Artist Spotlight: Niykee Heaton

Up and coming R&B singer/hip-hop cover artist/pop star, Niykee Heaton, is finding herself quickly climbing the charts as her debut album Bad Intentions, topped the Billboard Real Time Twitter charts when released this past week. She also partnered with the new label, All Def Digital, ran by Def-Jam creator Russell Simmons. The label finds talents through YouTube and works with promotion and artist development afterwards. Heaton’s track “Bad Intentions,” actually was awarded Single of the Week in May, and has seen over 6+ Million new listeners across both YouTube and Spotify since its release.

With that being said, it would be worth noticing Heaton’s career on YouTube was going to be successful no matter what, covering well known hip hop songs on her own, without any outside help. Some of her standout covers are Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools,” Future’s “Turn On the Lights,” and “Poetic Justice,” by Kendrick Lamar and Drake. Its quite a feat for her to be able to cross these songs over into acoustic covers, because with hip hop there’s not always chords, its just a pattern of different loops, and not always composed as other genres.

Now to her debut album Bad Intentions. While being signed to All Def Digital, she got to choose which imprint of Universal she signed to, and Niykee chose Capitol Records. With one of the most star studded in line-ups in music, Capitol added more versatility to their label with the R&B, Soul, and Pop star in Niykee Heaton. Her debut EP with Capitol, has 6 songs, with her lead single “Bad Intentions,” which is the one that got Russell Simmons’ attention when submitted to his label.

The first song on the album “Sober,” Niykee starts off almost rapping, bringing back her roots of her hip hop covers onto the album. Then all of a sudden when the chorus comes in she flips the switch and goes into ‘R&B Niykee,” where she channels her inner-Rihanna. This one song, which most importantly is her intro song, she shows she can wear whatever hat is thrown her way. If she wants to rap, she can, if she wants to slow things down and seduce the listeners, she most certainly can. “Champagne,” sounds like it could easily be remixed by Schoolboy Q, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, or even Drake and would be a huge success. Hearing her on this song has me imagining of a Drake collaboration, resembling the professional relationship he has with Rihanna, turning everything they touch into gold…and sometimes platinum.

Then comes “Bad Intentions.” The first time I heard this over the summer, I was speechless. I had no clue who she was. But she made this beautiful, slow, smooth, angelic, and seductive song and that’s all that mattered. Throughout the verses Niykee layers on some background vocals of her own and its just unfair on how great it sounds. Kudos to Niykee, her producer, Russell Simmons, ADD, Capitol, and Universal, they have a star in the making and her lead single is the perfect example of the work she’ll release in the future. The next single “Skin Tight,” comes in with some familiar synths that sound a lot like the synths from “Look At Me Now” by Chris Brown, Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes. I’m not sure if I should call this one a love ballad, but more of a love appreciation song. Hitting all of the Rihanna comparisons in this song with a little bit of Cher Lloyd thrown in her sound as well.

“Rolling Stone,” is actually my favorite song on the album. Going back to her acoustic roots on this song with a choir of her own vocals, I hear a repeating comparison. Her vocals sound so similar to Rihanna’s vocals in “What’s My Name?” featuring Drake. This right here is why I think the Niykee/Drake collaboration would do exceptionally well. The last song on her debut album, “Villa,” is another acoustic, R&B, pop mashup that only a few people could pull off. Joined by shakers, salsa music, a horn section, gives this song a Southern American vibe, reassuring me she has been inspired by Rihanna and learning from the best.

I can’t wait to hear more from Niykee soon. Until then I’ll be listening to this album non-stop, along with rewatching all of her YouTube covers. This is not an artist to sleep on, as I can guarantee she will hit radio airwaves soon and become a household name.

Listen to her debut album, Bad Intentions, here:

http://open.spotify.com/album/4F1ozgQLd1ouFs63Tndy6Q

If You Like…CHVRCHES

26 September, 2014 All, Music No comments

This will be a popular series I will begin posting, as I will pick a new artist each week. This week’s artist is CHVRCHES.

The premise behind this idea is that I will recommend new artists for you to listen to based on the original band posted. So in this post I will give you new recommendations that are similar to the sound and style of CHVRCHES. CHVRCHES is an electro-synth-pop band, whose single “The Mother We Share,” is still talking over airwaves. Soon enough their song, “Gun,” will join it on the top charts.

So now to the recommendations:

1) MS MR, a duo from New York, has the same vibe to them as CHVRCHES has. The vocals and composition by Lizzy are beautiful. The lyrics and composition of their single “Hurricane,” are much darker than CHVRCHES, and its evident without the bright synths. But nonetheless phenomenal. I suggest listening to “Hurricane,” and “Bones,” both dark but yet both beautiful when it comes to talent and storytelling.

