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Album Review: Our Top 3 Tracks From BTS' EP 'Love Yourself: Her'
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Album Review: 5 Must-Hear Tracks From Paramore’s Latest Record, ‘After Laughter’
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Album Review: Kasabian Revives Rock N’ Roll With New Record – 'For Crying Out Loud'
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It has been 4 years since the release of Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP 2, but a new era might be dawning upon us soon.

According to HITS Daily Double, Eminem's 8th major label studio album will be out on Nov. 17. While the information is still filed under rumor category, HITS Daily Double's past track record for revealing album release dates is not something to be ignored. In addition to the report, Eminem also has an anticipated collaboration with P!nk, slated for release when her album Beautiful Trauma drops on 13th October 2017.

On The Marshall Mathers LP 2, the album was viewed as an artistic let-down by many for its clumsy attempts to marry current pop trends (Trap, EDM) with the rapper's craft. Given his repertoire, people will naturally have high standards for his forthcoming album and we're curious to see how Eminem attempts to keep his material fresh sounding in the current pop landscape of 2017. 

Let's just pray that the source isn't messing around with us!

BTS’ latest EP Love Yourself 承 'Her' marks the beginning of their Love Yourself album series that’s based on Kishōtenketsu (起承転結)- the four-act structure of classic East Asian narratives. ‘Her’ signifies the ‘development’ (shō) of the story, a prelude to the eventual 'twist' (ten). The EP's urban pop numbers center around young adults falling in love, but there’s a visible storm brewing in the distance if you squint in between the lines.

Although BTS displays excellent commitment to their thematic ideas, the EP doesn’t stand out as a very strong release- sonically, their style has changed, but it hasn't evolved. BTS has always capitalized on global chart trends, but they approached those well-known sounds from fresh angles and dimensions. The songs in Love Yourself 承 'Her' dive further into radio-friendliness without retaining the edges that made BTS exciting to begin with: The Chainsmokers collab Best of Me falters with its uninspired chord progression and lukewarm drop; Dimple captures the giddy rush of infatuation but lacks a personality; Go Go’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics are marred by a beat that sounds like a generic Shape of You hip hop remix.   

Nevertheless, the EP isn’t without its share of noteworthy tracks. Here are our top 3 picks: 

 

1. Pied Piper

Referencing The Pied Piper of Hamelin, BTS sings about obsessive love in fan culture. The production here glistens as the disco chords, funky Nile Rodgers-esque guitar strokes and soulful vocoded harmonies evoke a (deceptively) breezy atmosphere. Like a schoolteacher, rapper Rap Monster chides his fans for neglecting their own lives. It’s the only hit of reality we receive before it gets swept away into a twinkling mirage of synths and a sweet falsetto chorus. BTS play the villainous seducers for the rest of the song alongside the central metaphor- a mesmeric synth ostinato that flits in and out of focus but never departs. In the lush swoon of a bridge, Jimin and Jungkook’s breathy voices drip with honeyed poison, the lines “If perhaps I/ Am destroying you/ Will you forgive me?” are delivered with such doe-eyed sincerity that it makes you forget the rhetorical nature of the question. The interplay between the song’s buoyant groove and its darker subject matter is what takes it all to another level: like the root of an obsession, you don’t realize how innocuously it lodges under your skin.

 

 

2. MIC Drop

This gritty punkish trap banger is your classic screw-the-haters anthem- an art form that BTS has become well adept at. The opening metal guitar distortion is an instant back-straightener, but nothing prepares us for that straight up dirty bassline. Its menace is amplified through the rappers’ deliveries: J-Hope’s staccato flow jabs each note and syllable with the muted precision of an assault sniper, Suga coolly surfs the beat with sardonic apologies and a smirk in his voice, Rap Monster dials up the intensity with his stentorian spitting and trap vocal inflections. The Autotuned taunts over piercing synth wails stir up a commotion that might be a little too in-your-face for some, except that it’s exactly what a song like this aims to do, and BTS makes all the ruckus sound like a party. Their live performance of the song says it all, better than we ever can.

