“I’m Lost Without You” by BeBe & CeCe Winans

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Continuing on the same vein of last week’s Music Rewind (which is where I share a past blog post on Twitter and Facebook), I want to talk about another group that was very popular during the same time. Now, before I introduce the artist and song, I want to let my readers know that this wasn’t an easy pick. Like BeBe Winans said in a past interview, this song made me nervous because a) it could be viewed to be too secular (as its contemporary gospel but with lots of R&B mixed in)[1] or b) the Christian message behind it might be viewed as too much by some. If you are thinking like that, I want you to clear your mind now and sit back and enjoy the song. If you like it because of the message, that is cool. If you like because you like the R&B vibe to it, that is cool too.

I don’t know where or when I got into gospel music. Growing up, I was raised in a Christian family who went to church every Sunday, read their bible, and practiced Christian values regularly. At church, we would sing old-fashioned or contemporary hymns, depending on the topic of the sermon. Later on when I was in high school, the church congregation started to sing songs by the likes of Relent K, P.O.D, and other Christian Rock artists. I tried to get into that kind of music but I failed. Yes, the message is the most important aspect for them. But for me, it was the musical flavor. And that’s why I liked the gospel more then Christian Rock because it was with soul, used a wider vocal range, vocal ad libs were prominent, and the songs just excited me.

BeBe & CeCe Winans are one of the most prominent names in Gospel back in the 80s and 90s. Born into a family of Gospel musicians, the two siblings made their debut in 1982 as part of The PTL Singers, releasing one album under the PTL Records label. Wanting to branch out and start their own musical careers, the dup left The PTL Singers and signed onto the label Sparrow Records soon after. With the help of producer Keith Thomas, who has produced a lot of songs like Amy Grant’s “Baby Baby”, the two released their self-titled album in 1987 with huge success. Thanks to the album becoming a hot seller, BeBe & CeCe Winans become the first African-Americans to be featured regularly on CCM radio stations.[2]

The follow-up album “Heaven” was even more successful as it was the first gospel album to reached Number 1 on the Billboard charts. The pair released more albums over the years until 1994 when the siblings both decided to focus more on their separate solo careers. However, they got back together in 2009 to release “Still”, a Grammy award-winning album.

“Lost Without You” is a mellow R&B song that came from the 1989 album “Heaven”. The song features drum kits, the harmonic fat sounds of the blues guitar, and a touch of the synthesizer’s twang. From the crystal sounds to the cool jive bit after the line “Now, some say I’m crazy am I’m acting insane”, the synthesizer frequently changes roles during the song to create the ambient sound. This is further amplified by BeBe’s sooth baritone tone and CeCe’s water-like strong vocals.

What else is strong is the message behind the lyrics. In an interview, CeCe said that this song was one of favorites because it represents her personal story.[1] You can sense those feelings of something so power and comes from the heart and soul within every beat. The best songs out there are the ones that are influenced by the artists’ emotions and stories.

If you like Luther Vandross, Shanice, or Vanessa Williams, then “I’m Lost Without You” would be a perfect fit in your music library.

(Sorry guys, I don’t really know any Contemporary Gospel artists well enough to compare.)

References

[1]  “BeBe & CeCe Winans–Revealed Pt. 5–“Lost Without You”” YouTube – BeBe & CeCe Winans–Revealed Pt. 5–“Lost Without You” Official CeCe Winans, 20 Oct. 2009. Web. 31 May 2015. .

[2]  “BeBe & CeCe Winans.” Wikipedia – BeBe & CeCe Winans. Wikimedia Foundation, 5 Aug. 2005. Web. 31 May 2015.

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We Ranked Every ‘Song Of The Summer’ Since 1985

A really good read. I didn’t know that some of the songs on the list were actually summer hits.

UPROXX

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Ahh, the summer. School is out, the air conditioning is blaring, and everywhere you go, you can’t help but hear that one same tune everywhere. We’ve come to know that song as the “Song of the Summer.” The folks over at Billboard have used their metrics to chart every such song in the past 30 years, and it behooved us here at Uproxx to rank these songs in order of their staying power and ultimate worth. Some are still amazing! And others, well, are not. Here is every Song of the Summer since 1985 ranked just for you. For your convenience, we’ve also put together a playlist of all 30 songs in chronological order. Make sure to follow Uproxx Music on Spotify.

