Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Voice S8: Give It [An Interesting Contestant] 2 Me

[Tonight's episode title is a play on the sorely under-appreciated Madonna song "Give It 2 Me" from Hard Candy.]

Last night did the impossible; it provided a glorious contestant with potential AKA Meghan Linsey (And no I don't like her just because of her collaborating with my Voice and savior, Cody Belew on "Baby Get Out".) Now, the show needs to continue this positive trend of contestants that are actually interesting and even good like Meghan.

Also, Adam got ZERO artists last night. Maybe tonight he'll chalk up one person who maybe sat out from watching TV around S7 (Wisest decision if I ever heard one give or take the sheer beauty of Craig Wayne Boyd. Heyyyyyyyyyyyyy Craig!) Blake, Xtina and Pharrell will continue trying to build their teams to the best of their abilities. These are the nouns, pronouns, gerunds, marklar, banter, fuckery and FlirtCruiting that transpired...

Let's play rough and get it on!

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Voice S8: Blind FEighth

[Today's episode is simply a play on my mental state about the show. I'm going in with "blind faith".] ***NOTE: My policy of recapping when my favorites are still around from...the Knockouts onward still applies.***

After a near abysmal S7, tonight marks the eighth time Mr. and Mr. Shevine act like the New York Yankees of The Voice franchise. Pharrell is back (And thankfully on a Sugar-free diet) and Christina Aguilera returns after a three season hiatus celebrating that she didn't come in last for once but somewhat revived career (She now owes a muffin basket the size of Earth to A Great Big World). Now, they all need to come together to pull off the near impossible; finding the Kelly Clarkson of the show (Though their 7 season streak of finding a Hoku is something to note them for. -_-)

As is tradition, the S8 Baptism of Fire begins with the show's biggest selling point; the Blind Auditions. These are the nouns, pronouns, gerunds, marklar, banter, fuckery and FlirtCruiting that transpired...

Let's play rough and get it on!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

This List is RANK: The Top 15 Rihanna Songs of All Time

She's the "Good Girl Gone Bad" of pop music; 3rd place in my race of becoming the next Madonna and has the best middle name turned stage name ever. Yes, Rihanna has managed to make a name for herself in music and in turn pop culture. Believe it or not she has the ability to sing fabulously on songs others passed on (Right, Christina Milian and Nicole Scherzinger?)
Though not everything she's done is good, these are the 15 best songs of Rihanna's career as I see fit.

***For reference, I'm considering the proper studio album work of Rihanna from A Girl Like Me to "FourFiveSeconds" from the presumed #R8. Spoiler: nothing from Music of the Sun made this list or the honorable mentions. Also, overrated shit isn't making the list...***

15. "ROCKSTAR 101" ft. Slash [from Rated R]- Despite the fact that this is Rihanna's lowest charting single at #64 on the Hot 100, it's an under-appreciated gem of hypersexual era Riri. Slash's guitar work mixed with Riri's most braggadocious delivery ["Six inch walker/big shit talker/I never play the victim/I'd rather be a stalker"] makes for a cut that should've been bigger than it was.

14. "You Da One" [from Talk That Talk]- Although not the best showcase of Rihanna's vocals, this is about as minimalist as her hypersexual era from Rated R to Talk That Talk ever got...in sound. A relatively simple song has since been overshadowed by some of the most eye-popping and most crotch grabbing video work she's ever done (And believe me...that's saying a lot.)

13. "Hard" ft. Jeezy [from Rated R]- The second single from the edgiest album in her career, "Hard" was able to become another Top 10 hit when it peaked at #8 on the Hot 100. Playing into the femme fatale side she explored as a result of her personal life gaining unfortunate traction, "Hard" is simply that; Riri not giving a single fuck with Jeezy in tow in a rap section that is no afterthought.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Pussycat Dolls Music Brand's Complicated History

The Pussycat Dolls' foray into pop music spawned one of the most complicated histories in U.S. pop music (and that's saying a lot.) First off, the refresher course for those that blinked and missed the original Pussycat Dolls music group.

