single of the week

Kelly Clarkson - Love So Soft

 

album picks

The Definitive Track-by-Track Ranking of Taylor Swift's 'reputation' Nobody Asked For
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Niall Horan Shows Us A Different Side Of Him In 'Flicker'
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Album Review: Our Top 3 Tracks From BTS' EP 'Love Yourself: Her'
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World Bloggers And Social Media Awards
SBA 2014
SBA 2013
SBA 2012

 

 

 

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Decked out in a casual black tee and a pair of black vans, Harry Styles was your typical 23-year-old prior to the start of his first solo show in Singapore.

One could easily fall into the trap of aggressively taking photos of Harry during his short chat with the media. But the intimate press conference was an experience like no other – people actually paying attention to what a musician had to say, instead of documenting his presence in the same room.

For that, we were allowed a peek into one of today’s most sought-after artist’s perspective, whether performing alone for the first time, being a music fan himself, or empowering women through music.

Read more about what went down during the press conference below.

 

How does it feel to be back on tour with your own band this time around?

It’s exciting. It’s definitely different, but I like trying different things. I wasn’t on the road for a couple of years and performing’s my favorite part of being in music. I’m having a lot of fun.

 

What’s your favorite song to perform onstage?
I think it’s probably Kiwi. It’s the one where it’s so much different live than when it’s on the album.  Every night I feel this energy from the crowd. They’ve been so amazing every time that we’ve played it. I love playing these songs and I just think Kiwi’s a standout, kind of highlight for me. Some of my favorite moments from the tour have been during Kiwi.

 

Where do you get inspiration from when writing all the songs on your album?

When you sit down and write, it’s a combination of stuff that you grew up listening to and anything you’ve ever heard. It’s hard not to be influenced by the things that you grew up on and what your parents were listening to. That kind of forms the basis of what you grow up thinking music is. Every time that you listen to something and you like something that you haven’t heard before or work out that you don’t like it, it all comes together and forms what you would want to make and what you’d listen to if it was yours. It’s constantly changing every time you listen to music. You use it as an influence in different ways. The foundation of what you hold as your reference of what music is is probably what your parents listen to and what’s played in the house as you’re growing up.

 

You’re well-known for your fashion taste and fans in Asia all love your different outfits. What’s your favorite look and what’s your consideration when picking out an outfit for the day?

It’s nothing crazy, but for the shows, it’s important to me that it’s fun. I want the show to feel like what I think the music sounds like. Clothes are just another way of expressing yourself and I think being able to do that with music and onstage as part of a show makes it so much fun for me to be able to experiment different things. I just wear stuff that I think is fun and I’ll be comfortable in onstage, and what I think will look good for the show. In terms of picking, sometimes stuff jumps out at you depending on where you are.

 

You’re going to have arena tours for this album next year. How is it going to be different from this theatre show?

I’m starting to think about what that show is going to be now and I’m trying to get some ideas together. I think it’s important that every show, whether the venues change or not, get a little bit bigger and a little bit better than the one before. Although I’ve toured before, this is the first time I’m doing it on my own and I feel like this tour I’ve learned so much about what it is to perform on my own. I feel like it’s been a big learning experience for me. So, going into the next one, there are a lot of things that I’ve learned that I didn’t know before. It’s always been important to me that the show is good because I want people to come even if they’re not necessarily the biggest fan of the music they can leave and appreciate the show and come and have a good time. It’s important to make sure that the show is always growing, change some stuff up and put some surprises in. So I’m looking forward to working out exactly what’s that gonna be.

 

What was it like when you did a show by yourself for the first time?

It was one of the most nerve-wracking things I think. During the shows, there were always a couple of places where I had to do things or speak or whatever. I was very aware that I was on my own. So that was interesting. But I really enjoyed doing that and trying to embrace it, it’s a lot of fun. I guess I enjoy the attention. So it’s been good, it’s been fun.

 

This is your first solo album - the grunge, the rock and the vast difference to what we heard previously. Is this the real Harry Styles or are we in for more sonic changes?

