Album Review: The Weeknd – Kiss Land

Before I selected an album to review, I went through the same thought process as Keith and Dan did with their most recent reviews (click on their names and read theirs too!). I wanted to review an artist, or band, that I wasn’t a passionate fan of because it would cause substantial bias (ahem, my Taking Back Sunday review was essentially me writing an open love letter to the band). So I decided to do just that, and I believe I will go with…

The Weeknd! (Birth name: Abel Tesfaye)

(Photo Credit: Alanzadeh)

(Photo Credit: Alanzadeh)

To be honest, I’ve never even listened to a song by The Weeknd – accidently or purposefully. That may be absurd to many because he has a relatively large following in my age bracket – at least most of the people I’m friends with religiously listen to The Weeknd – but those same friends likely realize that I do not listen to much R&B (or more specifically PBR&B as it is known for The Weeknd’s case). I only even know of The Weeknd because of those same friends retweeting Mr. Weeknd, or tweeting his lyrics.

This album review will be as objective as they come, though, so that’s a positive. I will also say that since I have never listened to The Weeknd that I may not be able to pick up on any subtle themes or style he employs in his music. Feel free to tear me limb from limb if I incorrectly assess any lyrics or themes. I’m going in with zero knowledge on The Weeknd, which I think will be fun for this review.

The album to be reviewed is The Weeknd’s latest album Kiss Land, which was released September 10, 2013. You can buy that album at Amazon, iTunes, The Weeknd’s Site, or your local music store/Target. Remember, not every artist is living in a luxurious mansion; this is their passion as well as their means to make a living.

The album cover of Kiss Land can be seen here.

So let’s get this baby started right? Well first let me tell you how this album will be graded in this review.

I will be color coding each song title track with one of these colors: Purple (favorite track), Green (solid songs), Blue (listenable), and Red (I don’t like it one bit). Got it? Then I will be giving reasons why those songs received that grade, and the overall grade of the album will be listed at the bottom out of ten.

I like to grade the albums this way because it is easy for readers to quickly grasp my opinion on the individual songs, as well as the album, without having to search high and low for it. It is simple to just make a blanket statement about an album without really giving an opinion on the majority of songs, but with this means of grading it shows my feelings towards each song.

Here we go, and, again, thanks for reading!

Track List

Professional
The Town
Adaptation
Love In The Sky
Belong To The World
Live For Feat. Drake
Wanderlust
Kiss Land
Pretty
Tears In The Rain
Odd Look [Only from iTunes purchase] Feat. The Weeknd By Kavinsky

(Photo Credit: Shubvirk)

(Photo Credit: Shubvirk)

Track List

Professional
The Town
Adaptation
Love In The Sky
Belong To The World
Live For Feat. Drake
Wanderlust
Kiss Land
Pretty
Tears In The Rain
Odd Look [Only from iTunes purchase] Feat. The Weeknd By Kavinsky

Purple Level Songs:

Wanderlust

Explanation:

‘Wanderlust’ appealed to me because it was different, but not so different that The Weeknd lost his style. The intro with the guitar warmed my heart, and the faster pace music made me appreciate The Weeknd’s lyrics much more considering nearly every other song on this album is mellow, or too slow for my blood. The only critique I have is The Weeknd may be incorrectly using the word ‘wanderlust’ in his lyrics. (Here’s the literal definition.)

Look here at a snippet of lyrics:

You’re in love with something bigger than love
You believe in something stronger than trust
Wanderlust
Wanderlust

You’re too shy away from me
Just sacrifice your every last inhibition
I’m on your side
Don’t patronize
You know tonight
Is the only time we’ll have each other
Why would you try to waste this precious time?
Cause tonight I’ll be right here
And tomorrow you won’t care

There is no concrete mention of travel (essentially what wanderlust means); there is mention that ‘You’re too shy away from me’ and ‘I’ll be right here, And tomorrow you won’t care.’ Whether or not that is insinuating travel, or separation from The Weeknd, is ultimately up to you to decide – I frankly don’t believe that to be the case in the grand scheme of the song. I believe The Weeknd slotted the word wanderlust into the song and it fit perfectly. I apologize for that mini-rant/explanation over semantics.

