Aguilera makes a move on “Accelerate” to reclaim her spot on the pop-music charts with a catchy, groovy (and gooey) sexy new track!
It’s been a while since pop songstress Christina Aguilera has delivered on a full-length album project. In 2012 her fans were treated to Lotus which returned the artist to the pop-standards of dance inspired tracks and ballads that put her on the radar as a one-time emerging pop-princess of the 1990s proliferation of the music market. Since then her audience has had to settle for the occasional one-off single or duet, most notably Aguilera’s collaboration on Lady Gaga’s “Do What U Want” which paired the two powerhouse vocalists for the first time on The Voice live!
Now Aguilera is back with a new album she’s entitled Liberation set for release in June, and the premiere single “Accelerate” features a perfectly produced symphonic concoction of drum beats, percussion and electro-synth which places Aguilera front and center vocally and sensually packs a punch. Appearing alongside her on the track Hip-Hop leaders Ty Dolla $ign & 2 Chainz lend their presence solidifying XTina’s much vaunted street cred. It’s been a while sine The Voice coach appeared on the televised competition series, but perhaps this liberation has been long coming.
The Princess-of-Pop, the Goddess of Love, continues a musical evolution that has matured and blossomed into something now Golden. On her new album KYLIE MINOGUE proves she’s more than glitter!
Imagine my utter dismay! When I opened up my music library and realized that some of my most prized albums had gone missing! Nearly 2 decades of carefully curated digital downloads had just been erased from my hard-drive and most were never backed up, even by my back-ups! Where had my collection of Kylie Minogue music gone and why only her? Why Kylie?
I had recently purchased her latest album Golden and had been reveling in the latest single “Dancing”, and it was only after the full-length album became available I realized a massive collection of singles, remixes and live albums disappeared. Pourquoi Kylie? Je ne sais pas pourquoi! Yes…even the remixes to that late 80s hit went bye-bye!
Fortunately Golden the newest album had survived “the purge”, so before I drove myself insane trying to recover all of the hits that defined Minogue’s international appeal as a pop idol turned icon, I dived deep in Golden. After 2014’s Kiss Me Once which was the first album penned after a newly polished management deal that would reconnect Kylie with her stateside relevance; the expectation of which was extremely anticipated, especially since Kiss Me Once would include collaborations with the likes of Pharrell Williams and Sia.
The hopes that Kiss Me Once would recapture the popular and critical success of 2001’s Fever which raised her profile with the international hit dance track “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” and made her a mainstream sensation, fizzled out. Like the title album suggests Kiss Me Once would be the only album released by Roc Nation, which is headed by rapper/businessman Jay-Z. The label and Minogue parted ways citing “artistic differences”, but that didn’t stop Kylie from taking on a tour to promote the album.
She would follow-up Kiss Me Once with several hit dance tracks including collaborations with the legendary Giorgio Moroder and Garibay, before getting back into the studio. The artists which has always proven her mettle on the live stage performed a setlist of holiday hits for a Christmas special accompanied by a pair of albums celebrating the season. Her die-hard fans wouldn’t have too long to wait before Minogue would deliver on a brand new album, though perhaps they couldn’t have imagined the direction she would take.
Her die-hard fans wouldn’t have too long to wait before Minogue would deliver on a brand new album, though perhaps they couldn’t have imagined the direction she would take.
Like her contemporaries who have enjoyed as endurable a career and a following that has been as faithful, Minogue has the luxury of exploring her creative freedom. Having dominated the Euro-pop charts and transcended musical expectations evolving dance and electronica from a clubland experiment to a radio-friendly profitability, it would have been easy for Kylie to keep to her box, but perhaps challenging that particular dictum may have lead her to the profuse diversity apparently dominant on Golden.
Diving back into writingMinogue came stateside to pen the music that would shape her latest effort. On Golden Minogue retreated to Nashville, Tennessee to co-write each track; the first time since Minogue’s 1997 release Impossible Princess that the artist has dug so deep into her musical narrative. Golden blends pop and dance music with country music sensibilities and production, as is clearly evident in the setlist’s debut single “Dancing”. The very catchy track captures the exuberance that fans have come to expect from Kylie, with an earthier production value.
