Tag Archives: music

What I Learned From the Grammys 2015

9 Feb

photo (11)

Because I missed the first 30 minutes of the show, I’ll give you my reactions as I saw them.

* The first thing I saw was Pharell accepting his Grammy then reneging on promise to moonwalk off stage. Let this be a lesson: if you say you’re gonna moonwalk, you’d better moonwalk. Otherwise all trust is lost.

* After Pharell, I was shocked to see Smokey Robinson’s face. Smokey may have also been shocked. Or maybe that’s the way his doctor has sculpted his face. I don’t know anything but it was a surprise to both of us.

* Miranda Lambert, who’s been very op[en about her weight loss, looked great on stage. I don’t listen to country music, so I couldn’t tell you what her song was about. I only became intrigued when part of it was bleeped out for so long I thought Eminem had joined her on stage.

* Sam Smith got his second award of the night and thanked everyone for “just letting me be me,” a mantra we should all take with us as we continue on this journey of life.

* Kanye modeled the latest in workout wear, especially in these frigid temps. Thanks for looking out for us, ‘Ye.

* Madonna is 56. Repeat: Madonna is 56. (However, my 19-year-old cousin likened her performance to “watching ya grandma twerk.”)

Yahoo Entertainment via Tumblr  http://yahooentertainment.tumblr.com/

Yahoo Entertainment via Tumblr

* Beyond that, the song and staging was a mashup of Take a Bow+Express Yourself+Like Prayer. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

* Did anyone else notice the playoff music sounded like something evil was lurking around the corner?

* Beyonce addressed the BeyHive in her acceptance speech. BeyHive collectivly loses its shit.

* Somehow Ed Sheeran was able to get the best backup band of all time: Herbie Hancock, Questlove and John Mayer. That’s pretty amazing. (Don’t know his song either, but his voice is nice).

* For the second time last night, the 50-and-up crowd had a band to rock out to. This time it was E.L.O., a band whose name I didn’t know but whose music I’d heard. And I wasn’t the only one. Sir Paul McCartney became everyone’s dad jamming to his song at the family reunion when E.L.O. got on stage. Cheers to rocking out in your 70s!

mccartney

* Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani sang…or something. The orchestra was great, though.

(At this point, “Walking Dead” fans creeped into my timeline with their spoilers. They all suck…until I can watch the episode.)

* Last year, Annie Lennox made a couple of comments that ruffled my feathers. First, there was the whole Beyonce-is-feminist-lite thing, which made no sense. Then there was the whitewashing of “Strange Fruit,” a song specifically about lynching. Because I’m petty, I couldn’t enjoy Annie’s rendition of Nina Simone’s version of “I Put a Spell on You.” I’m sure it was lovely, but I’m not ready for her yet.

* Pharell looked like he was auditioning for the sequel to “Grand Budapest Hotel” as he performed “Happy” what has to be the billionth time in the past year. But kudos to him for having his dancers perform in hoodies and stand for a moment in the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” stance.

pharell

* President Obama and a domestic abuse survivor introduced Katy Perry, who surprisingly sang pretty well. I was slightly distracted by her Solange copy fit, though.

* Lady Gaga sang with Tony Bennett. They were both painted a disturbing shade of orange.

* I am a Stevie Wonder stan. I listen to “Songs in the Key of Life” in full at least twice a month. The rest of the month, I’m rotating through my favorite songs. Last month it was “Rocket Love.” So imagine my joy when Usher started “If It’s Magic.” I had to grab my tissues. Then Stevie came out to hit a few bars of his harmonica solo. It. Was. EVERYTHING!!

stevie

* I’ve only listened to “FourFiveSeconds” briefly, so the show was the first time I’d actually listened to it. Thoughts: Rihanna’s vocals are getting so much better. Kanye wasn’t as hyped as I would have liked. Paul McCartney’s mic wasn’t on. Still it’s the most hood folk song I’ve ever heard, and I’m here for it.

* Mary J. Blige sang “Stay With Me” with Sam Smith. I could have died in that moment a happy person.

mjb_samsmith

* Prince!!!

prince2

* Kanye almost Kanye’s Beck’s acceptance speech. There were several great moments in this: 1) Kanye being able to laugh at himself. 2) Beck truly being at a loss for how he beat Sam Smith, Beyonce, Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran. 3) And this Vine of Jay-Z silently saying “Don’t do it.”

