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Product Vs. Promotion: Ameriie

Underrated.  Just one of the many things often named with ‘1 Thing’ hitmaker Amerie Rogers.  Her humble beginnings may have found her lost in the shuffle of a new wave of early 2000s R&B belles, but the musical melting pot that was her debut album ‘All I Have’ quickly set her apart.  A melting pot, hinting at R&B, soul, pop, and hip hop, that seemed filled with almost as many diversities as the singer herself.

Led by the mid tempo ‘Why Don’t We Fall In Love’, fans quickly fell in love with this beauty’s varicolored vocal stylings, accented by layers of decorative harmonic arrangements.  A quality that would remain a distinct constant, yet misprized feature of her offerings.

However, it was the introduction of ‘1 Thing’, the lead single from the 2005 ‘Hitch’ soundtrack (Will Smith) and her sophomore album ‘Touch’ that saw R&B lovers really get in touch with her work…


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Hot Topic: Sales Vs Certifications

Yesterday evening, Pepsi darling Nicki Minaj celebrated the news that her sophomore LP ,’Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded‘, had been certified Platinum in the US.

However, as the love fest between she and her ‘Barbz’ went on on Twitter, the news came under intense scrutiny from the Rapper’s critics.

Critics, who did not understand how an LP which is yet to move 600,000 units in the US was able to be certified Platinum (1 million copies).

So, ever eager to address the issues you care most about, That Grape Juice dedicates today’s ‘Hot Topic’ to the system that is an RIAA certification.

Full explanation below…


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Hot Topic: Are Lasting Artists On The Decline?

In 2008, Tina Turner launched “Tina!:50th Anniversary Tour” in honor of five decades spent atop the music industry.

Four years after Turner graced 40 cities across the North America and Europe, Lionel Richie watched his 9th studio album ‘Tuskegee’ rocket to #1, 20 years after the release of his self titled debut album ‘Lionel Richie‘.

Both rare feats, their successes 10, 20, 30 years or more after their debut is both a testament to their talent and their ability to ‘hold on’ to audiences, against a number of industry induced odds.

The question is though, how many of today’s performers could follow in Lionel and Tina’s suit?

How many of them could bring in audiences long after their initial hype has died, respected enough to command major numbers in an industry with an ever growing age bias.

In short, we want to know?

Do today’s acts have what it takes to stand the test time of time?


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Hot Topic: What Makes An Icon?


A word thrown about fans up and down the blogosphere, recent years have seen a number of today’s acts awarded the title, accurately and inaccurately.

From Justin (both of them) to Rihanna, there are very few performers whose careers haven’t been billed as ‘potentially iconic’ if not already ‘legendary’.

But what does it mean? To be iconic?

One thing, an image or depiction, that represents something else of greater significance through literal or figurative meaning, usually associated with religious, cultural, political, or economic standing.

So, taking the above into consideration, we ask you…

What does it take to be an icon?

And which of today’s stars have it within them to be iconic?


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New Music Seminar : Label Execs Debate ‘Rise Of The Music Business’

Yesterday, New York’s Webstar Hall welcomed a group of the world’s leading record executives for the 2012 New Music Seminar.

Engaging a heated discussion centered around the ‘Rise Of The Music Industry’, their debate saw them outline the various ways the industry has altered its model to accommodate changing trends, ‘consumer laziness’ and their plans to regenerate sales.

Interesting read below…


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Twitter Trials: Everybody Hates Chris

Raz B.  Rihanna.  Miranda Lamberts.  Good Morning America (Robin Roberts).  Anderson Cooper. FOX News. Odd Future.  And now, Brian McKnight.

Besides at one time occupying some space on your television screens, the aforementioned entities all have had at least a taste of one other commonality – beef with R&B bad boy Chris Brown.

For, while his introduction saw him poised to follow in the steps of the legendary Michael Jackson (a la famed, talented child star whose star brightens into adulthood) and fill a space in R&B that had not been occupied since Usher, post-“the 2009 incident” has seen the ‘Run It’ singer’s public image run topsy turvy.

One minute loved and praised, the next minute reminded of that career-changing occurrence…


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Is Madonna’s ‘Born This Way/Express Yourself’ Mash Up For MDNA Tour Too Much?

As many a Madonna fan and Little Monster know, the Queen of Pop is set to use her ‘MDNA’ tour set to tribute pop diva Lady Gaga by performing a mashed-up version of the latter’s ‘Born This Way’ with her own ‘Express Yourself’.  Immediately coming under fire after its early 2011 release for sounding nearly identical to Madge’s 1989 hit, Gaga dismissed the claim of copying while her pop predecessor labeled it ‘reductive’.

Now, as audio has surfaced of Madonna’s intent to fuse the twin pop tunes on her latest live trek, we who thought the flame had cooled see it may be readying to reach higher heights.  Is this another case of Kim Vs. Nicki?

Take a listen below and you tell us:


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The Music Video: Is Creativity In Decline?

For one reason or another, music videos- or at least their impact on Pop culture- just aren’t the same.

Perhaps down to the scarcity of cash in the industry, it’s fair to say that the music video has felt the full force of the business’ switch from shifting albums to selling singles.

Economically it makes sense with most of today’s act hardly bringing in enough to warrant budgets the likes of Michael Janet were afforded, but can you really put a price on creativity?

Are lack of finances to blame for videos which- quite frankly- are as generic as the singles they are in aid of?

How many of these will stand the test of time?