Overall ‘Wanderlust’ is a catchy song with a mildly fast beat (in comparison to the rest of the album) and is a must listen on Kiss Land.

Green Level Songs:

Professional
Love In The Sky
Belong To The World
Odd Look

Explanation:

The first song of this album ‘Professional’ does a stellar job of starting off Kiss Land. ‘Professional’ quickly lent me The Weeknd’s style when it came to lyrics and music. I should have realized that an R&B album would be sensual, but ‘Professional’ again helped me realize that quickly (not saying it is a bad thing just that I should have thought about that before listening!).

‘Love In The Sky’ follows the theme of love, fame, and desire that oozes from every song on Kiss Land. ‘Love In The Sky’ takes a slightly different approach that makes it likable. Instead of reminiscing solely on their past endeavors, The Weeknd speaks to his lady friend that their love is not made for the world that they live in – that their love is too powerful to be fully explained, or felt in this reality. I understand that the ‘sky’ referenced in the song does not mean the literal sky, but a higher plane of reality – possibly heaven. Of course, The Weeknd slips in several non-subtle sensual lyrics that only adds to his exuberant feelings for this woman and the meaning of the song.

The fifth song of the album, ‘Belong To The World’, is similar to track four (‘Love In The Sky’), in that The Weeknd references his love for the woman and her backstory more than his fame or backstory. He acknowledges that she is ‘dead inside’ yet that she may be the first woman that actually made him have feelings of love. Though The Weeknd may have feelings for this woman, he recognizes that she ‘Belongs to the World’ and no person is worthy of this woman’s love because she is the penultimate woman (in The Weeknd’s mind). My only complaints are that the song drags on at the end, and the meaning of the song becomes horribly watered down by the repeating of the chorus.

The final song on Kiss Land is the song ‘Odd Look.’ Oddly enough, The Weeknd did not create the beats (and possibly lyrics) for this song – French House Music artist Kavinsky did! Nonetheless, ‘Odd Look’ capitalizes on The Weeknd’s raw soulfulness and angst. Hearing The Weeknd in a fast paced song is a literal change of pace from most of the songs on Kiss Land, and his voice, accompanied with Kavinsky’s beats/lyrics, knocks it completely out of the park.

Blue Level Songs:

The Town
Adaptation
Pretty

Explanation:

‘The Town’ just didn’t provide for me as a song. It was generic sounding for a genre that I believe sounds the same a lot of the time, but those songs that ‘sound the same’ at least try to mix in a few differences to spice up the song. ‘The Town’ does nothing out of the ordinary, but isn’t terrible.

Like ‘The Town’, ‘Adaptation’ did not feel like a song I will remember by name if I happen to hear it played at a bar, at a friend’s house, or on satellite radio. Being right after ‘The Town’ on the track list, it seemed to me like a continuation of ‘The Town.’ The lyrics in ‘Adaptation’ are much better than ‘The Town’ lyrics simply because I don’t believe I have heard an artist lament his fame and life (after he became famous) quite like The Weeknd does in ‘Adaptation.’ Intriguing lyrics, bland sound.

‘Pretty’ doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from any other song on this album (or any other R&B track for that matter). The Weeknd is lusting after another woman, and he describes to her how beautiful she is and all that jazz. It’s the simple recipe for most love songs written by men. Yet the instrumentals in this song are what keep it blue level instead of red level. If the lyrics weren’t so simplistic in this song, it may have very well been my favorite of Kiss Land. The French lyrics at the end are lovely, but The Weeknd should’ve worked those lyrics into the entire song.

The track directly after ‘Pretty’ is ‘Tears in the Rain.’ Just like ‘Pretty,’ ‘Tears in the Rain’ suffers from simplistic lovey-dovey lyrics (though more angsty in ‘Tears in the Rain’), but is saved by stupendous instrumentals. There isn’t much else to say about ‘Tears in the Rain.’

