Discovering BTS

Sometimes music only needs to be felt to be loved. The connection made through sound alone with the lyrics being secondary. Listening to a band who don’t perform in your native tongue can seem pointless to some. However bands like BTS are giving fans a whole new perspective on music altogether. After being introduced to the seven member K-pop group through an internet friend, I have been swept up in a new and completely engaging wave of music. Not only is the band’s music jaw dropping in its genre range but the members themselves preform to a soaring level of dedication and effort.

Listen to the first BTS song I was exposed to, ‘Not Today’, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DwzBICPhdM

‘Not Today’ is an explosive introduction into BTS, I will admit, however it’s a song and music video that completely encapsulates the band from their high powered vocals to insane choreography. Each of their music videos containing the same cinematic style and magnetism, with their performance style being nothing short of polished. The band have managed to connect with fans beyond their music through not shying away from ‘topics they deem important even in a conservative society.’ Topics such as death and loss as well as school bullying and mental illness. With a taste of their music upon your tongue, we can now delve further into the band themselves.

BTS is a seven member band that were put together by Big Hit Entertainment with various line-up changes from the years 2010 to 2012. In 2010 and 2011 auditions were held for a possible new boy band who eventually became J-Hope, V, Jimin, Rap Monster (RM), Jungkook, Jin and Suga. The name BTS correlates to many things (such as the Korean expression Bangtan Sonyeondan meaning ‘Bulletproof Boy Scouts’ and Bangtan Boys) but has most recently been announced to stand for ‘Beyond The Scene.’

In the beginning of their career, BTS only saw moderate success from their song covers on Youtube and SoundCloud but began gaining attention through various forms of social media. In June of 2013, the band released their debut album 2 Cool 4 Skool, which was to be the first part in their School Trilogy series. Most of their early singles, such as ‘No More Dream’, failed to make it high into the charts however the band persevered through other forms of promotion. For example the guys starred in their own variety show based on a fake broadcast station that allowed fans to get to the boys behind the music. The release of the second in the School Trilogy series, O!RUL8,2?, in the same year, contained the topically important single ‘N.O.’ The single holds this title due to the fact that it is a critique on the educational industrial complex, the music video depicting the solider like obedience expected of pupils.

Listen to the song and watch the music video for ‘N.O’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmgxPLLLyVo

By the end of 2013, BTS were slowly gaining more and more popularity and were being recognised with several New Artist of the Year Awards. Once the boys released their final instalment of their School Trilogy series, Skool Luv Affair, they saw success through topping the Gaon Chart as well as peaking at number three on Billboard’s World Albums Chart. From here BTS participated in many events over the year such as acting as judges for a K-pop cover dance competition in Russia and attending KCON in Los Angeles. In 2014 their first Korean studio album, Dark & Wild, was released and sold over 200,000 copies. Dark & Wild explored a different sound to any of the School Trilogy series and contained the singles ‘Danger’ and ‘War of Hormone’ and saw the band entering a more R&B/rock genre to their previous music. ‘War of Hormone’ received some backlash due to the lyrics being labelled as misogynistic causing the band’s label to issue an apology in 2016.

Listen to ‘Danger’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bagj78IQ3l0

And ‘War of Hormone’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQmpVHUi-0A

With success rapidly building for the boys, it was only inevitable they began to enter the mainstream by 2015, releasing the EP, The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 1. The EP was listed in Fuse’s ‘27 Best Albums of 2015 So Far’ and was the only Korean album on the whole list. The lead single ‘I Need U’ became the band’s first music video to hit over 100 million views on YouTube and won first place on SBS MTV’s The Show. After this, their single ‘Dope’ hit number three on Billboard’s World Digital Chart and was accompanied by a music video depicting the band members in different styles of career dress.

Watch the music video for ‘Dope’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVwAVbKYYeM

Throughout 2015 and leading into 2016, BTS continued to release multiple singles as well as commencing with their 2015 Live Trilogy Episode: The Red Bullet world tour and being a part of the Summer Sonic Festival tour in Japan. Their EP, The Most Beautiful Moment In Life, Part 2, also topped Billboard’s World Albums Chart, remaining in that position for several weeks. This made BTS the first K-pop band to own this achievement and lead on to the boys winning Best World Performer at the 2015 Mnet Asian Music Awards. In 2016, BTS released their second Korean studio album, Wings, to sell over 500,000 pre-order copies in the first week alone. The success of this album entered them at number 62 on the UK Official Album Charts and solidified them in history for achieving high levels of success in the western world. Their music video for ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ broke a Youtube record by gaining 6 million views in only twenty-four hours.

