Artist Spotlight- Charli XCX

A few weeks ago, Charli XCX released her third full-length album titled, SuckerSucker is jam packed with catchy pop/punk tunes that are bound to be hits, in fact it's so catchy it's hard for me to pick a favorite song. I mean, the 22-year-old wrote Icona Pop's ridiculously catchy hit "I love it," as well as wrote and sang the hook for Iggy Azalea's "Fancy," another extremely successful song. While Charli is no stranger to creating hits, she's ready to break out of the songwriter/background singer role and have her own chart topping tunes.

Although her newest album is pretty different from her last, moody/dark/electropop album, True Romance, it's still very much Charli. I LOVED True Romance, so when I first heard Charli's new songs off Sucker as they were released by single, I was a little disappointed and worried for the album as a whole. When listening to the whole album, I had a completely different reaction. It's a great album, and will for sure appeal to more people than True Romance ever did.  Even though some may call her a sellout claiming her songs are too mainstream, there is no denying that these songs are damn good. In an interview with NME, Charli stated, "I'm not making a hipster album." And she most definitely didn't. 

While Charli has tamed it down since her True Romance days, she still doesn't completely blend in with today's pop artists. Her crazy, wild hair was more put together for her recent performances on SNL, the Late Show, etc., but she still had her unique outfits and dance moves. Maybe that's just growing up though..

Below is her newest music video for her single "Breaking Up," this video is a balance between old Charli and mainstream Charli (but maybe a little more mainstream). It does have similarities to old True Romance music videos while still appealing to the masses. I do miss old Charli, but I'm excited for everyone to at least know who she is and experience the magic that is Charli XCX. Check out her new music video and stream Sucker below.

Artist Spotlight- Sia

For those of you who don’t know Sia, you do. Although her solo stuff is kept pretty underground (except for some newer stuff), she’s been featured on huge hits as well as written a ton of popular singles. Sia has a killer voice and writes songs that are catchy as hell. “Diamonds” by Rihanna, “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)” by Ne-Yo, and “Pretty Hurts” by Beyoncé- all Sia songs. You’ll also recognize her distinctive voice from her features on David Guetta’s “Titanium” and Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones.” 

Sia has an interesting personal life- from suffering from depression, opening up about her bisexuality and contemplating retirement from performing/touring due to health issues. Thank God she pulled through and decided against retirement though, because her new music is perf. 

Sia’s latest album, 1000 Forms of Fear just came out on May 29th and includes big hits “Elastic Heart,” a collab with The Weeknd and Diplo from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Soundtrack, and “Chandelier,” which has been in heavy rotation on the airwaves.  This is the Australian’s sixth album- so although her hits are only hitting the mainstream now, she's been around for a while. My favorites from the new album are- "Big Girls Cry," "Eye of the Needle" and "Elastic Heart." 

Sia just has too many good songs to count. Below is a playlist with some of her new stuff and a ton of her the old (too awesome and unique not to share). Take a listen ->

P.S. In other Sia related news, check out my cousin Cassandra Nunez give Sia a run for her money in this “Eye of the Needle” cover. Watch out Sia.

Artist Spotlight- Vanessa Carlton

IMAGE VIA  WWW.NJ.COM

IMAGE VIA WWW.NJ.COM

Remember her? 1,000 Miles, White Houses, Ordinary Day- all great songs I vividly remember jamming out to in my middle school days. I saw Vanessa Carlton live last week at The Newton Theater (an old movie theater) in Newton, NJ. Although I went into the show expecting to hear a few familiar songs and a bunch of similar sounding- ok ones, I ended up really enjoying Carlton’s performance. 

The show was pretty low key with just Carlton, her piano and a Violinist up on stage for most of the night. As titled, “An Evening with Vanessa Carlton,” that’s exactly what it felt like. Super personal, up close, intimate, candles lit and small talk between songs. Her talks were personal and relatable, it felt like you were having a conversation with her, even though you weren’t speaking back. It was a really cool experience, unlike many concerts I’ve been to, even those where I felt close to the band. Carlton made a few mistakes, mixing up her songs but it revealed her super down to earth and funny personality. 

The music itself was great- she’s a great singer and better piano player. The only other accompanying instrument was a violin, which added so much to the performance. Her newer stuff reflected her current stage in life- marriage, friend contemplating divorce, advice for her little brother, etc. It was interesting to hear the change in lyrics but with a similar sound. Honestly, I’m more a fan of the older lyrics (some of the newer stuff started mixing together and sounded the same) but still liked every bit of the performance. The show was weirdly relaxing, I just wanted her to keep playing, following me around for the rest of the night. 