Branched from a burlesque troupe started by Robin Antin, she Interscope Records and Jimmy Iovine (by way of Geffen Records and Ron Fair) wanted to create a musical girl group version of the burlesque troop [not the weirdest pitch meeting by a long shot.] The Nicole Scherzinger episode of Behind The Music fills in the rest of the blanks and raises a fuckton of questions, two of which I covered in her entry in the W.W.C.I.I.T.M.I. series.

Those remembering "Buttons" and then the original Pussycat Dolls, can tell you the lineup apparently had 6 members total. Nope. In the video for the group's second single "Don't Cha"...oh...second single right...buckle up quick kiddies. Time to learn just how hard Robin Antin tried to make this thing happen...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Won The War: Pharrell vs. Timbaland

This is a series inspired by a tweet from perpetual lightning rod for controversy Azealia Banks when she inferred that although Michael Jackson won the battle, Prince won the war. This will be my take on which two rivals in packaging in the U.S. Music Industry, won the war in terms of longer success.

Round 7 of this series pits the two biggest producers turned solo acts. In one corner, Pharrell Williams; one half of the production super team, The Neptunes, frontman of the group N*E*R*D and a solo success in his own right. In the other corner, Tim "Timbaland" Mosley; a super producer with something of credibility to his name in solo music act mode.
Both are already the most evenly matched going into war. Both are Virginia natives that put forth futura-dappled pop/R&B music in solo mode. Both have produced songs for just about every goddamn artist you can imagine. Both have also crossed paths for a certain Pop Star Feminist icon's 11th album...thus making this question twice as difficult...

In longevity terms, who merely won the battle...and who Won the War?

As of 2015, Pharrell added a second solo album to his name; the 2014 released, G I R L. Timbaland while working on the upcoming Opera Noir, has two proper albums to his name*; the last proper effort was the 2009 released Shock Value II. Here's their charting album peaks from highest to lowest...

- G I R L at #2
- In My Mind at #3

- Shock Value at #5
- Shock Value II at #36
Tim's Bio: Life From da Bassment at #41*

*Technically, this is a glorified compilation effort of Timbaland's production at the time. It amazingly charted at all considering the type of album it is.*

Due to the fact that these two have made something of a name for themselves, radio has played their songs every now and again. In terms of longevity when was their last #1 hit on the Hot 100?

*Reminder: Hot 100 ranking does matter if you're absolutely looking for a gauge of where an artist is in terms of popularity*

Pharrell's sole #1 to date is "Happy" which despite being on G I R L was originally composed for the Despicable Me 2: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Either way, a recent #1 is a recent #1. Timbaland's sole #1 to date is "Give It to Me" ft. Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake. 7 almost 8 years and 1 album ago? Eeek.

The last Top 10 hit? Strictly using the name Pharrell, he has never had a Top 10 hit. Counting his sole album Clones with Chad as The Neptunes, it's the 2003 #5 peaking hit "Frontin'". Timbaland has either the #2 peaking "Apologize" remix with OneRepublic or "The Way I Are" ft. Keri Hilson which peaked at #3.

While acting would be considered for this series, neither Pharrell nor Timbaland has been in a movie. Insert joke of how musicians usually suck mildew thunderkunt acting in movies.

Musically, there are naturally some weak points in an artists' career when say...a lead single doesn't go to #1 or released singles chart really low. These are the positions at the lowest of Pharrell and Timbaland's careers...

Pharrell's Lowest Charting Singles
- Lowest Charting Lead Single: "Can I Have It Like That" ft. Gwen Stefani at #49 on the Hot 100.
- Lowest Charting Released Single: "Number One" ft. Kanye West at #57 on the Hot 100.

Timbaland's Lowest Charting Singles
- Lowest Charting Lead Single*: "Morning After Dark" ft. SoShy and Nelly Furtado at #61 on the Hot 100.
- Lowest Charting Released Single*: "Morning After Dark" ft. SoShy and Nelly Furtado at #61 on the Hot 100.

