Posted tagged ‘Melanie Martinez’

My Favourite Albums of 2015

December 22, 2015

JPEG image-4CD4A65CB569-1Yes, boys and girls, it’s time for that annual ode to my self-indulgence, self-importance and self-exaltation – My Favorite Albums of 2015. This year’s theme is “U.K. genre busters.” More than ever, my interests went to music that is not easily classified because it blended genres. And that frequently drew me to U.K. artists who are blurring the distinctions of genre far more than their popular U.S. music counterparts. Nine of the albums in my list are by U.K. artists.

In no particular order . . .

Should Have Been on the List for 2014 But I Didn’t Hear Them Until 2015

Gorgon City Sirens A really cool blending of house and synthpop with the smooth beats carried by an assortment of marvelous U.K. singers such as Katy B[1] and Laura Welsh, and the inimitable Jennifer Hudson.

Jungle Jungle Sleek, groove-driven, 70s-style funk from the U.K with a new millennium vibe.

These Should Be Obvious

Adele 25[2]

Adam Lambert The Original High[3]

Only Available in the U.K.

Kwabs Love + War[4] If there is a baritone-voiced angel in the heavenly realms, Kwabs is what it sounds like. As to his style, Kwabs says it’s “ultimately soul . . . taking from the things I love and that I’ve been listening to all my life (Aretha, Ella, Stevie) while having a place in the future.”[5]

Ella Eyre Feline Think classic Motown 50 years later and you get this album.

The Rest of the Best

Leaves’ Eyes King of Kings A concept album whose focal point is the sagas of Norway’s first king Harold. Majestic symphonies; massive metal guitars; soaring, angelic female vocals – when the Norse do folk music, it’s hardly of your Peter, Paul and Mary variety.

Darlene Love Introducing Darlene Love She’s the unaccredited voice of The Crystals’ 1962 hit He’s a Rebel, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and one of the subjects of the documentary Fifty Feet From Stardom. After five decades in the business – and by the business I mean the industry[6] – she has created a spectacular display of African-American vocal music – soul, blues, gospel and an occasional nod to the 60s girl groups. No disrespect to any of the current crop of pop stars – or aging classic rockers even – but it’s improbable that ANY of them will be able to sing like this when they’re 74 years old.

Lianne La Havas Blood Is she Folk? Funk? Rock? Pop? All of the above with a killer voice, too.

Florence + The Machine How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful The one-time quintessential modern baroque pop[7] diva is now the quintessential modern rock/soul diva.

Melanie Martinez Cry Baby It’s like Lorde and Lana Del Rey got together and wrote catchy pop songs about dark, disturbing, deranged, depressing teenage fantasies.

Disclosure Caracal Another superb groove-driven album from the U.K. that draws on house, R&B, and synthpop featuring vocals by superstars such as Sam Smith, Lorde, Miguel and The Weeknd, as well as My Boy Kwabs.

Duran Duran Paper Gods 80s-style synthpop is making a modern comeback, so why shouldn’t there be a fantastic and fun new Duran Duran album?


[1] Her album Little Red was my favourite of 2014.

[2] See my review

[3] See my review

[4] I was in the U.K. in October. After my work was completed, I had one goal: return with two copies of this album – one for me; and one for My Daughter Diandra.


[6] Admit it. You were wondering when I was going to work that in.

[7] Think 60s bands like the Moody Blues; Blood Sweat and Tears; Procul Harum; or The Association.


Another One (Voice Winner) Bites the Dust

May 6, 2015

Whoever you’re rooting for on The Voice aka The Game Show With Singing – stop. Just stop now. On Tuesday, Yahoo Music’s Reality Rocks confirmed that last season’s “winner” Craig Wayne Boyd was dropped from his label deal just FIVE MONTHS after his “victory.”

I believe I had that.

And in the show’s continuing smoke and mirrors hypocrisy, this news about Craig’s deal was known while he was making his “triumphant return” to the show and talking with host Carson Daly about his supposed post-Voice success.

So let’s update the record. That makes three “winners[1]” in seven seasons that didn’t actually get to make a record with the recording contract that was purportedly their prize. A fourth, Season 5’s Tessanne Chin, released an album that sold so few copies (7,000) that it virtually was a non-release. And the first winner Javier Colon has said that he got so little support from the show and his “record deal” that he would have been better off losing and having the freedom to promote himself.

History seems to be proving him right. The race to become the first breakout artist from The Voice aka The Game Show With Singing[2] is among people who didn’t come close to winning the show (with one exception) and have had the freedom to do without any “help” from The Voice:

  • Melanie Martinez: Dollhouse video has 17m views on YouTube, album on Atlantic Records coming out this year, eliminated in Top 6, Season 3
  • Avery Wilson: working with Clive Davis on an album with RCA, eliminated in knockout round, Season 3
  • Matt McAndrew, #1 single on iTunes, signed to Republic Records, runner-up Season 7
  • Judith Hill: touring with and being promoted by Prince, eliminated in Top 8, Season 4

If you’ve missed my prior rants about the show, here’s a sample:

As for the rest of this season, which is close to crowning a “winner”, be careful who you’re rooting for. You really don’t want them to win.