After the intermission she played some of her big hits and had a surprise guest come up on stage- her husband. John McCauley, also known for his band Deer Tick. They sang an interesting (a little boring) country-esque duet. I kind of just wanted her to go back to her solo performance.  

I went into the show not expecting much at all and left pleasantly surprised. Definitely throw it back to the good old days, but make sure to check out the new stuff as well ->

Artist Spotlight- Lily Allen

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As I mentioned in last week’s post, Lily Allen is putting out a new album, Sheezus, in May. Most of the details are in the previous post but in short- this is exciting news since it’s been 5 years since Allen’s last album. Also, the three singles off this upcoming one are pretty much all I’m listening to right now, which makes the wait even more unbearable. 

"Air Balloon" is a super catchy tune that in a way reminds me of M.I.A’s "Paper Planes" (mainly just the na na na na na na’s). "Our Time" is slower but still makes you want to sing a long, a perfect going out anthem. "Hard Out Here," which came out about 4 months ago, is a raunchy, satirical, women’s anthem that pokes fun at current celebrity trends (like her album title, Sheezus is doing with Kanye West’s Yeezus). Another reason why I love Allen, she tells it like it is. Crossing my fingers that these three singles aren’t all the album has to offer.

In preparation for new Lily, here is a playlist with her best songs. Also, check out her video for “Our Time” in the link below. It’s really weird and funny and I’m not sure why, but I love it. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfACIxjsuu0

Artist Spotlight- Lo-Fang (and a little Lorde)

IMAGE VIA  WWW.4AD.COM

IMAGE VIA WWW.4AD.COM

Last night was one of the best nights. I saw CJ favorite, Lorde, in concert. She is playing a 3 night string of shows at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom, last night being the first. Lorde was perfect. Her singing and crazy dance moves were completely on point. The crowd was a weird mix of preteens, parents and hipsters, people smoking weed and some getting trashed. Most definitely one of the weirdest crowds I’ve ever been in.

Before performing “Ribs,” she talked about how deathly afraid she is of growing up. I immediately thought, “that’s not me.” But after thinking about it, that’s totally me. I thought I was done with that adolescent state of mind but in this weird transition in my life right now, from college to real world, I realize that rings true for me now more than ever. And I think that’s why I love Lorde so much- me and all the 16 year olds- she’s so relatable. 

While I can write about Lorde for days, as you can tell if you keep up with this blog, I probably shouldn’t turn CJ into a Lorde fan page. Instead I will be highlighting the opening act, Lo-Fang. 

I coincidentally heard the end of a Lo-Fang song while listening to NPR and the host quickly mentioned he was opening for Lorde on her tour. That was my only previous knowledge of the artist. The set consisted of singer Matthew Hemerlein who goes by Lo-Fang, a drummer and a keyboardist. With only 3 musicians on stage it was surprising how many different sounds were created. Hemerlein switched between singing, playing the bass and playing/ finger plucking the violin throughout the set. The instrumentals on each song were unique from any other music I’ve heard. 

Although he wasn’t much of a talker (he didn’t even mention his name), I liked the minimalism. While I took this as the performance purely being about the music, I overheard some of the audience members taking it as him being unenthusiastic or “too cool”. Not sure which interpretation is correct, all I know is the music was pretty incredible. If he wasn’t enthusiastic and into the crowd, he was definitely into the music. All in all, a really good performance. 

Unlike the live performance, on Lo-Fang’s recently released album, Blue Film, he does all of the instrumentation. I am really digging Blue Film, my favorites being “When We’re Fire,” “#88,” and “Boris.” There is also a cover of “You’re The One That I Want” from the movie Grease on the album, which is… interesting. I highly recommend checking out Lo-Fang- if you are like me, you will instantly become a fan.

Artist Spotlight- Shakira

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In honor of Shakira’s newest album, Shakira. (what’s with the boring name album titles? ex. BEYONCE), coming out March 25th, this post/playlist is solely on the singer. Shakira, one of my fav, little, weird singers has put out several albums, this being her 10th(?) Can’t wait to hear what Shakira. has in store for us. I’m hoping it’s comparable to Oral Fixation Vol. 2, because who could get enough of that?

What to expect from Shakira.- the single “Can’t Remember to Forget You,” featuring Rihanna and a song featuring Shakira’s co-star on The Voice, Blake Shelton. Shakira switches from albums fully sung in English to albums fully in Spanish, this one will be mostly English. 

With so many good songs it was hard to come up with a list of the best but without further ado, here is my attempt.