On Repeat: So Much Kesha

I am enamored of Kesha’s new album, my friends. I’ve loved this badass chick for a long time and I’m so happy that she has risen from the ashes of hard times and is back touring and creating music. Her new album “Rainbow” is a pretty solid mix of OG Kesha plus some country twang (I know, it’s great though) and emotional ballads. Here are my current 2 favorites:

Woman
This is the ANTHEM right now. I am woman, hear me roar.  

Rainbow
It’s probably less than once a year that I get attached to feelsy ballads as I’m more of an upbeat music kind of lady. But here we are. This is so moving.

Are you also obsessed with Kesha’s new album? Do you have reasonably priced tickets to either of her upcoming NYC shows that you want to give me (please)? Let’s discuss.

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Lorde at Governors Ball was EVERYTHING

I officially kicked off the 2017 festival season by attending the first day of Governors Ball here in New York City. I was looking forward to seeing Chance the Rapper, Flume, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, and a special DJ set from Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem.

But most of all, I was looking forward to Lorde. I love Lorde and have been waiting very patiently for her to return to performing after a 3-year-but-seemed-longer hiatus.

When Lorde took the stage at Governors Ball last night, she seemed to be her old, eccentric, somewhat inaccessible self, singing from beneath a white veil because Lorde does not even need a reason, you guys.

After the first song (and veil removal), however, it was apparent that this was not the same Lorde that I saw at Roseland Ballroom (RIP) 3 years ago. This is new and improved Lorde. Lorde 2.0.

Lorde 2.0 is 20 years old now, and while she had an amazing voice as a teenager, the additional 3 years have added so much maturity and depth to her singing.

Lorde 2.0 has matured in other ways, as well. As a teenager her stage presence was brooding, mostly quiet but occasionally sharing, in a somber voice, the deeply emotional stories behind her songs. Now she has more between-song banter and a much happier, brighter outlook. She seemed both excited and humbled to be on stage and possessed a natural enthusiasm that made you want to be her best friend. She remarked on the perfect weather and thanked everyone profusely for sharing in the moment with her.

Lorde’s music has evolved along with her persona. Her 2013 album Pure Heroine was a collection of mellow, electro-pop hits. Her new album, Melodrama, which drops in 2 weeks, is more upbeat and classically pop. The single “Green Light,” released in March and which closed out her Governors Ball set, is a straight up banger.

The production value of Lorde’s GovBall set was higher than that of either time that I saw her as a solo act. Earlier, her performances involved only her, standing and singing. She drew you in with her strange, jerky movements and intrigued you with the darkness of her personality. Now her show involves modern dancers, performing behind her in an elevated transparent box.

Most shocking of all was the fact that Lorde’s set ended in fireworks. I would not, in 2014, have ever foreseen a Lorde show involving any type of pyrotechnics. She was not that kind of artist and it would have made zero sense. But last night, it fit.

I was looking forward to Lorde’s set at Governors Ball but didn’t know how much it would blow me away. As a performer she is magnetic, and for a full 60 minutes (inexplicably cut from a 75 minute scheduled set, wah) she had the entire audience captivated.

Lorde has not just been through a hiatus in the last 3 years; she’s been through an evolution. Her music is snappier, she radiates joy, and she aims to truly connect with her audience. She has grown from a teenager who created pop music into an actual pop star.

On Repeat: Lady Gaga “A-YO”

I’ve been listening to Lady Gaga’s new(ish) Joanne album excessively for the last month or so. I am SUPER pumped to have secured tickets to see her when she comes through New York in a million years (6 months, same thing). This song, “A-YO” is a little country, which is not typically my style, but I can’t get enough of it. It’s so fun. The whole album is great, to be honest.

If you haven’t listened to this yet, you need to, like, yesterday.

On Repeat: Move Your Body, by Sia

It’s been a few years since the world caught on to the amazingness and the quirkiness of Sia, she of refusing-to-show-her-face and having-that-kooky-12-year-old-dance-in-her-videos fame. Yet it’s only been a few days since I really started paying her any serious attention.

Why did I catch on so suddenly? (And so late?)

Because of my zumba instructor. He plays a ton of her songs during each of his classes, and I figured I liked enough of them to want to download her music.

Even though I had heard “Move Your Body” a million times before in zumba class, I just really latched onto it when I downloaded Sia’s “This Is Acting” album and I cannot stop listening to it. This video is not official and the choreography is pretty terrible in my opinion, but THIS SONG. I love.

Postmodern Jukebox Takes Old Songs and Makes Them…Old Again

I was recently introduced to Postmodern Jukebox, a band that takes some of your favorite songs and adds a vintage spin. They tackle everyone from Bon Jovi to Biggie to Bieber, covering them in styles like “Doo Wop,” “Vintage Hoedown,” and more.

PMJ-PR-shot

Some friends and I recently spent an entire car ride queueing up PMJ songs and playing, “Guess what song this is?” Because while they often keep the original melody somewhat in tact, sometimes the only crossover from the old version to the new are the lyrics, and this makes it difficult – yet fun – to try and figure out what song you’re listening to.

