Ariana Grande Is A Superstar

“I apologize for everything that’s about to happen in the next 90 minutes.” Those were the final words of the 21-year-old girl sitting in front of me at an Ariana Grande concert. As soon as Grande stepped onstage, the young girl started screaming and hysterically crying as her hero began the concert.

That was just a small sample of what I witnessed last Saturday night at the Barclays Center for the Ariana Grande concert. I went with fellow Daily Mix Reporter, LordTreeSap. I’ve always liked Ariana Grande. Obviously, Grande has a great voice. No note is too high for her. Her singles are usually pop and dance-friendly that will blast on your car radios for months. However, her live performances and shows were something I knew little about. That is until I witnessed Grande in her element. As soon as Grande walked onto the stage for her opening set, the crowd’s roar was deafening. I happened to see One Direction back in 2012 when they performed on X-Factor and that was easily the loudest roar I have ever heard for a band in my life. Ariana Grande is now the second loudest I’ve ever heard.

Grande’s concert mirrored a play rather than a concert. The concert was a five-act play with an encore. Grande would sing 4-5 songs with unique set piece/theme, leave the stage to change outfits, and come back onstage to sing the next act with an entirely new backdrop. I marveled at Grande’s choreography and set pieces. Grande was in control the entire time, hitting her marks with ease and transitioning from song to song seamlessly. It’s not just a show. Rather, it’s an experience. Grande tells a story within each act that revolves around various themes such as female empowerment, breakups, love, loss, and relationships.

The average person at the concert might not realize how many hits Grande truly has. At age 25, Grande has released five albums with two of those, Sweetner and Thank U, Next, coming within the past year. Most of the songs from the show came from the two most recent albums, but Grande turned back the clock for some of my personal favorites, “Break Free,” “Side to Side,” and “Into You.” I was bopping my head the entire concert like the awkward white guy that I am. What I appreciated from Grande the most were her vocals. Grande’s vocals shined especially during ballads such as “R.E.M,” where she dropped to her knees and poured her emotion out to the crowd.

Below is the entire setlist from the show.

Ariana Grande setlist 1 Ariana Grande setlist 2Ariana Grande setlist 3

Sap and I talked about seeing artists and bands during the height of their powers. Imagine seeing the Beatles in the 60s, Elton John in the early 70s, Bruce Springsteen in the 80s, Tupac and Biggie in the 90s, and even recent stars like Beyonce and Taylor Swift in the 2000s. Ariana Grande may never end up as big as those stars and perhaps, she may even be bigger, but it was quite clear during the concert that the young singer is a superstar who is here to stay.

Greta Van Fleet Receives A 1.6 Album Score From Pitchfork

In the most polarizing album review of 2018, Pitchfork described Greta Van Fleet’s debut album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, as “stiff, hackneyed, overly precious retro-fetishism.”

Pitchfork – “Greta Van Fleet sound like they did weed exactly once, called the cops, and tried to record a Led Zeppelin album before they arrested themselves. The poor kids from Frankenmuth, Michigan don’t even realize they’re more of an algorithmic fever dream than an actual rock band. While they’re selling out shows all over the world, somewhere in a boardroom, a half-dozen people are figuring out just how, exactly, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are supposed to fit into the SUV with the rest of the Greta Van Fleet boys on ‘Carpool Karaoke.'”

It turns out that Greta Van Fleet is more polarizing than I thought. Last Friday, Greta Van Fleet released their debut album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, last Friday to predominantly positive reviews. However, Pitchfork was nowehre in the congratulatory mood. In fact, the writer of the article, Jeremy D. Larson, went above and beyond to say in simplest terms, “I didn’t like the album.” This is not the first time Pitchfork has written an overly negative review about an album.

The Mumford & Sons review needs to be rewritten right now because there is no way in hell that Sigh No More is a 2.1. A 2.1! That’s a crime in all 50 states. This is why I tend to not rely on Pitchfork for album reviews.

Back to Greta Van Fleet. I’m all for giving your opinion. Hell, I’m a blogger. I give my opinion on a daily basis. I understand that it’s important to stand out and be different. However, that Greta Van Fleet review seemed to focus on creating shock value to drive the review. I’m sure their traffic was through the roof. You want to know whose traffic probably increased today as well?

