music

The VMAs: We came from Beyoncé, but stayed for Drake and Rihanna

MTV/YouTube Screengrab
MTV/YouTube Screengrab

If I can be honest, I didn’t understand much of the MTV VMAs. I’ve never seen most of the people in attendance ever in life, so count me among the “I’m officially old” club. But I’ll tell you what the two highlights of the night were. No, it wasn’t Kanye’s rambling speech; I read it, and while I’m always here for a clapback directed at Taylor Swift, I couldn’t make heads or tails of what Kanye was talking about, which is typical Kanye. The two highlights were, clearly, Beyoncé’s epic set and Drake giving Rihanna the introduction only a loving, attentive boyfriend could give.

First, Beyoncé.

I don’t even need words to describe what you just saw, but I’ll still put in my two cents. I admit that I’ve had my own issues with Beyoncé in the past. No, I’m not a BeyHiver now; I’d break out in hives if I ever found myself even considering such a thing. No; I simply like Beyoncé now. I am here for what she is finally doing, which is making music that has a message and is music that is firmly entrenched in black womanhood and power. I found myself calling her performance on “Michael Jackson level,” and that is not a title to throw around lightly. Not everyone can perform basically five music videos live and sing at full-throat and dance and destroy cameras and have a gazillion costume changes and make it all look easy. That ish is hard! And she just did the impossible.

(Yes, I know I just gushed over Beyoncé; NO, I’M NOT IN NO DOGGONE BEYHIVE.)

Second, Drake’s speech about Rihanna and how much he’s loved her even before they were together. (Also: Rihanna’s speech upon accepting the Vanguard Award)

Okay, in order to make this not all about the guy, let me state that Rihanna had the daunting task of performing four times that night. FOUR TIMES. She basically had her own Beyoncé performance, but at least hers was scattered throughout. Still that’s a wild feat to undertake, and she definitely showed why she was getting the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award. She’s put out more hits than I even knew; I’d even forgotten about some of her hits. She’s been the soundtrack to these years of the aughts, and she’s changed and grown in such a positive way that you can’t help but root for her. As Drake said, she did it all while staying true to herself, and not everyone in the industry can say that. To quote Drake, “no one” can say that. I wonder who he was throwing shots at, since everyone who was anyone was performing or presenting that night.

Now, to get back to that speech: nearly everyone online expressed sentiment that they wished they had someone in their lives who were so in love with them as Drake is with Rihanna. People were so bowled over by his love and admiration for her that they thought he was going to propose to her. My sister thought so. I thought so. It would have only been too much to handle at one time. Unfortunately (or thankfully) he didn’t, but let’s not be so surprised that Drake could be so sensitive with or without a proposal; did we forget that Aubrey Drake Graham was once a regular cast member of the ultra-feely show Degrassi: The Next Generation? When that show said, “It goes there,” they weren’t kidding, and Drake’s character Jimmy went through it. Plus, the music video for Hotline Bling is delightful in its corniness. Corny people are usually sensitive souls.

Anyways, I hope a proposal is somewhere in the future for Drake and Rihanna.  I’d love to see the photos from that wedding.

What did you think of the MTV VMAs? Are you officially old like me? Who did you just not understand? (There was that one performance with that guy and that girl with the booby half-shirt and that dude on that…instrument? It was a terrible performance.) Sound off below!

“Star Trek Beyond”: 4 Things to Know about Rihanna’s “Sledgehammer”

Rihanna has slayed the song/movie tie-in game with her new single “Sledgehammer.” I rarely use the term “slayed,” so trust me that I don’t mean this lightly. Frankly, it’s the best I’ve seen of Rihanna since “BBHMM.”

Here’s what you need to know about the song:

1. The song has the Sia stamp: We’ve all rocked out to Sia’s “Chandelier” and her other powerful ballads, and the same unmistakable Sia mark is on “Sledgehammer.” Sia wrote the song, and Sia’s dramatic scope fits the space operatic tones of the Star Trek movie universe.

2. Rihanna’s voice has never sounded stronger: Is it just me, or has Rihanna’s voice never sounded better? I’ve become a small-time Rihanna fan as of late, and I have to say that I’m proud of her growth. But even still, it seems like her vocal ability has become even deeper and broader than I realized, and I’m really excited by it. Hearing Rihanna’s voice soar through this song was so good that when I heard it blind on one of the Star Trek Beyond commercials, I actually thought it was Sia, no joke. Great job on this, Rihanna!

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

3. It’s the first music video to debut in IMAX, and it makes full use of the technology:

Floria Sigismondi, the director of the music video, wanted to make sure the viewers really felt like they were in space. “Because the beginning of the video takes place in space, you really get the sense of floating through and also the sound,” said Sigismondi to Billboard. IMAX remixed the music, so that when it plays in the theatre it really has such a three-dimensional quality. That low-end is really pushed so it really feels booming.”

4. The music video’s director wanted to tell a story about humanity

Sigismondi told Billboard that the story told in the music video is something she’s always wanted to tell. “…I’ve always wanted to do a person breaking apart into the universe. I just think that’s so beautiful in terms of what you can say about humanity,” she said. “I’ve created this mystical being in this otherworldy planet being that harnesses the power to manipulate the elements and the elements around her being the sand, the rocks and the earth, and that she actually has a power as well to conjure up the energy and create light and stars. So she transforms into the universe itself.”

Check out the video and Rihanna discussing how much of a Star Trek fan she is. Star Trek Beyond will be in theaters July 22.

“Star Trek Beyond,” the highly anticipated next installment in the globally popular Star Trek franchise, created by Gene Roddenberry and reintroduced by J.J. Abrams in 2009, returns with director Justin Lin (“The Fast and the Furious” franchise) at the helm of this epic voyage of the U.S.S. Enterprise and her intrepid crew.  In “Beyond,” the Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

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Exclusive Interview: Judith Hill

You might know Judith Hill from The Voice and 20 Feet From Stardom, but now the talented singer/songwriter has her new album, Back in Time and for longtime fans and Hill herself, this album has been a long time coming. Hill worked in the music industry as a background singer for some of pop culture’s most talented artists, and all of that hard work is shown in the versatility and artistry shown on Back in Time‘s songs.

I was very excited to be able to speak with Hill about her album, which is now available for purchase today from NPG Records, her career, and what it’s like to work in Prince’s Paisley Park Studios. You can follow Hill on JudithHill.com and on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube

Exclusive Interview: Ava Gold

Singer-entertainer Ava Gold is teaching her fans how to act “Classy” when it comes to dealing with negativity. Gold is known for her role as Kiki on Nickelodeon’s The Fresh Beat Band and the new animated show Fresh Beat Band of Spies, and not only is she also concentrating on her songwriting career with BMG, but she’s also giving back to people in need through her charity work.

I was happy to interview Gold via email to learn more about her career, her new single, “Classy,” and what fans can expect from her in the future.

Exclusive Interview: Jaafar

Music fans need to pay attention to a new voice in music, Jaafar. The upcoming singer/songwriter is now getting the attention of America with his new single, “Sixteen” and I was happy to speak with Jaafar about his single, his unique sound, and what fans can expect on his upcoming album.

You can learn more about Jaafar at his website and make sure to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Soundcloud.