Showing posts with label Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Music. Show all posts

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Album Reviews: Lover by Taylor Swift

Lover by Taylor Swift.
When I first listened to Taylor Swift, I will admit I wasn't much of a big fan; however, I always felt like she was destined to be a big star. As isolated as her vocals are, what I really like about her is her artistry and strong ability to be connect to virtually everything she sings. She is a woman's artist and for that, I respect her. 

A lot of you may ask "why didn't you like Taylor Swift when she first came out?" Well, when she first came out, she came out with the song Tim McGraw and I just thought that the song was a bit cheesy. McGraw is a great artist, but to name a song after him and use it as your first single, I didn't understand it. And the song made no sense to me. 

It was when I heard the song Love Story from the album Fearless that I knew she was going to be a star. And I was right. Recently, the country crooner released her seventh studio album called Lover on August 23, 2019. Released by Republic Records, Lover includes 18 tracks co-written and co-produced by Swift herself. The album also includes several bonus tracks which are exclusively available to Target. 

The songs include: I Forgot That You Existed, Cruel Summer, Lover, The Man, The Archer, I Think He Knows, Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince, Paper Rings, Cornelia Street, Death By A Thousand Cuts, London Boy, Soon You'll Get Better, False God, You Need To Calm Down, Afterglow, ME!, It's Nice To Have A Friend, and Daylight. The bonus tracks exclusively available at Target include: I Forgot That You Existed (piano version) and Lover (piano version). 

My favorite songs include: You Need To Calm Down, Daylight, Cruel Summer, Paper Rings, Cornelia Street, Afterglow, Soon You'll Get Better, I Think He Knows, Death By A Thousand Cuts, Daylight, The Archer, and Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince, with Paper Rings being her strongest song. The song is a very fun and exciting uptempo and really proves why Taylor Swift is an artist we can all relate to. 

Soon You'll Get Better takes us back to Taylor Swift from the beginning over a decade ago. As a collaboration with the Dixie Chicks, this song is probably the only country, bluegrass genre song on the entire album. Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince was giving me symphonic rock vibes, which is very new to hear from Taylor Swift. And Daylight was very new wave and reminded me of something Leona Lewis would have recorded. Brilliantly beautiful. The Archer gave me serious 'Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper' vibes. 

And with every album, there tends to be a weakness. I am not the biggest fan of ME! As much as I love Panic! At the Disco and Brendon Urie (Sarah Smiles is a beautiful song), I didn't care for the marching beat in the beginning and throughout the song. I don't know, but I felt like they added too much to the song with that beat being one of them. It's a fun song, but to me it isn't her strongest song. 

Other songs I dislike on the album include: The Man, London Boy, False God, It's Nice To Have A Friend, and I Forgot You Existed. The vocal diction was not good in I Forgot You Existed, I could not understand a lot of what she sang in the song. The chorus was also not good. False God could have been better without the saxophone playing throughout the song. It's Nice To Have A Friend had a very similar problem, as the trumpet was unnecessary with the song. As perfect as the song was for Swift's pretty isolated vocals, I simply did not get it. And London Boy is not only the worst song on the album, but one of my least favorite songs by her. 

Overall, Lover depicts a story about an effulgent woman who is not letting the obstructively obscure steal her shine. It is very 80's new wave sounding compared to her other albums. Almost possessing a retro redux, this album is a reminder why Swift is a woman's artist and will always remain on top in music. Love her or hate her, Taylor Swift is an artist and Lover proves thus so. With that said, I recommend the album. 

Lover is currently available at Walmart for only $12.97. To purchase the album, simply click here right now. To get the deluxe Version from Target for $16.99, just click here now.


FTC: All opinions are my own. Some affiliate links used. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Prince died three years ago today

Prince, one of the most decorated artists in the history of music passed away three years ago today on April 21, 2016. I was at the Body Shop Fitness Centers gym in Payette, Idaho working out when I first heard the news. The radio playing in the gym started to play nothing but Prince tunes, as the radio disc jockeys reminisced what he did for music. 


I have been a fan of Prince for pretty much my entire life. I remember listening to his music and finding myself looking forward to hearing more. The first song I ever heard of him was "U Got The Look" before hearing "Lets Go Crazy" and finding myself really loving his music. 

If you could fuse Freddie Mercury into James Brown with a hint of George Clinton, Elvis and Jimmi Hendrix, you would have Prince. He always added a little more funk and soul to make it rock and it roll. 