 

 

3. Outro: Her

The melancholic old school hip hop beat recalls 90s East Coast boom bap and feels like a change of pace after the high of love songs and hype tracks- we can’t help but feel the nostalgia rise in our throats. Over jazzy Rhodes piano chords that exhale warmth and longing, BTS’ rappers lay out pensive passages on their need to compromise their identities for their loved ones. By engaging with the complex side of love, the outro peeks beneath the luster of the EP and alludes to the next chapter ahead. It’s a track that’s both light and heavy, calm and restless- a soundtrack for broody bus rides home as the day draws to a close.

 

******

What are your top 3 songs from this EP? 

Photo Credit: Big Hit Entertainment

Having started off as a humble band that recorded their debut EP It's All About the Girls in a friend’s apartment in 1997, New Found Glory progressed to claim the title of Pioneers of the beloved Pop-punk genre we know today, their influences seeping into virtually every release in the scene.

The band is still going strong two decades later, dropping their 9th studio album Makes Me Sick via Hopeless Records earlier this year in April. With Aron Sprinkle as the new producer on-board (MxPx, Anberlin, Acceptance), the album treads new territory with its sounds and risks taken. Guitarist Chad Gilbert commented on their new album, “[Make Me Sick is] our best. If you don’t believe me, buy it and prove me wrong!”

Read more as drummer Cyrus Bolooki answers questions on New Found Glory’s new music, including his favorite song from the album, and their future as a band.

 

1. What sets Makes Me Sick apart from your previous albums? How has your music evolved since Nothing Gold Can Stay?

I think all of our albums have their own identity, and each has its own sound and place in NFG’s catalog. Makes Me Sick is an album where I feel that we took NFG’s familiar sound from past records and added some extra layers to it, layers like keyboard and synth sounds, and still found a way to make it sound like classic NFG. Since Nothing Gold Can Stay our songwriting has definitely evolved, as we’ve become more comfortable with each other and our own musical talents, and it’s allowed us to take chances when needed or push the limits of our music to try new things and constantly revamp and refine NFG’s sound.

 

2. What's your favorite song from the album, and what draws you to it?

My favorite song is “Call Me Anti-Social”. For me, there’s a few reasons why I’m drawn to it. First off, I feel as though it’s a perfect representation of all of the elements contained on Makes Me Sick – heavy guitars, catchy vocals, and a synth lead. Also, it happened to be the first song that we had mixed after finishing in the studio, and when I heard it played back for the first time on good speakers it literally blew me off my chair, and definitely made me even more excited for this album.

 

3. On this album you had Aaron Sprinkle on-board as a producer for the first time. What was it like working with him?

Aaron Sprinkle is awesome as a producer, musician, and person. He brought a very cool extra element to our band, where we were able to suggest any kind of idea, whether it be a guitar sound, a harmony idea, or a keyboard line, and he would find a way to translate it and present it to us on the recording. With some of our prior albums, especially those where we self-produced them, we sometimes had trouble coming up with the little finishing touches for songs, things like the above-mentioned elements, and having Aaron there allowed us to relax a bit knowing that we would have another fresh set of ears and ideas always flowing. That’s one of the reasons why we were able to take some musical chances that we haven’t in the past in order to come up with new and creative ways to present our music.

 

4. Any challenges you faced during the making of the record?

No major challenges this time around, except for the usual ones – finishing on schedule, making sure that we play everything correctly, and the hardest one, picking which songs would make the cut for the album. We actually ended up recording a few extra songs that we didn’t include on the record and we hope to eventually release those in the near future.

 

5. What’s your favorite lyric off this album?

“Because we’re barbed wire…Two strands twisted to one…Razor sharp, no one will ever touch us.” I love those lines because I think anyone that’s been in a relationship with someone even though others might not approve or agree can relate to how strong love can be between two people, and sometimes it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about you, it’s what you think that matters.

