It is pretty much impossible for me and a lot of other people to go to the gym and not have music with you. Music, in a way, can help pump you up and keep you going towards your daily goal of whatever you are trying to achieve. So whether you are bench pressing, jogging on the treadmill, or reaching a new goal on the elliptical, chances are you have your music going. Question is, what songs really help you keep your energy up, burn calories, and keep you motivated? From Kanye West to Britney Spears, we have come up with ten bangers that will help your drive and determination while you keep your heart rate going. Check out what we think you should listen to. [Read more…] about Twenty Great Songs to Workout to At Your NYC Gym
z100’s Jingle Ball 2014- The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Last night z100’s, New York’s #1 hit music station, held their 2014 Jingle Ball right in the heart of New York City at the famed Madison Square Garden. In conjunction with I Heart Radio, the concert was broadcast all over the internet with an air date on the CW to happen later on this month. Naturally the show was sold out as it was packed with some of today’s biggest and brightest stars, all huddled under one roof to give everyone a great show and for us to have an awesome night. Whereas there were a ton of great moments that happened throughout the night, there were some things that happened that made me puzzled, confused and wondering if it was really ok putting them there in the first place. Take a look at what went right, and what went wrong at Jingle Ball.
Of course, Taylor was the headliner at Jingle Ballso she was the last to come out which happened around 11:45 PM, nearly four hours into the show itself. It also happened to be Tay tay’s birthday today, so all of us got to celebrate with her on her 25th which was pretty awesome. Honestly, Taylor is at the stage in her career where being at the top isn’t even the top, she’s further than that. So the mini concert itself was really just a spectacle to watch and the audience craved every minute of it. She has such great stage presence and really enjoys the interaction she has with her audience. Only thing I was a bit confused by was why she performed two songs off of “Red” and not all five of her songs from “1989”. I get you wanna perform the hits, but you have enough adoring fans that know “1989” already that they would’ve been excited to hear something new as opposed to something we’ve heard for years (I was hoping she would’ve performed, “Style”. Nope). Otherwise, great set to end the night.
Maybe this is just my age as I am transitioning from the top 40 phase of my life to the WALK 97.5 stage, but Shawn Mendes was the only person on the Jingle Ball lineup that I had no clue who he actually was. He apparently has some big song out right now that he performed last night called “Life Of The Party”, which for a guy just playing with a guitar and nothing else did a pretty good job. The highlight was his own version of the first verse of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” which he did in a very stripped down way, and that to me was awesome. It is good to know that someone of his tender age of 16 can research music from a different time period and take a song which is so deep and heavy and turn it into something much more light and in a way refreshing. Hope he has a very successful career ahead.
Love him and I think he is the best thing that happened in 2014 by far. Such a simple guy with this amazing voice that commands such a presence. He is such a unique throwback to the yesteryears of Elton John and Billy Joel, and did such a fantastic performance of his hits “I’m Not The Only One” and “Stay With Me”. Just like Shawn, I see a bright future for him and hope his success continues beyond this amazing year he had.
Surprisingly Pharrell was the one who kicked off the night, which in past years is usually reserved for some of the smaller acts. Pharrell spent most of his set performing hits that he was featured on such as “Blurred Lines” and “Get Lucky” but the latter two songs were his best. Why? The surprise announcement of his fellow “Voice” judge Gwen Stefani coming out to perform their new song “Spark The Fire”, which was freaking awesome. Growing up Gwen was a huge music influence for me and seeing her and him perform together again was amazing. Of course, he finished his set with “Happy” and invited a bunch of PSL’s on the stage to dance/take selfies with him. Honestly, if I was on stage with Pharrell I would put my phone in my pocket and enjoy the experience and not do what these stupid girls did, but it’s a generational thing, so whatever.
5 Seconds of Summer/Maroon 5-
The only two “Rock” acts at Jingle Ball, and both did a pretty decent job. Maroon 5 was great, maybe phoned it in a bit with “Animal” and “One More Night”, but I felt like they were super rushed because Jingle Ball itself had such a large lineup that many of the acts only had 10-15 minutes. Nevertheless they were great. 5 Seconds of Summer, or 5SOS, were quite fantastic and did a great rendition of “What I Like About You”. My hope is that they can get past the screaming girl phase and really be seen as a great band as opposed to a flash in the pan that pop seems to take in and spit out every year.
