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Grammy Predictions 2014

The single most important event of the year is tonight. The Grammy’s. There are so many major artists nominated this year, and this is how I think the awards will pan out:

Bold text indicates the act that I think should win

Italicized text indicates the act that will most likely win

Record of the Year:

  • Get Lucky - Daft Punk
  • Radioactive - Imagine Dragons
  • Royals - Lorde
  • Locked Out of Heaven - Bruno Mars
  • Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke

Album of the Year:

  • The Blessed Unrest - Sara Bareilles
  • Random Access Memories - Daft Punk
  • Good Kid, MAAD City - Kendrick Lamar
  • The Heist - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Red - Taylor Swift

Song of the Year

  • Just Give Me a Reason - P!nk & Nate Ruess
  • Locked Out of Heaven - Bruno Mars
  • Roar - Katy Perry
  • Royals - Lorde
  • Same Love - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Best New Artist

  • James Blake
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Ed Sheeran

Best Pop Solo

  • Brave - Sara Bareilles
  • Royals - Lorde
  • When I Was Your Man - Bruno Mars
  • Roar - Katy Perry
  • Mirrors - Justin Timberlake

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

  • Get Lucky - Daft Punk
  • Just Give Me a Reason - P!nk & Nate Ruess
  • Stay - Rihanna & Mikky Ekko
  • Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke, TI, & Pharrell
  • Suit & Tie - Justin Timberlake & Jay Z

Best Pop Album

  • Paradise - Lana Del Rey
  • Pure Heroine - Lorde
  • Unorthodox Jukebox - Bruno Mars
  • Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke
  • The 20/20 Experience - Justin Timberlake

Don’t miss the Grammy’s, airing live TONIGHT on CBS @ 8:00!

How do you think the awards will go?

Using Twitter Without Tweeting At All: Another Thing Beyonce Can Do That You Can’t

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When Beyoncé dropped her latest album, I was shocked. There was no promotion or marketing, just one announcement followed by a surprise release on iTunes. I was sure that album sales would suffer. I forgot one key factor.

Twitter.

At midnight, when Beyoncé’s album mysteriously appeared on iTunes, the Internet went crazy. Although Beyoncé herself never tweeted anything, everyone else was posting about Beyoncé, and the album title immediately trended worldwide

Even though she hasn’t tweeted since August, in the past week Bey’s handle was mentioned more than 375,000 times on Twitter (close to an 800% increase), 248,000 of which happened on the release date alone. Who needs promotional marketing when your fans will spread the word for you? 

- Forbes 

The album sold over 800,000 copies worldwide in one weekend, and this was no stroke of luck. This was a glimpse into the future of marketing.

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Twitter is the ultimate promotional tool, especially when it comes to a force in pop culture as massive as that of Beyoncé. When a noteworthy event happens in the media, anyone can post about it and share the news with his or her followers. A limit of 140 characters, although it may sound stifling, gets straight to the point, efficiently and effectively. When millions of people take it upon themselves to share exciting information, a movement occurs that is stronger than any marketing campaign that money can buy.

Twitter is truly the easiest way to connect with people and spread ideas; it is the future of mass communication.

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Dec 9

Crime Scene Investigation: Justin Timberlake Grammy Snub

If you’ve heard about the recent Grammy nomination announcement, you probably heard that superstar Justin Timberlake racked in a grand total of seven nominations! Thus, you’re probably wondering why I would still consider him “snubbed” from the prestigious awards ceremony when he received so much recognition… 

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Timberlake was not honored with a nomination in any of the “big three” categories (Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year). With seven nominations, it sounds greedy to ask for more, but how is it possible for the top-selling album released in 2013, which spawned two hit singles and was greeted with critical acclaim, to be ignored in the Album of the Year category? 2013 was “The Year of JT.” He was perhaps the most ubiquitous entertainer of the year (besides the infamous Miley Cyrus), gaining media attention simply for his talent and charisma rather than controversy. While Justin Timberlake may have brought “Sexyback” in 2006, he brought real music back in 2013 (as well as the bow tie). He was accompanied by the “Tennessee Kids” at every live show he put on this year, bringing real instruments back to mainstream live performances, which are today often filled with synthesizers and pre-recorded dance beats. 

