The Jewel Wicker Show

Republic

Republic

Ariana Grande’s sophomore album My Everything will be out in less than a week (August 25) and MTV is streaming four songs from the album to give fans a taste of what’s to come.

“Love Me Harder,” a collaboration with The Weeknd stands out instantly. The synth pop jam features raunchier lyrics than we’re used to hearing from a Grande record. “When I get you moaning you know it’s real. Can you feel the pressure between your hips? I’ll make it feel like the first time,” the Weeknd sings. Oh.

Elsewhere, “Be My Baby” starts off sounding like Grande is revisiting the sound she went for with “Right There,” the sweeping ballad “A Little Bit of Your Heart” immediately feels like one of the most chilling things she’s ever created and “Why Try” is a knocking midtempo kiss-off track with an irresistible refrain.

So far, including the singles (“Problem” and “Break Free”) that have been released, we’ve heard half of the 12 tracks that will be featured on the album. If the other six tracks are anywhere near as good, then this will be a solid sophomore effort for the young songstress.

Listen here.

Nicki Minaj in "Anaconda" video

Nicki Minaj in “Anaconda” video

Just when you thought twerking was on it’s way out…

I wasn’t expecting much from Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” music video. Based on the singer’s inability to twerk in the past I had reason to believe the visuals for the ode to butts wouldn’t be that entertaining.

I was wrong.

The provocative video features Minaj in multiple settings, including a forest, a gym, a kitchen and an empty room with rapper Drake, but the message throughout remains the same. Minaj has buns, hun, and she can actually shake them.

There are many fun scenes, but the most talked about will certainly be the one where Minaj gives fellow YMCMB rapper Drake a lap dance. We’ve seen the two joke about getting married and flirt many times at this point, but this scene takes teasing Dricki (yes, they already have a name) fans to an entirely new level.

Just when you think the two are going to ride off into the sunset together and fulfill Drake’s every dream, the video ends with him sitting all alone, looking pretty devastated over the fact that his big booty love has escaped him once again.

While “Anaconda” is a fun song, I must admit I haven’t really payed it much attention since it was released. I think this video has officially solved that problem.

Apparently, these days all you have to do is work out in a g-string, pour whipped cream all over yourself and seduce your peer to get people talking.

Who knew? Continue reading

Warner Bros. Recordings Inc.

Warner Bros. Recordings Inc.

Kimbra’s dynamic verse on Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” was enough to make me want to know more about the singer. The energetic live performances of the brilliantly sarcastic “Settle Down” was enough to make me a fan. But despite my incessant fanning, Kimbra’s debut album Vows came and went without much fanfare. While it suffered from idea overload, the album did a great job of showcasing the singer’s versatile vocal style, clever songwriting and appreciation for various genres. Vows proved Kimbra was a powerful force, although it may have left you confused about which box to place her in.

The Golden Echo won’t clear things up for you. Continue reading

Vanessa Bayer in Haim's "My Song 5" video

Vanessa Bayer in Haim’s “My Song 5″ video

Haim’s “My Song 5″ video features a few familiar faces. The video centers around a sleezy talk show hosted by Dallas Murphy (SNL’s Vanessa Bayer) and it’s guests. Kesha seeks treatment for her cat obsession and AS$P Ferg deals with his girl having a girlfriend, while a live audience that includes Big Sean looks on. Grimes and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend also make appearances during the wacky video.

There are a few performance shots, but this is not your traditional music video in that the song serves mostly as background music for the silly talk show.

Luckily, “My Song 5″ is getting some much deserved attention. Even if it took a remix to get a video.

The original song is from the sister’s debut album Days Are Gone. Continue reading

Big Machine Records

Big Machine Records

After a two year hiatus Taylor Swift is ready to release her first “documented, official pop album,” although if her last two albums weren’t pop albums I don’t know what they were. Still, the singer, who has made a name for herself with kid-friendly, pop-leaning country songs (or country-leaning pop songs) for nearly eight years, announced her fifth studio album 1989 today via a worldwide Yahoo! live stream.

The album title hails from the year Swift was born and the decade that she says influenced her work this time around.

As expected, Swift delivered the album’s first single “Shake It Off” during the stream. Teaming up once again with “I Knew You Were Trouble” collaborators Max Martin and Shellback, Swift sounds off in a horn-y anthem about shaking the haters off.

Stealing a line (or two) from 3LW, the singer puts her repetitive touch on an old saying. “Players gonna play, play, play, play, play. Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate,  hate baby,” Swift sings during the song’s infectious hook. Luckily she left shot callers and their incessant calling out of it this time.