Red Level Songs:

Live For Feat. Drake
Kiss Land*

Explanation:

Drake was completely unnecessary in ‘Live For.’ His feature did not want to end. Drake rattled on and on about how he’s toured the world, received plaques (just refers to his ‘plaques’ – I’m assuming they’re for rapping? Sports? Being Canadian?), and nothing more than partying – so totally epic. He mentions his family, but nothing substantial to make a point. The Weeknd’s lyrics are pitiful compared to his other songs because this song is more of a ‘party’ or ‘hype’ song. This isn’t the introspective The Weeknd that is heard in every other song, but rather it is The Weeknd that decided to create a song to fit in Drake to possibly pump up his popularity? I am unsure, but ‘Live For’ is not The Weeknd’s best work (and I’ve only listened to the songs on Kiss Land). I applaud The Weeknd for trying to step out of his comfort zone, though.

I am torn with the song ‘Kiss Land.’ The first half of the song makes me feel uneasy because of the shrill, terrified screaming of the woman in the background music. The lyrics aren’t too strong either, but the first half of lyrics is just The Weeknd urging the girl (and possibly himself?) that all he wants is her body and to set her up as his ‘west coast girl’ – among other things. These lyrics aren’t much different than other lyrics from other songs on this album, but I was expecting more from the album’s title track (and not the screaming of a woman that is terrified in the background for no apparent reason). Yet the second half of the song (Verse 3) The Weeknd turns it up lyrically, and the song slows down slightly. Verse 3 The Weeknd begins to explain how his fame was gained quickly after 21 years of ‘staring at the same four walls.’ This is the second song on the track where The Weeknd laments his fame (or at least his quick ascent to fame in ‘Kiss Land’), but he continues to pour his soul into Verse 3 with his problem with drugs, sex, and life in general. Aside from the disastrous first half of the song (which was so horrid that it made this song a red level song), ‘Kiss Land’ is the *rawest song The Weeknd has on this album.*

Overall:

Kiss Land is an album that I would recommend to any of my musically inclined friends. It has a lot to offer for people that want to ‘relax’ their mind, or want to think about life in general. It is a peaceful, yet thought-provoking album. The only slants I have against Kiss Land are the songs seem to run together in some instances (meaning they’re too similar sounding – lyrically and instrumentally), and the lyrics could be much stronger in four or five of the songs on the album. Nonetheless, Kiss Land is a solid album from an artist that I have never listened to before in my life. You gained a fan The Weeknd.

Final Grade: 7/10

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please let us know! Thank you for reading.

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The Most Boring Album of the Year, Saved (Partially) by Two of the Most Interesting Rappers Alive

This is the first blog post from contributor Keith. Please welcome him with open arms! He’s great and this piece illustrates that! This piece was completed in December 2013.

Earlier today I was standing in line at Chipotle (my intestines hate me, and for good reason) and, as usual, I was staring at my phone, searching whatever came to mind. At the particular moment in question, my mind was on Chance the Rapper. Since it came out I have listened to Acid Rap almost once a day (if not more) as well as #10day. The guy is amazing. No, this is not a review of either of those mixtapes, because honestly, that review would be so laden with praise I would hear schoolyard bullies the whole time, “If you love him so much why don’t you marry him?” Easier said than done, bullies.

But no, I didn’t want my first album review to be something that I have obsessed over, instead something I hadn’t heard yet. So, I began Googling. The first article I came across was from SPIN, an outrageously glitchy site (at least on my iPhone) that was filled with pop-up advertisements (I can’t afford a Tonka truck, don’t try to sell me a Camry), and I fought through the issues to reach the article, titled Chance the Rapper Lends (More) Genius to James Blake’s ‘Life Round Here’Immediately, I turned to my brother and asked him who James Blake was; his response was a ten minute rant on ‘how pissed he was that people were talking about this guy instead of the tennis player’ – my brother cares way too much about sports. I could see he was going to be no help and trudged on with the article. Apparently, Chance did an alternate version of the song and killed it, as expected. I figured, why not listen to James Blake’s new album (Overgrown) for my first review. Done.

First thing’s first, find out something about James Blake, so I hit up Wikipedia, and learned that people love him. Cool. Next, get ahold of the album. Done. Then it came time to listen to it. I formed an opinion almost immediately, but I’ll leave that for later.