Justin has collected top prizes at both the MTV Video Music Awards and the recent American Music Awards, and it is a shame that he does not have the opportunity to do so at the Grammys. He will, of course, pick up a few awards in the lesser-known categories, but he will not be rewarded for being the true juggernaut in pop music that he was in 2013 with the highest honor in music: The Grammy Award for Album of the Year. 

Although I’m sure Timberlake will make us wait for his next collection of music (I waited 7 years for The 20/20 Experience), I cannot wait to see where his next effort takes him in the music industry. I am confident that the best is still (somehow) yet to come in the bright future of the “President of Pop,” Justin Timberlake. 

New Katy Perry Single: Unconditionally

Today is Katy Perry’s 29th birthday, and this year she has a lot more to celebrate than the accomplishment of adding another candle to the cake. Katy recently released her third studio album, PRISM, which has been acclaimed by fans and critics alike all week. The album is a departure from her last two records without losing that catchy sound that makes all her songs arena-ready, pop hits.

The next single from the album is a song that Katy has often regarded as her favorite cut off of PRISM: “Unconditionally.” The song is a beautiful power ballad that shows the mainstream music audience a new side of the superstar. Not only does she show off her range of vocals that many never knew existed, but she also uses the song to lyrically tell a love story. She has stated publicly that the song is meant to relate to any kind of love, ranging from mothers and sons to husbands and wives.

"It’s just a simple message about loving someone and accepting them and kind of driving at you don’t have to be so self-conscious, you don’t have to fear, because essentially, everybody has their stuff. Nobody comes stuff-free. Everybody has their things and you’re never going to be perfect, and accepting that and understanding that, especially in a relationship, it makes room for a real, genuine kind of love." 

The song is sure to be a hit for the next few months, showing a new side of Katy Perry as she promotes her new album.

Take a listen: here.

Oct 6

Miley Cyrus: Hot Mess or Marketing Mastermind?

Almost two months after her infamous VMA performance, Miley Cyrus has taken over pop culture. She has reached such a level of stardom that everyone has an opinion about her. Whether it’s an angry mother of young children, a supportive fan, or a concerned former pop star, everyone seems to care about what 20-year-old Miley Cyrus is doing. 

Like many, when I initially watched Miley twerk her way into VMA history, I thought that I was watching yet another downward spiral of a childhood celebrity. Millions of American teens remember watching Miley Cyrus on Hannah Montana as a young teenager, and we all felt disappointed to see her turn into what seemed like a disastrous train wreck.

However, seeing the aftermath of the performance, it seems as if Miley knew exactly what she was doing. The term “twerk” has been around for decades, but now it is rarely used in a sentence separate from the name “Miley.” Although in the days following her VMA performance, the media was buzzing with negative reviews, everyone was talking about Miley. This caused more people to Google her name and watch her performance. Many people (including myself) watched the VMAs saying, “This is ridiculous, but I actually like this song.” After the VMAs, “We Can’t Stop” shot up back into the iTunes top 10, and a new single that Miley had just released, “Wrecking Ball,” was firmly sitting in the number one position. Even though many thought that we were witnessing the end of Miley’s career at the VMAs, the twerking-teddy-bear-filled performance represented a new beginning for Miley Cyrus. It was her final escape from her Hannah Montana image, while simultaneously plastering her name into everyone’s mind.

Weeks after the VMAs, Miley buzz began to die down (just a little bit). That’s when the geniuses on Miley’s team decided to release her latest video for her single “Wrecking Ball.” The video starts off showing a much more vulnerable side of the superstar than we have ever seen before. Then, about halfway through the clip, Miley swings across the screen on a wrecking ball (very creative) completely naked. Again, I thought, “This is a mess.” Then, I went on Twitter and saw that almost every single tweet on my timeline was referencing the video in some way. Once again, everyone was Googling Cyrus’s name to find the video. The controversial video had over 19 million views in one day, and it reached 100 million views in only six days. This shattered all previous Youtube and Vevo records. I should mention that the previous record for fastest climb to 100 million views was set by Miley herself with her video for “We Can’t Stop.” Once again, with “Wrecking Ball,” Miley knew exactly what she was doing. Music video views count towards the Billboard Hot 100, the coveted ranking system, which determines the biggest hits in music every week. Thus, “Wrecking Ball” went straight up to the number one position in the week following her video’s release. It is still one of the biggest hits of today, climbing up radio and digital charts as well. 

