of the first album complete with vocals from different acts and genre like Miguel, Lorde, and Sam Smith. But none of the tacks from the album managed to stand out and make the listeners listen to it repeatedly. The album has the sound of classier electronic and house with none of the risk of Settle’s sinking aural vibe.

​That’s not to say that the album is bad. From The Weeknd’s “Nocturnal” to Lorde’s “Magnets” to Jordan Rakei’s “Masterpiece,” the album managed to create a sound that would still be playable in parties and will still make people dance. But not as crazy.

Released last September 2015 via Island Records, Disclosure’s Caracal contains 11 tracks which include;

1. Nocturnal [ft. The Weeknd]
2. Omen [ft. Sam Smith]
3. Holding On [ft. Gregory Porter]
4. Hourglass [ft. Lion Babe]
5. Willing & Able [ft. Kwabs]
6. Magnets [ft. Lorde]
7.  Jaded
8. Good Intentions [ft. Miguel]
9. Superego [ft. Nao]
10. Echoes
11. Masterpiece [ft. Jordan Rakei]


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WATCH: Imagine Dragons releases new music video

American rock band Imagine Dragons released a music video for their newest single Roots. The music video was shot around parts of New Zealand during the band’s break from their tour last month.

Dan Reynolds, front man for the band said in the Auckland leg of their tour that they chose to shoot their music video in New Zealand because the place felt like their home away from home.

The music video starts off with the band finishing up a gig but quickly turns into a dream sequence of sorts as Reynolds starts to move into different dreamlike images of striking locations and several home movie clips of the front man at different ages.

In an interview, Reynolds said that the song is about embracing culture, and the thing that makes a person who they are. He further added that “it’s easy to get lost in the world but family will always be your anchor.”

The music video in many ways shows the jarring contradiction of the life musicians face while on the road.

He also said that they wanted to show the truth about life on the road. While it’s true that there is an incomparable high of performing for a big crowd but there are also times when it just feels lonely coming home to a hotel room for long periods of time and wanting to be with their own families.

After its release three days ago, the music video has been viewed 716,492 times.


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Top 4 Most Unexpected ‘Call Me Maybe’ Videos

Everyone thought that Carly Rae Jepsen would just be a one-hit wonder with her wildly popular song “Call Me Maybe.” Her sophomore album “Emotions” not only dispelled those notions but also showed that the pop star has the ability to make her songs stick to our ears.

“Call Me Maybe” is an iconic song for Jepsen. This was her ticket to mainstream consciousness. Her song was so popular that almost every one posted their own videos lip synching to the song about seizing the day and making those connections happen, even if it’s banking on a maybe.

The craze started when Justin Bieber posted a video of himself and some friends lip synching to the song. Of course, millions of “Beliebers” caught the bug and the video went viral. Not wanting to be late on the lip synching party, another pop star Katy Perry made her own lip synch video alongside her group of friends.

The effect of the song was so strong that it wasn’t only pop stars and celebrities who made their lip synch videos. College kids, more specifically collegiate athletes jumped into the craze. Sports teams from around world posted their lip synch videos and made it their own by incorporating varying degrees of choreography.

Politics was not spared by the “Call Me Maybe” bug as videos of U.S. President Barrack Obama and presidential aspirant Donald Trump had their own lip versions of the song.

Carly Rae has proven herself to be pop juggernaut by how her songs  transcends socio-economic and cross-cultural classes. The singer has proven the her relevance is not just a one shot luck.

And before everyone gets to enjoy her much awaited Philippine concert at the SMART Araneta Coliseum Monday September 14, 2015, enjoy first this 4 most unexpected Call Me Maybe videos.

1. Justine Bieber and friends

2. Katy Perry and friends

3. Donald Trump with beauty queens

4. US President Barack Obama


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What to expect from the One Direction concert in Manila

Pop groups, like most other music acts, go through changes. Most of them begin their careers with a lot of help from their label and a squeaky-clean look to boot. This look usually evolves as the group matures. Each member goes through an individual transformation and adopts a more distinctive look. The same is also true as can be observed in the songs that they sing.

