Changes to the monthly competitions

Hi and welcome back to Amazing OurStage. We want to let you know that there will be changes to the prizes we are offering. Every month will be different.
This month we are awarding prizes of $100 to winners of the competition finals. In the future there will be prizes to help your musical career. Check back to find out.

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Come back to see the improvements to OurStage over the next few months.

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PSY’s K-Pop Invasion: The Continued Decline of Western Pop Courtesy of the East

As if A-Pop wasn’t bad enough already. Just when one might have thought that American pop, with all its auto-tuned voices and fake plastic beats, couldn’t possibly make the eyes and ears bleed more, it’s about to get worse. Nicki Minaj is set to bombard us with more of her overexposure via a series of reality specials on E!, her new gig as a 12th-season American Idol judge, and, of course, more music, while Britney Spears, of all vocally challenged singers, is already sitting in judgment of wannabe A-Pop idols on The X Factor.

And last but not least scary, Ke$ha’s back, and going by the early success of “Die Young,” the first single from her upcoming sophomore album Warrior (out November 30), she’s here to stay—at least for the time being. Continue reading ‘PSY’s K-Pop Invasion: The Continued Decline of Western Pop Courtesy of the East’

Sound and Vision: Wanted: An Out and Proud Gay Or Lesbian Chart Phenomenon!

Gays and lesbians have come a long way in entertainment since the days when George Michael had to have faith and pretend to want a woman in the “Father Figure” video to sell millions of albums. Although there’s no telling whether Queen would have been as successful in the ’70s and early ’80s had Freddie Mercury definitively outed himself as a lower-case queen, for the most part, today’s closeted male superstars don’t have to wait until they are about to succumb to an AIDS-related illness to publicly acknowledge their sexuality (like Rock Hudson did)—or not (like Liberace and, well, Mercury).

That doesn’t mean coming out of the closet still won’t have a negative effect on the bankability of gay music stars. This is why most of them still choose to wait until they don’t have too much to lose. Elton John, Ricky Martin, Clay Aiken, Savage Garden’s Darren Hayes and Michael all did it after their blockbuster days were over.

Though Hayes continues to release solo records that earn critical raves, it’s been years since he was A-list on the charts. John is a superstar for life, but his most notable post-coming out success (the 33 million-selling worldwide No. 1 single “Candle in the Wind ’97″) was with a song he sang to a dearly departed princess. How gay! Rufus Wainwright, despite critical plaudits, has never had gold album in the US.

Then there is Adam Lambert, the perfect example of how to be an out and gay pop star. He has a vociferous fan base, but his commercial performance isn’t commensurate with his level of fan devotion. He should be selling as many singles as Justin Bieber, but his last one, “Better Than I Know Myself,” was a chart dud (No. 76 on Billboard’s Hot 100), resulting in Trespassing, his sophomore album, being pushed back from March to a May 15 release date. Do we blame it on a weak single, or a pop constituency that’s still skittish about fully embracing a proudly out singer? Continue reading ‘Sound and Vision: Wanted: An Out and Proud Gay Or Lesbian Chart Phenomenon!’

Sound And Vision: What Will George Michael Do with His Second Chance at Life?

It’s been nearly eight years since George Michael released an entire album of new music, and three since he put out a single that wasn’t a cover of New Order’s “True Faith.” But in 2011, the singer-songwriter starred in what must have been one of the year’s most gripping YouTube videos, two minutes as gripping and heartfelt as anything on Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, his essential 1990 album.

There was no music, and Michael didn’t sing a note. In the clip, which was posted on December 23, Michael gave a press conference in which he discussed his recent near-death experience that began on November 21 on the Vienna stop of his forty-eight-date European tour and which he described as “the worst month of my life.” The normally robust singer, who had contracted a chest infection that was later diagnosed as life-threatening pneumonia and spent a month in hospital in Vienna (including ten days in the intensive-care unit), appeared gaunt and gray, often struggling to catch his breath.

In a year that took so many of music’s greats (R.I.P., Amy Winehouse, Nikolas Ashford, Phoebe Snow, Vesta Williams, Clarence Clemons, Dobie Gray, Billie Jo Spears), Michael is truly lucky to be alive —and he knows it. So what’s next? First, as he said in the interview, he will reschedule the cancelled dates on the Symphonica Tour that he was staging throughout Europe and the UK when his illness struck. The shows featured Michael performing his own hits and non-hits as well as select covers (including Winehouse’s “Love Is a Losing Game”) with a symphonic orchestra.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: What Will George Michael Do with His Second Chance at Life?’

Sound And Vision: 10 Things to Look Forward to in 2012 (Featuring Soundgarden, the Stone Roses and Freddie Mercury — Alive Again!)