Both of the singles released so far from Miley’s upcoming album have already gone platinum, and they are still selling very well. Just last night, Miley was the host and musical guest of Saturday Night Live, and she did a phenomenal job. She was not afraid to make fun of herself, which led to memorable, hysterical sketches. (The “We Did Stop [The Government]” parody of “We Can’t Stop” is perhaps my favorite satirical SNL moment since the days of Tina Fey’s weekly Sarah Palin impression.) Then, she delivered vocally as a musical guest, singing “Wrecking Ball” and “We Can’t Stop,” and she sounded better than ever before.

Watch the highlights from last night’s snl here: 

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/5748085/miley-parodies-government-shutdown-performs-the-hits-on-snl 

This movement is all building up to the release of her album, “Bangerz,” which comes out this Tuesday, October 8th. All of this controversy has been used to push her music into the public spotlight, and it has been working wonders for Miley. A week from now, I’m sure we will be reading countless headlines about the commercial success of her album, as Miley Cyrus is doing everything she needs to do to make sure that as many people as possible listen to her music.

We have seen controversy work well for Madonna, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, and many others in the past, and I’m sure that the controversy surrounding the name “Miley Cyrus” will make her a staple in pop culture for years to come.

Bruno Mars: Unorthodox Jukebox

As a typical, broke high school student, I try to spend my money wisely. Thus, I refused to spend $10.99 for Bruno Mars’s 10 song album, especially when almost every song is under four minutes in length. However, as part of the iTunes Back-To-School Sale, Unorthodox Jukebox (sophomore album of Grammy winning artist, Bruno Mars) was selling for only $7.99. Nine months after the its release, I finally caved and purchased the album.

I had listened to his first album, “Doo Wops & Hooligans,” previously, but I was never that impressed with it. It was one of those albums with great songs on it, but it didn’t really blow the listener away. Unorthodox Jukebox was the perfect follow-up to that album. It’s a departure from his earlier sound, while not stretching too far from what his fans have grown to love about him. Each song on the album is melodically and lyrically current while produced with a retro vibe, making Bruno’s music sonically unique and catchy. 

With lyrical topics of a wide variety, the album manages to tell the story of the ups and downs of a relationship. However, the theme that Bruno seems to commit to the most is more focused on the throw-back sound of the album. Even all of the videos from this era have been filmed to look like they were created in the 70’s. This exemplifies the way that Mars pays homage to his inspirations. Instead of copying (whether intentionally or not) lyrics or melodies from artists of the past (which happens way too often nowadays), he releases music in the style of his idols. For example, “Treasure” could have easily been released by Michael Jackson in his prime, yet it doesn’t sound like a Michael Jackson rip-off. Bruno Mars even said himself that he wrote “Locked Out of Heaven” pretending that he was writing for The Police. Almost every song on the album could have been a hit for a legendary artist, but Bruno did a great job bringing his own vocals to the songs that he wrote himself.

The eclectic album incorporates so many different sounds and styles of music that it can appease a mass audience. Thus, he was a great choice for this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show. Although I must admit that I wish he were given this opportunity later in his career, I am very excited to see what he brings to the most watched television event of the year, as I know he will deliver!

Bruno Mars is one of the most talented artists of our generation, and you can tell within one listen to “Unorthodox Jukebox” in full. Some of his songs are provocative without sacrificing the quality of the music (whereas some musicians today only attract listeners through controversy rather that quality of music). His music videos and live performances are creative artistic representations of his music without trying too hard to “be weird,” which seems to be another common way to get listeners in today’s industry. His music is timeless, and I am sure we will be hearing from Bruno for decades to come!

