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TGJ Roundtable: Editors 2016 Wish List

Published: Monday 11th Jan 2016 by Sam

2016-wish-tgj

Welcome to the latest 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 each anchor…

What Is On Your 2016 Wish List?!

Sam

An Old Skool Beyonce Campaign…With A Twist

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The world stopped, looked, and listened quite literally when Beyonce released her game-changing self-titled album on that faithful day in December 2013.

Unannounced the project was unconventional from all corners; indeed its simultaneous video roll-out, its Friday arrival, and general trashing of the rule-book made it a campaign for the ages. 

Yet for yours truly there’s aspects of it I’m keen for her to do-away with come the release of the album fans have affectionally codenamed ‘B6.’ Specifically, the lack of promo.

Having observed many a winning and wack album roll-out in my time, there’s no denying the “less is more” approach was smart with self-titled because it heightened the air of mystique around the singer and kept folk on their toes with anticipation. 

However, it’s also arguable that one of the drawbacks of this angle is that it stifled what could have been an even bigger commercial success. At the end of the day, promotion does shift units and, given that new video premieres were not an option with the ‘Beyonce’ project, after a while, there wasn’t much to look forward to beyond carefully handpicked award-show performances (of which there were a grand total of…4).

Team Bey have made it clear they won’t be looking to repeat the surprise strategy with future releases and, from where I’m sitting, I hope that means a broader overhaul too.

Put simply, I’d like to see a mixed-mesh of Bey’s new selective approach with the “Old Skool” vigorousness that defined the campaigns for her first three solo efforts (see: being omnipresent). 

An artist that has executed this almost flawlessly is Bey’s Columbia Records label-mate Adele. The British star dominated 2015’s 4th quarter and is poised to slay 2016 – and yet note that she’s only made a handful of appearances. The hype around her release (which has smartly been massaged by her team) has become promotion in itself, creating the perfect storm of buzz for continued chart dominance. Another important point to consider is that even though her performances have not been plentiful, in light of how automated her sales have been, she theoretically didn’t “need” to do 3/4 of them — but still did. 

Hence, in an ideal scenario, Team Bey will have studied the Adele model and embrace more media opportunities – all the while maintaining the air of prestige and exclusiveness that they have successfully managed to create around her. As such, I’d love to see more performances and interviews (on her terms), while re-affirming her Pop royal status with lucrative lock-out deals (ala Adele’s NBC-only contract) and debuting songs/snippets/or even the album itself in unconventional ways. 

In short, mix the old with the new and make a resounding BOOM!

More Artists Should Take The Reigns & Stop Complaining

Recent months have seen a laundry list of Urban acts moaning about major labels not supporting them. And while some were justified, I couldn’t help but think…”girl bye.”

The music industry not being “fair” is not a new development. It’s been that way and will undoubtedly remain so. Is it something I endorse? No. But the reality is that it is what it is. But it need not be doom and gloom for artists that don’t enjoy the luxury of being able to start their own Parkwoods, Westbury Roads, and Roc Nations. For, they too also wield the ability to manufacture momentum.

We live in the viral age, one which affords everyone a platform to make their voices heard without being gagged. It also provides a relatively cost-effective creative space for artists to veer out of the box to build, maintain, and please their public. The problem for too many of the whiny acts is that so much time is spent waiting for the “machine” to start turning in their favour that they don’t rationalise that they have a degree of autonomy to drive their own vehicle to their desired promised land.

Of course, it’s not always as easy said as is done. However, one need not look further than the Chris Browns of the world who use touring and appearance profits to fund their own videos (vital in today’s industry when streaming counts towards chart placement). Sticking with the C. Breezy example, he also highlights how acts can smartly use collaborations as a means of keeping their own brand blazing regardless of whatever politics may be playing out behind the scenes. 

In today’s 360 era, building personal and professional relationships beyond the confines of ones music deal also creates promotional opportunities when things aren’t popping per se. 

Put simply, complaining does not sell records. Making your moves does.

A Proper Christina Aguilera Comeback

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Petty, perhaps. But there’s a part of me that struggles to forgive Xtina for allowing the smash that was 2012’s ‘Your Body’ to die a death. The ‘Lotus’ album too. 

Neither were particularly groundbreaking, but after a few difficult years, she finally had enough to work with to carve out a successful comeback at the time. 

Alas, as things played out, it was not meant to be. 

Aguilera has never been one to churn out albums quickly, but I’m gonna need her to stop playing and accelerate on her return. Thankfully, it appears 2016 is finally “the” time. 

She’s been locked away in the studio with the likes of Linda Perry (‘Beautiful’) and Da Internz – who titillatingly described the music they worked on with her as “ratchet caviar.” I, for one, cannot wait to tuck in. 