Every album represents a snapshot of time of where [a musician is at] at that point. For me, I felt that it was a lot of getting out stuff that I’d thought about in the past and stories that I wanted to tell. It’s an album that I wanted to make, but I didn’t necessarily know technically how it sounded. It’s difficult to tell exactly how something’s gonna sound. I’m sure it’s not gonna be exactly the same. I think it’s just as important to grow and develop and learn new things just as much as it is to have [a] foundation of who you are. There’s a lot of different stuff on the album and there’s a lot of different sounds and a lot of that is that I was working out what my first album was gonna sound like and what I would sound like as a solo artist. I was happy for people to go through that with me and experience all the different kinds of things. So I’m excited to see what the next album brings. I don’t think it will be too crazy far away, but I also think it’s important to embrace different things. I’ve learned a lot since this has come out about what I’d do differently and things that I liked. Touring has been a different experience and I’ve experienced a lot of different things since the first one came out. I feel lucky that I get to take all of that experience into the next one. I’m very excited to see what comes out at the end of it.

 

Did you get to decide what’s going to be on your album on your own or did everybody worked and put it together?

I worked with a group, a couple of guys that I've never worked with before. All of my favorite stuff is usually honest and the stuff that I connect with the most. The one thing that I knew I wanted to do when making this album was be honest. Going into a room with people you don't know is not always particularly easy to do - to open up and be honest about things that have hurt you and when you've made mistakes. That could be quite difficult. When I found a group of guys that I felt comfortable doing that with, I knew from that point that I wanted to make the whole album with them. A lot of them, it was their first time making this album this way too. It very much felt like we were a band working out what it was together. I got lucky that each person working on it had this much investment in the album and wanted it to be as good as I did. We very much listened to each other and talked a lot of things out. Ultimately, I have to perform it and it's my words, so to a degree that gives you a bit of decision-making power I guess. But I think we were all very much into it together and we all wanted it to be great.

 

Has your experience in films, especially Dunkirk, influenced your work ethic and artistry?

The main positive for me from doing the film was that for months, and possibly before that, I've always had a thought of if I was ever gonna make a record of my own, what it might sound like and what I wanted it to be. You go through so many different thoughts that start overlapping each other and become this mush. What the film let me do is kind of put music aside for a while and not think about it for 5 or 6 months. I never had that break from thinking about what was an album gonna sound like. By the time the filming finished, I was just thankful to not be swimming in freezing cold water and be writing songs. It kind of felt that I was going back to it fresh. You don't really get that chance if you're constantly thinking about music. I think it's really rare to have a restart button. I think the film helped me in that sense. I felt that I was coming back to writing music after a long break of not thinking about it at all, which I think was great for me.

 

Majority of your fans are young girls for whom you've shown a lot of pride and faith in. How do you ensure that they stay empowered and make the music scene a safe space for them?

I think music is and should be a safe space for everyone. I don't see why that would ever or should ever exclude women. I've said it before; I've been incredibly lucky to have the support that I've had through my time in music and touring. I feel very lucky for that. It's often dismissed a little bit - younger girls' taste in things. I still don't really understand that at all. Women and girls, in particular, are very much the future and our future. I feel very lucky to get to play in front of such an amazing group of strong women and men every night. It's something that I feel very honored to get to do. I feel incredibly grateful to be able to play in front of groups of such amazing people. Music, in general, is something that is so individual. Not everyone's taste is the same at all. It's something that can't be taken away from you. That in itself is incredibly powerful.

 

Between putting out an album and going on a world tour, acting, and performing in a Victoria Secret fashion show as a solo artist... What are the top 3 most enjoyable and memorable moments for you so far?

I'd say finishing the album was a big one for me. I've always loved performing so much and touring and doing shows. I've always really enjoyed writing music and being in the studio. This was the first time that I really got to immerse myself in the studio part of things. I'd never got to make an album this way. It was just one of the best times I ever had in my life, making this album. I just had the best time with the group of people I didn't really know, who now I consider some of my closest friends. I kind of fell in love with the studio side of music. If I wasn't lucky before, I consider myself that I was, I’m definitely lucky now that I get to do two sides of something that I love so much. So I'd say finishing that and when it was done, listening through it and realizing it was finished is definitely a highlight for me. Seeing Stevie Nicks is something that I'll never forget. I was a fan of her; I grew up listening to her music. It was pretty crazy to get to perform with her in The Troubadour as well. When we sound checked was probably my actual highlight because we were in an empty room and it was just me and her. That definitely was very special to me, something that I'll never forget. Then I think just the tour in general, I had so much fun doing it. It's so nice to get out and see people and I love playing these songs so much. People coming to your shows is the nicest thing that someone could do for you. They get a ticket and not only did they drive and come to the show, they listen and cheer for you if they like it. The whole experience is something that I don't really know anything that I've experienced that I could compare it to. It's just the greatest feeling I could possibly imagine. I feel so grateful to get to do it. I'm definitely looking forward to coming back around.

