Up-and-Coming: X-Factor Winner Alexandra Burke

December 30, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

While I haven’t seen Simon Cowell’s X-Factor - the UK counterpart for American Idol - I do know that so far several very talent folks have gotten their big break from competing on the show. More specifically, pop phenomenon, Leona Lewis and now Alexandra Burke.

Unless you live under a rock you cannot escape the buzz of Burke’s record breaking debut. In fact, the young chanteuses’ first official single, a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” has become the fastest selling single by a female vocalist in Europe, ever.

Hearing her sing, I was immediately enraptured with her brilliant voice and naked delivery. She may be new to the game, but she has already began to dominate the UK pop charts, knocking both Leona Lewis and Beyoné off of their pedestals.

Alexandra Burke is heading out on the X-Factor live tour in February and is set to release her debut LP (now available for pre-order) March 16, 2009. If you haven’t heard the single yet, check out the official video after the jump.

Alexandra Burke Official Video "Hallelujah"

Image: Amazon.uk

Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is Season 2

December 27, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

I’ve never been a big on Keyshia Cole. I always respect when artists work hard to work their way from the bottom up. So despite my thinking her voice sounds like a cat being tortured, I cannot knock Keyshia Cole’s hustle.

Especially after catching several episodes of her BET celeb-reality show The Way It Is, in which we get to take a peek into Keyshia’s family life. Where last season viewers got a look at Cole rise to stardom - from her trouble past, to becoming a critically acclaimed artist - this season goes deeper into Keyshia’s family life, juxtaposing the dynamic of her adoptive family against that of her biological family.

The most entertaining bits are perhaps also the saddest. Drama ensues as Keyshia tries to mend the relationship with her mother, Franky, who was recently released from prison. Take a look at the clip below and tell me Franky ain’t off the chain…

As you can see, this mending is not easy and Keyshia is dealing with some very heavy stuff. From an outside perspective, many will laugh and talk about how crazy Keyshia’s mother is. If we watch with compassion though, and look at Keyshia Cole as a person, our hearts will go out to her as she works to be healthy and whole, and drag her family into that same wholeness.

None of this drama stops Ms. Cole from continuing to do her thing. She recently released her third full length LP entitled A Different Me, which Keysha says pays homage to her current transformation. Check out what she had to say about her new album here.

Keyshia Cole also kicked off her tour in Chicago today and will continue through January 14th. Visit Keyshia Cole MySpace for show dates near you.

Image: Newscom

Holiday Flashback: Ella Fitzgerald “The Christmas Song”

December 25, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

Hey, I must really be getting into the it if I’m actually sharing Christmas music and enjoying it.

There wasn’t much purposeful Christmas music in my childhood. I do however remember hearing my Grandpa sing “The Christmas Song” on Christmas mornings as we opened gifts. You all might hear a different voice singing it, as there are so many versions of this classic song.

One of my favorite voices of all time is jazz icon Ella Fitzgerald. When I hear her velvety voice singing “The Christmas Song” I get all warm and fuzzy inside. I want to curl up next to a fire and drinking hot cocoa.

Today is going to be a fantastic day, filled with joy and fellowship. As you go out into meatspace, remember that love is all there is and spread that love to all you encounter on this holiday. Cheers!

The Christmas Song - Ella Fitzgerald

Image: CD Universe

New Beyoncé/Sasha Fierce: “Diva” & “Halo”

December 24, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

As if it weren’t enough for her to have one of the hottest singles of the season, Beyoncé released two more songs yesterday, sure to be an instant hit.

Sasha Fierce, Beyoncé’s alter ego who brought us “Single Ladies” is back with “Diva” - the female version of a hustler, while Beyoncé waxes poetic about being wrapped in love’s embrace “Halo.”

I was lucky enough to get a peek at them before Sony/BMG sent YouTube DMCA notices and had them removed. However, you can still get both videos exclusively on iTunes.

**Update** Embedding is disabled, but
“Diva” is currently available on YouTube. Check it out before it gets removed.

You still have to go to iTunes to get the official “Halo” video, but the song is so beautiful, it’s worth posting what Sony/BMG has made available.

Image: Newscom

Kelly Clarkson Announces New Single “My Wold Would Suck Without You”

December 23, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

After nearly two years off the radar, Kelly Clarkson has just announced a new album in the works, tentatively scheduled for release March 17th.

The album is yet untitled, however the single first single “My Life Would Suck Without You” is slated to hit radio on January 19th.

In the meantime, Clarkson took time out during a recent photo shoot to record a video message to her fans. Check it out after the jump

For more information and the latest updates from Kelly Clarkson, visit KellyOfficial.com.

Weekend Rewind: Mariah Carey “All I Want For Christmas”

December 22, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

I’ll admit that most years I’m less than enthusiastic about Christmas. But for some reason, this year, I’m actually excited; though not excited enough to buy a tree or decorate…

I did however walk into the office Friday, with a hankerin’ for some Christmas music. Apparently so did everyone else in my area. So we went to Pandora and and cranked the christmas tunes. It was fantastic, with the Excutive Editor and Editor in Cheif handing out goodies, everyone laughing and joking…

But I digress. Despite my usual disdain for Christmas music, there are certain songs I have always loved: “This Christmas,” “Carol of the Bells,” “The Christmas Song,” and “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” and a couple others…

All of these songs have been done to death by at least 30 artists a piece. In 1994, Mariah Carey released a beautiful holiday album with an soulful, do wop reminiscent rendition of “All I Want for Christmas.” It was an instant new classic.

