Category Archives: Pop

Not Sure What’s Happening to Me…


I had a very strange experience this week. I legitimately BOUGHT an entire album (on iTunes). This literally hasn’t happened to me in years. And even more strange…it was a RIHANNA album. I NEVER thought that would EVER happen in my life.

So here’s the backstory – I went to a SoulCycle class for the first time this week where they were celebrating Rihanna’s album release so all of the music in this particular class was from Rihanna’s new album Unapologetic. I’m thinking it must have been the combination of the awesome dark candlelit ambiance in the class paired with the swaggerific instructor who had us working out really hard on those bikes while GETTING IT to Rihanna’s album. But afterwards, I was hooked…both to SoulCycle (I definitely recommend it! But make sure your pockets are deep enough…) and – almost – to Unapologetic.

So after coming home from SoulCycle, naturally I went to look for the album on Spotify, but it wasn’t there. So I decided to wait a couple days, knowing that albums will sometimes show up on Spotify a few days after they’re released. A few days passed, & still no album on Spotify. At this point, I got so desperate to hear the music & remember my awesome SoulCycle experience, that I went on iTunes & BOUGHT the album. I was actually a little concerned that I would have wasted my money on something that wasn’t really that great but just sounded wonderful at the time because I was loving my SoulCycle experience. But very luckily – and to my surprise – that wasn’t at all the case.

Generally, I’m really not a Rihanna fan. She has a couple songs that I really enjoy, but for the most part, I don’t think she’s talented enough to deserve all the hype she gets. So when I heard this album, I was really SHOCKED at how much I LOVED it. That’s right – LOVED it. And what’s even more surprising is that I actually really enjoy the majority of the songs. This album is almost a straight-through no skipping listener for me. Anyway, here’s my review of my favorite tracks (which again, is most of them – I’m not even including every one that I enjoy just to spare you guys from a never-ending post lol):

  • Phresh Out the Runway” – just a good dance track & strong intro I think! I believe this was also the first song in our SoulCycle class…which def got me really hype lol
  • Diamonds” – welp, didn’t like this one at all when I first heard it outside the context of this album, but I’ve now been sold on this song.
  • Numb” – ok so this one’s sound kinda blew me away when I first heard it…& then I heard Eminem…& he just topped it all off with his reference to their last major hit at 2:25 ;). This addictive beat has def been played a lot more than the others.
  • Jump” – another one that blew me away…first I was drawn in by the building intro, then I was loving that cool groovy beat that dropped, then “Pony” snuck in & grabbed me by surprise, and just when I thought I couldn’t handle anymore, that dub-step just came in & closed the deal!! Such a banger to me! (Note: this YouTube version is a little fast-pitched, I couldn’t find one that was exactly the same pitch as the album version but I think the faster pitch is a much better experience than the slower-pitched ones I found…I think they’d probably speed it up for the club anyway πŸ™‚ )
  • Right Now” – like so many of these, I could see this being a really successful dance single, especially with David Guetta’s help. (Also a little sped up pitch-wise, but same deal I think this represents the song better than the slower pitch versions)
  • Nobody’s Business” – say what you will about RiRi & Breezy (I personally think they’re doing the most), but I really like this song with Breezy’s tryna-sound-like-MJ self πŸ™‚ (Not sure what’s going on with the pitch on these YouTube videos but they don’t really sound that much like Justin Bieber chipmunks on the real version lol)
  • Get It Over With” – actually feeling the lyrics on this emo one.
  • Lost In Paradise” – Another one similar to “Jump” that starts off kind of chill but loving how the energy builds & maintains with that driving beat throughout the rest of the song.
  • Half of Me” – probably so good because it was co-written by Emeli Sande…and it def has Sande written all over it.
  • Diamonds (Gregor Salto Downtempo Remix)” – really just like this version even better than the original, it was the last song in our SoulCycle class & such a great finale!

