R&B is King

I think growing up I had a major misconception of what R&B meant. At times, I thought it was only Luther Vandross and Quincy Jones slow jams. Then, I heard Prince for the and my perspective on the genre shifted, accordingly. Yet, all the while, my ignorance still brought me to the conclusion that it was a stlye of music which had a devoted following, which solely existed on a niche station somewhere in the XM/Satellite radio-sphere.

Maybe it was D’angelo that finally made realize I had been sorely mistaken. Then came Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Maxwell, and the rest of the neo-soul pantheon, who each left an indelible mark on my heart in the shape of behind-the-beat rhythm sections and make-you-swoon vocals. Whatever it was I was hooked.

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Around that time, an album that sort of fell into the genre, but also had elements of hip hop and electronic and everything else music has ever known, fell into my lap. It was Frank Ocean’s, Channel Orange. I’m not sure this was the advent of the elctronic-infused R&B that dominates radio stations and soundcloud homepages, alike. But it was the freshest (both badass and refreshing) style of music I had heard in years. I was not the only one who had this opinion. The album was ranked number one of the year by numerous critics, won a grammy for Best Urban Contemporary Album, and went gold in numerous markets around the world.

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Whether or not Channel Orange catalyzed the most fashionable trend in music today is a subjective debate, but it is undeniable that since 2012 R&B has become the hottest genre around. The past year has been no exception. A review of iHeartRadio’s monthly playlists revealed that the genre was the most popular of 2015, followed by Pop, Rap, Country, and Latin.

As a lover of the genre, my motherly instinct leads me to believe this overwhelming success, a testament to the artistry of R&B, might actually serve to hamper its progress. Not that success is an inherently  bad thing in music, but I feel that in many cases it leads to a diluting of originality–a siphoning out of the elements that made an artists who they were. Since achieving worldwide fame, contemporary R&B superstars such as The Weeknd, Miguel, and, of course, Franck Ocean have put out music that I listen to regularly and really respect. As long as these aforementioned stylistic tastemakers do not succumb to the pressures of stardom, the genre will continue to push musical boundaries for years to come.

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Source: http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/hip-hop/6777117/rb-iheartradio-top-ranking-genre-2015

 

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“Bey Great!”–Beyoncé Releases Surprise Visual Album

beyonce-booklet-main-picThe internet went into a frenzy on midnight, Friday the 13th when music icon Beyoncé Knowles-Carter released an unexpected self-titled, visual album with absolutely NO PROMO OR MARKETING!! Her eager fans (The BeyHive) shut down iTunes while waiting to purchase her album for $15.99 (14 songs/17 music videos).  The digital version was released today, but physical copies (CD/DVD formats) will not be available in stores until December 21st  (Just in time for the holiday season!–A great stocking stuffer for Bey fans!)

It’s amazing that no one caught wind of her project and that it was kept a secret! Beyoncé managed to film 17 videos around the world from Houston to New York City to Paris, and Sydney to Rio de Janeiro, all before the album’s release. Impressive!

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Track listing:
01 Pretty Hurts
02 Haunted
03 Drunk In Love [ft. Jay Z]
04 Blow
05 No Angel
06 Partition
07 Jealous
08 Rocket
09 Mine [ft. Drake]
10 XO
11Flawless [ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche]
12 Superpower [ft. Frank Ocean]
13 Heaven
14 Blue [ft. Blue Ivy]

Here’s what Bey had to say about her new visual album:

“I see music, it’s more than just what I hear. When I’m connected to something, I immediately see a visual or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion, a memory from my childhood, thoughts about life, my dreams or my fantasies. And they’re all connected to music.”

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“I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it. I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans. I felt like I didn’t want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans.”–Beyoncé

Check out an more in-depth exclusive video that Bey released in her own words about her new album, as well as previews of ALL of the videos that she has made available to her fans from her official YouTube channel.

Some of my faves so far: “Drunk In Love” ft. Jay-Z, Flawless,” and “Blow”

To get a sneak peep at the album booklet photos click here!
Purchase the album now on iTunes!

