#MusicMonday: Kelly Clarkson gets back to her soulful sound with ‘Meaning of Life’

Kelly Clarkson is only 36 years young and she’s already had a Greatest Hits Album. The original American Idol winner is back to her signature soulful sound with her eighth studio album Meaning of Life.  It was released on October 27, 2017 and debuted on the US Billboard Hot 200 at #2.

Song by Song Review

A Minute (Intro): 

A broken down minute long r&b track about needing a minute to be yourself. Written and produced by The Monarch with writing input from Jim McCormick and Katie Pearlman, was primarily made for Clarkson, whose hectic family and work life have made it hard for her to take a minute break for herself.

Love So Soft: 

A soul-trap anthem, very different from Clarkson’s usual stuff, picks up where Duffy’s “Mercy” left off. With Clarkson’s usual attitude, it tells a love story about something palpable between two people, “if you break it, you buy it” type love. Written by hitmaker Priscilla Renea.

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Heat: A catchy soul-trap pop sound paints a track where you are begging someone for a hot as coals type of love, one that has you warm all over, smiling from ear to ear.

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Meaning of Life: the title track and the song that started the entire project. The vibe, soul and message of this song showcases Clarkson’s new direction musically. It is a track that has an r&b signature sound but about a love that brightens the colors around you & catches you completely brand new.

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Move You: A ballad with a drum-string combination about wanting to make such a lasting impact on someone you end up moving them.

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Whole Lotta Woman: A body positive and female empowerment song about being loud & proud of your shape, your curves, and confidence in your femininity.

My favorite song on the album because it has the signature sound of a Clarkson anthem but with a powerful progressive measure. March on, ladies. Own who you are.

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Medicine: Schultz and Harlœ co-wrote and produced the seventh track “Medicine” as a tribute to the ’90s and was inspired by Carey’s song “Emotions” (1991). It has an up-tempo pop musicality which sets the stage  for this track about a past lover who she has moved on from who did nothing for her.

Cruel: An r&b jazz pop fusion about a hard to love lover that you are commanding respect from.

Didn’t I: A pop soul track about a lover you gave the moon, sun, and stars to and her or she took you for granted.

Would You Call That Love: A track about how someone loves you but they love you with a complete dichotomy of what love is supposed to be.

I Don’t Think About You: The soul-infused power-ballad chronicles losing a prominent love in your life only to realize you’re better off without them.

Slow Dance: A slow tempo ballad about taking things slow in order to let the fire or heat between two people simmer.

Don’t You Pretend: A slow tempo song that begs a man to be honest about his true feelings, and quit pretending he doesn’t feel the same.

Go High: A song about staying kind in a world that tries to turn you wicked, sour, and miserable.

Overall, Meaning of Life doesn’t have one bad song. It is short but sweet, and shows depth, growth, and wisdom of Clarkson’s person and artistry.

 

 

#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: Pink’s Beautiful Trauma is raw and vulnerable in all her signature colorful ways

P!nk is hands down one of my favorite pop artists and it isn’t because she has the most amazing voice or has songs with popping beats but because she’s 100% herself with everything she puts out musically, and usually it always has connotations of female empowerment and encouraging young women to break glass ceilings and if they happen to not fit inside the box society tries to put them in…oh fucking well.

Beautiful Trauma was released in October of 2017 which meant it was her first album in five years time. The album debuted at #1 during it’s release week before ranking at #30 on the Billboard Hot 200.

When I first listened to it, I wasn’t sure I was a fan of it. Yet, it took a good ten listens for me to realize the amazing artistry hidden within each song and I do hope my review highlights the greatness of Pink’s Beautiful Trauma.

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Song by Song Review

Beautiful Trauma: The title track opens the album with a track about how life’s trauma can turn to beauty over time, and musically describes a love relationship that bubbles and fizzes at just the right temperature to keep one sane.

Whatever You Want: This uplifting power ballad finds the singer fighting for a relationship that seems doomed.pablo (27)

What About Us: Anthem-like musicality made this a great first single off the album with lyrics speaking to the heart of love and trust whether that be between two people or within society as a whole.

But We Lost It: A piano ballad that discusses a relationship that charged with so much positivity (joy, happiness, and peace) but time wasn’t on their side. Almost like a spark between two people that flickers, dims, and dies.