Jessie J/Meghan Trainor/Rita Ora/Nick Jonas/Charli XCX/Rixton-
I honestly felt bad for all of them, they legit got 2.5 seconds on stage and then went bye bye. Nick and Rita I’m not shocked at. Rita doesn’t even have a huge song here in our country, and Nick only has one song “Jealous” which he did pretty decently. Jessie did one song “Burning Up” but came back later on in the night to perform “Bang Bang” with Ariana Grande, and Charli XCX came back after her set to do “Fancy” of course. I just felt that all six of these artists are quite talented and had a good amount of buzz about them that they could’ve given them a little bit more stage time. Especially Meghan Trainor, who legit rushed through quite possibly the biggest song of this year, “All About That Base”. I get that they have to stay on schedule but I just thought it was a bit unfair to give them that little amount of time when they are all talented in their own right.
You have had massive hits over the years with some of the biggest names in the business, and you even sing on some of your own songs. So you got paid last night to stand on stage, press play, and yell at the audience and you weren’t even mixing. Seriously? Bye.
Oh lord, where to begin. First off, I’m begging this girl to stop wearing that stupid ponytail as she consistently looks like a 6th grader. Want to be taken seriously? Dress a little bit older than you have been. Her shout out to her awful brother Frankie was another thing. Zero connection with her audience, she giggled about tripping during her one part, and just seems very unprofessional. Also, it seemed as if The Weeknd was supposed to perform with her on “Love Me Harder” but conspicuously wasn’t there. I attest it to the fact that she wanted all the stage time, which further proves her diva like behavior that she has been accused of over the past year. There is a huge difference between what she and Taylor is putting out there. Just saying.
Sort of surprised that she was the second to last to perform over people I deem to be bigger and more talented than her. Ugh. What kills me is that she needs to figure out if she wants to be a pop artist or stay strictly rap, because her performance last night lingered both ways. She was super bubbly and pop on “Fancy” then went the other direction on one of her better songs “Work”. I can’t believe she didn’t censor the “Blow Job” line in that song, but to each his own. I just read novelty all over her and hope that she figures out a game plan because the amount of respect she has in the industry as a whole is quite low for someone who had such highs this year.
Go to z100’s site for more information.
2014 Grammy Nominations- Shockers, Delights and Kendrick!
The 2014 Grammy Nominations were announced live last night in Los Angeles at the annual “Grammy Nominations Special” they do each year, hosted by LL Cool J. They had some pretty off the chain concerts from some of the biggest artists in the world, and it truly set the stage for a great night to come in February. When I read the list of nominees this year, some I expected, some I was somewhat surprised on, and some I was insanely baffled that got left out. Let’s break each category down and see what went right and what went really wrong.
Record Of They Year-
Imagine Dragons- “Radioactive”
Robin Thicke Featuring TI & Pharrell Williams- “Blurred Lines”
Daft Punk Featuring Pharrell Williams- “Get Lucky”
Bruno Mars- “Locked Outta Heaven”
In my original prediction blog, I had four out of five right (Hooray for me) with Imagine Dragons as an “Honorable Mention” but definitely a contender. Not surprised by any of these as they were all great nominees. Justin could’ve made this category, but I will delve much further into that on the next one. These five songs were really some of the biggest of the year, each of them representing a different genre of music in my opinion. Lorde on that pop/alternative tip, Imagine Dragons are pure alternative, Robin Thicke as the R&B crooner, Daft Punk bringing in the EDM and Bruno Mars giving us straight soul. This is going to be an interesting category of sorts because I don’t think there really is a clear cut winner here. Moving along.
Album Of The Year-
Sara Bareilles- “The Blessed Unrest”
Daft Punk- “Random Access Memories”
Kendrick Lamar- “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis- “The Heist”
Taylor Swift- “Red”
No Justin Timberlake in this category, I am beyond shocked about that. I pegged “The 20/20 Experience” as winning this award beyond easily and I truthfully believe he was the biggest snub of the night. Kind of sad when you have the biggest album of the year and you are left off such a crucial list. I think Sara and Kendrick are the surprising nominees here, in a good way. I thought Bruno Mars was a shoo in as well for “Unorthodox Jukebox” but I am somewhat glad to see him left off this list as I think Sara and Kendrick had stronger showings. Not shocked by Macklemore, Taylor or Kendrick but for the sake of my sanity I pray that Taylor doesn’t win AOTY again because “Red” wasn’t really a strong showing. It was a continuation of her last album, and I hope when she releases her new effort it has a bit of maturity to it. This is a tough one to call right now, but if I had to be personal on this- KENDRICK. Please.
