Category Archives: Music on TV

BREAKING & ENTERING

Havana Brown had a hit this summer with “We Run the Night,” but we could be hearing from another female Aussie in 2013. Samantha Jade won this season of The X Factor in Australia, but isn’t’ exactly a stranger to the music industry. She’s written songs for JoJo and Ashley Tisdale, was signed to Jive Records, and is featured on David Guetta’s album “One Love.” However, I’m all for not-so-amateur contestants appearing on singing competition shows (see: Cassadee Pope) and getting a second shot at success. Samantha’s winning single, “What You’ve Done to Me,” is far better than what most winners get to release following their coronation. The song was co-written by Jörgen Elofsson, who, by no surprise, is Swedish and a product of Cheiron Studios. He’s been penning hits for well over a decade, spanning from Britney Spears’ “(You Drive Me) Crazy” to Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).” Samantha’s song is the catchy pop we’ve come to expect, with a carefree electropop sound reminiscent of “Call Me Maybe.” Of course, the track has already hit #1 in her native Australia–but is the rest of the world next? This definitely sounds like it could be a hit worldwide, so it will be interesting to see if Sony gives it a push in 2013. She’s also really hot (see above) and the kind of commercial artist that wouldn’t have a shot in hell at winning The X Factor in the US, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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Filed under Future, Music on TV, New Music, New Singles

A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY, A LITTLE BIT ROCK & ROLL

cp

In 2010, I featured Hey Monday in a “…Should be More Famous” post. Fast forward a couple years, and the band’s lead singer, Cassadee Pope, just won The Voice. I’m a sucker for music competition shows, but the previous two seasons of The Voice didn’t possess a single competitor who had star quality. Cassadee does. Now, let’s hope they don’t screw it up.

During her stint on the show, three of Cassadee’s cover songs hit #1 on iTunes. All three of them were country tunes. With the success of those singles and Blake Shelton as her mentor, there’s undoubtedly going to be some push for her to go country. But, Cassadee’s not a country artist. Given her history with Hey Monday and (apparently unconditional) love of Avril Lavigne, it’s pretty clear her heart lies in pop/rock. And let’s face it–Blake’s legion of fans were probably the ones more apt to download “Over You” as opposed to “Not Over You.” Having her record a country album would be like Carrie Underwood releasing a rock record based on the popularity of her Idol performance of “Alone.” Even with Blake’s blessing, it would probably be an uphill battle for Cassadee on country radio. First and foremost, she’s a female. She also has tattoos and used to front a pop/rock band. Cue the shock and horror. All the country starpower in the world won’t change the minds of country radio’s staunchy PDs. But, I digress and will save that rant for another post.

Although it wouldn’t be in her best interest to release a full on country album, that doesn’t mean country songwriters shouldn’t be commissioned to work on her debut. In fact, they absolutely should. Above all, it’s Cassadee interpretation of the lyrics that sold those songs. Something like an updated version of her cover of Faith Hill’s “Cry” would work–and based on what I’ve heard Cassadee tell the press, that’s exactly what she’s looking for. Songs with solid stories can be backed by instruments besides fiddle, banjo or steel guitar. It’s also a given that Blake will appear on her debut album and a duet in the vein of “Just a Fool,” would be just as perfect for him and Cassadee as it was for him and Christina. Pairing well-written songs with Cassadee’s signature sound would be an appealing compromise for both the pop/rock and country fans she’s attracted throughout the course of her career and the show.

When it all comes down to it, Cassadee just needs a great song–and quick. On one hand, there’s nothing worse than a rushed album with lackluster singles and a bunch of filler; I’m not saying her album has to be out in a month (even though Cassadee is apparently ready to release something as soon as January). But, they need to, at the very least, release the lead single during the spring season of The Voice. If the previous winner doesn’t have any original material out before the next cycle’s champion, then they run the risk of quickly being forgotten. The album doesn’t have to be her “Breakaway,” just her “Thankful.” She can try on some different sounds and genres, but the first single has to be great. I understand why talent show winners, like The Voice’s very own Jermaine Paul or The X Factor’s Melanie Amaro, didn’t get good material to release. Their success was confined to the few months within the show and they never really had a shot on mainstream relevancy. Cassadee does. Based on what I’ve heard, it seems like Cassadee has a clear, and ambitious, sense of what she needs to do and when she needs to do it by. I hope that once more people (i.e. the label) start getting involved in the project, it doesn’t stray off course. In fact, I hope she’s writing a hit song with her roommate, Alli Tamposi, of “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” as I’m posting this…