*If the compilation "Bassment" was worth something, then the double nadir is "Here We Come" ft. Magoo, Missy Elliott and Darryl Pearson at #92 on the Hot 100.*

Their nadirs are something of an eerily coincidental nature. At the time of Pharrell's solo nadir, this is when he made it no secret that he saw himself as a producer first and singer a distant second. When In My Mind was released, the consensus is that despite the fact a Pharrell solo album was inevitable it didn't meet ridiculously high expectations for him. Add in "Can I Have It Like That" being eaten alive by critics who lambasted the song left and right, and Pharrell couldn't win in this era.
Timbaland's nadir came after Shock Value II was an unmitigated bust. The success of Shock Value and three of its singles each reaching the top 3 ("Scream" ft. Keri Hilson and Nicole Scherzinger being the song left behind in the dust.) was essentially a fluke. Despite "Carry Out" with Justin Timberlake reaching #11 on the Hot 100, Shock Value II was just a flop of an era. Despite two more Top 40 on the Hot 100 "hits" in "Say Something" with Drake and "If We Ever Meet Again" with Katy Perry [reaching #23 and #37 respectively], the sequel was worse than the original in performance and in reception.

An interesting thing to consider for this war, is Madonna's 11th studio effort Hard Candy. Both producers more or less crossed paths here as they each had their parts in crafting the album. Pharrell had 7 of the 12 tracks while Timbaland had the remaining 5. Of Pharrell's 7, 5 were good which gives roughly a 71% average. Of Timbaland's 5, 2 were good giving it a 40% average. O_-
Sadly, it was the horrible song "4 Minutes" that saw the most success from the album as it remains Madge's last Top 5 "hit".
71% vs. a fluke turned poorly aging Top 5 song...

Now for the final points: iconic singles AKA the one song people know is by that artist.

Pharrell has The Best Pop Solo Performance Grammy winning "Happy" to his name. It may have been the earworm to end all earworms, but it's a song that went to #1 and didn't leave until more or less Taylor Swift or someone said "Fuck this noise; here I come".

Timbaland has either "The Way I Are" or "Give It To Me" and that's a problem. Both are decent but you have to split hairs to get to the technicality that "The Way I Are" is his best known single...even if it was #3 to "Give It To Me" going #1...

After this, it's time to name the winner. One has a reason to be happy; the other did it in the name of shock value; one is a super producer who focused on quality for his solo efforts; one relied on the SNL addict known as Justin Timberlake...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

This List is RANK: The Top 30 Lady Gaga Songs of All Time

She's Mother Monster; the female pop act who is chided for being "too much like Madonna" (Even though every female pop act is directly of her cloth in some respect...) and the reason weirdos have a good name again. Six years in the music business has spawned wonderful things from Lady Gaga and these are her 30 best songs as I see fit...

***For reference, her efforts The Fame, The Fame Monster, Born This Way and ARTPOP will be the source of most of the picks. In any scope, any Lady Gaga song released or performed is eligible. Yes, Cheek to Cheek is not totally up for consideration (though a cut from that album might appear on the list) but is still an album worth your time.***

30. "MANiCURE" [from ARTPOP]- A track that while indicative of glam rock influence on Gaga, it's the track here with the least personality. It isn't a slant against her singing; it's just saying that arena rock realness isn't exactly a stretch of Gaga's creative side. Still, it's worth time as the production does an even job carrying the song with her vocals.

29. "Jewels N' Drugs" ft. T.I., Too $hort and Twista [from ARTPOP]- Ever wonder what a Lady Gaga cut can sound like when she outright says, "Fuck it; let's do this!"? This is the track from ARTPOP that does that and then some. Despite instances of vibe and soundclash, the rap sections just add an unexpected plus to the track. Gaga's vocals while not the focus still convey the deliciously tacky vibe of "Jewels N' Drugs".

28. "Sexxx Dreams" [from ARTPOP]- While it doesn't "scream" Gaga at first, its trippy confessional production is oddly hypnotizing. In terms of instant re-playable qualities along with the rest of 30-26 aren't exactly begging to be replayed; even if you're a Little Monster. Still, nobody that listened to this song is exactly complaining of the song being passe or uneventful.

27. "Fashion!" [as performed on the Lady Gaga and the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular with RuPaul]- What's better than a fabulous redux of most of "Hair" from Born This Way? Performing it with RuPaul, goddamnit. Performed on national television, this is when Gaga was giving brown lamp shade meets I Dream of Jeannie realness.