In addition to releasing the single, Swift unveiled the video during the live stream, too, and, like most pop videos these days, it instantly sparked a discussion on cultural appropriation because of it’s depiction of black girls twerking.

Personally, I’m not offended by the visuals based on the fact that black women are also seen performing various other dance styles in the video, which was clearly designed to poke fun at the fact that Swift is a terrible dancer.

As far as the song itself goes, I feel the same way about this single that I felt about “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” when Swift debuted it via live stream two years ago. The lyrics feel very reductive and I definitely wish Swift would’ve released a single that better displays her songwriting, but I also haven’t stopped singing the hook since I first heard it so clearly it’s a solid pop release.

As one of the few Taylor Swift fans that is aching for the young songstress to showcase the depth she displayed on her collaboration with the now defunct duo The Civil Wars, I’m disappointed, although not surprised. As a fan of all things pop and all things cheesy, I can’t stop dancing (and dancing terribly, might I add).

And I suspect I’ll be dancing until Swift releases 1989 on Oct. 27 and long after. Continue reading

Def Jam

Def Jam

Jhene Aiko’s positive tweets have caused a bit of dialogue amongst the singer and her fans in light what’s happening in Ferguson. Many of Aiko’s fans believe she should be doing more to show her support for the city and Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager that was killed by a police office over a week ago. Aiko says she can’t go to Missouri right now, but continues to send positive vibes and love to everyone involved in the situation.

Musically, she continues to push her usual positive message this morning in “Spotless Mind,” the latest offering from her forthcoming Def Jam debut album Souled Out.

“Change is inevitable. Why hold on to what you have to let go of,” Aiko sings in the opening lines of the mellow track. It will be interesting to see if the No I.D. production makes this message go down a little smoother for fans.

Regardless, this has been Aiko’s image for a while now. Aside from shooting her lover in the video for her hit single “The Worst” and posting and deleting a photo where she holds a “police officer” down and point a gun at his head, the singer usually promotes images that support a much more peaceful lifestyle. It’s interesting that her fans expect anything different from her in this circumstance.

Souled Out is scheduled for a Sept. 9 release. Continue reading

Neon Gold/Atlantic Records

Neon Gold/Atlantic Records

Charli XCX has been breaking rules (and chart records) all summer and she doesn’t plan to stop just because the season is winding down.

The “Fancy” singer’s solo single “Boom Clap” is still becoming increasingly more popular, but if the Fault In Our Stars’ single’s sappy content isn’t your style, Charli has another single that may do the trick.

“I don’t want to go to school, I just want to break the rules,” she chants in “Break the Rules,” a grungy pop effort that packs the same melodic, rebellious punch as her previous releases.

In addition to releasing the new NFG anthem, the singer has also revealed the name and release date for her sophomore album. Sucker will be released on Oct. 21.

The song is streaming over on Buzzfeed.

RCA

RCA

Mikky Ekko, known to many as the male singer on Rihanna’s “Stay,” is gearing up to release his debut album Time.

And, make no mistake about it, if his new single is any indication, he won’t be in the shadows for long.

“Smile,” a bouncy contradiction perfectly depicts the unbridled joy of someone who knows there will be more hardships in life, but resolves to choose happiness anyway.

“Smile, the worst is yet to come. We’ll be lucky if we ever see the sun,” Ekko sings over, a “la la la” refrain, grungy guitar riffs and stomping percussion. His vocals are less achy in this production, but the passion is still there.

Lucky for Ekko, I’m way more optimistic about his career as an artist than he is about life. Continue reading

"New Flame" screencap

“New Flame” screencap

Chris Brown’s promo for his forthcoming album x is now back and in full swing.

The singer dropped off the video for his new single “New Flame” today. True to his and collaborator Usher’s nature, the visuals focuses a lot on the men’s dance moves. Both appear in two difference scenes, one that features a white backdrop and a pool and another that features a giant “X” on fire.

Rick Ross also appears in the video.

x will be released, after a number of setbacks, on Sept. 16. Continue reading

Big Machine Records

Big Machine Records

On August 18 Yahoo will host a worldwide live stream where Taylor Swift will reveal “big secrets” and, likely, release a new single from her forthcoming highly-anticipated album. On August 24 she will perform at the MTV VMAs.

The singer has remained mum on the details of both events following their announcements.

All we know is the Queen of snarky, shady, slightly immature, but significantly irresistible songwriting is about to return.

Other VMA performers include Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Iggy Azalea, Rita Ora, 5 Seconds of Summer and Usher.

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