#MusicMonday: Panic At The Disco’s Pray For The Wicked will take you to the church of rock and roll

Oddly enough, the first album I ever reviewed on this site was a Panic at The Disco album.

Panic at the Disco are back with their sixth studio album. Fronted and held on the shoulders of original band member Brendan Urie, Pray For The Wicked actually has a lot of personal notes from Urie regarding his time on broadway, his Mormon roots, and his now simpler life married to his wife Sarah.

Pray For The Wicked was released on June 22, 2018 with one of it’s singles making the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100. The album peaked at #12 as a whole.

Song by Song Review

**** a Silver Lining: A song about wanting to excel at everything and wanting to get the best out of every possible situation, with the musicality of a song you may hear in a 70’s roller rink. Centered around such common phrases such as, “every cloud has a silver lining” and “cherry on top,” the former means that every difficulty or setback that causes harm also contains the potential to be positive while the latter refers to something good that follows a series of other fortunate events.

Brendon flips these idioms on their head, endless cherries and a silver lining aren’t that enticing to him. One of my favorite lyrics from the entire album is below: pablo (36).png

Say Amen( Saturday Night): A fun electro-pop track with a sound effect that sounds like gnashing teeth that comes a song about those who parade around in religion and use God to judge everybody. Urie was raised Mormon but wanted to write a song without making a dig at anyone who worships and praise, and prays regularly.

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Hey, Look Ma! I Made It: A tongue in cheek celebratory song about finally tasting lasting success. It has a big band musicality that makes you want to dance. Urie tips his hat to his mother, and reflects on his journey to success, examining the thirst of record labels for new material and the quest to avoid people, who only want to be associated with him due to his fame.

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High Hopes: My favorite song on the album for it’s overall message of seeking your dreams without hesitancy and seeing those dreams come to fruition beyond your wildest imagination. I also love the big band mixed with electopop sound to this track. This song peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

High Hopes Music Video

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Roaring 20’s: The musicality of this track mimics that of a speak easy in the 20s or 30s. Urie who was raised on musicals recently got a starring role in the Broadway musical Kinky Boots playing Charlie Price.

Dancing Is Not a Crime: This light-hearted song showcases the purities and youthfulness of young love, with simple things such as dancing with someone or being their boyfriend or girlfriend.

One of the Drunks: This track explores the consequences and downfalls of the party lifestyle. It discusses in a very blatant manner and it talks about how we as a society really celebrate an excess of drugs, alcohol, all this stuff, and how we don’t need to binge and go crazy on shit. Ultimately, the endless cycle of alcohol and parties is fruitless.

Overpass: Catchy big band musicality that reminisces a “Bonnie & Clyde” feel paints a track about a relationship that has been torn apart but is longed for. He proposes they meet  at “The Overpass” where they can truly be together and who they are. Musically, it contains samples of Chase by James Brown.

King of The Clouds: Styled in 6/8 time signature comes a dreamy track that explores the ideas of inter-dimensional travel & multiverses.

Old Fashioned: A nostalgic track about reminiscing being young and having time to kill, such as the teenage years and good times with booze and medication. He is envious about the wasted years with alcohol.

Dying in LA: A piano track with somber musicality describing the struggle of someone who came to LA to pursue their dreams, but ended up unsuccessful. It shows how many are captivated by the glamour & opportunities of the city when they first enter, only to be slowly broken down over time. It paints the picture of a person slowly losing hope and becoming who they promised they would never be in the city of (broken) dreams.

 

 

 

 

#TAMPAPRO 2019: The Smart Cookie Philes takes on the PRO!@spottampa

My favorite weekend of the year is Tampa Pro weekend. For those unfamiliar to me or street skateboarding in general, Tampa Pro is one of the biggest professional skate contests out there, and takes place right here in Tampa at the Skatepark of Tampa.

I became a fan of street skateboarding 15 years ago but the contest celebrated it’s 25th year this year. So naturally all of the OGs of street skateboarding were there (P-Rod, Eric Koston, Sheckler, Greg Lutzka) alongside hella impressive up and comers like Jake Ilardi & Daisuke Ikeda.

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As I arrived, I checked in and got my complimentary wristbands and hit up the shop to purchase a deck ( I will get to this more toward the end).

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As I was paying for the board, the shop employee asked me if I wanted grip tape. I kindly declined as I don’t skate but was honored that he thought I was instantly that talented.