Some of my favorite songs include: Gold, Baby I'm A Star, P Control, Computer Blue, Purple Rain, U Got The Look, Delirious, When Doves Cry, Darling Nikki, Controversy, Pop Life, Get Off, Cream, Batdance and Raspberry Beret. 



To listen to my rendition of Purple Rain, simply watch/listen to the video above. If it doesn't play, just click here right now. To listen to this song with LaShonda (ChocolateRocker) click here

Gone, but never forgotten. Music never does, as the soul never does too.


Rest in Paradise Prince

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Johnny Cash died 15 years ago

Johnny Cash was one of the greatest songwriters that ever lived. He was also a guitarist, a singer, a performer, an actor and even an author. In 1932 on this day, Johnny Cash was born in the heart of Kingsland, Arkansas. In between 1957 and 2014, Johnny Cash has created and has been featured in a total of 70 studio albums. He has sold over 100 million of them total.

And as one of the best-selling artists of all time, I want to honor him by singing a song he actually covered. The song is called Ain't No Grave (Can Hold My Body Down). Written by Ely Claude, this song is featured on Cash's American VI: Ain't No Gave album which was released in February of 2010. The song is about strength and really embraces the empowerment concept.

I have recorded this song three times on Smule. One solo back in late 2017 and the other in a duet with Smule User: StevenM716. You can listen to these renditions by clicking here and here.
 

 
To hear my most recent rendition of the song, simply watch the video above. If you cannot hear it, simply click here right now. Listen with headphones.

Gone, but never forgotten. Rest in Peace, Johnny Cash. 1932-2003

Monday, February 11, 2019

Whitney Houston died 7 years ago today

It is so hard to believe Whitney Houston died 7 years ago today on this date. When I first heard about her passing, I was sad. It was as if her death was not even real. I wasn't sad just because she died, but how she died. She basically drowned to death in a bathtub in a hotel room in Beverly Hills, CA. Houston had a long history of substance abuse; however, I always believed in her and always felt she would get through it. 

Sadly, she lost her battle.


When people criticized her voice, I remembered the voice she once had. That is the voice I will always remember when I think about Whitney Houston and the gift she brought to this world. She has always been amazing and quite possibly the best female pop singer to ever exist on earth.



To honor Whitney Houston today and her life, I want to share my recording of "I Will Always Love You" from Smule.




If you cannot see the video, simply click here right now to listen to rendition of this beautiful my song. 



Rest in Peace Whitney Houston. You will be forever missed. (August 9, 1963-February 11, 2012)

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Remembering Etta James

Etta James was one of the greatest singers to have ever lived and one of my favorite singers of all time. She was a storyteller who sang the blues, not because she wanted to but because it was who she was. James exuded so much soul she sold you the moment she would open her mouth. 

I remember hearing her sing for the first time and thinking how amazing she was. The power and projection she possessed was impeccably pristine. Imperfectly perfected, she epitomizes what singing your heart out really is. When she sang, I believed every word she would sing. It was 7 years ago today that Etta James died. At the age of 73, she passed away 5 days before her 74th birthday (which was on January 25th.) 

In late 2017, I joined Smule. The first song I ever recorded on the app was in late November. The first song I ever recorded on the app At Last by Etta James. It speaks so many volumes for being under three minutes and tells a story that many can relate to. 




To listen to my rendition of At Last, simply watch the video above. If it doesn't play, just click here right now. 

A woman with a voice and a message, Etta James will be remembered forever. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Harry Nilsson has been dead for 24 years

I remember being a very musically intrigued young girl listening to Harry Nilsson. I remember his beautiful voice and thinking I wished he would have lived a little longer, as he was just 52 years old when he died. In fact, he died when I was only 13 years old. Nilsson died of a sudden heart attack. 

It was quite tragic, as I remember hearing stories he tried to create more music shortly before his passing. One of things he did do was try to push his music label to release a special limited-edition box set. It was as if he knew he didn't have many years to live.

To honor his life and him, I decided to share my recording from Smule of his classic "Without You" a beautiful love ballad introduced in 1971 by the rock crooner. Written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger, this was Harry Nilsson's song. He recorded the song in a single take, which proves why I believe this was truly his song. Kind of like "I Will Always Love You" being Whitney Houston's.




To listen to my recording of Without You watch/listen to the video above. If it doesn't play, simply click here right now. 

