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Kelly Clarkson - Love So Soft

 

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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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Teejay

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

Heart-breaking ballads might have gotten Sam Smith his well-deserved fame, but the 25-year-old is FINALLY going to ditch the genre to focus on more upbeat songs.

The reason? Well, your homeboy just found himself some new love with boyfriend, 13 Reasons Why actor Brandon Flynn.

“I might be starting to write some happy songs. I’m just so sick of being dreary,” he shared with The Sun.

“I want to challenge myself as a writer and have some really strong — not positive because I don’t like the word positive — but strong and empowering songs.”

Don’t get us wrong. Smith’s ballads are perfect for melancholic afternoons when we all just need a little background music to complement our bleak mood. However, it does get a bit tiresome listening to irresistibly good yet depressing music.

“For the first time I’ve realized how much the whole second album thing affected me. I thought it was too dark sometimes."

“I’m ready to turn into BEYONCE. I’m going to be writing the third album on tour.”

I don't know about you guys, but we can’t wait!

 

Photo Credit: 247PAPS/Splash News & David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

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

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!

Following the release of his second record, The Thrill of It All, Sam Smith surprises fans with ethereal performances of old and new songs along with The BBC Concert Orchestra.

Originally a 60-minute broadcast, the session featured Smith’s live debut performance of Burning – a new track off his latest record.

Smith has since been pulling our heartstrings with his gut-wrenching melodies. But the British singer has yet again invoked melancholy with this session's harmonic accompaniment, making our overall listening experience almost cinematic.

Call me basic, but hearing a symphonic version of Stay With Me proved that the hit song can be made even more celestial than the well-received studio version.

Don’t believe me? Listen to it here:

 

 

Watch his other performances here:

 

Photo Credit: BBC

Stranger Things’ magnetic appeal might have resulted to guilt-inducing binging, but the series’ undying influence has also reached the music scene.

We all know about the series’ nostalgic soundtrack, but have you heard of the opening theme’s captivating mashups?

It’s been a year since the show’s spooky theme has been remixed with several pop hits. We’ve had Childish Gambino’s Bonfire, The Weeknd’s Starboy, and even Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

But what’s been making rounds on the internet this past week is Ariana Grande’s Into You remixed with the theme’s eerie melody.

If you’re wondering what Into You would sound like with a slower tempo and a sinister vibe, you’ve come to the right place!

Listen to the remix here:

 

Photo credit: Netflix

Known for a plethora of creative proclivities, 19-year-old electronic singer-producer Of Methodist makes his directorial debut for his latest single off an upcoming record, Dead To Me.

The video transports viewers into a Sofia Coppola-esque setting comprising of a hypnotic coven of witches. It captures a propelling narrative that serves as a short glimpse of the R&B artist’s writing process – “I wanted this video to touch on the macabre and eeriness underlying my lyrics and productions.”

What one could easily assume as a metaphor for facing inner demons, the video also serves as a perfect encapsulation of what young local talents can offer – one of which is unapologetically channelling frustrations into mesmerizing art forms.

Watch the music video here:

 

Photo Credit: Benita Leong

It’s not everyday that you get to experience flashbacks of your childhood together with 20,000 people in a stadium, all screaming in unison for the best-selling boy band in history.

But the 21st of October proved to be an evening filled with nostalgia as the Backstreet Boys (BSB) played a one-night show in Singapore.

Camouflaging amongst a crowd of fangirls in their 30s and 40s, I found myself unconsciously joining their piercing squeals as AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, and Brian Littrell opened with the banging hit, Larger Than Life.

“Somebody should’ve warned the Backstreet Boys that it was this hot here in Singapore. We are sweating up here!” Carter exclaimed succeeding the first few numbers, which were already filled with their much-anticipated synchronized dance choreography that boy bands nowadays are devoid of.

The youngest member of the band then showed his expertise in triggering immediate screams from the audience, “But you guys like to see the Backstreet Boys sweat, don’t you?”

It was an evening not deprived of audience interaction, but also pseudo-karaoke sessions with performances of songs like Drowning, Quit Playing Games (With My Heart), and As Long As You Love Me – all reminiscent of everyone’s innocent days.

Jam-packed with astounding visuals comprising of blinding laser lights and pyrotechnics, BSB delighted us with their flawless harmonies accompanied by matching sequined suits that undoubtedly made every performance more “swoon-worthy.” These are all in addition to their signature boy band pose that concluded every song.

Being the only stop in Asia, you would expect the rest of the Singapore crowd to at least reverberate the same energy as fans in the floor section. But to my disappointment, it seemed like the band’s energy only reached the first half of the stadium, leaving barely a handful of people on their feet at the grandstand.

Perhaps it was the distance from the stage that explains the lack of enthusiasm or the tiny screens that the rest of us were left with. But the sight of a minuscule Kevin Richardson aggressively headbanging during Get Down was enough for me.

Finally unable to contain themselves, the rest of the crowd got up for the fan-favorite I Want It That Way and the encore Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) that manifested the band’s undying fervor.

Swooning over cheesy love songs was cathartic in itself, but being serenaded by one of the world’s most popular boy bands made the moment even more special.

It might have been almost 25 years since BSB formed, but the quintet’s nostalgic hits are definitely going to be repeatedly played by generations of fangirls for a long time.

 

Setlist

Larger Than Life
The One
Get Down (You’re The One For Me)
Drowning
Incomplete
Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)
Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely
I’ll Never Break Your Heart
Anywhere For You + Darlin + Undone
As Long As You Love Me
The Call
We’ve Got It Goin On
Get Another Boyfriend
More Than That
Shape Of My Heart
I Want It That Way
Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)

 

Photo Credit: Unusual Entertainment

While Singapore might be regarded as a prime destination for musical acts in Asia, we also do get deprived of concerts from time to time.

There’s Paul McCartney who played a show in Japan earlier this year and Liam Gallagher of Oasis who recently visited The Philippines, leaving Singapore slightly jealous.

They say you can’t have it all, but 2017 would’ve been better if these bands also stopped by Singapore for a show while they were in Asia:

 

1. The Kooks

Indie rock band The Kooks were at We The Fest and Good Vibes Festival in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur last August. It would’ve been a thrill to finally hear some songs from Inside In / Inside Out, but I guess we’ll have to wait.

 

2. New Hope Club

New Hope Club might not be a household name (yet), but the rising boy band sure has a large following in The Philippines, which they visited earlier this month together with The Vamps.

 

3. The Vamps

The British quartet played shows in The Philippines and Japan for their Middle of the Night Tour and we sure hope they’ll visit us in Singapore soon after their well-received gig in January 2016.

 

4. Kodaline

It’s been 2 years since indie folk band Kodaline made their Singapore debut with Sheppard. But the Irish lads skipped our country this time despite stopping by Indonesia and Malaysia for We The Fest and Good Vibes Festival.

 

5. Phoenix

Let’s just say August wasn’t as great of a month for me as I succumbed to watching videos of Phoenix on social media while others saw them play live in Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and The Philippines. It would’ve been a dream come true to experience their psychedelic show and see their kaleidoscopic stage set up in person after missing their show in Singapore 3 years ago. But yet again, one can hope.

Photo credit: Hollywoodbowl.com, Shemazing, Project U, Press, Last.fm

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