Friday, July 6, 2018

ALL MALE (Music) REVIEW: Not The End of Me by Steve Grand

Five years and three days after making waves with the song that would end up encompassing his first era All-American Boy, singer/songwriter Steve Grand released his 2nd album Not The End of Me.

The NTEoM era kicked off in June of 2017 with "Walking" being the lead single before things slowed way down [i.e., his video for the song nearly being scrapped and then released in November 2017 with barely any promotion given either way]. Then, after trying to make waves with calendars and things of the sort, the NTEoM era was restarted June 14th of this year when on pre-order, "Don't Let the Light In" [a track teased since 2016] and the new title track "Not The End of Me" were the songs that came with said pre-order.*

*NOTE: Grand did collaborate with Eli Lieb on "Look Away" and Michael Medrano on "Heal" in the midst of the seemingly barren outlook for musical output. It should also be noted that Grand's touring schedule was consistently filled, even in the midst of a Provincetown residency.*

The overall direction up until the actual review is a mystery and a half. In a 2015 Billboard interview, after an extended social media breakdown in regards to "Speedogate", Grand hinted of a "dark, edgy, gritty" direction for the album. In a 2016 Huffington Post interview, Grand hinted at a "subtle sense of sarcasm" being the overall tone of the album [possibly suggesting that the earlier motif wasn't fulfilled or had taken on something a touch lighter].
Then came the aforementioned "Walking", which despite its bouncy pop sound, made no sense with the previous descriptions given.

With all this leading to album release day, what direction did Grand ultimately go in and was it for the best? That and all other pertinent details will be addressed in the review.

Here's how my review will work. All of the tracks will be judged individually; cohesion will determine the grade of the album later. Obvious factors like singing ability and the instrumental of the song will be included as well.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

#NotTheEndOfMe: Steve Grand's Sophomore Effort Now On Pre-Order

Oh look what we have here...pre-order for singer/songwriter Steve Grand's sophomore effort Not The End of Me

at least for the physical CD fam and the iTunes fam [Amazon, get it together and Spotify, you're on standby for July 6th.]

PLOT TWIST, this thinly veiled excuse for stan level promotion is confirming one thing I ended up getting right, off the jump.

I said "Walking" might end up as either the closing track on NTEoM or as a Spotify exclusive bonus track [or some kind of digital exclusive bonus track].

Per the tracklist**:

Walking (original cut)
Pink Champagne
Don't Let the Light In
Safe & Sound
Ain't It Somethin
Not The End of Me
Good to See You
All I Want
You or the Music
Can't Go Back
Walking (radio cut)

Don't Let the Light In (acoustic piano)
Ain't It Somethin' (demo)

side note: the pre-order fam get Don't Let the Light In and the title track once they purchase the album.

Grand himself says these are singles...maybe 2nd and 3rd or just promo singles. Who cares beyond that, I'm happy to see music being promo'd again.

I was technically right in that Walking would be the closer for the album considering the radio cut is the last track on here. What the original cut sounds like, I would have no idea yet. [Also, I'm going to assume for own personal satisfaction that a demo version of an album track is related to the "Angel Down" (work tape) idea Gaga used, thus having something Joanne related turn up on this album.]

**the tracklist...hell, the font for this era on his preview for the album cover is all lowercase; this is to be similar but not exactly like Ariana Grande in this era or Taylor Swift in the reputation era**

Now on to something I could be right about and some T Steve himself provided:

I said "The song that still remains a mystery was a song hinting at 'righteous anger at the church' hinted from the Billboard interview post social media breakdown and first hint of a presumed direction for NTEoM."

Per the tracklist, "Disciple" might be that very song. If not, it's a very interesting coincidence.

When news of the pre-order was pretty much confirmed for now, I end up asking Grand in the comments if a Barnes & Noble pre-order would work for CD units. His response was "no sorry they won’t have it. I’m not a fancy Sony artist anymore ;p"

Now for those who didn't know, Grand...well now he used to have a distribution deal with Brady Music Group which was under Red Distribution, which was very loosely associated with Sony Records. In the U.S., Steve was listed as an independent artist or at least had Grand Nation be the label mentioned on the U.S. marketplace. In Canada, however, it listed him as a Sony Music artist but again; Brady answered to Red who very loosely answered to Sony.

