Thursday, November 20, 2014

Usher Performs Catalog of Hits at Verizon Show in DC

November 10, 2014 - Verizon Center - Washington, DC

This is the 3rd time I've seen Usher and he never disappoints.  It was interesting to see the makeup of the audience.  It was divided between older fans like me who have listened to Usher since the start of his career and younger fans who probably know him for his hits like OMG and DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love and his coach residency on The Voice last season.

The minute I stepped in the arena around 7:30pm, I was welcomed to DJ Cassidy doing what he does best . . .rockin the house!!!  The man is a freakin GENIUS the way he puts mixes together.  His set 40-min set included Wanna Be Startin' Something by MJ, Hideway by Kiesza, Gypsy Woman by Crystal Waters, Latch by Disclosure and then some Barry White.. . CRAZY!!!  I've had the pleasure of seeing Cassidy dj before but this was the 1st time I've seen any DJ with his own keyboard player and guitarist.  It brought a cool and live dynamic to his set.  I love Cassidy because of his pure passion for not only entertaining the crowd but of music in general.  The energy this man has is off the richter scale and he was bustin a move behind the turntables.  If I ever get married, in lieu of gifts, I want everybody to chip in so I can hire him to play at my reception!

Next up at 8:15pm was R&B newcomer August Alsina who gave a 30-minute set that included his popular song and the only one I know I Luv This Shit.  He reminds me of Trey Songz with a bit more street edge.  He was decent live but seemed like he was straining his vocals in the higher vocal range. The younger crowd was definitely feeling him but I wasn't that impressed especially with the dancers limited choreo of droppin and poppin, spreading their legs, and whipping their big hair. 

At 9pm, the lights were dimmed and Usher emerged from behind the stage, surrounded by smoke as he went straight into his 1997 hit My Way.  To keep things interesting, some songs were arranged differently.  This usually bothers me but I was open for the change since I've seen him many times before.  With a 9 piece band, 3 backup vocalists, and 8 dancers, Usher took the crowd on a musical journey that spanned his 20 year career.  Watching him up there made me feel really nostalgic as I went through many life experiences while listening to his songs.

Usher left most of the high energy and fast paced choreo to his dancers while he was a bit more low key than usual.  But I don't think anyone minded as the crowd was one with Ursher as the arena was filled with the crowd singing every one of his songs in unison.  New songs like Good Kisser, She Came to Give it to You, and I Don't Mind were mixed in along with Chris Brown's New Flame, which Usher is featured in.  During Bad Girl, he picked a few women from the audience to dance with him on stage, which was ummm "interesting.".  There was one point where Usher came out from under the stage to display his skills on the drums. 


Setlist

1.  My Way
2.  OMG
3.  Love in This Club
4.  You Want Me Wanna
5.  Lil Freak
6.  Nice & Slow
7.  U Remind Me
8.  Twisted
9.  Caught Up
10. She Came to Give it to You
11. Climax
12. Confessions II
13. Hey Daddy/My Boo/I Need a Girl Medley
14. Lovers & Friends
15. I Don't Mind/New Flame Medley
16. Burn
17. There Goes My Baby
18. U Got it Bad
19. Superstar
20. Bad Girl
21. Good Kisser
22. U Don't Have to Call
23. DJ Got Us Fallin in Love
24. Yeah
Encore
25. Without U 


Usher did an amazing job entertaining the crowd for over 2 hrs.  He ended the night with David Guetta's song Without You, which he was featured on, as he thanked the crowd for all their love and support given to him throughout his career.  Usher continues to let people know why they call him US-HER RA-YM-OND!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Voice Season 7: Top 12 Live Playoffs Recap



Monday & Tuesday at 8/9c on NBC

Last night the remaining Top 12 performed with the decision of who makes it to the Top 10 strictly in the hands of America.  Carson also made the announcement that later on in the season, the finalists will have the great opportunity to perform original songs created with their coaches and some of the biggest songwriters and producers in the industry.  This is an amazing add to the show and what a great experience to give to the finalists to create something of their own to add to their musical resume.

