Last year I shared my knee jerk reactions to the Beale Street Music Festival lineup announcement. Comments came along throughout the day lauding how great a job Memphis does getting decent acts to Tom Lee Park for the affordable event, and I felt like a jackass for putting down the Little Festival that Could.
Kudos to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner for proving himself to be – like most of his D.C. colleagues – completely off-focus. Instead of making headlines for doing anything legislatively progressive, he saw top news billing for saying he would sign a petition to deport Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber.
And why has this petition been started? Multiple stories have surfaced in recent weeks of Bieber’s wild lifestyle. He got a DUI, which subsequently produced a memorable mugshot. Investigators have pulled drugs from his homes and planes. The paparazzi is following him on a 24/7 basis at this point, and not a day goes by that his photos aren’t splashed on media sites.
Let me insert a rare dose of logic into this mainstream entertainment disease: Justin Bieber is 19 years old. I’ll repeat that: he’s 19. To put into context for guys and girls of my generation how young he is, he was three months old when “The Lion King” released to theaters for the first time. Yeah.
In many ways, the 56th Annual Grammys was a mixture of everything right and wrong with modern awards shows. Performances ranged from the inspirational to the outlandish, but all proved to be the type of buzz-worthy segments show producers were eager to achieve.
The 2014 ceremony was all about the leading women in music. Beyoncé kicked off the show with a sizzling “Drunk in Love” bit with husband Jay-Z. Lorde kept her angsty persona going with a memorable “Royals” solo. Who didn’t love Pink’s stunning descent from the ceiling? And Taylor Swift seemed hell-bent to prove her critics wrong and did such with a stunningly aggressive rendition for “All Too Well.”
Of course, the boys had their fun, too. Kendrick Lamar with Imagine Dragons easily stole the show with an intensity rarely seen on the Grammys stage. Ditto to Metallica’s return and the crazed finale that saw Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age and Dave Grohl go ballistic with one of the best rock mash-ups in recent memory.
It was Daft Punk and friends who really owned the evening, though. Think it couldn’t get any better than an on-stage medley with Stevie Wonder? Amazingly, it did, as the crew swept the show, earning Record and Album of the Year. All of the “Get Lucky” love almost made us forget about Pharrell’s outrageous hat. Well, almost.
There was a time when I thoroughly enjoyed the popular music that was played on the typical Top 40 station. Then I grew up…got a job…and a wife. I’ve become dissatisfied with “today’s best hits” (primarily consisting of Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and Pitbull) and the banter between adolescent callers and androgynously-named DJs. If you find yourself relishing the moment a commercial comes across the airwaves–you’ve got a problem. If your radio station has you banging your head against your dashboard, I’ve got your solution–blues.
As a Memphian it is easy to think that all blues music sounds like that of W.C. Handy and B.B. King; however, that isn’t the case. There are many genres of blues–Contemporary, Electric, Windy City Blues, and Delta Blues (just to name a few). I think you’d be pleasantly surprised in comparing some of your favorite songs to blues music. There are certain similarities and likenesses. In an interview with Mick Kolassa, Vice Chairman of The Blues Foundation, he explained to me that often blues is the “foundation” of most of today’s music; more or less, blues gave breath to all music of the last generations.
Isn’t 13 suppose to be an unlucky number? Don’t tell that to the entertainment industry. This past year turned out to be one of innovation on multiple fronts.
The cable box took a back seat to streaming services in the pursuit of new TV series. Music artists started offering up full album appetizers for listening before consumers bought the main course. A wide range of fresh devices entered the market, including newly numbered gaming consoles and tablets with more pixels than we could count.
Of course, not everything had the high-quality stamp of approval. Despite crafting a surprisingly solid album, Miley Cyrus seemed more content making shock performances for headlines than art. Ben Affleck being chosen as the new Batman left more than a few of us scratching our heads. Oh, and let’s not even begin to get into Kim and Kanye’s new child, A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” debacle and the epic meltdown of Amanda Bynes.
Instead, let’s focus in on the sights and sounds that left us feeling good. Without further hype, here are the top 13 things that made 2013 a satisfying year. Read more
As we wrap up this year and begin a new one, our top music reviewer ranks his top five albums of 2013.
Honorable Mentions: Reflektor by Arcade Fire; Random Access Memories by Daft Punk; Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend; The Lone Bellow by The Lone Bellow
5) Yeezus by Kanye West
Kanye is on a different level than other artists. He’s absolutely crazy, like insane, loose cannon crazy. But there is no question that he is a genius. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was great, one of my all time favorites, but Yeezus is transcendental. It will be the album people associate him with in 50 years.
Talk about a stunner. No one expected Beyoncé to drop a complete new album – completely unannounced and unhyped – on Friday. No one could have anticipated the insane results of that surprise, either: in 12 hours, the pop superstar had generated 1.2 million tweets.
The financials are even more impressive. While we’re still waiting for final numbers, it’s looking like her self-titled album moved nearly 400,000 units on day one. If confirmed accurate, that number would dwarf debut sales of fellow divas Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Britney Spears, who didn’t even come close to achieving that result in their first complete week on the market.
Early data distracts from the real accomplishment here. “Beyoncé” could be much more than just a one-day internet phenomenon. In fact, the release could signal a complete change in the pattern stars use to debut their content. It also shows an amazing sense of business savvy on the part of Mrs. Carter.