For this review I am going to use Brad’s method for grading (for example), green, blue, and red categories for the songs, (great, good, bad; respectively) each group then gets an explanation; then purple for my favorite of the album. I decided to add a brown song for my least favorite. Why brown? You do the math. I will give an overall grade for the album on a ten point scale. After I finish, I am going to add one more part, and that is a review of Chance’s version of the “Life Round Here”. I am not going to listen to that song until I write the initial review because I know that it would cause bias, and I want to approach this as objectively as possible.

As always, this is purely my opinion, and while I certainly believe that my opinion is correct (I haven’t spent several years and thousands of dollars on college for nothing) you, dear reader, are entitled to your opinion. Remember, you chose to read this, I’m not forcing you.

Without further ado, the track listing:

  1. Overgrown
  2. I Am Sold
  3. Life Round Here
  4. Take a Fall for Me (feat. RZA)
  5. Retrograde
  6. DLM
  7. Digital Lion
  8. Voyeur
  9. To the Last
  10. Our Love Comes Back
  11. Every Day I Ran (Bonus Track)
The album cover.

The album cover.

The track listing in order with their colorized grades:

  1. Overgrown
  2. I Am Sold
  3. Life Round Here
  4. Take a Fall for Me (feat. RZA)
  5. Retrograde
  6. DLM
  7. Digital Lion
  8. Voyeur
  9. To The Last
  10. Our Love Comes Back
  11. Every Day I Ran (Bonus Track)

Purple Level Song:

4. Take a Fall for Me (feat. RZA)

Explanation:

By far the best song on the album. Mr. Blake needs to thank Bobby Digital for adding the only real substance to the lyrics of this album. RZA’s spoken word poetry is without a doubt the coolest thing about this album, and it reaches the deepest level of art and emotion that Overgrown has to offer. There is also some cool distortion employed onto Bobby’s voice, making for a very interesting listen.

Green Level Songs:

5. Retrograde
6. DLM

Explanation:

These two work well. They follow up the track with RZA well, and they sufficiently kept my attention all the way through them. “Retrograde” changed enough throughout the song to keep it interesting, and “DLM,” though a short song, uses a cool, asynchronous piano melody, it backs off on the over-the-top vocals, and it has more lyrical content than most of the rest of the album.

Blue Level Songs:

3. Life Round Here
7. Digital Lion

Explanation:

These two songs are blue because they didn’t hold me through the entire track, but they were interesting enough to get my attention. “Life Round Here,” being the song that drew me to this album in the first place, was a relief, as it was the first on the album that was actually bearable, which gave me hope for the version with Chance (which I have still yet to listen to). “Digital Lion” also came with some cool beats at points, but like so many songs on the album, fell into a repetitive lull by the end. Both of these songs are interesting enough to listen to, but they are kept out of the green level because they get lost in a vortex of repetition and make the eyelids heavy.

Red Level Songs:

1. Overgrown
2. I Am Sold
9. To the Last
10. Our Love Comes Back
11. Every Day I Ran (Bonus Track)

Explanation:

Boring. Boring. Boring.

I can’t say it enough. These five songs are aggressively unremarkable. Blake warbles on and on, articulating so little lyrical content that I wonder why anyone bothered writing lyrics. He could have achieved the same effect with just the non-verbal sounds that dominate most of these songs. I looked up the lyrics to all of them just to make sure that I wasn’t missing something and my stomach turned when I saw all of the lines cut and pasted over and over and over yet again. I would have to imagine that he got bored singing the same words in the same way so many times, because I certainly got bored listening to them. About halfway through each of these songs, I found myself wishing that it would end, and despairing at the small amount of time that had elapsed.

No change was in sight. None of these songs are long either. I would understand if it was like Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 where the songs actually do go on forever, but these ones just felt like they did. This section is especially bad because it includes the first two songs on the album. Before the first song ended (also the title track of the album!) I wanted to turn it off, but I had committed to it, so I powered through, and saw it to the end.