Song Of The Year-
Pink & Nate Ruess- “Just Give Me A Reason”
Bruno Mars- “Locked Outta Heaven”
Katy Perry- “Roar”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Mary Lambert- “Same Love”
In my original article, I had three out of five right (Pink, Macklemore, Lorde). Katy Perry wasn’t really on my radar, and this was the category I thought Sara Bareilles had a chance at with “Brave”, which Katy insanely ripped off for “Roar”. I actually had Drake in this category for “Hold On We’re Going Home”, a song he didn’t even get nominated for this year. That to me is frustrating, as it is one of the best tracks of 2013, and its the same sentiment I felt two years ago when his song with Rihanna “Take Care” got snubbed as well. This is a pretty standard list, so nothing too surprising. They could’ve given Miley something in the main categories, especially for the teen voters, and “Wrecking Ball” is in fact a very well written song. That being said, “Same Love” has got my vote. The lyrics are incredible and if there is one award Macklemore & Ryan Lewis should win it is this one folks.
Best New Artist-
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Two out of five in my original predictions, with Macklemore and Kendrick easily getting nominated. The others, I don’t really know how I feel about it. First off, where the heck is Imagine Dragons and Lorde on this? Ed Sheeran has been around for a while, so I don’t get why he is nominated this year and not last year. I am beyond floored that Florida Georgia Line didn’t get ANY nominations, and I thought that they would be the perennial country nominee as well over Kacey, but I am glad to see she got in here. The shocker here is EDM producer James Blake, who is following similar pathways with EDM being recognized in the main categories as Skrillex earned a Best New Artist nod last year. Fun! won this last year, something that I thought was completely shit as it should’ve been Frank Ocean, but this is a pretty strong group across the board. Best New Artist has proven to be an award that is never really cut and dry, and many artists that have won in recent years are the one you least expect (Bon Iver over Nicki Minaj, Esperanza Spalding over Justin Bieber). So James Blake really is the odd one out in this. Macklemore really isn’t a new artist in my opinion because he has been around a lot longer than people think, so once again I would love for Kendrick to take this one home. Country nominees never win this award, so it really comes down to Kendrick and Macklemore in my opinion.
Check out the official Grammy website for all the nominees and keep checking on Manhattan Digest for our official prediction blogs in all the categories for months to come. Congrats to all the nominees, especially Kendrick and my homegirl Kathy Griffin who got a sixth nomination for Best Comedy Album! 🙂
Charity, Music, and Prom; My interview with Brittany Smooch
Brittany Smooch is a young, up and coming teen pop star and Hip Hop artist. Brittany’s music is fun and catchy and her personality is similar. I had the pleasure of speaking to Brittany yesterday about her music and charity work she has participated in. On the phone, Brittany seems sweet and determined. She knows what her goals are and she is pursuing them with great success. Brittany recently did work with the WGirls for their charity Project G.L.A.M, which gives prom dresses and accessories to girls who can not afford them. You can check it out at http://www.wgirls.org/get-involved/project-glam/
As soon as Brittany answered I knew she was going to be fun to interview.
When did you get into hip-hop?
I have always been into hip-hop music. But when I started writing my own songs it just came out that way. It just sounded like a rap.
When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in music?
I have been involved in music my whole life! At 5 years old I was taking singing lessons and by 7 I was writing my own music. I have always known that this is what I wanted to do.
Who is your favorite rapper?
Oh my God! I have so many favorites. But I guess if I had to pick it would be T.I. He is amazing!
You have a unique Urban style, where do you love to shop?
I love Patricia Field. They have a store in the City and the clothes are so crazy and cool. I really like anything that has a unique feel. I also really like Betsey Johnson.
How did you become involved with the WGirls and Project G.L.A.M?
I have always been involved with charity work. I really enjoy it. I was working with the NY city charity NY Cares and when the chance to do Project G.L.A.M came along I took it. Its really an awesome charity and I love being able to help young girls.
This charity is so amazing, and it must have been cool to see the girls faces as they got their dresses, how was that?
Seeing their faces was priceless. Watching the girls try on dresses and find ones they loved was really exciting.
What did you wear to your prom?
Well, I’ve actually been to a few proms. But my favorite dress was one I wore to a Long Island prom. It was really girly and looked like a Princess dress. It was pink and lacey. Usually I don’t like really girly clothes but this dress was beautiful and really made me feel like a princess.
Do you have any advice for prom goers this year?
“Don’t fall into peer pressure.” Have fun and enjoy this time in your life but don’t think you have to do something you don’t want to. That is really important to me.
What do you have coming up?