* Kristin Wiig was grown-up Maddie Ziegler while Sia sang “Chandelier” to a wall. Maddie gets all the props for making everyone think her crazy jumping around was just that and not extensive choreography. It takes work to look a fool and not hurt yourself in the process. Maddie wins.

* Somewhere between “conscious uncoupling” and Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Martin got buff. Yes, Lord!

* There was minor controversy surrounding Beyonce singing “Precious Lord,” seeing as how Ledisi sang it in “Selma” (beautifully, I might add). I didn’t hate Beyonce’s performance, but I did wait for the goosebumps. “Precious Lord” is the kind of song you feel in your bones, and I didn’t get that. But she still did well. Put it this way: the BeyHive won’t be defecting any time soon.

* Common and John Legend dueted on “Glory” and it was glorious. It’s a great song with a powerful message. My fingers are crossed for an Oscar.

commonlegend

Apparently I missed AC/DC, Ariana Grande and…I think that’s it. I’m OK with that. All in all, it was a pretty blah Grammys. There weren’t a lot of get-out-of-your seat moments. Hopefully the Oscars will be better.

What did you think of the show?

What I Learned From the MTV VMAs

25 Aug

beyonce_vmasLike the BET Awards, the VMAs offer amazing spectacle. So before I get to the main event, let’s discuss Mrs. Carter’s opening acts.

* I’m an old. Anything that I watch on MTV, I watch on demand or stream it. So I had no clue what channel MTV is anymore.

* I actually like Ariana Grande. I’d like her more if I could understand some of the things she’s saying

* Nicki’s anaconda actually bit someone. Well, not exactly her anaconda—her boa constrictor. I didn’t even know boa constrictors bit people. So it was safe to say her reptile was fired and we wouldn’t have a repeat of Britney’s snake dance. And that was OK because it wasn’t necessary. The dancers dressed as snakes and Nicki’s mesmerizing derrier did enough. Not enough to empress J.Lo, but enough.

* Jessie J is such a great singer and performer. I really hope “Bang Bang” does it for her. And it was cool to see different body types on on stage together. Sure, they’re all very small with waists snatched to the gods, but they’re still shaped differently and looked like they were having a ball. Even, Nicki, who couldn’t get her clothes right.

* Gwen Stefani has joined the list of people who has been bathing in unicorn tears and drying her hair with angel wings. The woman wakes up everyday and says, “I rebuke you, age!!”

* Katy Perry beat Beyonce with “Dark Horse.” I’m an admitted “Dark Horse” fan, but come on!

* About a half hour in, and I was already anxious for Beyonce’s performance. While Jessie J, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande were fun, the three of them together are still no Beyonce.

* Taylor Swift performed, and I’m all, “Look! Goldfish crackers!” It’s not that I hate Tay-Tay (that’s too strong of an emotion). I’m over her. Plus, I liked the song better when it was 3LW singing it. (Shout out to Adrienne Bailon)

* By this time, it became apparent to me and several others on Twitter that the VMAs were much better when we were kids. *Busts out rocking chair* Back in my day, that Jim Carey/Jeff Daniels bit would have been hilarious. That kind of thing falls on the deaf ears of kids who were born after the first “Dumb and Dumber” was made.

* Kim Kardashian is friends with Sam Smith? I have questions. But…

* Common made sure we all took a moment of silence for Mike Brown and Ferguson. I’m nothing but appreciative of that.

* Apparently Drake couldn’t make it to the awards because he was still reeling from that hurt Nicki put on him in the “Anaconda” video.

nicki-minaj-drake

* Uzo Aduba smacking herself in the head was great! The smoothing out of the hair was even better. The ladies of Litchfield brought out Usher, who reminded us all that he works hard for a performance. Even if it means fake playing a bass guitar and sweating through his white clothes. And Nicki wore more clothes that don’t fit—a trend for her last night.

nicki_usher

* Lorde walked up to accept her award and did Lorde things. Because she’s Lorde and that’s just what she does.