Watch ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmE9f-TEutc

This year has seen BTS appear everywhere you look, with fans all over the world eagerly anticipating their new music. Songs such as ‘MIC Drop’ and ‘DNA’ flooring fans in typical BTS style with captivating music and even more hypnotising music videos. As their success continues to grow, I doubt we will be seeing the end of BTS any time soon.

Links:

Website: http://bts.ibighit.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BTS_twt?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ibighit/videos

 

By Skye W. Winwood

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Remembering Jonghyun

With the Christmas period slowly coming to an end and the new year just around the corner, it is important to remember those who will not be moving on with us. In the modern day of invasive technology and overwhelming press, celebrities all over the world are having to find ways to cope with the growing pressure put on them by the media. Unfortunately, sometimes, the struggle becomes too much and leads to the tragic and heart-breaking reality that some celebrities can no longer live this kind of life anymore. With all the artists in the music world already gone in these recent years, one recent death has shattered the hearts of many and left a feeling of emptiness we can only console with one another.

Jonghyun is most known for being a member of the K-pop group, SHINee, as well as being a solo artist, radio host and author. Born April 8th 1990 in South Korea as Kim Jong-hyun, Jonghyun saw fame over many medias and multiple layers of success as an artist. On December 18th 2017, Jonghyun took his own life due to reasons people believe are related to a long time battle with depression. The details of his death will not be discussed in this blog post out of respect for the sudden and recent loss felt by family, friends and fans, but I believe it is important to highlight the life and achievements of a beloved musician.

In recent years, Korean music has made its way over to both the UK and USA to enter the mainstream and become the new music playing through everyone’s earphones. Bands like BTS, Exo and, of course, SHINee have propelled the genre of K-pop into the western music chats where it only continues to rise to the top. Jonghyun was a large part of this movement with his work as a vocalist in both SHINee and his participation in the group project S.M. The Ballad.

Jonghyun began his musical career in 2008 when he was chosen to be a member of the boy group, SHINee along with Lee Tae-min, Choi Min-ho, Key and Onew. Jonghyun quickly established his place in the band and by 2009 was writing lyrics and was the lyricist for “Juliette” the group’s fourth Korean single. The translated lyrics (from Korean to English) are a beautiful arrangement of a burning confession of love, unsurprisingly influenced by the classic Romeo and Juliet story. Jonghyun explained he wanted to create something people could relate to and saw the iconic story as something everyone could understand. SHINee, along with Jonghyun, soon began to cause a storm with their fashion trends spreading among students and their music reaching overseas. The band have been highly praised for their insanely synchronized and intricate dance routines as well as being labelled for being one of the best live vocalists in K-pop.

With the success of SHINee behind his back, Jonghyun began development on other projects such as providing vocals for the song ‘Let’s Go’, which was written with the intent of increasing public participation in the 2010 G-20 Seoul summit. Along with this, Jonghyun has been recognised for his support concerning issues that are otherwise frowned upon. For example in 2013, Jonghyun changed his Twitter profile picture to an image that indicated support for the LGBTQ+ community despite receiving negative backlash from a Korean website claiming to be members of the SHINee fanclub. In 2013, Jonghyun also found his talent as a composer with the song ‘A Gloomy Clock’ that was featured in IU’s third Korean album, Modern Times. This led to another piece called ‘Red Candle’ that was composed and written by Jonghyun. In 2014, S.M. The Ballad returned with Jonghyun being the only original member.

By this time, Jonghyun had quite the history, talent and experience behind him and decided to begin working on his own solo album. In January 2015, he released his debut solo album, Base, which was quickly devoured positively by critics. The album peaked at first place on both the Billboard’s World Album Chart as well as the Gaon Album Chart. Jonghyun soon began working alongside other popular artists such as Exo and Lim Kim, acting as a songwriter and composer for both.

After conquering the music world, Jonghyun moved onto new but not completely unknown territory with his experience as a song writer. September 2015 saw the publishing of Skeleton Flower: Things That Have Been Released and Set Free, a book containing Jonghyun’s experiences and inspirations. In October 2015, he was chosen as one of the top five K-pop idols through a survey conducted by forty anonymous music industry officials.

The shocking and emotionally charring news of his passing has left many fans lost and seeking solace in Jonghyun’s music. The very serious issue of depression in the celebrity world is sometimes overshadowed and forgotten until someone else is pushed too far. Jonghyun will be dearly missed by millions but we can hope his death highlights the dangers of ignoring mental illness in ourselves and those around us, and contribute to the world moving forward with a higher state of awareness.

