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Weigh In: Gospel Sex Scandals Rock the Net

Paging Olivia Pope & Associates!  You are needed for clean-up on aisle 3!

In a time where gospel music permeates mainstream in more ways than ever (see: reality shows, Urban/pop music stylings, secular collabos), what has unfortunately come with some of those breakthroughs are headline-grabbing breakdowns.

Indeed, just weeks after the controversial, hit Oxygen reality series ‘Preachers of L.A.’ rocked television, the show’s star Deitrick Haddon was embroiled in a scandal that saw alleged nude photos of the ‘Have Your Way’ hitmaker hit the net in a big way.

Now, thanks in part to R&B songstress Lil Mo’, gospel star Kevin Terry has set the net ablaze with a viral video of him rocking the mic  with no stage in sight.  The video and accompanying story already had moderate traction, but after the ‘Superwoman’ songstress tweeted about the incident to save her friend, that traction went from buzz to boil…


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At Her Best: The Best of Aaliyah’s Ballads

As many know, today marks what would’ve been the 34th birthday of ‘One In A Million’ maestra Aaliyah.

Though her life was cut tragically short in 2001 at the young age of 22, the sweet voiced songstress had already collected more hits and accolades in that brief time than many artists 2-3 times her senior.  In such, we at That Grape Juice, like so many around the world today, pay homage to the everlasting legacy of the late R&B hitmaker.

But this time, with a twist:


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Weigh In: Who Is This Generation’s Vocal Bible?

Let’s face it…

The turn of the century has unfortunately been accompanied by an under-appreciation of true vocalists.  Veritably, it has been clear to see that as production technology has increased its ability, inversely, quality vocal performances have decreased.

Turn on the radio today and you will be assaulted by an abundance of autotune, so much so one may question if he/she is listening to real people or The Transformers…

*Voting closes Monday, January 14th at 11:59pm CST*


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Fixing the Femcee Formula: Finding Success As A Rapstress

“Sell outs”.

Ask hip hop’s reigning highnesses – Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliott, and Nicki Minaj – and they can attest to being titled such at some point in their illustrious careers (the latter more than her rap predecessors).

Indeed, in the heavily male-dominated genre of rap, trying to “hang with the boys” has either constituted hypermasculinization or explicitly detailing bedroom antics.  Either way, rap’s estrogenic entities have had to take the extreme route often to little notoriety…


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The Skinny On Success: Weighing In On the “Overweight Debate”

Over the past year, we at That Grape Juice have turned to the readers for their thoughts on the roles age, race, and even sexuality play in one’s success in the music industry.  Now, let’s weigh in on a heavier topic – weight.

Our culture is collectively becoming more stylized, making substance a thing of the past.  As image drives the culture, often filling media with airbrushed or digitally altered representations of “beautiful”, the standard of beauty has never been more sought.  An anomaly indeed given that statistics have proven most of the people subscribing to those very standards oft do not meet them.

So, what’s the big deal?


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Progressive Or Problem: Do Gospel Stars & Reality Shows Mix?

Oh, to be a (successful) gospel artist in 2012 indeed perplexes performers on every side.  For, on one side, there is the ministry – the very vein of intent to be a vessel for Christ through one’s artistry.  On the other hand, there is the business.

Regardless of intent, labels want to see records sold through marketing, publicity, and performance.  That very requirement catalyzes the ongoing battle between “ka-ching” and “blessing”…


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Hot Topic: Pushing Brandy’s ‘Two Eleven’

Here’s what it is:

Brandy, by way of fan support, renewed public interest and the strength of her material, stands tall as one of 2012’s most celebrated acts.

Welcoming the release of her R&B driven studio album ‘Two Eleven’ two weeks ago, both she and her team went to great lengths before its launch to ensure the project debuted favorably in the US.

Now in its second week of release, ‘Eleven‘ holds a top ten position at #10, with 20,879 sold since last week , pushing its total US figure to 87,735 units sold. This now means it’s only 12,265 copies away from hitting the 100,000 mark- a commendable feat to be scored three weeks in.

Of course, while that may seem a little abysmal to some, we’d say it sets the tone for what is set to become a slow but consistent sales push for the project, which some are now making the mistake of writing off.

So, in a climate seemingly hostile to Contemporary R&B, just how could Team Brandy push ‘Two Eleven‘?

Our answer to that question below…


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Hot Topic: The ‘Oversexualization’ Of Pop Music.

“I love it- I love it- I love it when you eat it.

“Stop at the light Imma jump out my Barbie dream car/Imma jump on it- Imma ride him like a theme park.

It’s lyrics like these Cyndi Lauper may have been addressing, when she billed modern music ‘too sexual’ during an interview with ‘The Metro‘ recently.

Revealing that she shares her fans sentiment that much of today’s music is aggressive ‘Rape music’, the ‘She Bop’ belle had this to say on the matter:

“One young woman walked up to me recently at a concert and thanked me for my work ‘in the midst of all this rape music. I never thought of it like that, but so much music nowadays is about sex, sex, sex and is quite aggressive.

She called it rape music.I thought, ‘Oh my God, I guess she’s right’.

I just try to write music that connects with people’s conscience and make music for awake people rather than sleepwalkers”

So, considering ‘imagery’ endorsed by the likes of Marky Mark, Madonna and Adinah Howard in the 90s compared to outings by the likes of Chris Brown, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj today, we ask this:

Has Pop Music Become ‘Oversexualized’?