 

You have a huge fanbase in Asia, specifically in Korea where the mainstream music is K-pop. Any words for your Korean fans?

Just a massive thank you for the support. I hope I get out there soon. It's amazing to get to do this at any level. If I was just playing shows in England and if I was putting music out in England, I would feel incredibly lucky. The fact that I get to do it and travel around and meet lots of amazing people is something that I don't know I could ever top with anything else. I feel incredibly lucky to have this support and everyone who's allowed me to travel this way and play shows. The fact that people are coming to the shows is amazing. I only have 10 songs, so I feel pretty amazing I'm getting to do this right now. So a massive thank you [to] people in Korea and everywhere else for the support that you've shown me over the last few years and since the single and the album came out. I've been truly blown away, so thank you so much for everything.

******

We will be uploading the press con video soon. STALK US!

All I want is to fly with you …

Zac Efron and Zendaya will definitely be partaking in a lot of aerial stunts in their new movie The Greatest Showman, out in December. Zendaya’s previous music release was a collab with Prince Royce earlier this year, while Zac has pretty much not touched music since the days of Hairspray and High School Musical. It might have been awhile since they have both released new music, but this is all about to change with this movie!

The Greatest Showman’s soundtrack features 11 stunning tunes from the movie, including a very special romantic duet by Zac and Zendaya titled Rewrite The Stars. Rewrite The Stars took us back to the days of High School Musical, where we saw Troy and Gabriella expressing their feelings for each other through song. We have been swooning over all these romantic duets, but this tops the list. Zac and Zendaya’s duet has got our hearts fluttering and minds racing hoping that they will live happily ever after.

Get ready for some feels, listen here and watch Zendaya’s exclusive trailer below.

 

 

 

Picture Credit: The Greatest Showman on Twitter

Pop concerts, classic musicals and Asia’s largest dance music festival to end off 2017 on a high note.

The holiday season is once again upon us, kick back and take a break from the hectic schedules you have been through in the past 11 months. Whether you are into pop concerts, musicals or parties, there is something here for you.

Here are 12 gigs you can catch in December!

 

Disney In Concert: Frozen (2 Dec)

Do you want to build a snowman? If you can’t get enough of Frozen and its super-catchy music, then this is for you. Experience the movie like never before, this time with the accompaniment of a full symphony orchestra.

More info here.

 

VIXX Shangri-La in Singapore 2017 (2 Dec)

Formed through the talent show “MyDOL”, VIXX (aka Voice, Visual, Value in Excelsis) is a 6-member boy group from South Korea. They will make their highly anticipated return to Singapore and perform for one night only at Zepp @ Big Box.

More info here

 

The Sound Of Music (Till 3 Dec)

Do- A deer, a female deer… We’re sure you know what comes after that! From now till 3rd December, catch the live-action musical at the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands.

More info here

 

The Addams Family (Till 3 Dec)

Our favourite strange and spooky family is here to visit! From now till 3rd December, they’ll be at Mediacorp’s MES Theatre waiting for you.

More info here

 

Eason Says C’mon In (3 Dec)

Here’s your invite, c’mon in! After a short hiatus, Hong Kong singer Eason Chan is back with new album and a tour. Mandopop lovers, this is for you.

More info here

 

ZoukOut 2017 (8 & 9 Dec)

Known as Asia’s largest dance music festival, the annual ZoukOut Siloso Beach party is back. Get ready to catch DJ Snake, Marshmello, Flume and many more in action at this year’s event.

More info here

 

Shawn Mendes (9 Dec)

Canadian pop singer Shawn Mendes will make his Singapore debut at The Star Theatre come 9th December. Sing along to his smash hits Stitches, Mercy and There’s Nothing Holdin' Me Back as well as underrated tracks like Lights On and Don’t Be A Fool.

More info here

 

Culture Club (11 Dec)

Throwback to the 1980s, Culture Club is here and YES it is the original line-up! Relive the past and jam out to classic hits like Do You Really Want to Hurt Me and I'll Tumble 4 Ya.

More info here

 

SSO Christmas Concert (15 Dec)

Get ready for a night of classical music coupled with some of your favourite Christmas tunes. Some include Colours of Christmas, A Christmas Carol Fantasy and Hallelujah. Let the festivities begin!

More info here

 

Bee Gees Gold (15 & 16 Dec)

If you love the Bee Gees, then this is for you! Straight from Las Vegas, the ultimate Bee Gees tribute band will perform in Singapore for two nights only. Dance along to disco anthems like Stayin' Alive and You Should Be Dancing!

