Monday, September 27, 2010

Remixes You Should Hear: Part Two

"Quicksand (Boy 8-Bit Remix)" 
La Roux
This "Quicksand" remix was included on the UK re-release of the single.  A marimba keeps the steady chord progression that the original song followed.  It gives the track a bouncy sound that works well.  At the song's half way mark is the climax.  It continuously builds until a sudden stop.  After the break, the mix finishes up with a synth covered instrumental.  There are several variations in the music, so it avoids becoming too monotone.  The "Boy 8-Bit Remix" adds a great new twist to "Quicksand" while still keeping La Roux's signature style.

"Alejandro (The Sound Of Arrows Remix)" - Lady Gaga
Okay, I know that everyone has heard the original "Alejandro", but this remix completely changes the hit single that you know.  The remix was created by The Sound Of Arrows.  They gave the song a lighter summer mood.  The lines "You know that I love you boy. Hot like Mexico, rejoice. At this point I've gotta choose, nothin' to lose." have become the real hook of the song.  The track is one of the best pieces from Gaga's album full of remixes, The Remix.  After hearing the original track so often, some may even prefer this remix to the original.  Both are great.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Remixes You Should Hear: Part One

"Cold War (Wondamix)" - Janelle Monáe
The "Wondamix" of "Cold War" actually serves the opposite purpose of most remixes.  Instead of adding more to the song, the Wondamix strips away many pieces of the original.  The beat is slowed down significantly and the guitar solo is now almost classical.  I love how the mood of the song has completely changed.  It gives an entire new face to "Cold War".

"Cosmic Love (Short Club Remix)" - Florence + The Machine
I usually stay away from overly extended remixes, but the Short Club mix of Florence's hit single is a nice rendition of the original melodic track.  I like that the remix still used the acoustic instruments of the original song, but also incorporated heavy club elements.  The song starts with an acoustic guitar, but soon a dance beat comes in.  The vocal track is very prominent in the remix.  One of the biggest mistakes a DJ or producer can make is stripping away the vocals to a point of no return.  The original tack needs to be recognizable, and in this remix it is.

"Settle Down (Penguin Prison Remix)" - Kimbra
Unlike the two previous artists, Kimbra hasn't released her debut album yet.  With the little material she has out, remixes are always welcome.  The Penguin Prison Remix adds a dance beat to the quirky song.  I love the beat after the bridge.  It matches perfectly with Kimbra's "Hey, oh oh!".   The remix doesn't stray from the original format of the song, so it isn't terribly foreign to listeners of the non-remixed version. This remix proves that her voice also sounds good over a more dance/electronic style of music.

Check back soon for part two of the remix series.  The next group includes mixes of songs by Lady Gaga, La Roux, and more.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

JoJo - In The Dark

The singer that gave us the teen pop hits "Leave (Get Out)" and "Too Little, Too Late" is back in an unexpected way.  Instead of releasing a third album, she released a free mixtape online.  Can't Take That Away From Me has the same amount of songs as a standard album, but it's more of a way to give fans a treat while she wraps up her next project.  The single from the mixtape is "In The Dark".  As the title says, it's darker than her previous work.  Along with the music video, it's also more mature and sexual than her more innocent work.  Is this a good direction for her?  The song has it's pros and cons.

Starting with the good, the song has an amazing beat.  The verses are stripped down to the beat, bass, and vocals only.  The melody sounds seductive and smooth.  Under the chorus is a sweeping synth and piano.  The hook is a choppy and extended "I only know him in the dark".  The entire song has a relaxed, almost slow motion, feeling.

The idea of the song sounds like a radio hit, but the production completely buffers its potential.  JoJo's vocals are way too low.  The beat overpowers her voice and makes her vocals sound weak, but in reality they aren't.  The echo effect applied to the vocal track doesn't sound professional either.  The echo gives off a hollow sound that might have been intended to give the song an airy sound, but didn't quite work.  It may just be a track from a mixtape, but with the mainstream success that JoJo has already had, I would expect the song to have a much more "polished" sound.

