Archive for the ‘Music Fashion’ Category

The Library of Congress on Wednesday announced its 25 annual additions to the National Recording Registry, honoring significant pieces of American history and culture. While some of the titles are instantly recognizable — the “Sound of Music” soundtrack, the Temptations’ “My Girl” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” album — others are more significant for their influence on future generations.

“How I Got Over,” for example, was written in 1951 by Clara Ward after she was taunted with racial epithets on the way to a performance. Mavis Staples recently said that the Mahalia Jackson version of the song was the first she ever heard sung by a woman. Ms. Staples would later cover the song with the Staples Singers; Aretha Franklin and the Blind Boys of Alabama have also recorded it.

“Sitting on Top of the World” was recorded in 1930 by the Mississippi Sheiks. The malleable song would be performed in various styles, from folk to country to bluegrass: Cream, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and Jack White all have versions.

And Artur Schnabel’s recording of Beethoven’s 32 sonatas in 1932 was the first complete recording of that collection; it set a template for artists delving into complete surveys of master works, like Glenn Gould’s exhaustive foray into Bach which was recently released on a new box set.

The National Recording Registry now has 500 titles. Others added this year include Bill Haley & His Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock,” Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” Gloria Estefan’s “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” Run-DMC’s “Raising Hell” album and Canario y Su Grupo’s “Lamento Borincano,” about the plight of a Puerto Rican farmer.


Carly Rae Jepsen teases new music

Posted: February 16, 2018 in Music Fashion

She’s hinted at a disco vibe.

Carly Rae Jepsen has sent fans in a frenzy by teasing potential new music via Instagram.

The singer has previously revealed that her upcoming fourth album will have a disco vibe, and she recently added fuel to the fire by changing her Instagram bio to what fans are speculating may be lyrics from an upcoming single.

Her bio now reads: “When you move it’s like a disco darling – all my dreams come true.”

Some fans are convinced that there’s an impending single called ‘Disco Darling’.

Jepsen last released a track in May 2017, with ‘Cut To The Feeling’, which was intended to be on the singer’s 2015 album ‘Emotion’, but ended up featuring in animated movie, ‘Leap’.

Last September, Jepsen revealed she was in the “cleaning up phase” of her new album. In an interview with Japanese radio station, Radiko, the singer said she did have a new album on the way but was “hesistant” to give a date.

“I have a baby plan for the album,” she said. “It would be great to get it here as soon as possible, but it’s also more important to get it right. I’m in the cleaning up phases right now. Just making sure it’s all polished.”

Back in 2016, Jepsen told the Vancouver Sun that she was in the “writing stage” of her next album, and revealed her “disco” inspirations.

“I can’t explain what we’re doing right now, but we’re very much into disco-y things, whatever this next album may or may not turn out to be,” she said.

“But I’m very much referencing ABBA a lot, and The Bee Gees, all of that stuff. It’s fun to dig into oldies and see what you can celebrate about it, like a good movie or good song – to take your favourite pieces of something and add some new stuff to create something different.”

Meanwhile, back in December, Jepsen featured on ‘Backseat’ from Charli XCX‘s mixtape, ‘Pop 2‘.

The singer wrote on Instagram at the time: “Love this lady! So glad this collab finally happened.”

p05wy9vjWhen I landed at Alfonso López Pumarejo airport just south of Valledupar, the capital of the César region in northern Colombia, it was the first time in 12 years that I had been back to my father’s homeland. The intense tropical heat hit me like a tidal wave, soaking me in sweat the moment I stepped outside. Maybe it bothered me less when I was 16, but I have since grown accustomed to Germany’s crisp climate.

“Aqui señor, aqui!” A dozen taxi drivers vied for my business the moment I set foot on the pavement outside the arrivals gate. Desperate to escape the cacophony, I sought refuge in the closest taxi, and with the radio at full volume, we began the hour-long drive south to the village of Codazzi, my father’s hometown. With the windows rolled down, the thick Colombian heat filled the taxi, colliding with the energetic notes of vallenato, northern Colombia’s traditional folk music.

The voice emanating from the speakers was that of a man desperately trying to win back the heart of his lost love. His forlorn lyrics – Vuelve mi amor, Vuelve! (Come back to me darling, come back to me!) – were accompanied by the reedy notes of an accordion. “People here don’t tell stories – we sing them with the sound of accordions,” said Emilio, my taxi driver, with a smile on his face as he turned up the volume and starting to sing along.

Even without the accordion’s hum filling my ears, its influence was hard to miss. César’s streets were littered with murals and monuments depicting the pleated instrument, and its wheezing melodies seemed to ooze from every open window.

My father had always loved vallenato music, so I wasn’t shocked to discover that it was the soundtrack to life in his boyhood home. What is surprising, however, is that the driving force behind Colombia’s acclaimed folk music is not Colombian at all – it’s German.

The accordion travelled to Colombia in the mid-19th Century aboard German merchant ships that landed at La Guajira, the northernmost tip of South America. The German sailors traded their musical instruments with Colombians in exchange for food and other wares. When the Germans set sail for home, they unknowingly left behind the foundations of a lasting legacy: it didn’t take long for local troubadours to incorporate the accordion into their repertoires, and Colombian poets followed suit.

