By Olivia Shur, Staff Writer
When thinking of artists that pour their heart into their music, Britney Spears is usually not at the top of the list. However, with the release of her newest album, “Britney Jean,” that is soon to change.
Regardless of her rocky roller-coaster ride through the past 14 years, Spears has never failed to release catchy, bass-pumping, roll-all-the-windows-down pop bangers. However, that’s all they really were: formulaic pop songs sure to rake in the millions. Add some controversial music videos with intense dance numbers and lavish sets, and the sell is guaranteed.
“Britney Jean,” however, reveals a more emotional, personal side of Spears that listeners haven’t really heard before.
For the first time, Spears co-wrote every single track on the album, as opposed to 2011’s “Femme Fatale” in which she contributed to a whopping total of zero tracks.
Spears’ newfound voice is evident in songs like the ballad, “Perfume,” in which Spears sings of still longing for a lover that is now in-love with someone else. Spears adds bitterness to the song, making it more personal but still with her trademark sassiness.
Spears also shows some sisterly love on the track, “Chillin’ With You,” in which she collaborated for the first time with her younger sister, Jamie Lynn.
Other collaborations on the album include “It Should Be Easy,” with pop guru will.i.am. The song itself has more of a dance vibe than classic pop, while the song’s lyrics are simple and sweet, and not as vulgar as some of Spears’ lyrics usually are.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is “Tik Tik Boom” featuring rapper T.I. The song, with a slow back-beat and blatantly sexual lyrics, will have listeners turning it down whenever their parents are slightly in earshot.
The fierceness that is expected out of a pop queen like Spears is also evident in the album’s smash hit, “Work B**ch.” The song is an ode to Spears’ long journey as a pop sensation.
If fans are disappointed with the lack of lavish sets and dance-heavy videos, then no fear. With sharks, hot cars and tributes to many of Spears’ former dance numbers, the video for “Work B**ch” makes up for it.
For Spears’ first time co-writing each and every track, the album isn’t necessarily bad. While it’s lovely to get a glimpse into Spears’ personal thoughts and feelings, the songs do fall a bit flat. One possibility is Spears simply does not have the vocal strength that rival pop-stars, like Beyonce and Christina Aguilera, possess; both of whom have the ability to bring audiences to tears with their ballads. Both have also released songs that are more stripped-down, like Aguilera’s classic tear-jerker “Hurt” and Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy.”
Though Spears’ vocal abilities have a reputation for being everywhere to barely acceptable, no one truly knows if the superstar has the ability to hit the notes – and this album could’ve been Spears’ opportunity to do so.
Watch Britney Spears’ “Work B**ch” below:
By Kate Ebeling, Staff Writer
There is nothing more heartbreaking than to see someone go, but even more painful when they contributed so much during their lifetime.
Today, as a special post, I would like to dedicate this post to the passing of music rock god, Lou Reed, who at the age of 71, passed away on Oct. 27.
Reed, who was a founding member of the rock band, The Velvet Underground, paved the way for musicians who had ideas that were not commercial. Musicians who were independent and who looked to music as a way of self-expression.
As a musician, Reed contributed as a member of The Velvet Underground, as well as embarking on a successful solo act that would put his career at spanning over five decades of music.
While his career is important, Reed’s personal, independent thought, as a musician made him stand out as a true artist; Reed said what he wanted without fear of judgment or rejection. Because of his defiance against those who would try to mold him into a more “commercial” or “profitable” artist, he stands as an idol for those who wish to express themselves just as openly and without fear as he did.
When graduating from high school, Reed’s quote read, “As for the immediate future, Lou has no plans, but will take life as it comes.”
These are brave and truthful words for a young man facing the blank pages that would become the rest of his life. And here serves the truth behind the power of Reed; his attitude of personal self, and ability to make the best of life and every situation, including liver disease.
Liver disease would eventually kill him, but Reed proved himself to be a man of great stature and composure, as well as strength and determination. A great man died, but a legacy lives on. Rest in peace, Lou Reed.
By Kate Ebeling, Staff Writer
It’s easy to fall in love with a band and find yourself listening to their album on repeat. It becomes familiar and comfortable. The lyrics come easily. But what happens when you become tired of those 10 lines, that same melody you’ve listened to for the past week?
Do you shelve it, with fond memories, only to be pulled out when you’re looking for a “throwback?” Or does it become a staple in your rotation, played only a little less frequently and with the assurance of a good three and half minutes?
