The American Music Awards aired last night, and it was a popularity contest as usual. Drake won a lot, as expected due to his 13 nominations. Hosts Jay Pharaoh and Gigi Hadid kept it light and interesting, especially with Gigi’s impression of Melania Trump. However, the best part of the award show was the performances. But some were better than others. Here’s my top 5 AMAs performances.
5. James Bay – “Let It Go”
Nothing soothes the soul like a song by James Bay. Performing his hit single “Let It Go”, James Bay had celebrities singing longingly and with no shame. Solid performance topped off with his stylish outfit.
4. The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – “Closer”
The kings of 2016 in terms of radio airplay thanks to singles like “Don’t Let Me Down” and “All We Know”, The Chainsmokers were electric last night as they performed their monstrous hit “Closer” alongside Halsey. Most people were probably focusing on Halsey who was on point vocally as always and rocking a sick buzz cut. The song had everyone on their feet, especially when Travis Barker of Blink-182 whipped out a drum solo as the track took an unexpected variation towards the end.
3. The Weeknd – “Starboy”
The Weeknd was a star last night as he killed it on his banger “Starboy”. The track comes off his upcoming album of the same name, and the performance only makes fans yearn for it to come sooner.
2. Shawn Mendes – “Treat You Better / Mercy”
Canadian native Shawn Mendes simply belted out notes and ferociously strummed his guitar as lights flashed here and there. But that was all that was necessary as each work he sang was chock full of the passion that is easily digestible to listener’s. It was ultimately powerful performance that had me singing along involuntarily.
1. Twenty One Pilots – “Heathens / Stressed Out” Medley
Last but definitely not least is Twenty One Pilots. It’s common knowledge that they throw extraordinary shows with copious amounts of “litness” to appease anyone’s musical palette.Performing an intriguing medley of summer hits “Heathens” and “Stressed Out”, fans and celebrities alike were kept on their toes as the duo weaved both tracks perfectly together. What starts off tame does not end tame as Twenty One Pilots dominated at the AMAs, allowing me to fall asleep satisfied with life.
Watch all the performances below.
image from AMAs website
IT’S ALMOST UPON US. The Weeknd’s new album arrives in only a week, and to dissuade us from growing even more impatient, he’s blessed us with not one but two singles. How generous! “Party Monster” and “I Feel It Coming” dropped at midnight, and it’s more than excellent.
“Party Monster” is full of deep, dark vibes focused on his chase for a girl who’s unfortunately already taken. The beat is extremely hazy and dark, which is a sharp contrast from the extremely upbeat and pop-induced “Starboy” and “False Alarm” that preceded this single. I’m going to jump the gun and say that “Party Monster” is the best single thus far, but don’t take my word for it. Fun fact: it has Lana Del Rey mysteriously crooning in the background towards the end of the song.
“I Feel It Coming” features Daft Punk, who appeared on the hit “Starboy”. Apparently any time these two come together, magic happens. “I Feel It Coming” is a soothing flash of The Weeknd’s new influences. Instantly recognizable is the Michael Jackson-esque feel to the song. Any song with those vibes is a good song, but Abel makes it great. If you listen to this song without feeling happiness or without moving your body to the rhythm, you have no soul! Just kidding. But this single is the opposite of “Party Monster”, which is why both were probably paired together to be released simultaneously. They both feel like breaths of fresh air held side by side, an obvious stroke of genius from The Weeknd.
These two singles both hold me off until the album drops next week and make me yearn for the album even more. The things you do to us, Abel.
For those who vibe to: Frank Ocean, Childish Gambino
Spotify link to both tracks below.
If you have never listened to Blackbear, then you’re truly missing out on pure gold. Being a native from Los Angeles, Blackbear often croons about life and love in California, but his whole approach sets him apart. Rising in the music industry with his alternative hip-hop/R&B style, Blackbear sets himself apart with his unique voice and his wide variability across discography without sacrificing his signature sound. 2016 has been busy for him, as he had already dropped his album Help and the Drink Bleach EP. But with his latest release Cashmere Noose EP (which dropped August 3 but was released commercially deluxe on November 11), Blackbear is poised to make greater waves in music.
Cashmere Noose opens up with the track “Sniffing Vicodin in Paris”, which places Blackbear over a happy chorus-backed beat. Like all of his songs, his lyric game on this track is perfect, both describing and denouncing the seemingly shallow LA lifestyle. We can always count on Blackbear to delve into dark depths, which he does on “Sometimes I Want 2 Die”. As told by the title, it’s a somber song about self-loathing dictated quite poetically. Although it’s not on the deluxe EP, “Spent All My Money on Rick Owens Cargo Pants” is a dope song featuring Mod Sun. The track showcases the slick production evident on each track. That’s one reason why Blackbear continues to create masterpieces.