Brown Level Song:

8. Voyeur

Explanation:

Utter garbage. The lyrics are (according to metrolyrics.com)

“I don’t mind, it was all me/’Cause I am flawed/When I am through those doors/’Cause I am flawed/Times unsure/I should do whatever will make you feel secure/I don’t mind, it was all me.”

What am I supposed to get from that? Clocking in at 4:18, this is the fourth longest song on the album, and should have been – How long did it take you to read those lyrics? – Let’s go with your answer to that question. This song is terrible for all of the reasons that those in the red level have, but it is far worse for one major reason: this song thinks (personification for the song, I suppose I should say that James Blake thinks) that it does change and stay interesting, but this belief is a farce. The man repeats the same few words over and over, adding layers like a madman, but keeping the same boring gait. The vocals and sounds distort, discombobulate, and annoy the listener. It makes me think of the soundtrack that I imagine the CIA would have played over a brainwashing video in the sixties. If I have to hear “I don’t mind, it was all me” again, I may lose it.

Overall Grade: 2/10

I realize that this kind of music is in right now (for some reason), and though I just heard about it today, I understand that people love this album; but for the life of me I cannot figure out why. The vocal style is mind numbing and gets played out before the first song is even over, but continues for 43 minutes. The instrumentals are repetitive, only deviating to add unnecessary layers, there is virtually no lyrical content on the entire work (save for RZA’s shining verses), and it goes on for entirely too long. The only true bright spot on the album is RZA reciting a very cool poem, but that is not enough to redeem it. Yeah, a couple of songs are bearable, and a couple I would listen to again, but I would never put myself through the misery of this entire album again, and I wouldn’t suggest that anyone else do it.

Unless of course this album is your cup of tea. If you dig this style, cool, enjoy your nap, I’ll be listening to something with a purpose.

Extra Bit:

As I mentioned before, I will now be reviewing the version of “Life Round Here” with Chance the Rapper. I wrote the whole review of the album before listening to the song so that I wouldn’t know how great it could have been while reviewing what was actually on the album. I’ll be back in four minutes.

Chance The Rapper

Chance The Rapper

Alright, I lied. I listened to it a couple times, and read the lyrics along with Chance after the first listen. I wish I could take James Blake out of this song. As usual, Chance kills it, and ignoring Blake’s vocals the instrumental is really nice and compliments Chance well. Basically, for this song to reach the stratosphere of some of Chances other features (“LSD” by ProbCause, “Bout a Dolla” by the O’My’s, or “Tweakin” by Vic Mensa) he would probably need to get another verse and not have to compete with Blake for time and sound. I’m pretty much asking for James Blake to take his voice and name off the song (he’d still be the producer) and just let Chance do what he does best; kill it every time.

References:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/de/James_Blake_-_Overgrown_album_cover.png

http://www.spin.com/articles/chance-the-rapper-james-blake-life-round-here-remix/

https://chwomp.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/album-review-taking-back-sundays-tayf10-acoustic-album/

http://www.metrolyrics.com/james-blake-lyrics.html

http://www.metrolyrics.com/voyeur-lyrics-james-blake.html

Editors Note: Thanks for reading! Please leave any comments or concerns you have below.

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Album Review: Childish Gambino – Because The Internet

This is the first post by contributor Dan. Please welcome him with open arms and read his wonderful review.

I first heard Childish Gambino in early 2011, when the song “Be Alone” was released and EP was first announced. The only reason I initially listened to that song was to see if Donald Glover (the dude from Derrick Comedy and Community in my eyes at this time, nothing more) could actually make bearable music.  Not only was this music bearable, it was pretty amazing!  Every song filled with pop culture reference after pop culture reference, that I actually understood.  It was way different from the Wiz Khalifa that all my friends we’re listening to at that time, but way better.

CG

Fast Forward to 2013. After getting such rocky reviews for Camp and Royalty, Gambino prepares to release his fourth album (Culdesac predates two previously mentioned). This one however is a little different than the others; this is more than an original album.  This is a piece of art, complete with its own e-screenplay.  This e-screenplay has all the media built right in, from a player to play each track when necessary, to videos to go along with the listening/reading/watching experience.   In my opinion, this is the most complete album of the year.  As a stand alone, the CD is still great, but it doesn’t really make too much sense for Donald/Childish to be rapping about some topics that he does.  When linked with the screenplay, the whole album makes so much more sense because you are getting perspective that you were not just getting with the lyrics.