With their much-awaited concert tonight at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, Filipino Directioners can expect the British quintet to be more mature this time around.

The fans will definitely see that this wasn’t the same five boys that were selected to form a group when they joined The X-Factor UK in 2010. Now, all of them are strapping young lads in their early 20s.

One of the things that remains with the group is their vocal cohesion and harmonization. Even as they individually sound different from the time they had started, they have managed to retain and add more dimensions to their vocal chemistry as a group.

Fans can surely expect Liam to crack the jokes on stage, while Louis will charm the crowd with his cheeky demeanor, just as Niall busts a move with his guitar in hand. Harry who now sports longer hair will definitely make the girls and women scream even when he is sporting a scowl or a look of intense focus on his face. It’s unfortunate though that Zayn, with his soulful voice and dreamy eyes, will not be able to join the concert.

This is definitely a very diverse boy band. Fans can expect that One Direction will not be performing any choreographed dance steps because that’s not who they are. Instead, what the fans will see is a lot of funny moves and running around the stage since the boys are all about being themselves and having fun.

The boys have also changed musically. Fans can expect that the group will be playing a lot of tracks from their latest album as well as songs that have endeared them to their fans worldwide like “What Makes You Beautiful” and “One Thing.”

Their fans from five years ago have also grown up along with the group. So expect them to cheer for their idols a bit harder and louder. Their concert here in Manila will surely mark how the group has evolved and how their fans are with them throughout this awesome journey.

10 Little Things Every One Direction Fan Should Know

Once British boy band One Direction steps into Philippine soil for their much-anticipated concert on March 21, there will surely be a lot of shrieking. Not just on the concert grounds, rounds shrieking is also bound to ensue from fans that will troop outside of their hotel.

Directioners are some of the most dedicated fans ever. One Direction’s perfect bedhead hair, candid demeanor and goofiness are what endeared them to their fans all over the globe, the Philippines included.

But for those who are just getting wind of the fab five, here are ten things that you might want to know that will take you up to speed with the One Direction craze.

  1. “This Is Us”

When the band was filming their documentary, everyone was a nervous wreck. According to them, the process was like putting out a single; a part of them hoped that people will like what they’ve made. While this feeling made them vulnerable, getting this kind of project out with such sincerity was wildly exciting for them.

Once the cameras started rolling, the group agreed to not edit themselves and provide the film crew with as much access as they can give. This turned out to give the boy band a different dimension as to who they are on and off the stage.

  1. Pranksters

It’s a common knowledge to every hardcore Directioner that the boys love pranks. But the funny part is they don’t do it to one another. Everyone in their crew has been victimized by the boys’ mischief just for the laughs.

  1. Dating credos

Even with their superstar status, the boys of One Direction still hold onto very simple principles in dating girls. Niall likes a girl who laughs ridiculously, while Harry likes girls who are on time and doesn’t spit on the street. Girls, take note.

  1. Normal is the watchword.

The boys still try to maintain a sense of normalcy in their lives when they are not touring the globe or recording in the studio. Niall shared that he still goes to see soccer matches because that was his favorite thing before he became part of the global pop group. The boy still like to watch concerts of other artists just enjoying themselves as music fans.

  1. Best advice comes from mom.

Liam has always lived by what his mom told him. He said that his mom has never pressured him. He just does the best that he can in everything that he does.

  1. Family life is still key.

Harry shared that he is still the normal kid whenever he is with his folks. He mentioned their importance in his life believing quality time with his family has helped him cope with their fame.

  1. Surprise, surprise!

You might think that the boys of One Direction have seen it all when it comes to their fans’ love for them. Niall shared a story of how one fan wanted to get a picture of him. To make sure she gets his attention, the fan jumped onto his back and asked to take a picture of him with her on Niall’s back.

  1. Shocking scenes.

They were actually surprised when the documentary showed interviews with their families. The five boys realized that they haven’t really had the time to be with their families as much as they want to and that their families support them all the way.