A US Presidential election, Summer Olympics mania (London’s calling—again!), Rihanna’s film debut (in Battleship, out May 18) and the possible end of the world. Those are a few of the things I won’t be looking forward to in the coming year. Fortunately, music will offer enough thrills to distract us from all that we’d rather forget. Here’s what’s topping my 2012 anticipation list:

1. Madonna makes fiftysomething fabulous all over again. Although I’m curious to hear what Madonna does with Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. on the final cut of “Gimme All Your Luvin’” when the single is released the last week of January, that’s not the main reason I’m excited about her upcoming twelfth studio album (due in late March), her first since turning fifty in 2008.  “Masterpiece,” a new song featured in the Madonna-directed W.E. (which goes into wide release on February 3, two days before her Super Bowl XLVI performance) and her reunion with her Ray of Light producer William Orbit, is an achingly beautiful ballad that recalls the best of ’90s Madonna while gently proving that she can still create pop magic all on her own.

2. Madonna vs. Elton John vs. Mary J. Blige vs. Chris Cornell vs. Glenn Close (!) at the Golden Globes. Too bad the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has disqualified Madonna’s “Masterpiece” from competition at the February 27 Oscars. Why? Because it’s the second song featured during the closing credits, and eligible songs must either be in the body of the film, or the tune that plays when the credits start to roll. Oscar’s loss. The January 15 Golden Globes showdown featuring five monsters of pop, rock and soul and acting will be just as star-studded—and as tough to call—as George Clooney vs. Brad Pitt vs. Leonardo DiCaprio vs. Ryan Gosling in Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: 10 Things to Look Forward to in 2012 (Featuring Soundgarden, the Stone Roses and Freddie Mercury — Alive Again!)’

Sound And Vision: Where Is the Love? — The Disappearing Power-Ballad Duet

Back in the day, every major female pop star had one: a male pop star (or two, or three or more) who loved her—at least on the record and on the charts. Over the years, Barbra Streisand had Neil Diamond, Barry Gibb and Bryan Adams. Diana Ross had Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie and Julio Iglesias. Olivia Newton-John, Linda Ronstadt and Stevie Nicks had their pick of men (Andy Gibb, Don Henley, Aaron Neville, Tom Petty and John Travolta, among them.) Whitney Houston had Teddy Pendergrass, Bobby Brown, Enrique Iglesias and George Michael. Madonna had Prince. Celine Dion had Peabo Bryson and R. Kelly. Mariah Carey had Luther Vandross, and so did Janet Jackson.
But where did the love go? Though there have been scattered duet hits in recent years (Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown‘s “No Air,” Ciara and Justin Timberlake‘s “Love Sex Magic”), they are fewer and much farther between. On the Billboard Hot 100 dated March 19, 2011, “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson‘s country chart topper, was the only traditional male-female duet, way down at No. 34.
I’d say that part of the blame lies with the faltering power ballad, which isn’t the chart force that it was in the days when Celine Dion ruled the airwaves. Consider pop’s leading single males: Both of Usher‘s and Enrique Iglesias’s two recent Top 10 Hot 100 singles have been not ballads but dance-oriented collaborations with rappers and, in the case of Usher’s “OMG,” Will.i.am. Chris Brown’s comeback-in-progress also has been harder-edged and boosted by male guest stars like Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes, and of Justin Bieber‘s two Top 10s to date, neither has been a ballad, both were with rappers.
But it’s not just about what the public seems to want— it seems to be what the artists want, too. Why play the conventional good girl, duetting with Usher or Iglesias, when it’s so much more fun being bad? In the past year or so, both Rihanna and Katy Perry have gone Top 10 with rappers (Eminem and Drake, and Snoop Dogg and Kanye West, respectively). Meanwhile, Ke$ha went there with electronica hipsters 3OH!3 (after scoring her first hit riding shotgun with Flo Rida), and Beyoncé and Lady Gaga got there together.
As for the guys, boy-on-boy (or boys) rule: Bruno Mars with B.o.B and Travie McCoy, Jeremih with 50 Cent, Usher and Iglesias with Pitbull, Iglesias and Bieber with Ludacris. If it were 2001, Iglesias, or Ricky Martin, probably already would have zipped up the charts with Katy Perry and/or Rihanna on his arm. But it’s 2011, and just as every good girl wants a bad-boy rapper by her side, it seems the hit-making males would rather roll with the rough boys than mush it up with the ladies.
Will the power ballad survive the current disinterest in them? Can singing couples make a comeback? I’d be surprised if they didn’t. Pop music is cyclical, and if Jennifer Lopez can rise again, so can love (which, incidentally happens to be the title of J. Lo’s upcoming album, minus a question mark). All it needs is the right tag team to deliver it back into the public’s good graces and up the charts. I’d pay money to hear Pink and Adam Lambert together, but would the masses buy it? I’m not so sure, but wouldn’t it be just like them both to try and find out?

