#MusicMonday

Courtesy of DaysWithDestiny

This week’s #MusicMonday is lush with potential hits from the likes of Lady Gaga, Pentatonix, Zella Day, Allie X and more…

This week a slew of new music has been released on the world. Days with Destiny has compiled the greatest pop hits in a handy #MusicMonday post for you. Whether you’re looking for a soulful serving of tropical house, a new pop pop or something more seductive there’s a track for you!

Check out what’s burning up my #MusicMonday playlist this week below!

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Joanne Lady Gaga

Joanne album cover via Twitter.com

Drop a hat on her head, and call her Joanne. Lady Gaga introduces a new character to the lineup on her Americana-influenced fifth studio album.

Promising to deliver a deeply personal album is the kiss of death for pop stars. Pop icon Britney Spears vowed to provide fans a glimpse of her soul on her eighth studio album Britney Jean but instead seemed barely present in the midst of generic electronica (thank Godney for the creative comeback that is Glory). Bad Gal Rihanna delivered something innovative but with half the fun we’ve come to expect on ANTi.

Now, Lady Gaga is the latest pop starlet struggling to find any sort of authenticity on her most “personal” album to date, her just released Joanne

Gaga has been notably absent from the pop scene following the lukewarm reception of 2013’s ARTPOP; however, that’s hardly to say she’s disappeared.

She teamed up with Tony Bennett to showcase her vocals while belting out jazz standards on 2014’s chart topping Cheek to Cheek. Presenting a relaxed aesthetic, Lady Gaga proved to the general public that her voice could drive a successful album release without relying on headline-grabbing, outlandish performance art.

Joanne

PopMatters.com

It was this Lady Gaga who appeared at the 2015 Oscars to perform a stunning tribute to The Sound of Music. Gaga continued to shock critics with her frank honesty on 2015’s “Till It Happens To You,” which served as a theme song for the campus rape documentary The Hunting Ground.

Making her acting debut on American Horror Story: Hotel enabled the hitmaker to incorporate some of the more gruesome elements of her performance art while playing a murderous succubus. Netting critical acclaim for her portrayal, Lady Gaga signed for a second season of the show and announced her musical return with Joanne in a sort of one-two-punch.

Heralded as her return to the pop scene, fans and naysayers alike had high expectations of Joanne. Those expectations were fed by Lady Gaga’s team in the months leading up to the project’s release. Joanne was to see Gaga teaming up with RedOne, the producer and writer responsible for helping her helm some of her defining hits including “Just Dance” and “Poker Face.”

Mark Ronson of “Uptown Funk” infamy signed on to co-executive produce the effort alongside Gaga. Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine signed on to contribute her vocals to a track, and Beck (of Beyonce-Grammy-robbing fame) offered a writing credit as well. BloodPop (“Sorry,” Justin Bieber) joined the mix, co-producing alongside Gaga and Ronson on the entirety of the album’s standard edition.

It was assumed that Gaga would be returning to her cleverly written and expertly produced dance pop of previous records; however, those expectations were dashed with the release of the project’s lead single “Perfect Illusion.”

Joanne

Giphy.com

“It wasn’t looooove, it was a perfect illusion,” Gaga growled over rock guitars on the track. The track abandoned any expectations of a pop production in favor of the stomping bravado of stadium rock. Her raw vocals and frenzied runs give the sense that the track is more a clumsy demo that borrows elements of tracks that have worked before and tosses them over the rough production.

With the release of buzz single “Million Reasons” and the project’s alleged second single “A-YO” the lack of pop became more evident. Massive hooks have been abandoned in favor of some good ol’fashioned rock, blues and Americana on Joanne.

Gaga’s attempts at delivering Americana are somewhat effective; however, her efforts lack the authenticity that was promised by Mother Monster ahead of the project’s release. It seems as though Lady Gaga has donned the persona as Joanne as yet another stage name.

She’s set a pastel hat on her head and abandoned her city-girl, party-pop aesthetic in much the same way that she dragged on a cigarette and glued on mutton chops to assume the character of Jo Calderone during her Born This Way eraThe final result is just as jarring and about as believable…

Joanne

RollingStone.com

The album opens with a flashback to Lady Gaga’s early Go-Go dancing days, referencing her hunger for fame on the rock-infused “Diamond Heart.” The track builds to a Gaga-esque chorus complete with confidently belted vocals. It’s hardly the first time that Gaga has referenced her need for fame (hello “Applause” and The Fame), but there is an element of rawness to her approach to the topic this time around. She’s starving for the applause and fabulously flawed, but regardless Gaga possesses a steadfast heart.

