What would summer be without fun, friends, a mimosa or two, and—of course—great music! Wherever your life takes you this summer, be sure to have your soundtrack ready. If you’re having some trouble putting together your own mix, let Made Woman help provide some inspiration with a few tracks we picked out.
“Dancing in the Moonlight”-Toploader
Summer nights are perfect for making memories with friends, family or that special someone. Let this song by Toploader play and invoke carefree vibes in you and your loved ones.
Uh oh! Usher is going back to his soulful roots with this one. Is he moving away from techno beats for good? No telling. But this track reminds us that he can always make us want to dance.
“We Are Young”-Fun. ft. Janelle Monae
Act as young as you feel and let the merriment commence. Now don’t go and start an all out bar fight, but don’t be afraid to take a walk on the wild side!
“Get Me Bodied”-Beyonce
Calling all ladies! Single or not, don’t forget to have a night on the town with your besties this summer. Show the world what you’re working with and how you rock it!
“Anything We Want”-Fiona Apple
Fiona Apple’s shaky yet powerful vocals captivate you as the cryptic melody tumbles along. I love how she embraces the ambiguity and create music so uniquely her own.
“California Love”-2Pac ft. Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman
When you think of great weather and parties, California always comes to mind. This classic is guaranteed to take to you back and remind you of a different time in hip hop.
Kimbra is definitely an up-and-comer to watch. If you’re sick of “Somebody that I Used to Know” at this point, you’ll enjoy hearing her on this upbeat throwback track.
“Let's Go”-Ne-Yo & David Guetta
Another song with a great club beat, this is sure to keep the hot summer spots packed. How could you hear this and not want to dance?
“Off to the Races”-Lana Del Rey
While Lana Del Rey is known for her slower, somber melodies, something about her music and visuals just scream “summer.” This is one for your more low-key summer moments.
Azealia’s flow and fresh blend of hip hop and house makes her one of the coolest female emcees out right now. You can’t help but pick up her confident, carefree vibe when you listen to this one. She does have a mouth on her, though, so this one isn’t for the faint of heart!
What’s in heavy rotation on your iPod? Tell us in the comments below!
Cee Lo is one of those rare artists whose career in the music industry defies all reason. He’s approaching 40, black, round, and his most popular song to date is called “Fuck You.” While it’s true that he’s
sold out ventured into more commercially palatable territory, my decade-plus fascination with him has not waned. He never ceases to entertain. So I thought it only fitting to compile, in no particular order, the top 5 reasons that I love Cee Lo.
1. This interview with Keri Hilson. Tell me he’s not the creepy uncle that hits on his nephews’ girlfriends at family outings!
2. He played Rollo Goodlove on the Boondocks. No further explanation needed.
3. He adds ridiculous amounts of comedic value to The Voice, including petting a fluffy white cat while critiquing contestants (the cat has its own Twitter account, by the way), crying regularly and wearing the Rollo Goodlove wig.
4. He had something to do with the creation of these songs:
Follow the Light
Trans DF Express
Dro in Da Wind
Fool for You
5. He once looked like this:
And this (#FightOn):
Seriously though, as much as Cee Lo’s antics (and outfits) are over the top, to me he’s always managed to ride that fine line of crazy without letting it overshadow his talent and amazing musical contributions. If Cee Lo is involved, you know you’re in for pure entertainment. How can you not love that!?
The awesome/creepy resurrection performance of the Tupac hologram left those at Coachella in awe and those on the internet buzzing about who they should hologram next. We, of course, had to add our two cents so we created a list of our own. Check it out:
Obviously a great pick. Nope, this is never going to be as awesome as the real man moonwalking his feet off back in his heyday, but it would still be pretty freakin awesome. You know you wanted to see the full This Is It Tour!!
She was like some kind of angel on earth already when she was alive, so seeing her as a hologram would probably be more of a heart-string yank than anything else... but having her on a stage with Timbaland, Missy & Ginuwine would be the stuff dreams are made of.
A rap legend who was huge before auto tuned rap and hashtag lyrics. NWA reunion?? Come on son! Matter of fact, can we just resurrect all of hip hop with a hologram?
A shining star who's life was cut too short. If her hologram could go on tour it would sell out shows everywhere. But I'm guessing J.Lo would vote no on this one.
#TooSoon? It doesn't matter--her talent was unparalleled and to see her on stage again performing Bodyguard-era jams in all their glory would be amazing.
Who says we can only hologram celebs that are no longer with us? I say they hologram Beyonce next. That way, the hologram can go on tour while Bey pops out a brother for baby Blu to make the nuclear family complete. I wonder what they'll call him….Black [Album] Hemlock? Okay, maybe it’s a stretch, but tell me you wouldn’t pay to witness that. If only holograms could learn to whip their hair….