More broadly, being the music industry junkie nerd that I am, this really made me think about consumer behavior when it comes to buying music. We all know record & album sales have been suffering badly for a while, but I would like to know what Rihanna’s people’s rationale was for not putting her album on Spotify. I didn’t really try very hard to find it elsewhere on the internet, but it just generally seemed less available to me than most albums (correct me if I’m mistaken). But just based on my case study of myself this week (lol), I think that if music is actually good and you make it available to people for free for a limited time (like streaming or even a live listening party) or attach it to some awesomely positive experience (like my SoulCycle class!), it seems like there’s a good chance they’ll buy it to continue listening to it if they have no other easy option…? I mean I know that artists make royalties from Spotify too, but not sure long-term what would be more lucrative for an artist. Just writing stream-of-consciousness here, but I find it all very interesting.

All in all, I guess I’m a RiRi fan (for) now…? Sigh lol

John Macpherson

Ah, the power of technology πŸ™‚ I came across this 19 year old singer / songwriter from Ontario, Canada on Twitter (please go follow me @accompanykike! and him @johnmacmusic) and liked what I heard so I’m glad that I was able to get an interview with him! This is my second artist interview but what’s even more exciting is that it’s my first ever video interview – and also his first blog feature! Meet John Macpherson below, and as an extra special treat check out the exclusive release of his brand new song “The Faster I Fall” (my FAVORITE of his) just for us – before it’s even recorded yet! Having already built quite a following for himself in Canada, I’m definitely sensing that we have a potential teen heartthrob on our hands πŸ™‚

Again, I want to reinforce the power of technology here & reiterate that I met John Macpherson on Twitter. So if you’re an up & coming artist trying to get some more exposure, please follow me on Twitter @accompanykike & I would love to feature you too if I like what I hear!

Well that’s John Macpherson for you! Take a listen to his recorded singles below as well as the interview transcript if you weren’t able to watch it above, and be sure toΒ check back for his forthcoming EP! (Note to John: Please record “The Faster I Fall” ASAP so I can put it on my ipod!! lol)

Kike: For those who are just being introduced to you, how would you describe yourself & your music?
John: I’d say it draws from a wide variety of influences but I think it’s something very human & real, something people can relate to. I’m not talking about the club or throwing my hands in the air because life isn’t like that. I know what I want to hear in music and I think some people want to latch onto those things that are real and human that you can understand.

Kike: What makes your music different from the music that’s currently out there?
John: I think anything that’s from my perspective, like if you write your own songs and sing them, they’re going to be different because it’s just your way of seeing the world. You see a situation in a different way than another songwriter would see it and it’s just your lens that you look through.

Kike: When did you discover you had a talent for singing & songwriting, and how long have you been doing so?
John: Well, actually I was around 10 years old and it’s kind of embarrassing but I was always inspired by boy bands at a young age, like I just wanted to be up on stage. I loved microphones and always liked the technology so I wanted to just sing in a microphone. But I actually started off kind of rough – I mumbled, I couldn’t really sing – I wasn’t one of those kids who was amazing at 10 but I just worked at it & got a guitar & tried to write my songs ever since I could play a few chords & that’s been about it.

Kike: Do you remember the first song you ever sang?
John: I think the first song I ever sang that I can remember publicly was “Time of Your Life” by Green Day. It was at a graduation & I was about 12 years old. Back then I was probably just so excited that they let me up on stage – when you’re young you don’t really have those self-conscious things as much, it’s funny.

Kike: Who are your musical influences?
John: Modern day I’m really into good singer / songwriters like Ed Sheeran – I know he’s a big one I’ve been listening to lately for contemporary, he’s really good. There’s always the classics like Bob Dylan & The Doors were always my favorite band. And then guys like John Mayer for more current. So I kind of like a mix of everything, just whatever’s good writing. And even dance music, I don’t mind deadmau5 stuff like that, underground dubstep stuff, I’m pretty much open to anything as long as it’s good.

Kike: Since you’re so young, are you currently pursuing music full-time, or are you also in school?
John: Right now I’ve just been working and recording but I’m looking into a few things like school & other things to keep my options open to a few paths but still including music in everything.

