Nathan Sykes Concert in Newcastle, UK

Hey guys! I hope you are all well. Today I wanted to share with you some long overdue concert photography. I had the pleasure of seeing Nathan Sykes in concert earlier in April at Newcastle in England.

For those of you who don’t know, Nathan Sykes was previously a member of the Wanted and is recently pursuing activities as a solo artist now. His new music has snappy brass sounds and immesenyl catchy beats. It was such a pleasure to hear him live because he is SUCH a powerhouse. Shout out to my flatmate Mia who dragged me to the concert in the first place. It really opened my eyes up to a whole new talented artist int he music world.

Since my friend was super busy fangirling at the front of the stage, I set myself up a little farther back. I’d only brought my Nikon 1 J3 with its original 10-30mm and 30-110mm zoom lens since I was afraid they wouldn’t let big DSLR cameras into the show as all the music featured in concert were completely new songs. I shot in shutter speed priority and manual mode, switching between both depending on the song and how quickly the performers were moving. The J3 did surprisingly well but there was still a lot of post-processing work involved with exposure and lighting. For photos that didn’t quite colour well with the settings, I rendered black and white. The grayscale style also goes quite well with the concert atmosphere I think. Overall I’m quite pleased with how the photographs turned out and though I haven’t shot a concert in over three years, I hope you guys enjoy these photos nonetheless.

– Cloudy

What are you pondering today?

Wrecking Ball Wrecking Miley?

I’ve asked myself many self-directed questions since Miley quit her Disney oriented Hannah Montana image for something a much more sexual and “grown-up”(?) image. I grew up watching Disney shows like Hannah Montana, Suite Life and Wizards of Waverly Place. I loved them. I bought the first Hannah Montana album on a whim because I liked her look and it hooked me on Miley Cyrus’ pop music. I mean, I was growing up and the songs had something that I could relate to. Now… I’m not so sure.

Miley2Miley’s music style has always fallen within my range of tastes and other than dubstep and rap, my music usually ranges anywhere from J-pop (e.g. LiSa) to theatre (e.g. Wicked), alternative rock (i.e. Breaking Benjamin) and maybe the occasional indie-folk (e.g. Of Monsters and Men). In addition to that, I grew up classically trained in piano and I have dabbled a bit in violin and guitar so I would like to think that I’m really open to all forms of images and all styles of artists.

Miley Cyrus - We Cant StopI was totally fine and even, to some extent, liked Miley’s “Can’t be Tamed” album. I accepted that all singers grow up and change their music styles as they mature as artists. After a long three year dry-spell of music, Miley’s back. Releasing her first single “We Can’t Single,” early in the summer, it came with a mixed palette of opinions from music critics. I didn’t particularly like it but I understood that it was a song really meant to be released for summer. I could relate to the going-all-out mindset and doing your own thing, but I had no fracking clue what the music video was trying to say. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, the music video for “We Can’t Stop” is ultimately some expression of artistry and the bottom line of artistry is to evoke something in the viewers. I think I speak for many of us when I say that I felt many things after watching that music video.

Miley Cyrus - BangerzThe second promotional single released for Miley’s upcoming album “Bangerz” (and I question the horrible title choice) is called “Wrecking Ball.” It’s essentially about heartbreak and a longing for a loved one who’s walked away. The lyrics are creative and poetic, they really pack a punch to the listeners. I was impressed.

“I came in like a wrecking ball,

I never hit so hard in love

All I wanted was to break your walls,

All you ever did was wreck me.”

Rating: 5/5 happy clouds (on the song) Crop_5 Clouds Transparent

Of course, shortly after a hit single is released, there is no doubt, a music video that comes shortly after… to which s**t hits the fan. To some extent I can accept Miley’s portrayal of nudity as symbolic to the feelings of vulnerability after a break-up, being stripped bare of your emotions, as it were. However, I don’t understand the sexualisation of objects, particularly a sledgehammer. At first I thought she was going to tear down the walls with the sledgehammer, but noooo, that would be too normal for Miley Cyrus. Instead, she made out with it! Also, why is it necessary to swing off a wrecking ball in the middle of a room? The biggest question is, why choose someone like Terry Richardson to direct a music video with such an emotionally charged song? Miley could have presented the music video a lot better and it would have been a better way of showing us she’d grown up and matured. So who do we “blame” for this strange new image and all these weird music videos? The mv directors? The producing company? Or the artist herself?