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Why Mariah’s ‘Triumphant’ Return Should Have Waited

Mariah Carey Triumphant

It was the comeback many had been awaiting. Indeed, it’s been three years since Mariah Carey last released a traditional studio album – and seven since she released one anyone actually cared about.

Hence, the so-so reaction new single ‘Triumphant’ has received both critically and commercially is sure to come as somewhat of blow to the diva’s comeback campaign. A campaign which appears to be re-jigging strategy in light of the song’s performance (or lackthereof)

As reported yesterday, the 42 year old’s manager Randy Jackson confirmed that the cut’s housing album is slated for a March 2013 release – essentially auto-rendering ‘Triumphant’ a “buzz single”. A status we have a hard time believing was the “plan” from the outset. For, even the most well-prepared and well-executed projects would never leave a seven-month gap between the first “taste” of the LP and its arrival in stores. Never.

Thoroughly puzzling, it’s a “strategy” which begs the rhetorical question: why release ‘Triumphant’ now? Indeed, there isn’t an answer that could truly satisfy.

Still much loved, Mariah commands a loyal “Lamb” community; yet beyond that ultra dedicated bracket, there isn’t overwhelming “demand” for her in the music marketplace. At least not to the feverish degree that “demands” such a rush-release. What’s more, having signed up to judge ratings juggernaut American Idol, a vast weekly audience awaits Ms. Carey-Cannon when the show kicks off in January. Surely, holding off until then would have benefitted her cause more – ala rival Jennifer Lopez? Instead, she’s left with a first-hurdle misstep which sees the song moving at snail-pace at radio, sitting at #95 on US iTunes, and notable by its absence in the Top 200 of the UK tally.

There is, of course, room for the track to rebound; the debut of its music video is imminent, while its better-received remixes are due on iTunes next week. The latter being particularly noteworthy. In a recent interview with Billboard, Jackson touted the Dancier incarnations of the cut as being “for the fans”. Perhaps they are. Yet, we’re sure he and the rest of Team Mariah, are well-versed in the grey area that surrounds Billboard’s rules regarding the Hot 100. Indeed, unless structurally so different that it constitutes a “new song”, sales of remixes routinely count towards the title track’s overall chart placing. A practice which gives Mimi three lifelines to play with – if counting the original, Vintage Throwback, and Pulse versions of the song.

For us, though, we simply hoped she’d release the right song, more importantly at the right time. Still, what’s done is done. Fingers crossed for a revival of interest in the project, though; as -“new voice” and all- Mariah remains one of the industry’s most enduring and authentic assets. It’s time she stopped selling herself short.

Your thoughts?

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Hot Topic : Can Album Sales Be Saved?

In an article posted by Billboard Biz last month billed ‘UK Album Sales Drop By 13%’, the unfortunate but unsurprising news that the rate of LPs sold in the UK had reached record breaking lows hit music lovers all too hard.

Intensified even further with a subsequent report which revealed ‘old releases’ were currently outselling their new counterparts for the first time in US chart history, it’s safe to say that the industry has seen far better days- as it currently  experiences its worst.

Indeed, despite commercial highs scored by Adele, Drake, Lil Wayne  and Pop deity Lady GaGa, very little can be done to disguise the desperate state many a label find itself in as they struggle to convince the buying public their acts are worth…buying.

So, ever eager to catch your take on matters like these, That Grape Juice asks you:

Can Album Sales Be Saved?


What do you think the labels are doing wrong when it comes to pushing them?

Weigh in below…


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Pop Equality : Does Race Play Into Chart Success?

Back in May, ‘Magnetic Fields‘ front man Stephen Merritt found himself under the media gaze after he made comments questioning the public’s support of ‘21‘ chart topper Adele.

In an interview with LA Weekly, he suggested that Caucasian artists performing what he called ‘black music’ were often more palatable to viewers than Black artists performing ‘black music’- hinting at an  underlying but unintentional racist streak in Popular audiences.

His comments didn’t end there. In making the comparison between the radio airtime given to Black Rap acts and their fairer counterparts, he concluded:

There is something unsavory about the way audiences sometimes disproportionately favor white artists making black music.

Witness Eminem’s repeated appearances on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks (now Alternative Songs) chart with songs sporting an unmistakably hip-hop bounce like “My Name Is” and “Without Me.” The only way to explain his crossing-over to rock radio is his skin color.

Billed as an exaggeration of a dated issue, Merritt’s remarks came under fire from some That Grape Juice readers who argued their reasons for supporting artists came on the grounds of quality and not race.

However, these found themselves countering arguments supporting the performer’s theory.

Pointing out, that despite the prior success of AaliyahTLC, Brandy, Monica and Janet in the 90s, this generation only boasts three commercially viable Black female artists.

These being, Rihanna, Beyonce and rising Rapper Nicki Minaj.

So now we ask you:

Do you feel race plays into chart success?

Weigh in below…


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Pop Music : Are ‘Vocalists’ On The Decline ?

Perhaps in response to the industry’s increasingly disposable nature, the question of talent remains ever present fueled by the head scratching ascent of many a contemporary act.

Unashamedly lacking any discernible gift or skill worthy of their notoriety, gone are the days where an artist did one or the other and if ‘the fan’ was lucky – both.

Instead, barring the likes of Alexandra Burke, Beyonce, Lady GaGa, Jessie J and Adele, it’s safe to say the actual ‘talent’ of most entertainers finds itself in disrepute, backed not by their skills but chart feats and in some cases…Twitter followers.

So now we ask:

Are vocalists – gifted singers – on the decline? Or are they just a little harder to find in the blur that is the Hot 100?


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