Golden was also recorded in London and Los Angeles and brought Minogue together with a series of brand new producers, most of which have established their notoriety outside of the realm of dance. For the faithful, Minogue hasn’t steered too far off course; the roots of Golden were based heavily in synth-pop which is the style of music most often associated with Kylie, but on the suggestion of her label’s A&R representative who thought mixing country music into the mix might prove interesting, to which Kylie responded favorably.
Recording in Nashville, Tennessee also proved an extremely nourishing experience for Minogue, who believes it was particularly “cathartic” for her and allowed the sound of the sounds to feel more “authentic”. For a pop album in 2018 Golden is a refreshing mix and fusion. The follow-up track “Stop Me From Falling” also revels in the touch of country but still flourishes from Minogue’s dance base. Overall Golden has a uniquely divined narrative that is purely affirming and delivers sincerely from the heart.
For Kylie, an artist that has often been heralded for her dance revolution, it’s refreshing that she’s able to surprise her audience. Most recently Kylie has explored a more daring direction and still emerged viable. Since her introduction onto the pop scene with Stock, Aitken & Waterman and evolution through to contemporary dance music, Minogue has always been an innovator, certainly on a par with Madonna; both performers have collaborated with Stuart Price who produced the most prolific dance albums of each of their careers respectfully.
So perhaps it is not surprising that upon downloading Golden into my collection the new album’s introduction obliterated everything else in my Kylie collection. I’ve since been able to recover most (if not all of my collection) but it gave me some time to digest Golden and enjoy it on its own merits…dive into this new direction for Kylie Minogue who keeps on innovating and proving the diverse influence pop music has all across genres. Music after all has the universal ability to pull us all together, much like Minogue has done throughout her illustrious career.
Pop-Music is getting “Filthy” again and Justin Timberlake is leading the revolution on the first single off his new album.
With all-eyes focused on the pop-music stratosphere as Justin Timberlake prepares to return to the world’s largest stage, the entertainment-impresario has been seemingly pardoned and been invited to headline this year’s Super Bowl Half-Time show. The last time that Timberlake stepped into that spotlight he pulled more than focus, by inadvertently yanking on Janet Jackson’s costume and causing the seismic wardrobe malfunction heard round the world, now JT is back with a new album to promote, and its premiere single “Filthy” is reminiscent of the innovative sound that made the artist a standout.
Justin Timberlake just never seemed to fit the mold of the boy band, even during his tenure as the one-time frontman of *NSYNC. He clearly was set on carving a path for himself and calculated the steps to his exit away from his group antics even dating pop princess Britney Spears to solidify perception that he’s his own thing! Truth to tell Justin Timberlake always was, and by the turn of the millennium he marched properly into solo stardom — never looking over his shoulder once. Sixteen years later he’s prepared to let his audience further into the rabbit hole of his musicality on the dubiously entitled album Man of the Woods.
He’d have us believe that this is a project dedicated to revealing some as yet unexplored revelations of his early and earthy Tennessee upbringing, yet the premiere release “Filthy” is bouncy electro-pop musings of over-the-top rock stardom and healthy sex-play. It’s an infectious exploration for sure, and a tailor-made beat that will no doubt become the centerpiece of Timberlake’s Super Bowl show, but whether it’ll have legs to chart interest remains to be seen. The single itself sounds like a hybrid/homage to George Michael’s obscure dance track “Freeek!” (2002) but lacks Michael’s vocal prowess, to Timberlake’s sonic tenor.
Still, if you know what’s good, you can bargain that Justin Timberlake has more up his sleeve than he’s letter on. “Filthy” may just be the appetizer to a full 7-course meal that will be far more satisfying to an appetite now whet with anticipation. “Filthy” is available now on iTunes and remains among the Top Ten Singles.
Just in time to wrap up the summer season the undisputed Queen of Pop: Madonna releases the REBEL HEART TOUR Live on CD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD)!
Masterfully Madonna has demonstrated that in order to succeed in entertainment today, an entertainer must entertain! Record sales (or Digital Downloads) as they are most commonly referred of in today’s market, are only an introduction to what the artist is “thinking”. Tracks are longer referenced to relegated to success by how much radio play they get — (Does anyone even have a radio anymore?) it’s just not the way that musicians really remain relevant anymore.