For the California-based sister trio band, HAIM, the group stands on a precarious ledge of overexposure and a rocket ship to stardom. With rave reviews on their debut album “Days are Gone” from music sites like Pitchfork, SPIN, Allston Pudding and The Rolling Stone, as well as being Spotify’s “Spotlight Artist,” it’s not hard to imagine why you might have heard of them, or their lead single “The Wire” lately.
The girls have graced the covers of SPIN Magazine, Notion, The Fly, LA Weekly, Fader, NME, and countless other magazines. HAIM’s Alana, Danielle and Este, while very personable and funny, tell the same story in every interview: recounting their path to fame pretty much verbatim. And while each interview is interesting at best, the question of overexposure remains. How many times can we hear a story about a group of sisters from the San Fernando Valley who all play together in a family band?
While I can sympathize with their story of struggling for years to really produce anything they found representative of their sound — the fame and praise seems like payout for all of their toil — I can only hope that they continue to create music like they have without the pretension and stigma of the “indie darlings” following them wherever they go.
It’s never a band’s desire or purpose to become overexposed. As a listener and huge fan I can only hope for the success of their future endeavors. Be that as it may, I also hope that HAIM remains above the fold of that popular artist stigma and ultimately continue to create the same caliber music, even with the trappings of billboard fame that seems only destined for their future.
Listen to “The Wire” below:
By Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Staff Writer
I moved to Boston last year from Eugene, a small city in Oregon that boasts the title as the best city for hippies in the United States. Tie-dye can still be purchased in stores or in open-air markets. People brew their own kombucha and/or make their own keifer. I saw more Birkenstocks on the feet of my high school peers than flip flops or sneakers. Most importantly, I grew up on a steady musical diet of Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, The Beatles, Jimi, Janis and a complete slew of jam bands.
Going to open-air concerts and festivals generally involves groping at the air, skipping in circles, saying something along the lines of “I feel so free right now” and wearing the traditional hippie uniform of a maxi skirt, daisy crowns, body paint, etc.
What you’ll never hear an Eugenian say is, that to an extent, this behavior is an act. People whose brains are not completely addled on drugs and can actually hear the music probably don’t like fifteen-minute guitar solos that are, inevitably, off-key and unimaginative (let’s be real, the musician performing is also on some sort of contraband substance).
Now, don’t get me wrong, I can get my hippie on. It’s my culture – patchouli runs through my veins. But I guess going to a concert where there isn’t that sort of “hippie” pretense, or the desire to be the most counterculture, is new to me.
So when I moved to Boston, as promised by my family and friends at home, I experienced quite the culture shock. Why wasn’t I seeing any hemp clothing on my fellow Bostonians? Where could I get locally brewed kombucha? Why were all the drivers so mean?
But I guess that’s why I moved to Boston. I knew I wanted to be around something different, or diverse. So far, Boston has yet to disappoint me on that front.
Musically, however, I haven’t found that “let’s dance in the moonlight; throw mud directly at my face!” Kind of carefree spirit that reminds me of home. Upon attending Boston Calling, I thought I might get a taste for my home – I think Bonnaroo is probably the closest thing to summer in Eugene on this side of the Mississippi.
At Boston Calling, I experienced a completely different genre of not only music, but also audience members. Costumes were few in comparison to folks in t-shirts and jeans. People wore Boston Strong shirts, didn’t dance, but rather sat and listened to bands they had loved for years.
It was different, but not in a bad way.
Boston Calling feels like it’s a Boston festival. No, it’s not hippie paradise. As far as I can see, most people are sober. However, it’s unpretentious and far from preppy (this isn’t Cambridge Calling or Martha’s Vineyard Calling). It’s just about the music.
Listening to Bat for Lashes on brick streets of City Hall Plaza, watching at her reach for the sky at seagulls with steeples and clock towers watching from the distance, I felt more of a part of Boston than I ever had before. I felt like I had arrived at the next phase of my life.
By Christina Janansky
Music — the “universal language” — may be a little more universal than once thought.
In a September 2 article published in Discovery News, Kazutaka Shinozuka of Keio University’s Department of Psychology described his research on animals’ understanding of music. With help from his colleagues, Shinozuka revealed that goldfish not only enjoy listening to music, but also have the ability to distinguish between different composers.