Rest in Peace Harry Nilsson (June 15, 1941-January 15, 1994)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Lady Gaga defends victims of R.Kelly

As many of you are aware, Lifetime aired a six-part documentary series featuring R&B superstar R.Kelly. The series aired from January 3, 2019 until January 5, 2019. The series itself tells true stories about Kelly including graphic details of the abuse from his victims and raises many red flags in the process.  

I know this is getting off the point (I have to interrupt myself), but I knew something was off when R.Kelly was involved with Aaliyah. Aaliyah considered him to be her mentor in the early 90s and many credit him for the reason she was famous. When he got involved with her, I do believe she was only in her teens. I don't even think Aaliyah was of legal age when they were engaged and I believe he married her illegally also. Then, shortly after he married his backup dancer, Andrea Lee.

Fast forwarding to 2002, there were allegations of him and child pornography. I do believe the actual video of this surfaced which prompted an immediate investigation. What I found disturbing about this was it took over 6 months just for this case to be tried in court. He was found not guilty on 14 counts which I thought was extremely odd. No doubt some of those jury members were paid off. Part three of the documentary titled "Sex Tape Scandal" discussed this and did not censor the harsh reality of it.

Then, years later more women came forward with similar stories even going so far to say he intentionally infected them with sexually transmitted diseases and abused them. One woman made a claim in early 2018, but Kelly of course denied it. Some people question what happened to certain women, as some have even went missing. Others even believe some women were locked in rooms while Kelly worked, hence why some of his employees were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements.

The speculation does not end there. It has been said that some of the rooms in his studio were locked and women would knock on the doors asking to use the bathroom or for food. According to this article published last year by the Washington Post, the allegations only rise as this article raises many questions. I don't believe in spreading fake news nor supporting it, but the premise of the article doesn't sugar coat the commentary behind it. I believe with more people coming forward, R.Kelly will share a similar fate to Bill Cosby, another predator who was overlooked for many years.

Disturbing right? With so much proof to support the claims and allegations, many outlets including Spotify and Apple refuse to even promote and play R.Kelly's music anymore. I also believe that Pandora will not play his music either. Can you blame them? I definitely cannot.

Well, tonight Lady Gaga took to her official Twitter account to release a statement about R.Kelly at 9:43 PM MST. Here is the statement made by Lady Gaga regarding R.Kelly:


Lady Gaga's official
statement regarding
R.Kelly.
 
Lady Gaga is truly a class act. As most didn't know what to expect from the world class superstar, she made it clear that she was aware of what he has done, admits to working with him during her "dark" time, regrets it and shares support of sexual assault victims and survivors. She made it clear that she will never work with him again shortly before stating she will remove her collaboration of the song "Do What You Want (With My Body)" with him.
 
I am absolutely appalled and disgusted by R.Kelly and his actions, as I am more disturbed by anyone who defends him and supports his flagitious actions. And to think there are people who simply refuse to believe he has destroyed these innocent women's lives is beyond baffling. And after hearing his song "I Admit" (which I can't tell if this song is legitimate or he's trolling us) regardless based on this song alone, I think he's trying to make a joke of his own actions as well as manipulate us into believing he's the victim, which is even more vile.
 
As beautiful as R.Kelly's voice is (think Sam Cooke meets Donny Hathaway with a hint of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye), I am so shocked at what he has done, that there is no way I can continue being a fan of his. In fact, I will never listen to his music ever again nor support his music in any way. That song is now garbage and my cover of his songs (including my two covers of "If I Can Turn Back The Hands (Of Time)" will be deleted from my Smule.
 
I think it is time to take a stand and support every woman of sexual assault and violence. Stop blaming the victim and praising the perpetrator. Stop spreading lies because you have never experienced sexual assault and cannot relate. Stop attacking anyone who defends the victim just because you refuse to do so. Stop silencing the truth because you refuse to believe it. Support those who have endured violence. Support the victim. Listen to them and if they are no longer with us, be their voice. It is time to #MuteRKelly.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Auld Lang Syne by Sarah Afshar

It is so hard to believe it is 2019. I felt like 2018 flew by so quickly. I remember celebrating the New Year last year and it felt like only yesterday. 

As much as I want to list my goals here, all I can say is that I am happy and content right now. I do have a few bucket list goals, but I am not sure if I want to share them now or wait until I accomplish them. 