The live concert stage has evolved into the new and more immediate medium by which an artist can truly rate just what their standing in popular culture is. Appearing on the scene more than 35 years ago and significantly synching her place on MTV proving that indeed “video had killed the radio star”, Madonna thumbed her nose in the face of her critics and revealed her naysayers for the hacks they were. Anyone that perceived her as a pop-tart, one-hit wonder, has eaten their words.
Madonna excelled at reinvention without really jumping onto the scene as such a manipulative commodity; this was an artist that existed for the provocative and edged on the titillating euphoria of grabbing attention! Her talent was always in pushing people’s buttons, and Madonna chose a platform by which she would always be guaranteed a spotlight in. Popular music gave her an audience and MTV a platform, and when that platform no longer was viable, Madonna evolved.
By the late 1990 it was evident that Madonna was not going anywhere! She’d just released her most well-reviewed album and critical success Like a Prayer, divorced her first husband and embarked on the most complex endeavor of her career The Blond Ambition Tour and revolutionized the way that pop artists performed live! Nearly three decades later, she continues to push the limits of her stage and arena tours and her most recent endeavor is no exception!
Available now as a digital download audio recording (also on a 2-disc CD) Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour (Live) is a fantastic example of her dominance as a live artist and unrelenting force in popular culture. The recording lifts from the more than 80 stops on this landmark world tour that promoted her most recent studio album of the same name. Rebel Heart may have only appeared a nominal success on the charts, but its accompanying spectacle perfectly played to Madonna’s audience.
Madonna carefully orchestrates her live performances, preferring to refer to them as installations than a concert, and the Rebel Heart Tour is elaborate in its detail. The opening of the show introduces Madonna as a “warrior goddess” — a medieval figure — surrounding by heavily armed guards who fall inline just as she begins with a rendition of the song “Iconic” before entering into the party track “Bitch I’m Madonna”.
It’s a beautifully crafty way of opening up her show in very heavy garb that evolves into a more Byzantine crafted look. Madonna learned during one of her previous forays on the stage that although the new songs beg to be performed, it’s significantly better branding to lace some of the classics throughout the setlist. Early on in the show, she performs “Burning Up” a classic from her very early days, and a pumped up rock guitar arrangement.
The rest of the setlist ranges back and forth from more contemporary hits to the clear nostalgia of “Holiday” which rounds out the end of the blockbuster performance. Among the standouts are of course the club anthem “Living For Love” and the title track “Rebel Heart”, but among the most endearing numbers is the ironically funny “Unapologetic Bitch”. During the show Madonna pulled up a who’s who of celebrities whom she had her way with — unapologetically.
Anyone who has ever attended one of Madonna’s live shows understands the unrelentingly overwhelming feeling of good will and enchantment that falls over the audience. It’s an experience you wish you could bottle and keep stacked on your shelf like an exotic sweetener you would like to add every morning to your coffee. There’s plenty of that unabashed joy and frivolity all over the Rebel Heart Tour (Live) that many will want to revisit.
There’s an elation that comes over you brought upon by an intoxicating overload of your senses from the music, dancing and the visuals, and especially the feeling that if you reached out you could touch Madonna — you see her smile and you know that she feels the same way!
Rebel Heart Tour (Live) by Madonna is available now for download on iTunes.
With PRIDE Season in full-effect it’s time to crown the Queen of the Summer Anthem! “Turn It Up” by Kim Syms is just top of our charts
In the 90s Kim Syms joined a legion of artists that were climbing the pop charts as Dance and House music were securing their place in the mainstream. We all remember her hit track “Too Bling To See It” from her 1992 album of the same name. The saucy pop diva is back (not that she had gone anywhere) with a powerful new anthem “Turn It Up” which has been reimagined by the remix masters at Dirty Disco Music!
Check out the remixes here on SOUNDCLOUD and TURN IT UP!
For three decades the unopposed Queen of Pop revolutionized the live stage show and toured around the world commanding record audiences with an unparalleled ease!
The benchmark of any pop-artist’s career is the live show! The ability to sell out a venue whether a house as epically regarded as Madison Square Garden or Los Angeles Staples Center is sure an easy enough swift kick to the ego, but once you have those fans in the house, you best be prepared to set a table! No other artist has evolved more dramatically and pushed the creative of the live pop-show than Madonna.