Kike: What projects are you currently working on? I know you’ve already put out a few singles, but do you have any plans to release an EP or debut album soon?
John: Yeah, right now I’ve started on an EP & it’s kind of exciting. I like the songs I’ve written for it and it’s kind of cool – it’s a bit of finding myself & my direction. It’s really acoustic based & really raw & real, just to hear my voice & hear my songwriting with not too much flash – just real up close & personal.

Kike: Have you had the chance to perform live in Ontario yet?
John: Yeah definitely, I’ve done quite a few when I was younger like random coffee shops & events & getting up at shows and putting on shows, opening for people, playing small festivals, things like that. Even musical theater, just any way to get up on stage – so I’ve had a bit of experience with that.

Kike: What’s your favorite part about performing for a live audience?
John: I just like the unexpected nature – like anything can happen. People can yell something out, people make requests, you just come up with things on the fly & that’s really fun. Instead of just freezing up, it’s really fun to just roll with it & see where it goes. You never know what’s going to happen – the sound could cut out, something could happen but just rolling with it and just having that energy with people and that feedback.

Kike: If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would it be?
John: First of all, I’d probably say Toronto at the SkyDome because it’s close to my hometown, it’s like the big city in Canada so it’d be awesome to play a sold out show there.

Kike: If you could open for anybody in the world, who would it be?
John: That’s such a tough question – I think probably a Taylor Swift tour would be cool because she’s cute & she has a good audience there. That’d be awesome, I think that would be fun.

Kike: Who do you want your music to reach?
John: I’ve always said this, I just want it to reach whoever needs it and whoever can use it. It doesn’t matter how big or small your following is – if you write something that can reach somebody & they say “You wrote my story” or “Your song is the exact experience I went through,” I think that’s the cool part. Even if it reaches one person, that just makes me happy to have that. Maybe you don’t know why you wrote a certain song or the reason behind it, but maybe the reason was to reach them & that’s kind of a cool thing when you can write your own story but also write other people’s stories in a way they may have not been able to express. It’s always cool if you can soundtrack a moment. I’ve always found music so much better in context – you hear a song on the radio & you might not like it at first, but then it plays at a certain moment & you’re like, “Oh, I get it now, it just fits.” It fits your life in a way, so that’s what I’d like to do for people.

Kike: Who’s the one person you would love to hear your music? This can be a famous person but doesn’t have to be.
John: Honestly, somebody going through a hard time, like I said, people who need it. But it’d be pretty cool if Neil Young or Bob Dylan or [now deceased] Elliott Smith & Jeff Buckley – singer / songwriters that I really love – it’d be really cool to write with them or to have them hear it. Pretty much my idols, but everyday people too, that would mean the same to me.

Kike: Is there anything else you’d like to tell the world about yourself?
John: I’m a Virgo, currently single, vegetarian for a little while now. Check out youtube.com/johnmacmusic to see some videos – I don’t know, I’m just a quiet kind of guy I guess. I use music to say intricate things or what’s on my mind but I’m just pretty quiet & easygoing.

New Discoveries: October 2012

Hi everyone!

Here are my favorite songs that I’ve just discovered in October (as usual, I know I’m late on some of them lol). Full Spotify playlist below & YouTube links for those who don’t have Spotify πŸ™‚

Hello Mello

  • Let Me Be Him” – Hot Chip
  • Running” – Jessie Ware (kinda reminds me of a cross between Goapele & Kimbra…?)
  • Night Light” – Jessie Ware (love those slightly ominous strings in this song, & such an artistic video! Love the modern / lyrical dancing which I could never master lol)
  • Pink Blue Hotel” – Loopless
  • At The River” – Groove Armada (so late on this one it’s pretty embarrassing)
  • My Friend” – Groove Armada (late on this too, but do you recognize the original basis for the vocals? Here’s a hint…)
  • Fly Me To The Moon” – Groove Armada (I love this slightly soulful instrumental version of the classic made popular by Frank Sinatra :))
  • New Life (Perseus Edit)” – Jeremy Glenn

