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The Evolution Of Mimi

2mqu8ma The Evolution Of Mimi

Mariah Carey is a diva. Soaring to the top of the charts with her incredible 5 octave vocal range, her  rapid ascension to the pinnacle of Pop music remains a feat unmatched by any other solo act in history. From her 18 #1 hits to her outstanding record sales, she truly is a phenomenon. Yet, in recent years, it seems that Carey’s impact has begun to wane.

With the exception of her now 6x platinum ‘The Emancipation of Mimi’, Carey has been unable to produce a record in the last 10 years that captured renowned public appeal. In fact, she only accomplished 4 chart-toppers since the year 2000, a dramatic decline from the 14 she had in the 1990′s. Indeed, the demand for Carey’s material has now reached an all-time low as her latest LP, ‘Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel’, took an embarrassing 4 months to  achieve a gold certification; a noticeable decline for an artist whose previous 11 studio releases all went platinum or higher.

The real question is: what can Carey do to rejuvenate her career? While ‘Memoirs’ received the best reviews of any album she released since ‘Butterfly’, it is blatantly apparent that Carey is remaining in her comfort zone of mid-tempo R&B and finger-snapping radio material. Most of her records capitilise on the same formula she used to re-establish her career in 2005. However, this is 2010.

Unlike her peers such as Madonna, Beyonce or even Christina Aguilera, Carey seems reluctant to experiment with her image and material in the same way that she does with her voice. She remains steadfast in her effort to hold on to her youth by crafting Sesame Street-quality material such as ‘Touch My Body’ and ‘Up Out My Face’. Even her ballads have begun to sound the same; almost all emulating the piano-driven productions of her monster hit ‘We Belong Together’.

If Carey does not reinvent herself soon, she runs the risk of slipping into irrelevancy like many of her counterparts including Celine Dion and Jennifer Lopez before her. She certainly has both the skill and the talent to reposition herself at the helm of the  game. Nevertheless, Carey needs to think ‘outside the box’ or her career may end up in one.

What direction should Carey take to revamp her

career?

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Music

Has The Industry Been Fair To Ciara?

ciara fantasy ride 1 Has The Industry Been Fair To Ciara?

Since her debut on the Billboard charts in 2004, Ciara has demonstrated tremendous growth as an artist. As one of the leading forces in dance, she has transcended beyond the butt-popping gyrations of her early career to become one of the most technically skilled performers in music today. In fact, Ciara’s precision is so acute that many consider her to be as good as or even better than modern day Janet Jackson.

Nevertheless, despite this improvement in her music and choreography, Ciara has yet to match the success of her first album, ‘Goodies’, which has sold over 3 million copies in the US alone. Indeed, her latest album, ‘Fantasy Ride’, while generating a top 10 hit with ‘Love Sex Magic (Ft. Justin Timberlake)’, has only managed to sell just over 300k units. This begs the question: has the industry been fair to Ciara?

It is no secret that Ciara’s voice is quite limited in many ways. However, she compensates for this lack vocal prowess  by outperforming almost all of her contemporaries on the dance floor. Throughout 2009, she delivered high energy performances and displayed outstanding skill that easily placed her in a completely different league from her peers, including Britney Spears and Usher. Yet Ciara has not received the level of recognition that her talents deserve, regardless of the fact that her routines were definitely more difficult than that of ‘Single Ladies’.

On the musical front, Ciara has been out-paced by artists such as Rihanna, who are known more for their beauty and fashion sense than actual talent. Interestingly, there is no doubt that Ciara is just as appealing as Rihanna in every sense of the word but many argue that because of the latter’s unwavering label support and funding, Ciara has not managed to access as wide a market. It seems that Ciara’s success has been unjustifiably limited.

Thus, it can be said that Ciara has not achieved a level of success that matches her abilities. While artists like Rihanna and Ke$ha continue to dominate the Pop charts, she finds herself struggling to make an impact. Nonetheless, judging by her discipline and drive to succeed, the old saying seems to be true: ‘you just can’t keep a good woman down’.