More info here

 

Mayday 2017 Live Tour (15 to 17 Dec)

Mayday set a new record when they sold out three shows at the Singapore Indoor Stadium upon release. Be prepared for a super-exciting-adrenaline-pumping show that you definitely don’t want to miss.

More info here

Rock 'N' Roll Music Festival Singapore 2017 (23 Dec)

Rock ‘N’ Roll goes local with homegrown bands like Jerry & the Neufaces, The Dukes, The Silver Strings and The Easybeats! Will this be a blast to the past for you?

More info here


Picture Credits: Freepik, Skadyfernix for Freepik, Apactix, ZoukOut

As part of the build-up towards the inevitable event that was Taylor Swift releasing her sixth studio album, Rolling Stones’ Robert Sheffield ranked all 115 of her songs, (correctly) crowning All Too Well as the crème de la crème. Vulture followed suit with an updated list, taking into account the recent reputation and #124 Will Shock No One!  

But seriously though, is anyone surprised that the LP that sold 1.05 million copies within four days is unfortunately the songstress’ most commercial i.e. generic output to date. Sure, the record is Swift at her most sonically cohesive in recent years but it also sees her striking the same contemporarily homogenous chords that tend to blunt her Midas Touch of crafting emotionally resonant pop songs. Rather than pander to the sounds of the moment (808 snares, everywhere!) shouldn't she be comfortable at this point in her career to rise above the din and craft a record that is truly signature Swift?

reputation is unnecessarily awkward in its predestined ascent to the top of the charts. Despite the fake news it perpetuates, the clickbait-y Consequence of Sound does bring up a valid point – are we supposed to immediately be cool with Swift rapping? It might be a nit-pick but should anyone ask me about my favourite TSwift hip-hop moment, the answer will forever be her iconic (and ironic) collaboration with T-Pain. Discomfort at some level should be a natural reaction to the verses she drawls unrecognisably and begs the question, "Why?" No offense, Ed Sheeran. 

If 1989 was the quasi-nostalgic, metropolitan embrace of her independence, reputation is a muddled and dated acknowledgement of her celebrity and/or infamy. By dedicating a majority of the record to her maligned public persona, Swift unwittingly distances herself at times and the dubious fashion she chooses to clothe her tracks doesn’t help either. Instead of the bulletproof comeback that could have been, reputation’s over-the-top gaudiness at the cost of relatability and immersion betrays an insecurity that’s quite misplaced. In the very era of oversharing it would be a pity that the mixed bag presented is merely a reaction and nothing much else.

Thankfully, we’ve sifted through the debris and neatly arranged all 15 tracks from worst to best for your perusal.

 

15. This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Clearly Swift has a thing or two to say to her perceived opponents and on any other day, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It does become inescapably tiresome when a full-fledged 3-minute song or more accurately, a tedious bulk of reputation is devoted to silly barbs which more often than not, fall flat. Would it not be a more fulfilling endeavour to prove her mettle by writing good songs first and foremost? Asking as a fan. Worst of all, "I can't even keep a straight face" doesn't even make a good meme and her insistence on juvenile cattiness represents everything wrong with this record.

14. End Game (ft. Ed Sheeran & Future)

How exactly did we as a society get here? Were we enablers of some sort when we innocently embraced her celebratory Backseat Freestyle and lauded the subsequent Kendrick Lamar feature in spite of its grossly underwhelming music video? If so, sorry. The lines Swift spit aren't terrible but next to nothing could ever redeem the very existence of this transactionary conception.            

13. Look What You Made Me Do

Believe it or not, I’m all for salty, extra, petty Swift, snake symbolism and all. I enjoy that glint of malice when she scowls, “Maybe I got mine, but you'll all get yours,” whatever she’s going off about and the Mean Girls deep cut is, in all honesty, genius. Still doesn’t qualify as anything more than a guilty pleasure, though.       

12. So It Goes...

Genius user taylorrolyat would have us believe that the refrain is used as a Vonnegut-inspired narrative tool of transition marking Swift’s metamorphosis from Old to New. That hypothesis is a stretch which could never accommodate the arid, uninspired soundscapes and flimsy rethreads of her dating dynamics. 

11. Dancing With Our Hands Tied

Imagine you were Joe Alwyn. While there has never been a Taylor Swift album more centred around a single, secretive relationship, the longevity of those songs (this throwaway one included) is, to put it generously, up in the air. Quality over quantity I say.     