  1. Getting the third album done.

The boys shared that even though there was a rush in putting everything together on time, writing the songs for their album was the easiest part of the process.

  1. Zayn’s best man

Zayn joked that the way to choose his best man for his wedding is through a death match. Or rock, paper, scissors. Told you they’re a goofy bunch.

Song Feature: Pare Mahal Mo Raw Ako – Michael Pangilinan

Joven Tan’s latest composition for this year’s Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs will be a big hit for the LGBT crowd. “Pare Mahal Mo Raw Ako” talks about a straight guy learning that his gay friend has fallen for him.

The premise might sound like something we may have heard before with Parokya ni Edgar’s “This Guy’s In Love With You Pare.” However similar the narrative may be, the delivery of “Pare Mahal Mo Raw Ako” is markedly distinct.

“Pare Mahal Raw Ako” is tender and intimate, especially with only a piano and a violin accompanying Michael Pangilinan’s tender voice. He gives the song a certain authenticity making you feel like, even if you’re not in the same situation, you’d probably have said the same thing.

You could feel that Joven Tan handled the issue behind his music and lyrics carefully through how the song sounds. The Himig Handog entry treats the theme as a serious matter giving it the tenderness and sensitivity that it needed.

Though it may still sound like a song about unrequited love, it paints a different picture of a love song about acceptance and telling your friend that everything is still alright with your friendship. “Pare, kaibigan lang kita.” The last line may sound like it is a sad ending, but it actually says “no matter what, we’re still going to be friends.” The song may be tackling a controversial issue but its message and sincerity should be enough to grab the top prize.


Song Feature: Pumapag-Ibig – Marion Aunor

Pumapag-ibig” features an interesting wordplay on the modern everyday terms that Pinoys use. We conjugate nouns as if they were verbs. We like to invent words and play with the language to add more spice to the way we talk to each other. Knowing this while listening to Jungee Marcelo’s Himig Handog entry for the first time will make anyone feel comfortable and relate to the song in an instant.

The song is light and catchy and jives well with its quirky lyrics. Jungee Marcelo did an excellent job of reeling the listeners in, especially the young ones who are more familiar with social media and the language that prevails in it. If anything else, this song should place at the top three for its mass appeal coupled with superb songwriting sensibility.

Marion Aunor’s husky and sweet vocals help the song become more radio-friendly. Her distinctive sound makes the song more memorable to its listeners. She gives off a feeling as if she’s talking to her friends about how it is to fall in love. She describes the series of events and funny nuggets of stories about the joys of being in love. The short little scenarios of how we act when in love are accentuated by her voice. “Pumapag-ibig” is light and sweet without being sappy or corny, making the listener want to fall in love.


Barbie Almalbis: A Different Face of Pinoy Rock

The 90’s kids will remember Barbie Almalbis as the front woman of the band Hungry Young Poets, whose song “Firewoman” still haunts us to this very day. She then moved to form another band, Barbie’s Cradle, who brought critical and commercial success through their songs “Shiny Red Balloon” and their cover of the OPM classic “Limang Dipang Tao.” After being with these two bands, Barbie went on her solo journey in 2005 and released her album Parade in 2006, to be followed five years later by another album Goodbye My Shadow.

Throughout her musical and artistic journey, Barbie has always stayed with her rock roots — from the emotive and introspective indie rock sound from her Hungry Young Poets days, to her light and airy vocals in the songs “Belinda Bye Bye” and “Money for Food,” to her mature and laidback sound in her solo recordings. She has maintained the grit essential in any rocker even if she sounds like a wood nymph humming in magical woodlands. She still brings the oomph needed in her songs without having to sound like the rest of her female rocker contemporaries in the industry. Even her image has been marked as unique, slightly quirky and artistic, definitely not a run-of-the-mill rock musician.

Barbie Almalbis has shown everyone, especially those who want to take the same musical route, that she took over a decade ago: keep your image of yourself intact but make sure to evolve without losing yourself.