26. "Bad Kids" [from Born This Way]- BTW was self-confidence anthem central and while this cut appeals to the most fervent of Little Monsters, it being the top of the 30-26 list isn't exactly much to write home about. What it lacks in Top 25 material, it saves itself by being one of the least cryptic yet still enjoyable songs Mother Monster has ever spawned.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Success" on The Voice

The following is a re-posting of something I said on Tumblr about The NBC Program with Ratings when Season 7 was in the midst of itself or near midst. Strong opinions follow and I'll be real, shit still applies today as much as it did then...

Let’s talk about an unspoken theory regarding success on The Voice (coaches benefit more than contestants). First, we need to remember where each coach was coming from.

First up, Adam Levine…he was coming from near the end of the lukewarm Hands All Over era…”Misery” missed the Top 10, and two other singles after that were complete busts on the U.S. charts so naturally, he needs that exposure. At one point, “Moves Like Jagger” is spawned upon us and is a success…for him and not the other person entirely.
Yeah, Adam had some benefits from The Voice (winning the 1st and 5th season), but not by that much. M5’s next album Overexposed spawned a #1 and 3 Top 10 singles, but the album peaked at #2. Their most recent album, V, continued single success with 2 more Top 10 hits and even helped V go #1. However, if in the span of 3 albums only one song went #1 without it seeming haphazard (“One More Night” because “Moves Like Jagger” is blase trash) saying Adam has benefited more is bullshit.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Mass Kombat: Act III Part II

With this, I end my fifth work. NSFW like the rest, I do want to note that I was impressed with the speed rate in which I wrote Mass Kombat.


        The morning came and in turn, the chance Shepard knew he had to take in ridding of the irate children and Jessie J. Shepard was pondering to himself, “I can’t act like I promised Kaidan a white picket fence after we were honorably discharged.” Kaidan sensed trouble but not uneasiness in him and kissed his paramour on the cheek to bring him from his over-concerned state. He told him, “Babe, look at me. Everything will come to a head today. After this, we can have the settled life we want.” Shepard kissed his cheek in return and told him, “I’m glad I took that sanity check years ago.” He woke Matthew up and told him, “Up and at ‘em soldier. You need a new uniform.”

After refurbishing Will and Kaidan’s t-shirt and casual Alliance trousers respectively for Matthew, Shepard radioed the entire Armada to congregate in the meeting hall. “Leave everything but your precious mementos and weapons.” he advised. “We’re not going to be back after today.” Once out of their quarters, the Commanders and Matthew were met with a readied Authority. Catya’s ring blade, Blyvy’s mace, Violetta’s baseball bat, Will’s brass knuckles, Mileena’s Sais, Nina’s presence and Christie’s caked on with blood boots reaffirmed that after today Shepard and Kaidan were done fighting. They grabbed their combat shotguns and Matthew took the Zhua and demonstrated a freakish proficiency with it. “Well damn.” he said. “Well damn indeed.” Christie began. “Well, fuck this place. We need to head out.”

Mass Kombat: Act III Part I

The beginning of the end of this magical and NSFW adventure. Act III was written from 1/31/15 to the early hours of today, 2/5/15.


       Dr. Chakwas’ return to the base stunned the Authority. Shepard called on Armada soldiers nearby to escort her to the meeting hall. He pondered to himself, “I can’t imagine what happened with the Safeguard to have her end up back here.” Once in the meeting hall, Kaidan resumed interrogation duties for his troubled paramour. “I’m as concerned as you are, babe. Let me have this one.” He eyed Dr. Chakwas and asked her, “In plain English, Dr....what happened in San Francisco in such a short period of time?”

She explained, “I wasn’t even outside of the Safeguard when I was met with horrible news. Silas and Therese were kidnapped from their foster homes by some horrible cretins who descriptions are said to resemble the irate children from the other night.” The Commanders were horrified at the news. Before tears could fall from either of their cheeks, Dr. Chakwas assured them both, “You tried to convince them to stay with you but they didn’t want to fight. They told me this long before they were put through the foster system.” Christie asked her, “So is the Alliance in on you fighting with us?” The Dr. went on to relay, “The Alliance knows I’m here, but only after I took a leave of absence from Safeguard duties.”