On few tracks is a country influence more evident than it is on the honky-tonk kiss off that is “A-YO.” Billed as a track for the haters, Gaga serves a confident performance on the track. Feeling slightly reminiscent of Jessica Simpson’s popped-up take on country anthem “These Boots Are Made For Walking,” Gaga’s voice is buoyant over the hook-ridden production. Though it improves with repeated listens, the track nonetheless feels like a try-hard attempt at gaining some crossover success.

That hunger for a successful crossover continues on tracks like “John Wayne” and “Come to Mama.” On the first Gaga expresses her desire for a romp in the sack with a cowboy while the latter sees Gaga channeling some of Meghan Trainor’s throwback vibes while petitioning for a little more love in the world. “John Wayne” at least injects some playful life into the production, making for one of the more interesting moments of the release.

The much-hyped Florence Welch collaboration on “Hey Girl” provides an updated take on “Bennie and the Jets.” The girl power anthem updates the classic with some playful synths, but although Gaga and Welch are preaching the benefits of females working together their voices seem entirely disconnected. It’s as though they recorded the track from different sides of the globe, providing minimal opportunities for harmonizing.

Joanne

Billboard.com

Sinner’s Prayer” and “Grigio Girls” are forgettable though listenable cuts from the track. The latter is more effective, as Gaga sings alongside a choir about an evening relaxing with her ladies and a glass (or bottle, no judgment) of wine.

That’s not to say that Joanne is without it’s successes…

Buzz single “Million Reasons,” the album’s title track and the socially conscious “Angel Down” prove that Lady Gaga remains one of the best balladeers in pop music. “Million Reasons” delivers an earnest ode to heartbreak, as the songstress struggles to find peace in a relationship. It is potentially one of the more successful attempts to implement a country-inspiration into the album, and it provides a notably softer more raw moment to the project.

The album’s title track provides a moment for soul searching over acoustic strings. Titled after her father’s sister while also referring to her own middle name (she is Stephanie Joanne Angelina Germanotta after all folks, not to be confused with Britney Jean Spears or, gods forbid, Madonna). “Girl, where do you think you’re going,” she fragilely sings on the chorus. It’s an ode to letting go and moving on, revealing a more raw side of Gaga’s musicality.

Lady Gaga

Giphy.com

The Beck-assisted “Dancin’ in Circles” is a delectably unhinged treat and potentially one of the most “Lady Gaga” tracks on the project. Delivering an ode to female masturbation, Gaga’s lyricism is at it’s wittiest on the track. “Dancing in circles, feels good to be lonely,” Gaga playfully sings over the bouncy production. It’s a wild moment that provides some levity to the meaty subject matter of Joanne.

In all, Gaga promises authenticity but instead explores a new character on Joanne. The album proves to be an interesting if slightly jarring listen from the Mother Monster. One thing that is fairly consistent throughout is Lady Gaga’s voice, which remains excellent if somewhat jarring on some of the numbers. While it leaves you wanting a little more in spots, Joanne improves with additional listens.

Over the years Lady Gaga’s ego has proven to be her greatest foe, as she tends to over promise and under deliver on projects. Heralding Born this Way as the album of the millennium is just one example of Gaga’s pretentiousness negatively impacting her artistry.

Her complete confidence and utter commitment to her craft surely make her a godsend capable of delivering visionary and groundbreaking moments; however, it also proves to be her greatest weakness. This is increasingly evident with Joanne, especially as the artist hops on social media to respond to negative critics.

Her recent Beats 1 interview sees her continuing to battle comparisons with pop’s reigning queen Madonna, and her response reveals that she seems to consider herself and her work as more worthy than that of other pop stars. “She’s the biggest pop star of all time, but I play a lot of instruments,” she said. “I write all my own music. I spend hours, and hours a day in the studio. I’m a producer, I’m a writer. What I do is different… There’s spontaneity in my work.”

Joanne

Giphy.com

This misconception that pop music doesn’t require skills (especially when speaking of Madonna, who has always been remarkably involved in her craft) is yet more evidence of Gaga’s ego. Pop music has given Lady Gaga the platform that she currently holds; and without it, it’s possible that she would still be the go-go dancer starving for fame that she referenced in “Diamond Heart.”