Peep a few memorable videos and weigh in after the jump…


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Former Glory Vs. Future Gain: The Plight of the (Aging) Pop Queen

An array of awards line their shelves. Millions line their bank accounts and album sales statistics.  Adoring fans line concert venues, fan pages, and front stan wars in defense of them.  Yet, interestingly, even with all the aforementioned, stars like Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and Madonna find themselves placed in quite the pop pickle.  For, in their hey day, they revisited, revamped, and, to then contemporary music fans, replaced the divas of old.  Putting the Chers, Diana Rosses, Aretha Franklins, Barbra Streisands, and co.s ‘out to pasture’ while they dominated the pop charts.

But, insert a 20 year fast forward, and they find themselves in (or approaching) somewhat of the same jam.

Redefining the standards of pop excellence, the latter 21st century divas (unlike those before them) used the music video medium to push their agenda.   Glossy visuals, accompanied by high octane choreography, cinematic quality themes, and live performances to match.  But, now the pop queens that paved the way for Britney Spears, Beyonce, Rihanna, and more are now finding themselves in their direct competition – sonically and visually.  Some will argue that no copy will ever trump the original, while others say they’ve had their day and should step aside.

We at TGJ want to know:  when one reaches a level of legendary status…what’s to gain from continuing?  You’ve paved the way, had the fame/fortune, and the adulation.  What’s next?  As Madonna’s 12th LP ‘MDNA’ landed on shelves this week, and Janet and Mariah (amongst others 40+ year old divas) are hard at work at their latest offerings,  sales dwindle and once universal praise turns into mock.

The inescapable age/gender bias leads us to ask:

Former Glory Vs. Future Gain:  Do stars who continue to push “pass their prime” ruin their legacies?  Is the gain – at the risk of ridicule, changing one’s sound for the sake of sounding “current”, or dressing/acting much too young – worth the gain of a new generation of followers?

Your thoughts?


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LeToya Luckett: Product vs Promotion

Review of R&B charts of late boasts an alarming diva deficiency.  A circumstance all the more alarming when just a few years ago so many showed promise.  Arguably, none more than LeToya Luckett.  The comeback kid, whose tale (reportedly) told of triumph, tragedy, betrayal, and rebirth, seemed to finally have the stars aligned in her order when suddenly, it seemed no more.

Such is a circumstance the young singer is no means unfamiliar with.  For, some say it was luck or maybe destiny that this Houston-bred beauty would find her star initially rising with the most successful girl group of all time.  As fate would have it, Luckett aligned with Pop megastar Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Latavia Roberson to ascend to the top of charts as Destiny’s Child – a fierce R&B foursome with heavenly looks, voices, and moves to match.  But, as the 2000s rolled on, the very rocket that launched her into stardom ultimately left her behind in what came as an unceremonious ousting from the group.  Accompanied by a host of headlines citing tension, contention, and Matthew Knowles‘ interventions as the cause of dissension, the remaining group members still rose above to find themselves topping charts again while Luckett and Roberson stayed behind.

Trying their hand as the group Angel – the two later disbanded finding Luckett at square one yet again.  That is, until 2006 when Lady Luck tore up the charts with ‘Torn’ – the ‘You Are Everything’-sampled R&B groove that obviously struck a chord with listeners as it propelled the singer’s debut solo album ‘Letoya’ to the top of the charts.  Critics hailed the underdog the champion as she made her rounds performing the hit single.  And, while its follow-up ‘She Don’t’…well…didn’t, Ms. Luckett’s debut was still widely received as a success, earning the singer her first (solo) platinum plaque.

On the other hand, her 2009 sophomore album ‘Lady Love’ didn’t receive much love from record buyers.  Despite boasting an all star collaboration list (Ludacris, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo) and a more mature sound, Luckett’s gamble at “refined” showed promise but quickly fell on deaf ears.  And though shortly reigning at #1 on Billboard’s R&B charts, the singer, who at the time was very vocal about her label’s mishandling of the project, also cited the length of time between albums as the blame for its failure.  The past weeks have seen the singer work her way back into the spotlight, taking promotion into her own hands.  And, with album #3 reportedly due this year…

That Grape Juice wants to know – who (or what’s) to blame? Are the shortcomings a musical misstep or a mix of marketing mishaps? The talent is certainly there and, unlike so many artists, was clearly being cultured.  The growth in vocal showings alone from album 1 to album 2 was noteworthy.  Add on an all-star team for production (on album 1 and 2) and killer looks, one would think the ‘Regret’ singer had the perfect recipe for success.  But alas, such was not the case.

Now you weigh in:  Has Luckett’s luck run out or will destiny see her on top again?   In other words:

Product vs. Promotion?  What’s to blame?

Your thoughts?


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The Artist Of The Decade Is (Finals)…

The last decade has served Pop culture with a healthy stream of ground breaking  acts.

From Beyonce in 2003 to Lady GaGa in 2008, the last ten years have seen many of its newbies become some just as iconic as the acts they themselves were inspired by.

Now we want to know:

Which artist do YOU feel has done the most for their respective genre in the last ten years.

You decide below…


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Hot Topic: The Secret Behind Girl Group Success

From The Supremes to The Spice Girls, girls groups have always been an integral part of Pop culture.

Unfortunately, recent years have seen a decline in the number of all female troupes on the charts, following the disbanding of Destiny’s Child, Girls Aloud and Danity Kane, to name just three.

So, ever eager to hear your take on the issue, we want to know:

What do you think it would take to form and maintain a successful girl group in 2012?

And, why do you think so many girl groups fail to stand the test of time?

Weigh in below!

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