Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Sing-Off Season 5: A Special One-Night Holiday Event Recap


Before we get to the premiere last night, let's talk about the MAJOR overhaul of the show:

Duration:  Instead of a multiple episode competition, it was a 2-hour special with the winner being chosen at the end. 
Number of Teams:  Only 6 teams competed.
New Judge:  Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy replaced Ben Folds.
Competition Structure: Each group performed a signature song to showcase their sound.  Then 3 moved on to the Judges Choice Round where they sang a song picked by the judges.  At the end of the night, a winner was chosen.

Here are the 6-groups who competed:
  • Timothy’s Gift (Nashville, TN) - 6 women from the church
  • Melodores (Nashville, TN) - 12 male students from Vanderbilt University.
  • The Exchange (Los Angeles, CA) - Male group made out of Season 3 members of the Yellowjackets, Urban Method, and behind-the-scenes Sing-Off vocal producers
  • Traces (New York, NY) - 5 women with gospel and church roots
  • SanFran6 (San Francisco, CA) - Made up of members from 6 different groups
  • a.squared (New Haven, CT) - A tech-a capella group from Yale

And so the competition began.  It was great to see Season 3 winner Pentatonix return on the stage as well as last year's winner Home Free.  Here were the favs of the night:

Contestant:  The ExChange
Song:  Love Runs Out by OneRepublic

It was brilliant the way those who did the vocals switched to with those who did the instrumentation. Thanks Jewel for the education that people with lower voices can reach higher notes because they have thicker vocal chords that can stretch the most. . .#whoknew

Contestant:  Traces
Song:  I'm Every Woman by Chaka Khan

Their transitions were smooth and powerful along with their effortless choreo.

Contestant:  The ExChange
Song: SING by Ed Sheeran

They KILLED IT!!  They made a lyrically complex song so easy and did a 3 part harmony on the rap part.  And that falsetto by Jamal . . WHAT?!

Contestant:  Melodores
Song: Take Me to Church by Hozier


As a result, The Melodores were chosen as the night's winners, the first collegiate team to win the competition.

But seriously NBC, what a way to Speedy Gonzalez a great show.  It didn't give us enough time to get to know the teams and to see their talent grow over the weeks.  It really diminishes the competition. I hope this is the last time they do this.

2014 Year in Review: Top 10 Must-Have Albums

Year in Review: A chance to reflect on this year's music moments

We continue highlighting the best musical moments with the Top 10 "Must-Have" Albums of 2014.  If you haven't picked up these albums yet...what are you waiting for??  

(In no particular order)

1.  In the Lonely Hour - Sam Smith

This album is very "heart on sleeve" like and vulnerable as Sam presents his vulnerable side addressing his trials and tribulations of love.  The songs, which have a R&B, soul, gospel, and Pop sound, are very pure and true.

2.  2014 Forest Hills Drive - J.Cole

A very retrospective album.  Cole brings it back with the ol skool vibe through his lyrical delivery and use of samples. 

3.  Chapter 6:  Couples Therapy by Syleena Johnson

True R&B from a strong female vocal talent!  Syleena continues to deliver her signature soul, grit, honesty, and realness that brings the album title to musical life.

4.  Black Messiah by D'Angelo & The Vanguard

After 14 years, D'Angelo drops his long awaited 3rd album.  The mix of  blues, funk, soul, and rock meshes well with the sexual and consciousness lyrics.  However, at times it's hard to understand what D is singing so follow along with the lyrics online.  He's making us work for it.  But once you get it. . . you'll GET IT!

5.  G I R L by Pharrell Williams

His 2nd solo album since In My Mind in 2006, this album oozes Pharrell's signature vibe of 70s funk and soul combined with his smooth groove falsetto.    

6.  DK3 by Danity Kane

It's sad that this is the last album we get from them after reuniting this year as a group of 4, then 3. . .and then NONE!!  At least they left an album that captures their signature Urban Pop sound. 

7.  Mail is.... by Mali Music

A great mixture of not only R&B but hip-hop and reggae to accompany Mali's impactful lyrics.

8.  Stronger by Tank

Tank continues to serves us some classic R&B with songs you can groove to.

9.  X by Chris Brown

After many delays, Breezy gives us a "mature" (using this loosely) side of him in this album.  Even though track heavy and it could've been arranged differently for better flow, it's a good album.    


10.  Days & Nights - Daley

This album is a great introduction to his vocal talent if you didn't get his Those Who Wait EP.  Daley offers a beautiful delivery of true R&B and soul. 