GuacaMusic: Latin Preview 2011

It is always sad to say goodbye to a year that brought so many good things to Latin music. And it is even more sentimental to let go off a decade that saw so many Latin artists (both new and old) gaining international recognition and becoming world famous stars. So what now? What lies ahead in the future of la música latina? Will the world keep digging it? Do we have many more years to sing en español?

I certainly think so. What better way to start a new decade than with plans for so many new albums and comebacks from stars we love? Here is a preview of what 2011 will bring to la musica latina:

  • There is a lot of buzz about Alejandra Guzman releasing a new album in 2011. All we know is that this album will celebrate her 2oth anniversary as an artist.
  • Spanish pop singer David Bisbal will also be celebrating his trajectory as an artist (10 years) with an album in 2011.  In a press release, Bisbal said the new album is going to be simpler and more elegant that his previous work.
  • Avid fans of Maná will be delighted to hear that Drama y Luz (which means drama and light) will be the name of the new album that the group is releasing in February of next year.
  • Favorite Latin duo Wisin y Yandel are also preparing a new production for the upcoming year. Bring it on!
  • In case you were wondering, J Lo is also working on a new production titled Love? for the beginning of  2011.
  • Another favorite Latino who will release a new album next year is Ricky Martin. The Puerto Rican star’s new album will have songs in both English and Spanish.
  • Word on the street is that alternative rock band Molotov will be making a comeback in 2011. After years of being away from the scene, we certainly can’t wait.

These are only a few examples of how bright the future is for la música latina, in 2011 and beyond. We are convinced that the world will keep digging reggeaton, merengue, bachata, cumbia and everything en español for many years to come. Don’t forget to visit our Latin Channel and get to know tomorrow’s Latin stars. ¡Provecho!

GuacaMusic: Pop en Español

Is it Pop en español or Pop Latino?

You can call it whatever you want, but the fact is Latin pop will always be a crowd-pleaser.  Even if you don’t speak a word of Spanish or haven’t been to any Latin American country, you have probably danced to the beat of major artistas del pop such as Shakira, Ricky Martin or Enrique Iglesias.

Don’t get me wrong. I love these artists and I know the lyrics to most of their songs. In fact, they make my commute worth the while (there is nothing better than singing Waka Waka on the highway). But, I also think that listening to the next pop stars on OurStage is even more enjoyable.

One of my favorite pop artists on OurStage is Jessi Leon, a young singer songwriter who was born in New York City and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Jessi describes herself as a “typical byproduct of a bicultural and bilingual generation.” Her first album Mudanza (which means move) was released in Argentina at the end of 2009, and contains eleven songs in Spanish and one in English.

Most of Jessi’s lyrics portray a sense of mudanza, and invite listeners to be accomplices in her life, to “move” with her from one place to another.  Her songs are a compilation of her life experiences, bilingual upbringing and the typical issues faced by someone her age. I especially like her song Ya No Te Quiero. It’s catchy, exciting and talks abut the ending of a relationship and the challenges of both remembering and letting go.

Listen to any of Jessi’s songs on OurStage  and you will see why this hot Latin artist is rapidly rising to the top. She’s already been in the Top Ten Charts in March and April of this year. Along with is playing in several venues in Florida, and has been a guest in a few radio and TV shows in Miami. She also recently performed in Telemundo‘s League Against Cancer Telethon.

Jessi wanted to be an artist since she was little, and started singing and dancing lessons at the age of 7. We are glad she did. She is definitely on her way towards enormous success.

Does it matter if it’s Latin Pop or Pop in Spanish? Not whith a voice like this.

¡Provecho!

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Erykah Badu in "Window Seat"

Erykah Badu bares all for “Window Seat” video

Nudity and social commentary are familiar bedfellows — just ask John and Yoko. So what’s surprising about Erykah Badu’s video for “Window Seat” isn’t the fact that she slowly disrobes till she’s stark naked; it’s the fact that she does it while walking around the grassy knoll in downtown Dallas where JFK was assassinated. The video ends with a shot ringing out and Badu collapsing on the ground. It’s supposed to be a statement about “character assassination,” but you don’t care about that. We had you at “naked.” Check out the video here.

The Bad

Hayley Williams covers Gaga

Gaga has birthday, covers ensue

Happy 24th birthday, Lady Gaga. Here’s your present: Two covers of “Bad Romance,” one from Paramore singer Hayley Williams (on piano to boot!) and the other from Jared Leto. Earnest, emo, melancholy, Catalano-esque … listen to both versions to figure out which is which.

The Ugly

MGMT in "Flash Delirium"

MGMT’s “Flash Delirium” video is weird

First there’s this mansion full of old people. Then there’s dancing … and puppets. And THEN, there’s a talking neck wound, an eel, an iron lung and an earthquake. In that order. Check out the video on the band’s Web site. Oh yeah … spoiler alert.

 


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