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Filed under More Famous, Music on TV, Successes

THE NEW MUSIC TELEVISION

Before banking on newlywed pop stars, drunken guidos and pregnant teens, MTV actually lived up to its name and offered music programming. I grew up during the TRL era, where I could count on coming home from school and being exposed to new artists and music on a daily basis. Without TRL, we may not be still enjoying artists like Britney Spears, Eminem, Justin Timberlake, and Beyoncé. But, with the rise of streaming video sites and interactive social media platforms, TRL’s novelty wore off.

Since the rise of the internet, MTV has all but abandoned music programming. I get it. People can go on YouTube and watch whatever they want, whenever they want. While I don’t necessarily miss the abbreviated music video clips played on TRL, I do miss MTV as a tastemaker. I miss Carson Daly and the VJs who facilitated discussion about music and allowed viewers to call in and send messages. The scrolling comments at the bottom of the screen acted as Twitter before Twitter. Yes, while the majority of them may have been, “I love Backstreet Boys!! *NSYNC sux!,” it was nice to see people interacting and talking about music. But, who’s to say a similar platform can’t exist online? While the internet may have killed traditional music television, it’s the perfect place to usher in a new wave of music programming.

MTV could have easily moved some of its music programming online. Shows like TRL, or even Say What? Karaoke, would have thrived as steaming, interactive online programs that integrated social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. But, when it comes to music, MTV’s the old model–stuck in the past. They’ve certainly adapted to make money, with successful reality shows like The Hills and Jersey Shore, but have undoubtedly lost sight of the music in music television. That’s where YouTube comes in. Much like MTV in its prime, YouTube is the place where people go to watch music videos and discover new artists (Justin Bieber, anyone?). It only makes sense that with YouTube launching 100 new digital channels this year, one of the first would be dedicated to discovering what’s next in music: myISH.

The recently launched myISH YouTube channel already has lots of promising content. Their hosts, or VJs (maybe we should call them YJs, YouTube jockeys?), post daily ISHpicks, featuring both established and undiscovered talent, ranging from Madonna and Nicki Minaj to Chairlift and John West. While the hosts, Elliott Aronow, Anthony Hull, and Hesta Prynn shine individually, it’s even more fun when they’re together. On the first installment of Open Mic, they shoot the shit about J.Lo’s “supposed” nip slip at the Oscars. Beyond discussing famous areola, these guys really know their music and make a great team. They’re likable, witty, and have good taste. It’s nice to see people actually discussing music and serving as tastemakers again. Sure, you can read blogs (much like this one) to discover new artists. But, seeing the videos and getting to know the hosts, adds another dimension of personality and entertainment to the mix. For some comedic relief, YouTube sensation Michael Buckley countdowns the top 7 “I am beautiful no matter what they say” songs on the first ISHlist. Considering we’ve been inundated with with these songs over the past year or so, it’s a timely feature that’s a great pick-me-up when you’re feeling like a plastic bag.

myISH also has active Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr pages, adding even more interactivity beyond YouTube’s platform. The hosts encourage comments and actually engage in discussion beyond the videos. Essentially, myISH takes what killed music television and uses it to its advantage. People are still interested in music-related content. However, where and how they get it has changed. myISH capitalizes on that, combining the best of music programming, with the interactivity of the internet.

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AND THE WINNER OF AMERICAN IDOL 2011 IS…

Yes, I still watch “American Idol.” I can’t help myself and at this point it’s almost nostalgic. The past few seasons have been pretty terrible, but this year, “Idol” is back—complete with shock eliminations (cue J.Lo’s angry face and tears).