Miley

As of right now, I am indeed looking forward to Miley’s new album. I’ll probably ignore any new music videos that come out, but at the bottom lines of all lines, I like MIley’s music (or rather, I like “Wrecking Ball.” My thoughts and feelings on Bangerz can only really be determined after the first listen.

I don’t usually do a lot of music-related posts but if you guys liked this, don’t forget to thumbs up the video for more of these reviews. Till then, thanks for reading!

– Cloudy

What are you pondering today?

 

Selena Gomez Stars Dance Track-by-Track Review

selena-gomez-reveals-details-album-stars-danceIt’s finally out! – Selena Gomez’s new album after soooo longggg. Do I like it? Do I love it? Let’s have a listen! As my friend Jess always says, hope for the best but expect the worst…

Birthday- Oh no, we’re off to a bad start. The beat gives me a headache and the overall concept of the party song is just a bit childish in line with all the other great songs that have been released this year.

Slow Down- Released as a teaser prior to the album, it’s got a pop techno punk music vibe that I’m really feeling

Stars Dance- Much deserving of being the album’s title song; it evokes some really dreamy night imagery with its lulling trance-like cadence. This one’s a particular strong point of the album, especially with the strings at the opening song.

Like a Champion- I’m not a really big fan of this one, especially with the “Rum pa pa pum pa” (reminds me of a familiar Christmas carol and a small drummer) Some of you might find it catchy but if I was writing a song, personally I would never use the term “champion” because of the hit classic “We are the Champions” that always comes to mind. And then it just starts to get annoying after the second chorus because the title of the song repeats to no end.

Come & Get It- We’ve all heard it before but I had to listen to it again on the album to see how well it went with the other songs in playlist placement and musical style. It’s got a pretty steady spot settled fourth on the track list. It’s a good song to put after the whole champion business from before.

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Forget Forever- It’s got an interesting hook that grabbed my attention but falls into a stable cadence that flows like a river. I think some of us could relate to the song. It’s not too bad; it’s one of those songs that either grow on your or you tire of after the third listen.

Save the Day- “Kiss the moon goodbye, but don’t close your eyes…” BOOM! That first line of lyrics catches you and grabs hold of your attention. I’m not usually a big fan of electro-pop but I really like the collection of sounds, synths and effects chosen as the bedrock for this song. It truly embodies Selena’s settled style as an singer. I really think this song should have been the opening track to the album. “When the night starts slipping away, save the day.” Put on repeat please!

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B.E.A.T.- The B-E-A-T sure is catchy, but I’m not sure if Selena’s trying to sing the song or rap it… talk it?

Write Your Name- One of the more generic pop techno songs of the album, a lot of repetitively.

Undercover- Another song that has 60% of its lyrics composed of the song title. Another generic, repetitive fist pump party song that you just drown out. Nothing special.

Love Will Remember- A song that stands out a lot more than the previous few. There’s actually a semblance of a theme and story behind the melody and it’s not mindless beats. The repetition actually works in this song. The phrase “Love will Remember” rings again and again throughout the song, reminiscent of the memories of a lost loved one.

selena_gomez_stars_dance_album_promo_Q5kJfxbu.sizediTunes Bonus Tracks:

Nobody Does it Like You- It’s alright… meh, I’m starting to get distracted by other things. The tune isn’t too bad but it keeps fading into the back of my mind.

Music Feels Better- Another really strong song fighting for a higher rating on the overall rating. I would put this on a summer playlist. It’s one of the more meaningful love songs of the album, “All I need is true, that’s what you are; When everything’s alright, all I need is here; Right where you are, you’re every reason why.” In the end, it makes me want to throw my arms in the air and dance.