Soon, the accordion become an ensemble instrument. Musicians paired its distinct sound with those of local instruments, like the caja (a Colombian version of a bongo drum) and the guacharaca (a ribbed wooden instrument you rub with a fork to produce a vibrating sound), replacing the gaita (Colombian flute) as the primary instrument in folk music. Although French and Italian accordions also found their way to Colombia, it was Germany’s Hohner-brand diatonic accordion that best suited the average Colombian singer’s vocal pitch.

The upbeat rhythms and poetic lyrics of vallenato quickly attracted a fierce following, and today, more than 150 years after its arrival in the country, the German accordion has become an integral part of Colombian storytelling. Twentieth Century Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez declared himself a big admirer of the genre – he even dubbed his masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, a ‘vallenato song of 400 pages’. Today, kids across Colombia ask for accordions for Christmas.

Yo-Yo Ma China music camp

Posted: September 18, 2017 in Music Fashion

Nervous and excited, 65 young musicians gather in the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra Rehearsal Hall for their first day of a nine-day music camp. Aged 18 to 35, most are from China, with a few from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, the United States and France.

They all wear sweatshirts bearing the letters YMCG, which stand for “Youth Music Culture Guangdong”. Amid the sea of black shirts it is difficult to spot the music camp’s artistic director, renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, until he stands up on the conductor’s podium.

The aim of the music camp is “deep learning”, Ma says, in which the students make connections with the people they meet, but also discovering what links classical music composers such as Beethoven and the improvisational Silk Road Ensemble that Ma founded in 1998.

It is the second such annual musical camp hosted by Ma in the southern Chinese metropolis. Participation is free for those who pass video auditions, as is food and accommodation. Students’ only expense is the cost of their travel to Guangzhou.

Once on board, they are asked to reflect on what it means to be a musician today and how they respond to events as artists. Ma wants them to play Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, the “Eroica”, because 2020 will see the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth and because his works are reflections of events both personal and political.

The students do a run-through of the symphony – and Ma sits in the back of the cello section. For Australian Chinese cellist Rachel Siu, 20, it is a thrill having him sitting two seats behind her as they play the first movement. It will be the first of many such interactions during the camp.

“You’d think someone as famous as Yo-Yo would not have the time and energy to speak to all these students who admire him, but he’s always checking in on us, making sure we’re happy. He is so full of life and has so much to say about music,” she says.

Ma’s infectious enthusiasm convinces Siu that she has chosen the right career path. Before she was even five years old, Siu wanted to learn to play the biggest instrument she had seen – the cello. Her father, a classical music enthusiast, played a recording of one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and she was drawn to the instrument.

“When I was around 15, my parents started pressuring me to focus on my academic studies because they were worried that music wouldn’t be able to provide for me. I complied for quite a while, studying a lot more, but at one point it made me really upset that I couldn’t play music as much as I used to,” she says.

Her parents agreed she could continue playing the cello if was accepted by The Juilliard School in New York and earned a scholarship. With only weeks until the application deadline, she met both criteria and is now in her third year at the prestigious music school.

60th Annual GRAMMY Awards - ShowThe Time’s Up movement came to the Grammy Awards on Jan. 28. Taking the stage on music’s biggest night, Janelle Monae proclaimed that women “come in peace, but we mean business.” In response to criticism of the male-dominated awards show — Alessia Cara was the only woman to win a major category during the broadcast — Recording Academy president Neil Portnow claimed that women need to “step up” if they want more recognition. Facing criticism from many — including Grammy winner Pink — Portnow walked back on the comments on Jan. 30, saying he used words that “do not convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make.” Since then, various women in the music industry have signed a letter calling on Portnow to step aside.

On Thursday, 38 male executives spoke out in solidarity with their female colleagues. In a letter signed by talent agents, managers, and lawyers within the music industry, a group of men have called on Portnow to take “more significant and robust action” to answer the call to end gender disparity. Among the signees were Randy Jackson, producer and former American Idol judge, and Scooter Braun, manager of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.

The collective statement cites a study from USC Annenberg in noting, “From 2013 to 2018, of almost 900 Grammy nominations, 90 percent were male and less than 10 percent were female.” Out of the 84 categories included at the Grammy Awards, the study in question, “Inclusion in the Recording Studio?“, examined only the Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Producer of the Year, and Best New Artist Grammy categories from 2013-18. Of those, 90.7 percent of the honorees were male, though the 899 total nominees researched comprised the individuals and band members recognized for the award and not the entire engineer or production teams behind them. Even then, the study confirmed a stark contrast between the number of men and women recognized at the Grammys.