10. …Ready For It?

reputation’s opening anthem functions as a spoiler warning and it’s ultimately a grower but just to give you an idea of how much I was not ready for it, I texted anyone who would listen this: “Taylor's a rapper now :(”

9. I Did Something Bad

It is highly unlikely that 2017 will be remembered as the year in which Swift finally came out openly relishing the purported singer-songwriter crime of penning diatribes against exes but you know what? She shouldn’t and doesn’t give a shit so that’s refreshing and hopefully, cathartic. 

8. Gorgeous

This isn’t a song that takes itself too seriously and neither should you. Only someone so smitten could let such an objectively weak chorus slide but the sentiment expressed is… not wrong.  

7. Don’t Blame Me

“Yeah but can she really sing though,” is by far the laziest excuse I’ve heard from casuals who somehow always happen to be vocal connoisseurs. Track 4’s blaring synths are drowned out by Swift’s fiery delivery of a bridge so lit it burns bright to high heaven.

6. Call It What You Want

Admit it, the whole “My baby's fly like a jet stream / High above the whole scene” is pretty darn catchy right up to the point where Swift frets about – you guessed it, her reputation.

5. Delicate

As one of those songs that could be described as (and contains the actual word) “chill”, reputation’s rare moment of frailty and self-doubt is interspersed with hip Tinder lexicon alluding to the anxieties of meeting someone new the only way Taylor Swift could.

4. King of My Heart

The auto tune works well here – Swift seems to be consumed quite thoroughly by the coronation of her new king who enchants her “heart, body, and soul” so much so that there is a shift in the very core of her being. Flitting around a series of dizzying beats, it’s thrilling to imagine a live drum circle HAIM-style hammering it out.

3. Getaway Car

Swift shines the most when she sounds like she could be on the edge of screaming her lyrics from the rooftops or in this case, while riding off into the sunset, possibly in a convertible. With Jack Antonoff’s imprint practically imbued in its DNA, that sweet 1989 aesthetic is ramped up to 13 for good measure.  

2. New Year’s Day

There she is. Vintage Swift – warmest when stripped down and your favourite story teller who kills it with lines like “Please don’t ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognise anywhere." Isn’t it nice to actually feel things? Just ask Jimmy Fallon.

1. Dress

Sex, sex, sex in the form of a ballad no less. This is peak New Taylor. Alcohol reference? Check. Flow without interference from unnatural cadences? Check. An accessible narrative with enough juicy details and the utility of silence as the embodiment of tense restraint? Very good. 

 

Photo credit: Big Machine Records

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Probably.

But if this writer were to be perfectly honest, he’d really rather see their MONUMENTOUR mates, Paramore, whose After Laughter album remains as one of the few excellent releases this year.

Can Fall Out Boy say the same for their not two, but FOUR most recent promotional singles?

Fans of alternative music will tell you that the fatigue when it comes to being constantly disappointed by your musical heroes is real. We’re either trying to reconcile with the fact that there exists a seemingly ubiquitous smog of predatory behaviour perpetuated by some musicians or in FOB’s case, run the risk of tolerating tragically lacklustre new material.  

American Beauty/American Psycho was a great record but my God did they milk it dry. It’s difficult to believe to that almost three years have passed since then (it feels much longer).  That dubious rap/remix album? Their truly terrible remake of the Ghostbusters theme song that irked Ray Parker Jr.? Mistakes were made, man. Take the postponement of their forthcoming M A N I A LP as a prime example.

The four aforementioned singles aren’t bad per se, but neither are they promising. Weakest of which is Champion the latest addition to Fall Out Boy’s burgeoning stadium rock discography, a cheap Centuries knock off sharing an equally disposable chorus with The Last Of The Real Ones. The experimental Young and Menace is actually pretty wild (in a good way) and the concept of an EDM influenced FOB is ludicrous at best but here we are. Again, F O U R songs (out of ten) seem to be an overcompensation of some sort, so… fingers crossed M A N I A is gonna turn out OK?

The M A N I A Tour on the other hand is a guaranteed good time because how often do you get to lose your shit belting out Emo Night classics like Sugar We’re Goin Down, right? If you, like me, felt fairly confident that LAMC Productions was on the verge of officially announcing the arrival of Pete Wentz and co., here’s a familiar sentiment for you – more disappointment because we’re just as clueless. Here's what we do know from Fall Out Boy's Tumblr:

 

We will be updating more details as soon as it's available! Stalk us!

Photo credit: Pamela Littky