 

6. As a band with a lengthy career, what has been your proudest moment so far?

So many moments have stood out throughout our career so it’s tough to pick just one, but I think besides having 3 gold albums to date, I’m most proud of having traveled the world multiple times and sharing the stage with some of my musical idols and biggest bands in our genre, bands like Blink-182 and Green Day.

 

7. What’s the main goal you want to achieve in these next few years?

At this point in our career, I think we just strive to continue. To continue to release albums, tour around the world, and most importantly, stay relevant within our genre and scene. I think we’ve done a great job of doing that throughout the years, so as long as we continue that and also continue to enjoy what we do, there is no end in sight for us!

 

8. What’s your biggest worry as a band?

This would probably be related to the previous answer. I think we worry about forcing this, about just doing this to do it, going through the motions with no actual sense of pride or enjoyment about it. If it gets to that point, then it’s time for us to have a serious conversation about whether or not we should continue. But until then, it’s all systems go, and as of now, there’s nothing stopping us from continuing to do what we love!

 

9. You're known as the Godfathers of Pop Punk. Any new up and coming bands that have caught your eye?

Another question that’s hard to answer. I usually tell people that I really like the record label that we’re signed to, Hopeless Records, as they have a great ear for new and up and coming bands, and most of their releases are pretty good. We have actually brought a bunch of their newer bands out on the road with us on recent tours, including our tour right now here in the UK where we have Roam supporting us.

 

10. Which songs are you most excited to play live?

On our current tour we’re playing 6 of our older albums in their entirety, so it’s been real fun to play some songs off of albums like Coming Home and Not Without A Fight that we rarely, if ever, play live. Other than that, I always love playing newer songs, so we’ve already played a few off of Makes Me Sick, “Happy Being Miserable,” “Party On Apocalypse,” and “Call Me Anti-Social.”

 

11. What are your plans after your tour?

After we finish here in the UK, we have only a short time off and then we’re going back out in the US for a continuation of our 20 Years of Pop Punk Tour. We’ve seen so much success with that tour that we decided to keep it going and bring it to even more cities around our country!

 

12. Finally, any message you want to leave for your fans in Singapore?

For us to have fans in a place like Singapore, so far away from our hometown, is just mind-blowing. We’re so appreciative to have people that support us all over the world, and we always look forward to traveling to places like Singapore to play our music to all of the NFG fans there. We hope to see you again soon!

 

Photo Credit: Hopeless Records

Harry Styles has uploaded a cover of Girl Crush by Little Big Town on Spotify, which was recorded at Metropolis Studios in London.

The member of One Direction has already covered the Grammy Award winning song during a live show in Nashville on 25th September, but the high quality audio upload on Spotify came as a surprise. Harry Styles' love for country music is no secret, with the star having named country singer Chris Stapleton as an artist he wants to collaborate with the most. It is apparent in his solo music releases too, an example being the palpable country influences in his melancholic ballad Two Ghosts. 

The singer calls Girl Crush one of his "favorite songs recently that's come out of [Nashville]" and his ardour can be felt in his tender but emotionally-charged vocal delivery.

Listen to his cover below:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

This week on the Billboard Hot 100 is a particularly noteworthy one: for starters, Taylor Swift's Look What You Made Me Do has finally been dethroned from its no. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. 

Her place has been claimed by Bodak Yellow by Cardi B, a breakout hip hop summer hit that has captured listeners with its infectious, anthemic hook and the rapper's hard-hitting delivery. This achievement makes Cardi B the second solo female rapper to strike the top of the Hot 100 charts, without any guest features, after Lauryn Hill's Doo Wop (That Thing) which was released 19 years ago. Given how male-dominated the hip-hop genre is, this news is a welcome development for female artists in the game.  