30. Los Del Rio – “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” (1996)

Two older Spanish men who got remixed by DJs in Miami and sparked a craze the world over. Good for…

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The 500 Greatest Songs of all Time – no. 6 – “Good Vibrations” – The Beach Boys

Another classic! The Beach Boys! I should go to bed now but I just wanna dance to the chorus!

thecuriousastronomer

At number 6 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 greatest songs is “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys. This is one of my favourite Beach Boys songs, along with “God Only Knows (number 25 on this same list), which I blogged about here.

At number 30 in Rolling Stone Magazine's '500 Greatest Songs of all Time' is "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash. At number 6 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘500 Greatest Songs of all Time’ is “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys.

This song is a recording masterpiece. It was recorded during the recording sessions for The Beach Boys’ album “Pet Sounds”, rated the 2nd best album of all time (see my blog here about that album). Recorded in 1966 over a seven month period, with the most complex arrangements and overdubs of any song up until that point. It drove Brian Wilson to the edge of madness and despair. It did not appear on “Pet Sounds” in the end, but was rather released as a stand-alone single…

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Frank Sinatra – New York, New York

This songs makes me miss New York City a lot! This song describes the city perfectly with a high-class performer singing (Frankie is such a gem), the energy, and it’s Broadway-like beats.

Knee Socks

So bear with me while i totally binge on classics…
This song makes me smile so much, cuz it literally describes my life, even th0 i don’t live in the city!

“These little town blues
Are melting away
I’ll make a brand new start of it
In old New York
If I can make it there,
I’ll make it, anywhere!
It’s up to you,
New York, New York!!”

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Music Reactions: Britney Spears feat. Iggy Azalea’s “Pretty Girls”

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While I was listening to today’s featured song, I had a thought of “Hey, you know, I have this blog that emphasizes lesser-known or older-or-maybe-newer music. How about I talk about a song or artist that is hot right now?” Unlike the other blog posts,  I will spare you the long artist introductions. Who needs to introduce these (hopefully) internationally or well-known artists?

This week’s hot topic is the release of Britney Spears’ and Iggy Azalea’s newest collaboration, “Pretty Girls”.

My inner nine-year old self screamed when I first watched the video. It was quite ecstatic when Britney appeared at the beginning, being old-skool Britney. Even though her life been through hell and back in the past decade, I still love Britney. Especially during this moment:

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As for her partner for this song, I really don’t know much about Iggy Azalea. Gasp! This is what I get for living in a foreign country that doesn’t care about Western music except for Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and One Direction. Yuck! However, it all changed when I got cable last year and discovered MTV Japan, which features MORE music than MTV USA. (Gasp!) That’s where I first encountered Iggy last summer, performing “Black Widow” with Rita Ora at the MTV Music Video Awards. I didn’t really care for the duet because it didn’t savor my musical taste buds. However, when her other hit collaboration, “Fancy” with Charlie XCX, was announced multiple times as a nominee for multiples categories, I took notice of her and her rapping style as the song was kick butt and sassy. I also checked her out when she collaborated with Ariana Grande, who I adore so much, on the song “Problem” (which was popular in Japan).

“Pretty Girls” is basically a song that time-traveled back to the 80’s. The synthesizer speaks for the song itself, especially in the beginning with the deep synth melodies from co-writer Invisible Man.[1] The only way you can tell it’s from today is the annoying clapping, the mechanical drum kits, and the musical patterns you usually hear in today’s hip-hop. I am fully convinced that Iggy is an 80s or early 90s music fanatic as her music is heavily influenced by the synthesized beats and odd percussion. I haven’t heard that two-beat clattering during the pre-chorus’ “Eyes on us” since SWV’s “Downtown”.

How about those vocals? I haven’t really listened to a Britney song since her 2008 song “Womanizer”. I can’t really get into today’s Britney as I was totally in love with teen-pop and pure-pop Britney back in the day with songs like “Lucky”, “(You) Drive Me Crazy”, and “Sometimes”. Maaaan, “Sometimes” was my anthem during the summer of 1999. But anyways, I can’t get into the “edgy-let’s-dab-into-other-genres” Britney because her “new” stylistic choices are not as great. Furthermore, her once highly prized voice are faltering.

Listening to “Pretty Girls”, she tries to imitate the hip-hop sound by changing up her style and speed. Her pronunciation changes during this time, going from pop Britney in the chorus to hip-hop Britney during the verses. The high, staccato speed of the song also doesn’t help her as well. Her vocals are less flattering as she tries to fit as many words as possible in one musical line. However, the second verse let’s her unleash her true voice during the “They are buzzing around me like flies”.