2) BANKS, a signee of Capitol Records, fresh of her debut album Goddess is making listeners turn heads. “Beggin For Thread,” is a combination of MS MR and CHVRCHES. The storytelling and artistry behind it is similar to MS MR’s style, and the instrumentation is more similar to CHVRCHES. I’ve probably have played her new album over 30 times so far since its release. The second song I suggest listening to is “Warm Water.” It’s a very popular track for DJ’s to remix and for good reasons; her vocals in this song are breathtaking. Less instrumentation in this song, which has a “stripped down” vibe to it, where you need to listen to the vocals and the story being told.

3) Grimes, a Canadian producer as well as artist, takes the chilling vocals that are similar from each band so far listed, but combines it with driving drums, and hints of EDM in her work. “Go,” has a lot of the EDM feel to it, but only when the chorus comes in. Other than that part of the song, it sounds more like a faster pace BANKS. “Genesis” has a lot less of an EDM feel to it. This song makes me feel like all time around me has sped up, and I’m in slo-mo just floating there, watching everything happen normally. No idea why I feel that way, but I close my eyes and that’s what I feel. But the beauty is there’s no right answer. Close your eyes and listen to “Genesis” yourself, and see what it feels like to you!

I’m in love with female vocalists. Radio will usually only play normal pop, cookie-cutter songs with female vocals. Nothing dark, nothing experimental, nothing true. I could sit here and submerge myself into my own thoughts to music like this, but still be able to have a smile on my face and be happy while listening! Let me know what you think of these artists, and here is the Spotify playlist for you to check out!

http://open.spotify.com/user/1216925547/playlist/1yxGlsYUXvF5LVWKWaQauy

 

Featured Artist: Jon Bellion

23 September, 2014 All, Music No comments

I wrote about Jon Bellion a little in my previous post regarding artists you need to know. It was hard for me not to write everything on my mind right then and there, but I had to wait. His new album, The Definition, was just released this afternoon, and I’m absolutely in love. Last year he released an album, The Separation, which I loved, but his new album blows it out of the park. The Definition, is his fourth free album released, which is rare to see one album given away for free now, yet alone four!

In my previous story, I mentioned Jon has seen a lot of success from songwriting. He wrote the chorus for “Monster” by Eminem and Rihanna. He also co-wrote and produced Jason Derulo’s “Trumpets.” Both reached the top of the charts in the last year and a half. He’s seen great monetary success from these two opportunities, and many others, that allow him to release his albums for free. The money he makes from songwriting gets recycled back into his music, whether it be buying new instruments, new studio gear, or bringing in other musicians, he is making sure to spend the money wisely. In his Reddit AMA (ask me anything) he tells one fan that he’s done making free music. This is pretty exciting because he was improving so much, using money  just from songwriting and touring, but now he will have more money to recycle back into his creation process.

Signed to Visionary Music Group, home of rappers Logic and QuESt, Jon brings a nice change of pace to the roster. One of the most unique artists I’ve listened to, combines pop elements and vocals, with picture-painting storytelling, and all combined with the production heard on top hip hop classics. This is why I love his music. He combines every element of music, and makes it his own. He started off producing at the age of 14, and then just recently started singing and rapping on his own productions. If only he had discovered those skills even sooner…

Jon states his top 5 albums of all time are:

Cease To Begin – Band of Horses

Transatlanticism – Death Cab For Cutie

Donuts – J Dilla

Graduation – Kanye West

For Emma, Forever Ago – Bon Iver

You can definitely hear each album’s influence in his music. Imagine the production of Kanye and J Dilla mixed with the vocals of Death Cab, and the storytelling of Band of Horses and Bon Iver (Justin Vernon). So imagine that combination plus much much more, and then you have Jon Bellion, a musical genius. I can’t even grasp how his mind works musically, but luckily, he makes YouTube videos of how he created each song, and is an absolute delight to get a glimpse into his musical mind. 

Now I’ll get into some of my favorites from his new album The Definition:

“Pre-Occupied” – The song starts off “Wu-Tang raised me, Death Cab changed me…” both two of his biggest musical influences. This is a very honest song by Jon, he says everything on his chest regarding the music industry. The first verse definitely sounds angry, where he addresses the motives behind most publishers and producers. He then also brings up two more of his influences, J Dilla and Paul Simon. All of a sudden after this angry rant, a very bright and cheerful chorus comes in, where Jon doesn’t hold back his vocals at all, letting all listeners to appreciate his artistry.