In case you missed the Tupac hologram performance at Coachella here it is:
These days it’s hard to hear the artist behind the synthesizer. As a gal who can appreciate a good beat, I love it when I can wade through all of the instrumentals and tune into a nuanced and talented voice. This is absolutely the case with Maia Vidal. Unfortunately, you might not know this name. Vidal’s Indie Folk sound has become extremely popular overseas, particularly in Europe. Vidal has an amalgam of international influences. She’s of French and Japanese heritage, spent most of her childhood in New York and now resides in Barcelona, Spain. As such, her sound has French and Latin undertones. It’s difficult to pinpoint a similar artist, but her sound most nearly resembles Florence and the Machine or Frou Frou.
Vidal’s new album, God is My Bike was released in January of 2012. Her sound is a bit like jumping down a rabbit’s hole. She uses an array of instruments including but not limited to, violins, accordions, percussion and toy instruments. At only 23 years of age it appears as though Vidal has had a rich experience. The melody of each song reflects the playfulness of a young girl, but their content is clearly the testament of woman who’s learned much from the world. “Alphabet of My Phobias,” addresses Vidal’s attempt to let go of every one of her fears, which are generally issues that plague the world, in order to truly live. My favorite of her 12 tracks is “Follow Me.” The song details the life of a woman who’s grown comfortable dating after being on the losing end of love affair. I’m drawn to it for its feministic implications. One verse, “you probably think she’s being bad or that she’s going straight to hell. But this is just a girl who wants, who’s not afraid to help herself,” seems to encourage women to take what they want without fear of judgment. And despite the context of the song, this thought can apply to almost any situation.
Some tracks like, “Le Tango de la Femme Abandonee,” are sung completely in French. They are a welcome departure from her English language tracks. The cadence and dictation of each word are just as beautiful as her voice. Vidal’s performance is such that she communicates the intention and feeling of the song, even if you don’t understand the language.
If you’re interested in taking a melodic adventure, then Vidal’s music is a great place to start. She has yet to release her album in the U.S., so consider this an inside tip. Until then, you can enjoy her unique sound below and here: www.maiavidal.com.
It's no secret that I'm a lover of soul music. Growing up in my household it was everywhere--singing along to Stevie Wonder, the Temptations or even Janis Joplin with my mom... Rocking out to the Stones or Hendrix with my dad. Almost everything was rooted in gospel and blues, with just the right amount of "fonk" tossed in. So it's no surprise that when I thought about my favorite albums of 2011--no matter what genre they fall under--I realized that they are all by artists with a heavy soul influence. These artists' music embodies this mix of rhythm and blues and evokes a sense of realness that can't be denied. So without further adieu, here are my top 5 albums of 2011:
Adele - 21
All I have to say here is: 21. The fact that the (now 23-year-old) songstress put together an album with so much depth and lyrical maturity at 21 years old still blows my mind. Couple that with it being a (beyond) commercial success: top album on the Billboard charts for weeks, singles for days, amazing sales in a down market, multiple Grammy nods--this no doubt finds its way to the top of many lists this year.
From the album opener, Rolling in the Deep--what Adele describes as a, "dark, bluesy, gospel, disco tune"--to Someone Like You, she pours her raw emotions into the album. You're taken on a ride with a young woman going through a devastating breakup, from the initial shock, to bitterness, to finally coming to terms with the relationship's ending. It's a theme that I can relate to, and, apparently, so can the rest of the world.
Kendrick Lamar - Section 80
I officially fell in love with Kendrick when I heard him spit on Overly Dedicated. I couldn't imagine how he could release an album that could top, or even serve as a decent follow-up to that EP. And while I still personally prefer OD to Section 80, it still makes one of my top albums of 2011. I've spoken on him before, and for good reason. One of the up-and-coming artists that's really caught my eye, his work portrays his masterful blend of rapper/artist/Gen Y representative/activist/LA kid/"human mothaf***in being."
While this effort is definitely more commercially palatable than his EPs, his hunger hasn't waned. His signature writing style, delivery and soulful influences shine through, and leave me excited for what's to come from this young Compton native.
Beyonce - 4
Oh, Bey. I'm teased constantly for being such a Beyonce fan, but how can you really blame me? Always flawless, vocally sound and the definition of a true entertainer, she manages to keep us on our toes--a difficult feat when you fall into more of a mainstream "pop" lane. This album, however, hearkens back to the R&B lean that made us fall in love with Miss Beyonce Knowles in the first place. This album covers the gamut of emotions felt in relationships, from break ups to working through complications, to finally having your Love on Top. And having Andre 3000 as the sole feature on the album officially elevated it to boss status.
