The Jewel Wicker Show

Usher and Nicki Minaj in "She Came To Give It To You" video

Usher and Nicki Minaj in “She Came To Give It To You” video

If I told you Usher, Nicki Minaj and Pharrell recently worked on a song together you’d expect it to be a massive hit, right? That’s what drags their latest collaboration “She Came To Give It To You” down.

The single isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s not the major song you’d expect from the “Little Freak” collaborators and one of the biggest producers in the industry, either. It’s safe.

Usher parties and performs in a hidden room club in the similarly safe music video for the bass-heavy song. Nicki Minaj eventually shows up and starts making crazy faces in front of a bunch of televisions and Pharrell lurks around, holding up the wall and nodding his head.

The stars are mostly seen in separate scenes, with the exception of a few quick shots of Minaj and Usher on television screens.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen this video concept countless times before so it likely won’t elevate the single.

Admittedly, if some less established artists had released this same single and video it probably would be received better.

These three have set the bar way higher.

The video’s release comes after Usher and Minaj performed the song together at the VMAs over the weekend.

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Say Lou Lou’s fans have been waiting for their debut album for two years now. The Swedish/Australian synth pop duo have been releasing new material all year, but sadly their LP won’t come out until 2015.

The good news is the twins have released a really good cover of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories cut “Instant Crush.” Where the robot’s original version feels understated and somewhat monotonous melodically, the duo’s cover add a bit more drama and texture to the auto-tuned track.

If you liked the original version you’ll definitely appreciate this atmospheric cover. Continue reading



“I want to make you feel how I feel when I’m listening to love songs.”

Is it just me or does the sound of Broods’ lead singer Georgia Nott‘s voice instantly make you feel like you’re crumbling to pieces?

The brother and sister duo have released another cut from their forthcoming debut album Evergreen leading up to the October release.

“Four Walls” finds Nott singing about being scared to fall in love despite the circumstances being seemingly perfect. Like their previous releases, it’s a sweet take on heavy emotions.

Nott’s vocals are layered delicately over the atmospheric production. Built around a simple piano melody and drum pattern, it’s the kind of morose sound we’ve grown to expect from Caleb Nott.

“Four Walls” is a solid followup to “Mother & Father.” It doesn’t pack the same punch sonically. Instead it drags along in a way that is both devastating and captivating.

Evergreen will be released on Oct. 7. Continue reading

Sara Bareilles covers Sia's "Chandelier"

Sara Bareilles covers Sia’s “Chandelier”

…or, quite possibly, all week.

Sara Bareilles delivered a chilling stripped-down acoustic version of Sia’s “Chandelier” at Madison Square Gardens during her Little Black Dress Tour recently and it seriously should be recorded in a studio and put up on iTunes. Like, right now.

Bareilles slows the ode to alcoholism down, adding new melismas and conquering that huge chorus in a piercing falsetto while the audience listens quietly.

No one can do it quite like the blonde bobbed songstress with the cracking raspy vocals and distinct accent, but if you’ve been aching for some new music from the “Brave” singer this should hold you over until she records a new album.

Also, this is a good time to listen to Bareilles’ live album Brave Enough: Live at the Variety Playhouse on Spotify. Continue reading



New York newcomer VÉRITÉ is quickly positioning herself as an artist to watch. The singer first captured our attention with her debut single “Strange Enough” and now she’s proving the awesome cut wasn’t just a stroke of luck.

On “Weekend” she provides more ethereal layered vocals, this time over a fun dance production. Where the moody atmospheric offering “Strange Enough” focused on the singer’s songwriting, “Weekend” raises the stakes, offering more vivid lyrics, more falsetto, more melodies and more layers.

“We’re on the edge of a shotgun ready to blow. We can fall in love for the weekend,” VÉRITÉ sings repetitively over pounding drums.

It’s the perfect type of dramatic anthem to release just as summer is winding down and everyone is overcome with desperation and nostalgia. Continue reading

LoveRenaissance | Columbia

LoveRenaissance | Columbia

If you can score 1500 points in a stick figure game that involves jumping over hurdles and skateboarding then you can download Raury’s debut project Indigo Child. The project from the East Atlanta native is a surprisingly cohesive effort from the 18-year old recent high school graduate, especially considering he only released his first official song earlier this year. Songs like “Superfly,” “Chariots of Fire,” “Woodcrest Manor Master” and the previously released “Cigarette Song” not only explores traditional themes of teenage angst and inquisitiveness, but it does so with detailed productions, many of which were produced by Raury himself. Instead of losing focus and becoming distracted by his folk, alternative, rock and hip-hop influences, he masterfully welds them all together, while retaining a sound that is distinct to him.