The implications of this new study supplement earlier research on animals’ understanding of music. Now researchers believe that, perhaps, more animal species possess similar capabilities, as well as their own musical preferences.
In the study — originally published in the journal Behavioural Processes — Shinozuka and fellow researchers, Haruka Ono and Shigeru Watanabe, conditioned fish using two classical songs: Johann Sebastion Bach’s Toccato and Fugue in D minor, and Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.
During feeding time, goldfish were trained to nibble on a bead-filament contraption in the water, based on whichever song was playing nearby the fish tank. While one half of the fish gnawed on the bead during Bach’s song, the other was conditioned to gnaw on the bead during only Stravinsky’s piece. Using this method, the goldfish were eventually able to accurately — and easily — distinguish between the two composers.
Even more surprising: Goldfish actually developed a preference in listening to the two songs. It appeared that goldfish — similarly to birds in earlier studies — preferred classical music (Bach) to modern music (Stravinsky). Researchers, however, are not quite sure why, though it may involve the higher dissonance present in modern music.
So if you’re a total rebel and have a pet goldfish in your dorm room, remember: Keep it classical.
By Maya Devereaux, Staff Writer
Boston Police Department has a new goal: cracking down on underground music scene. According to an article on Slate.com, Boston’s underground indie-rock scene, which relies on ‘house shows,’ where the up-and-coming bands play in homes rather than clubs, are the target of the Boston PD’s attention. The structures aren’t licensed for such venues and violate a number of other ordinances.
How might the BPD be going about this? Why they’re going to go undercover as ‘fans’ and take to social media platforms like Twitter of course! Usually we’re used to seeing the police use social media to uncover evidence that solves more, let’s say, heinous crimes rather than using it to pass as hipster indie-rock fans to locate an illegal concert in an Allston basement.
While their goal seems silly at the outset, these concerts are technically violating laws that exist to protect public safety and fair noise levels for other residents in the area. Under the Nuisance Control ordinance, also mentioned in Slate.com, excessive noise is “ health threat” and affects the quality of life for residents. And beyond the threat of noise, the houses the concerts are held in are not licensed to hold that many people.
The situation seems to be not so black and white because there are instances where these house concerts are taking into consideration the surrounding neighbors. Furthermore, the police are also mistakenly cracking down on bands that are merely practicing. What draws the line between practicing and actually holding a concert? And is it infringing on rights of citizens to tell them how, when and where they will practice and perform their music?
Regardless of upped police activity, the bottom line is that these concerts are still going to go on and people are still going to attend them. Unless the police go about finding concert whereabouts on Twitter in a really clever way, I can’t see this operation going to well for them.
By Maya Devereaux, Staff Writer
I have to admit, Netflix and Hulu Plus are some of my most loyal friends sometimes, especially on nights when I have no plans except to stay in. Spotify is cool too but only in the musical sense. I can’t quite imagine the privately owned commercial music streaming service crossing over into the video streaming realm. Well, Huffington Post has announced that there has indeed been talk of Spotify introducing streaming video to its service! (Pause for reaction).
The article essentially questions whether or not Spotify would be able to financially support streaming big name TV shows and films, and creating its own series (as Netflix recently did with it’s hit show House of Cards). Existing companies have the funding to offer many options. However, Spotify is currently not as established, and therefore might not be able to remain competitive with other, film-focused streaming services.
Another question to pose: how will Spotify market its new offerings?
By Lauren Dezenski, Online Editor
With all of this (legitimate) hype over the superstorm Frankenstorm Hurricane Sandy, it’s high time we prepare in every way, shape and form possible. Translation: make a playlist.
You’re welcome, Eastern Seaboard.
Ke$ha’s “Blow” starts things on the right foot–who doesn’t love Ke$ha, or better yet, the visual of that glittery betch getting blown away by the 65+ MPH wind gusts expected in Boston on Monday. Which brings me to the next song…
“Manic Monday” by the Bangles. If classes aren’t cancelled, you bet your bottom dollar shit’s gonna get real manic, especially for those girls’ hairdos undoubtedly mussed by Sandy’s gusts. Monday’s forecast: rainy with a 95 percent chance of topknots. I see you, COM girls.
Not to be forgotten: “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” I personally believe this song’s potential would only be improved by listening to this on the 26th floor of StuVi II as it sways in the wind. BECAUSE APPARENTLY THAT HAPPENS.