Do you think that the industry has been fair to

Ciara?

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Music

Beyonce; Hits Vs Classics

251 Beyonce; Hits Vs Classics

She is a singer, dancer, songwriter and all-round entertainer. Without a doubt, Beyonce is one of the most dominant forces in popular music today. Ranked as Billboard’s Female Artist of the Decade, she has accumulated more #1 songs and top 10 singles in the US than any other female act during the last 10 years, creating nothing short of an empire. However, her extensive string of timely hits  prove to be her greatest strength as well as her most prominent downfall.

With each new album, Beyonce has become progressively more mainstream; slowly replacing the classic R&B sound of her solo debut, ‘Dangerously In Love’, with catchy, club-ready tracks. Despite her immense growth as both a vocalist and performer, many argue that her music has become increasingly diluted to appeal to a more mainstream audience. In fact, some critics wonder if her most recent material such as ‘Ego’ and ‘Diva‘ would stand the test of time or be quickly forgotten like some of her past hits including ‘Check On It’.

Indeed, unlike artists such as Alicia Keys who have consistently provided timeless songs, the majority of Beyonce’s material is carded as ‘flavour of the moment’. For instance, while ‘Beautiful Liar (Ft. Shakira)’ was a major success, the question can be asked: how many casual listeners beyond her fanbase will remember that song in 10 years? On the other hand, Keys’ ‘Fallin’, ‘No One’ and ‘You Don’t Know My Name’ basically have a cult following of their own.

Hence, whilst Beyonce is certainly one of the most talented and versatile artists of her generation, many wonder if her music can be considered classic material or just radio hits. The challenge is now being put forward  for people to list her timeless pieces as a solo artist. With the exception of ‘Crazy In Love’, ‘Irreplaceable’ and ‘Single Ladies’, I myself find that task quite difficult indeed.

Do you think that Beyonce creates classic songs or

‘flavour of the moment’ hits?

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Music

Music Videos – Art Vs Recession Specials

Cinema full1 Music Videos   Art Vs Recession Specials

‘Thriller’, ‘Bad Romance’, ‘Get Your Freak On’ – each song provided one of the biggest hits in the careers of  their associated acts. What were the defining factors that helped to catapult these singles to the top of the charts? The answer is simple: music videos.

Videos grant artists a unique opportunity to project their music into the visual arena, targeting larger audiences in the process. With grand cinematic designs and artwork, such clips have allowed some of music’s heavyweights to engage consumers through an entirely new channel and bring their music to life. In fact, acts including Madonna, Janet Jackson and, of course, Michael Jackson (MTV’s King of the Music Video), were sometimes able to ascend to the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 fueled by the hype generated by their music videos alone.

However, in recent years, the epic design of such productions have begun to wane as a ramification of financial constraints. This has given rise to low budget releases called ‘recession specials’, characterised by poor editing, cheap graphics and cliche concepts. Even some of music’s biggest names have resorted to producing  such clips of the most amateur design. Mariah Carey, for instance, released two of the worst videos of her career last year with ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ and ‘H.A.T.E.U.’.

Interestingly, artists generally fund their own videos with little label assistance, hence it is quite baffling why acts who clearly have the financial resources to afford better productions, put forward a continuous string of recession specials. In contrast, Lady GaGa, who debuted in 2008, has thus far created some of the best productions of the last ten years, spending large amounts of money to ensure that each venture is of the highest quality she can afford.

Coincidentally, big budgets are not needed to create grand productions. Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’ was shot in front of a plain screen, focused almost solely on the dance routine without any other elements, yet became one of the “best videos of all time” according to Kanye West. The same can be noted with Ciara whose ‘Love Sex Magic’ video was one of 2009′s best. Conversely, Beyonce’s ability to manipulate a small budget did not channel into her other clips, which were all prime examples of the recession special.