 

By Skye W. Winwood

Re-discovering Paolo Nutini

Over the past few months, this blog has published posts discovering new artists. Musicians that are either new to the industry or those who have become lost among the fresh faces of today. Each artist has brought a new perspective to the way I listen to music. However sometimes, when on the search for another enlightening musical experience, it’s important to remember those artists who helped begin the journey. For me, Paolo Nutini is one of those artists, becoming one of the first musicians I listened to outside of the alternative genre. His music infuses a sense of nostalgia within me that stretches beyond his musical talent but I know he is an artist others will thoroughly enjoy. To anyone who has never even heard of him, prepare your ears for a swirling audio mosaic of pop rock, soul and folk music all fused into one.

Born of parents from both Scottish and Italian descent, Nutini was destined to follow his father into their family fish and chip shop business. A place where his musical talent would have wasted away amiss the wafting smells of salt and vinegar. Fortunately, Nutini had an extremely supportive grandfather by the name of Giovanni “Jackie” Nutini who knew of his grandson’s talent before even he really did. With this encouragement pushing him forward, Nutini left school to work as a roadie for Scottish band Speedway. He then went on to have experience working in Glasgow’s Park Lane Studio where he was able to pick up valuable knowledge of the music industry. With this gained combination of experience both in the studio and on the road it was only a matter of time before Nutini released his first album.

After being signed up for his first live show in 2003, Nutini was discovered by business partners Brendan Moon and Mike Bawden – the latter still Nutini’s manager today. Shortly after his 18th birthday, Nutini created his first demo and was signed to Atlantic Records. Now with a music label behind him, he was able to release his first single, ‘These Streets’, as a free download in 2006. A song about a man and his guitar and the turbulent journey both have been on. The song was Nutini’s first appearance on the professional music scene and a beautiful introduction to his unique voice and music style.

Listen to ‘These Streets’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ea3f5R3K96o

From here he continued to release chart topping music until his first album, also named These Streets, in 2006. Nutini worked alongside Ken Nelson on the creation of the album, a producer known for his work with Coldplay. Nutini’s first album had inspirations from his own personal experiences with unsuccessful relationships and offered a glimpse into the artist’s life. These Streets only opened the gates of opportunity further for Nutini as he began playing sell out concerts throughout the UK and supported The Rolling Stones in Vienna.

With the success his debut album brought him, Nutini was able to release Sunny Side Up – the album he is arguably most attributed to and the album where I discovered the Scottish singer/songwriter. Sunny Side Up was released in 2009 and proved to be an instant hit, skyrocketing all the way to number one in the UK charts. The album saw Nutini branching out and exploring himself more as a musician as the album is notably different in sound to These Streets. Although it received a mixed critical response, the success of the album is undeniable with a range of sweeping ballad’s and jaunty tunes to keep you elated in any mood. The album consists of cute coming-of-age songs like ‘Growing Up Beside You’ and always-look-on-the-bright-side pieces like ‘Simple Things.’ However the album also has swinging, jazz inspired songs like ‘Pencil Full Of Lead’ that is hilariously accompanied with a music video containing a dancing animated Nutini.

Watch the music video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-xd3NuWQI0

The sound of These Streets still remains, however, in songs like ‘Candy.’ A folk rock track that comes across as being about fighting with a lover only to realise you were in the wrong. Containing heart tugging lyrics like ‘I’ll be there waiting for you’ repeated almost endlessly and made harrowing by Nutini’s soulful voice. The song has been said to draw personal experience from Nutini’s own life much like the music of These Streets.

Listen to ‘Candy’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3xYXGMRRYk

Another album was released in 2013 (Caustic Love) where Nutini brought more R&B elements into his music. Lead track ‘Scream (Funk My Life Up) receiving high praise and being likened back to the 70s heyday of soul. Even becoming iTunes Best Album in 2014 and further showcasing Nutini’s talent and how he cannot be pigeonholed into one genre.

Nutini is still active as a musician today and after listening to Sunny Side Up on repeat for the past few days I hope to hear more of his music soon. Whilst Nutini’s other two albums are infused with musical and lyrical beauty, Sunny Side Up will always be a personal favourite and I hope this post encourages more people to discover the joy of it.

Links:

Website: http://www.paolonutini.com/splash/1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaoloNutini/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/paolonutini?lang=en

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/paolonutini

 

By Skye W. Winwood

Eminem’s new single ‘Walk on Water’ seems to be taking things in a new direction

After an incredible career spanning multiple years, Eminem is back with the release of ‘Walk on Water.’ The first single from his highly anticipated, upcoming album Revival. The name of the album has had fans speculating the direction the rapper will take his music in. After listening to ‘Walk on Water’ it’s obvious Eminem has delved into a place he has only before skimmed the surface of. Not a song to add to your pre drinks list but instead a thought provoking and deeply personal piece. One still infused with the genius Eminem is notorious for bringing to his music.