“A Haunted House” – The first thing you hear on this song is an electrifying harmony created by Jon’s vocals laid on top of each other. Then comes in the piano and Jon singing about his past loves and current love. He tells a story about a new love in his life, allowing him to feel comfortable and safe in this world. “I’ve been saved, watch them all fall back into the grave.” He is referring to the ‘ghosts’ of his past loves that he would stay in touch with whenever he was lost, and now that he’s found love again, he doesn’t have to deal with his past any longer.

“Ooh” – This is one of my favorite songs because of the mood it puts you in while listening. The instrumentation is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. About a minute into the song, Jon says “these lines won’t make sense,” and while you hear them, you hear Jon laugh. Just a moment for him to be himself and have fun with this song, while still staying true to his creativity and musical talents. Christianne Jensen sings backup vocals to Jon in this song and midway through, you get to hear mainly her sing and paired with Jon’s production, it is stunning.

“Luxury” – This song features Audra Mae, the great-great-neice of Judy Garland, and musical talent definitely runs through their family genes. This is the outro to the album, in complete juxtaposition of the intro “Munny Right.” In this intro Jon is almost bragging about this luxurious lifestyle he’s created for himself, and how his life has changed because of the money. But in “Luxury,” Jon and Audra sing about staying true to themselves and still staying modest despite the success. One of the most beautiful moments on this album is when Audra sings the outro to the song, “don’t let my soul drown in in the luxury.” It gave me chills the first time I listened to it.

In addition to the album, and behind the scenes videos, Jon made an animated short film to accompany his song “Luxury.” It shows the main character, who is an animated version of Jon, become tempted by many different things/people as he grows up. The candle is a symbol for faith and that no matter the temptation, its a must for him to keep his faith and not let the temptations get to him.

He makes it clear that he stays true to himself in all of his works, and I have not yet been disappointed with any of his releases.

Go listen to his new album, The Definition, here: http://open.spotify.com/artist/50JJSqHUf2RQ9xsHs0KMHg

 

Featured Artist: ODESZA

22 September, 2014 All, Music No comments

ODESZA, the stage name of Harrison Mills (CatacombKid) and Clayton Knight (BeachesBeaches), started in 2012 when the duo started making music together their senior year at Western Washington University. Only two years of making music, and they’ve given us two albums, an EP and an endless amount of remixes along the way. The duo just released their second studio album, In Return, and are embarking on a 3 month world tour. They just had 2 shows in the LA area, at the Fonda Theater and then at Amoeba Records. I stopped by the show at Amoeba and will be reviewing that as well as their new album!

We’ll start with their new album In Return, which is one of my favorite albums of the year, surprisingly. I heard “Sun Models” over the summer and fell in love with this song, and at that point I had no clue who ODESZA was other than this beautiful song. Not knowing who they were killed me. I had to know more and more about them, as I then came across their remix of the summer hit “Faded.” I knew 2 songs, and loved both of them. After listening to their 2012 debut album Summer’s Gone, I was sold. They had me. I was on the edge of my seat awaiting the newest single, or any news for a matter of fact, and I got both. They released 2 additional singles, which were instantly added to my Summer playlist, and announced their new album. This was in mid-summer, so I had to wait almost 3 months until the full project, one of the worst feelings to have. Imagine starting a countdown for Christmas in September, where the Indian Summers are still in effect, and you’re off dreaming of snow and presents under the tree. Rough. But luckily September 9 came faster than I thought, and In Return released!

This album will only put you in a good mood. In comparisons to Porter Robinson’s Worlds that just released, or Aphex Twin’s soon to be released Syro, ODESZA made sure every song could lighten your mood and make you want to dance. Those two albums I mentioned have multiple acts in them, whereas In Return has one act, dedicated to brining positivity to the world. The  opening track “Always This Late,” starts off with an upbeat clapping, setting the tone of the track. Soon enters in a females voice, but almost mumbled so you can’t hear what exactly she’s saying, but its catchy enough to where you start singing what you think she is saying. The following track, “Say My Name,” has chopped vocals coming in almost instantly, but soon enough there’s actual words you can sing along to. “I wanna dance, I wanna dance, daaa-aaa-aance, with you,” belts Zyra, the featured artist on this song, and as a listener you quickly want to dance with the song. This is one of my favorite songs on the album, thanks to Zyra’s electrifying vocals. Only 2 songs in, and those three long months of waiting are finally worth it.