Simply Smooth (R&B)

  • Where’s The Fun In Forever” – Miguel (do you hear Alicia back there?)
  • The Only One” – Stacy Barthe (ok, so I know I’m SUPER late on her, but I seriously LOVE this woman’s music! I knew she sounded familiar…)
  • Cold Hands Warm Heart” – Rudy Currence (HANDS DOWN my FAVORITE on this list!! I could literally listen to this on repeat…all the time…lol)
  • You Are My World” – R. Kelly (ummm…he is CLEARLY channeling MJ in this song. Those ad-libs at the end are almost IDENTICAL to MJ’s ad-libs in “Remember the Time“…it’s amazing how well R. Kelly is able to imitate him! After further research it actually seems like this was originally recorded as a demo for MJ that he never released…totally makes sense lol)

Dance Dance!

Rock On Mayne

  • Hold On You” – Ponderosa (pretty late on this too, but really feeling the Southern Rock-Soul in this song)

Let’s Get a Little Classy (Classical)

  • Prelude” – Muse (so taken out of context because Muse is not at all a classical group lol…but I just think this song is so beautiful, like it could be used in a ballet! This could also be totally unoriginal to Muse so if it’s “stolen” from an original classical piece please let me know lol)

Hope you enjoy until next time!

5 Videos for Halloween

Happy Halloween everyone!! If you’re on the East Coast and in the path of Frankenstorm Sandy, I hope you’re all safe!! But if you’re stuck inside like most people I know over here, hopefully these videos will help you pass at least some time and bring back some entertaining Halloween memories…

5. Backstreet Boys “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”
LOL I had to do it!! Hahahaha…don’t tell me y’all didn’t jam to this song back in the day?!

4. Missy Elliott “Get Ur Freak On”
Ummm…this video was pretty weird right?? I was always pretty freaked out when her head snaked off like that lol…

3. Michael Jackson “Ghost”
MJ always had such an interesting affinity to ghosts, monsters, zombies & the like…I love it when that skeleton starts GETTING IT like MJ!! Haha

2. Busta Rhymes “Gimme Some More”
This video always scared me so much!! And it didn’t help that it sampled the theme from Psycho…but I always loved this song πŸ™‚

1. Michael Jackson “Thriller”
Of course no surprise here, one of the most GENIUS & influential videos from the King of Pop himself!

So, what are your other favorite scary / videos songs that I missed??

New Discoveries: September 2012

Hola my peeps,

Here are my favorite songs that I’ve first heard this month (admittedly late on some of them). Full Spotify playlist below & YouTube links for those who don’t have Spotify πŸ™‚

Simply Smooth (R&B)

  • Enough of No Love” – Keyshia Cole & Weezy (this sounds like it belongs back in 2006 – 2007 for some reason…maybe I like it b/c it sounds so familiar to me…)
  • Black Gold” – Esperanza Spalding & Algebra Blessett (great video!)

Dance Dance!

  • Pantera” – Kartell (probably my favorite on this list because of what happens at 0:30-0:31…keep listening if you don’t catch it πŸ™‚ )
  • In & Out” – Marcus Canty f/Wale (took a while for this one to grow on me but I really like the hook & I love my X Factor favorite!)

PRAISE

It’s Countray

  • Storm Warning” – Hunter Hayes (I’m hoping to do a full post on this guy…love his music!)

MJ Bad 25:

Ok, so I thought this deserved a section on it’s own. Epic, Legacy & MJJ Productions re-released Michael Jackson’s “Bad” album this month on its 25th anniversary. It includes remastered versions of his old well-known hits, but also quite a few songs that I had never heard before (which I thiink is saying a lot because I like to think I’m a pretty huge & knowledgeable MJ fan!) Anyway, my favorites from that 25th Anniversary album are below:

  • Price of Fame” (previously unreleased)
  • Streetwalker” (ok, so there’s basically NO excuse for me not to have heard this before. Without a doubt my favorite!! And so good to finally know where the beginning of “The Way You Make Me Feel” live comes from! at least I think so…lol)
  • Fly Away” (also not really sure why I hadn’t heard this before…but really pretty I think!)
  • Bad” – Remix by Afrojack f/Pitbull (surprised I actually like this version but I think I could dance to it in the club!)

