Sometimes when I get some free time, I like to go on iTunes and do some musical exploring. Today, I found the band Tropics. Then I KICKED MYSELF for not listening to them sooner. The new album Rapture is a sensual mix of electronic influences with hinges of R&B beats. This is a CD I could listen to on repeat while sitting on my white and blue wrap-around porch while sipping a steaming cup of blueberry tea. Or maybe I could squish my toes in the sand and fall asleep on a beach towel.
Singer, Chris Ward’s voice is incredibly suave to listen to. Think if Majid Jordan had a baby with The Weeknd…BAM. You now have Tropics. Ward almost skims along every note, like he’s asking you to pay attention to every word. “Love is a hard thing to capture, when you keep it all inside” are the haunting lyrics sung on the title track “Rapture”. An extremely catchy tune, reminiscent of young Fleetwood Mac piano chords and a simple backbeat. This song stands out among the rest as a testament to the promise of love.
Tropics are an acquired sound. I imagine not everyone could enjoy and appreciate the album start to finish like I could. So that’s why I’m talking about it. I love musicians who go against the grain and make music different. This music appeals to me, because I am a fan of R&B and some electronic. People who are fans of both genres will be able to find a happy balance on Rapture. Not to mention the subtle jazz hints sprinkled throughout the album which make it even more decadent.
The detail to music is also refreshing to see. It’s hard now a days to find music with so much emotion using so little words. Every song has it’s own vibe going on and puts you almost in a meditative state. “Home & Consonance” is complete with an intoxicating drum beat, xylophone? and what sounds to be some piano? This magical fusion of instruments can only do one thing; leave you inspired.
I pictured her sitting at an antique coffee table in a white wooden table chair with green fairies painted on it, sipping on some green tea with her messy red hair trailing down her pale white cheeks as she scribbled some gloriously dramatic lyrics onto a bar napkin she stuffed in her purse after leaving dinner the night before. This is what I have envisioned Florence Welch has been doing for the past four years or so. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong…who knows?
Florence + the Machine announced this week that they are back!! Oh my goodness I have been waiting FOREVER for this moment. Being a huge F+TM fan myself, I am so so excited for this new album. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful will be the third album from this eclectic bunch. They also released the music video for the first single called “What Kind of Man” and it is phenomenal. Reminiscent of “Kiss With A Fist” due to the feisty angst in Florence’s voice, but with age comes a fuller vocal range and a greater sense of musicality. Not to mention a highly artistic point of view as we see in the music video.
This video begins by showcasing a casual yet powerful conversation that takes place between a couple. The man tells the woman that she was having a nightmare and she gets angry that he didn’t wake her up, “I didn’t want to intervene. It seemed like you were suffering somewhere else. I didn’t think it was my place to drag you out of it so I just let you be,” he said. She replies with, “So you just let me suffer? So you think that people who suffer together would be more connected than people who are content?” He agrees and says, “I do.” I think this is often a question we don’t think about, but it’s interesting when you do take the time to think about it.
The song seems to about a long term relationship and the lack of commitment throughout it; “And with one kiss/ you inspired a fire of devotion/ that lasted twenty years.” But also the intoxicating element that comes with love, sparks a lot of the inspiration behind the song; “I already had a sip/ so I’d reasoned I was drunk enough to deal with it.” A theme we often hear about, but Florence makes it more dramatic when she sings the words, “What kind of man loves like this?” Almost posing the question, “How could a human being actually love like this?”
I’m surprised by this electrifying intro to this new album cycle for Florence & the Machine, but I’m also not because everything this band does is never half-assed (for lack of a better phrase). The music is always top notch quality with stellar lyrics that you want tattooed on your entire being for the world to see. I hear more guitar-driven rock, a beautiful horn line, hard lyrics, and spunky tambourine on this track which transcends perfectly into where music is heading these days. The music scene seems to be going back to the basics, focusing more on the different elements of music. No more crap. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful has to be good. It just has to. The worst part? We have to wait until June 2….
This years Grammy Awards just felt different. Duets were flourishing, (Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani & Adam Levine…etc), Oldies came back to life (AC/DC, Annie Lennox, Stevie Wonder…etc), and Madonna was the only risqué performer (absolutely awful, not to mention showing her cheeks on the red carpet…EW).
Every performance felt heartfelt and emotional. The Grammy’s took a stance and showed that music is a powerful tool that can create change in the world. John Legend & Common gave a flawless performance of their empowering song “Glory” from the movie Selma. I feel like people forget about Common (guilty), but he really proved his rapping chops on that stage. And John Legend is perfect as always. Katy Perry delivered her spiritual song, “By the Grace of God” after a moving speech given by a domestic violence survivor. I am so happy she sang this song. It’s one of the most beautiful songs Perry has and I thought I would never get to hear it live and she proved me wrong. It was simple, meaningful, and her voice sounded better than ever. And Beyoncé….. oh my Lord. She brought the house DOWN. I felt like I was in a church and Beyoncé was giving the sermon. She didn’t need to dance, or wear a leotard, or even grind on her hubby. It was all real power and vocal strength. Ariana Grande also joined in on the emotional fun performing her ballad, “Just A Little Bit of Your Heart”. I love seeing Ariana just using her voice and nothing else. It looks so easy for her to sing those massive notes and its really gorgeous to listen to. Props to her, she looked amazing.
Sia performed her song “Chandelier” and it was magnificent as always. With her nude leotard dancers in tow (Maddie Ziegler and Kristen Wiig…yes you read that right) Sia proved she doesn’t need to be out in the public eye to get her message across. She also doesn’t need to show her face to prove to people that her voice is unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. I have been such a fan for a long time and to see her do her thing on that stage was so freaking cool.
Sam Smith, the man of the night. Won four awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist, and Best Pop Vocal Album. I couldn’t be happier for him. He deserved all of these and more. In the Lonely Hour is an album that will withstand the test of time as one of the greatest albums of all time. His honesty and vocal prowess is absolutely brilliant. Not to mention he has perfected the art of songwriting. And HELLO to that performance with Mary J Blige. So much soul on one stage, I almost fell to the floor… Their voices together and those vocal runs could make me convert to whatever church mass I watched last night.
Another winner I am proud of is….
PARAMORE!!!!!!! You guys, they won Best Rock Song for “Ain’t It Fun”. I could not be more excited. These guys deserved this one so bad!!! Everyone fell in love with this song last year and they finally got some recognition for it. So CONGRATS to my best friends who just won a GRAMMY!!
Ok… you guys I HAVE to bring it up… I know Beyoncé didn’t win for Album of the Year and yes I’m upset… I’m sure deep down inside B was all like:
But I thought it was really unnecessary how mean people were to Beck. Don’t get me wrong, I was angry, but he’s an artist as well and this morning when I checked iTunes guess who’s album was number one? Beck’s. So touché to him for beating Beyoncé, he pissed a lot of people off but what an accomplishment. I will now go listen to Beck’s album because he won this award and I think other people will do the same. And I promise Beyoncé is going to be fine. She’s accomplished so much in her life and this is not stopping her soul train anytime soon.
Overall, the Grammy’s were diverse and touched on the most important element of music; the lyrics. Songs, albums, and artists can truly impact the world and the Grammy’s did a wonderful job of highlighting that. If you get a chance to watch the whole show, I highly recommend it!