Well, I just released my EP and now I am working on my new album. I just finished up my High School concert tour and am getting ready for my next performance. I am performing at Six Flags Boston on June 29th.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
Well of course, T.I. since he’s my favorite rapper, but I also think it would be really cool to work with powerful women in music. I’d love to do something with Nicki Minaj, Fergie, or Britney Spears.
What is one lyric to describe your life right now?
It would definitely have to be the chorus of my song, “Super Turned Up.” Because that’s how everything in my life is right now, “Super Turned Up.”
You can check out Brittany Smooch on her website http://www.brittanysmooch.com/
You can also check out her interview in Vibe magazine.
R&B and Hip-Hop at the Grammy’s
Music’s biggest night is headed our way as the 55th Annual Grammy Awards will be live this Sunday night at 8pm eastern time on CBS. Some of music’s biggest names will be performing, from Taylor Swift to Frank Ocean and most recently Justin Timberlake, who is not riding high so much on his failed first single “Suit & Tie”.
So who will be the biggest winners of the night? We already divulged into Record of the Year, but who will be crowned king in the rap and R&B fields? Here are my predictions as to who will win, should win, and was left in the dust. Leave comments if you agree or disagree!
Best R&B Performance-
Luke James- “I Want You”
Estelle- “Thank You”
Robert Glasper Experiment Featuring Ledisi- “Gonna Be Alright)”
Who will win- This should be an easy win for Miguel as “Adorn” got a coveted nod for Song of the Year, and that it pretty much is the best of the bunch. Grammy darling Usher could give him a run for his money, but this is a sure fire win for Miguel.
Who should win- Miguel. Repeat what I said before.
Who was left out- UMMMMMMMMMMMMMM “Thinking About You” by Frank Ocean. WTF. How is this in the Record of the Year category and not in this one? It makes no sense. Such a phenomenal R&B record and his vocals are haunting.
Best Urban Contemporary Album-
Frank Ocean- “Channel Orange”
Chris Brown- “Fortune”
Miguel- “Kaleidoscope Dream”
Who will win- Frank Ocean should be the only nominee here as far as I am concerned, and this will be his guaranteed win if he doesn’t get Album of the Year.
Who should win- Ocean.
Who was left out- Let’s rephrase this with “Who should’ve been left out”. Chris Brown’s homophobic ass. Please go away.
Best Rap Performance-
Drake Featuring Lil Wayne- “HYFR”
Jay-Z & Kanye West- “Paris”
Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Big Sean & Pusha T- “Mercy”
Young Jeezy Featuring Andre 3000 & Jay-Z- “I Do”
Who will win- God this really is a tough one, no joke. It’s between three- Nas, Jay-Z and Kanye. All three songs are strong in their own way. The Grammy’s love all three, but I think “Paris” will nudge the other ones.
Who should win- Not really a fan of “I Do” or “HYFR”. Lyrically, “Daughters” is amazing and one of Nas’ best songs ever, so that would be my pick.
Who was left out- Don’t kill me for saying this, but I happened to love “Beez In The Trap” by Nicki Minaj featuring 2 Chainz. The album sucked but this was a shining example of a rather dull album.
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration-
Jay-Z & Kanye West featuring The Dream & Frank Ocean- “No Church In The Wild”
Nas Featuring Amy Winehouse- “Cherry Wine”
John Legend Featuring Ludacris- “Best You Ever Had (Tonight)”
Flo Rida featuring Sia- “Wild Ones”
Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z- “Talk That Talk”
Who will win- It’s video was just as stirring as the song, so I would go with “No Church In The Wild”. Ocean’s voice is very subtle yet powerful for a song of this magnitude.
Who should win- Either “Church” or “Talk That Talk”.
Who was left out- SHOCKED and I’ve said this before, nothing for “Take Care” by Drake and Rihanna. Such a phenomenal record. I would’ve chosen the Chris Brown remix of “Birthday Cake” by Rihanna over “Talk That Talk” personally as well.
Best Rap Album-
Drake- “Take Care”
Lupe Fiasco- “Food & Liquor- The Great American Rap Album, Pt.1”
Nas- “Life Is Good”
The Roots- “Undun”
Rick Ross- “God Forgives, I Don’t”
2 Chainz- “Based on a T.R.U. Story”
Who will win- This is somewhat of a weak category, but Drake will finally earn his first Grammy after 9 nominations.
Who should win- Drake or Nas, the only two that I really think are that good for this category.
Who was left out- Either Macklemore or Kendrick Lamar. God knows why 2 Chainz got in here, good lord.