Pop Blog Round-Up

Want more pop culture news? Check out some of these blogs who post about the subject as well.

http://rollingstone.tumblr.com/

http://mtv.tumblr.com/

http://idolator.tumblr.com  

http://guardianmusic.tumblr.com/

http://unlockingwithkey.tumblr.com  

Sep 7

Bruno Mars to Headline the 2014 Super Bowl Halftime Show!

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According to USA Today, one of many online sources to break the news today, Bruno Mars has been invited to play what will be the biggest gig of his career: the Super Bowl Halftime Show. The final NFL game of the season annually becomes the most watched televised event of the year, and anyone lucky enough to be chosen to play the halftime show sees massive spikes in digital music sales after the big performance. Previous performers include Beyonce, Madonna, and Michael Jackson, so of course, Bruno has big shoes to fill. However, all of his previous live performances have shown that he is a true, naturally born performer. I’m sure he will do an amazing job!

What do you guys think? Will Bruno create a memorable halftime show, or is he being given the opportunity too soon in his career?

VMAs: Who Will Take Home Moonmen?

Bold text indicates the performance that will most likely win.

Italicized text indicates the performance that should win.


Video of the Year

  • Thrift Shop - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Locked Out of Heaven - Bruno Mars
  • I Knew You Were Trouble - Taylor Swift
  • Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke
  • Mirrors - Justin Timberlake

Best Male Video:

  • Swimming Pools - Kendrick Lamar
  • Locked Out of Heaven - Bruno Mars
  • Lego House - Ed Sheeran
  • Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke
  • Mirrors - Justin Timberlake

Best Female Video

  • We Can’t Stop - Miley Cyrus
  • Heart Attack - Demi Lovato
  • Just Give Me A Reason - P!nk
  • Stay - Rihanna
  • I Knew You Were Trouble - Taylor Swift

Artist to Watch 

  • Iggy Azalea 
  • Austin Mahone
  • Twenty One Pilots
  • The Weeknd
  • Zedd

Best Pop Video

  • We Can’t Stop - Miley Cyrus
  • Carry On - fun.
  • Come & Get It - Selena Gomez
  • Locked Out of Heaven - Bruno Mars
  • Mirrors - Justin Timberlake

Best Rock Video

  • Up in the Air - 30 Seconds to Mars
  • My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark - Fall Out Boy
  • Radioactive - Imagine Dragons
  • I Will Wait - Mumford & Sons
  • Diane Young - Vampire Weekend

Best Hop Hop Video

  • Fuckin Problems - A$AP Rocky
  • Power Trip - J Cole
  • Started from the Bottom - Drake
  • Swimming Pools - Kendrick Lamar
  • Can’t Hold Us - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis


Best Collaboration

  • I Need Your Love - Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding
  • Just Give Me A Reason - P!nk & Nate Ruess
  • Feel This Moment - Pitbull & Christina Aguilera
  • Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke, TI, and Pharrell
  • Suit & Tie - Justin Timberlake & Jay Z

Best Video with a Social Message

  • I Was Here - Beyonce
  • People Like Us - Kelly Clarkson
  • Same Love - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Candles in the Sun - Miguel
  • No Guns Allowed - Snoop Lion

Best Song of the Summer

  • We Can’t Stop - Miley Cyrus
  • Get Lucky - Daft Punk
  • Come & Get It - Selena Gomez
  • I Need Your Love - Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding
  • Best Song Ever - One Direction
  • Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke

How do you think it will all go down?

Make sure you tune in tonight to the VMAs on MTV at 9:00 with performances from massive artists such as Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, Bruno Mars, Miley Cyrus, and more!

Relive the Best VMA Performances of All Time!

As I’m sure you’ve heard, the VMAs air tonight on MTV at 9:00. Just before last year’s awards, I went through hundreds of legendary VMA performances and ranked them to determine the best of all time. 

Did your favorites make the cut?

Check out the list of the greatest VMA performances of all time (with links to the videos of the performances) by clicking here!