I know there are others who love this song as much as I…The beautiful retro, black and white video after the jump. Even on my most curmudgeony years, this song always lifted my spirits and made me smile.

Premature Review: Nico Vega

December 19, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

In a landscape bursting with electro-pop-rock fusions, 80s inspired dance music, and bubble gum pop, sometimes you just want to hear some rock; straight up.

Enter Nico Vega, LA rock trio on the MySpace Record Label, burning up the underground and about to drop their self titled debut LP January 27th.

If you’re looking for a healthy dose of good ole rock n’ roll, the album, Nico Vega, is one of the best servings I’ve heard in a very long time. Incorporating elements of soul, folk and electronic sounds, the album is sure to satiate your hunger for fresh rock music.

The album opener, “Burn Burn,” is cyclonic and dramatic, with vox, Aja Volkman, riding the rapid staccato of guitar, with a throaty cadence. “Million Years” is a funky femme fatal track with Aja channeling an ancient mistress, declaring “I’ve been around for a million years, no matter how hard you try, you can’t f*ck with this!”

While Aja may deny infusing any political messages into their overall vision for the band, songs like the martial “Living Underground,” the almost militant “Beast” and the soulful “Rabbit in the Bag” indicate otherwise. However, there are also, fun funky tracks like “So So Fresh” as well as devilishly sexy songs like “Blood Machine.”

I was also surprised to find a several songs from the EP remixed and included on the full length album. Which brings me to my one criticism; the transitions from the electronic guitar heavy songs to the acoustic, folksy tracks was a bit disjointed. “Gravity” and “Wooden Dolls” are fantastic songs, but they seemed misplaced. It was quite apparent that this album was not intended to have any particular concept, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Overall, Nico Vega is definitely going to make a strong debut. This band reminds me that girl rockers rule and that rock is still alive and well.

For more information on Nico Vega and tour dates, visit Nico Vega MySpace.

Image via Big Hassle

Monica Announces New Album for ‘09

December 17, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

“As soon as you throw up the confetti and welcome in the new year, ya girl will be on shelves.”

That’s Monica announcing her plans to release a new album in the first quarter of 2009. The announcement was made via YouTube video, featuring live performance clips and Monica sharing what she’s been up to lately.

The yet untitled album will be Monica’s sixth and a follow up to to her 2006 release, “Makings of Me.”

Monica also teamed up with Keyshia Cole for a duet entitled “Trust.”

Subscribe to Monica’s Vlog for exclusive updates as she prepares to drop the new album. Check out the full video after the jump.


Singled Out: Lily Allen “The Fear”

December 16, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

A few months back there was a bit of drama surrounding Lily Allen’s sophomore release. Thankfully, everything got sorted pretty quickly and It’s Not Me, It’s You is due for release Feb 10.

To hold us over until then, Allen has graced us with a new single, “The Fear.” True to form, “The Fear” is a bubble gum pop number with decidedly pointed lyrics, which, when teamed with Allen’s lovely, lady like voice, create a sweet and quick-witted juxtaposition.

I want to be rich and I want lots of money
I don’t care about clever I don’t care about funny
I want loads of clothes and f***loads of diamonds
I heard people die while they are trying to find them

I’ll take my clothes off and it will be shameless
‘Cuz everyone knows that’s how you get famous
I’ll look at the sun and I’ll look in the mirror
I’m on the right track yeah I’m on to a winner

Allen keenly examines the trappings of the glam life and the do absolutely anything to get (and stay) famous celebrity culture we live in. The video features Allen surrounded by soft pastels, which, combined with the soft finish cinematography, complete the wink-and-a-smile tone of the song.

Image via Newscom

Kara DioGuardi Joins American Idol Judges’ Panel for Season 8

December 15, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

In case you didn’t hear about it back in August, a fourth judge has been added to the American Idol panel. This new element being added to the mix is none other than hit making, award nominated, song writer Kara DioGuardi.

“We are turning the heat up on Idol this year and are thrilled to welcome Kara to the judges’ table,” said creator and executive producer Simon Fuller. “She is a smart, sassy lady, and one of America’s most successful songwriters. We know she will bring a new level of energy and excitement to the show.” [source]

Lately folks have been buzzing about possible tension between DioGuardi and veteran Idol judge/pop icon Paula Abdul. Adbul laughed off the rumors, pointing out that she and DioGuardi are close friends.

According to the Daily Dish, if this was an attempt by Simon Cowell to throw Abdul off her game, or drive a wedge between the two women, he completely missed the mark. Apparently it was Abdul who gave DioGuardi her first big break:

“This one has backfired on him. Ten years ago on a rainy day in New York a girl comes up and says, ‘You’re Paula Abdul. There’s a signed thank you letter you wrote in my boss’ office.’ I asked who her boss was, and he was the president of Billboard magazine. So I invited her to lunch, and we wrote a song that day, on a napkin.

“It turned out to be the biggest song for Kylie Minogue ever (’Spinning Around’). It hit number one all over Europe.”[source]

Sounds like season 8 of American Idol is set to explode with drama. Catch the season premier January 13 & 14, on Fox. If you care not about the drama between the judges and just want to get a peek at the Season 8 auditions and get the latest American Idol news, visit the official website.

Image via Newscom

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