Listen to ‘Walk on Water’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1WpP7iowLc

The first thing that may catch your attention about ‘Walk on Water’ is the collaboration with pop queen, Beyoncé. The female singer’s angelic tones adding another layer of beauty and softness to the otherwise raw song. Eminem has become well known for his angry and rhyme spitting lyrics when it comes to his music, something he is both praised and ridiculed for. However ‘Walk on Water’ is filled less with anger and more with powerful emotion, each lyric hitting hard without offending. The central topic of the song is Eminem looking back on his career as a rapper and analysing the journey he has made to where he is today. Questioning his relevance now and speaking truthfully about how he feels his fans treat him. Using ‘Walk on Water’ to bring a fresh era of music.

From the beginning of the song Eminem instantly dives into the struggles he has suffered trying to live up to the expectations fans have of him. Outwardly questioning, ‘why, are expectations so high? Is it the bar I set?’, still questioning himself also. Showing a level of maturity as he is not shirking the responsibility entirely onto his audience. Whilst also addressing the fact that sometimes he has fears of not being able to cope with the pressure these expectations are putting on him. The song then flows into a sense of realisation as Eminem address the fact that no matter how hard he works on his music, there will always be people out there criticising him. He shows his talent as a clever word smith by playing with the phrase ‘bitter pill to swallow’ by replacing it with ‘that’s a hard Vicodin to swallow.’ Using a drug he has had recorded issues with, showing how he is willing to accept the mistakes of his past and not simply act as if they never happened.

‘Walk on Water’ stands as a song for all artists, the inclusion of Beyoncé on the track furthering this. Speaking about troubles artists face such as never believing if their work will be good enough or if they should simply just pander to fan wants instead of their own. Eminem uses personal experiences when he has ‘[sat] in the car, listen, and pick it apart’, referring to lyrics he has written only to disregard them due to fan expectation. The song rises to an almost lyrical crescendo as Eminem seems to get back to his roots. Giving acknowledgement to those who inspired him such as 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G. Even referring to Deshaun, an old friend who was killed in 2006 as the only person who could ever really judge him.

The track ends on a wind down as the song enters a state of reflection with Eminem imagining a world where he is forgotten by fans but that no longer matters. Instead of fading away, the rapper plans to stay and fight for the music he wants as he rightly should. Even ending the track on a bit of comedy with ‘so me and you are not alike/bitch, I wrote ‘Stan’’. Showing that the rapper knows his worth even if it took all these years to figure it out.

‘Walk on Water’ acts as a reminder to fans that artists are people too. We are all human, we all make mistakes and none of us should be held under contempt for our pasts.

Links:

Website: http://www.eminem.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Eminem

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eminem/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/EminemVEVO

 

Review by Skye W. Winwood

It was the summer of 2009…

Summer has officially come to an end. School, university and work are all creeping up on us to blow away the hot summer breeze and sweep our carefree days under the rug of Autumn. Leaving nothing but our memories and the echo of songs long forgotten.

A common reaction to the passing of time is to reminisce and as I get older I find myself doing it more and more. I’m not old enough to have been born during the golden era of the 60s, the psychedelic era of the 70s or experimental era of the 80s and I was too young to appreciate the 90s until the early 2000s. Therefore I’ve decided to create a playlist of ten songs for one of the most memorable summers of my childhood and hope some of you can relate to the nostalgia.

Lady Gaga ft. Colby O’Donis – ‘Just Dance’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Abk1jAONjw

The song that started my (and many others) obsession with the American singer/songwriter Lady Gaga. A classic party tune that would guarantee to have anyone within the vicinity up and dancing. The R&B influenced, synth-pop, dance-pop single kicked off Gaga’s career in 2008 from her debut studio album Fame and received a Grammy nomination in 2009 for Best Dance Recording but lost out to Daft Punk for their just as icon ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.’ Gaga has described the song as a happy one and wanted it to help people going through hard times such as losing their jobs or homes. ‘Just Dance’ was written in ten minutes and still remains Gaga’s most famous single that has the power to transport you back to wherever you were when you first heard it.

Black Eyed Peas – ‘I Gotta Feeling’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSD4vsh1zDA

The second single from their fifth album The E.N.D ‘I Gotta Feeling’ was produced by David Guetta and has become a part of music history for classic songs. Upon release of the upbeat dance pop song it hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chat only losing out on the number one spot to ‘Boom Boom Pow’ another song by the group. The song was nominated for Record of the Year at the 52nd Grammy Awards and won the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. It was also nominated Song of the Year at the 2009 World Music Awards and therefore deserves a top spot on this playlist. ‘I Gotta Feeling’ samples the song ‘Take A Dive’ by Bryan Pringle and is built upon a heavy use of auto tune and futuristic synthesizers that was a theme throughout the whole album.