Greta Van Fleet.

“Any publicity is good publicity.”

Maybe I’m naive, but I do not understand the hate for Greta Van Fleet. The biggest argument that the opposition uses is that they are unoriginal and a knockoff Led Zeppelin. I will counter with this. What’s wrong with being compared to Led Zeppelin? In an era where mumble rap and autotune dominate the streaming era, is hearing a young band that sounds like one of the greatest rock bands of all time such a horrible thing? It’s quite the opposite. It’s refreshing. I am fully aware that Greta Van Fleet sounds like Led Zeppelin and that’s not a bad thing. I’m getting a vibe that finding new ways to make fun of Greta Van Fleet is the cool thing to do. It’s like hating on Nickelback.

Listen to these songs and tell me you dislike them all. I dare you.

Folks, I’m not seeing it. Long live Greta Van Fleet. This band is here to stay.

I Stand With LordTreeSap

How is everyone doing tonight? I hope you had a quiet and drama-free Wednesday. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my cofounder, friend, and brother, Mr. LordTreeSap.

First of all, I would like to spotlight this article that Mike wrote the other day about Nicki Minaj for the DMR. Please keep that in mind when reading the rest of this article.

Fast forward to today when Mike wrote this article for Billboard.

Read the piece when you get chance. It’s not like Mike was making this stuff up on his own. The North American leg of the tour was cancelled for 2018. It was rescheduled back to Spring 2019. Tour cancellations and postponements happen all the time. It’s part of the industry.

Don’t tell that to Nicki Minaj. Yes, that’s right, the real Nick Minaj took offense to Mike’s article. Yes, our Mike! LordTreeSap was the target of one of the biggest rappers of our generation.

Nicki wants LordTreeSap’s head on a spike like it’s Lord of the Flies. Mike is now in the running for #CockSuckaOfTheDay. I feel like I’m in bizarro world right now.

Let’s get serious for one second. I fully stand behind Mike. What did he do wrong? He reported the facts. It seems to me that there is a battle over the word “cancellation.” It seems as if Nicki would have rather had the word “postponed” or “delayed” in the headline. I’m not here to get into an argument over semantics. This is a classic case of “I read the headline, but didn’t read the article.” Read the very first paragraph of the article.

Looks like fair statement to me. I stand by LordTreeSap. The Barbz blowing up this article is actually helping to gain traction for the piece so in a way, they are doing the publication a favor with the comments, likes, shares, and traction.

Plus, if the Barbz are going after LordTreeSap for using the word “cancelled,” here are some more publications that used “cancelled” or “called off.”

Congrats, Mike! You made it, my guy. It’s not everyday you are called a #CockSuckaOfTheDay by a famous rapper. To steal a line from The Wolf of Wall Street…

There is no such thing as bad publicity, sweetheart.

Watch: DJ Khaled Just Released The New Song of The Summer, “No Brainer”

DJ Khaled did it again. 2018 was supposed to be the Summer of Drake. So far, his toughest competition has been Cardi B. That all changes now. DJ Khaled just released “No Brainer” and this will for sure become the Song of the Summer. No doubt in my mind that this will debut at #1 on the Hot 100. Just look at all accolades that the “I’m The One” racked up. Khaled rounded up Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, and Quavo (friend of the DMR) for round 2. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

My biggest takeaway from this song involves Bieber. It seems like he’s been gone for awhile, but he really hasn’t been. Besides “I’m The One,” Bieber was also featured on “Despacito” remix. Have you ever heard of that song? It’s a small one. The song only eclipsed $5 billion views on YouTube, but who’s counting? When I said that it feels like Bieber has been gone awhile, I’m referring to the fact that he has not released an album since 2015. Will we get one by the end of the year? Who knows, but I will be ready to play his jams once they are released. Congrats on the engagement to Hailey Baldwin!

Asahd did it again! Praise be to Asahd!

Greta Van Fleet Crushed Their Debut On The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

If you don’t know the name Greta Van Fleet, write it down, store it in a safe, and remember it because this band is going to be the one of the biggest acts in rock music within 5 years. Last night, the band from Frankenmuth, Michigan, had their biggest television gig to date on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. 