The only track I was not fully invested into this album was “Urn”; however after reading the section in the screenplay, I see the song’s purpose. It is an important part in the story even if it is a bland part of the album.

Childish Gambino put himself on the album cover for Because The Internet

Childish Gambino put himself on the album cover for Because The Internet

This album is also split into sub sections, which really work for the album.  These sections differentiate in setting of the story, that give the reader/listener a better understanding to what CG or “the boy” is feeling at this point in the story.  My favorite section of the album is track 10-12, or as I refer to it as, “The Party Chapters.” Track 10 is just Donald playing some piano chords (which occurs in the screenplay as well), followed by (in my opinion) the coolest song on the album “the Party” which features a flawless verse and then quickly dies out into the next track.  Track 12, “No Exit” is one of the most haunting songs on the album, and it works so well for the section it is.

As a whole thing, Because the Internet is easily one of the best pieces of art to come out this year.  I would strongly recommend that you read the screenplay through at least once (can easily be done in one sitting.)  Below is the tracklist, normally I would recommend certain tracks to pull out and listen to separately, but I feel that this album works best as a whole, because it is split into all these subsections.:

  1. ‘The Library (Intro)’
  2. I. ‘The Crawl’
  3. II. ‘Worldstar’
  4. ‘Dial Up’
  5. I. ‘The Worst Guys’ (Featuring Chance The Rapper)
  6. II. ‘Shadows’
  7. III. ‘Telegraph’ (“Oakland” by Lloyd)
  8. IV. ‘Sweatpants’
  9. V. ’3005′
  10. ‘Playing Around Before The Party Starts’
  11. I. ‘The Party’
  12. II. ‘No Exit’
  13. ‘Death By Numbers’
  14. I. ‘Flight of The Navigator’
  15. II. ‘Zealots of Stockholm’ (Free Information)
  16. III. ‘Urn’
  17. I. ‘Pink Toes’ (Featuring Jhene Aiko)
  18. II. ‘Earth: The Oldest Computer (The Last Night)’ [Featuring Azealia Banks]
  19. III. ‘Life: The Biggest Troll’ (Andrew Auernheimer)

Here is also a link to the screenplay.

Music Genres Represented on the Billboard Top 100 Charts

Below is an infographic that I created illustrating the lack of parity in the Billboard Top 100 Charts.

Here are the numbers:

  • Pop – 30 Songs
  • Rap – 9 Songs
  • Hip Hop – 23 Songs
  • Rock – 8 Songs
  • Country – 24 Songs
  • Electronic – 6 Songs

As you can see, Pop, Country, and Hip Hop genres have a stranglehold on the Top 100. These three genres make up 77 of the 100 songs on the Billboard Top 100 Charts.But does being on the Top 100 mean the song is ‘good’ to the general populace? Let’s look at how the Billboard Top 100 charts are tabulated.

This is from a September 29th, 2013 article named ‘Ask Billboard: How Does The Hot 100 Work?’ 

Article writer, Gary Thrust, replies to the question with this:

As we wrote in January when YouTube data was added to the Hot 100’s equation: “Generally speaking, our Hot 100 formula targets a ratio of sales (35-45%), airplay (30-40%) and streaming (20-30%).”

Of course, that’s an overall target for 100 songs each week. That mark can change week-to-week. This week, though, the Hot 100 breaks down in line with the formula’s intent: sales, 39%; airplay, 34%; and, streaming, 27%.

And, week-to-week, some songs show largely along those percentages, while others skew noticeably toward any of the chart’s three metrics.