Bey Great!

BK…Bridget Kelly

Bridget Kelly

During early February of 2009, I was a concertgoer at Jay-Z’s The BluePrint 3 Tour stop in Greensboro, NC.  Jay-Z is on stage performing one of his huge hits at the time, “Empire State of Mind” with this girl who comes out and everyone starts screaming and going crazy because we thought it was Alicia Keys, but it was some unknown singer named Bridget Kelly. Who is Bridget Kelly??

Bridget Kelly who is often referred to as BK, signed to Roc Nation in 2008 to her first major recording and publishing deal. Bridget honed her performance skills early in her career, having toured with JAY Z (Blueprint 3 Tour), Estelle (BET Music Matters Tour), and performing at this year’s Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. She also released a remix to singer Miguel’s song “Quickie” that garnered her some attention in September 2011. During October of 2011, BK also released her eight song EP, “Every Girl”. The EP contained the stand out single “Thinking About Forever.”  BK can also add to her list of accolades, Grammy winner. She is a Grammy-award winning songwriter, penning the song “Einstein” from Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger album, which won Best Pop Vocal Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards.

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“With her debut single, “Special Delivery,” Bridget does just that, delivering honest, heartfelt lyrics, over powerful vocals, singing about the struggle of coming to a crossroads in a relationship and the difficult decision of ending it and moving on.”


Check out her video for “Special Delivery” below:

BK initially sang the song “Thinking About You” (her version was entitled “Thinking About Forever”) that was made famous by singer Frank Ocean.  Frank Ocean initially wrote the song for BK during a studio session with her and Roc Nation producer, Shea Taylor.  According to Bridget, Frank decided that he wanted to take the song back, and ultimately he leaked his demo version of it. Since Frank was a more known artist at the time, his version became more popular and was a hit for him (See the 2nd video below at the 3:17 mark to hear her side of the story)…I think that her version is pretty dope too! It will be included on her upcoming album,”Something Different” along with the singles “Special Delivery” and “Street Dreamin” that features Kendrick Lamar. Bridget Kelly will be an artist to watch in 2014!

BK’s acoustic version of “Thinking About Forever”/”Thinking About You”

Bridget Kelly gives the scoop on the Frank Ocean penned “Thinking About You”/”Thinking About Forever” at the 3:17 mark

Check out the “Every Girl” EP here!!

Sources:
http://www.bridgetkelly.com
Complex Magazine

A Breath of Fresh Air…Luke James

Two words…Luke James. I wholeheartedly believe that this guy is the next big thing for R&B music. I’m a huge fan of Luke James! His voice will give you chills. In an industry, where it is becoming more common for people to look the part than to have the talent to succeed..Luke is in a lane of his own..Let’s start by giving you a glimpse into this guy’s background…Luke James I Want You

He attended high school with music artist Frank Ocean, in New Orleans (St. Augustine High School). Prior to venturing out on his own as a solo artist, Luke was a part of the duo, “Luke & Q” which garnered the hit single “My Turn” in 2006. The duo split up shortly thereafter because they mutually agreed to part ways since they did not get the recognition that they both were seeking. Luke then focused on honing his songwriting skills, and wrote songs for Britney Spears, Keri Hilson, Chris Brown, and Justin Berber.

In 2011, he was personally selected by R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles to appear as a dancer in her “Run The World (Girls)” music video. In 2013 he was personally chosen by R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles to be an opening act for her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. Luke’s long-term manager, choreographer Frank Gatson, has been pivotal in his affiliation with Beyoncé Knowles and Destiny’s Child since he has served as a long time choreographer for the two acts.

Luke and Bey beyonce-luke-jamesUnder the management of record producer Danja, James released his first mixtape, #Luke, in 2011 as a free download. The mixtape’s critically acclaimed single “I Want You” earned him a Best R&B Performance nomination at the 2013 Grammy Awards. He released his second mixtape Whispers in the Dark as a free music download in 2012. His debut studio album, Made to Love, is slated for release in 2013.