Greta Van Fleet consists of Josh Kiszka (vocals), Jake Kiszka (lead guitar), Sam Kiszka (bass), and Danny Wagner (drummer). The band has been around since 2012 and they found some small success early on, but the big break came when their song, “Highway Tune,” was featured on Shameless in 2016. Fast forward to April 2017, the band released their EP, Black Smoke Rising. Ever since that release, Greta Van Fleet has soared in popularity with two #1 singles on the US Main. Rock charts. The band’s second EP, From The Fires, went to #1 on US Hard Rock charts. Here are some of the band’s singles.

After watching these videos and listening to these songs, you can tell that these four guys have something special brewing. The band is keeping the sound of classic rock alive. Have you guessed Greta Van Fleet’s comparison yet?

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Led Zeppelin. Duh. It’s SCARY how much this band sounds like Zeppelin. Is Josh Kiszka the son of legendary singer Robert Plant? Josh’s husky howl is so distinct that I can’t think of anyone in music (besides Robert Plant) who has that similar vocal style. I would love to sync both of their vocals up and see if there’s any difference. My guess is it would be minuscule at best. Add in the fact that Jake Kiszka is Jimmy Page in 2018 and you could see why this group gets compared to Zeppelin.

The kids of Greta Van Fleet, and they’re kids because no one is older than 22, are rockstars. From their vintage style to their old school sound, Greta Van Fleet is one of a kind in 2018. They are currently on a huge tour that ends in November and hopefully, their first album drops sometime within the next few months. All I have to say is hop on the bandwagon now. Greta Van Fleet is here to stay.

Ranking *NSYNC’s Top Five Songs

It’s 2018 and *NSYNC is cool again. Yesterday, *NSYNC received a star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and it took me down a rabbit hole for the boy band that once ruled the world. It’s baffling to think that they are the fifth best selling boy band in history despite only releasing three albums (not counting Christmas and Greatest Hits). What’s even crazier is how fast it happened. *NSYNC is listed as an official band from 1995 – 2002, but they really didn’t get going until 1997. 5 years was all it took for Justin, JC, Lance, Joey, and Chris to become international superstars.

To honor *NSYNC and their star on the Walk of Fame, I went through their discography and put together my Top 5 songs. I’m sure this will start a lot of debates because to narrow it down to just 5 songs is very difficult. A good single is going to get left off the list. Here we go.

Super fun fact: For as successful as *NSYNC was, they only had ONE number one single in the US. You know what it was? Here’s a meme hint.

5. Bye Bye Bye

Bye Bye Bye BYE BYE. If you ask a random person on the street to name a song from *NSYNC, “Bye Bye Bye” is going to be the most popular answer. From the catchy chorus to the dance, “Bye Bye Bye” brought people to their feet. If this comes on, you better believe I’m doing the “wave goodbye” at the end. Plus, the puppet master / No Strings Attached video for “Bye Bye Bye” is so iconic. I 100% should’ve been in a boy band.

4. “This I Promise You”

As I look through this discography, I find myself liking the slower ballads better than the faster pop anthems. To take it one step further, I compared *NSYNC’s discography to the most successful boy band of all-time, the Backstreet Boys. Now I am BSB > *NSYNC, but once again, I’m going to take *NSYNC’s ballads over the Backstreet Boys ballads. Don’t kill me, BSB nation. The biggest winner in this song? Ugly turtleneck sweaters. Also, how was JC not as big as a star as JT? I’d argue that JC had a better voice than JT. Turns out JT agreed with me.

Huffington Post – Even Timberlake praised Chasez, telling MTV in 2006, ”In my opinion, he had the best voice out of all of us. Out of all the boy bands, call ’em what you will, he was the one that could out-sing all of us.” 

JC deserved better than America’s Best Dance Crew.

3. “I Want You Back”

*NSYNC’s first single happens to be one of my favorites. This is the song that got them on the map and the spark that ignited the fire. It’s impossible to listen to this song and not move your neck back and forth like a background dancer. When I want…You…BACK. Also, watch this old performance of this song and focus on the choreography. I call this Chris Kirkpatrick’s shining moment as he does the standing front flip.