A question that pops to mind is "how did this end?"/"did things end amicably?" In reality, I'm just pleasantly surprised at the T he spilled. Thanks for being transparent Steve!

As for the rest of the NTEoM era, that's up in the air; video treatment, promotion, what the album actually sounds like apart from...whichever version of "Walking" got released last year and still made the album, etc.

I'm excited and happy for him promoting his music and am glad to dust off the blog for him.

Pre-order starts now and Not The End of Me will be released in full July 6th

Friday, June 8, 2018

SG2 Is Now Confirmed As #NotTheEndOfMe; Forecast for Steve Grand's Upcoming Album

[You know something came up great if I'm willing to clear up the cobwebs on the blog.]

It's almost been 1 year to the day that singer/songwriter Steve Grand has released anything music related in the form of "Walking" both on Spotify and the lyric video on YouTube before getting lost in the OnlyFans smoke but coming out alive in November of last year to release the music video.

Now there's reason I and the fandom have reason to be happy. #SG2 now has a name and release date.

Not The End of Me has a slated date of July 6th and let me relay some predictions/forecast and other forms of over-analysis in regards to the NTEoM era.

- Between the initial Billboard interview post social media breakdown from 2015 of a "dark, edgy, gritty" direction for the album and a slightly lighter "subtle sense of sarcasm" for Huffington Post in 2016, the best I can gauge is that Grand is trying to split the difference between whatever Taylor Swift's Reputation was trying to do with whatever musical direction was trying to stick on Lady Gaga's Joanne.

- As it stands, we've only got 1 song from the NTEoM era in "Walking". Other snippets from his Instagram can be found just recently, but other than that there are 6 TBD tracks in-between All American Boy and Not The End of Me.

These songs in question are two collaborative efforts, one with a singer friend of his nicknamed Jiji and another between his former bandmate from First Impressions [that emo band inspired mess as mentioned from his Hey Qween interview.]

The two songs with titles but no other known snippets since their original teasers are "Don't Let the Light In" previewed from 2016 and "Good to See You" previewed in 2017 with the known lyrical snippet "...California/getting lost in someone else".

The song that still remains a mystery was a song hinting at "righteous anger at the church" hinted from the Billboard interview post social media breakdown and first hint of a presumed direction for NTEoM.

Another possibility [even though it's a longshot and a half] is that the All American Boy intended but cut song "Say Goodbye To Your Man" might have found a home on NTEoM [the song was presumably beat out by "We Are the Night" for inclusion on the album.]

- Given how upbeat/peppy "Walking" turned out being, there's a select few speculations I'm willing to make in regards as to what its place in the NTEoM era is going to be.

One possibility is that "Walking" will be a standalone non-album single [I mean he does sing a song with "pink champagne" in the lyrics and that was the name of a cut that didn't make an Ariana Grande album.] It was released mainly as a thank you to the fans that stuck through and by him after 4 years of coming out of obscurity to end up a budding pop princess.

Another is that "Walking" might end up as either the closing track on NTEoM or as a Spotify exclusive bonus track [or some kind of digital exclusive bonus track]. The upbeat nature of the song is giving me hints that it's either inspired by "Gypsy" from ARTPOP [despite the Troye Sivan reference in the lyrics] and will be lodged toward the end of the album [showing that there's a light at the end of the tunnel, motif wise] or that the song might be a nice little bonus for the Grand Fam on Spotify.

I'd wager that "Walking" has about a 54% chance of making the final tracklisting for Not The End of Me, but again; purely speculative.

- As to what the album itself will entail, the best guess is dark but poignant lyrics on the ugly side of fame/perception vs. reality but somehow conveyed in music.

Sound wise, I'm guessing there's more blatant pop [or at least what Grand considers more blatant pop] influences. Maybe a glossier version of Ghost of Tom Joad era Bruce Springsteen or a grittier, rock with pop sheen version of Joanne.

It sure is fun to speculate but all I'm expecting is that Steve Grand promotes this album and any song that gets video treatment, considering a whole year has gone by since "Walking" got maybe a week and a half of promotion all because outlets were too focused on a jockstrap shot instead of the video itself.