Personally, I prefer the Postmodern Jukebox songs where they try to maintain the integrity of the original, because it’s like listening to an awesomely retro cover band. Here are some of my favorite PMJ tracks.

The Postal Service, “Such Great Heights” – in the style of the Jackson 5.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, “Thrift Shop” – in the style of…”Vintage Grandpa”? (Okay.) 

Backstreet Boys, “I Want it That Way” – in the style of 70’s Soul. 

Lorde, “Royals” – no style listed but the vocalist is a sad clown, so…bonus? 

Artist Spotlight: Robert Delong

I used to make fun of Robert Delong, for no real reason other than that a music blogger I hated was obsessed with him. She posted about her love for this Seattle-born musician ad nauseum, and even though I enjoyed some of his fun, poppy music, my complete loathing of her writing made me write him off as corny.

Last September, I scored a free pass to see Robert Delong at Rough Trade in Williamsburg, and I went because, hey, FREE. And also, despite my misgivings about him, one of his songs is on my yet-to-be-published list of my top 10 favorite ever bass drops.

Comes in right around the 40 second mark. Love it.

My impressions of the show, and a pretty solid summary of Robert Delong’s deal in general, are reflected in the comments I made in my concert spreadsheet after the show:

“Holy shit this guy is incredible. I always thought he was such a weird cheeseball but in actuality he is a machine and a one man band. He does everything – loops his own vocals, 2 drum kits, other weird sounds via what look like video game controllers, all the mixing, EVERYTHING. Hot damn. Plus, face paint?!?”

It’s true. Delong really never stops moving or creating. Whether he’s looping his own voice or playing on video game controllers or drumming or actually just singing (which he does as well, of course), he’s running back and forth yet never seems frantic or out of control. I cannot even imagine the amount of work that goes into creating each of his songs, as he does almost all of the work live, compared to many other electronic artists who use a base track and then just manipulate the sound somewhat. His overall feel is house-y at times but really heavy on the drums in a way that’s far more exciting than standard house music – at times it almost gets down into a moombahton vibe.

When I had the opportunity to see Robert Delong again at Terminal 5 over the weekend, I jumped at it. In fact, it was the first time I successfully got a ticket to a show off the Jukely wait list (woohoo!). I was not disappointed.

The one sad thing I have to say about my 2 experiences with Robert Delong was the face paint situation. Delong’s own face is painted at all of his shows – often with an orange X, which is his logo – and his street team goes around painting faces in the audience as well. When I saw him at Rough Trade, I had no idea what was going on when a random girl approached me and showed me her paints. I was confused, and so I said no. A few minutes later when I finally realized what was happening, I was sad that I had declined the face paint, because I’m really just a giant child. And the girl was sadly long gone.

Robert Delong was only an opening act at the Terminal 5 show this weekend, and even though I had another concert to go to after, I was gung ho on getting my face painted. Only I never saw any face painters, either because I was too far back in the crowd, or maybe there just weren’t any since he wasn’t headlining. Bummer city.

The moral of the story is, don’t judge a musician by what a music blogger thinks of them, especially if it’s a blogger you hate (unless that music blogger is me – you should always take my word as the gospel because I have excellent taste in music).

Robert Delong is insanely talented, and I look forward to seeing him live again sometime soon. I will not rest until I get my face painted.

Concert Review: Justin Bieber at the Wells Fargo Center

I never thought that I would see Justin Bieber in concert once, yet alone twice (read about the sadness and hilarity of the first time here). Yet when a friend was gifted a pair of tickets by her boyfriend but asked to bring someone else, I couldn’t say no. I love a pop extravaganza and I figured the Biebs would not disappoint.

What I expected from a Justin Bieber concert would be awesome dancing, pyrotechnics, and lots of screaming teenagers. I got all of those things, but there was also a Bieber drum solo, a lot of stupid faux-gangster bandana-wearing, a giant trampoline, a mellow acoustic break, and actual raining.

(Apologies for the vertical video – they work far better on Snapchat than they do on YouTube.) But I was pretty impressed by this waterfall setup which seemed wholly unnecessary for a one-song encore, but I suppose appropriately extravagant for a tour that’s selling out huge stadiums across the country.

I think we all know that Bieber is actually a really talented dancer, and I was definitely impressed when I saw him last summer, so I had high expectations for this time around. His energy level was pretty low throughout the show and he seemed to be phoning it in a little, and I honestly think part of the reason for this is that most of his choreography was too simple for him. He made most of the dancing look easy, which is great, but then you had weird moments like this.

What is that dorky walk for the first few seconds? Who knows.

Overall, I had an awesome time at this show and didn’t even mind being nearly deafened by all the screaming (thanks, earplugs!). It was exciting and fun and being on the older end of the audience spectrum allowed my friend and I to have a sense of humor about the ridiculousness of it all. I mean seriously, why the bandanas? WHY?

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It was totally worth the trip to Philadelphia and while I’m still not willing to shell out money for a Bieber show (last summer I saw him at a festival for free), I sort of hope I manage to just stumble upon some tickets to see him again in the future.