Jill Scott - The Light of the Sun
Jill Scott to me is the personification of feminine strength. She has a way of laying herself open on each and every album, yet still maintaining a strength and a boldness that is unmatched. I was lucky enough to be invited to her album release showcase back in May, where she further brought the album to life. Rife with female anthems and ish-talking (with love), she put together a piece that makes it easy for women, young and old, to relate. The Light of the Sun portrays a woman that has been hurt, that has been burned by love, but has managed to grow in wisdom, still recognizing her blessings and appreciating her "Rolling Hills." What more can you ask for?
Feist - Metals
I loved Feist's album so much that I've already written a full album review. As with the other women on this list, Leslie Feist explores love and relationships, but she does so with a dark, lurching tone. Her style is folksy and impassioned, and displays her unique, personal brand of soulfulness. It came as no surprise to me that "Metals" was recorded in an ad hoc studio she set up in a house in Big Sur. Far from your average studio album, the fully developed, multi-faceted project is a departure from her earlier, more pop-influenced albums--and a refreshing one at that.
So that rounds out my top 5 albums of 2011. What made your list? Let me know in the comments below!
December 19, 2011
If you were anywhere near The Staples Center last week you may have felt the electric vibes in the air. Kanye West and Jay-Z were in town for the Watch the Throne concert, and of course the expectations were at an all-time high for these two rap kings since they were sharing the stage here in LA. But with no opening act, no guest appearances, and only a hidden three piece band, Kanye West and Jay-Z toned it down in some respects for their show on December 12th. And while they cut back on a few bells and whistles they somehow still managed blow our collective minds.
The show started off as two massive square pillars rose up with the dueling rappers on opposite sides of the arena. They went H.A.M to start the show and everyone in the stands went crazy. Videos of sharks and other beasts began to play at the bottom of the video pillars. Flames shot out from the stage along with an incredible laser light show, as the duo kicked off with arguably one of the most high intensity moments of the concert.
Transitioning back to the main stage, they performed tracks from the Watch the Throne album along with their other classic hits. From Jay’s now nostalgic Big Pimpin and Kanye’s All Falls Down to the newly iconic Otis, Kanye and Jay took us on a journey through their amazing catalogues. They alternated between performing together and solo. Between Kanye’s brash, emotional performances and Jay’s consistent and deliberate delivery, they created this dichotomy that was mesmerizing to watch. You watched Kanye West not knowing what was going to happen next, and you watched Jay-Z knowing that whatever he did it was going to be amazing.
It was obvious that they put a lot of thought into selecting the barrage of hits for this show. The music had an empowering undertone and kept everyone amped. You knew you were going to walk out of there feeling like you were the Sh**. Message driven songs like Jesus Walks and Made in America were backdropped with elaborate slide shows of images from the civil rights movement and Ku Klux Klan. And crowd pleasers like Jigga What, Jigga Who, Dirt Off Your Shoulder, Stronger and All of the Lights made the crowd go wild. At one point Kanye told everyone to take off their shirts and wave them in the air and many happily complied.
Jay-Z and Kanye West maintained the theme of “We can do whatever the hell we want” throughout the show. One of my favorite moments was when they both sat down on the stage stairs to perform Hard Knock Life and still managed to rock the stadium. Then there was the moment at the start of All of the Lights where Kanye demanded that the song restart four times until the lights were just the way he wanted and the crowd was singing along correctly. Oh, and then there was the kilt. Leave it to Mr. Can’t-Tell-Me-Nothing to take to the stage wearing a pleated, leather kilt. Oh, Kanye. He also stood atop a video pillar for a good ten minutes self-indulgently singing, “If you’re with the one you love hold on to them” over and over. And of course by now, you’ve heard about how the duo performed N***as in Paris repeatedly to close the show. And when I say “repeatedly” I mean nine times. The energy built every single time the opening music began. The audience sang along to every word every damn time. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I don’t think there is another act out there, in ANY genre that could pull this stuff off and keep the audience begging for more.
These two rappers are enjoying the heights of success and the satisfaction of working with a friend and fellow superstar. But what’s next for this duo? Will they make more albums together or go back to solo projects? Even though we all enjoyed what The Hollywood Reporter calls the “crazy-charming bromance” of these two on stage, we know there is only seating for one on the throne.... Right?
Inevitably, sadness is bound to tag along when a posthumous album is released by an artist as beloved as Amy Winehouse. If the album triumphs over the artist’s previous projects, fans are only left wanting more. This is the lesser of two evils. The other occurs when a posthumous album pales in comparison to the artist’s best work, painfully reminding fans that the magic they once heard will never be duplicated or outdone. Unfortunately, the latter is the type of grief I felt listening to Amy Winehouse’s compilation album, Lioness: Hidden Treasures. While I’ll happily welcome any new material from the woman who caught my eye with Frank, and then kidnapped my heart with Back to Black, Lioness ultimately falls short of Winehouse’s earlier projects. The British singer’s voice is as soulful and haunting as ever, but it’s clear many of the tracks on Lioness wouldn’t have seen the light of day if Winehouse had not died four months ago at 27.