The letter further called for the Recording Academy to dedicate itself “to transforming its member base to truly mirror the rich gender and cultural diversity of our community. NARAS should reveal the diversity (and/or the lack thereof) of its voting members and make necessary changes to the population of the Academy to better reflect the diverse music business voices the organization is meant to serve.”

justin-tranterWith music-focused tech platforms increasingly recognizing songwriters as a key component of the music community, YouTube staged its first ever songwriter music night on Wednesday (Feb. 7). The event featured hitmaker Justin Tranter, who in addition to cowriting Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” Julia Michaels’ “Issues” and Imagine Dragons’ “Believer,” is also an advocate for LGBTQ rights.

Tranter says he was excited for the opportunity to partner with YouTube and showcase the people behind the songs.

“I thought that it not only would be fun to do but for all of the songwriter super-fans and music geeks out there like I was when I was a kid,” Tranter tells Variety.

The event, held at YouTube Space LA in Playa Vista, Calif., represents the digital platform’s efforts to shine a spotlight on songwriters and create more creative opportunities for them. Lindsay Rothschild, YouTube’s songwriter and publisher relations lead in North America, says she pitched the idea of a songwriter night to Tranter’s publishing company Warner/Chappell Music and “Justin immediately came to mind.”

Aside from the events, YouTube creates channels for songwriters that include playlists of all the songs they’ve written. “There really isn’t a place, a digital home for songwriters out there,” adds Rothschild. “Nothing that is visually engaging like this is. A lot of songwriters think, ‘Why would I have a channel there would be no reason that I upload content?’ Except so much of their portfolio — or all of it — is already on the platform.”

For the event, Tranter alternated between his onstage chat with moderator Hrishikesh Hirway, the host and creator of podcast “Song Exploder,” and his performances accompanied by a string quartet and background singers. He sang three of his most recent popular songs: Halsey’s “Bad at Love,” Julia Michaels’s “Issues,” and Imagine Dragons’s “Believer.”

Sitting in an all-white, five-piece outfit that Tranter joked made him look ready to start a cult, the lyricist spoke to Hirway about growing up in Chicago and originally thinking he would never write for other artists, sign a record deal, or make pop music. He’s done all three. “I’m so grateful for my endless delusion,” which he says is the reason he kept pursuing music for many years.

When speaking with Variety, Tranter further discusses the current state of the music industry. He says that a social consciousness is missing from pop music, and notes that YouTube is a great way for young LGBTQ people to share their voice, but translating that into music hasn’t happened yet.

“I think that that’s kind of the biggest issue that we’re facing—if you want to make mainstream music how do you also speak your truth at all times,” he says. This is an issue all marginalized people face, he adds, listing Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper as two artists who incorporate powerful messages into their music and remarks that hip-hop leads pop music in this area. “Every, every artist should strive to be as social conscious as [Lamar] is.”

Adds Tranter: “The beauty of letting marginalized people tell their own stories is it isn’t only the right thing to do socially, but it’s also the right thing to do financially. People love the truth and people like to spend money on the truth.”

A little over a month into the year and Tranter has already hit career milestones. He was nominated at the Golden Globes for his song “Home” with Nick Jonas and was recognized at the Grammys in the song of the year category for Michaels’s “Issues.” He addresses President of the Recording Academy Neil Portnow and his recent comments about female artists needing to “step up.”

“When the statistics are that bad—in the last six years only nine percent of nominees for the Grammys have been women—and you make a comment like that, there has to be serious change and possible repercussions. Women have a right to be angry, and I’m angry too.”

Tranter says he spends most of his time making music with female musicians and relates to feminine narratives more. He has been advocating for more women to be involved in the songwriting and producing processes.

“If a song is being written for a woman, there should be a woman in the room collaborating,” he says. “Young women should be telling stories of other young women. And if the superstar who is an amazing storyteller isn’t a writer that’s totally fine, but we should get a young female writer in the room to work on that song with us. A young woman’s idea of sexuality shouldn’t be dictated by 45-year-old men.”

So far this year, Tranter has reunited with songwriting partner Michaels and started working with the Haim sisters, Janelle Monáe, newcomer Jess Kent, and Shea Diamond, a trans woman of color.

A new hip-hop documentary called Word Is Bond is set to premiere on Showtime on Friday, February 16. Today, the network has shared a new trailer featuring Anderson .Paak, who discusses his influences. “I consider myself someone that’s coming up out of the hip-hop culture. And when I really was trying to write music, I thought I was going to be an MC. I thought I was going to be a gangster rapper,” he says. “I was influenced by Snoop and Dre, and there was nothing bigger than that.”

.Paak continues, “I love Radiohead’s stuff. I like sad white boy music, too. That stuff is all important to me, and it all goes into my artistry, but it’s coming from a hip-hop perspective. I feel like it’s coming from a drummer’s perspective.” The clip also finds .Paak performing Malibu’s “The Season / Carry Me.” Watch below.

Word Is Bond is directed by Sacha Jenkins. According to a press release, “the film explores the transformative power of lyrics in the world of hip-hop.” In addition to .Paak, the documentary features interviews with Nas, Pusha T, J. Cole, Rapsody, Big Daddy Kane, and others. Word Is Bond premieres at 10 p.m. Eastern on Friday, February 16.

Read Pitchfork’s Rising feature “Anderson .Paak and The Power of Positive R&B.”