Other goodies: “Sandy” by John Travolta (sorry, I had to), “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” by the Arcade Fire (I just can’t quit those catchy indie Canadians, plus I live in Allston so my power probably will go out), “Hurricane Drunk” by Florence and the Machine (for those Halloweenies still hung over from this weekend’s festivities–not that I would know, I stayed in and watched The Weather Channel. I’m so cool, right?).
Things end with “The New Jersey Song,” a lil’ gem I encountered by searching “New Jersey” on Spotify, and ode to the Garden State’s position as essentially Sandy’s target as it swings westward and makes landfall on Monday evening. Here’s to hoping this weather event calms hostilities between the Real Housewives of New Jersey … and their implants float.
A man on The Weather Channel told me to put bags full of water in my freezer and now I’m telling you to listen to this playlist. When this randomly shuts off in the middle of you blasting it from the speakers in your apartment, it’ll be an epic way to realize you’ve lost power.
By Sydney Moyer, Music Editor
Artist: Dark Dark Dark
Album: Who Needs Who
Label: Supply & Demand
Release: Oct. 2
The charm of Minneapolis-based quintet Dark Dark Dark lies in their subtle ability to slip several genres of music seamlessly into their haunting ballads and echoing choruses. Folk, jazz, Euro-folk and Americana all weave themselves throughout the band’s latest release, Who Needs Who, and allow the songs to transcend the slow pace and simple melodies and transform into magnificent tapestries of sound.
Instruments featured on Who Needs Who vary from banjo to accordion to clarinet, all grounded in heartbreaking piano and guitar riffs. Lead singer Nona Marie Invie has a wistfully soulful voice balefully belting out standout tracks like the gorgeous “Patsy Cline.”
If there’s one show to skip your night class for this week, it’s the Dark Dark Dark show with Emily Wells at Great Scott on Tuesday. The band’s vocal strength and vast instrumental lineup along with Emily Wells’ propensity to cover Notorious B.I.G. songs with a violin are sure to guarantee a good time.
Standout Tracks on Who Needs Who:
“How It Went Down”
“Meet In The Dark”
“The Great Mistake”
By Brandon Kesselly, Staff Writer
I had the chance to interview Boston rapper Charmingly Ghetto, one of the movers and shakers of Boston’s hip hop scene. As a 25-year-old graduate of University of Massachusetts Amherst, CG recently linked up with UK-based producer Cypria for his latest release, Scotland Yahd. Here’s what he had to say.
Brandon Kesselly: What was your inspiration for the EP?
Charmingly Ghetto: My inspiration for the EP was wishing to continue to further the relationship and respect I had for Cypria, who very early on was a huge advocate for my music and pushed me to keep releasing material and stay focused on the progression of what I continued to create. I also wanted to keep on working with international producers to keep with the theme that Study Abroad had helped push forth which was my new-found love and appreciation for art worldwide and recognizing the unilateral respect for hip hop in every corner of the world. People kept informing me that they enjoyed hearing this style of music and listening to the struggle, visions and vividness that I shared, so that inspired me to share more.
BK: How did you connect with Cypria?
CG: I met Cypria through the power of the Internet and through that connection we were just able to develop a better working relationship that blossomed into some real timeless music. This was just a great opportunity for two artists to connect to develop a great project and in the future we hope to create more.
BK: What other projects do you have planned in the near future?
CG: I have a number of projects that are in development. Right now I would continue to say keep your eyes and ears open for this Scotland Yahd project that we have in store and check out the video for “No Light.” This is my heart and soul, and Cypria and I would greatly appreciate people still knocking this.
I have a project that’s dropping with the homies from TheMadBloggers.com in collaboration with Heyday Footwear called “Kicks n Stares.” I am very excited for this project as it is the first that I have done that is sponsored by a clothing brand company, so it just shows me that people are supporting my message and that it is in line with the people at large.
BK: Which was your favorite song on the EP and why?
CG: My favorite song on the EP would have to be “Nat Turner.” I’m really speaking to the race relations in our country from the first point of view of someone who was enslaved in our country, and it is really interesting how the current view and experience of blacks in the U.S.A. is very similar to what would have been going on in the mind of a slave at the time. At least I think so.
Charmingly Ghetto plays Friday, Oct. 5 at BU Central as part of his Good Vibes Tour. Free admission for any BU student plus two guests.