* The Truth campaigners calling out all of Hollywood’s real-life smokers was an interesting tactic. No, it’s not healthy, but all the photos they showed were paparazzi shots. It wasn’t like they were at events promoting their bad habits. I don’t want to sound like I’m defending smoking, but I think it’s dirty to pick on people’s personal lives that way.

* A little more than an hour into the show: still no Beyonce, a butt-ton of commercials, and a ridiculously slow program that seems to have been produced by the same people who did the BET Awards because that sound system was trash.

* Did anyone else think that Robin Williams tribute was a poor afterthought?

* Jennifer Lopez exists to make the rest of us look bad. I mean…

jlo

* Iggy Azalea recovered nicely from her fall the other day. She and Rita Ora sang “Black Widow,” which is only growing on me because I like the hook.

* I’m a huge, huge fan of dental hygiene. But the Crest White Strips commercial gave me pause. The example they used was mustard-yellow teeth. If your chompers are the same color as a tart condiment, you need more than over-the-counter white strips. Message.

* By this time, it’s 18 minutes until Beyonce, and I’m getting antsy.

* Chanel Iman, Joan Smalls and Jourdan Dunn, all from the “Yonce” video made an appearance on my feed dressed like Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus.

* Essence took us on a nostalgia trip. Never forget.

* Miley Cyrus, who literally showed her ass last year, did a beautiful thing and let a young, homeless man take the stage to accept her award. He spoke about the hardships he faces and the charity that he and Miley are working with to bring awareness to the cause, My Friend’s Place.

* Some douchebag earlier IG’d Beyonce’s playlist, so it wasn’t a surprise and I was pissed. That frustration quickly dissipated when Queen Bey took the stage with her mimes and sang “Mine.” Beyonce, in a leotard full of mirror shards wrecked shop. She went through the entire “Beyonce” album (which bangs, I must say). Had I not seen the On The Run show, I might have enjoyed the performance more. There were a couple of songs (“Mine,” “No Angel,” “Rocket”) that she didn’t perform in Chicago, so those were good to see. And though I was a little miffed she didn’t perform my song, “Superpower,” the last medley of “***Flawless,” “Blue” and “XO” were everything. She got choked up at the end, a beautiful moment. But what set it off for, I think, everyone was when Jay and Blue came up on stage to give her the award. I’m not a cryer, but this didn’t move you then you might need some counseling.

jay_bey_blue

So, what did you think of the #BeyMAs? Was there a performance that stood out to you besides Beyonce’s?

The Magic of Bey (and Jay)

24 Jul

Their love is real. You'll never convince me otherwise.

Their love is real. You’ll never convince me otherwise.


Tonight, I’m going On the Run. I’m going twist my left hand back and forth. I’m going to uh-oh like there’s no tomorrow. And maybe I’ll see a few people rock a little Tom Ford (I’m not because I’m poor).

Yes, I’m going to the see Jay and Bey at Soldier Field in Chicago. I’ve seen them both separately, but this is the first time I and any of my friends will see them together. It’s going to be epic (an overused term, I know, but there’s no other way to describe it.

I wrote this post ahead of time, but I can already guarantee two things by the time this goes up: I’ve had maybe three hours of sleep and I’m going to be #Flawless tonight.

Why #Flawless? Because I’ve been preparing for Beyonce concerts for years. Example: A few years ago at an engagement party I wowed my friends with my knowledge of the “Get Me Bodied” moves. Yes, I can Naomi Campbell walk and snap for the kids. This same friend wanted to do a dance routine at her wedding reception. What song was on heavy rotation at the time? None other than “Single Ladies.” With only a day to rehearse, I’ve go to tell you we were pretty good.

I’ve been using music videos as mini workout programs for years. From Janet’s “Rhythm Nation” to Aaliyah’s “Are That Somebody” to Ciara’s “Body Party,” I’ve always tried to mimic the moves I saw on screen.

To me, dancing is an elite art form. I respect the training that goes into it. There is so much dedication involved with learning to position yourself just right in order to express music physically. Ballet, tap, jazz, even the dougie, it’s all about giving music form.

One of the things I learned on my weight-loss journey as it coincided with getting older is that when I was dancing, I was really working out. I haven’t been thin since puberty hit over 20 years ago. When I was dancing, though, my stomach was flatter, my thighs didn’t jiggle as much and stairs didn’t seem like such a problem.