On Smule, I recorded Auld Lang Syne. This song is special in many ways; however, what I love most about it is that it was created from poem from Scots language. The history behind this tune really tells a story. 



To listen to my rendition of the New Year's classic Auld Lang Syne simply watch the video above. If you cannot hear it, just click here right now. 

With that said, Happy New Year! 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Solitaire by Sarah Afshar

Solitaire is a beautiful ballad originally performed by Neil Sedaka. I heard the song several times throughout my life and really loved it after hearing the talented Clay Aiken cover this song over 10 years ago. The song truly tells a story that many can relate to and identify with.

 
I took it upon myself to record it tonight on Smule. Originally I wanted to perform this song in parts, but decided to just record it in one go. Using Super Studio 30/30, there was barely any editing done to this song. What you hear is what you get and pretty much close to what I sound singing this IRL.

Check out the video above to listen to it. If you cannot see the video, simply click here right now. Remember to listen to this song with headphones.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Natural (piano version) by Sarah Afshar

Imagine Dragons is one of my favorite bands. They are so unique and just bring something new, different and exciting to music. I have quite a few favorite songs from them, with their newest song Natural being one of them. I think the best way I would describe them is the Dave Matthews Band mixed with OneRepublic with a hint of Cold Play. 

The moment they released the song, I learned it because I knew I would want to record it. The day I first heard it, I learned it. You can listen to that recording by going here. Tonight, I took to Smule to create another rendition. A cover that was unique and didn't sound like every other cover of the song.


To listen to my version of Natural, simply watch the video. If it doesn't play, just click here right now.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

River by Sarah Afshar

I decided to take on River by Bishop Briggs on Smule. There is currently a trending contest going on called the "Smule Olympics" where various groups work together to collaborate and create their own unique version of a song. Although I didn't enter the contest (I didn't join any groups this year), I decided to use the hashtag (#SO2018) and experiment with the song as it is my first time diving deep into this tune.
 
I recorded all of the parts in the song directly from the app using my iPhone. I used Super Studio 25/25 on each part, so I barely edited the parts as much as I could have. I sung the song originally through on the first part before adding each additional part in. There are a total of five parts in this song.
 

To hear my rendition of River watch the video above. If it doesn't play, just click here to listen. I recorded this using headphones, so I highly suggest wearing them while listening.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

My Own Worst Enemy by Sarah Afshar

My Own Worst Enemy is one of those classic 90's songs that reminds me of life. This song came out while I was in high school and was played on the radio a lot during that time. Recently I joined a contest for my friend Lashonda, but had to drop out as I didn't have time to sing everyday multiple times. In case you are unaware, My Own Worst Enemy is a pop punk kind of song, so I wasn't sure I was going to be able to cover this at all.

And like any risk, sometime the reward is worth it. My rendition of this song is so unique, I don't think anyone has ever done this ever with this song. I recorded all of the parts (5 total) via Smule, including the harmonies and dark growl/scream parts. I did everything from my iPhone. As much as I wanted to go darker, I didn't want to do too much. 

Here it is:


To listen to my version of My Own Worst Enemy, simply watch the video or listen to the video above. If it doesn't play, just click here right now. What do you think?

Friday, August 3, 2018

A Guy What Takes His Time by Sarah Afshar

I first heard this when watching Burlesque and immediately loved it. Christina Aguilera did this song so much justice. I heard it shortly after by Mae West, the original singer of the song and loved it as much. Sure, she (West) didn't have the vocal abilities as Aguilera, but she definitely had something special. A certain personality to the song that was very sultry. Her rendition was very simple in comparison. I love both of them in entirely different ways.

 
Tonight, while on Smule I decided to record this song in parts without overdoing it. I went with A Guy Want Takes His Time because it was a song that I found myself singing throughout the day today. It's a very classic yet edgy and sexy burlesque song which embraces the jazz concept.
 