Once I got situated with the rest of my group, we watched as all the pros strolled (ran not walked really) into the park. They quickly tried to sweep in and head straight for the course (They had to get their last minute practice run in before the semi-finals began).

The first pro I spotted was Kelvin Hoefler. He tried to sneak right by but I wished him luck and he greeted me with a quick wave,  a “hello and a thank you.”

The next one spotted was the man, the myth, the legend, the great and powerful Ryan Sheckler. I watched as he came in wearing earbuds and within seconds of walking in had to pose for a plethora of pictures, sign his name on boards and hats, and literally not even get to sneak anywhere without being noticed. I spotted him and his usual group as soon as they walked in (Felipe Gustavo, Torey Pudwill, Sheckler). Naturally, as soon as Ryan saw my family and I he greeted us with pleasant smiles and kindly signed my board and took a picture ( even while another little grom attempted at trying to skip the line to which Ryan replied, “Just a minute dude,”)

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For those that don’t know, my love of skateboarding began with Sheckler. I actually was shown him skating over an electrical box in a two page magazine spread back in 2003-2004, and instantly was impressed. 15 years later, I am always honored to even get a few minutes in the same space as this legend. Without saying much more, I will always respect Sheckler for helping me ( a smart cookie writer) find a forever home within the skateboard community.

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Overall, it was a great time had by all. Free shots, Free beer, and priceless fun!

You can witness just about any pro skater in the flesh only feet from you, and you can even walk up and talk to and take a selfie with any of the guys.

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Thank you to the staff at SPOT who always treat me like a literal VIP. And thank you to every dude that stopped for five seconds to sign my board. Speaking of the board, I am happy to announce that I am currently running a giveaway where one lucky reader of this post will get to win this board

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Signed by living legends and up and comers alike: Ryan Sheckler, Trevor McClung, Greg Lutzka, Jake Illarda, Jamie Foy, Dave Bachinsky, Chris Joslin and Tampa Am Winner Daisuke Ikeda.

To enter, you must answer a trivia question in the comments below with your name and email below.

Congrats to the winner Carlos Ribeiro!pro19finals (47).jpg

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A huge thank you to Paul Zitzer for hooking up my family and I ( and shoutout to the will call ticket guy Gabe for giving my mom and I huge props on our matching shirts).

Always a pleasure SPOTTAMPA, see you next year!

#MusicMonday: Fight For My Soul by Jonny Lang is a Blues Music Masterpiece

Jonny Lang is no stranger to professional music. He got signed in 1997 at the young age of 16, but with a musical maturity and sound that made me and many others, take note. It is no surprise that his 2006 release Turn Around won a Grammy.  Seven years later comes a brand new rock n soul Lang signature with themes of heartache, bluesy emotional musicality, and love and loss.

Fight For My Soul was released on September 7, 2013.

Song by Song Review

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Blew Up (The House): A bluesy guitar heavy track [Lang’s signature style] paint a metaphorical picture of burning down the house or leaving the man you were yesterday.

Breaking In:  A song about temptation (metaphorically or literally) breaking in between you and the person you love, and how you will no longer stand for it.

We Are The Same: 

A song about how God’s love could free each of us to all live with no more disguise.

What You’re Looking For: 

A song about how what you are looking for most in life will eventually chase you down, and find you at the right time.

Not Right:

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A soulful song about being & staying blind to the needs of this world.

The Truth:

A song with guitar interludes that remind me of Carlos Santana with emotional lyrics about wanting to be with someone but you aren’t right for one another, and not wanting to face the truth of that at all.

River:

Jazzy blues musicality about the sanctity of the river and letting it wash away the shame and wrong away.

Fight For My Soul: 

A soft song about a young girl caught up in the wrong stuff and the fight for her soul.

All of a Sudden:

A song about the moment you fall in love with someone & your life is forever changed

Seasons:

A song about the various seasons of life as he reflects during Christmas Time.

I’ll Always Be:

A love song about being your loved one’s biggest fan.

 

 

 

 

 

#MusicMonday: Mandisa’s ‘Out of the Dark’ calls you from depressed to blessed

Although this album came out in 2017, Mandisa’s fifth studio album has a strong and timely message for a dark and divided world. After suffering from a deep depression following the death of friend and background singer Lakisha Mitchell who lost a long battle with breast cancer who decided to carry her unborn child instead of treat her cancer with aggressive chemo therapy. This album was born from all that pain and heartache.  Out of The Dark is filled with songs of hope, resilience, & reminders that God is still working, no matter the circumstance.