More confusing is Lady Gaga’s misconception that pop music cannot be both serious and fun. Had Gaga wanted to make an album that felt authentic and resonated with her core group of fans, the wealthy New York City native easily could have descended into electro-kissed productions like she has in the past. “Dancing in the Dark” being the perfect example of a pop song that delivers depth.

Instead, we’re left with the celebrated pop star delivering her best attempts at Americana in an attempt to be taken more seriously. It’s not bad, it’s not great, and it’s surely not a glimpse into the heart and soul of Lady Gaga. With that in mind, we’ll settle for getting to know her latest alter ego.

What do you think about Joanne? Weigh in below!

Joanne was released on Oct. 21 (iTunes).

Lady Gaga

411mania.com

Lady Gaga is beginning her pop music return with the announcement of new single “Perfect Illusion.” Hope you’re ready to put your paws up, Little Monsters…

It’s official! After months of speculation, Lady Gaga has announced her return to the pop scene. The “Do What U Want” songstress has been exploring other creative avenues since the release of her fourth studio album ARTPOP in 2013. That’s all changing come September, as that’s when she’s planning on releasing the lead single for her upcoming album.

The song’s titled “Perfect Illusion,” and we’re effectively shook.

Lady Gaga

popcrush.com

The “Edge of Glory” songstress made the announcement on her social media accounts, taking over her Instagram with a colorful banner. Little is known about the single other than the tentative release date; however, rumors are rapidly abounding about both “Perfect Illusion” and the accompanying album.

The impending album has seen Gaga team up with a slew of writers and producers to craft a massive return. It’s been said that Gaga returned to the studio with RedOne, who worked closely alongside her on many of her top releases.

Gaga’s also teamed up with Mark Ronson, who claims that their collaboration has birthed some of his all time favorite music ever. “It’s incredible – I love it” he stated in an interview with Beats 1 earlier this month.

Thanks to some super-sleuth work from PopCrush, it is looking like one of those tracks may in fact be “Perfect Illusion.” In May of this year Ronson shared a photo in the studio with Lady Gaga, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, and Bloodpop. The photo was simply captioned “Illusion,” so it’s safe to assume that these may be the masterminds behind the project. Considering Bloodpop’s involvement with Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and Ronson’s foray atop the charts with “Uptown Funk” last year it’s safe to say that big things are coming!

Although it’s currently undetermined, rumors have been swirling that Lady Gaga may make an appearance at the upcoming MTV Video Music Awards. Although it seems unlikely that she’d premiere the single ahead of an official release, the songstress may be generous enough to share more details at the event!

What are you expecting from Lady Gaga’s highly anticipated pop return? Weigh in on the impending release of “Perfect Illusion” in the comments below!

2016 Grammys

popsugar.com

Who was responsible for the most memorable performances of the 2016 Grammys?

Last night (February 15) was the biggest night in music, as we honored the most impressive feats of 2015 at the Grammys. Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar, and many others received awards for their excellent contributions to the world of music, but more importantly hoards of talented musicians took to the stage for performances. This year’s Grammys was filled with powerful duets, touching tributes, and general musical excellence!

Check out the ten best moments below!

Honorable Mention: “Love Yourself” and “Where Are U Now” – Justin Bieber, Diplo, Skrillex

Although a little pitchy in spots, Justin Bieber and Jack U’s performances on “Love Yourself” and “Where Are U Now” deserve mention, as the music helped reshape the music world upon its release in 2015. The trio delivered a memorable performance that will live on.

  1. “The Thrill Is Gone” – Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark Jr., Bonnie Raitt

Rising country talent Chris Stapleton teamed up with the iconic Gary Clark Jr. and Bonnie Raitt for an impressive tribute to B.B. King. The threesome wielded guitars and performed with the backing of a full band. Bonnie Raitt’s vocals were particularly powerful, especially after she opened the performance with an impassioned tribute to the legendary blues performer. Without any of the bells and whistles of a modern pop performance, Raitt, Stapleton, and Clark delivered one of the most memorable performances of the 2016 Grammys!

  1. “Out Of The Woods” – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift – Out Of The Woods (Grammys 2016) by angelto_23

Dressed to impress in a bedazzled bodysuit and a less fortunate Anna Wintour-inspired bob, Taylor Swift opened the 2016 Grammys with a rousing performance of current single “Out Of The Woods.” The anthemic track showcased Swift’s pristine pop sensibilities, and the 1989 songstress put on a whimsical performance strutting across a stage of glittering trees. Vocally the performance left a little to be desired, but Taylor Swift has managed to deliver a compelling performance nonetheless.