I'll say it until I'm heard very loud and clear; if I care about your music more than you, the person who made it, there's a huge problem. Promote your music and maybe just maybe don't give in to some shallow narrative all because it hasn't become apparent that sex doesn't sell; it makes people forget what you're selling.

That much aside, I'm hoping the album turns out good. ❤️

Sunday, March 18, 2018

I Cancelled The Series Due to Lack of Motivation

A self-explanatory title, Unintentionally RATESist has now officially been axed considering I couldn't get the 3rd rate off the ground. Between those albums "My Address is Hollywood" by Adore Delano was going to win that one.

As a result of the cancellation, part 2 of that rate, After Party vs. Taxidermy vs. Poundcake and part 3 of that rate, Whatever vs. Battle Axe vs. American is no longer happening.

These other rates as a result are now officially canned:

Danity Kane vs. Doll Domination vs. Welcome to the Dollhouse

18 Months vs. Motion vs. Discovery vs. Random Access Memories

0304 vs. Liz Phair vs. C'mon, C'mon

Double Dutchess vs. Beautiful Trauma vs. This Is What The Truth Feels Like vs. Meaning of Life

Rebellious Soul vs. Love and War vs. Girl Disrupted

Had I been motivated at all to do this, things would be different but alas, that is not the case.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Unintentionally RATESist: Till Death Do Us Party vs. PG-13 vs. Anus

Happy 2018 from the blog; what better way to celebrate than to announce the much delayed 3rd installment of Unintentionally RATESist. This time, RPDR alumnae Adore Delano, Sharon Needles and Alaska Thunderfuck will duke it out with their debut albums. BUT WAIT, did I neglect to remind you for about the umpteenth time that this is Round 1 of a three round match? some point later [think 5th or 6th post for this series], their second albums will duke it out; and then RuPaul herself will take Alaska's place for Round 3.

Exciting shit, I know; that aside, let's get to what is up for the crown in Round 1:

Till Death Do Us Party
- Speak My Sex
- Party
- I Adore U
- Calling All Goddesses
- Jump the Gun
- Give Me Tonight
- I Look Fuckin' Cool (ft. Alaska Thunderfuck)
- Hello, I Love You
- The Creeps
- My Address is Hollywood

- This Club is a Haunted House (ft. RuPaul)
- Call Me on the Ouija Board
- Dead Girls Never Say No
- Drink Till I Die
- I Wish I Were Amanda Lepore (ft. Amanda Lepore)
- Why Do You Think You Are Nuts?
- Disco Ball
- Dressed to Kill
- Let's All Die
- Kai Kai (ft. Ana Matronic & Alaska Thunderfuck)
- Everyday Is Halloween (ft. Armen Ra)
- Hail Satan! (ft. Jayne County)

- Hieeee
- Anus
- Pussy
- Beard
- This Is My Hair
- Nails
- Gimme All Your Money (ft. Laganja Estranja MAWMA OKCURR...excuse me...O'QUAAAAAAAANCH)
- Everything Tonight
- Best Night Ever
- The Shade of It All (ft. Courtney Act and Willam)
- Legendary
- Killer
- Your Makeup Is Terrible

Keep your eyes out for [very roughly by] the end of the month to find out the results of Round 1.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year, Who Knows

I'm closing off 2017 like anybody else that thinks they're important enough to say "this is how I'm ending 2017" (but thankfully having enough active brain cells to not pander to the "new year, new me" bullshit); I don't know what's coming but something has to be done.

In terms of the blog, I'm keeping Unintentionally RATESist going. I have the drafts for the other rates queued up so it's not like I have to up and delete those. I will say this much: I got lazy/tuckered out when it came to trying to determine what rate I'm doing 3rd. The idea comes down to what I really want to do with the RuGirls rates [which for reference is Adore Delano vs. Sharon Needles vs. Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 Bonina Banana Fofana Oksana Baiul Rigga Morris Andre Charles Brown for the first two installments before RuPaul gets in the ring for Round 3.]

It's either do all 3 towards the latter half of the series or do one for the 3rd, 6th and 9th ever installments of the series. I'll decide on something which has to happen as the 3rd ever installment has to happen.
Before that, I'd like to announce that a 10th installment has been commissioned pitting R&B divadom in new blood debuts; i.e. the debuts of R&B divas in their own right. Which ones am I talking about?