2. “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays”

One of the best Christmas songs to play at a bar. Here’s the crazy part. It DOES NOT get enough airtime during the holidays. Everyone focuses on Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” but “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” is just as good. Plus, how thoughtful of *NSYNC to cover their bases with the Happy Holidays since not everyone celebrates Christmas? Class acts.

1. “Tearin’ Up My Heart

This was an easy decision for me. “Tearin’ Up My Heart” encompassed everything that I liked about *NSYNC. Catchy beat, great harmonies, and 90s boy band dancing. This was a rare time when JC started the song over Justin and it worked to perfection. Also, *NSYNC had the white tops look before the Backstreet Boys. Score one for *NSYNC.

Alright, Internet. Let me have it. Do you agree or disagree with my rankings?

Swedish DJ Avicii Dead At Age 28

Variety – Artist, DJ and producer Tim Bergling, a.k.a. Avicii, died this afternoon in Oman, according to a statement from his rep. He was 28.

“It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii,” the statement reads. “He was found dead in Muscat, Oman this Friday afternoon local time, April 20th.  The family is devastated and we ask everyone to please respect their need for privacy in this difficult time. No further statements will be given.”

He had retired from live performing in 2016, citing health reasons. He had suffered from health problems for several years, including acute pancreatitis, in part due to excessive drinking. He had his gallbladder and appendix removed in 2014.

Oh my. Horrible news. Avicii always held a special place in my heart because I was in college during the height of “Levels.” I always joke and say that levels is the “song of my generation,” but when you think about it, that song along with David Guetta’s work were instrumental in creating the recent mainstream EDM Pop landscape. Zedd, Martin Garrix, and The Chainsmokers (just to name a few) have Avicii to thank for crossing over into today’s mainstream pop music.

Truly sad stuff right now. I know Avicii had health issues, which caused him to retire from performing a few years ago. I’m pretty sure his documentary from last year, Avicii: True Stories, is on Netflix now so check that out if you want to see a shocking and sad look into the rise and fall of the popular DJ.

RIP to Avicii. My heart goes out to his family. Here are some of my favorites from the legend.

Maggie Rogers Poised For Breakout Year In 2018

Every now and then, you’ll hear a story that makes you say, “Wow.” Something will come along that truly leaves you speechless. You never know when life can change. It happens in the blink of an eye. I believe in destiny and fate. Things happen to you because you were in the right place at the right time.

That’s exactly what happened to Maggie Rogers.

Back in 2016, Maggie was a student at NYU, studying at The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. If you have ever been on YouTube, you might see ads for “Masterclasses.” These classes are usually taught by famous and well-established artists in fields such as music and writing. Well one day, Pharrell Williams hosted a masterclass at NYU in music. A couple of students got to play Pharrell their original songs. Maggie was one of the lucky ones who played Pharrell an original song that day. The rest is history.

When Pharrell is feeling your song >

The universe works in mysterious ways. To go from not making music for two years to writing a song in 15 minutes and changing your life is destiny. That look Pharrell gives when he knows Maggie is special still puts a smile on my face to this day. The song is called “Alaska” and it should be thrown onto your playlists immediately.

With a successful EP, an appearance on the Tonight Show, working with Mumford & Sons, and festival dates for 2018, I think it’s safe to say Maggie’s career has taken off.

What Maggie is doing is so original and unique. This “folktronic” sound produces a smooth, soothing arrangement that makes you want to dance and move your head to the beat. Recently, Maggie released a documentary titled Back In My Body, which explores her trip to, you guessed it, Alaska, to perform a few shows as well as describe the craziness of the past year.

When I first listen to an artist, I try to look at a couple things: Originality, stage presence, and potential. Maggie checks off all three boxes easily. It’s clear that she can sing well and her songs have “hit potential” written all over them. During all of her performances, you can see Maggie crack a smile as she gets lost in the music. It’s almost as if she’s saying, “Is this really happening?”

Yes, Maggie. It’s happening. Get ready for a big 2018.