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Barbies: My favorite song on the entire album because of it’s soft musicality mixed with lullaby-like elements. It perfectly expresses that adult moment when nostalgia seems to take over and all you want to do is go back to being a kid with naivete and innocence “playing barbies in your room.” Co-written by Julia Michaels.

Where We Go: Catchy pop rock musicality make this worth a few listens, with a lyrical tale about letting go of a relationship that is doomed for disaster.

For Now: A song about reminiscing an old flame and getting stuck on the highs without realizing the lows.pablo (29).png

Secrets: A song about a truth about life and all of us have secrets or private parts we don’t express to just anyone.

Better Life: A track discussing the highlight reel effect social media has on all of us.

I Am Here: A brand new ballad version of Just Like Fire, expressing realizing you are enough as is ,and you are here in this moment.

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken:

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A political yet poetic ballad about 19th century women and incorporates the #MeToo movement.

You Get My Love: The final track on the album emotionally pleading and raw about the gift of her love.

 

#MusicReview: What kind of ‘Views’ does Drake offer us?

I’m sure you clicked this but were a bit confused seeing as Drake’s album Views came out on April 29, 2016. You probably wonder what rock I’ve been under that I just now am sharing my review of this album.

Truth is, being that Drake just released Scorpion it was time to share my views on Views.

 

Views is the fourth studio album by Canadian rapper Drake. It was released on April 29, 2016,by Cash Money Records, Republic Records and Young Money Entertainment. Recording sessions took place from 2015 to 2016, with both Drake and his longtime collaborator and record producer 40 serving as the record’s executive producers. 40 also primarily handled the production on the album alongside each of these several other record producers such as Nineteen85, Maneesh Bidaye, Kanye West, and Jordan Ullman, among others. The album contains the elements of genres such as R&B, dancehall, hip hop and pop, among others.

The album was supported by five singles: “Hotline Bling”, “One Dance”, “Pop Style”,”Controlla”, and “Too Good”. Views was met with lukewarm reviews from critics, many of whom found it to be an overlong retread of Drake’s previous work. Despite this, it spent 13 non-consecutive weeks at number one on the US Billboard 200. Views became the first album to accumulate one-billion streams on Apple Music.The album was certified quadruple Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Views was nominated for Album of the Year and Best Rap Album at the 59th Grammy Awards. As of April 2018, Views sold 1.73 million copies and a total of 5.41 million album-equivalent units in the United States.

      Notable tracks

“Feel No Ways”:  Drake talks about a girl who no longer lives with his ambitious, career-driven lifestyle. She’s “gassed up,” tarnishing Drake’s name, even though their relationship was doomed to fail. Together they were unproductive, and often sleeping in and smoking weed. As he tries to move on and focus on himself, she continues to try and manipulate him when he returns to Toronto. This makes him feel guilty and sad.

“Hype”: Drake uses a similar flow and subject matter to previous songs “Summer Sixteen” and “Back to Back.” Drizzy takes aim at the likes of Meek Mill while comparing himself to Michael Jackson,bragging about dancing with Rihanna, and claiming Views is already a classic. Ironic, considering he’s supposedly “doning the hype.”

“One Dance”:  an R&B song with dancehall and Afrobeats inflections, featuring a slowed down sample of the vocals and chord stabs from a 2008 UK Funky house anthem, Kyla’s “Do You Mind,”produced by Crazy Cousinz. This is also this reviewer’s favorite off this album.

“Grammys”: looks into Drake and Future’s music careers. While Drake’s won one Grammy for Take Care and has been nominated several times, Future has yet to win a Grammy, despite mainstream and critical success.

Drake switches flows multiple times throughout his verse, making reference to Jay Z and Canadian rapper Top5. Future, on the other hand, blasts the Grammys and takes a subtle dig at rapper Desiigner, whose hit song “Panda” has been labeled as a Future rip-off.

“Pop Style”:  a Jamaican term meaning “ballin’” or “showing off.” The term was famously used on Althea and Donna’s “Uptown Top Ranking”, a Reggae one hit wonder which reached number 1 on the UK charts in 1978.