So it is hard to determined what ‘good’ is in this instance, or really any instance, because songs from already popular artists will get the most airplay, likely the most streaming, and the previous two ‘metrics’ will eventually lead to an uptick in sales. Yet each of the three metrics can make up any percentage of the equation (the above is just a ‘general’ example), and each metric fluctuates every week as Thrust continues:

This week [September 29th, 2013], points for the Hot 100’s leader stem 50% from streaming, 43% from sales and just 7% from radio airplay. No surprise: the song drew a whopping 14.3 million U.S. streams in the chart’s tracking week, according to Nielsen BDS. (The No. 2-streamed song, Katy Perry’s “Roar,” garnered 7.3 million.) “Ball” ranks at No. 3 on Digital Songs with 301,000 downloads sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Conversely, as airplay for “Ball” is just beginning, its low Hot 100 points percentage reflects its No. 31 spot on Radio Songs (via 38 million all-format audience impressions, according to BDS).

‘Wrecking Ball’ is the song that usurped Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ because of breaking a YouTube record of first day views (12.3 Million), which demonstrates the shift from radio to Internet for music that has been happening for over a decade. It is just more recognizable now because of the large difference between 50% streaming and 7% radio airplay; it also helps that Cyrus has an, ahem, ‘interesting’ music video that draws the streaming views.

So what are the keys to reaching the Top 100 in the Billboard charts?

  • Create a captivating music video
  • Have a generic sound and cheap lyrics
  • Put more importance on online streaming and sales than radio airplay (What Millennials willingly listen to the radio?)
  • Build a loyal and enormous fan base
  • Not always necessary but helpful if you are a part of Country, Hip-hop, or Pop genres

If you would like to make an infographic, use this nifty site called Infogram!

Track List For Childish Gambino’s ‘Because The Internet’ Revealed

I apologize for making two separate posts concerning Childish Gambino, but the video player used for that song would only let me post the video of Childish Gambino performing ‘Shadows.’

Thanks to this Alternative Press article, I now know the names of all the tracks on Childish Gambino’s upcoming album Because The Internet. 

1. “The Library (Intro)
2. “I. The Crawl”
3. “II. Worldstar”
4. “Dial Up”
5. “I. The Worst Guys” (feat. Chance the Rapper)
6. “II. Shadows”
7. “III. Telegraph” (feat. Lloyd)
8. “IV. Sweatpants”
9. “V. 3005”
10. “Playing Around Before the Party Starts”
11. “I. The Party”
12. “II. No Exit”
13. “Death by Numbers”
14. “I. Flight of the Navigator”
15. “II. Zealots of the Navigator”
16. “III. Umm”
17. “I. Pink Toes,” feat. Jhene Aiko
18. “II. Earth: The Oldest Computer (The Last Night)” (feat. Azealia Banks)
19. “III. Life: The Biggest Troll (Andrew Auernheimer)”

I am most excited about track 18 featuring Azealia Banks and track 5 which features Chance The Rapper. This is shaping up to be a stupendous album, I now just have to hear it – but I’ll be waiting until December 10th before I can buy it.

Infographic: Grammy Winners For Album Of The Year By Genre

Below is a nifty infographic that I made using this website. I believe it is worth a look-see at the different genres that have won Album of the Year; granted the Grammy Awards normally neglect ‘good’ music (which is a very subjective term when describing anything) for more mainstream music, but there are several ‘good’ albums that have won Album of the year before. Click here to see the list of winners in it’s entirety.

This is a 'stacked' bar graph illustrating the Grammy winners of Album of the Year by their genres. The 1950s only has one winner because 1959 was the first year of the Grammy Awards; the 2010s only have four winners because it is only 2013.

This is a ‘stacked’ bar graph illustrating the Grammy winners of Album of the Year by their genres. The 1950s only has one winner because 1959 was the first year of the Grammy Awards; the 2010s only have four winners because it is only 2013. (Source for data)

I never would have guessed that Comedy of all genres would win an Album of the Year award, let alone two of them! I had a hard time deciding whether to conjoin Hip-hop/Rap, but I decided again it because each genre has separate qualities to it. It is also interesting to note the shift of music from the 1960s to now, as well as the  growing variety of genres for each decade of winners. If you have any questions about this infographic please let me know!