There hasn’t been a true shocker since Chris Daughtry’s fourth place exit during season 5. After a five-year drought, Pia Toscano joined the ranks of Jennifer Hudson and Chris, as contestants who will be remembered for leaving too soon. I personally thought Pia was going to win. She was reminiscent of the “golden days” of “Idol,” when it was all about the powerful voice (and good looks). However, Idol’s changed over the past few years and the big-voiced female diva has been replaced by the boring white male as America’s “chosen one.”

Based on the elimination of five girls in a row this season (include the contestant with the most star potential) it’s pretty obvious who’s voting en masse—tweens and cougars. I guess you could blame it on the hormones (for both sets), but “Idol” is never going to produce another marketable winner if a David Cook, Kris Allen, or Lee DeWyze continues to win year after year.

But, enough of my “American Idol” critique. What’s Pia Toscano to do with herself now? Well, all the contestants were lucky enough to work with some people who are actually relevant in the music industry this year. Having Jimmy Iovine as a mentor and recording with producers such as Ron Fair, Rodney Jerkins and Ryan Tedder ain’t too shabby. I’m sure Iovine has already been in talks with Pia (she was all smiles going into the Warner Music Group/Elektra Records building today) and having those producers on her side can’t hurt. She now has more time to work on her album (and stage presence) before the tour and get ready to release some material right after it wraps. Release a Ryan Tedder ballad (a la “Bleeding Love”) as the first single in the fall and she’s good to go.

Although I was a little perturbed by Pia’s elimination last night, I’ve decided it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to her. The public is rooting for her to “win” more now than when she was actually competing on the show. In a matter of minutes, she went from being the top dog to the underdog, which America loves. Given the current voting pattern, I doubt she would have won, and going in fourth or fifth place, wouldn’t have been as much of an injustice. It evokes even more sympathy for her considering some really questionable talent is still there. She’s received an outpouring of support from celebrities and “Idol” alum (including Twitter blessings from Daughtry and Hudson) and more media coverage than any contestant this season. She’s also handled everything very graciously and based on what I’ve seen, is saying all the right things in her post-elimination interviews. Although the hype is sure to die down, I’m sure Pia’s return on the finale will be a highly anticipated spectacle. She needs to give the performance of her life that night, to both remind the public of what could have been, and stay in the nation’s conscience for a little while longer.

All in all, “Idol” got another memorable TV moment for the first time in years and Pia’s poised to join the ranks of past shock eliminees. Everybody wins.

P.S. The only two contestants left on the show with any potential of stardom are Lauren Alaina and Scotty Mcreery. While neither of them truly have remarkable voices, Nashville will eat them up.

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VMAS 2000-2009

With a new decade of Video Music Awards approaching in less than a month, I think it’s time to look back at the best performances from the 2000s. Appropriately, I first tuned in to the VMAs in 2000, so these are my personal favorites from the past 10 years.

10. “Hips Don’t Lie”
Shakira

VMA 2006

This performance showcases everything I love about Shakira. I want my Shakira to embrace her Latin and Middle Eastern influences, not only because it sets here apart from the rest of the blonde pop stars, but because it's what she does best. Unfortunately, she ditched this schtick for "She Wolf" and went for a more sleek image and dance-oriented sound. This didn't work, but I have a feeling Shakira will be returning to her roots very soon, and I've heard we may even see it come to fruition at the VMAs...

9. "Sober"
P!nk

VMA 2009

Although this high-flying performance doesn't compare to her breathtaking rendition of "Glitter In the Air" at the Grammy Awards, it's still P!nk at her best. Many artists couldn't even stand in one spot without moving and sound this good, but P!nk does it with ease while flying throughout the air. I'm glad she is finally getting some more recognition for her performances, as she is easily one of the most versatile and talented performers.

8. "The Real Slim Shady"
Eminem

VMA 2000

I first watched the VMAs in 2000, and while it may be nostalgia at work, it still remains my favorite year for the award show. This is the first of two performances from that year. Who could forget the parade of Eminem look-a-likes busting through the doors of Radio City? This performance was a true testament to Eminem as more than just a rap artist, but a cultural icon. Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

7. "Wall to Wall"/"Umbrella"/"Billie Jean"/"Kiss Kiss"
Chris Brown & Rihanna

VMA 2007

Ah, happier times. Although Rihanna has gone on to become the bigger star, (which may or may not be due to an incident that occurred months after this collaboration) Chris Brown certainly stole the show with this performance. Although the 2007 VMAs were memorable for a few reasons, ("It's Britney, bitch" anyone?) I think this performance will actually be remembered for the right reasons.