If you cannot hear the video above, just click here to listen now. And remember to listen to this with headphones.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Zombie by Sarah Afshar


Zombie is one of those hauntingly sinister songs that sends a message so beautiful, you find yourself lost in translation. The song was released in Fall of 1994. I was only 13 years old when the song came out. And still today, it remains to be a wonderful song. Written by Dolores O'Riordan herself, the song sends a powerful message about political trauma.
I read that The Cranberries were offered $1 million from their record label to work on another song and O'Riordan ripped up the check (and checks were big before bank deposits back in the early-to-mid 90s) and worked on releasing Zombie immediately.
I was a huge fan of Dreams, so I wasn't sure if I would ever like the song, but when I heard it, I just knew that it would be a song I would not only love, but appreciate. In fact, I love it so much I had to cover it.
Check out the video above. If you cannot see it, simply click here to listen to it. Listen with headphones.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

In My Defence by Sarah Afshar

When I first heard this song, I was literally floored. I was watching a Freddie Mercury documentary many years ago. The documentary featured a lot of songs that were not so popular, as they were part of Freddie's solo album. In fact, they played excerpts of Mr. Bad Guy. I discovered this song when listening to the album and have loved it ever since.
 
The song is just a beautiful ballad with a lot of rock and soul to make it roll. It is one of my favorite songs by Freddie. You know me, I just had to record this one on Smule. I originally recorded this as a duet back in January with another Smule user. You can listen to that recording here. Tonight, I recorded the song solo.

 
To listen to my rendition of "In My Defence" just watch (or listen) to the video above. If you cannot hear it, simply click here now. And BTW, I recorded this using my iPhone straight from the Smule app.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Zombie (Piano) by Sarah Afshar


 
Zombie is about political expression. The message is so clear and the fact that Dolores O'Riordan refused $1 million just so release this amazingly epic song proves how iconic it really is.
 
I decided to cover it, as I found myself on Smule once again this evening. The piano version adds a very hauntingly beautiful appeal that you can't get with the original as it is more of a ballad versus the original, which is more upbeat.
 
Check out the video above. If you can't hear it, just click here. Remember to listen with headphones.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Anyway by Martina McBride

God is great, but sometimes life ain't good are wise words to live by as they are part of this amazing song by Martina McBride. Anyway is literally one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. It is so inspirational and filled with so many truthful verses. I literally can relate to this song. And if you dislike country music, you will love it after hearing this song.

 
You know me, if I love a song, I have to sing it on Smule. And that is exactly what I did tonight. I originally recorded the song on May 4th of this year. You can listen to that version here.
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Tonight I decided to tackle the song again using barely any filters. To listen to my rendition of Anyway, watch the video above. If the video doesn't play, just click here to listen. Listen with headphones, as I think I pretty much recommend in every blog post I make about this.

From This Moment On by Sarah Afshar

From This Moment On is the reason I started loving and appreciating country music. The song is literally one of the most beautiful love songs I have ever heard. The first time I heard it, I was 17 years. Shania Twain was popular for many years prior; however, she gained huge stardom because of this song. I became a huge fan of her my senior year of high school, when this song came out.
 
Of course, I heard the song earlier today so I had to go to Smule to record it. I recorded the song originally back in April. You can listen to that recording here.
 
 
I haven't heard many covers of this song, but I am almost certain no one has covered it the way I have. To listen to my rendition of From This Moment On just watch the video above. If the video above is not playing, simply click here to listen to my version of the song.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Numb (Linkin Park) by Sarah Afshar

 
Chester Bennington was a man with a voice and a message. A voice so huge, he always shined his story through his songs. When I first heard Numb, I thought it was incredibly beautiful. From Linkin Park's Meteora album, the song is about living up to the expectations of others so much, you have become lost (or numb) in life. It depicts a strong message of giving in to others, but losing yourself along the way.
 
The message also portrays a person who tries so hard, but fails them self. And as much as they disappoint others, they are disappointing themselves more becoming so lost, they are numb to everything around them. This is exactly what this song is about.
 
I decided to cover the song using my own spin. If you cannot see the video above, just click here to listen to the song. Sounds much better with headphones.
 
RIP Chester Bennington
(March 20, 1976-July 20, 2017)

Monday, July 16, 2018

In the Arms of an Angel by Sarah Afshar

So, tonight I was on Smule as usual deciding what to sing when I realized that I wanted to sing Sarah McLachlan's "In The Arms Of An Angel" as it is such a beautiful song with so much depth, spirit and meaning. I heard this song when I was much younger, but didn't really appreciate it until I heard it on Animal Planet on one of the animal commercials. Then, when I heard about McLachlan's humanitarian efforts, especially towards animals, I just fell in love with it. 

I originally recorded this song in late 2017. You can listen to that rendition here



To listen to my rendition simply watch the video above. If it doesn't play, simply click here right now to listen to it.