I stopped dancing regularly after my junior year of college when graduating became more of a priority. It’s the one thing I wished I’d made more time for because it was so much fun.

And that takes us to Beyonce. I mean, we all saw this at the Super Bowl, right?

beyonce

So tonight, I’m gonna party with the Rock Boys and let my Ego run free. I’ve seen some of the clips on Instagram, so I know the show’s gonna be amazeballs. But these are the songs I’ve been practicing in anticipation of tonight’s shenanigans. And these are the songs that must be played, lest the Carters feel my wrath (if they even care).

Single Ladies

Love on Top (because this is what joy looks like)

Baby Boy

Drunk in Love

Partition (because when I grow up, I want to dance like this girl)

Have you seen the show yet? What was your favorite part? Were you like me and danced like nobody was watching?

top photo courtesy of AP Images

Tuning Out

27 Jan
Once these go in, the world is shut out.

Once these go in, the world is shut out.

Do you remember a few years ago when Jay-Z and Linkin Park released “Numb/Encore?” It had been a while since we’d heard such a perfect melding of rap and rock music. To this day when that song plays, it gets me amped up and motivated.

That happened again last night when Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons took the stage at the Grammys. Their performance was one of the highlights of an otherwise long, dry and predictable show. Post-performance I tweeted, “I’m glad I recorded Kendrick and Imagine Dragons, because I’m watching it again.” What I really want is to add the song to my workout playlist.

 

A good playlist or album can be what makes or breaks your workout routine. You want a good mix of songs. Every song shouldn’t have beats as fast as “Bombs Over Baghdad.” You’ll wear yourself out. But you do want good energy. The music should keep you moving.

There was an article in The Wall Street Journal last year in which a sports education professor said the musical “sweet spot” for an optimal workout is 125 to 140 beats per minute. To be honest, I don’t count beats per minute. But if that’s your thing, have fun. For me, the songs should be positive and have a quick energy.

Music has been a big part of my weight-loss journey. I get pissed when my Nano battery dies during the middle of a run. I can’t really deal with the music at the gym (too much ’80s rock). I work out best with what I like.

I mostly listen to hip hop and R&B when I work out. The beats are reliably funky and I can get lost in a groove. I’ll plan on a half-hour run and before I know it, I’m at the end of an album or playlist.

The first two songs are key for a good album or playlist. The first song has to have a strong enough beat to get you interested, but it doesn’t have to be the heavy hitter. That role belongs to the second song. The first song gets you moving, the second makes you work. I need my first two songs to drag the workout out of me.

I’ve found a few good albums that do this for me. Some of them are old, but they still do the trick, trust me.

Ciara, “The Evolution”—The first two songs are “That’s Right” and “Like a Boy.” “That’s Right” didn’t play that much on the radio, but when I first heard the song, all I could do was jump around my house. It’s got amazing energy. This is the album I play when I really don’t feel like working out because the energy of the first song is undeniable. Then “Like a Boy” comes on and I can’t be stopped.

T.I., “King”—When I began my weight-loss journey, this was one of the first albums I listened to at the gym. The first song, “King Back,” has a announcer’s intro for a boxer. So if you need to feel like you’re about take over, this is the album for you.

Beyonce Mix—Lately, Yonce has been in heavy rotation for me at the gym. I’ve got everything from “Crazy in Love” to “Partition” and it’s awesome. Beyonce knows how to keep you moving and motivated. My playlist is almost an hour and a half long, and I love every minute of it.

Imagine Dragons, “Night Visions”—As I said earlier, Imagine Drangons’ performance with Kendrick was amazeballs. The album is even more amazeballs. “Radioactive” is the first song to play and it’s got the perfect energy to get you started. As you get further into it, the songs slow down a smidge, so keep that in mind if you don’t like that sort of thing.

Honorable mentions go to:

Kanye West and Friends, “Good Music Cruel Summer”

Jay Z and Kanye West “Watch the Throne”

Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse”—When you’re in a class, you’re at the mercy of your instructor. My spin instructors love this song, and it’s grown on me. Don’t let Katy’s bizarre Grammy performance fool you. “Dark Horse” is a banger. I can’t say that for the album.

What’s on your playlists for a good workout? I’m taking suggestions.

photo credit: el patojo via photopin cc