Once again it was Teams Adam and Pharrell that dominated in the performances. Overall, last night's show didn't top the Top 24 performances but here for the MusicLife favs of the night . . .


Contestant:  Damien
Team:  Adam
Song: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother by The Hollies
There is no doubt that this brother can sing the hell out of a song and command an audience.  Damien took us to church last night and had both Adam and Pharrell standing up.


Contestant:  Luke Wade
Song:  Thinking of You by Ed Sheeran
Team:  Pharrell
Luke had a very rocky start but once  he stopped playing the guitar and came forward, you could tell he was heading for recovery.  I love the amazing richness and raspiness of his voice.


ContestantChris Jamison
Song:  Jealous by Nick Jonas
Team:  Adam
PERFECT SONG CHOICE!!!  This was probably Chris' best performance yet.  I agree with Pharrell, he killed the falsetto every time!!


Contestant:  DaNica Shirey
Song:  Creep by Radiohead
Team:  Pharrell
I can't say enough about how DaNica's voice is simply beautiful.  Her runs are so silky and fluid. . . gives me goosebumps.



Right now, it's hard to tell who exactly will be voted off tonight.  But my gut tells me it will be someone from Team Blake or Gwen.  Song choice might be Damien's downfall if he continues in the competition so he has to be careful.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Voice Season 7: Top 24 Live Playoffs Recap



Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday at 8/9c on NBC

Sorry, I'm a bit behind and playing catch up.  You already know who made it to the Top 12 but let's take a look at the MusicLife favs of the 2-nite Top 24 playoffs.  This season, The Voice introduced a new app which allows users to vote live during the show.  Team Adam and Blake performed on night 1 and Gwen and Pharrell on night 2.  So far, Teams Adam and Pharrell are the strongest with Pharrell dominating on night 2.  Pharrell has definitely proved to be a valuable asset to the show and has done an amazing job developing his artists, especially when it comes to song choice. 

So many great performances that my favorites are based on the ones I feel could make
an awesome album and have mainstream appeal . . .

Night One

Contestant:  Reagan James
Team:  Blake
Song: Try by Colbie Caillat
Results:  Loved that Reagan started on the guitar and had this sexy swagger.  She looked like a pro up there.  Saved by the public vote.


Contestant:  Taylor Phelan
Song:  Cool Kids by Echosmith
Team:  Adam
Results:  There is just something about Taylor.  That performance was so cool and he's right at home up on that stage and interacting with the crowd.  Unfortunately, I was very disappointed when he was eliminated.


ContestantChris Jamison
Song:  Don't by Ed Sheeran
Team:  Adam
Results:  He did a great job handling the fast pace lyrics, octave changes, and the added highnotes.  He's such a cutie, like a cross between Wentworth Miller and Channing Tatum!  Even though I like Chris, I was surprised Adam chose him over Taylor who is the strongest I believe.


Night Two

ContestantLuke Wade
Song:  Let's Get it On by Marvin Gaye
Team:  Pharrell
Results:  Luke consistently and soulfully kills any song he performs.  #flawless.  Saved by the public vote.


Contestant:  DaNica Shirey
Song:  Help Me by Joni Mitchell
Team:  Pharrell
Results:  Adam described it well by saying it was like Joni meet Chaka Khan.  DaNica has such a beautiful voice and those runs. . OMG!!!  Saved by the public vote.


Contestant:  Sugar Joans
Song:  I Say a Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin
Team:  Pharrell
Results:  WOW!!!  As Adam said, Sugar took us to CHURCH!  We witnessed a moment there as she channeled a Minnie Riperton style with Aretha powerhouse vocals.  Saved by Pharrell.


Tonight, the Top 12 perform and who advances is solely dependent on the viewers voting.  Overall, I think Pharrell has the strongest team and I'm rooting for Sugar and DaNica!!!