The new verse takes aim at Drake’s critics. He fires subliminals at Meek Mill and Mo-G while continuing to include braggadocious lyrics about his OVO crew.

“Too Good”: is about a couple who go out of their way to treat each other well, while they feel like their love is taken for granted.

Carrying the same Caribbean and dancehall beat as that of “Work,” their most recent duet prior to this song, and “One Dance,” this is the fourth collaboration between Rihanna and Drake (after “What’s My Name?” and “Take Care”). All four songs focus on relationships.

Rihanna and Drake used to be in a relationship—while their recent return collaborations have started rumors that they’re together, Rihanna clarified that she’s still single and their reunion is only professional.

Drake’s third verse interpolates Jamaican dancehall artist Popcaan’s “Love Yuh Bad”—and the track includes a direct sample of Popcaan’s verse on the outro.

“Hotline Bling”: “Hotline Bling” is most likely about Drake’s old flame from Toronto, Nebby. She’s had an on and off relationship with the 6 God a few times, and her Instagram account is a constant reminder that she’s never home – always traveling to exotic places, and out wearing almost nothing. Based on the lyrics, it’s as if Drake wrote this song while scrolling through her Instagram page.

Overall, Views is a dancehall Carribean musical compilation of relationship drama and being taken for granted.

See why I prefered Scorpion better

#SmartCookiePR: What are the duties of a publicist?

When I graduated college, I knew without a doubt I wanted to be a publicist.

Not for all the perks but because I wanted to use marketing in a fun way.

As someone who made a career since her teens as a fangirl, I have a gift for encouraging others and highlighting the good that others say and do.

Some within the writing and music community, especially indie artists, are unfamiliar with the term “publicist.”

publicist is a person whose job is to generate and manage publicity for a company, a brand, or public figure or for a work such as a book, film or album. Publicists are public relations specialists who have the role to maintain and represent the images of individuals, rather than representing an entire corporation or business.

Publicists are also hired by public figures who want to maintain or protect their image.

Publicists brand their clients by getting magazine, TV, newspaper, and website coverage. Most top-level publicists work in private practice, handling multiple clients.

  • One of the publicist’s main functions is to generate press coverage on behalf of their clients and serve as the bridge between clients, their public and media outlets. A publicist manages campaigns and performs other public relations functions. It usually takes many years to develop the media contacts, experience and relationships necessary to be an effective publicist.
  • The main role of publicists is to get good press coverage for their clients. One way that publicists can do this is by sending press releases to journalists. A press release is written like a news story; including a headline, and attention grabbing quotes. However, because of the high traffic of e-mails, today, many press releases sent by publicists are lost within the other e-mails that journalists receive. 
  • Publicists tend to have good working relationships with journalists, TV news producers, and producers. In order to have these relationships, publicists usually network with these media professionals.
  • To protect a client’s image, publicists will often ask journalists what questions will be asked during interviews to prevent any surprises and discussion of any unwanted topics.Publicists determine how to manage a person’s or brand’s image by what is being said about them in the media. This pertains to websites and social media. More recently, publicists have the need to network with bloggers and scope out their websites to make sure the content on their client is appropriate.

    A typical day for a publicist consists of being on the phone, networking through e-mails, and can make themselves available at all times of the day for when conflict arises.

  •  Out of the office, publicists go to gatherings to network with media professionals.

The #1 I became a publicist is because I wanted to use my gift for writing from a marketing standpoint. And as someone who published novels before without an ally, I wanted to be that specifically for authors and musicians.

Publicists always do the work with the best interests of the client being served, and most of the times, it is a very thankless job.

Librarian signing her memoirs with stamp.

If you’ve stumbled upon this post, and you believe you need a publicist with a heart for writers and artists who the world has tried to silence, let me be your voice. Let me help you shine.

Smart Cookie PR

Send Me a Message

Some people hire a publicist but realize they just want book launch publicity and that’s it.

If you have a book or album about to come out, please check out the other service packages I have available.

 

#NationalPoetryMonth .@LangLeav ‘s #loveandmisadventure is a siren song for love lost and the hope of a future love that lasts

When I was a junior in college, I finally had my own room for the first time in my life.

Naturally, I was excited for how I would decorate my sacred dwelling since the choice was solely mine.