I won’t go through each individual song, so I’ll list some of my favorites:

“White Lies” – This song features another female vocalist, Jenni Potts, whose voice I fell in love with from this song and is is fairly unknown, as her entire Spotify discography has less than 1000 plays. This starts off with spacey vocals over a piano, and all of a sudden Harrison and Clayton start their magic. The upbeat synths enter, followed by a simple, yet driving drumbeat, and more angelic vocals.

“Memories That You Call” – This one has a mysterious intro. While listening you’re not too sure where this track is going to go, and then all of a sudden, here are the bright and upbeat synths that the duo has mastered. Paired with chopped vocals, unable to catch what Monsoonsiren (the featured artist) is saying, but that makes it all the better. Everyone is going to hear something different. That’s one of the bonuses of the album that I just discovered tonight. It creates a unique listening experience for each listener out there.

“Sun Models” – Here it is, the song that got me hooked! This single features Madelyn Grant for the vocals, and once again they are chopped in a way for you to imagine what you want to hear form them. Every time I listen to this I hear something new, which I love, and makes it so this single, or album never gets old. I find myself singing random pitches that I hear from Madelyn, or random words that I think I hear, or want to hear.

You can close your eyes and pick a song at random to play, or put the album on shuffle, and no matter what song comes on you’re going to be tapping your feet, nodding your head, and then all of a sudden you’ll find yourself on top of the table dancing and singing random words that may or may not even be in the song!

Their show at Amoeba was great, despite some technical problems at the record store. When the speakers worked 100% it sounded amazing! It sounded so much better live than the studio version, but then when some speakers began to malfunction the magic went away. But the duo actually improvised during their set. They played the beginning of the songs we all knew and loved, and then remade it into a new, one of a kind experience. I knew I would never hear that rendition of “Say My Name” again, so I appreciated every second of that performance and every other song they played. The record store was packed with a younger audience, majority of them holding their new In Return vinyls in preparation for the signing afterwards. Harrison and Clayton played a mix of older and newer material, while making up the setlist on the spot.

 

ODESZA_amoebaThe songs they played tonight at Amoeba were:

IPlayYouListen

If There’s Time

Memories That You Call

I Want You

Home

Sun Models

All We Need

Bloom

Say My Name

 

With only 2 studio albums under their belt, ODESZA is still fairly new and only going to rise in popularity. I highly advise you to go listen to In Return,  as well as their debut album Summer’s Gone.

http://open.spotify.com/artist/21mKp7DqtSNHhCAU2ugvUw

Check out their tour schedule and see if they are playing anywhere near you, it will be a great show to see in person!

http://odesza.com/shows

Goodbye Summer: Artists You Need To Know

21 September, 2014 All, Music No comments

As the end of summer is quickly approaching, we have listed some new artists that should be a household name. With genres spanning from folk to synth pop and from hip hop to alternative pop rock, here are eight new artists that you need to know:

How To Dress Well

Tom Krell, also known by his stage name How To Dress Well, is no newcomer in the music industry. Starting in 2009, he started releasing his EPs for free online, and quickly was recognized by Pitchfork as an artist to keep an eye on. Coming off his latest release of “What Is This Heart?” Krell is looking for his well deserved recognition before he sets off on his U.S. tour. The album features soulful and dreamy vocals mixed over upbeat drums and bright synths, but still makes you sit back and reflect on life. Two of my favorite songs on the album are “Words I Don’t Remember” and “Precious Love,” which both will be on the playlist at the end of this post.

Shawn Mendes

At only 16 years old, Shawn Mendes found his success through social media like a lot of young pop stars. Most being found on YouTube, Mendes went a different route and posted covers of pop songs on his Vine account, gaining millions of followers in a matter of months. His top single, “Life of the Party,” has peaked at #5 on the Billboard charts, is absolutely amazing. It reminds me a lot of “Stay,” by Rihanna and Mikky Ekko. A piano driven love ballad, with soft spoken vocals matched with the keys, makes this sixteen year old stand out as an artist to watch.

Jon Bellion

Jon Bellion isn’t a household name, but definitely should be. You may know the song “Monster” by Eminem and Rihanna, but what you don’t know about it is that Bellion was the writer of the song’s chorus. Most of his monetary success has been from songwriting, but that’ll soon change. He has released a couple mixtapes, and signed to Visionary Music Group, headlined by rapper Logic. This week he is releasing a new album, but what will set this apart from the rest will be the animated film he is releasing alongside the album. The short film was also 100% written and directed by Bellion himself. He is by far one of my favorite artists in music right now, as he fuses hip hop production, into powerful pop and soul vocals mixes with amazing storytelling. His musical talents are through the roof, and continues to impress me along every release. Keep an eye out for an album and film review later this week.