Another groundbreaking record comes from BTS, the K-pop boygroup that has acquired a sizeable fanbase in the States, particularly in the social media sphere. Their new release DNA has charted on no. 85 on Hot 100, making them the second K-pop act to land a Korean song on the chart (no prizes for guessing who the previous K-pop artist was). When we first covered 'DNA', we noted how the structure and genre trappings of the song were tailored towards an American audience. Looking at the results, consider it mission accomplished.

Stream both songs below. 

 

Photo Credits: Getty Images and Big Hit Entertainment

Upon first glance at the title of Demi Lovato's latest single, you'd expect a slinking, sultry R&B jam, perhaps a track following the footsteps of Selena Gomez's later releases. 

But Sexy Dirty Love has turned out to be a fresh dose of synthpop goodness, pulsating with funky basslines and throwback disco touches. While the lyrics are adult-themed, the song's brand of 'sexy' opts for an euphoric rush over a sensual flavor, as evident in both the punchy production and vocal delivery where Demi belts the lyrics with power and zeal. 

As the 3rd single off her upcoming album Tell Me That You Love Me, Sexy Dirty Love has a markedly different style from the R&B trap song Sorry Not Sorry and the gospel-influenced Tell Me That You Love Me. It helps to further showcase her range and we're definitely looking forward to hear what else her album has to offer when it comes out on 29 September!

Listen to Sexy Dirty Love on Spotify below:

Photo Credit: Island Records

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 11:35

Liam Payne and Zedd Drop A Big Surprise in London!

Liam Payne of One Direction and Zedd hit the hottest spots in London for an impromptu live performance of their collaborative single Get Low, in a video released on 19th September.

The music producer commented in the description: “Liam and I decided to go to London and surprise fans with a street performance of Get Low. We both wore backpacks with speakers. Liam had a mic and I had a little keyboard. We went to the most public places we could imagine to perform this with cameras following us.” The duo managed to steal the eyes (and hearts) of the passersby indeed, as the video features visibly starstruck spectators dancing and singing along- some lucky fans even managed to snag a selfie with the pair!

To be perfectly honest, the song itself is serviceable at most, it does little to differentiate itself from the run-of-the-mill tropical house track. However, after watching the dance number dial up the energy levels of the crowd this effortlessly, it's hard to deny one thing: Get Low does what it wants to do very well.

Watch Liam Payne and Zedd deliver a blast of a performance below:

 

 

Photo Credit: Lauren Hurley/PA

Monday, 18 September 2017 15:16

BTS Enters A New Era with 'DNA'

Reigning K-pop boy group BTS have dropped their highly anticipated single DNA, fresh off their latest mini-album Love Yourself: Her. Having described their new album as a ‘turning point’ and gluing their sights onto the Billboard Hot 100, it is clear that the group holds high ambitions for this comeback. But does their new single live up to the fanfare?

Despite being a ‘K-pop song’, DNA’s composition echoes the trends that have been dominating the Top 40 in the States. Starting off with a syncopated beat comprising of whistles and acoustic guitar strums, the EDM-inspired track gradually gets layered with more elements- such as those subtle countermelody flourishes- before it launches into a ‘chorus’. Or rather, a pseudo-chorus, for the song continues to build up before it explodes with a flurry of electro synths and distorted vocals. 

The use of the "pop-drop", which has been popularized by artists like Diplo and The Chainsmokers, makes DNA a natural hit with the current Western palate even if it is sung in Korean (the song has already reached Top 5 on US iTunes within a day of its release). BTS elevate the track above generic territory by injecting their unique colors, with personality-filled moments such as the back and forth raps between members Jungkook and Suga. Lyrically, the love song carries fatalistic overtones (All of this is not a coincidence/ Cuz we’re the two who found the destiny) that are further evoked through the trippy cosmic imagery in the must-watch music video.

DNA is the start of an exciting new era for BTS: it is the announcement of their mission to stake their claim onto international charts, to cement their presence in the global spotlight. Check out their music video (which features super sick choreography) below. 

 

P.S. Stay tuned for an upcoming review of their album Love Yourself: Her!

Photo credit: Def Jam Japan