The chorus is the gleaming point of “Pretty Girls”. It features the girls both sharing rhe main singing in the powerful (imagine the “We are Sparta”) “We… are… PRETTY GIRLS, no duh”-type of chorus.[2] Speaking of Iggy, is that her leading the vocal transition of “Some things don’t change” before the pre-chorus? If so, bravo to you Iggy! Even though some call your rapping annoying and the accent you have is so weird, you can prove them wrong with adequate vocals. Her rapping is all cool as Iggy succeeds with her smooth voice filled with pockets of crescendo outbursts and curves through each “musical contour”.

Billboard.com tried to compare “Pretty Girls” with last year’s hit “Fancy” recently in a review for the Iggy and Britney song. Sure, the two songs may have the same deep syth beats and a similar theme of “girls who just want to have fun” in the lyrics. But they are so different, which Billboard finally acknowledges at the end. What is different from the two songs is that Britney’s vocals help make “Pretty Girls” more sugary and girlish then Charlie XCX’s harsh and strong ones.

“Pretty Girls” will be crowned the party tune of this summer as it has the energy and fun atmosphere. Iggy still throws down her words in a stylish way without overpowering the song too much. And as for Britney, she still has it in her as she tries to adapt to the electro-hop genre but it doesn’t work well. I still enjoy “Pretty Girls” as it is a “delightful” treat for a hot summer party.

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BTW: I applaud the art direction of the single’s cover and the directors of the music video. When I first watched the music video, I was like “Hey wait, this is sooooooo “Earth Girls Are Easy” with Britney playing Geena Davis’ character and Iggy playing Jeff Goldblum’s.”. I got all nostalgic while watching the music video.

Bravo! Bravo!


References:

[1]  Lipshutz, Jason. “Britney Spears & Iggy Azalea Stay Fancy on ‘Pretty Girls’: Single Review.” Billboard. 4 May 2015. Web. 26 May 2015. <http://www.billboard.com/articles/review/6553860/britney-spears-iggy-azalea-pretty-girls-review&gt;

[2] Brown, August. “Listen: Britney Spears, Iggy Azalea Join Forces for ‘Pretty Girls'” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 4 May 2015. Web. 26 May 2015. <http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-britney-spears-iggy-azalea-join-for-pretty-girls-20150504-story.html&gt;

Live Report: Idol Kyoshitsu at Nagoya Tower Records Kintetsu Passe (May 2, 2015)

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Thank you for your continuous support towards my live events’ reports. I am really surprise to see how popular was the LinQ one from last week. It quickly became the most read blog post on ai love music. I want to put out a special thank for those who shared the post with their friends online and in real life, especially a special Facebook friend. Without you guys sharing, my blog wouldn’t be the blog that it is now. So, thanks again!

A day after going to see LinQ, I decided to see another idol group, Idol Kyoshitsu (English translation: Idol Classroom). A local group that is primarily based in Nagoya, Idol Kyoshitsu is a typical idol group with seven members. They also have two sister groups: Aikyou jr. and Nidaime Sushidoru jr. (2nd Generation Sushi Idols jr.; which was introduced for the first time publicly at the May 2nd event). The group’s concept is a bit strange. But, if you think about, it wouldn’t be as strange as some Japanese mascots out there because Idol Kyoshitsu’s concept is so Japanese. Each member is represented by a different kind of sushi: shrimp, egg, octopus, tuna, and etc. That is because the group is produced by the owners of Sushi Goichi, a mid-priced sushi restaurant in the heart of Nagoya. The group performs at the restaurant each Sunday with members selected by the fans.

I didn’t go to Sushi Goichi for the live on May 2nd. Instead, I went to Tower Records at the Kintetsu Passe department store near the Nagoya train station as they held an event to support their new single, “Happy Birthday no Uta 2 ~Happy Birthday Omedetoure~”. I arrived an hour before the live with a friend, who came from out-of-town to visit for the weekend and whom I also coaxed to come along with (sorry friend!), exploring Kintetsu Passe. I been to the department store a couple of times before; but only to use the bus terminal when I lived in Nagano and Yamanashi. The department store is really grand with most floors dedicated to fashion (that makes me cry because it’s what the girls wear here which I can’t afford). My friend and I were mainly interested in the book store, checking out various print to pass time. I got a new novel too; the novelization of the 2013 Sailor Moon musical. I am still reading it but I will say it is very Ami/Sailor Mercury-centric.