[1] Jermaine Paul (S2), Josh Kaufmann (S6)

[2] That’s right. Seven seasons. Zero star artists.

Catching Up on Last Week

January 27, 2015

Carlos and Adam LAny time I can get a Carlos Santana sighting, that’s a good thing. And when I get that sighting on Idol the following week after getting a whole show of Adam Lambert, that’s a really good thing. I’ll probably have to pay the price later by watching my favorites leave early but no sense in getting ahead of myself and musing about soul-crushing exits.[1]

But Thursday night’s visit to New Awlins gave me more than Carlos. There was a strong contender for My Girl status in Erica Washington who sang Halo so great you forgot that’s Her Highness Beyonce’s song. She had me thinking, “Why isn’t she on the radio already?”
In addition, we could have a very rare sight – a potential My Boy in the fabulously, eclectically, refinedly[2] dressed Quentin Alexander. He sang Royals so great that not only did you forget that’s Lorde’s song but the judges threw in comparisons to Sly Stone, Terence Trent D’Arby and Andre 3000!

(Why am I getting sickening premonitions of soul-crushing exits?)

Believe it or not, I also thought there were a couple of country singers worth paying attention to: headbanded Tori Martin from Texas was my favorite from the montage of the trio of girls in the middle of the show; and the fabulously named teenager Ricky Dale Hendricks whose parents must be NASCAR nuts.

Carlos momI’m guessing a large number of ladies will like Adam Lasher who gets to refer to My All-Time Boy Carlos Santana as Uncle Carlos. My Crack Research Staff tells me Adam is the son of Carlos’ sister and found this old picture for me. My Crack Research Staff also tells me he failed to get a turned chair in the blind auditions on The Voice Season 2. My Crack Research Staff may also have a crush on him.[3]

Unlike the judges, I was not that big a fan of Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph who sang Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. I’m rarely a fan of any attempt to sing Adele, especially when it pales in comparison to My Never Got to Be My Girl Brandy Neelly’s take at the 2:34 mark in this medley on YouTube

Wednesday night’s auditions in the great music city of Minneapolis hooked me right away by using Ella Henderson’s[4] Ghost. And then I spent the rest of the auditions fighting off being hooked by the Evil Genius Producers into who they wanted us to pay attention to, such as the North Dakota guy with the man-crush on K-Urbs. As is the Evil Genius Producer’s pattern, there was a Montage in the Middle and I liked the raw quality of space-invading bartender Courtney Guns the best.

In spite of all the story lines and featured auditions, it was the performances at the bookends of the night that satisfied my critical needs the most. While 17 year-old Shannon Bethiaume was kicking off the show with House of the Rising Sun, I wrote “raw, very raw talent” and then “Joplin-esque” before the judges invoked that hallowed name. Indeed, Shannon had me imagining what a teenage Janis Joplin must have sounded like. She may be too untamed and unseasoned to get through Idol but I found her interesting.

Landscaper Mark Andrews closed the show with two songs. He underwhelmed on Soulshine but the judges must have known I was enjoying his raw[5], gritty tone when they asked him to sing another song. He chose Be Like You from Jungle Book and he nailed it.

As always, it’s way too early to get invested on the basis of 30 second auditions. Much can change in terms of the Idolists as well as my opinions of them. I expect a number of the people I’ve found interesting to this point to get swallowed up by the competition in Hollywood.

MelanieUntil the next time, I hope you get to listen to some good music. I know I will. Assuming the weather cooperates, I’ll be seeing Melanie Martinez live for the third time tonight.


[1] Good thing I haven’t experienced many: Sabrina Sloane, Chris Daughtry, Melinda Doolittle, Todrick Hall, Alexis Grace, Carly Smithson, Siobhan Magnus, Michael Lynche, Brandy Neelly, Jamar Rogers, Amanda Brown, Melanie Martinez, Judith Hill – oh, the last four were from The Voice . . .

[2] Yes, I know it’s not a word. Some things need made-up words.

[3] I won’t call them out by name.

[4] I mentioned Ella here

[5] Do you detect a theme?