State of Emergency: Lifetime Biopic Makes Mockery of Aaliyah's Legacy

State of Emergency:  A featured post that sheds a light on offensive acts, all in the name of music.



Lifetime has a track record of low quality films, especially butchering biopics, so when the  announcement was made that they were moving forward with producing an Aaliyah biopic, without her family's approval, I knew it wasn't going to be good.  Then when I saw the lead actress Alexandra Shipp's lackluster performance in the new sequel to Drumline movie, that was another nail in the coffin.  But of course I had to watch anyway out of pure curiosity.  Aaliyah:  The Princess of R&B lived up to my disappointment from the moment it began.  The only thing they got right was making Alexandra Shipp look like Aaliyah and her signature wardrobe.  Here are just a FEW of the violations:

  • The acting and casting were wrong on SOOOOOOOOOO many levels.  Among the few casting fails. . the actor who played R. Kelly resembled the singer Joe and the guy who played Damon Dash looked more like TV and radio personality Big Tigger.
  • None of Aaliyah's music was heard in the film due to her family not granting Lifetime permission.  Aaliyah and her music go hand and hand.  It's an extension of her greatness and there's no way to capture her essence and musical impact without it.   
  • I could be wrong but didn't Timbaland/Missy give Aaliyah the nickname "Baby Girl"?  If I'm right, them first introducing during the "R. Kelly Era" in the movie was inaccurate.  And boy did they play it out to the point where it felt forced and unnatural.  I wish I counted how many times they said it. 
  • I was very surprised that Elise O'Neal was in the picture, playing Aaliyah's aunt Gladys Knight.  I assumed Elise was friends with Aaliyah since she was among the many cameos in the I Miss You video so why would she participate in such a disaster?
  • Then to end things with what my boy Chris called a PowerPoint slide to touch on how Aaliyah's life ended was VERY distasteful!!! 


I am a huge Aaliyah fan with a strong connection and appreciation of her music and this biopic was just a tagger to my heart!  It was disrespectful to her legacy.  What really upset me was those who watched who had not known about Aaliyah previously, didn't receive a great representation of her spirit and contribution to music.  Aaliyah's legacy and memory deserved way better.  I hope one day she get's a proper biopic with her family's permission AND her music.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Recap Report: 11/14/14


The Recap Report:  A feature post that highlights interesting music news collected from the music streets you might have missed



4 reasons we love sad songs: Unexpected rewards of melancholy music - A study shows that listening to sad music can play a role in a person's well-being.

The top 20 catchiest songs of all time, according to science - After analyzing over 1,000 hit songs from the past 70 years, find out which songs made the list.

Spotify Founder to Taylor Swift: 'Our Interests Are Totally Aligned With Yours' - The debate as to whether music streaming is fair to artists continues as Spotify responds to Taylor Swift action to pull her music off the site.

Tweeting about social injustice is not enough for me - Alicia Keys believes musicians have the ability to challenge and bring attention to world problems.

Rodney Jerkins Reveals Ariana Grande And Jessie J Will Rework 'The Boy Is Mine' - To celebrate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, Jerkins plans to remake some of his classic hits with popular artists.

Study found a few people were unable to respond to the change in the beat - Read more about "Beat deafness," which is when one can't hear rhythm changes.

Who’s the Next Nicki Minaj? From Lizzo to Tink, 5 Female MCs Striving to Strike Hitmaking Gold - Find out some female MCs you should know about. 

Sugarhill Gang Rapper Big Bank Hank Dead at 58 - Learn how this legend influenced hip-hop and introduced it to mainstream.

President Obama’s 8 Best Musical Performances, Mashups & Remixes - View some of Obama's most memorable musical moments.


