#MusicMix:Grammy Nominated ‘Thank U, Next’ is Grande’s strongest work to date

I’ve always thought Ariana Grande was a star. I first watched her act on Victorious and thought her character Sam was spot on yet likeable. Then, she launched her music career shortly after that and I was blown away that someone who stands about four feet nine inches could have such a booming and powerful voice. Yet, with Thank U, Next she wrote, recorded, and produced this album within six months of her previous work Sweetener.

Before we talk about the Grammy nominated album Thank U, Next, let’s first note the sweetest tracks on Sweetener:

Sweetener

  • Debuted at #1 with three Top 20 singles in the US
  • Finished out the year at #38 on the Billboard Hot 200.
  • First notable track: God is a Woman– a female empowerment track discussing sexual empowerment using spirituality imagery. Musically, it is trap-pop with some reggae elements.
  • Second notable track: Breathin’ a dance pop mental health bop discussing Grande’s overcoming struggles with anxiety.
  • Third notable track: No Tears Left To Cry – A dance pop and disco track about overcoming a tragic event and turning it into a positive.
  • Fourth notable track: Get Well Soon –  a soul-ballad that has a laid back R&B melody with lyrics that talk about Grande’s personal anxiety & trauma following the Manchester Arena bombing.At the end of the song, 40 seconds of silence are played as a tribute to the twenty-two victims of the bombing and the date of which the bombing took place (May 22, 2017).

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Thank U, Next Song by Song Review

Grande’s 5th studio album was released on February 8, 2019, and spent two weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 200, as well as four weeks in the Top 10 of Billboard Hot 200.

Musically, it contains pop, r&b, soul, dance hall, trap and urban. It was nominated for both Album of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album at the 2020 Grammy Awards.

Thank U Next Giveaway

Ends 3/31/20 and open to an international winner. Sorry for the wonkiness.

 

Win a copy of Thank U Next

Imagine: First promotional single about an unattainable love. About a “now and forever” unreachable love. It’s musicality contains whistle noises and is an R&B trap ballad.pablo (1)

Needy:  mid-tempo minimalistic song with a metronome-like synth in the foreground. Lyrically, it shows that any lover can be insecure and craves emotional support.

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NASA R&B tune featuring a thumping bass and trap drums; a song about needing space or distance to create a “miss you” effect with the person you are in a relationship with.

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Bloodline: My instant favorite off this album about wanting to be friends with benefits. A reggae pop song with R&B influences that contains brassy horns and a pumping bass. The song opens with a sound bite of her grandmother referencing her hearing aid.

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Fake Smile: A hip-hop soul track with a trap groove, Grande discusses her dissatisfaction with life and how she won’t wear a facade to hide her emotions. This is her opening up about the Manchester bombing and the death of her ex Mac Miller.

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Bad Idea: An EDM and trap number opening with an 80’s rock ballad intro compared to David Guetta’s Titanium featuring an orchestra in the bridge and outro. Lyrically, it discusses using a lover to numb her pain.

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Make-Up:  A wonky pop and bubblegum influenced sound with a rap-influenced bridge set up a double entendre about makeup applied to one’s face to enhance one’s features and make-up sex after a heated argument.

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Ghostin’:An emotional synth-and-strings ballad about being with someone while still being in love with someone else.

In My Head: A track with trap pop hybrid musicality with many R&B influences about falling in love with someone she created in her head only to realize that is not who the person is at all.

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7 Rings:  A trap and R&B cover of My Favorite Things by Julia Andrews from The Sound of Music. Instead of the musical reprise, the track has a female empowerment hip-hop flex feel. It’s also acknowledges the power of women friendships and women who support one another.

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Thank U, Next:  The title track  off the album. Self-empowered pop and R&B track discussing being grateful for the lessons learned in past relationships and from past lovers.

Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored: Trap-pop and R&B song that samples “It Makes Me Ill” by NSYNC in the bridge. A song that at first sounds like being attracted to a guy only to realize he has a girlfriend but she really wants to love herself.

Grande hit the nail on the head despite the short time span this album took to create and come out but sometimes, it’s the heaviness of life that creates the most lasting art, song, or story.

Super Pods are here!

#MusicNotes: Growing Up is Hard to Do (Alessia Cara Album Review)

Alessia Cara jumped into the world’s playlist with a song about feeling out of place at a party. With her second album, Cara comes across as more mature in her songwriting and sound. It was inspired by her brother talking to her about being a teenager and he used the phrase “Growing Pains.” Cara used that to fuel the cohesiveness of this body of work.

Although the album didn’t make the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 200, many critics felt that Cara made this album sound like “big sister pop”, and praised her songwriting.

I personally think this album is another great work from the artist, and once again, relate to her vulnerability and authenticity in her songwriting. She sings what we are all thinking and has the audacity to be brave enough to sing it out loud.

Notable Tracks

[reviewer’s note: views my own; click the title of each track in the review to be re-routed to the audio or music video of each track]

Growing Pains: A song about that moment when you realize how painful it is to be an adult and how you are all alone. It talks about loss of innocence and how frightening it is to take on adult responsibilities.