My friend and I parted ways as it reached time for the live to start. I took the stairs to the rooftop where the stage outside. Once I got there, I purchased their new single immediately so I could get a chance to have it signed by one of the girls and talk to her for one minute. I then headed towards the stage, trying to find a spot that had a great view. I actually chose a bad spot as a group of college-aged jerks (who were there for their own personal accords and I bet they weren’t fans) were in front of me and I was surround by tall people. It was also crowded as around 500 people showed up to see the girls, which is a massive amount for one of these lives.

The girls were greeted with a large fanfare when they appeared on stage a little past two o’clock. The girls performed a setlist of seven songs, which were:

1.Ima Hajimaru Story
MC (Self Introductions)
2. Makeruna Dreamer
3. Happy-chan
MC – Introducing the new members (8th generation and Nidaime Sushidoru jr.)
4. Nidaime Sushidoru jr. – MYSTYLE
MC. (Introducing the new single)
5. Happy Birthday no Uta 2 ~Happy Birthday Omedetoure~
6. Ai wa Mera Mera
ENCORE: We can lets go
To be honest, I wasn’t excited when I was listening to their performances. Most of songs sound like the long-lost siblings of the AKB48 family. They have the same instrumentation, same type of happy, cheerful melodies, and same vocalization. I know I am using the word “same” waaaaaaaaaaay too much but I think it appropriate, right? “Happy-chan” could be easily be a SKE48 song; just re-label it as an SKE48 song on your music player and give it your buddies, they will never know of the difference (unless they are hardcore fans).

Now, there were some great songs during the live, especially at the end. “Ai wa Mera Mera” is one of those kick-butt songs in a minor key (but switches to that happy-go-lucky major key during the chorus) with a dark side to it. Also, “We can lets go” is a calming, natural-paced song that was more original than the others.

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Before the mini-live was over, all the girls (Idol Kyoshitsu, Nidaime Sushidoru jr., and even Aikyou jr.) wanted to take a picture with the audience. You can play a “Where Is Wally/Waldo?”-type of game try to find me. I found out that only the top part of my head was visible in the photo. Once I posted ht picture to my Facebook, my dad commented in a witty manner, “I found you! You are behind a tall Japanese man!” BINGO, dad, BINGO!

The first event after the mini-live was the group picture shot. You have to get 2 tickets for this event, which I didn’t bother to get. Instead, I waited, watched the fans who were lucky enough to get those tickets, and read my new book.

After which seemed like forever, it was time for the next event. I quickly jumped in line and was one of the first people. Along with talking to a member for one minute, I had the option of getting a signature or a photo taken with a girl. I decided to get a signature but with who? There were million of girls but I could choose only one. I thought back to the live and tried to guess who I wanted to meet by remembering who stuck out.

Should I go with the Crab’s Aragaki Hikari or with the Egg’s Saito Asaki?

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After debating over it for about a minute, I decided to go with Aragaki Hikari. I told the staff member who were handling the requests “The member with light pink” because I didn’t know their names, i thanked the guy as he brought Hikari to the table. She smiled and greeted me as she sat down. But, she told me that we couldn’t shake hands as she saw that I was raising my left hand, motioning for a shake (as shaking hands is natural to me and my personality), maybe due to the group’s strict rules.

She offered to open my CD for me, which I gave nervously to her. When she was done, the staff member that guided me to her started the watch: time to start talking. She thanked me countless times and asked how I found out the event. Hey, didn’t I have this discussion about this last night with another idol girl? She accidentally began to signed on the CD glass when I kindly interrupted her and told her to sign on the lyrics card, which she did.

Hikari seems like a sweet girl but maybe not the type of girl for me, For the minute we had together, we didn’t talk a lot. Partially it was my fault because I was very nervous and was totally new to the whole Idol Kyoushitsu experience that I didn’t have enough to say. Or maybe, when she saw me as a foreigner, she was hesitated to use a lot of Japanese because most people don’t know my sub-par Japanese level. I wish we could have more of a conversation during the event. Maybe next time I will try harder and read up on any interesting conversation topics.

The minute pasted rather quickly as the staff member came back and told us that time was up. She quickly fixed her mistake on the CD case (which was just writing my name). She said our goodbyes and see you again and then I left.

If you into the whole AKB48 family, you should try out Idol Kyoshitsu. Same sound, tones, and happy musical melodies. I couldn’t really get into the local group during the live because I am not really into that type of music. I might give them another try if they sing songs like “Ai wa Mera Mera” or “We can lets go”, that is something more original. And also, I am secretly hoping to meet Saito Araki next time.

Here is the music video for their new single, “Happy Birthday no Uta 2 ~Happy Birthday Omedetoure~ “: