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Kelly Clarkson - Love So Soft

 

album picks

Album Review: Red Velvet's 'Perfect Velvet' Is The Best K-Pop Album of 2017
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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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In case everyone has forgotten, Taylor Swift started out as a country-pop singer famous for her seemingly fake Southern American accent mostly noticeable on her debut album.

But did you know that the former country pop star released a Christmas EP entitled The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection?

The 6-track EP was released in 2007 during the advent of her popularity and includes 2 original songs.

If you’re in for a nostalgic treat, listen to our top 3 picks from the EP here:

 

Last Christmas

 

Santa Baby

 

Christmas Must Be Something More (Original Song)

Photo credit: Big Machine Records

2017 has been a draining slow burn of a year. There was virtually no moment when looking at the news didn't make for a depressing experience.

At the same time, it solidified the role of music as a refuge more than ever.

We've browsed through the pool of releases in pop, R&B, rock and hip-hop, to put together a list of the best albums of the year. Here's some music for some rough times.

 

10. Vince Staples - Big Fish Theory

Branded as 'Afro-futurism' by the 24-year-old rapper, Big Fish Theory's vision extends past the trends of the today, into the sounds of tomorrow- glacial, metallic beats seemingly fed through a wormhole from a dystopian future. Lethargy pervades his lyrics and delivery, occasionally sinking him beneath the cacophony of it all, as the bass grinds on like the machinery of circumstance. However, when his simmering anger finally emerges, he wields the relentless sonics like a weapon on tracks such as BagBak- delivering results that are raw and cutting.

 

9. Alex Cameron - Forced Witness

Glistening synthpop coupled with lyrics detailing douchebaggery of the lowest kind makes for an unsettling listening experience- while you find yourself grooving to the hook-laden music, it feels strange to do so over such misogynistic ramblings of a disempowered but delusional man (not going to quote the lyrics here, for the sake of decency, but feel free to look them up). Alex Cameron effectively highlights the ugly ridiculousness of his alter-ego’s worldview through contrastingly bright production and self-aware jabs, serving one of the more interesting releases of 2017. Also, Studmuffin96 for song title of the year.

 

8. Red Velvet - Perfect Velvet

Stylized with sticky hooks and harmonies more exquisite than anything on Western radio, while recalling a kaleidoscopic sea of influences ranging from warped future bass to throwback disco, Perfect Velvet showcases refined pop songcraft that is captivating and experimental. It’s releases like this that continue to position Red Velvet on the forefront of one of the more rewardingly daring pop music scenes out there. Our full review here.   

 

7. Paramore - After Laughter

Sadness feels truer when it is situated in the backdrop of taxing attempts to appear happy. Paramore, recalling their tumultuous history, present an evolved 80s-inspired sound that embodies this very feeling- arpeggiated guitar lines, animated synths, and their cleverest lyrics to date conjure color and mania in passionate bursts. Hayley Williams further evokes a sense of volatility through her performance- sharp inflections, spoken outbursts and varied vocal rhythms. Devastating and infectious, in equal parts. Our full review here.

 

6. The Shins - Heartworms

As our writer Donwei notes- “The Shins are always a good fall-back whenever you're in need of a dose of indie music. Having consistently put out solid albums throughout their career, Heartworms is no exception. With gems scattered across the album, the band (thankfully) retains their signature sound and heart-wrenching lyrics under the disguise of feel-good vibes.” An introspective and organic record, it is something you can always come home to.

 

5. The xx - I See You

The xx are known for recreating intimacy that emits warmth and ambiguity, akin to the substance of a shadow. They continue to advance their art form on their third album, with smarter sampling, less meekness and more curious production choices. Dangerous, the album opener, announces their renewed ambition with a brassy, garage-influenced production that is unlike anything they have put out previously. We finally see light spilling through the cracks of the monochromatic universe they've built since debut, onto new grounds. 

 

4. Phoenix - Ti Amo

Writer Teejay wrote, “If you’re looking for some fresh yet timeless synth-pop, Phoenix will never disappoint. It’s the paradox you never knew you needed. For a band that’s been part of the music scene for almost 20 years, Phoenix never lost their ability to keep up with the times while still incorporating their signature head-bob inducing songs.” Sleek, romantic, summer-kissed music that provides a respite from the chaos.

 

3. Kelela - Take Me Apart

A synthesis of the corporeal and surreal, Kelela delves in the physical- the throbbing ache of love and desire- amidst the hazy atmospherics courtesy of experimental electronic producers like Jam City and Arca. On her previous effort Cut 4 Me, she came off as more of a decorative edge to the main body of her producers’ works, but on this album, she takes over the spacey, off-kilter beats, imbuing her vulnerability into their alien quality. Emotional yet forward-thinking, Take Me Apart is the best R&B release of 2017.

 

2. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.

Kendrick continues to show the world why he is the among, if not the top of the rap royalty of this generation. Top tier flow, delivery, punchlines, storytelling and beats. Through arrestingly personal narratives, he seeks optimism and humanity in the bleakness of the world, delivering a masterpiece of a rap album.

 

1. Lorde- Melodrama

I was slightly hesitant about ranking this as number one, albeit it seemed like a predictable pick- but upon another spin of the record, I can't imagine another album in its place. It's no wonder why Melodrama resonates deeply with so many- as writer Solihin pertinently puts it, "Rather than wallow in the depths of pubescent grief, the New Zealander wrestles with it, comes out on top and wears its skin as her own for all to see. Expanding her minimalist sound to accommodate the emotionally chaotic narrative, Lorde's sophomore outing vividly and poetically captures the maddening ebbs and flows of late teenage-hood, lending listeners glimpses into her synesthesia-hued world."

The season of giving is upon us once again.

If you are thinking of what gifts to get a fandom-obsessed person, you have come to the right place. Put aside the usual CDs, biographies and posters, we have got some interesting finds for you.

Regardless of whom they idolise, we’re sure you will find something suitable here!

 

1.     Pins - For the ones that like it subtle.

Beyonce Lemonade Pin | One Direction Pin Set | Drake Pin

 

2.     Iron Ons – For the ones that like to jazz up their outfits.

Justin Bieber Patch | Sia Patch | Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You Patch

 

3.     Stickers – For the ones that want to spice up their life.

Spice Girls | Fifth Harmony | The 1975

 

4.     Phone cases – For the ones that cannot keep their hands off their idols.

Shawn Mendes | Maroon 5 | Ariana Grande

 

5.     Notebooks – For the busy ones.

Selena Gomez | Troye Sivan | Rihanna

 

6.     Totebags – For the ones that love shopping.

Sound of Music | Justin Bieber’s Purpose Tour | Taylor Swift’s Squad

 

7.     Mugs – For that morning tea or coffee.

Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk | Mariah Carey | Justin Timberlake

 

8.     Figurines – For the ones who love collectibles.

Shakira | Amy Winehouse | The Beatles

 

9.     T-shirts – For the ones that aren’t afraid to tell the world.

Harry Styles | Shawn Mendes | Halsey

 

10.Keychains – For the ones who never wish to lose their keys.

David Bowie | Troye Sivan | Kanye West & Kim Kardashian

 

11.Socks – For the ones that are always on their toes.

The Rolling Stones | Steve Aoki | Big Bang

 

12.Earrings – For the ones that like to keep music by their ears.

5SOS’ Safety Pin | Drake | Justin Bieber

 

Happy Holidays!


Picture Credits: Giphy, Lyashenko - Freepik.com

A few bands might have cancelled their shows or even skipped Singapore during their Asia tour this year, but we can’t deny that we’ve also been blessed with a range of memorable concerts in 2017.

But what exactly makes a concert memorable? It’s not just the music anymore, it’s the overall experience made possible by fellow audience members, the lighting, the pyrotechnics, the stage presence, and even the venue.

Read what our writers had to say about their top concerts of 2017!

*Click the images to read our concert reviews!

 

Teejay: “While Glass Animals’ set at Laneway Festival can't exactly be counted as a concert, their show was still exhilarating from start to finish – we’ve got a fantastic setlist in addition to their kaleidoscopic stage setup and their wild gimmicks (pineapple inflatables being thrown around). This was one of those rare moments where I’m grateful to be standing in the middle of the moshpit instead of my usual front spot because the infectious energy of the crowd made listening to Glass Animals’ music live such an unforgettable and euphoric experience.”

 

Leo: “The UK quartet's return to Singapore was easily the top arena show of the year. The rainbow of lights on the audience wristbands, cannon-fired confetti, inflatable balls, and pyrotechnic fire displays make the entire experience a kind of sensory overload. With a setlist spanning from their breakout hit Yellow to recent collaborations with The Chainsmokers and Beyoncé, Coldplay's performance was a pure spectacle and proved why they are still pop heavyweights.”