Check out some of his music below…

“I Want You” music video

“I Want You” live performance video

Click on the links to stream or download his mixtapes..you won’t regret it!
Whispers in the Dark
Luke

Resources:
Singersroom
Vibe Magazine
GlobalGrind
B.E.T.

Dear Mr. Ocean, You’re bi? We hadn’t noticed.

Won’t it be the most predictable, embarrassing thing if the media actually talks about Frank Ocean’s sexuality at the Grammys next year?  Everyone will be over it, right?  I’m writing this on 12.12.12, and it’s my wish to the universe:  Be cool, world.

Let’s face it:  his album, channel ORANGE, would have done just as well this year if he hadn’t “come out” or written that “open love letter” to a dude, or replaced all the pronouns with “she”.  It is an impressive, seamless work written by a truly gifted young man who has no need to prove himself.  His successful songs for others (John Legend, the Biebs) had set the stage for this moment.  However, the publicity around the release of this album made many wonder if his little tumblr coming out party was a stunt.  It was a week before the album dropped.  Was he pressured into it?  Did he feel as though he needed to give his music context?  A compulsion to be honest?  There was a lot of hype coming from a lot of angles, and it catapulted the release and subsequent reviews into a higher profile situation.  It certainly made waves and got a lot of attention from a variety of communities.  But what happened this summer was that the music community supported him and his honesty, even the ones you wouldn’t expect (his colleague Tyler the Creator is allegedly uncomfortable with these things, but he rose to the occasion).  Others (Chris Brown, 50 Cent) may or may not have been so accepting.  But have you listened to this album?  It’s like he’s seeing things from above, telling stories for you to interpret any way you like, neither happy or sad; hopeful or maybe hopeless, full of musical nods and somehow defying genre.

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So the glitter has settled, and he has been nominated for six Grammys.  Everyone always bitches about how the nominations always miss something important, it is too mainstream, blah blah, Of course this is true, get over it.  My hope is that this year, the unpredictable will prevail.  When Frank Ocean takes the stage, as he undoubtedly will, to accept his first Grammy of the night, will it be up to him to bring up his sexuality?  Will it be a non-issue not because of fear, but because of acceptance and love?  The legacy of this album could be one of a breakthrough of tolerance in a resistant musical community that will permeate the industry and perhaps others.  We’ll just have to wait and see what he has to say about it.

How to predict hits

Two elements can be relevant for predicting a hit song. These are: The “velocity of the tagging” and editorial judgement. It is the result of an interesting analysis run by a company based in London called Shazam. The first aspect is related to the level of engagement between artist and audience and how quick it is their judgement in terms of tag data per day. Therefore, this also shows that the amount of interest expressed could be less relevant in comparison with the timing of response.

The process starts in choosing a leading indicator for the songs to be considered potentially succesful, providing a report of tag data per day who have been received by the platform. After that, the evidence shows that there is a relationship between the impact of the songs in commercial and the rise of them in Shazam chart. Once reached the number one position, a direct consequence was provided by the climbing of Billboard’s Hot 100 classify: This result happened for several artists that gained positions during previous year,  as Lana Del Ray, Frank Ocean…and it’s the consequence of an accurate analysis about data and metrics measuring the commercial viability of the song itself. There will be other predictions for the next year and there is already a list of the possible hits. In addition, record labels are using this system for testing new tracks and the tags can also be driven by TV as in the example of “Too Cloose”. Infact the evidence shows that happened a significant increase from 10 tag a day to ten thousands in a single day after being featured in an ad for Microsoft IE9.  “Somebody I used to know” was included in the prediction according to the data provided by the company and some songs included in the report were not still commercially released.

It’s worth to say that this tool can de defined as a new business model. This could be very useful for labels that feel the importance to understand the target audience and to decide where to put maketing efforts.

http://www.swpcontent.com/shazam-content/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Top-Tagged-Songs-and-Artists.pdf