Note: Rap, Folk, and Rock have nearly the same identifying color in the above infographic, but Rap has won a total of 0 Album of the Year Award. I just placed Rap in this graph to show the breadth of music genres (and the above aren’t even all of them).

Note 2: In the 2010s, I selected the Taylor Swift album Fearless as being ‘Pop’ instead of ‘Country’; it could be argued that the album deserves one genre over the other, I apologize for not making that clearer in the original post.

Band of the Week: OutKast

Here are the previous ‘Band of the Week’ recipients.

Right away, I want to state that OutKast isn’t necessarily a band, per se, but I think their music is of high quality and warrants ‘Band of the Week’ honors. We can argue the semantics of ‘band’ later on, but for now OutKast is staying put as ‘Band of the Week.’ Comment below if you feel otherwise.

Big Boi and Andre 3000 in a picture titled "Grillin'." (Source)

Big Boi and André 3000 in a picture titled “Grillin’.” (Source)

The group now known as ‘OutKast’ was formed in 1992 in Atlanta, Georgia by André Benjamin (André 3000) and Antwan Patton (Big Boi). The original name of the hip-hop group was Two Shades Deep, but quickly became named as OutKast. The group is known as a hip-hop duo, but the pair use many different genres in their music, including:  blues, electronic, funk, jazz rock, spoken word poetry, and soul. Not quite a hip-hop duo at all, but that’s what makes OutKast great – the inability to pin them down onto one genre.

The duo have created six total albums, but first struck mainstream gold with Stankonia (2000); specifically with songs ‘Ms. Jackson’ and ‘B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad). (The peculiar thing about B.O.B. is that the song was written before America had dropped bombs on Baghdad.) Three years later OutKast released Speakerboxxx/The Love Below – which I believe to be the best Hip-Hop album of the 21st century (I know it’s only been thirteen years into this century, but this album still holds up and will hold up).

This album was released in September 2003. (Source)

This album was released in September 2003. (Source)

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below  became Outkast’s most successful album to date (sold over 5 million albums and was the #1 album on the Billboard Top 200 for several), but that may be in part because of how the album was formulated. The album is actually a double album where Big Boi and André 3000 created several songs of their own without the other – the album includes 31 songs (including an ‘intro’ and an interlude). Other than Stadium Arcadium I can’t think of another recent album with this type of song volume. This strategy paid off because along with the commercial success, the group won the 2004 Grammy for ‘Album of the Year.’

The duo then created music for the musical film Idlewild in 2005/06. Idlewild set in the depression era of the United States in Georgia; the film was distributed by Universal Pictures and HBO Films. The group created the entire soundtrack for Idlewild and would be the last full album the duo did together. Since 2007 the two have gone on their separate ways with solo work (including acting as well as music), but neither has officially closed the book on OutKast so there’s still a sliver of hope that the group reconnects in the future for some more stupendous music.

Here’s one of my favorite songs by OutKast (though it’s André 3000’s song) in ‘Hey Ya.’ But please read after the video why ‘Hey Ya’ is actually a very sad song, and not the upbeat hit that you may believe it to be. I cannot embed the actual video from OutKast because of Vevo being very limited with where their videos can be posted, so here’s a lyric video. I hope it suffices.

Here is an excerpt from a 2012 Cracked.com piece on why ‘Hey Ya’ is a sound song:

At its core, “Hey Ya” is an incredibly sad song. The lyrics are basically an indictment of the entire idea of being in a relationship. Not just getting married, but being in a relationship at all. The “hero” of the song has found himself tied down to a woman that he no longer loves, and to make matters worse, it’s pretty clear she’s lost that feeling for him also. And that’s how, in the midst of one of the most deceivingly happy-sounding songs ever, a line like this found its way in:

“So why oh, why oh/Why oh, why oh, why oh/Why are we so in denial/When we know we’re not happy heeeerrreeee?”

If you’re not reading that and feeling bummed out, congrats on the contentment you feel about your current relationship or your belief that your current state of soul-crushing loneliness will someday come to an end.

Thanks for reading this weeks ‘Band of the Week’ piece. If you have any suggestions for a band that should be ‘Band of the Week’ next week, please comment below.