International Deluxe Edition / Target Deluxe Edition Bonus Songs

This version of the album contains the bonus songs from the iTunes version as well as two new ones.

Lover in Me- “The lover in me is the lover in you…” There’s actually a whole stream of lyrics in the verses and in the pre-Chorus. Yes, I like this song a lot. It seems a lot more personal than the other songs that we’ve been presented on the regular album and it’s a different way of looking at relationships.

I Like it That Way- This song reminds me a bit of Taylor Swift, not in musical style but in the layout of the lyrics, especially the little inserts of dialogue between the singing. Is Taylor influencing Selena to write every song into a love song? Seriously, I expected more out of a bonus track.

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The Walmart Deluxe Version DVD includes six of Selena’s hit songs performed live – Hit the Lights, Who Says, Love You Like a Love Song, Come & Get It, Naturally. The Amazon.con edition includes one bonus track – Come & Get It, a club remix done by DJ Laszlo.

Songs I Liked- 7/15

Songs I didn’t like- 8/15

Looks pretty even right? It’s about split down that way with Selenators and those who aren’t Selenators. You’re either with them or against them right? There are an overwhelming amount of head-buds over internet blogs, music websites, and of course Youtube comments. I think I stand about in the middle. I’m still not crazy about Selena as a singer because I think she has more potential and talent as an artist however she is solidifying her own musical style in the world of pop which isn’t an easy thing to do.

Stars-Dance-AlbumWorld-Tour-selena-gomez-34649511-1920-1080I love love songs but they get tiring after a while but my biggest pet-peeve with this album and music in general is the repetitive lyrics… Makes me want to throw a dictionary and thesaurus two-for-one bundle at the writers. I understand that repetitive lyrics are a significant element in pop, dance, techno and electro-pop but it’s seriously a cop-out. I haven’t really talked about Selena’s singing ability either… it’s cause I can’t really hear her voice over all different strands of sounds all at once but I don’t feel any of these songs challenge her as an artist at all. I would rather hear a stripped down acoustic testing the singer’s full vocal capabilities than a noisy party song where singer all but fades into the background of beats and sounds.

Rating- 3/5 happy clouds Crop_3 Clouds Transparent

I really have to say I expected worse… I’m not a crazy fixated mainstream music listener so I only speak for myself when I rant and review albums from pop artists. Hope you guys enjoyed this review. I don’t do these often, only once in a while for artists I’m interested in. What do you guys think? Was it a hit or miss for you guys? Selena’s recently topped the Billboard 200 album chart for the first time. Do you like this album the most or are her previous ones better?

– Cloudy

What are you pondering today?

Demi Album Review

Demi-Lovato-Demi-2013-1200x1200Hi everyone! Some of you might have recently heard Demi Lovato’s new single Heart Attack and glimpsed it in one of my past review. Her self-titled album released on May 10th and I am very excited to do a track-by-track review for you guys so you can grab the highlights of the playlist if you don’t have time to sit through all the songs.

Rating: 5/5 happy clouds 5 Clouds Transparent

Heart Attack- The lead single of the album; it’s definitely one of the strongest songs of the album if not the strongest. It was recently performed live on Ellen. Demi’s such a powerful presence on stage. Check it out!

Made in the USA- The first few tracks on an album are usually upbeat and catchy. Made in the USA, though it reminded me of Miley Cyrus’s Party in the USA, it was a lot less bubble-gum and a lot more depth. It’s a great summer song to have on while you’re cruising down the roads with a super melody that hints feelings of nostalgia, bringing you back home.

Without the Love- One of my favourites on the album; Demi sings about the fading feelings of love. “What good is a love song without the love?” Lyrics voiced in questions repeated over and over again reflect the never-ending questions and turmoil of emotions that run through one’s mind when a relationship just doesn’t seem to work out.

Neon Lights– In my opinion, a really great clubbing song once they remix it. It’s a good song with a heartfelt meaning, but the backbeats make it a dance song more than an everyday tune.