Annd lastly as an extra side bonus (completely unrelated to this post) while we’re on the subject of MJ 25th Anniversary albums, this is probably my FAVORITE MJ remix of all time, off his Thriller 25 Album. Enjoy & until next time! πŸ™‚

Not JBiebs but Ryan Beatty

Really quick post on this, the teenage girl in me heard this guy & was curious enough to continue listening and I think he’s onto something. Took a listen to his EP (you’ll find below) but also wanted to check out some YouTube clips to see what he sounds like live. Actually not bad in my opinion! My favorite videos are below:

  • “Heartless / Ain’t No Sunshine” – Kanye West / Bill Withers – I like this mashup! Glad to hear he’s not tone deaf & corrected himself at 0:26
  • “I Won’t Give Up” – Jason Mraz – just a side note I really like the minor key that guitarist brings in near the beginning
  • “Valerie” – Amy Winehouse – piano’s too loud on this one but I still think it’s really cute
  • “Nobody Like You” – Ryan Beatty original – not sure why he didn’t include this on his EP too…I like it better than all the songs on it
  • And apparently Justin Bieber covered his song “Every Little Thing”

So he clearly sounds eerily (some would say exactly?) like The Biebs so it’ll be interesting to see how he distinguishes himself. In my opinion I think this kid can pull of the acoustic / bluesy (a la Jason Mraz / John Mayer) feel more than Justin’s poppier vibe (his voice is already a little deeper than I believe Justin’s was at this age), but I guess that will stand to be seen! Check out his EP by clicking on the image below (disclaimer: EP is much poppier than videos above)…

New Discoveries: January – August 2012

Hey everyone, here’s a collection of songs that I’ve heard that have really caught my ear this year so far. I find that very often it’s difficult for me to keep up with & remember ALL of the new music I find out about & enjoy – from Shazam to recommendations to live shows, etc, so this is my attempt to document & save everything that I really enjoy – so that I’m always able to go back and listen later. Be forewarned that this is quite a long, VERY random list (genres across the board – it also includes some of my favorites from popular new(-ish) albums that have been in my rotation a lot this year), but I hope to continue to do this monthly going forward so that each list will be a little more manageable. I also recognize that I’m probably very late to the game for a lot of these songs. But for now, here’s what I’ve got for this year so far…and you may see extended features on some of these artists in the future! Β Check back at the end of next month & hopefully you’ll find a new list from September!

Some highlights / favorites along with the playlist below –

Chillin in the Lounge (or at Home) Music:

Dance!

  • Two Up” – Diggy
  • No Sugar” – Joey Negro, Gramophonedzie, Shea Soul (I love this video…the dancing is so cute!)
  • Clocks” – Rhythms Del Mundo & Coldplay (THIS IS AN AMAZING MIX!!)
  • Warrior” – Kimbra
  • She’s Bad” – Bad Rabbits

Lovey-Dovey AND/OR Emo:

Simply Smooth πŸ™‚ (R&B / Jazz)

  • Selfish Love” – Bertell
  • Daydreaming” – David Sanborn
  • Believe In Us” – Mint Condition
  • Sweet Life” – Frank Ocean (ARGUABLY MY FAVORITE SONG ON THIS WHOLE LIST!!…The version in this video is a liiitle high-pitched but still sounds great IMO…)
  • Let Me In” – Anthony David
  • I Don’t Care” – Elle Varner
  • Leaf” – Elle Varner
  • Lately” – Anita Baker (I still like Tyrese’s version better but I LOVE how Anita was able to make this her own! It sounds so smooth & jazzy, if you didn’t know better you’d think it was an old school song that Tyrese did a cover of!)
  • Feel The Same” – Reggie Watts