Song by Song Review

Voicemail Intro: A track showing backstory to the album that a dark trial or tribulation had just occurred and Mandisa’s friends were calling to encourage her and check on her.

I’m Still Here: My favorite song on the entire album for the message of still having unfinished work to do in and through me by God. This track was co-written with Matthew West.

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Out of The Dark: A song about how God’s grace brings light seeping into the broken messes in our lives and begins to heal us.

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Unfinished: The message of Unfinished is that even with all my mistakes, God is not done making me into a masterpiece; that he’s still working on me.

Bleed The Same (Intro): This track features pastor and renowned singer in his own right Kirk. He speaks about the injustices and the inequalities facing the world today followed by the song of the same name.

Bleed The Same: (ft. Toby Mac)

My second favorite song on this album because it is a beautiful way to shine God’s love and light into our divisive and hurting world, so we should come together and be peaceable with one another.

Comeback Kid:

A song about having the propensity to come back no matter the difficulty or hardship we faced.

What You’re Worth: (ft. Britt Nicole)

A song written in honor of survivors of human trafficking. It is ultimately an anthem for women to not let your worth be tied to your body.

Dear John Praise Report:

A quick into to the next track (Good News) sharing that Mandisa’s brother became a born-again Christian.

Good News:

Co-written with Matthew West, a pop and dancy praise song about the good news of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and personal moments of glory in our every day life.

Prove Me Wrong:

A song about the moments when something happens that devastates us & makes us question God’s love and faithfulness. This song was written in memory of Mandisa’s friend and back-up singer Lakisha Mitchell.

Mothdisa:

A spoken story about Mandisa’s revelation about Jesus.

The One He Speaks Through:

A song about being God’s hands & feet.

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Shine:

A catchy reminder that we weren’t called to be small or dim the light within us but we were called to be a bright light burning bright shining for Jesus.

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My First Love (ft. Jeremy Camp):

A song based on Jeremiah 31:3

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

Jesus is and always longs to be our first love.

 

Overall, this album has been on repeat for a while and every time one of these songs comes on shuffle, I smile because I am reminded that because of God’s grace, I will always have good news.

 

#BirthdayBonanza: Happy Smart Cookie Day!

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To celebrate our third year, I am giving away my EXCLUSIVE merch line Cookies For A CAUSE and the only designs being used within the giveaway are the products that benefit various causes that matter to me and are making a difference in the lives of children with the gift of reading and education, and soon to be announced a third cause that is musically inspired but benefits both those affected by gun violence as well as those affected by breast cancer.

t-shirt 1 person wins a T-shirt that benefits Bess The Book Bus.

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One person will win a Tote Bag that benefits Adopt A Classroom.

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One person will win my BRAND NEW PRODUCT before it is launched!

And if you would like to give a gift to The Smart Cookie Philes, you can always donate here or purchase something other than the products mentioned above to benefit the betterment and maintenance of The Smart Cookie Philes.

Thank you for making my third birthday a total success and as always, please feel free to keep espresso-ing yourself however you choose!

So much love,

Chelsea DeVries

Author and Publicist

The Smart Cookie Philes

#BirthdayBonanza: Throwback Thursday!

Remember when people used to go to libraries to read books or shop in bookstores like Books A Million?

Well, I still love visiting physical bookstores as much as I prefer physical books to e-books.

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Today, you have a chance to WIN a $25 gift card to Books A Million!

You can browse real bookshelves and sniff glue until your heart is content.

All you need to do is share the linked Tweet via Twitter.

Don’t have Twitter? No problem.

Come back tomorrow for a Facebook-friendly giveaway!

#BirthdayBonanza: Writer Wednesday

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If you are a writer like me, you go through a lot of coffee.

Well, what better to celebrate three years of espresso yourself with a coffee giveaway!

One winner will get $50 to use at CoffeeOverCardio, a brand of coffee for Boss Babes and Writers Looking For A Muse.

Their newest product is a Smart Start Creamer which helps with mental clarity, awareness, and focus.

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The first time I tried it, I could have sat down and wrote half my novel, to be honest.

All you need to do to enter the giveaway is Follow The Smart Cookie Philes on Twitter, and also feel free to check out Coffee Over Cardio.

If you would like to purchase anything from Coffee Over Cardio, use code WITTYWRITER10 TO SAVE 10% OFF ANYTHING ON THE SITE.