 

Letazia: “This was the girlband's first time performing in Singapore. Since they were still on their 7/27 tour, I was very impressed that they were able to adapt and change the arrangements to their songs in such a short amount of time considering that they had just lost one band member.”

 

Teejay: “Honne’s dreamy soundscapes created such an atmospheric ambience in the tiny Esplanade Annexe Studio. The lack of energy onstage was sort of given because of the duo’s assumed introverted nature. But their songs undoubtedly sounded flawless live. Toss up a bit of mellow lighting in there and you’ve got yourself a spiritual experience.”

 

Solihin: “As one of the few bands from The Scene™ whose music I can safely get behind even after more than a decade, The Maine's sound blossomed beautifully with Lovely, Little, Lonely. Third time's the charm as they say and this is a hardworking group who makes making music and touring look easy.”

 

Donwei: “Deryck Whibley is an amazing frontman and really knows how to put on a show and work a crowd. Sum 41's concert here in August is possibly the most interactive and energetic one I've ever been to, not that I should expect any less of these pop punk veterans. Despite initially hating the idea of travelling to Jurong East for the gig, I actually really liked Zepp@BIGBOX as a concert venue!”

 

Solihin: “No fancy light shows. No surprise musical guests. Just two hours plus of solid rock and also some roll. Only Dave Grohl and company could ever convince me to pay actual money for a seat at the National Stadium, still leave me completely floored and wistful for a bygone era that not many seem fit or overly keen on inheriting. Dad rock forever.”

 

Donwei: “Mew's gig is at the SOTA Concert Hall is possibly one of the smallest most intimate concerts I have ever attended and in my opinion, was pretty damn near perfect. The atmosphere, psychedelic visuals and music complemented each other flawlessly, and I could only wish that there were more concerts like this in Singapore.”

 

Letazia: “Ed Sheeran's voice was pure perfection. The concert had a mix of upbeat songs and slow chill ballads. Other than the obvious fact that Ed has an incredible voice, his rapping skills are out of this world. The set was very well designed too. A NIGHT TO REMEMBER.”

 

Xinyi: “It’s just Harry innit? Styles hung up his boyband shoes to put on rockstar boots for his second visit to Singapore. The mix of slow-sentimental tracks in between high-energy rock out songs created the perfect mood. The biggest star of the show was his pure voice and how versatile he was, performing every track spot on. The moment the show ended, I was already anticipating his show next May.”

 

*****

What’s your favorite concert of 2017? Share them with us in the comments section below!

 

Photo credit: Unusual Entertainment, Upsurge Productions, Aloysius Lim, Live Nation Lushington SG, @aa_fiq via Twitter, Symmetry Entertainment, Ariffin Jamar for The Straits Times, Moonbeats Asia, Alvin Ho for LAMC Productions, Spin or Bin Music

In her latest feature on PAPER magazine, Nicki Minaj unapologetically flaunts herself with a couple of clones in sexual poses.

While there might have been a tremendous amount of support for these “Break The Internet” photos, a few remained half-heartedly convinced.

Our verdict? Well, we’re on the fence.

 

On Self-Objectification

These photos can be easily assumed as an example of self-objection. There’s nothing wrong with being naked. But posing in overtly sexual positions and making it available for public consumption somehow perpetuate the male gaze. The association of her “nakedness” with promiscuous acts does not entirely contribute to the desexualization of the female body, especially not when you're openly touching yourself in such places. Miley Cyrus’ MTV VMA performance is a case in point as she later confessed about feeling sexualized after twerking in a latex suit onstage.

 

On Female Empowerment

The glorification of Nicki Minaj’s photos is warranted by her agency to perform sexualized acts on her own body without inflicting anyone else’s morality. Perhaps cloning herself was also a metaphor for what she’s trying to communicate. It’s hard not to praise someone who could have intended to convey a positive message of female empowerment by showing that women are indeed in control of their own sexualities. This makes any other interpretation of her actions irrelevant, as how you view yourself is what’s important.

Despite the public’s ranging opinions, what truly matters is Nicki’s personal intention. Did she really do it to empower fellow women or perpetuate the male gaze for marketing purposes? I guess we’ll never know.

******

Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

Photo credit: PAPER Magazine