For those of us not living in the Sunshine State, we’ve been facing some pretty harsh cold spells lately. And those of us in the Northeast this weekend, well, we’re about to get smothered in snow. When the weather is dipping below zero degrees, and you can’t leave the house without five layers and some seriously dependable thermal wear, you just might get what I like/hate to call the February blues. To help you cope, we’ve put together a Soundtrax that’s full of songs honoring this increasingly chilly month. Enjoy.
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No discussion of the last twelve months in music would be complete without a proper shout out to Adele, the blue-eyed, soulful Brit who ruled 2011 with one album (the multiply GRAMMY-nominated 21) and two No. 1 singles (“Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You”), so here we go.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s what was hot and not about the rest.
1. Drake: Last year, he called his debut album Thank Me Later, so now feels like the right time to express our genuine appreciation for the Canadian rapper who balances tough and tender so perfectly. With his second album, Take Care, and two of its key cuts, in particular”the fantastic first single “Headlines” and the title track (featuring Rihanna)”he brought sexy back to rap for the first time since ladies loved (LL) Cool J.
2. Girls on film: From Britney Spears’ “Till the World Ends” to Lady Gaga’s “Judas” to Jennifer Lopez’s “I’m Into You” to Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” it was an excellent year for women in pop videos. But it was Ke$ha in “Blow,” Kelly Rowland in “Motivation” and Rihanna in “We Found Love” that injected new energy into a decades-old art form and elevated it above and beyond promotional tool to indispensable companion piece.
3. Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams “Moanin'” on American Idol: I didn’t love the bulk of their solo performances during the 10th season of Idol, but when Reinhart and Abrams came together on the Top 8 results show for the vocalese version of Charles Mingus’ “Moanin’,” the unexpected result was the best musical moment I saw all season.
4. Diana DeGarmo on The Young and the Restless: Speaking of Idol losers, season three’s runner-up’s stint as Angelina on daytime’s No. 1 soap hasn’t been so well-received by critics or fans, but I dissent. There’s both artistry and comedic gold in DeGarmo’s portrayal of a tone-deaf “singer” and daughter of a New Jersey mob boss, and I’m looking forward to being as wowed by her Pygmalion-style makeover as I was by her Idol rendition of “Don’t Cry Out Loud” all those years ago.
We all have preferences when it comes to music, and genre is just one of many factors that determine what’s on our individual lists of music favorites. When it comes to the voices of our preferred musical acts, we know the type of singers who possess the power to send chills down our spines, and we know who doesn’t do it for us. But what role does gender have in all this? Many of us have already made a subconscious decision as to whether we prefer male or female voices, but how much weight does that hold?
Both women and men have the ability to produce incredible sound, and Mariah Carey, female powerhouse with a killer range, is a great example of all the great things the female voice is capable of. She is able to hit almost unimaginable high notes, but is also has a full, warm sounding lower-range. And while the female voice is sometimes disliked for its upper-range, Carey successfully proves that reaching incredible vocal heights does not have to sound shrill or painful. On the flip side, the male voice is typically lower and richer”many say it is easier to casually listen to the male voice. A great male singer is Josh Groban, whose vocal training has crafted him a powerful instrument with an incredible sound. His voice is so versatile and easy to listen to, and yet is capable of conveying so much emotion through his music.
” Tom Petty, “Jammin’ Me” (1987)
“Fuck Tom Petty!””Eddie Murphy
Oh, those crazy stars! What will they say next? And will they ever learn? What a tangled web they weave when they start to take pot shots at each other.
Celebrity feuds have existed since before the dawn of the pop charts. Eminem owes much of his early notoriety to cutting down to size the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, ‘N Sync and Moby in videos and on record. Meanwhile, off the record (though always totally for attribution), Katy Perry has never met a fellow chart-topper she wouldn’t slag off.
But lately, stars keep colliding and disturbing the peace in the music galaxy. Liam Gallagher just filed suit against his brother Noel over the latter’s claim that Liam pulled out of a high-profile Oasis gig in 2009 due to a hangover and over comments Noel made blaming Liam for the demise of the band. But then brothers in arms have engaged in verbal”and occasionally, physical” combat since the heyday of the Kinks, which featured the dueling Davies, Ray and Dave. Chris and Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes, William and Jim Reid of the Jesus and Mary Chain, and Kings of Leon‘s Followill brothers have the battle scars to prove it.