Take the track, “Our Day Will Come”, a simple promise to a lover, reminiscent of Winehouse’s jazz-inflected sound on her debut album, Frank. Initially recorded to be on Frank in 2007, the song didn’t make the final cut. If Back to Black is an A and Frank is a B+, it’s probably safe to say “Our Day Will Come” fails. That’s not to say the song is egregious. The jazz-reggae sound is delightful. But like other previously unreleased tracks on Lioness, such as “Best Friends, Right?”, it fails to display Winehouse’s vulnerability, lyrical astuteness, or honesty, like when she admitted to picking the wrong men as naturally as she sings on “What Is It about Men. ”Amy’s brash comments, like when she once asked Mr. Jones, “What kind of fuckery is this?” or the mocking tone in which she boasts, “feel like a lady and you my lady boy” is missing from Lioness.
It’s hard to believe the same producers who helped Winehouse create Back to Black put this album together, but they did. Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, along with Winehouse’s family, handpicked each track and explain why with beautiful detail in the liner-notes. This album isn’t unexceptional because Ronson and Remi picked the wrong songs. (Before her death, Winehouse only recorded two tracks for her planned follow up to Back to Black; neither is on Lioness). The album is unexceptional because Amy Winehouse wasn’t around to painstakingly execute her vision until it damn near reached perfection.
And that’s the main problem with Lioness. The alternate versions of Amy’s most well-loved and damn near perfect songs like “Valerie” or “Wake Up Alone” are featured on the album but they don’t live up to the previously released versions. The only exception is “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” originally featured on the soundtrack to Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason in 2004. Ronson reworks the track by adding rousing horns, soulful background vocals, and slowing down the tempo even more than the 2004 version. It works wonderfully and is the highlight of the album. We hear the Amy I first fell for, the artist who left us too soon.
Because of alcohol, fate, or whatever you want to blame for her death, we’ll never know if Winehouse would have ever released undeniable treasures. Lioness: Hidden Treasures is good but not good enough. Still, released earlier this week, the album already tops the UK charts. This is only a reminder of how remarkable Amy Winehouse is – even her throw away songs are better than everything you’re listening to on the radio.
Without getting all nostalgic on you, let me just say that radio isn’t what it once was. Seriously, when was the last time you listened to one station for more than three songs straight without wanting to strangle whoever was responsible for the Ke$ha/Kreayshawn marathon that was assaulting your ears? Yeah, I can’t remember either. Despite what you may hear on the radio there are a lot of unique, dynamic artists out there. And if I could break into a radio station and take over the airwaves here’s what that would sound like:
This dude has me really excited about hip hop right now. Repping hard for the west coast, and catching the attention of none other than Dr. Dre, I’m looking forward to the moves he’s about to make. If you haven’t already, check out his mixtapes, especially Overly Dedicated. My radio selection (from his other mixtape, Section 80): Rigamortis
This French band was actually brought to my attention when I was listening to Pandora one day. Though all their lyrics are all in French, the energetic beats and upbeat vocals made me want to dig for more from the trio. Have a listen (and try not to dance.) My radio selection: C’est Pas Une Vie
Pretty much anything from Jill Scott makes its way onto my list. Bold yet vulnerable, sexy and fearless and are just a few adjectives to describe Ms. Scott--and her ridiculous catalog of music. Make sure to check her most recent album, “Light of the Sun.” My radio selection: Le Boom Vent Suite
Dom Kennedy is definitely one to watch. With a one-of-a-kind flow and signature laid back demeanor, he brings a refreshing new dimension to the hip hop scene. He’s made some major independent moves over the past few years, and it will be interesting to see where his brand of “Grind’n” will take him. My Radio Selection: Locals Only
Recently signed to Interscope Records, Lana Del Rey is a tough one to characterize. Her haunting vocals, blunt delivery and almost folksy influence definitely caught my attention. I’m curious to see what an album from her will sound like. My Radio Selection: Blue Jeans
This British musician/producer’s music is influenced by dubstep, R&B and Chicago house music, among others. But I can’t say that I’ve heard anything quite like his particular combo of musicianship vocal styling. He’s definitely in heavy rotation right now. My Radio Selection: Trials of the Past
I’m not sure where this chick came from, but I’m loving what I’m hearing. With the Slightly Portishead, slightly electro Amy Winehouse vibe, I’m all over this. There isn’t too much more to say--besides listen for yourself. My Radio Selection: Bad on the Bottle
What should I add to this list? Let me know in the comments!