500 Words for My 500th Blog

December 13, 2014

Adam Lambert. Alexis Grace was The Cutest My Girl Ever. Melinda Doolittle was one of the best singers Idol’s ever seen. I really wanted My Girl Jessica Sanchez to win. I cannot believe Crystal Bowersox lost to Off-Key Lee Dewyze. Siobhan Magnus was kinda strange, kinda cute and kinda good. Who was more fun than Kellie Pickler? Season Seven: David and David, My Girl Syesha, Jason Castro, Brooke White, Carly Smithson, Michael Johns. #WhatASeason. The telephone ringing during or immediately after the show was always My Mom. I really wanted Lauren Alaina to win. Adam Lambert. How the heck did Daughtry not win? I wasn’t an Idol watcher the first four seasons so I missed Kelly, Carrie, Jennifer Hudson – and William Hung. I was never much of a Fantasia fan. Didn’t care much for Pia, Scotty or Phillip Phillps, either. Paris Bennett and Allison Iraheta were impossibly talented young teens. Caleb’s Dazed and Confused was so epic. My Girl Jena’s Creep was pretty awesome, too. I’m still bitterly disappointed that Brandy Neelly never got to the finals. The first My Girl Sabrina Sloane didn’t make the finals, either. It’s a Mad World. Adam Lambert. Elliot Yamin singing A Song For You. Crystal Bowersox singing Up to the Mountain. Joshua Ledet singing It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World and sounding like he is speaking in tongues. Melinda Doolittle singing Have a Nice Day. Blake Lewis taking a risk beat-boxing on Livin’ On a Prayer. Candice just flat killin’ Lovesong. What the &^%#$ is Paula saying? Simon’s strange metaphors. Evil Eye Jimmy Iovine and Evil Genius Producers. The necessary seven-second delays for Steven Tyler and Nicki Minaj. Kara DioGuardi stripping down to outdo the annoying Bikini Girl. Ellen Degeneres was a disappointment wasn’t she? The hour results shows were so boring and too full of false drama. Adam Lambert. And how many bad theme weeks did we have to endure? Way too many fails on Motown Week. Simon jumps to X Factor. Melanie Amaro sings spectacularly but never makes a record. Carly Rose Sonnenclar was too good to be only 13 years old so I’m sure she was an alien. Alex and Sierra were fabulous, weren’t they? Too bad the show was a disaster even if I liked Demi Lovato and LOVED My Miss Kelly Rowland. I started a love-hate relationship with The Voice aka The Game Show With Singing. I started to hate it just as everybody else was starting to love it. But I want Adam Levine’s wardrobe. Adam Lambert. My Girl Dia Frampton singing Heartless. Jamar Rogers and Juliet Simms were amazing. Nobody will ever sing Dream On like Amanda Brown. Melanie Martinez was so cute with her two-tone hair and gap-toothed smile. The Sing-Off was fun, too. Who didn’t love Ben Folds? I loved seeing Jerry Lawson and The Talk of The Town going old school. Pentatonix was fantastic. Idol has made stars. X Factor has made stars. The Sing-Off has made stars. The Voice has not. Adam Lambert. 🙂

Miscellaneous Voice Musings

December 5, 2012

I got caught up in The Voice as it finally reached its Final Four.[1] Of course, I have a few thoughts.

Sending My Girl Amanda Brown home is a hate crime against great singing and those responsible should be punished to the full extent of the law.

My Mom definitely would have called IMMEDIATELY after Trevin Hunte sang And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going. That was spectacular.[2]

My Almost Girl Cassadee Pope. Seriously. Who is prettier than her? Oh, that would be Amanda Brown. 🙂

I had grown to love Melanie Martinez such that I granted her a battlefield promotion to My Girl status. I am going to miss her. And I loved that she did a song (The Show) by Lenka , an Australian pop singer I know most people aren’t familiar with. My daughters and I have seen her twice and we are fans.[3]

The talent on the show is really excellent but with no apology I’m not a fan of “rocker” Terry. I do think the final will come down to him and My Almost Girl Cassadee.

So back to My Girl Amanda. One of the things I love about The Voice is that they count iTunes downloads as votes. In fact, they count each download as ten votes. So as much as I am disappointed when voters don’t see the brilliance of my favorites, I love that they back their favorites with actual dollars. Dollars – and not text votes – is what drives the business and by the business I mean the industry.

Based on that, my crack research staff recently looked at the iTunes Top Songs chart:

  • Terry #8 I Wanna Know What Love Is
  • Nicholas #11 Rainbow
  • Cassadee #16 Stand (the Rascal Flatts song)
  • Cassadee #23 I’m with You (the Avril Lavigne song)
  • Trevin #26 And I Am Telling You
  • Melanie #30 Crazy
  • Melanie #45 The Show
  • Amanda #57 You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)
  • Cassadee #71 Over You (from 3 weeks ago!)
  • Amanda #78 Here I Go Again
  • Terry #81 Stay With Me
  • Nicholas #90 September
  • Trevin #131 Walking on Sunshine

Based on the charts, viewers are not putting their money where their votes are with My Girl Amanda (#57 and #78). They certainly are with My Almost Girl Cassadee. My crack research staff also pointed out that Terry had a better chart performance this week than Trevin in spite of Trevin’s spectacular And I Am Telling You.

Again, since The Voice is counting each download as ten votes, differences in chart placement get magnified in the weekly results. Hence, my prediction of a Final that is My Almost Girl Cassadee vs. (I Don’t Like Him) Terry.


[1] After what seems like 3,689 years, 15,843 episodes and as many bad Christina outfits.

[2] Not getting those phone calls anymore will be missed, especially with Idol approaching.

[3] I even have a tee-shirt.