While the production of the song is hindering, "In The Dark" is still a catchy song.  The verses standout the most.  They have a strong hip-hop beat and bass line.  You can download the song, or the entire mixtape, for free here.  JoJo's next official album is still in the works, but until then I would check out Can't Take That Away From Me.  She sounds more mature and is headed in a new direction.  Keep reading to check out the music video for "In The Dark"...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Taylor Swift - Mine

Taylor Swift's "Mine" follows her usual formula of a half pop half country love song.  The song has Swift's signature big chorus and melody that helped her climb the charts time after time again.  This time around the lyrics are a bit more mature.  Instead of singing about a high school crush, the story is deeper.  It's good to see her lyrics progress with each album.  Her songs seem to grow as she does while she leaves the topic of magic and fairytales in the past.  It's a sure sign of growth for her as a songwriter.

The music is very similar to her previous hits.  It has the standard verse-chorus-verse form of pop music.  Taylor is one of the few artists that stands on the line between country and pop music that is actually massively success in both markets.  The style works perfectly for her audience, but I would love to hear her write something a little more out of her comfort zone.

Her upcoming album, Speak Now, comes out on October 25.  If "Mine" is a sign of what's to come, the the album will be just as solid as Fearless.  It's a light song with a great sing along chorus.  Check out the video for "Mine" below...

Monday, September 13, 2010

VMA 2010: My Favorite Moments

Yesterday was MTV's biggest night of the year. It was also a big night for several artists.  With Chelsea Handler hosting, the show was a mixed bag.  The first problem was Chelsea Handler.  I'll just get to the point, she wasn't funny.  The audience also seemed to be forcing fake laughter.  Ellen Degeneres' few moments onstage were better then Handler's.  The show did have several highlight's that made it worth while.  Here are my favorite moments.

Florence + The Machine performs "Dog Days Are Over"
This performance was by far the best, vocally.  Florence Welch's powerful voice was accompanied by a slew of dancers and lights.  The production of performance was also spot on.  This appearance may have sealed Florence + The Machine's success in the US.

Taylor Swift sings "Innocent"
This was a moment that had received a lot of gossip before the show had even started.  Taylor wrote and performed "Innocent" from her upcoming album, Speak Now.  The song wasn't about how Kanye was a terrible person and she was still mad.  Instead she sang a tale of forgiving encouragement.  I thought it was great.

Paramore, Bruno Mars, and B.o.B take the stage for a medley
This segment started with Bruno Mars singing the hook to "Nothin' On You".  The song then switched to "Airplanes" as Hayley Williams took the stage.  B.o.B then sealed the deal and connected the songs with his verses.  After the trio did their hip-hop piece, Hayley joined the rest of Paramore for a rendition of "The Only Exception".  The performance was full of hit singles and worked incredibly well.

Lady Gaga sets records and reveals her next record
The winner of the night was Lady Gaga. She won eight awards, which beats Madonna's previous record.  The final moon man that she won was for Video Of The Year.  "Bad Romance" proved to be her key video.  As she took the stage, wearing a dress made of meat, she revealed to the world the title of her next album.  Holding back tears she announced "Born This Way" and sang a few lines of a new song.

Those were the moments that stood out to me.  Many of the big names that took the stage sadly failed to impress me.  Do you agree with my choices?  Leave a comment telling me your favorite moments.  Did you like Kanye West or Nicki Minaj?  What about Eminem?  Which of Gaga's dresses was your favorite? Let me know!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Live VMA Coverage

Finally, after all of the anticipation, the VMA's are tonight.  There's a massive line-up of artists ready to perform and plenty of moon men to be won.  Some of the performances for tonight's show are Eminem, Paramore, Florence + The Machine, Nicki Minaj, and Drake.  With countless other artists also taking the stage, something amazing is sure to happen.

I'll be tweeting live during the red carpet and the main show.  Follow me for updates on the latest happenings. Feel free to send me a tweet about your favorite artists.

The red carpet starts at 8 PM, followed by the main stage at 9 PM.  I'll have a full recap on the blog on Monday for anyone who missed it. Enjoy the show!