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Welcome to the first-ever TGJ Roundtable!
Over the years, That Grape Juice has established a distinguished voice that – whether loved or loathed – sparks discussion, debate, and on occasion drama!
Though comprised of seasoned writers who share a similar outlook on Urban Pop culture, the idiosyncrasies of the TGJ team members often lend for quite heated debates “behind the scenes” about the hottest topics.
Now, we give you a front row seat to the show. In a format similar to ‘The View’ or ‘The Real’, TGJ editors – Sam, David, Rashad, and Joe – get real in a very candid way.
Today’s roundtable topic asks…
What Are Three Things In Music Would You Like To See In 2015?
A New Beyonce Album
And granted yours truly enjoyed the ‘Beyonce’ campaign and its edgier lean, I’m personally ready for a return of the Beyonce who treated her LP’s like a race at the Olympics. Full-speed, all-out promo for material that was mass appealing.
I’m all for R&B on a slow-creep, but Bey’s U.S.P has been that she’s able to hit a home-run on the Pop front too. She’s also hailed as a dance-floor dominator, something her 2013 effort didn’t care to stress much. As such, I’d love to see her give folk something with more up-tempo gusto. Another ‘End Of Time’, ‘Crazy In Love’, ‘Single Ladies’, ‘Run The World’. Sonically, these are her trademarks.
A Janet Jackson Comeback
Long overdue. And as one of the last true Pop royals, it’d be an event. She’s smartly been out of limelight for enough time to be missed, so the opportunity here is major.
Destiny’s Child Reunion
Yes, another Beyonce flavored pick. But I digress. There’s something electric about when Bey, Kelly, and Michelle work together. So, with 2015 marking ten years since their split, the marketing opportunity to hinge on to is too big to miss out on – whether it be a tour, new music, or both.
More Diversity On Top 40 Radio
As the world of television reaps sweet ratings from culturally diverse seeds, I’d like to see the music industry follow suit.
Though an artist’s race shouldn’t determine how much label backing they receive, the lack of “variety” on the charts has us wondering if the majors feel the same way, boasting rosters that do all of nothing to represent the cultural rainbow that is the record buying public.
The Rise of An R&B Superstar
After sitting on the bench for far too long, 2014 saw “Urban” finally make a comeback on Top 40 radio, thanks in part to releases launched by Jeremih, Jason Derulo and Tinashe.
Unfortunately, the fact remains that R&B has failed to deliver a new world class artist pushing a world class album in recent memory.
Indeed, despite leading the pack in the US, not even the likes of Tamar Braxton or K. Michelle have been able to soar above local ground (yet), and remain relatively unknown or unheard of in foreign markets.
If industry murmurs prove to be true, the answer to R&B’s problem “may” lie in Tinashe, who we hear is tipped to receive quite the push in 2015.
Whatever the case, I’m hoping to see the genre unleash a new pack of Beyonce’s, Usher’s and Alicia’s on the world in the coming year.
The Return of Mathew Knowles Style Management
Though it’s a fact some artists choose to ignore, Jennifer Lopez’s ‘AKA’ campaign proved an era is unlikely to be written off as a “flop” if armed with killer performances, stellar visuals and the kind of talent that keeps an artist’s credibility in tact even in the face of poor sales.
So, here’s hoping 2015 will see more managers take the time to develop their artists before throwing obscene amounts of cash at them only to scratch their heads when the sales don’t add up.
One couldn’t tell by looking now, but there was once a time when the general “vibe” towards Beyonce was anything but positive, slammed by critics who cited her father’s managing of her as the sole reason for her success.
Now, thanks to the style of artist development so many teams are keen to side step, the once loathed “daddy’s girl” now stands as the most celebrated artist of her generation by silencing her critics where it mattered most…on stage.
Will her continued success encourage more labels to learn from this lesson? I hope so.
Male Act of Color Dominate Charts With Respectable Music
I’m the first to argue that Luke James was “Sam Smith before Sam Smith,” but he missed an opportunity window. With this in mind, I feel we’re long overdue for a male act of color to dominate the industry the way Smith has. In fact, he can be a newbie or a seasoned act, I don’t care.
The Full Return of Christina Aguilera
I’m not talking just literally, I mean the return of the Xtina we fell in love with – vocals, choreography, staging, conviction, etc. As one who greatly balanced her albums with substance and fluff, I’d love for her to seduce us with a solid, but catchy Pop single, then captivate us with a quality Pop album (‘Stripped’ meets ‘Bionic’ and has a musical baby).
A Vocal Group
Growing up in an era that saw Boyz II Men & En Vogue carry on the R&B traditions of acts that preceded them, it’s hard for me to accept that there are no vocal groups to be found on charts! I’ll even accept a return of BSB and NSYNC-esque boybands of my teen years because, regardless of how much their music lacked quality, they could still thrill a capella. I know this is unlikely, but I can’t help but cross my fingers and hope that one day the music we’ve found acceptable today will take a back seat to real talent.
The Return of the Uptempo
Call it a reach, but I feel like real uptempos have all but disappeared from the face of the earth (or less dramatically, the music industry), leaving the coast clear for the dominance of “Turn Up Music”.
Yes, the charts are full of ‘Loyal‘s and ‘Drunk In Love’s, but I feel such songs lean towards energetic-midtempo category – leaving a void in what was once the pulsating club banger.
Hopefully 2015 is the year Urban-Pop tracks with the speed, urgency, and ferocity of songs like Janet Jackson’s ‘Feedback’ and ‘Lose My Breath’ by Destiny’s Child make a return.
Maybe Usher or even Rihanna could re-introduce uptempos to the mainstream mass?
A Blockbuster Christina Aguilera Album:
The ‘Lotus’ era has left a bad taste in my mouth. Not because of weak material, but quite the contrary. The album had plenty commercial “moments” that Team Xtina never really exploited to their advantage. A shame since her likeability has constantly been on the up ever since joining ‘The Voice‘.
With the songstress back in the studio and in her seat on the talent show, I am hoping she has the right people around her to make the right choices when it comes to creative direction, singles choices, media training, overall sound, and most of all PROMOTION. Let there be fireworks, Xtina!
Diversity In The Male Arena
With Miguel taking his time to release new music, Usher trying to keep up with Chris Brown and Trey Songz, and August Alsina yet to show a core point of difference, the male Urban-Pop market still seems seems thirsty for a fresh wave of artists.
What I would like to see is eclecticism regarding lyrical themes, styling and general message.
Frank Ocean had managed to do so in 2012 with his ‘Channel Orange’ album and Nick Jonas – with his very Pop approach but heavily Urban-influenced music – seems like a step in the right direction.
Do you agree with our picks? Who was spot on? Let us know your thoughts on the first TGJ Roundtable and tell us your own wishes for 2015 below!