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I decided I wanted to have a poetry wall in one corner of my room and who’s poetry was showcased along the long wall near my door but the Tumblr poet, Lang Leav. Soon after this, I found out she was publishing her first poetry book and I was totally stoked for her as I had followed her literary career from the ground up.

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Boasting hand-drawn artwork and poetry from the author, Love & Misadventure is a book anyone who is hopeful for love despite all their misadventures and mistakes in love should own, and wants to reminisce every emotion that entails.

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#NationalPoetryMonth: La La Love by Katie Lewington Book Review

Subjectivity is poetry’s secret talent. Whether or not you find the words on the paper poetry, if a poet labels it poetry, no one can argue that it isn’t because poetry unlike fiction is more for the free-spirited and those who are exploring it’s free range in the field of writing.

For example, my favorite poet is Lang Leav and my sisters are die-hard Rupi Kaur fans.

Poetry has to use the right combination of imagery and emotion, and has to make me feel like I read something that was between the lines on the page. Few people can achieve the knock me off my feet feeling with their poetry but for me, Lang Leav comes pretty darn close.

With La La Love, Katie Lewington is in a league all her own. All poems within the chapbook showcase the different levels of vulnerability love unravels in us as we experience it within a relationship or develop the feelings.

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Picture this was one of my favorites because it reads like a spoken word poem. It has rhythm, cadence, and an overall musicality that could be performed. This also further proved that Lewington’s talent for poetry was multi-faceted, and although her book was themed with love poems, she could have you in a crowded pub or restaurant aware of every sound or gesture made by the people that were inhabiting the space between the walls.

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Katie Lewington was recently featured in a poetry anthology called

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It is a book of mental health themed poetry with proceeds that are going toward the mental health charity out of the UK, Mind. Click the image above in order to purchase the anthology.

 

#NationalPoetryMonth Book Review: Love In Between by Mercy Jane Ballesteros

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Written in vignette-style sections and sonnet-like eloquence, “Love In Between” showcases strong writing from a young author who also makes a statement about young love being very real, and practically unavoidable.

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With themes of young love, unrequited love, and torturous heartbreak, even loving someone who pines for someone else, Mercy’s poetry gives me still the same “you aren’t alone,” calm sensation that I have while reading the work of International best-sellers like Lang Leav.

Mercy’s poetry overall will leave you falling in love with the writer behind the few but powerful words.

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CALLING ALL POETS and MICROPOETS! April is National Poetry Month and as always, I celebrate all month long by showcasing a new poem every day on my social media pages and by reviewing primarily poetry books all month long. So if you are a poet who knows it, and you have a book already out or about to come out, please email me by March 26, 2018 to be featured for the month of April. And yes, you get to skip the wait list line for free due to the high demand!

Send me your poetry graphics, Instagram poet recommendations, and poetry book review requests to wittywriterpoet26@gmail.com

So much love,

The Smart Cookie

 

 

#BookReview: After The Storm by Ava St. Pierre @wisebeautyqueen

Mental Illness carries much of a stigma even though it is 2018. Finally, people are deciding to be open about it whether they themselves struggle with it or someone they know and love.

I believe it should be openly discussed so that those who struggle with it can get the help and healing they deserve.

And so began the reason I couldn’t say no to reading Ava St. Pierre’s memoir.

She’s this prestigious beauty queen who was a pretty big deal in Texas as well as the ability to dapple in the VIP lifestyle because of her Mrs. Texas America title.

Yet, her story is definitely one for the books which is why I was glad her daughter Sheree sent it to me.

Growing up in a family of seven children, they lived a cool, calm, and collected existence. That was until the storm hit.

By storm, I am referring to her mother’s fits of rage that caused a severe accident with one of Ava’s younger brothers. These fits of rage were eventually diagnosed as amnesia, paranoia, and schizophrenia, and her father decided to raise the children as a single parent which left Ava’s birth mother to remain homeless for most of her life.

One thing I loved about the memoir is how easy it was to read despite the heaviness in topic and themes, and how Ava remained positive and used her story to showcase that no matter what anyone goes through in life, they can either sit and feel sorry for themselves or they can share their story to encourage others.

And Ava succeeds at the latter, and her story will provide hope that life gets better no matter the severity of the storm and the after effects that remain.

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