- Rebellious Soul [K. Michelle] vs. Love and War [Tamar Braxton] vs. Girl Disrupted [Sevyn Streeter]

Sure, I'm not technically reviewing the actual debut of Tamar Braxton, but let's be real; no one would want to do such a thing.

If the 3rd installment doesn't end up being Til Death Do Us Party vs. PG-13 vs. Anus, I'll probably do the 2 on 1 matchup of Danity Kane vs. Doll Domination vs. Welcome to the Dollhouse.

Apart from that, my life will revolve around Steve Grand stanning, social media beefcake validation and other forms of lollygagging. Happy New Year, y'all.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Undiscovered vs. Willa Was Here vs. Paris REVEAL DAY 3

After brutal chops and a surprising amount of Brooke Hogan songs left, it's now it's on to the final day...Day 3 of the Undiscovered vs. Willa Was Here vs. Paris rate reveal.

Here's the Top 10 competing for a place on the podium and ultimately the winner of the Unintentionally RATESist, The THOT That Counts 2: Revenge of the Sequeloo.

Undiscovered: About Us, All About Me, Letting Go & Crazy Love

Willa Was Here: I Wanna Be Bad, Did Ya’ Understand That & Ooh Ooh

Paris: Fightin’ Over Me, I Want You & Nothing In This World.

Great...well mostly great candidates as the remaining 10 songs score no lower than an 8, so the first to get punched out in the Top 10 is...

10. Brooke Hogan - Letting Go: 8 she might be getting a damn near fatality laden treatment but at least this schlock of "urban"/pop is one of the better or more fitting production choices for Brooke's limited but committed vocals. FUN FACT: most of the standout tracks of "urban"/pop of this era were either playing one of these two extremes; sex or breaking up. This is a great example of a breakup track working so well in this sect of pop music.

I'm sorry, did I say getting punched out first? I meant to say getting punched out two more times in one go...

9. Brooke Hogan - About Us: 9 the only charting Brooke Hogan single can't make the Top 5...ouch. As I've said before, Undiscovered is a product of its time for better and especially worse. On this song, Brooke herself plays less a Britney Spears knockoff and more of an Ashanti wannabe considering she's the hook girl on her own song. All of this was culturally kosher at the time considering she was the product of the "white girl goes urban" trend of 2004-2007. The song itself kind of sucks but is enveloped in a catch 22 of nostalgia; in this case it's both a welcome trip for the pink Motorola RAZR sporting teens of the mid 00s and also a "what was I thinking? Oh yeah, this song is cute."

For her 3rd chincheck in a row, she at least kicks off the 10s...

8. Brooke Hogan - Crazy Love: 10 the Japanese edition bonus track is better than 14(!) of the song on UndiscoveredProduction wise, this is the best track. Singing wise, this is Jessica Simpson but without the wasted potential Jessica had.
Oddly enough this is one of the strongest tracks on the album but considering the parent album I would NOT want to be the father.

She's off the hook until later in the results, but who gets the chinchecks in her place?

7. Paris Hilton - I Want You: 10 losing one of its last 3 songs first, Paris loses one of the few gems on this album. It samples "Grease" by Frankie Valli. Initially this scared me as I didn't know how a Storch executive produced joint would incorporate this. The result is actually quite nice even with Paris' limited at best delivery. Her vocals are fluffy and nondescript enough to be something close to signature.
*Think like an infamous Daria line: "Sometimes your shallowness is so thorough, it's almost like depth."*

6. Paris Hilton - Fightin' Over Me: 10 and the 2nd hit in a row lands to the best of the non-single dreck on ParisNothing screams "urban" pop in the mid 00s like rap features for a pop girl's debut effort. The only difference between Paris and Brooke Hogan is that Paris has money/Warner Bros on her side to get big names like Fat Joe & Jadakiss on her song.
Paris is relegated to the Ashanti role of hook girl on her own song, to our benefits mostly.

Say hello to the Top 5: All About Me, Nothing In This World, Ooh Ooh, I Wanna Be Bad and Did Ya' Understand That

with a 3:1:1 ratio, could Willa Was Here pull a podium sweep?