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I Don’t Want To: My favorite song on this album because it’s so simplistic in it’s musicality and acoustic vocalization.  In the song Alessia talks about someone she broke up with, she talks about how she still wants to be with them and how she doesn’t want to let go of them. She also mentions how she wants to get rid of everything her previous significant other left in her room, or the things that reminder her of them, but she doesn’t want to let go of those memories

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7 Days: The coolest thing to happen to pop music is that more and more secular artists are acknowledging God in pop music. It’s a song asking God whether he cares about what is going on lately because everything in the US popular culture seems depressing, hopeless, and negative. Alessia said about this song:

I wrote this song during a time which I feel like is still going on when you could not turn on social media or the news without seeing something frustrating. I was raised in a Catholic household and I wanted to have a conversion with whoever is up there… like, ‘Are you mad at us? What is the purpose? We need some help’… [I took] that concept that God created the earth in seven days and I wanted to ask God if we we’re worth those seven days… so this is for anyone out there that has any questions because I certainly do.

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Comfortable:  A song about learning all you can about someone you are in a relationship and you’ve reached this slightly stagnant stage of being comfortable with one another. In this song she sings about her doubts and how that stage in a relationship can’t be dodged and how she accepts that she is in the comfortable stage with her lover and she realizes it’s not as bad as she thought it was going to be.

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Out of Love: This song was inspired by a friend’s breakup and talks about processing how someone falls out of love with someone. It’s a question we as humans perplex as we grow which is why it is so vital to the cohesiveness of this album.

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Girl Next Door: A simple song showcasing how Cara grows in fame and success, she will always stay the simple girl she was before. She will wear what she wants and do what she wants, not following trends or the pressures of Hollywood.

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Overall,  Cara grew in her songwriting and maturity as an artist, and this album is all but painful to listen to, over and over.

 
Happy New Year from SHEIN!

#ATWT: Lecrae’s first major label release proves inspiration is in “All Things”

I don’t know about you but I’m…look what you made me do.

I’m not ashamed to admit it but I’m one of those chicks who likes to ride with my top down listening to Jesus music. It’s partly because of the way I was raised. I actually wasn’t allowed to listen to a lot of secular music growing up until I rebelled against Christian music for a few short years when I was trying my hand at being the female version of Slim Shady. I was obsessed with Eminem at 13 and still have yet to get over his Curtain Call album. Turns out, rapping isn’t my calling but at least I had fun figuring that out.

Someone who is a natural lyricist is Lecrae. He was the first Christian hip hop artist to have a #1 album on the Billboard Hot 100 but he didn’t just walk out of the gate and into overnight success. His first album Real Talk was released via the independent label he co-founded in 2004 and it started the 116 clique movement. He refers to his music as “hip-hop that he uses to share his Christian faith,” and it is this outsider attitude that has taken him from rapper to anomaly with a Grammy win, a BET win, and now a signed contract with Columbia Records. Lecrae Moore has quite the life story, and is definitely real life proof that all things do work together.

Song by Song Review

Always Knew: The perfect track to break the glass ceiling as a major label artist. The musicality of the entire album is a definite head nod to all of Lecrae’s “day ones and the crew” with elements from Real Talk and his Church Clothes mixtapes. Lyrically, this track discusses his Reach Records days to transitioning to a major label artist with his album displayed in Times Square.

Understanding me ain’t for the simple& elementary

Facts: Emulating Church Clothes style and musicality  discussing current themes about racial divisions and stereotypes

Just know if you rock the boat you better have a life raft

Broke: A song about how the struggle makes you stronger, it boasts how God takes all the broken pieces & makes you the righteousness of God through Christ. Also is about wealth in character being far more valuable than any and all material wealth

Hard times made for a good life

Blessings: A song of thanksgiving and praise, gospel gone ghetto, about being grateful & counting all God’s blessings.

Whatchu Mean: With a catchy backbeat, it discusses someone who’s words and actions don’t balance out. On this track featuring new Reach Records artist, Aha Gazelle we find them blocking out haters and pursuing dreams.

Hammertime:  Lecrae tells the listener to work hard at what they want to achieve in life. Musically, it samples the 90’s hit “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer.

If we living what we talk about, you don’t talk a lot

Come and Get Me: Favorite track on the record because it’s the perfect mix of righteous and ratchet, and it is unapologetic rebel music, with sleigh bells carrying the back beat.

Tweet: #ATWT is the perfect mix of righteous and ratchet with a substantial testimony @lecrae https://ctt.ec/OHePu+ via @tscphiles

Lucked Up: Another reason I respect Lecrae as an artist is because unlike other hip-hop artists that get on hit song charts by bragging about how many women they get with, he always has a song that boasts his life for his wife and showcases his softer side, and that’s what this track is for this album.

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Wish You The Best: A song about the power of forgiveness despite how the relationship came to an end.