What album should have been included?
What was your favorite album of 2014?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Voice Season 7: And the Winner is. . . .Plus Season Highlights

Monday & Tuesday at 8/9c on NBC

Last night was an action packed Finale of great performances.  Past contestants of the season graced the stage again, the finalists performed with Lynyrd Skynyrd (Craig), Jennifer Hudson (Damien), Fall Out Boy (Matt), and Jessie J (Chris), along with Hozier, and an electrifying performance by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars who rocked a full set of hair rollers!!!

OMG, they did a Jimmy Fallon and created a Blake voice mash-up of Can't Touch This by Hammer with the help of the other coaches.  Hilarious!!

Here are the MusicLife favs of the night with the contestants:

Matt with Taylor John, Sugar, Taylor, and Mia perform Go Your Own Way -  Their voices worked beautifully together.  All you had to do was close your eyes!

Damien with Anita, DaNica, and Elyjuh perform Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Pure soul!  Would've loved to see Sugar and Luke added in this mix though.

In the end, America voted and the winner of Season 7 is. . . .


Congrats to Craig and Blake for taking back the win making it his 4th!!!  Craig truly proved he deserved to be in the competition until the end.  And to think he ended up with the Blake, the only person who chose him in the Blinds and then let him go during the Battles.  Congrats to Matt (Runner Up), Chris (3rd), and Damien (4th) who all did well vocally this season.   

Now that the season has come to an end, let's take a look at some of the MusicLife's season favorites ...

Best Battle

Contestant:  Griffin vs. Luke Wade
Team:  Pharrell
Song: Maybe I'm Amazed by Paul McCartney

Best Knockout

Contestant:  Taylor John Williams
Song:  Mad World by Tears for Fears
Team:  Gwen

Best Playoff Performance

Contestant:  Sugar Joans
Song:  I Say a Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin
Team:  Pharrell

Top 5 Live Show Performances 

ContestantMatt McAndrew
Song:  The Blower's Daughter by Damien Rice
Team:  Adam

Contestant:  DaNica Shirey
Song:  Creep by Radiohead
Team:  Pharrell

Contestant:  Damien
Team:  Adam
Song: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother by The Hollies

ContestantChris Jamison
Song:  Jealous by Nick Jonas
Team:  Adam

Contestant:  Luke Wade
Song:  Thinking of You by Ed Sheeran
Team:  Pharrell


This was another fast season.  I loved both Pharrell's and Gwen's contributions as coaches this season and looking forward to seeing Pharrell and returning coach Christina in Season 8 which premieres March 25, 2015.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Release Tuesday: 12/16/14

D'Angelo & The Vanguard - Black Messiah
(released 12/15/15)
Black Messiah
~MusicLife Pick~ 
At midnight on Monday, D'Angelo dropped his 1st album in 14 years!!  If you liked his Voodoo album, you'll love this one full of funk and blues.  Listen to:  Really Love, Sugah Daddy  

Preview album here

 Nicki Minaj - The Pinkprint
(released 12/15/14)
The Pinkprint [Deluxe Edition][Edited]
Preview album here 

Find out what music has already been released on our New Album Releases page

The Voice Season 7: The Finals Recap

Monday & Tuesday at 8/9c on NBC

Last week Craig (Team Blake) and Chris and Matt (Team Adam) made it to the finals with Damien (Team Adam) taking the Wild Card spot as a result of America's vote.  Last night on the finals, each contestant sang a song picked by their coach, a duet with their coach, and an original song.  Check out their official music videos for their songs here. Here are the favs of the night. . .

Contestant:  Chris Jamison
Song:  Lost Without You by Robin Thicke (coach duet)
Team:  Adam
Ahhhhhhh a falsetto dream!

ContestantChris Jamison
Song:  Velvet (original song)
Team:  Adam
Loved it!!!  The song was smooth and funky with a bit of MJ's Rock With You video vibe in the beginning.  Chris looked so cool up there rockin those cobalt pants!!

 ContestantMatt McAndrew
Song:  Stars by Maroon 5 (coach duet)
Team:  Adam
Such an amazing performance by these 2!! The beginning was beautiful as they just sang with their guitars.

Song:  Solider (original song)
 Loved every bit of the song and I can so see this charting

Tonight, America will crown either Craig, Matt, or Damien with the title of The Voice.  Any one of them deserves it and it will really come down to personal preference by the voters.  Who do you think will win?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Artists Release Songs to Bring Awareness to Police Violence Against Black Youth

In the midst of all the news and protests surrounding the violence against unarmed blacks by police officers, Questlove took to Twitter a week or so ago urging artists to use their voice to spread awareness of what's going on.  Some are doing just that.  