One thing, though…

I’ve always been on the fence about her involvement with The Voice. On the one hand, it’s kept her name in the mix and her pockets lined lusciously. Yet, for many, it’s “stripped” away the coolness of her artist persona and morphed her into more of a television figure for moms who don’t at all translate into the audience ready to buy her epic “lady of the night” anthems ala ‘Your Body,’ ‘Dirrty,’ and ’Not Myself Tonight.’ 

I also feel the show has made her somewhat complacent too; she reportedly banks $12 million per season of the NBC hit. And for what? Sitting in a spinning chair for three months judging acts who never go on to do anything musically? It’s a much easier gig and one radically more lucrative than counting coins from dwindling music royalties or touring gross (after all invested spend has been recouped). Hence, in a way, one can’t blame her. I just hope that moving forward she prioritises the bigger picture – her modern day relevance and longterm legacy. Because the masses will never share her riches, but they will share her output. 

As such, if she insists on staying on the show, I want her to use the platform to aggressively plug her comeback. Place music back at the forefront of her movement.  

Beyond the The Voice, she still has a voice (unlike many divas). Hence, I’m keen to see her hit as many stages as possible. Award shows, international circuit. The lot. 

One gander of her VEVO views reminds that there is an audience waiting to lap up whatever she puts out. We just need it sooner rather than later. 

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David

Positivity Within Pop Music

Competition among fan bases isn’t a new phenomenon, but there’s no denying that it’s become extremely dark in recent years, sucking the positivity out of what should be a fun experience.

For many, entertainment serves a healthy form of escapism, offering fans access into imagined realties far more safer and freeing than their own. The hope, at least from my perspective, is that an artist’s work should give their audience the confidence to go out into the world and enrich their own lives with something they may have learned from their art.

Unfortunately, platforms used to discuss that art (such as social media) can often become just as toxic as the world some use entertainment to escape so I hope 2016 will see all of us  use our love and opinions for and on the craft to encourage and inspire one another to pursue the kind of life one doesn’t need to escape from in the first place.

The Return of the Triple Threat

Money. Money. Money.

Contrary to a number of theories whipped up to explain why so many artists are underperforming nowadays, the answer to so many of their problems is money…or their lack of it.

We can all agree that today’s lineup of newbies have the potential to become just as game-changing as the acts who inspired them. As such, it’s difficult for record labels to find the confidence to invest in artists who may pull in millions of single streams…yet deliver ghastly sales with albums.

So, my hope is that 2016 will see more labels and managers read from the Benny Medina Book of Star-Making to pull in a new batch of triple threats.

Unless an artist is guaranteed consistent exposure to their general public their projects are destined to fail.

However, one wonders just how much pulling power an artist like Tinashe would garner for herself if she teamed up with her label to build a relationship (for example) with Sony Pictures in a bid to nab leading roles in big budget movies she’d be able to build an album campaign around.

Keen to ensure that the film project doesn’t tank it would be in all involved’s interests to ensure the artist’s role in it is heavily promoted which in turn works wonders for the music they are touting which in turn…that’s right…works wonders for the label’s profit margins.

If things don’t change, the next generation of Britney‘s, Janet‘s and Beyonce‘s will find themselves in the shadows of Reality TV stars, actors and established musicians who have more exposure to the general public than they do.

Research Before Releasing

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Though we’re all for artists pulling and learning from the artists of yesteryear, I hope trends in 2016 encourage more newbies to be more original…or at least know more about the artists they claim to be inspired by.

For, there are far too many R&B starlets running around claiming to be inspired by the late Aaliyah (for example) when they are actually closer in style to Cassie or Aaliyah by way of Jhene Aiko.

For whatever a reason, a lack of research into the ‘Try Again’ singer’s discography and vocal style has seen social media create a new version of the singer who lacks the layers that made the original artist the artist she was.

This pushing of this reimagined (and criminally basic) version of the star is to blame for the thousands of Instagram models/singers who believe they are honouring the singer with their Tomboyish style, wafer thin vocals and underproduced turn-up songs.

With this mind, I sincerely hope this year delivers artists who truly capture the spirit of originality and for the inspired types to do their genesis acts justice.

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Rashad

Brandy’s Return To Prominence

2012’s modern masterpiece, ‘Two Eleven,’ was a foretaste of what I believe Brandy had in store for her long overdue comeback.  Unfortunately, instead of capitalizing on the momentum of ‘Put It Down,’ it appears the singer unintentionally lived up to the song’s titling and put “it” down.  “It,” in this case, being the album as a whole (singles, its promotion, etc).  While there was arguably an opportunity window missed for a great follow-up, I still feel the masses are waiting for her to come with some serious heat.  With ‘The Game’ and ‘Zoe Ever After’ helping to introduce her to new audiences, here’s hoping she takes the renewed interest and redirects it to her music and gives us a ‘Two Eleven’ meets ‘Full Moon’-esque body of work.  In other words, unapologetic R&B with a hint of radio-friendly.