Vance Joy

Known for his single “Riptide,” James Keogh, is hearing his hit single across all airwaves. Soon it’ll be more than his one single that America is familiar with, as he just released his debut album Dream Your Life Away. The singer-songwriter released the album on September 9, which peaked at #17 in the US, but topped the charts in his home of Australia. The newest single on the album, “Mess is Mine,” is an upbeat song with a catchy chorus that’ll soon find success that Riptide did. He draws comparisons to Mumford and Sons, mainly because of the common folk traits used by each, but his powerful vocals reminds me a lot of Marcus Mumford’s. “Wasted Time,” one of my favorite songs on the album, James shows his soft side and shows everyone how vulnerable he is when it comes to love.

Bahamas

Afie Jurvanen, known by his stage name, Bahamas, is finding his way to success mainly online through music blogs. I discovered his single “All the Time,” while surfing through my usual blogs. This was one of my favorite songs of the summer, with its slower, electric guitar driven, and falsetto vocals driving the song. What I loved most about the song was that I felt this suspense coming through me for some reason, and then at the 1:35 mark the guitar takes over, and again around 3 minutes into the song. Growing up on classic rock, I heard those guitar riffs and fell in love with the song and more importantly I was won over as a fan. “All Time Favourite,” starts off with multiple voices humming, all in harmony, then comes in with an acoustic guitar and vocals coming right at you. It’s a very honest feeling song, and shows Afie’s versatility as an artist, as he can switch up he styles on the album and still sound great.

You + Me

Now, I doubt you know this duo from the name, but if you hear their debut song “You and Me,” they made sound familiar. Well the duo consists of Pink, and Dallas Green, the lead singer of City and Colour. At the moment this is their only single, but their debut album, RoseAve, is due to release October 14. Not a traditional love song that you would hear on the radio, but still a love song nonetheless, and in my opinion better than the typical love songs. It feels darker than most, due to the perfect harmonies made by the two, paired with strings in the background that makes the song have a mystery factor. I can’t wait to hear their whole album when it releases in a couple weeks.

Lemaitre

Norwegian EDM/pop duo of Ketil Jansen and Ulrik Denizou, Lemaitre, is shooting up the charts after their release of Singularity in July. This project only has 4 songs, but each one is so different it fills all musical cravings you might be having. It ranges from piano-pop (High Tide) to  old school disco (Wait) to a more traditional electro house song (All I Need). The four song project also features Chuck Inglish, one half of The Cool Kids, and LOLO, an upcoming artist on DCD2 Records, an imprint of Fueled By Ramen. This was a daring move for them to leave their roots of primarily electro house, and start to become more versatile as a duo.

The Madden Brothers

Joel and Benji Madden started working on music as The Madden Brothers in 2011, as a side project of Good Charlotte. They would release a mixtape collaborating with a star studded roster of rappers in 2011. It took them 3 years to finally release their debut album, Greetings From California. This album sounds like its roots were based off of Joel and Benji’s experience in Good Charlotte, mixed with more modern synth driven pop. A couple stand out songs are “Dear Jane,” “Jealousy,” and “Bad.” The album is 2 parts, the first being a more upbeat, Good Charlotte-esque sound, and the second half is acoustic driven, which is my favorite of the two. I automatically think of Good Charlotte and mid-2000s alternative rock when I hear the vocals on each song, but the instrumentation and composition of each song keeps me coming back for another listen.

Here is the Spotify playlist featuring all of the songs covered in this post, I hope you enjoy!

http://open.spotify.com/user/1216925547/playlist/1wfooOgpa0JTfnbecv8bm8

 

Lady Gaga for Versace SS14

23 November, 2013 Campaign, Fashion 34 comments

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Lady Gaga definitely lives for the applause, isn’t that right? Today, we were all able to take a look at Versace’s most recent  campaign, and yes, we loved it. The pop icon looks stunning wearing a long hair wig and a purple cut-away gown that make her seem just like the always stylish Donatella. Photographed by by Mert Alas, Gaga will be Versace’s face for summer and spring 2014.
We cannot wait to see the other ads that are about to be released. Music, Italian fashion, luxury and pop culture come all together to become one of the most successful campaigns of the upcoming seasons!

BOWIE x VUITTON

Music and fashion are definitely two of the most important things for anyone that appreciates the good life. And when these two combine, great things happen. Why are we so sure about it? Take a look at Louis Vuitton´s most recent campaign and you´ll know what we´re talking about. For this year´s L ´Invitation au Voyage campaign, the French house chose the music icon as their newest face, and oh my, we´re loving it! The official campaign comes out on November 7th. In the meantime, let´s enjoy the teaser that is driving everyone crazy!