Blending his exceptional voice, top-notch production, and excellent lyricism, Blackbear delivers musically extraordinary opuses rather than just ordinary songs. The only bad thing about Cashmere Noose, which I must admit that I feel awful for even mentioning something bad, is that over half of the songs are under three minutes long. Apart from that, Blackbear hits one out the park with this EP. Hopefully he can quit it with the EPs and drop an album for next year. Nonetheless, Blackbear is an artist worthy of a place on everybody’s playlist.
Top vibes: “Flirt Right Back”, “Wanderlust”
For those who vibe to: Roy Woods, Kehlani
Check out the EP with the two songs that didn’t make the deluxe version below.
Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, is a busy individual who splits his time between the acting and writing music. It’s been clear to see that he has been heavily involved with his new show on FX called Atlanta, which is phenomenal, so be sure to check that out. Not only that, but he has been cast as Lando Calrissian for a future Hans Solo movie and an unknown character for Spider-Man: Homecoming. Thus, I understand why he has been absent from the music scene since 2014. Do I forgive him? No. But thankfully, he’s finally announced a new album called Awaken, My Love! which is due December 2. Along with the album announcement came the new single “Me and Your Mama”.
Possibly shedding his rap influence from his music for good, Childish Gambino seems to be sapping into genres of soul and blues. “Me and Your Mama” is an amalgamation of many genre influences which continues to push home the notion that Gambino is extremely versatile and creative in every facet of his musical craftsmanship. This song is less a simple single, warning of an upcoming album release, but rather it is a journey that seeks to impart to listeners the experience that they will be fully immersed in once the album drops. The two minute sonically idyllic intro ushers in the contrasting bulk of the song which may honestly come as a shock to many as it did for me. A bluesy guitar riff and a chant from a choir provides the foundation for which Gambino sings passionately over. After this fervent section, the song exits with peaceful bluesy outro reminiscent of “Earned It” by The Weeknd.
Childish Gambino is not rapping in this song at all like he’s known to do, nor is he calmly singing like he did for the Kauai EP. So instead of viewing this as a departure from his old music, it should be viewed as a refining of his sound which encapsulates numerous influences. With this powerful track, Childish Gambino has dramatically re-birthed and has reawakened my love for his music, as he has done for the rest of his hungry fans.
Vibes like: Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack
For those who vibe to: Frank Ocean, BJ The Chicago Kid
There are few collectives that actually make waves in music. A$AP Mob is one of them, and they prove it on their second LP Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends. The group consists of practically any rapper with A$AP in their name, most notably A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg. Any project with these two is crafted with such genius that truly escalates it to another level. Cozy Tapes follows suit, further proving why A$AP Mob is next level.
If you subtract the first two minutes and eighteen seconds from the opening banger “Yamborghini High”, Cozy Tapes is perfect from start to finish. The album flows extremely well, as if each track is smoothly passing the baton to the next one. “Crazy Brazy” is special, built off the infectious hook at the start. The production of this whole album is supernatural, making anyone feel blessed when the beat kicks in. One thing I admired was that the album showcased most A$AP members in enough quantity. Like many others, I believed A$AP Mob to be solely carried on the backs of A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg. However, the other members like A$AP Nast, A$AP Ant, and A$AP Twelvyy dropped some of their best efforts.
Some notable features on the album are Lil Yachty (“Bachelor”), Lil Uzi Vert (“Runner”), and Madeintyo (“Bachelor”), but it was Tyler, The Creator who stood out the most. “Telephone Calls” is perfection, especially when Tyler kills his verse, which might be the best verse on the whole album. In its entirety, Cozy Tapes is a masterpiece filled with bangers that show why A$AP Mob is both too good and getting better.
Top vibes: “Young N***a Living”, “Telephone Calls”
For those who vibe to: any A$AP member, ScHoolboy Q
Check out the music video for “Yamborghini High” below.
Los Angeles based producer and singer gnash dropped a new single on Friday titled “home” featuring Johnny Yukon. The alternative R&B youngster has leveled up over the summer with his successful song “i hate u, i love u” featuring Olivia O’Brien. It reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has been played thoroughly on the radio. With an avid fan base always thirsty for my new tunes, gnash gave them the gift of “home”.
Mixing a piano ballad with a throbbing beat, gnash finds himself singing a wonderful song with touching lyrics. If you are not moved by this song in the littlest of ways, then you’re heartless, because this song tugs at heartstrings. With his unique style that is hard to label (alternative genre, hipster hop, etc), gnash delivers a diary-like track centered on the topic of family and home. The song has so much substance, thanks to gnash’s ability to intelligently weave words together to make you feel what he’s singing about. How can one not feel their heart throb when gnash croons “Home isn’t where you are, it’s who you’re with” or “When I‘m with you, I am home”? The featured vocals of Johnny Yukon add a solid flavor for the chorus that compliments gnash’s verses. If gnash is going to continue to drop songs that make people feel, then I’m going to have to start listening to his music with a tissue box on hand. You should do the same.
Vibes like: “Be As You Are” – Mike Posner
For those who vibe to: Blackbear, Jon Bellion
Check out the official music video for “home” below.