An R&B Vocal Group

This was on my wish list for last year, but apparently the music gods didn’t hear me.  Let me try again.

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 real vocal groups (sans Pentatonix) to be found on charts! As I stated previously, even in the fluff of the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, and 98 Degrees kinds of groups, they at least had a handle on harmony and vocals.

At this point, even though they weren’t vocal groups, a B2K or Mindless Behavior will do. I just need some stageblazers who can act as a male answer to the rising group Fifth Harmony.

Lady Gaga To Quit Playing and Give Us the Business

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Gaga…girl…what’s really going on?  For as much as I am here for her displays of artistry and versatility, I can’t get jiggy with another duet album with Tony Bennett.  I need a collection of bangers, single-worthy numbers to reassert her position on the Pop landscape.

She let Katy Perry leave her in the dust with ‘Prism’ and Taylor come behind and finish the job with ‘1989.’  I now need Gaga to come back with vengeance and give us all kinds of ‘G.U.Y.,’ ‘Poker Face,’ ‘Bad Romance,’ and more.  Ditch the socially conscious angle for 5 seconds (or at least get more creative in how its provided) and give us the Gaga we fell in love with.

I’m afraid she may be running out of chances.

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Joe

The Return of Destiny’s Child

The return of Destiny’s Child, in any shape or form, would be a tremendous event in 2016. With the ladies very in-demand in their respective lanes, this (I feel) could only work as a conceptual project.

I am thinking an EP, joint album and/or tour, residency or even coming back under another name (to avoid legal drama with former manager Mathew Knowles).

Alas, with the ladies scheduled to release respective albums in this very year, chances are arguably slim that this witness this wish materialize. Then again, via the likes of Drake and Chris Brown, we’re continually seeing the “one project per year” rule done away with. Hmm.  

The Re-Emergence of Maxwell

In 2009, Maxwell released his fourth effort ‘BLACKsummers’night’ to fantastic sales, even more amazing reviews, and has since toured the world several times over. I would love to see him release the long-promised second instalment of the trilogy.

With D’Angelo‘s surprise effort sending the soul lovers into a frenzy in 2015 (and earning a Grammy nomination in the process), the ascension of The Weeknd and of course the chart glory of an artist like Adele, it seems the time is right again for Max to share his brand of grown and sexy with us and bag himself a few more honors along the way.

An Alicia Keys Comeback

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After a long period of only focusing on which song sounded better in a club environment, the industry is arguably back to rewarding pure talent. The likes of Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran and Adele are touching numbers the Biebers, Derulos and Rihannas could only dream of. There is arguably one artist who has every single requirements to join said mega-sellers list: Alicia Keys.

Though her last effort ‘Girl On Fire’ didn’t quite set the charts on alight, its title track is etched in the minds of the masses as seen on the numerous talent shows across the globe. As such, I’m convinced that with the right approach – probably a more “back to basics” one – Ms. Keys could recapture that very audience that made her first three efforts blueprints of modern R&B.

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Do you agree with our picks? Who was spot on? Let us know your thoughts on the latest TGJ Roundtable and your own 2016 wish list!

Your thoughts?

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  1. christinastherealtalent January 11, 2016

    I agree that Xtina needs to quit effing around! Do 1 more season of The Voice then wrap it up! I enjoyed her for the first 2 seasons but then realized she put her own recording career on hold for that show. Your first obligation is your music and entertaining your fans which is why she’s struggled to make a proper comeback. It’s ok to venture out into other business opportunities but don’t forget the hands that spent their hard earned money to get you to where you are. Leave the cheesy, generic, bubble gum pop music to the likes of Taylor, Justin, One Direction, etc…you need another Stripped/Back to Basics esque album. Put together a documentary special that showcases your life outside of your music. Make yourself relatable to your fans and others who aren’t quite your fans. Find ways to make not just your fans, but other people like you. Promote your music. Be on every effing news show outlet performing the hell out of it. Go on tour! It’s been 10 damn years since your last tour. Leave The Voice to put the focus back on your music!

    • maurice January 11, 2016

      Yass for Alicia Keys. Her albums are always solid.
      I’m also here for Lady Gaga to see what she comes up with.
      Beyonce, of course, too.
      2016 could be a great year for music.
      Oh, and I’m checking for that new Lil Kim album later this year. Let’s see what she can come up with after a decade since her last release.

    • Meteorite January 11, 2016

      I totally agree with you! It’s her tenth season on The Voice and she still hasn’t won. It’s time to let it go. I’m curious what genre she is going to do this time. I personally feel she does best when in the lane of Rock and R&B.