Indigo Child capitalizes on the ideals that Raury explores in “God’s Whisper” not just through songs, but also through a series of interludes made up of an argument the teenager had with his mother that seems to have come from Raury prioritizing his music over everything, including his education. It’s instantly relatable, not because everyone has arguments with their mother about wanting to pursue a music career, but because every teenager has, at some point, felt like their parents didn’t understand them and their dreams.

It was announced today that the Outkast: ATLast opener is signed to Columbia Records and with nods from established acts like Lorde, Kanye West and Andre 3000, it’s clear that he not only has the talent, but the support needed to really blow up and be the next big artist to come out of Atlanta.

If you’re not one for games, you can stream and download the project sans stick man below.

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There’s no denying the fact Ariana Grande is one of the best vocalists to come out in pop music recently. We knew that one single into her singing career and it’s become increasingly clear over the last year following the release of her debut album Yours Truly last August.

On My Everything, Grande’s teams up with the likes of Zedd, Ryan Tedder and Max Martin (versus Babyface on Yours Truly), all of whom pretty much guarantee pop hits such as the album’s lead singles “Problem” and “Break Free.” There are still quite a few hip-hop collaborations and the R&B vibe isn’t completely lost, but it’s no longer the element that holds everything together. Perhaps that’s why My Everything doesn’t feel as cohesive as Yours Truly.

Aided by the success of these singles and “Bang Bang,” a powerhouse collaboration with Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj, initially intended for J’s album, but also featured on the deluxe edition of My Everything it is clear that with the right promo this album could achieve chart success. But, eventually, most of the songs on this project will be forgotten.

With Yours Truly, Grande stood out as the pop singer with the Mariah Carey-esque high notes, powerful belts, melodic melismas and the 90s R&B-inspired songs. In this regard My Everything is a less ambitious effort. Grande has already proven her talent as a singer is legit. She’s not showing of this time around. And, while she’s never been known for lyrical depth, this album is definitely more concerned with the overall feel of the music versus the meaning (see “Break Free”). Gone are moments like the powerful Nathan Styles-assisted ballad “Almost Is Never Enough,” an aching duet laced with soulful vocal runs. In its place is a simplistic solo piano ballad written by another boy band standout (One Direction’s Harry Styles)

While both albums feature different sounds, they are similar in one major way: They both feature a young powerhouse singer trying on various sounds in search of a signature style to call her own. She’s churned out quite a few hits along the way (three are currently in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100), but My Everything suggests she won’t be committing to a particular sound any time in the near future. Continue reading

Simco Ltd.

Simco Ltd.

Fifth Harmony’s VMA pre-show performance of “Bo$$” wasn’t that good, but their new single “Them Girls Be Like” is another solid effort for the “Artist To Watch” winners.

The song follows closely in the footsteps of “Bo$$” in that it’s a #hashtag friendly urban pop cut with memorably cheesy punch lines (“If you’re thirsty you can’t sit with us”), sleek harmonies and catchy melodies.

The VMA winners clearly have a strong following in their Harmonizers, but I think they could expand their fanbase tremendously if they step away from the punch lines for a bit and prove they’re capable of producing original material with a little more depth, too. We know they can cling to current trends (i.e. the “or nah” references in this new song), but I’d love for them to create a few of their own in the future.

Fifth Harmony’s debut album Reflections comes out in November. Continue reading



Tinashe’s debut album Aquarius may actually be a solid effort.

The singer has amped up the promotion in support of the forthcoming project’s Oct. 3 release date and that includes the release of “Pretend.” The atmospheric cut features slapping snares and Tinashe trading in her party girl image to play the emotional lover. “When I’m looking for love I pretend it’s you. A love that never ends. I pretend it’s you that I’m in love with,” she sings over the sparse production before A$AP Rocky joins her for a verse.

The cool thing about Tinashe is she has a fun image and can dance so fans are usually treated to energetic performances in addition to the good music.

I’m still not sure it’s enough to guarantee her spot in the industry for the long haul, but it’s enough to keep people’s attention while she continues to plead her case. Continue reading

Charli XCX in "Break the Rules" video

Charli XCX in “Break the Rules” video

Charli XCX, princess of summer, is in no mood for the changing season and the new school year that comes along with it. That’s why she and a group of friends take a school bus to Trashy Lingerie after school to pick out outfits for the school dance in the video for her new single “Break The Rules.”

It’s all in good inappropriate fun, of course. Charli’s silk negligee is hardly the most inappropriate costume in a music video, but the visual’s theme further proves that the singer is working hard to be seen as the new Queen of the NFG coalition and it’s working.

Charli is working on releasing her sophomore album Sucker in October following slew of successful collaborations with artists like Icona Pop and Iggy Azalea.

The “Boom Clap” songstress didn’t appear on the main stage at the MTV VMAs last night, but she did bring the energetic single to the pre-show.

I suspect she’s only going to become more popular from here. Continue reading

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