Two Pieces- The song starts like a sweet crooning lullaby and explodes with emotion at the hit of the Chorus. It tells the story of two people trying to find each other and find themselves in this big world. This sweet song heralds the transition from the fast opening songs of the album to the slower ballads.

Nightingale- The metaphor of the nightingale is a beautiful one, its image taken from Hans Christian Andersen’s story of the Nightingale that brought salvation to a sickly emperor. This song calls out to those who are suffering, giving salvation with its wishful lyrics brought alive by Demi’s powerful vocals and vulnerable emotions.

In Case- This song takes out all the electronica and dance beats of prior songs and strips down the composition to a Demi and a piano. Fans of skyscraper will love this.

Really Don’t Care (ft. Cher Lloyd)- The playlist picks up with one of my new favourites. The album almost tells a story, from someone who rejects the idea of falling in love (Heart Attack), to a relationship that seems to be falling apart (Without the Love), through the pain of breakups and ballads to a moment of disinterest. “Even if the stars and moon collide, I never want you back into my life.” What makes this song so great is Cher Lloyd’s quick rap near the bridge. This British singer is one of my favourite artists and seeing her collaborate with Demi is a treat!

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Fire Starter- This song is pretty cool, no, it’s not about arson or doing stupid things during a party. It’s about empowerment, someone who’s passionate and capable, a mass of contradictions. The message is interesting but the repetitive melody and beats aren’t. This one didn’t particularly jump out at me but some of you might find it catchy.

Something That We’re Not- Here, Demi experiments with a different palette of sounds. The song is reminiscent of the lighter pop style of Demi’s previous albums but the lyrics are much more mature and really demonstrate how much Demi’s grown as an artist.

Never Been Hurt- I found the message of this song very relatable and Demi’s powerful vocals come into play at the end of the chorus. This song asks us to give it our all when it comes to love, every single time. “But even if I lose it all, I got so much left to give, I won’t give up. My heart is on the frontline, not afraid.”

Shouldn’t Come Back- The playlist unwinds with this song. The acoustic guitar and lyrics reflects the tired frustration of struggling relationships. A deep one to put towards the end of the playlist. Not one of my favourites, but I’m sure many of you can relate. This is one the songs where you can feel the artist’s emotions directly translated into music.

Warrior- It’s like the sequel song to Skyscraper and beautifully wraps up the album. It’s really a song about Demi’s personal physical, mental and emotional struggles up till now. Probably one of the most honest songs I’ve ever heard come from an artist. You hear this song and you know its Demi, she has a way of pushing so much of herself into her music and it’s absolutely divine.

Demi’s a shoe-in for this year’s Grammys. Every song is strong on its own and placed in an album together, it’s just too much. You don’t usually expect every song to have such personality. This self-titled album is aptly named, illustrating Demi’s personality, her struggles and emotions as an artist up till now. It’s nice to see that even in the age of mindless fist-pumping dance beats and too many amateur pop artists, there are still artists like Demi who have real lyrics, real vocal ability and true stage presence. I strongly recommend you pick up this album, whatever your music preference is. You won’t regret it.

Here are some photos from her album photoshoot =)

Special thanks to wjoank for requesting this 😉 Hope you guys liked this long review. Feel free to like or follow me for new reviews and rants coming every day!

– Cloudy

What are you pondering today?

Come and Get a Heart Attack

Single Release Battle Review – Demi Lovato’s Heart Attack vs. Selena Gomez’s Come and Get It

“You make me glow, but I cover up
Won’t let it show, so I’m
Puttin’ my defences up
‘Cause I don’t wanna fall in love
If I ever did that
I think I’d have a heart attack”

Heart AttackFor many of you who follow mainstream music, you’ll know that Demi Lovato’s release of her new single Heart Attack was followed by critically positive reviews. For a performer who originated from Disney, debuting on the musical Camp Rock, she is, by far, one of the most successful singers. The undertones of electro-pop give the song a head-nodding beat while the escalating wails that permeate the song’s emotional lyrics showcase Demi’s development as an artist. Her new single has shown us that she is ready to make her mark in the music world.