Beyoncé – ‘Single Ladies’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m1EFMoRFvY

Through countless years Beyoncé has released phenomenal music that resonates with and drives her fans crazy. Nearly any song the American singer releases becomes an instant hit and ‘Single Ladies’ was no different. Creating also an iconic video that has provided us with both an artistic, dance infused visual and numerous parodies that can even reach the same calibre of professionalism. ‘Single Ladies’ won three Grammy Awards in 2010 including Song of the Year and has been considered the best song of both 2008 and the decade. It hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and has been certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry of America.

All American Rejects – ‘Gives You Hell’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxUATkpMQ8A

A song on everyone’s lips in 2009, ‘Gives You Hell’ was the lead single from American rock band The All American Reject’s third studio album. Alongside ‘Dirty Little Secret’ it has been named the band’s most successful song to date and peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart as well as being certified platinum for four million shipments. The tongue in cheek song continues the band’s stereotypical ‘high school movie’ sound and contains drunken backing vocals so the chorus sounds like a ‘bunch of drunk assholes.’

Taylor Swift – ‘You Belong With Me’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuNIsY6JdUw

Back before the media started taking bites out of Taylor Swift’s career she was a sweet country singer/songwriter who released songs about unrequited high school love. No matter your opinion on her now it cannot be denied ‘You Belong With Me’ has become a classic everyone knows the words to even if they are not sure when they learnt them. Swift has said the song was inspired after overhearing a male friend of hers arguing with his girlfriend on the phone. The pop song won Favourite Song at the 2010 Kids’ Choice Awards and was nominated for Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards. The music video won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video in 2009 and created the iconic Kanye West interruption during Swift’s acceptance speech.

3OH!3 – ‘Don’t Trust Me’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdB3Oyd5HtU

Although now becoming a ‘where are they now?’ kind of group, 3OH!3 were hugely popular back at the end of the 2000s with ‘Don’t Trust Me’ probably being their most popular song. The pop single was certified gold by the Recording Industry of America in 2009 and reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart as well as having huge mainstream success. The music video received a nomination in 2009 at the MTV Video Music Awards for Best New Artist but lost to Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face.’ 

Pink – ‘So What’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJfFZqTlWrQ

Released in 2008 from the American singer’s fifth studio album Funhouse, ‘So What’ has become nearly timeless in its popularity. The angry heartbreak lyrics are based on Pink’s separation from Carey Hart and infuse a musical fury that stays with you long after the track has ended. Although largely successful people were split on whether they thought it was an empowering single or just too childish to be taken seriously but critical acclaim won overall and has since been dubbed one of Pink’s most iconic songs. The song is a perfect performance marrying both Pink’s aggressive female empowerment as well as her silliness to not take herself too seriously. The song was nominated for a few awards and appropriately won Most Addictive Track at the 2008 MTV Europe Music Awards.

Owl City – ‘Fireflies’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psuRGfAaju4

Making a recent re-emergence in the online community Owl City’s ‘Fireflies’ is arguably still as loved and hated as it was back in 2008 when it was released. Possibly the marmite of music even those who don’t like the ‘bleepy synthline’ song have to admit how addictively catchy both the tune and the lyrics are. It was the debut single from the American electronica project and was described by Adam Young as ‘a little song about bugs and not being able to fall asleep at night.’ The single managed worldwide success and is something pure and simple that evokes nostalgia no matter your personal opinion on the track.

The Veronicas – ‘Untouched’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykW4rtW2eu0

The Veronicas themselves are probably still quite unknown despite being active since 2006 but their debut single ‘Untouched’ is a tune nearly anyone will recognise. The electropop song has been compared to both Pink and Avril Lavigne by having a foot in both the alternative and pop music genres. The lyrics of the song relate to the Australian twins (Jessica and Lisa Origliasso) feelings about separation from loved ones more so than physical separation.

Boys Like Girls – ‘Love Drunk’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0c-kC8xZ-I

The last song on my Summer of 2009 playlist is the one that was probably played the most among myself and my friends, even to this day the opening causes a smile to break out across my face. ‘Love Drunk’ was the lead single from the album of the same name by rock/pop band Boys Like Girls in 2008 and peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song received a mixed reception upon its release with some critics enjoying the pop/rock tune whilst others criticised it for its controversial similarity to The Killers ‘Somebody Told Me’ due to the choruses of both songs. The song became popular due also to the music video that featured singer/actress Ashely Tisdale from the first shot who makes all the boys in the video fall for her only to lead to a surprise ending.