Official Fifty Shades trailer was released yesterday that features more songs from Beyonce's self-titled album.  Check it out below:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Chris Brown & Trey Songz Join Forces in Between the Sheets Tour

between the sheets tour 

After announcing a joint concert was in the works via social media in August, Breezy and Trigga have finally made it official and dates for the Between the Sheets Tour have been released.  This is sure to be an entertaining and sexually driven show.  The VA takeover will begin in their home state and will feature special guest Tyga.  Pre-sale begins at 10AM, Wednesday, November 12 with general sale on November 22.


Tour Schedule

Jan. 28 - Hampton, VA – Hampton Coliseum
Jan. 29 - Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center
Jan. 31 - Baltimore, MD – Royal Farms Arena (on sale Nov 22)
Feb. 3 - Atlanta, GA – Phillips Arena
Feb. 5 - New Orleans, LA – Smoothie King Arena
Feb. 6 - Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center
Feb. 7 - Houston, TX – Toyota Center
Feb. 9 - Charlotte, NC – Time Warner Cable Arena
Feb. 10 - Greensboro, NC – Greensboro Coliseum
Feb. 12 - Sunrise, FL – BB&T Center
Feb. 14 - Columbus, OH – Nationwide Arena
Feb. 15 - Detroit, MI – Joe Louis Arena
Feb. 18 - Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center
Feb. 19 - Worcester, MA – DCU Center (on sale Nov 22)
Feb. 21 - East Rutherford, – NJ IZOD Center
Feb. 22 - Washington, D.C. – Verizon Center (on sale Nov 22)
Feb. 24 - Montreal, QC – Bell Centre (on sale Nov 15)
Feb. 25 - Toronto, ON – Air Canada Centre
Feb. 27 - Rosemont, IL – Allstate Arena
Feb. 28 - Cincinnati, OH – U.S. Bank Arena
Mar. 1 - Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena
Mar. 3 - Minneapolis, MN – Target Center
Mar. 6 - San Jose, CA – SAP Center
Mar. 7 - Las Vegas, NV – Mandalay Bay Events Center
Mar. 8 - Los Angeles, CA – The Forum


Click here for ticket info

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Voice Season 7: The Knockouts Recap



Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/9c on NBC

The Knockouts return to the format this season as for the past 2 weeks teammates went head to head for one last battle.  Each contestant chose their own song and had guest adviser Taylor Swift, along with their coach to help further enhance their style and performance.  In the end, the judge chose 1 to advance to the Playoffs and the other judges had 1 last opportunity to use a steal.

Check out the MusicLife's 2 fav performances from each knockout round . . .



Knockouts Round 1:  Sugar Joans vs. Bryana Salaz (winner)
Team:  Gwen
Song: Love on Top by Beyonce
Results:  Even though Sugar didn't win the knockout, as Pharrell, who ended up stealing her, said in Beautiful, "there's something about her."  It did take her a while to get momentum but she killed the key changes and high notes.


Knockout Round 1:  Luke Wade (winner) vs. Taylor Phelan
Song:  Rich Girl by Hall and Oats
Team:  Pharrell
Results:  Luke sang the hell out of this song and put so much soul to it.


Knockouts Round 2:  Taylor John Williams (winner) vs. Troy Ritchie
Song:  Mad World by Tears for Fears
Team:  Gwen
Results:  Taylor gave a captivating performance and it made up for his lackluster Battle Round. 


Knockouts Round 2:  Mia Pfirrman (winner) vs. Alessandra Castronovo
Song:  Human by Christina Perri
Team:  Adam
Results:  I'm not a fan of the song but Mia did a wonderful job showcasing her vocal control as she moved from low to high ranges. 


Knockouts Round 3:  Jean Kelley (winner) vs. Menlik Zergabachew
Song:  Chandelier by Sia
Team:  Pharrell
Results:  Gwen was right, it was a very haunting performance and I like the way Jean did a softer execution of the high notes. 


Knockouts Round 3:  Taylor Brashears (winner) vs. Allison Bray
Song:  Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
Team:  Blake
Results:  Loved Taylor's country twist to this classic Fleetwood song.  She sealed it with that long note at the end

Tonight, the Live Rounds begin.  Let's see who shines!

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