When she first hit the road in 1985 on her critically well-received and perfectly named premiere showcase, Madonna didn’t mince words and The Virgin Tour was not only about getting her music out to her fans, but it was also about introducing herself to the world as a force in entertainment. That initial concert tour broke records as it criss-crossed North American and Canada and played to sold out venues, including a record-breaking 3 nights in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.
Madonna had come a long way since her days hitting the pavement and securing appearances at downtown East Village venues including Max’s Kansas City and CBGBs.
Appropriately designed The Virgin Tour predominantly promoted her first two album releases and immediately set the pace for what Madonna had in store for her audience. She would continue to evolve and charge the expectations of her audience especially with each consecutive live stage appearance, and the next time Madonna brought her music to life, she took it globally and never looked back.
Who’s That Girl took Madonna to the global stage and marked her first world tour. Arbitrarily coordinated to promote the comedic film of the same name starring Madonna as well as its accompanying soundtrack, it incorporated tracks from her then-latest release True Blue, but no one would be prepared for what was to come next, as Madonna took herself off the live stage forum to focus on reassessing her priorities in life (her marriage to actor Sean Penn was ending) and recharged her creative energies.
With the release of her fourth full-length studio album Like A Prayer Madonna was poised to reintroduce herself as more than just a pop-act! The critically successful release positioned her (finally) as one of the music industries most innovative and unique artists. With a new blockbuster film set for a summer release, Madonna had secured a key role in Warren Beatty’s big-screen adaptation of the comic strip Dick Tracy, and a new single that would ignite a wildfire.
With so much swirling around her at the time, 1990 would prove one of the most pivotal years in her career, both creatively and personally. Her high-profile marriage to Penn was behind her and the artist dove herself emphatically into her work including her music and movie projects. Like A Prayer would prove one of the year’s biggest hits and give her audience a unique insight into Madonna’s world, although it was only a glimpse. To maximize her exposure Madonna would chart all new territory and mount a world tour unlike anything anyone had ever experienced.
Perfectly christened the Blond Ambition World Tour it would span the globe the summer of 1990 and redefine the live pop music concert! The tour was designed to engage both the artist and audience in an experience that was transportive. Madonna, an accomplished dancer, directed a nearly two-hour stage performance (along with long-time collaborator Vincent Paterson) with an all-male troupe of dancers, back-up singers Niki Haris and Donna DeLory and her full band. The tour would be artistically directed by Madonna’s brother Christopher Ciccone with costumes by fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier.
Mixing elements of Broadway and old Hollywood glamour, with high-fashion and state of the art stage and lighting execution, Madonna’s Blond Ambition World Tour established a new dictum for how to approach live concert tours, and imitators would follow, though none would match Madonna’s sensibilities and her taste for controversy. The themes explored within the two-hour long installation did not only serve to spotlight her growing catalog of hit songs, but it explored a narrative.
Not simply content to sing at the microphone any longer, Madonna was more interested in giving her fans a cathartic experience. She brought to life many of her already innovative videos, by building the sets of the dystopian future from the “Express Yourself” video inspired by the film Metropolis to taking it to the oceans and fashioning fishtails for her dancers turning them into mermen to evoke the “Cherish” video. Madonna has said that the tour was about her “growing” — “Once you get on this train, you can’t get off.”
The Blond Ambition Tour certainly suggested Madonna had grown-up as an artist and personality, and she was decidedly taking us all along for the ride. Evoking many religious themes and exploring the contradictions of life, faith, sex, endings and new beginnings, the show pushed Madonna’s agenda as a provocateur and feminist, mostly she intended to inspire, to give her audience reason to ask questions and come up with conclusions of their own.
It was a liberation that was told through the lyrics of Madonna’s hits “Like a Virgin”, “Papa Don’t Preach” and culminated with the fierceness of “Vogue”, but the entire time it was Madonna finally putting it all out and truly expressing herself.
This is “Part 1” in series discussing the contributions and innovations made to the live concert stage by Madonna. In the next feature the Queen of Pop’s ambition continues to grow and her follow-up to Blond Ambition goes further than anyone could have anticipated.