  1. “Take Your Time” and “Heartbeat” – Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt

The 2016 Grammys was an evening of collaborative performers, and Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt took the stage for the first of the evening. Sam Hunt’s vocals were particularly powerful, and he was totally at ease next to the country superstar. It was also nice to see the perpetually glamorous Carrie Underwood a little stripped back in her frothy white dress next to Hunt’s white tee. Performing an innovative medley of their hits, Hunt and Underwood were easily one of the best pairings to rise from the evening. While we’re singing their praises, can we request that the twosome record a studio version of this performance? “Heartbeat” and “Take Your Time” blend exceptionally well, and we’d listen to this on repeat!

7. “Don’t Wanna Fight” – Alabama Shakes

2016 was a solid year for the Alabama Shakes at the Grammys! Not only did the group take home three of four awards that they were nominated for, but they also served one of the best performances. Performing their Grammy Award Wining single “Don’t Wanna Fight,” lead singer Brittany Howard’s vocals were exceptional and filled with emotion as they growled across the soundscape.

  1. “Rise Up” and “Love Me Like You Do” – Ellie Goulding and Andra Day

Andra Day & Ellie Goulding – Rise Up _ Love Me… by mousic501

Rising California born soul songstress Andra Day paired up with the ethereal UK siren Ellie Goulding for yet another memorable duet at the 2016 Grammys. Andra Day opened the performance with a powerful rendition of her single “Rise Up” before welcoming her new friend to the stage. Goulding broke into a stripped back production of her nominated single “Love Me Like You Do,” her wispy vocals rising triumphantly over the instrumental track. Day and Goulding’s vocals blended well, with Day’s soulful depth preferably complimenting Goulding’s lighter tones. The entire performance was simply triumphant and uplifting.

  1. “Alexander Hamilton” – The Cast of Hamilton

The cast of Hamilton broadcast a performance of the opening number of their critically acclaimed musical during the 2016 Grammys, and it became rapidly evident why the show has been so well received. Performing from their home stage enabled the cast to deliver a truly impressive moment during the show complete with incredible staging, a horde of backup dancers, and amazing vocal performances from the leads.

4. “All I Ask” – Adele

Adele – All I Ask @ Live at The Grammys 2016 (HD) by laLigaBBVA

Nothing, not even a dropped piano microphone, could stop Adele from delivering one of the most solid performances of the 2016 Grammys. Following an introduction from Bruno Mars Adele took the stage to perform their co-written track “All I Ask.” Dressed in a stunning burgundy gown Adele’s performance was plagued with some sound issues, but her voice still soared triumphantly and pulled the performance through.

3. “Hollow” and “Let It Go” – Tori Kelly and James Bay

Best New Artist nominees Tori Kelly and James Bay performed a medley of their current singles to great success. The twosome performed acoustically with the backing of their own guitars, and the result was hauntingly beautiful. Although the twosome failed to nab the Best New Artist nod, they managed to put on one of the most remarkable performances of the 2016 Grammys.

2. David Bowie Tribute – Lady Gaga

One of the most anticipated moments of the 2016 Grammys was Lady Gaga’s tribute to the late David Bowie, and Gaga more than lived up to expectations during her Intel-assisted tribute. The “Just Dance” songstress performed a medley of Bowie’s most enduring hits with the backing of a full band and backup dancers, and she put all of her energy into the impressive performance. Playing on a moving piano, incorporating some of Bowie’s fashion statements, and serving consistently incredible vocals Lady Gaga was a shining moment during last night’s Grammys. No other artist would have been able to convey David Bowie’s incredible accomplishments with as much power and passion, and we imagine that David Bowie was looking down on the tribute with a smile.

  1. “The Blacker the Berry” and “Alright” – Kendrick Lamar

After receiving the first televised award of the evening for his critically acclaimed To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar went on to absolutely steal the 2016 Grammys. The prolific rapper won six awards over the course of the ceremony, and his electrifying performance of “The Blacker The Berry” and “Alright” certified his status as the star of the evening. Transforming the stage into a jail, Lamar delivered an impassioned verse with the backing of a saxophone. Backup dancers ripped off their prison garb as the lights let off sparks, revealing bright costumes underneath, and Lamar transitioned into “Alright,” which he performed in front of a blazing fire. The performance was politically charged and hugely powerful. Kendrick Lamar stole the show, and he conveys all that should be valued on the biggest and best night in music!

Who was responsible for your favorite performance at the 2016 Grammys? Let us know below!

As appeared on PopWrapped!