Did Taylor Swift Rip Off Spike Jonze?

It’s no surprise that Taylor Swift took a different, “aw shucks” approach to her new “Delicate” video given that her team drastically miscalculated the direction for ‘Reputation.’ Though the record amassed huge sales, it did not enter the same zeitgeist as her previous releases, and it might have even further damaged her many PR problems. Plus, the songs were not good. I hate to be so blunt, but those are the facts. A good song could have fought her way out of the paper bag she built for herself, but that’s simply not the case.

It’s been brought to my attention via the sleuthing social-media-sphere that Swift’s video overtly overlaps with a Kenzo perfume ad directed by Spike Jonze. I watched both, and there are clear similarities. Of more interest than the possible rip-off; however, is the revelation of what the “Delicate” video was supposed to be. Upon first viewing, it seemed like unintentionally poor dance moves and hard-to-view funny faces. It wasn’t over-the-top enough to emphasize it’s awkward-girl tone so it only served to make me uncomfortable. Had the production team taken it up to the same notch as the Kenzo video, perhaps I would not have been as confused. The other glaring error here is that the video does NOT represent the song’s actual meaning. This is a song about liking a boy in the first, delicate stages of the relationship when we fear we might mess it up or that our reputation could influence his feelings. It’s not about being the awkward outsider at a party.

Now for the larger question. Does it matter that Swift’s video is may be a rip-off? It didn’t seem to matter when Beyonce ripped off Bob Fosse’s choreography for “Single Ladies,” and it also didn’t seem to matter when Beyonce lifted the choreography of Italian singer Lorella Cuccarini’s live performance at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards while performing “Run the World (Girls).” But it matters for Taylor Swift. Why? Because Swift has no PR capital left to spare. Her nice-girl demeanor was destroyed when Kim Kardashian exposed her lies about the Kanye West feud, and it certainly didn’t help when she ran off with Tom Hiddleston on the heels of a messy breakup from Calvin Harris. Though men often get the pass women do not with these types of trysts, there was too much existing damage to salvage such a choice. Her record could have resurrected her image with contrition, but her team advised her to take the opposite, “Look What You Made Me Do” direction, which was a massive misstep. Watch both below and decide for yourself.

Betty Who Releases “Ignore Me” — Listen Now

Zak Cassar Betty Who wants you to ignore her, and judging from her latest single, that won’t happen. The Australian singer-songwriter born as Jessica Anne Newham is just 26, and though she’s a trained Cellist, she also taught herself the piano and guitar. Listen to “Ignore Me” below, and check out her last album, ‘The Valley,’ when you get the chance.


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‘The Looming Tower’ Trailer Song — Meet Ruelle

Most people watch television show trailers for the story. I watch it for the music. While tuning into ‘The Looming Tower,’ starring the immensely talented Jeff Daniels on HULU, I noticed the drum-heavy track playing in the background, courtesy of Ruelle. So who exactly is the elusive Ruelle?

At just 32, Margaret “Maggie” Eckford or “Ruelle” has made some seriously good music, which most recently includes ‘Rival,’ an album that houses the track by the same name from the trailer. The show itself is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book that traces the threat of Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda in the late 1990s and how the rivalry between the FBI and CIA may have set the path for 9/11. It’s certainly no surprise that Ruelle’s music has made it to the screen considering its cinematic style. Some of her credits include, How to Get Away with Murder, The Leftovers, The Originals, Pretty Little Liars, and The Walking Dead. Listen below.

Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Black Panther’ Soundtrack is Here

On Friday, February 9, 2018, the soundtrack for Black Panther dropped in anticipation of the the upcoming Friday release for the much buzzed about film. It’s what you’d expect from Kendrick Lamar, which means it’s brilliant. As an elite curator of the music business’ best, Lamar’s name goes hand-in-hand with what I can only hope is a cultural shift to a more diverse, creative cinema space. Black Panther is about empowerment, and no one represents empowerment better than Kendrick Lamar. The soundtrack is produced by Top Dawn Entertainment and Kendrick Lamar, with some brilliant collaborations, including SZA, The Weeknd, ScHoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Ab-Soul, Future, Zacari, Vince Staples, Anderson.Paak, Mozzy, Babes Wodumo, SOB x RBE and South African vocalist Sjava singing in Zulu.

The movie follows T’Challa, who returns home to Wakanda following the death of his father, who was King. He succeeds the throne of the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but when a powerful old enemy reappears, the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. The young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people. Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, with Angela Bassett, with Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis. The film is directed by Ryan Coogler, who also wrote the screenplay with Joe Robert Cole.

According to Ryan Coogler, he originally envisioned Kendrick Lamar contributing a few songs to the soundtrack, but when Lamar viewed the film, he wanted to create the entire album. To stream the record, click HERE.

Did Justin Timberlake Disrespect Prince at the Super Bowl?

It’s no surprise that Justin Timberlake was asked to perform at the Super Bowl. There’s few performers who can carry that type of venue, and he recently dropped a new record. Though fans hoped Janet Jackson might also return, Jackson made it clear she had no such intention. That’s not shocking given the world of heat she received for exposing her bare breast on stage, and the fact that she felt betrayed by Timberlake during the fallout. In short, everyone blamed Janet and no one blamed Justin. Sure it was her boob, but Timberlake participated, and instinct tells me it was pre-planned. Those two can deny it ad nauseum and I still will never believe it was a wardrobe malfunction. That’s neither here nor there, though.