Of course these are not all of the songs that made up the summer of 2009 so here are some honourable mentions:

Taylor Swift – ‘Love Story’

Jason Mraz – ‘I’m Yours’

Kanye West – ‘Heartless’

Soulja Boy Tell ’em feat. Sammie – ‘Kiss Me Thru The Phone’

Jay Sean feat. Lil Wayne – ‘Down’

T.I. feat. Rihanna – ‘Live Your Life’

Kelly Clarkson – ‘My Life Would Suck Without You’

Flo Rida – ‘Right Round’

Katy Perry – ‘Hot n Cold’

Shinedown – ‘Second Chance’

Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West – ‘Run This Town’

Britney Spears – ‘Circus’

Beyonce – ‘Sweet Dreams’

Sean Kingston  – ‘Fire Burning’

Lady Gaga – ‘Paparazzi’

Jason DeRulo – ‘Whatcha Say’

Iyaz – ‘Replay’

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys – ‘Empire State Of Mind’

Shakira – ‘She Wolf’

Rihanna – ‘Disturbia’

Green Day – ‘21 Guns’

Katy Perry – ‘Waking Up In Vegas’

 

By Skye W.Winwood

New track ‘Reload’ by J.J Leone is bringing back the personal connection to music

When fame becomes just a part of everyday life, many artists become lost in management and production teams. J.J Leone is redefining exactly what it means to be an independent artist in the modern day music scene. A daunting prospect for many aspiring artists, to go it alone, but J.J is laughing in the face of this fear with his new track ‘Reload.’

Listen to ‘Reload’ here: https://soundcloud.com/j-j-leone/reload

J.J has risen in the music scene with increasing promise from his first Top 20 EP Rebuild and has sold out the legendary Ronnie Scott. As well as playing for thousands at festivals such as Sundown Festival and Sofar Sounds.

Beginning his career by recording in a DIY style in his own bathroom has continued into his success as J.J is still completely self-managed. Writing, preforming, producing and managing every aspect of his own success and still finding time to communicate with his audience. Something utterly admirable considering the hardships independent artists face these days, trying to make themselves noticeable as an individual among the crowds of many. J.J has managed to more than get himself notice with both his familiar and unique R&B/Soul sound. Overall his musical sound can be narrowed down to a typical modern R&B sound sprinkled with soul-pop however the guitar based nature runs a shadowy sinew through ‘Reload.’ This synth sewn track alone completely transforms the music into something not only extremely pleasing to listen to but also something that continues to resonate long after the echoes of J.J’s voice have vanished.

Being an independent artist doesn’t hold J.J back in any form, even pushing him to explore and interpret subjects or emotions other artists tend to avoid. His young, almost pure, sounding voice leaves the subjects of his songs to strike the listener. The sound almost childlike in some aspects and bringing home that issues in this world will continue to affect the growing generation if nothing is done about them. J.J also draws on his own personal experiences for his writing such as during the beginning of his career when he would busk on street corners. An artist with a clear goal and direction for his music who has the possibility to transform into a voice for those who do not have one.

See J.J live at Septemberfest and Razorlight on September 22nd!

 

Links:

Soundcloudwww.soundcloud.com/j-j-leone​​

Facebook: www.facebook.com/iamjjleone​​

Twitter: www.twitter.com/iamjjleone​​

Youtube: www.youtube.com/c/jjleone​​

Website: www.jjleone.com

 

Review by Skye W.Winwood

Ten seconds is all Anthony Vincent needs to win you over to his music

In this day and age music stars are being created across all kinds of platforms. Signing a record deal to gain fame is a thing of the past with multimedia sharing websites such as Youtube. Anthony Vincent, better known as Ten Second Songs by his Youtube channel, has fully taken advantage of the opportunities the internet offers by creating something to showcase both his talent and musical genius. Anthony takes popular songs and preforms them in ten second snippets in 20+ different styles.

Listen to Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ in 20 different styles here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jus7S5vBJyU

Beginning his channel back in 2014 Anthony blew up the internet with his unique take on ‘Dark Horse’ currently his most popular video at over twenty-one million views! The cover includes twenty different styles by twenty different artists ranging from Frank Sinatra and Pavarotti to Panthera and Slipknot. Anthony manages to perfectly capture the unique sound of each artist so that they are recognisable even without the subtitles crediting who they are. As his channel has grown Anthony also manages to imitate mannerisms and stage personas of certain artists such as Marilyn Manson in his ‘Pokémon in 20 Styles of the Late 90s’ video. Branching out even further to include styles of Mongolian throat singing and Mozart in ‘System of a Down Chop Suey in 20 Styles Cover’ and ‘Twenty-One Pilots Heathens in 21 Styles Cover.’