Can’t Stop Me Now: As I am a white female who was born in the 90’s, the first thing that came to mind when I heard this track was that it reminded me of Sailing by ‘NSYNC in musicality and style but a Caribbean element creates a song about letting go of depression and doubt.

I’ll Find You: Featuring Tori Kelly, this dream collaboration talks about God finding you in the midst of the pain or trial

8_28: Based on Romans 8:28, the title track is a lyrical tale about how all things work together for those who love God & are called according to his purpose.

Cry For You: It was originally written as a journal entry and not going to be used for the album, and Lecrae recorded it in one take with authentic emotions and tears in the corners of his eyes, it discusses having weaknesses, flaws, and a thorn in the flesh. Almost a letter to God about the fight of faith.

Worth It: Gospel Baptist Church musicality sets the scene for this track about how God looks at us with unconditional love even in the midst of our sin and mistakes because “the price paid determines the value.”

Overall, Lecrae’s major label debut knocks it out of the park and has all the original reach of his past projects with a new testimony: all things do work together.

#CGForever: @therealgrimmie proves that #allisvanity with brand new album

One year ago today, Christina Grimmie was taken from this Earth far too soon. Yet, her beautiful family and team have been keeping Christina’s beautiful legacy alive by continuing to release new music that she had worked on prior to her passing. And none of it disappoints. christina-grimmie-title-meaning

Her newest album was released a major record label, which was one of Grimmie’s life-long dreams, as well as to win a Grammy.

With this review, I am only trying to honor Christina and in no way trying to critique her or her absolutely powerful gift with music and inspiring people. As mentioned in previous posts, I only spoke to her briefly when I worked the Wildfire Tour for Rachel Platten but she definitely had a big heart, a beautiful smile, and a light that would help you through the darkest times in your life.  I also urge everyone to read this to get a copy of All is Vanity as a tribute to the singer.

Her new album is titled All is Vanity and is based off her favorite Bible verse that she ended up getting tattooed on her arm:

“All Is Vanity” is a bible verse, from Ecclesiastes 12:8, which reads: “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.”

Before her untimely passing, Christina would say that this verse was there to remind her that her success and fame where nothing without Christ, and only in Him does life have meaning.

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Song By Song Review

“Sublime”: 

This song opens the album and it is said this was Christina’s favorite of all her new songs, and you can hear it in her voice throughout the track. There is an enthusiasm that gives her voice that extra dose of perfection. 18839135_1582459721796616_5983707235376120846_n

The breakdown is my favorite part of the entire track:

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“Steady Love”:    

I absolutely love the musicality of this track. It reminds me of an anime love story, as it has a little bit of a Japanese sound to it.

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Invisible: 

The third track was one of the first new songs released by Team Grimmie, and 100% of proceeds from the sale of it went to starting the Christina Grimmie Foundation. A posthumous release from Christina Grimmie, who rips our hearts in two with her incredible talent, bright presence, and musical ear. The song is a little eery as Grimmie talks about no longer being invisible, singing:

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Source: Beat.Media

Crowded Room

My favorite track on the album that caused me to tear up at the first listen because it showcases Grimmie’s R&B vocal stylings and it shows a deeper side to her songwriting by discussing someone who chooses a crowded room to hide from themselves, possibly hinting at what Grimmie felt was an epidemic in Hollywood.

Crowded Room perfectly blends Alessia Cara’s “Here” and Sia’s “Chandelier” in song content, vocal stylings, and musicality.

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Everybody Lies

Producer and Christina’s boyfriend, Stephen Rezza, perfectly placed a clip from this Youtube video at the end of this song and it made me ball my eyes out.  This song is a perfect placard for Christina’s motivating and inspirational legacy.

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Pressure I woke up with this stuck in my head and cannot stop listening to it because this song is a serious bop, jam, hit, and it has these feel good dancy vibes that remind me of the power and caliber of a Michael Jackson song. It is similar to “Scream” but has the musicality of “Bad.”

Christina, I’m with you.

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Maybe I With this track, Christina’s vocal powerhouse shines here.

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Echo A badass “I deserve better” anthem about someone who continues to lie to you and you realize you need to get up and move on. 

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I Only Miss You When I Breathe

This song makes me miss this young beautiful talent. A beautiful arrangement similar to her single Invisible, EDM meets Grimmie’s R&B vocal stylings and incomparable vocal range. It’s my favorite off her Side B EP.

Source: Beat.Media

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The Game

This song reminds me “For You” by Demi Lovato in vocals and musicality. It’s the perfect way to end the album.

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We miss you, Christina! I know you are absolutely beaming in heaven.

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#MusicReview: @DNCE’s debut album will make you D-A-N-C-E

New album review I wrote about DNCE

They did happen to cut out my intro paragraph but do I really need to reiterate how much the Jonas Brothers mean to me, and how happy I am for each of them despite how much I was saddened when they parted ways as a musical act?

For all the fangirl features, check out my review above.DNCE-Kissing-Strangers-Lyric-Video.jpg