6. "Since U Been Gone"
Kelly Clarkson

VMA 2005

Although this is far from Kelly's best vocal performance, it doesn't matter. Kelly was the star of the 2005 VMAs and closed the show with this fun, soaking performance. Not only did she look great, but she truly commanded the stage. Kelly was definitely the "it" girl at the time and proved with this performance she was worthy of the title.

5. "Ring the Alarm"
Beyoncé

VMA 2006

While I have a feeling many people would choose Beyoncé's performances of "Baby Boy/Crazy In Love" or "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" from the VMAs, this was by far my favorite. Sasha Fierce truly came out in this one and she looked more than determined to ring the alarm on someone!

4. "Like a Virgin"/"Hollywood"
Madonna, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera & Missy Elliot

VMA 2003

The best opening performance the VMAs have ever had. What happens when you put the two hottest female pop stars and the "Queen of Pop" herself on stage? This. The Britney and Madonna kiss (sorry Christina, but no one really even remembers you were there) is undoubtedly one of the most classic VMA moments in history. Even Missy Elliot popping out at the end makes sense, kind of. Well, it doesn't really matter--Britney and Madonna just kissed!

3. "I'm A Slave 4 U"
Britney Spears

VMA 2001

From the kiss to the snake, Britney has given always given the most memorable VMA performances. With "I'm a Slave 4 U", Britney proved she wasn't that innocent. While Miley tried to recreate this magic with "Can't Be Tamed", no one quite did the barely legal jungle princess like Britney. Plus, who else could pull off a giant, albino snake around their neck? Beyoncé would end up killing it to make a Deréon purse.

2. Paparazzi
Lady GaGa

VMA 2009

Last year, Lady GaGa brought the shock and awe back to the VMAs that had been missing since 2003, in my opinion. While this performance may have been slightly overshadowed by the infamous Taylor/Kanye moment, this was a career defining moment for GaGa. Supposedly she's not performing this year, which is both odd and disappointing given her record number of nominations…

1. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"/"Oops!… I Did It Again"
Britney Spears

VMA 2000

Out of all the performances on the list, this one surprisingly has the least theatrics. It's just Britney doing what she does best. In my opinion, this performance transcended Britney from bubblegum pop phenomenon to legitimate star. At only eighteen years old, she completely owned the stage and commanded attention. I haven't seen a performance since with so much pure charisma and drive. You can really see how bad Britney wanted it with this performance.

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THE MCA’S, THE ACT’S, THE CTM’S… OH HELL. NOT ANOTHER ONE!

While there are already the CMA, the ACMs, and the CMTs, Fox will present the American Country Awards (the ACAs) in December. I can hardly keep the acronyms straight now, so I’m not too happy about this. Just kidding (kind of). If anything, this asserts country music’s dominance in the United States. While we’ve lost quite a few award shows celebrating pop music over the past decade, country music has continued to prosper. Based on album sales, radio audience, and now television specials, I’d say country is hands down the most popular genre of music in the United States.

ACA executive producer Bob Bain says the awards will specifically highlight country music’s “diversity” as seen in crossover stars like Carrie Underwood and Lady Antebellum. I find this to be especially interesting, as “diversity” in country music was once frowned upon. While country used to be a very secular genre, since Carrie, Taylor, and Lady Antebellum have crossed over and become multiple genre superstars, country music itself has grown in popularity.

I have to say, before Carrie Underwood I was not a fan of country music at all. In fact, before American Idol, I only knew a handful of country songs. Now, I’m not only a fan of country/pop crossover acts, but many purely country artists. While many hardcore country fans may disagree, I believe Carrie (and on a larger scale, American Idol) introduced the country genre to an entirely new generation and demographic of listeners. Can I get a yee haw?

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