Despite being able to imitate a plethora of genres and styles Anthony’s personal talent lies in the heavy rock genre, giving him the multi instrumental talent and powerful voice to seamlessly transform between styles. It’s obvious Anthony takes great pride in his work, the editing of his videos as precise and well thought out as the music itself. Anthony takes the idea of a one-man-band to a level of professionalism that astounds as he also includes videos of himself playing the instruments of each video.

Not only does Anthony provide a bounty of entertainment but he uses the popularity he has gained to interact with his fans. Holding votes for certain songs to be solely preformed in one style or voting for which song he will cover next. As well as his affinity for music Anthony comes across as a genuine guy who appreciates all the support people have given him over the years. His Youtube channel currently stands at over two million subscribers and I encourage anyone with a love of music to follow him as he continues to provide humorous, talented entertainment with a genre or style for just about anyone.

As well as covers of other artists’ songs Anthony has his own band, Set The Charge, who deserve just as much support and will be covered in a separate blog post in the future!

Popular Videos:

Linkin Park ‘In The End’ 20 Style Cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urzWY6sqVGw

Jason Derulo ‘Talk Dirty’ 20 Style Cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhTaNHYWRZ4

Adele ‘Hello’ 25 Style Cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgMAAzzQz7s

Pokémon Theme in 20 Styles the late 90s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioE3oKQ6WbU

System of a Down ‘Chop Suey’ 20 Styles Cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFwZA4fcetI

 

Links:

https://www.youtube.com/user/TenSecondSongs

https://twitter.com/TenSecondSongs

https://www.facebook.com/tensecondsongs

 

Review By Skye W.Winwood

The month may be over but pride is forever

As the month of June comes to an end so comes the awful realisation that some people think the LGBTQ+ community disappears with it. To keep the rainbow flag flying here is a collection of songs either written about or by someone in the community. Whilst some highlight the hardships many people still face today, others are a celebration of all that has be won.

 

Queen – I Want to Break Free: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4Mc-NYPHaQ

A huge icon in the LGBTQ+ world ‘I Want to Break Free’ encapsulates the struggle many homosexual people faced during British rock band Queen’s era as well as staying as a reminder of the fight still going on. The powerful vocals of Freddie Mercury penetrate to a personal level inside all of us to the desire that we all want more than what we have. The music video challenged social norms at the time by having all the band members dressed in women’s clothing to represent how people are made to be something they are not. When first released the song was controversial in America and banned by MTV but now can be viewed as a constant reminder of fighting against oppression.

 

Rocky Horror – Sweet Transvestite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQRjhZyXJFg

The 1975 cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a personal guilty pleasure of mine with its catchy tune and brilliant lyrics. The performance of Tim Curry perfectly portrays the famous Dr Frank-N-Furter as he reminds us all not to ‘judge a book by its cover’ in the sensual and sexual song. More than just a homosexual anthem, ‘Sweet Transvestite’ stands for anyone deemed “different” facing oppression with an ‘I don’t give a damn attitude’.

 

Troye Sivan – Blue Neighbourhood Trilogy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xCMF7jsDJI (Viewer discretion: there are scenes of physical abuse some may find upsetting).

When an artist creates a story it is impossible to isolate something that comes together so beautifully. Unlike the first two tracks mentioned this collection of songs does not hide its message of oppression in an upbeat rhythm. The raw and stripped back sound of the songs reminds us all that people cope with things in different ways but also sometimes it can be too much. The Blue Neighbourhood Trilogy follows the story of two childhood friends who grow up and apart, their friendship turning into something more that becomes too much for one. The shocking and upsetting message is a reminder of what can happen when people don’t have the right support and are lead to believe they will never be accepted.

 

RuPaul – LGBT: https://soundcloud.com/rupaul1/lgbt-feat-chi-chi-larue

RuPaul has famously been quoted with ‘if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?’ The world famous drag queen has always been a spokesperson for the LGBTQ+ community and the song’s title speaks for itself with the message of accepting yourself before expecting others to do the same. With the lyrics following the belief that you can be who you want to be as long as you let me be me. The song calls out listeners to rise up and be themselves as RuPaul sings, ‘come on let me see you rock this town/come on let me see you tear it down.’ The message of always fighting whilst explaining the true ideal of the community: ‘LGBT you be who you wanna be.’