Blyvy was mildly offended at the extent of her seemingly sketchy principle. “Leaving a job to protect refugees in order to fight alongside us is as questionably flattering as it is impulsive.” Dr. Chakwas sternly reacted, “I mentioned nothing of abdicating my position at the Safeguard. I’ll have faith your sanctimonious attitude shall subside in due time.” Blyvy didn’t take kindly to the remark and bum rushed the Dr. knocking the axe from her person. As Shepard attempted to break the fight up, Christie intervened. “Don’t be a hero now. Blyvy has a side to her like this one that is beyond ugly to see in person.” Dr. Chakwas stunned those present by being able to beat Blyvy off of her. “Time to meet Karin, you little bitch.” she taunted. Blyvy and Karin engaged in fisticuffs for roughly three hours.

Mass Kombat: Act II Part II

The journey continues for the Armada and its Commanders. NSFW like the lip tar from OCC.


       After what felt like an eternity of endless stagnation in the harbor, Shepard and Kaidan would finally venture into the city in which they had originally planned to settle once they had been honorably discharged from the Alliance. A pyrotechnic mausoleum had been crafted of Christie’s hands to ensure that no turning back was to be done. The cocoon and Armada eventually reached a mall parking garage in downtown Seattle where they planned the next phase of settlement.

Once out of the cocoon and the Armada would assume their roles as personal bodyguards, Catya began a meeting as to where they would take shelter by force. She looked to the Commanders and explained, “We’re known for turning hotels into extravagant yet intimidating bastions of combat.” Perplexed yet compliant, Shepard and Kaidan allowed the meeting to continue. Blyvy was relaying the finds she thought would take the least effort to take over. “There’s a Hilton and a Marriot nearby. Wi-Fi is pretty decent in both and both have a hot breakfast bar.” “Which one has the bigger honeymoon suite for the Commanders?” Violetta wondered. “Their last session together provided some entertainment and surprised us with Shepard having an upper body in terms of sex.”

Mass Kombat: Act II Part I

Act II of Mass Kombat was written from 1/27/15 to 1/31/15. NSFW because I love you or something like that.


        Following their much needed bout of coitus, Shepard and Kaidan were able to regain their natural stances and met the remaining Authority in the War Room. Presenting themselves in their latest uniforms, Shepard pressed the Lead Executive of any pressing issues among the Armada. “It’s best we address these matters before we contemplate on what to do now that we’re finally in Seattle.”

Christie took the floor and had Silas and Therese by her side. “Commanders, by word of Nina and confirmation from Silas and Therese themselves; they express concern over their lives and question if they face indentured service to this Armada.” Shepard replied, “We don’t have any intent to have the refugees force their time for us.” Kaidan added, “If you don’t have it in you to fight in the Armada, we won’t be the type to make you.” Therese took the floor and explained her trepidations about the idea in the Armada.

“Sirs...” she began. “...it has nothing to do with any level of hatred I have for you. It only revolves around me being scared of everyday life. Outside of here, it seems silly of me to be scared of life. While I am here, it will only make my fears much worse.” Kaidan assured her, “You’re not being silly when you say any of this. We don’t know who to leave you to nor do we like the prospect of any of you being thrown to your own devices again. Yet if you, Silas and Nina want life outside of the Armada, we’re not going to stop you.” Silas then took the floor and explained his hang ups about being aboard or associated with the Armada longer.

Mass Kombat: Act I Part II

More of the three act work I call Mass Kombat. Same NSFW formality applies here.


      “The ‘Ferry’ Godmother” was now on course for Seattle, just as Christie had promised. Then, morning came long after Shepard and Kaidan had. Their self-appointed Lead War Room Executive, Christie, was tailed by Violetta, Catya and Blyvy (who unbeknownst to the Commanders had been named Co-Viceroys of the Armada War Room). “10 to 1 shot on an off-white finish of ‘XY Jam’ is coated on the walls.” Blyvy playfully deduced. “Make it a 99% chance Shepard’s unable to be seated without Kaidan’s assistance.” Violetta snarked. “Both of you bitches stop that.” Catya began. “$200 cash saying we’ll see them without despondent looks on their faces for once.” “We’re in.” Violetta and Blyvy replied. Christie then barged in the quarters to find Shepard and Kaidan in their post coital bliss; little spoon and big spoon positions respectively.