In closing, it is becoming increasingly evident that few artists are willing to go the extra mile to create cinematic productions on the silver screen. As the economy continues to struggle and budgets continue to shrink, the recession special has taken centre stage. It seems that Michael Jackson’s vision of the “short film” is hanging on by a thread.

Is it safe to say that the era of the music video is

coming to an end?

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Music

Lady GaGa Revives The Music Industry

tumblr krk7xkBvzC1qa7r3so1 500 Lady GaGa Revives The Music Industry

She is everywhere you turn – on every television channel, radio frequency and on the cover of every magazine. Lady GaGa is the definition of a Pop star. Musically diverse and vocally gifted, she has established herself as one of the driving forces in entertainment, breaking every record in her path to the top of the charts. Indeed, over the last 18 months, GaGa taken the world by storm, breathing new life into the struggling music industry.

Similar to a young Madonna, GaGa has used innovative music videos to her stunning stage shows to separate herself from her contemporaries, capturing public interest in a way that no other act has managed in years. Her first 5 singles released on US radio managed to reach the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, all of which have gone platinum. Furthermore, she is also the first act since Christina Aguilera to have her first 2 songs hit #1 on that chart.

One has to look no further than the Billboard 200 this week to observe her impact. Both of her studio albums currently occupy the top 10 of that chart. In fact, her debut album, ‘The Fame’, was released since August 2008 and sits comfortably in the top 5, selling over 8 million copies worldwide to date. With sales figures and quotations like these, it is no wonder that many critics boast that GaGa has helped to revive consumers’ interest in purchasing records.

However, is her rampant success a result of properly executed marketing strategies and tacky gimmicks? Yes and no. There is no doubt that her shocking costumes and statements have played a key role in her appeal. I myself once thought of her as nothing more than passing fad. Nevertheless, unlike her far less talented contemporaries including Rihanna and Cassie, GaGa is musical prodigy. She is a woman fully involved in the development of her craft and in  complete command of her career. GaGa is not a puppet on a string.

It will be interesting to see what GaGa does next. As as artist who clearly dedicates 100% of herself to her music, I sense that GaGa is once again prepared to dominate the charts in 2010. Whether or not she will survive the changing tides of Pop music remains to be seen. However, even if she retires today, GaGa has left her mark on game, rejuvenating an industry that was desperate for new life.

Do you agree that Lady GaGa has helped to revive the

music industry?

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Music

The Grammy Awards – Celebrating Talent Or Playing Favourites?

grammy The Grammy Awards   Celebrating Talent Or Playing Favourites?

The Grammy Award. This trophy serves as a symbol of honour and prestige; the most coveted decoration in the music industry. From new artists to seasoned veterans, all musicians aspire to win in their respective categories, not just because of the associated bragging rights, but also to put the final touches on a year of hard work. To win a Grammy is to know that you are the best.

Nevertheless, it seems that the glamour of the Grammy Award has begun to fade; its golden glint slowly beginning  to rust. In recent years, the voters have conformed to the trend of choosing the nominees and winners based on  their popularity and power, rather than merit. As an implication of this, many of the best records released during the last decade have been shamelessly overlooked and uncelebrated.

Indeed, this phenomenon is blatantly apparent in the list of nominees for the 2010 Grammy Awards ceremony. With Beyonce and Taylor Swift receiving the most nominations, many wonder if they only achieved such attention from the voters because of their pervasive presence in the mass media. In fact, Whitney Houston’s ‘I Look To You’ album was shockingly ignored by garnering not a single nomination, including in the R&B categories.

Hence, various acts continue to get shut out in favour of their more popular or politically supported counterparts. Many wonder if the Grammys are drifting closer to the stature of the MTV Awards, a ceremony that Kanye West indicated is influenced by an intricate web of unpublicised politics. However, with artists such as Maxwell and the Black Eyed Peas receiving nominations in the major categories, it seems that quality may still have a place in the judgments after all.

Do you think that the Grammy voters play

favourites?