 

Kinky Boots – Raise You Up/Just Be: https://soundcloud.com/originalwestendcastofkinkyboots/raise-you-up-just-be

Coming from another iconic LGBTQ+ musical Kinky Boots’ ‘Raise You Up/Just Be’ speaks of support and making sure to always look out for one another during hard times. The musical marked the debut of Cyndi Lauper as a musical song writer with her lyrics of ‘if you hit the dust/let me raise you up’ reminding everyone they are not alone. The whole production surrounds the message that no one should be left to struggle alone and everyone deserves a helping hand. The song also reminds those who have managed to make it through hard times that they cannot forget those still fighting their own battles. The summary of the song being that people can face whatever threatens them and beat it with help from others who understand and that giving up is never an option.

 

Over the Rainbow – Judy Garland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HRa4X07jdE

When written for fantasy/comedy musical The Wizard of Oz who would have thought the impact the song would create in the LGBTQ+ community. The term ‘a friend of Dorothy’ became a way for gay men to identity to one another without revealing themselves during a time when it wasn’t safe. Since then the song has become a gay anthem of having faith for something better to come along, and keeping the hope that eventually it will. Although the lyrics originally related to a young farm girl’s dream of wanting to escape where she grew up the idea of ‘somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly/oh why, oh why can’t I?’ has become about not understanding how some people can be accept when others are not.

 

Christina Aguilera – Beautiful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAfyFTzZDMM

The pop and R&B ballad speaks of inner beauty and the importance of improving self-esteem over looks. The music video is a visual representation of the different kinds of people who exist in the world and how there is nothing wrong with them being themselves just because it is something others do not understand. With people still facing prejudice for things that harm no one ‘Beautiful’ is an emotional and uplifting song reminding people that they are accepted even if they don’t feel like it. That it’s okay if someone else thinks you’re “ugly” due to the way you are because they are wrong and you truly are ‘beautiful in every single way’. A true song for anyone struggling with accepting themselves no matter who they may be.

 

Pink – Raise Your Glass: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjVNlG5cZyQ

Like Christina Aguilera’s ‘Beautiful’, Pink’s ‘Raise Your Glass’ supports the differences in everyone in this song of celebration. Asking you to ‘raise your glass if you are wrong in all the right ways’ because there is no wrong way to be you. Pink’s music has always been about staying strong and understanding who you are so others cannot tear you down. ‘Raise Your Glass’ rallies everyone who has ever faced oppression because of who they are in a toast to them for not letting people tear them down. The simple and comical lyric of ‘what’s the dealio?’ questions those who see the differences in others as wrong and embodies the whole idea that prejudice has never made sense and will continue to be beaten.

 

Cyndi Lauper – True Colours: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPn0KFlbqX8

Already having one on the list for her inspiring writing in Kinky Boots, Cyndi Lauper lends her own voice to the song ‘True Colours’. A beautiful and moving song about not only being accepted because of your differences but being loved because of them too. ‘True Colours’ encourages people to be who they are because they will always find love with those who understand and accept them. The song also embodies the idea that you should never hide who you truly are because ‘your true colours come shining through’ and you should never try to darken yourself to please others.

 

Lady Gaga – Born This Way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV1FrqwZyKw

The pop artist Lady Gaga has been an outspoken supporter for underdogs through her entire career and has always put forward the belief that we are made to be who we are. The song born this way challenges those who believe that some people are made unnatural by saying, ‘I’m beautiful in my way because God makes no mistakes/I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way.’ Gaga sings about how as long as you are being who you were born to be there is nothing you are doing wrong.

 

Whether you belong to the community or are a supporter, continue to always love and support each other no matter what.

 

By Skye W.Winwood

LGBT hip hop artist Tony Banks takes on the hip hop world

 

In a world where hip-hop has typically been perceived as ‘straight’, LBGT hip hop artist Tony Banks has had to find his own voice and niche within the genre, defying many of our conventional conceptions of modern music. Now he is back with the minimalist-house infused ‘Run’ featuring EarthTone and JwlB, the second single from his upcoming EP Yes Homo.

With musical influences ranging from the likes of Michael Jackson, Missy Elliott, and Andre 3000, Tony has developed an individual style of his own that cleverly borrows elements from these iconic artists, embellishing upon them all the while. In the past, Tony has also opened for Cakes Da Killa, Mykki Blanco and he has also worked with JwLB of Yo! Majesty. Described as ‘Move ya feet, feel good’ music with a touch of the reality we live in, songs like ‘Run’ encapsulate exactly what Tony Banks is all about; pushing boundaries and making killer beats.

Listen to his latest single Run here:

 

Links:

www.facebook.com/musicbeartonybanks

https://twitter.com/MusicBearTonyB

https://www.instagram.com/musicbeartonyb/

https://www.youtube.com/MusicBearTonyBanks

https://soundcloud.com/musicbeartonybanks

 

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