  2. Ciah’s Turtle January 11, 2016

    Brandy

  3. Indie January 11, 2016

    So ya’ll just gonna pretend that you don’t know that Rihanna’s forthcoming single is featuring Drake and the video was shot last night, and word on road is that it’s a MONSTER HIT!!!!

    • HausMuthaAdele January 11, 2016

      Aww she had to run to Drake for help. 😂

  4. Fancy BISH January 11, 2016

    Miss Alicia Augello Cook will definitely make a comeback! Homegirl is too talented to not make a return to form…most artists need a couple big hits to sell an album, but Miss Keys usually needs just one satisfying hit to anchor a whole era…I think she should make a Quiet Storm R&B style album full of warmth and sensuality…think Something In My Heart by Michel’le and Always by Atlantic Starr…also, jazz influences ….yaaaas….we need more BLACK albums that are classy, s***, gorgeous and musically inspiring like Rapture, Off The Wall and Whitney’s first album…and please leave those hard Lion King drums alone chile lol…I enjoyed this TGJ 🙂

  5. Kitty Puurrzz January 11, 2016

    Christina Aguilera is coming. I can feel it.

  6. Barb-wire January 11, 2016

    Maxwell!!!

  7. Weezy Tha Goat January 11, 2016

    Christiana is done. But I’m here for an Alicia Keys comeback.

    • Career Ender January 11, 2016

      I’m nice for this month
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      frist of all yuo sten for kethi and taht’s all nating more nating lers
      .
      and cumm bak harda if yuo wanna drag mi
      .
      don’t shad mi bi mi spellign bitsh

      • Career Ender January 11, 2016

        rong replie it was 2 @kitty ourz

  8. Navyboi88 January 11, 2016

    I would love an ameriie comeback

  9. Let’s Be Real January 11, 2016

    I need Beyonce to start SANGIN again.I mean vocally slay us. I was just watching her Stevie Wonder performance that is her vein! A true soul album from her with beautiful lyrics.me and my boyfriend are also seriously in love with Brandy’s new song! She was giving us supreme vocals with that Cadillac Records sound. I think 2016 can be a great year for music

  10. #TeamTinashe Stan January 11, 2016

    I liked Sam’s observation thought it was interesting and had some cool points.
    As for David, I am still wondering of he was trying to shade my fave with his little piece of incoherence.

    Joe’s was probably the best because we pften always talk about today’s everyday names of pop stars but never address or seek in interest with our R&B Legends. Sam, I hope you do a weekly article on about R&B because I feel like we need to discuss more about the state because there was a time everyone that came out with an R&B song from any age range was winning… not so much now. So please do something like this.

    • Mary Slay Blige January 11, 2016

      David clearly likes your fav so I doubt it was shade. Either way she needs to take his advice because she isn’t doing well at all and we all know that’s why RCA aren’t helping Joyride.

      • #TeamTinashe Stan January 11, 2016

        He has spoke down on her on a recent post regarding her having problems with her label.
        I feel she has done a lot of work and invested so much into her career where that alone should be respected. I don’t feel she follows any individual artists formula or sound in music. We’re just in a time were music consumers are very petty against new black female artists. Especially black people not supporting their own. Ex: Jazmine Sullivan, Sevyn and Tinashe

      • Mary Slay Blige January 11, 2016

        No shade but Tinashe needs people like DAvid to give her advice because things are not looking positive for her career . Criticism and shade are two different things.

  11. Meteorite January 11, 2016

    For me personally I need Beyoncé to make another album like “4”. I love that album.

    • JOHNVIDAL January 11, 2016

      Her last two albums are her best. Although her best single remains Crazy in Love.

  12. JOHNVIDAL January 11, 2016

    I don´t see the Xtina comeback happening. Ever. It´s been years. She´ll do well doing her things and pleasing fans with her once ina while albums.
    Lady Gaga… well slaying all kinds of critical acclaim business is good enough. I mean, where are those supposed triple-whtever girls who are never considered for any serious type of awar or recognition but always attend these award shows? lol More like proffesional red carpet attendees and that´s it 🙂 But yeah it will be interesting to see how her next pop album sounds.

  13. Kitteneyez January 11, 2016

    New albums from Beyonce Mariah Jlo Rihanna Usher Tinashe all I need and want with solid material

  14. Dee Western January 11, 2016

    I agree with David regarding “Positivity Within Pop Music.”
    What has happened to the fans base in society today? People have become so rude, and vulgar in their comments about artist. It’s amazing how so many individuals can go at each other without a moment or thought of hesitation. In most cases, they know nothing about the entertainer(s) or their personal lives. Too much rage.

  15. UR January 11, 2016

    Just gimme my Usher album.

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