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Music

Janet Jackson; A Diva On The Verge

Janet Jackson Greatest Hits Album Copy 2 Janet Jackson; A Diva On The Verge

With sales surpassing 100 million records worldwide, Janet Jackson is ranked as one of the best-selling artists of  contemporary music. As the youngest of the famous Jackson clan, she was primed for success from a young age; geared to follow in the footsteps of her elder brothers. However, Janet blazed her own trail in the industry, and at her peak, she even managed to overshadow the successes of her brother Michael.

Nonetheless, fortune has not shined its favour on Janet in recent times. She hasn’t had a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in over 9 years and her album sales struggle to achieve platinum status; arguably as an implication of her infamous Superbowl performance in 2004. In addition, Janet faced several other problems, including illness, an unsuccessful world tour, label conflicts and, of course, the death of her brother.

Interestingly, it seems that Michael’s passing has given Janet new life. Her recent single ‘Make Me’ became her 19th #1 song to top the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs and she has once again peaked public interest with her live performances. Indeed, Janet is once again in high demand by audiences, with magazines and other mass media outlets eager to catch a glimpse of her during her rare public appearances. As harsh as it sounds, it seems that with his passing, Michael has set the stage for his sister to reestablish herself as one of the few acts who can rightfully claim the title of  the Queen of Pop.

Conversely, the following questions remain: is Janet finally primed to return to the top of the charts after a string of commercial and personal disappointments? Or will she continue to fade into the past after the public’s fascination surrounding her brother’s death has subsided? Anything is possible at this point but one thing is certain: Ms. Jackson is undoubtedly ‘a diva on the verge’.

Do you think Janet finally ready to return to the top

of the charts?

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Music

The Music Industry; Shades Of Success

laurynhill7uz The Music Industry; Shades Of Success

Turn on your television set and this is what you’ll see: a variety of female Urban performers adorned in the latest fashions, tossing their hips and belting for their audiences. However, if you look pass the glitz and the glamour, you will notice that they almost all look the same – light-skinned, slim built women, wearing the an assortment of weaves and wigs. What you are in fact witnessing is the mold of the ideal woman in the music industry.

For decades, women of colour have been forced to adopt the styles and appearance of their Caucasian counterparts in an effort to achieve mainstream appeal. Acts such as Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald were adorned with wigs and blush in their early careers; arguably forced to adjust their looks to be more marketable to US mass media audiences. In fact, Diana Ross rose to a position of prominence, not just because of her talent and music, but also as a result of her light skin and Caucasian features.

That trend continues to this day, with artists such as Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys and Beyonce dominating the airwaves while their darker contemporaries are struggling to access the mainstream audience. Kelly Rowland, for instance, enjoys chart-topping success in countries such as UK, where skin tone is no longer regarded as a definitive factor  in artists’  success. Yet regardless of how well or not she’s been promoted, she’s yet to have an impact as a solo act in the US, a fact arguably attributable to her complexion.  Quite notably, few dark-skinned African-American performers have been able to ascend to the top of the charts, with Whitney Houston, Lauryn Hill and Mary J. Blige providing rare examples of such cases. This despite there being a wealth of talent among artists from all races, hues and complexions.

Interestingly, the colour paradigm is considered  a key attribute of Rihanna’s marketing campaign. Her light eyes, high cheek bones, fair skin and all-round more ‘exotic’ look have supposedly allowed her to capture her Covergirl campaign. Indeed, Beyonce faced severe criticism when her L’Oreal ads featured photoshopped images of the singer, making her seem several shades lighter than her natural complexion.

Hence, it is clear that, as far as success in the US music industry is concerned, light is indeed considered ‘right’. As long as the ideals and politics governing skin colour remain active, darker-skinned artists will continue to find themselves pigeonholed on the R&B formats, without garnering mainstream appeal. That is unless they are willing to purchase lace front wigs and bleach their skin in an attempt to capture it or, more ideally, the industry finally experiences a major change for the better.

Do you think that skin colour is a major factor in the

music industry?

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