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Artist Spotlight: J.D. King

Introducing Mr. J.D. King. The Los Angeles based “Love Me Back” singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist honed his craft with many Southern California bands, and he’s finally spreading his solo wings with ‘Moon Gardens.’ The album was mixed on a custom built tube console at his home studio in Hollywood Hills. Listen below to his new tune, and for more on King, click here. The video was directed by Avery Wheless, and the other musicians include, Stevie Campos, Malcolm Cross, and Giuseppe Patane.

Sean Gadd Plays LA’s Moroccan Lounge

Sean Gadd was brought to my attention via a mutual friend with very good taste, and you’re in luck, because the former Grouplove bassist will be his first show of the year on Thursday, January 25th at The Moroccan Lounge in Los Angeles. His forthcoming album, ‘The Dark Way Back,’ gives listeners an intimate look the his journey.

Originally from London, Gadd moved to Los Angeles where he co-founded the band Grouplove, which he left in 2014 amidst turmoil in his personal life. Of his previous struggle with addiction, Gadd says, “It felt that everything I’d worked for my whole life was gone overnight.” However sometimes you have to lose everything to find out who you really are. “In a way, for me it actually became the most enlightening time of my life. I had to find out who I was without all the things that came with being in a successful band. I’d lost friends. I’d lost my band. My record deal was gone. Who was I now?” Listen to a track of his new album below. For tickets to his upcoming show, click HERE.

Artist on the Rise: Valerie June

Photo by Tommy Kha

It’s a new year folks, and there are no words to describe 2018’s first pick for this week’s Artist on the Rise. It’s Valerie June, and her voice is so hauntingly beautiful it hurts my soul. To top it off, The Memphis-born singer-songwriter’s albums have incredible original material, with one track being better than the next. Her most recent record, “The Order of Time,” is no exception. June began her love of music singing  gospel at her church three times a week sans instruments. She recounts her unique vocals, saying “My parents couldn’t get over how weird I sounded—like an old man when I was just a toddler! But no one was gonna shut me up.” Years later, she found it important to learn an instrument. Of the process, June said, “I’d had so much fun in the dirty dives in Memphis or heading to Mississippi or Arkansas, it felt like something huge was missing when I couldn’t play shows, so I decided I needed to learn to play guitar because I’d never get gigs if I couldn’t accompany myself.” She now also plays the banjo and ukulele, and she later generated the funds for her first album via kickstarter, which led to convincing Black Keys front man Dan Auerbach to co-produce, simply by sending him samples.

On March 17, June will perform with one of my favorite bands of all time, The Wood Brothers. I’ve seen The Wood Brothers live, and there’s no better show on the planet. Head to Nashville to see these powerhouses come together for an incredible show. Find out about other performances HERE. Listen below, you’ll be hooked immediately.

Now Streaming: Eminem’s Revival — A Full Review

If you read the reviews, including a very detailed take-down in Variety and an effusive endorsement from Rolling Stone, you’d have zero idea what to believe about Eminem’s new album, Revival. And then there’s Paris Hilton, who called Eminem a “lyrical genius.” Apparently, she loved the album, which left me scratching my head as to whether that’s a good thing. After all, Paris Hilton is certainly NOT the arbiter of cool and her endorsement might represent something larger. Does this album speak to the hip hop community, or is it simply too mainstream? His choice of collaborators doesn’t help his case. Forgive me for not wanting to hear Ed Sheeren on an Eminem song.

Though I endlessly cover music on my blog, I’d fall short of calling myself a music critic. I’m certainly not going to offer a track-by-track breakdown. I’ll simply say it’s good. is it great? Probably not. It’s no secret that Eminem thrives with lyrics and falls short with production and beats. In casual conversation, someone close to me once compared Kanye’s rap ability to Eminem, which felt so out of touch it was laughable. Kanye would be the opposite. All production, minimal lyrics. Eminem is a poet, and music is a forum for him to express it. In the case of Revival, the chorus of each song is so annoying it should be left out. There’s no Dido juxtaposition that takes the song to the next level. Instead, it takes each song down a notch. Additionally, I don’t know who mixed this record, but the lyrics are way too low in comparison to the music. The music is actually getting in the way. It’s also worth noting that the “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” sample caused me physical pain.

I love Eminem. But sure — this could be better.

TV Tune Tuesday: Meet Musician Aron Wright

As we learned from yesterday’s post about Freya Ridings and an earlier interview I did with the very talented Aurora, television is often the perfect venue to highlight new artists. I’ll try to do this feature every week, and this week’s pick is Aron Wright, whom I discovered on Grey’s Anatomy. His soul-melting voice can also be heard on many other shows, including The Blacklist, The Vampire Diaries, and more. According to Wright, he records his music in a 100-year-old church he converted into a studio. His credits include co-writing the song “Hallelujah” by Panic! at the Disco and penning “Walk Out On Me,” which was performed by Courtney Love on the FOX television show, Empire. The multi-instrumentalist (trumpet, bass trombone, tuba and guitar) was born in Little Rock, AR, and raised in St. Louis, MO before eventually moving to South Africa. He now lives in Nashville. Listen below.