Wu-Tang Clan released A Better Tomorrow, off their upcoming album, to address the social injustices including police shootings of black youth.  The song appropriately uses the sample Wake Up Everybody by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes with the accompanying music video showing actual footage of the aftermath.  Raekwon raps:

We want justice. Police supposed to protect and serve. And then they shoot us down like wild animals, the nerve of those cold hearted killers with blue suits slaying our black youth. The earth cries from all the blood that’s being spilled. We need a solution fast.

John Legend and Common released their collab track Glory that appears on upcoming Selma movie soundtrack.  Common said in an interview, "This is not only for paying honor to those who lived in these times during the '60s, but also really relevant to today.  You can look at what's going on in Ferguson, and it's not a far comparison to what happened to Jimmy Lee Johnson during the time of the civil rights movement that is shown in the film. So I really was thinking about encouraging people that we've come a long way, but we've still got some fighting to do, and we are capable. We've got to carry this torch and take it to the next level."  He raps:

One son died, his spirit is revisiting us, living in us, resistance is us. That’s why Rosa sat on the bus! That’s why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up! 

J.Cole released  Be Free, as a tribute to Michael Brown rapping "All we want to do is take the chains off.  All we want to do is be free."  He recently performed it on David Letterman.

Friday, December 12, 2014

2014 Year in Review: Top 10 Noteworthy Songs

Year in Review: A chance to reflect on this year's music moments

This week we continue our year in reviews with the MusicLife Top 10 Noteworthy Songs of 2014. They are noteworthy because either they made some impact or influence to the masses or just remind you of 2014.  Think of it as the soundtrack of 2014.  We are sure you've heard these songs, but take a moment to enjoy them once more in 2014.

(In no particular order)

1.  Happy by Pharrell Williams

Although released towards the end of 2013, it got most of its traction during 2014.  It became international and crossed genre, age, and color lines.  Happy's infectious beat and catchy lyrics just make you want to dance, sing, and be happy.  It's now among one of the best selling singles of all time.  This YouTube video montage, is a great representation of the song's impact.

2.  Fancy by Iggy Izalea ft. Charlie XCX

Dubbed the Song of the Summer, there wasn't anybody we wasn't singing "I-GG-Y" and "I'm so fancy".  I loved how Iggy delivered the song with such sass and cockiness.  Another song with a winning combo of a great beat and catchy lyrics.  Fancy put Iggy on the map.  The track was also the most-streamed song on Spotify.

3.  Drunk in Love by Beyonce ft. Jay Z

Bey professes her love for Jay and compares it to being under the influence in this sexy song.  Filled with many sexual innuendos, many were left wondering the meaning behind "drankin watermelon" and "surfboard".  If you still don't know, read this Analyze This post.

4.  Stay With Me by Sam Smith

After making his debut in the states performing the soulful ballad on SNL, people were left wondering about this unknown artist.  Eventually, the song was playing on every radio station and Sam quickly became a household name overnight. 

5.  Latch by Disclosure ft. Sam Smith

The success of the song in the States is mainly due to Sam Smith's rising popularity.  The song is by UK house duo Disclosure and features Smith's vocals.  As much as they played it on the radio this year, you would think this was a new song.  However, it was released in the UK in 2012.  Regardless, Latch is now one of the top-selling dance/electronic songs, crossing over to pop and urban outlets.  

6.  The Worst by Jhene Aiko

Jhene deliveries this song so beautifully as it captures the pain and heartache that comes with loving someone you shouldn't.  The Worst definitely helped her gain popularity.

7.  Flawless (Remix) by Beyonce ft. Nicki Minaj

Bey and Nicki spitting on the same track. . .WHAT?!  They went in as Bey addressed the Solange/Jay elevator situation with "Of course sometimes shit goes down when there's a billion dollars on an elevator."  Then goes after Drake with "you wish I was your pound cake. You wish I was your baby momma" to address him posting his pic next to Blue Ivy's.  Next up, Nicki, who Bey calls by her government name Onika, throws shots at Lil Kim calling herself the "Queen of Rap."

8.  Good Kisser by Usher

I love the bassline and drums in this sexy, soulful, and funky song.  Usher's 1st song since 2012, serves a huge sexual innuendo.  Not only can it refer to kissing but oral sex. . . BANG, BANG, BANG!

9.  All of Me by John Legend

Although released in 2013, it received much airplay this year.  What made it so beautiful is the fact that Legend wrote it to profess his love for his wife. 

10. Loyal by Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne & Tyga

Released at the end of 2013, it was in heavy rotation this year.  For men who have been burnt by trifling women, it's an anthem.  For woman, it's kinda that guilty pleasure song you really shouldn't be singing along to because it's kinda misogynistic . . .but you do it anyways. 

What songs should we have included?

What was your favorite song of 2014?


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