“No despondent looks on their faces; Catya won this fair and square.” Christie said. Shepard arose from Kaidan’s arms. “Won what now?” “Catya won $200 each from those two saying there wouldn’t be looks of death on your fucking faces for a change.” Christie began. “Wake your fellow Commander and get your asses to the War Room.” Without missing a beat, Shepard added “By the way. The finish on the walls is more of a semi-gloss.” “Damnit!” Blyvy exclaimed.

Once he and Kaidan were up, he found Kitana, Kenshi, Liu Kang, Johnny Cage and Jade weren’t officials but rather “privileged guests” in the War Room. Blyvy explained, “While they aren’t utterly worthless outside of these doors, these glorified yeomen are only here to re-negotiate their places on this very vessel.” Shepard warily complied with these roles knowing the extent to which at least Christie would exercise her authority. “Very well. Which of the Co-Viceroys under the Lead Executive has the first order of business?” Violetta stood and announced, “The first order of business is to re-negotiate the worth of one glorified yeoman who answers to the name, Johnny Cage.” Kaidan knew he too would be mince-meat if he didn’t play along. “Protocol briefing for the yeoman?” he queried. Violetta snidely assured, “Through extensive means of blaring primary colors on flash cards, Mr. Cage has been briefed in the procedure for today’s re-negotiation.” She directed Johnny to the other side of the room where a podium and a microphone awaited. Neither Shepard nor Kaidan had any clue as how to act next. “This is probably some elaborate set-up so he can be executed before us. It’s not the hardest thing to deny, but I can’t take any chances here.” Kaidan thought.

Mass Kombat: Act I Part I

This happens to be a three act story I wrote in two and a half weeks or so. Thought I'd share it on the blog too.

Act I of this Mass Effect X Mortal Kombat fan fiction (of sorts) was written from 1/24/15 to 1/27/15.

Enjoy! [NSFW; I cuss and make the violence. Formality is all.]

        Among the stars, the Milky Way was playing base to a vessel led by a man of equal legend and presence. Commander Shepard was leading the Normandy to Earth after receiving orders that all current fleets of the Alliance were to leave space and return to Earth. “It isn’t exactly a desired way to return, but I suppose it’s for the better.” he thought. After landing the Normandy at the designated station, he and most of his crew were forced to separate.

Shepard looked to his crew with exception to one Major and broke the news. “Per orders of the Admiral delivered by his personal Viceroy, this crew is to disperse until matters beyond our control reach a settlement.” His crew was dumbfounded at the order. Shepard explained, “It may have only been four months since defeating the reapers, but things between Earth and Space aren’t pretty right now.” Almost on cue, Major Kaidan Alenko stepped in to alleviate tension among the crew. “He’s not saying we’re discharged. He’s saying that for the first time in years, we get down time.”

The crew felt less hostile towards Shepard but not any less despondent. Kaidan glared at them and out of character scolded, “Save that ‘brooding’ mess for someone interested. That man you side-eye saved your asses to where he’s owed a free steak sandwich.” The crew eventually came to accept that Earth would have to be home if only for an indeterminate amount of time. Once Shepard relayed further detailed accounts that an agreement would take up to ten to fifteen years after reconstruction efforts (and in turn that a statute of five years of inactivity with no conduct violations was grounds for honorable discharge from the Alliance) the crew had James Vega thank him for his leadership on their behalf. “It’s more than apologizing for earlier today, Commander.” James said. Shepard replied, “There’s nothing wrong with being on edge after such a close call for your lives after all these years. Down time doesn’t feel right yet, but believe me. We all deserve this.”

Once the dispersing was complete, Shepard and Kaidan were relieved and took each other in their arms. “I was worried for you every day of my life.” Kaidan began. “Going down with the ship, seeing you on Horizon holding the leashes of Cerberus, thinking you were finally gone after you destroyed the reapers...” Shepard kissed him and comfortingly relayed, “I was twice as worried I would fuck up in the end. You kept me going and here we are.” Once directed to a set of barracks where civilian transport awaited the honorably discharged of the Alliance, the doors revealed an innocuous fleet. However, Shepard had begun feeling uneasiness in the barracks. “Something isn’t right.”