Category: Pop Music

Throwback: Happy 64th Birthday, Prince!

JOVM’s William Ruben Helms celebrates the 64th anniversary of Prince’s birth.

Throwback: Black History Month: Nina Simone

Today is February 21, 2021. It’s the 21at day of Black History Month. And as I’ve mentioned throughout this series, I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles — with the hopes that it’ll be a bit of a primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

Of course, I hope that these posts will serve as a reminder of these very important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Nina Simone is arguably one of the most uncompromising and important artists of the past century. She did it her way, while being bold, brash and defiantly black.

New Video: JOVM’s Newest Mainstay Million Miles Finds Herself in a “Girl-Meets-Boy” Driven Love Triangle in Visuals for Sultry Single “Honey”

Over the past year or so, I’ve written a bit about Paris-born, London-based singer/songwriter Sophie Baudry, whose solo recording project Million Miles is the culmination of a life-long love affair with soul music. After completing her studies at  Berklee College and a stint as a recording engineer and studio musician in New York, Baudry returned home to London, where she felt an irresistible pull to write and record her own original music, largely inspired by Ray Charles and Bill Withers.

Now, as the story goes, on a whim Baudry took a trip to Nashville, where she spent her first few days wandering, exploring and reaching out to strangers, as though she were saying “I ’m new here. I’m a songwriter and I’m looking for like-minded people to collaborate with.” While in Nashville, the French-born, British-based singer/songwriter wound up having chance meetings with two local songwriters and producers Robin Eaton and Paul Eberson and within about an hour or so of their meeting, they began writing the material that eventually became Baudry’s Million Miles’ debut EP Berry Hill, which was recorded over the course of a year during multiple sessions at Robin Eaton’s home studio in the Berry Hill neighborhood of Nashville. And from EP singles “Can’t Get Around A Broken Heart” and “Love Like Yours,” Baudry quickly received attention across the blogosphere, as well as this site, for an easy-going yet deliberately crafted, Sunday afternoon, Soul Train-like soul that nodded equally at the aforementioned Bill Withers and Erykah Badu and Jill Scott.

Earlier this summer, I wrote about the folksy and effortlessly soulful “If Only,” a hook-driven song centered around a loose, jam-like arrangement of funky, Bill Withers-ike strummed guitar, twinkling keys and gentle yet propulsive drumming and a funky bass line. While evoking the swooning pangs of meet-cute first love, the song is actually from the perspective of a narrator, who’s over it in some way, and too busy to care one way or the other — or so she tells herself. Baudry’s highly-anticiapted sophomore EP is slated for a November release through AntiFragile Music, and her latest single “Honey” is the first official single off the forthcoming EP,  and the song is arguably one of the sultriest and most soulful tracks the French-born, British-based singer/songwriter has released to date — and while still drawing from Still Bill-era Bill Withers, the track reveals an artist, who has become increasingly self-assured in her songwriting and approach, but maintaining a lived in, emotional honesty that’s rare for most contemporary pop. As Baudry explains in press notes, the song is “about unconditional love and dedication to someone, who isn’t very interested in committing in any way. In this kind of situation, no matter what, if you’re in love, you’re in love, and you’d do everything and anything to make it work, even if it means doing crazy things and losing yourself . . . ”

Directed by Tom Ewbank, the recently released video is set in an old-fashioned American diner, where Baudry works as a waitress. The video finds its protagonist caught in an unwanted love triangle, as she falls for an attractive customer, who isn’t all that interested in committing or doing much of anything. Throughout the video, Baudry self-assuredly seems to tell her love interest “look, fool, I’m dope and you need to recognize.”

Lower East Side-born and based singer/songwriter Emily King is a Grammy-nominated artist, who has received a growing national and international profile for a sound that’s deeply indebted to pop, soul and electro pop; in fact, King has toured and opened for the likes of Maroon 5, John Legend, Emeli Sande, Alicia Keys, Aloe Blacc, Sara Bareilles and others.

“Focus,” the latest single off her recently released The Switch, Deluxe Edition pairs King’s effortlessly soulful vocals and achingly honest lyrics, based around a troubled relationship with a stuttering guitar line and bass line, atmospheric electronics, layered harmonies  and an incredibly infectious hook to craft a breezy and radio friendly tune that reminds me quite a bit of Roisin Muphy‘s incredibly dexterous and earnest pop.

King is in the middle of an American tour that includes two dates with the acclaimed Alabama Shakes. Check out tour dates below.

Tour Dates

7/18 – Detroit, MI – The Shelter
7/19 – Chicago, IL – Civic Opera House w/ Alabama Shakes
7/20 – Chicago, IL – Aragon Ballroom w/ Alabama Shakes
7/21 – Minneapolis, MN – Cedar Cultural Center
7/23 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall
7/25 – Austin, TX – The Parish
7/26 – Houston, TX – Studio @ Warehouse Live
7/27 – Dallas, TX – Trees
7/29 – Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent
7/30 – Las Vegas, NV – Sayer’s Club
8/1 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues
8/2 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey
8/3 – San Francisco, CA – The Chapel
8/5 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir
8/6 – Seattle, WA – Tractor

 

Just in time to close out the year, the members of Radiohead announced that last year, they were approached to write a theme song for the latest James Bond film, Spectre. Knowing that the studio and the film’s director went with Sam Smith‘s “Writing On The Wall,” it’s pretty obvious that someone decided that Radiohead’s “Spectre” just wasn’t going to work out — although to be honest, “Spectre” is a gorgeous,moody and dramatic jazz-inspired composition that sounds as though it could have been on Amnesiac or King of Limbs. To my ears, what makes the song so strange is that Radiohead’s theme song as though it could have been part of an art-house film about consumerism, greed, alienation and regret, while capturing the tone and feel of a Bond film.

 


Classically trained, Toronto, ON-born, Los Angeles-based soul/pop singer/songwriter Crystyna Marie has had a lengthy music career, which can be traced to when she was teenager — she has been in and played with a number of Ontario-based acts and had been featured as a demo singer for a number of locally-based indie labels. After relocating to Los Angeles, the Canadian-born singer/songwriter had a stint in a pop act, Greencat; however, writing and releasing her own music with her own voice was where her real passion was.

As a result of her own experience as an artist, who has been with a number of labels, Marie decided that in order to shape her sound the way the she felt fit, that releasing music completely on her own was necessary. “Loaded Gun,” is the first single off the Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based artist’s forthcoming EP, slated for a February 29, 2016 release pairs Chrystyna Marie’s sultry and soulful vocals with a classic bluesy and soulful sound — propulsive yet simple rhythms, soaring hooks and 12 bar blues-based guitar chords and bursts of keyboards in a song that has its narrator describes the heady first days of a new love to a loaded gun — something that could quickly be combustible and unpredictable.

Unlike many of her soul, pop and blues-inspired contemporaries,  Chrystyna Marie’s debut single possesses an underlying sense of danger along with the prerequisite sultry seductiveness.