For fans like me who have grown up watching Demi on Camp Rock and Sonny with a Chance, I’m glad to see the style of her music changing as she ascends as an artist and performer. The musical style of Heart Attack is a far cry from the pre-teen pop-rock upbeats of her first two albums. Heart Attack leans closer to the poetic lyrics of Skyscraper and heart-throbbing palette of her previous album Unbroken altogether challenging her abilities as an artist to a whole new level.

I’m definitely a Lovatic.

Rating: 5/5 happy clouds5 Clouds Transparent

***

“When you’re ready come and get it
Na na na, Na na na, Na na na
When you’re re-e-e-dy
When you’re ready come and get it
Na na na, Na na na, Na na na”

selena-gomez-premieres-come-and-get-it-early

Selena Gomez, much like Demi, debuted on Disney first and foremost as an actress. But of course, Disney makes all their actors and actresses sing even though they may have no vocal ability or training. Disney’s pop-rendition of A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes  covered by the Circle of Stars… except for Raven Symone and Ashley Tisdale who actually possess some sort of vocal ability… well, thank the stars for autotune. Go listen to the song; you’ll know what I mean. Now that I don’t like the song though, it’s one of my favourites; it just so happens that autotune isn’t a favourite. Actors act, they don’t sing. Ducks quack, they don’t bark.

Disney+Channel+Circle+of+Stars+disney

However, I wouldn’t go so far as to place Selena Gomez within the hopeless auto-tuned actors forced to jive to Disney pop. Her first album Kiss & Tell is just… really loud. The pop-rock clash in Kiss & Tell, which the album is named after makes my head hurt. Some songs, like Falling Down and Naturally that have fun electro-pop dance beats are catchy. The album as a whole is inconsistent, but forgiveable as it was Selena’s first album.  A year later, A Year without Rain presented a more consistent sound to Selena’s musical style as a whole beginning with Round & Round and ending with Live Like There’s no Tomorrow (a personal favourite of mine).

You would think that after two albums, music hype around the actress would die down like Vanessa Hudgen’s V and Identified or Ashley Tisdale’s Headstrong and Guilty Pleasure. Where did their music careers go? Selena’s third album When the Sun Goes Down received significantly greater amount of attention than her first two with his like Who Says? and Love You Like a Love Song.

Now Selena’s released a new single – Come and Get It and following her previous three albums, you have to ask “Where are you going with this?” Though the title is catchy (though repetitive) and the beat infectious, the Bollywood flair and the crazy album art has me really confused as to what direction Selena is taking for her fourth album. To be honest, Selena’s more of an actress and not a particularly powerful singer and because of the nature of her voice, I feel as if the Bollywood beats throughout the song coupled with her electro-pop sound overpower her song and the lyrics. I’m so busy listening to the electro-pop Bollywood noise that the lyrics fade into background. Only during the bridge do I get a feel for the message of the song, when all the background music dies down to hippie-like drumming.

It’s not that I don’t like Selena, but in terms of new single hits, Demi has her beat by a long show. As an actress and performer I’m a big fan of Selena, but her new single raises many questions… I’d rather prefer Heart Attack and Demi’s empowering vocals to Selena’s Come and Get It… Come and get -what?! A change in direction is always necessary especially for artists emerging from Disney who want to be taken seriously as vocalists but perhaps Selena needs to develop her vocals as a whole before experimenting with other styles of music. As a whole, I feel as if Demi has always been closer to her music and the tracks of her album thoroughly illustrate her position in life while I get the sense that Selena’s music is being driven more by her producers than her own abilities as a musician. That fact that the Selena listed Britney Spears, Taylor Swift and Skrillex as her three prominent influences should tell you how inconsistent her musical style is as a whole… like adding cream cheese and ketchup to a peanut butter sandwich.

Rating: 3.5/5 confuzzled clouds35 Clouds Confuzzle

No hate to Demi or Selena… I really loved their duet One and the Same from Disney’s Princess Protection Program. I just happen to be a Lovatic more than a Selenator. Hope you guys liked this review!

– Cloudy

What are you pondering today?