Posts Tagged ‘youtube’

h1

this is lycanthropy.

July 30, 2009

Quick, watch this before someone takes it off youtube! Apparently, that happens sometimes! (they did it to my Whitney Houston video, because obviously my singing her song is going to damage her sales.)

The song has grown on me immensely, and Shakira looks flawless.  But looking at the way she dances in the video, and combining that with the ideas contained in the lyrics, it gets me thinking of the primal sexuality that we keep locked up by day and let loose at night.  When I go to a club with my friends, I tend to prefer straight clubs because a) the majority of my friends are straight, and b) I can’t stand the bitchy queeny atmosphere, the meat-market stares, nor the awful mega-cheese of Bristol gay clubs – therefore my dancing is somewhat inhibited and I tend to play it cool (R&B / hip hop kinda promotes cool nonchalance over insane all-out dancing anyways).  But nevertheless, I’ve always been a good dancer because I guess I have an innate sense of rhythm.  I always get randoms trying to dance with me in clubs, and other guys often compliment me on my dancing (which I find crazy, because for a guy to compliment another guy without knowing them or having an ulterior motive of some sort is practically unheard of).  I’ve been dancing since I was a child, but just as I learned to sing from Mariah Carey albums, I learned to dance from MTV.  The best teachers are your idols, and my recipe for success has always been study, study, study, incorporate a range of everything into your repertoire, and then just feel the music and let what comes out come out.  That’s the way I sing, and that’s the way I dance – it’s automatic, it’s instinctive, and it’s usually more powerful than a rehearsed performance.  Just as I have performed at numerous concerts singing and playing instruments, I have done a few dance displays and was the first male ever to win my high school dance competition (to Brandy’s “What About Us?”), so I guess I know what I’m talking about.  But at the same time, I could never teach anyone to sing nor to dance, because I just do what I do and feel the music and make my body talk.  I have heard accomplished instrumentalists say that they learned how to make their piano or their guitar talk (I read a quote from Bruce Springsteen in a book in HMV the other day), and that was a powerful yet simplistic explanation of how someone plays their instrument.  So I guess the best way for me to explain the way I ‘do’ music is that I make my voice or my body talk and express itself to the music.

When Shakira says that “this is lycanthropy”, I understand that she’s referring to unleashing your inner predator (in her case, the ‘she-wolf’).  I often find myself with my ipod at night dancing around, and the most intoxicating thing for me (which is the feel I’ve tried to capture on my forthcoming album) is to be outside in the dark, with the fresh air caressing your skin and nothing to distract you from the music as you stand / move around in the moonlight.  If I’m in a more contemplative mood, I’ll smoke my cigarette while gazing out over the garden just listening to the music, taking in the lyrics and sensing the feel of the music.  Music is the perfect backdrop for me (and I presume, many many people!) to rediscover their sexuality and sensuality, and get in touch with the inner person who is subdued during the hectic day-to-day.  This is why I find music so powerful.

If I am getting ready to go out, be it night or day, and I want to feel good about myself, I’ll dress up in my nicest, most flattering clothes, make sure I have a label or two, make sure my hair is fierce, my skin is tanned and glowing, and my jewellery is on point.  But I need a soundtrack to complete my attitude and back it up.  If I am thinking about someone, I’ll associate certain songs with my emotions and, if the person is lucky / significant, with them.  Music has the power to inspire so many feelings in me, and it can make me feel sexy, and bolster my confidence and go and get that guy whom I’ve been lusting after, instead of just contemplating it.  After all, we are in disguise during our daytime personas; once the moon rises, we have full licence to let our nocturnal predator out to play and attract our prey with the way we make our bodies talk.  I believe that dancing is one of the purest forms of expression, and the physicality of someone can be so powerful, so magnetic that it can attract you towards them instinctively.  So we may be humans, but we are still animalistic in our bodies, our spirits, and in the way that music can make us react.

Advertisements
h1

bits and pieces.

July 29, 2009

First things first: if you happened to read my previous post, you might think that I am a teensy bit crazy.  I want to promise you that while I can be less rational at some times than at others, the only reason why I sounded so unhinged was because my father was driving me insane.  He finally went to bed at 12:30, after I drank some of his cider behind his back to hurry up the process.  He slumped away from his laptop, defeated and worn down.  I think I made my point. 😉 But please excuse my temper (not physically violent Naomi-temper, but hot-blooded Italian super-stubborn arm-waving raised voice temper), I’ll try to keep it in check for y’all 🙂

I can’t get this new song by LeToya Luckett out of my head:

It’s called “Don’t Need You”, and it’s going to be on her new album Lady Love, which I am highly anticipating.  I relate to the song because as much as I should appreciate the freedom of single life and the fun of being able to appreciate who’s hot and who’s not, and being able to flirt when I want (something which I continued to do during my brief period dating L, which was an indication that it just wasn’t right), I still feel like I want to be with somebody, and I still feel lonely.  So this song reminds me that really, we don’t need anyone but ourselves, because 90% of the time people, especially boyfriends or potential boyfriends, only let you down in the end (or quite often, at the beginning).  But the reason why I have been listening to it is because of the very first lyric:

It’s Monday morning, checked my cell phone / but nobody’s calling me.
I try to ignore it but it’s sinking in / that I’m all alone with me.

If you’ve been reading my blogs lately, you’ll have picked up on how important being able to communicate is with me.  I don’t expect a constant barrage of attention (that’s actually a big no-no, because you should have better things to do with your day 😉 ) but I do expect a little bit of consideration, and I expect any correspondence I make to be returned within a decent period of time (I think 24 hours is lenient and appropriate).  So I keep kicking myself when I find myself constantly checking my phone wondering why I seem to send people texts which don’t get returned, asking questions that get ignored and realising that the effort that I put into laying foundations for dates and maintaining friendships isn’t always reciprocated.  Why bother? Why keep trying?  Does that make me the fool?  I’m not exactly glued to my phone, but it is a mobile phone, the concept behind which is that I keep it on me so that I can contact and be contacted when I am not at home.  The mobile phone does not serve its purpose when its battery is depleted, when you cannot hear it or feel it, or when you leave it in your bag on silent for 3 days.  You might as well chuck it out of the car window and then reverse over it a few times.  What’s the point of having a cell phone if you’re not going to use it, and what’s the point of swapping numbers with me if you don’t want to talk?  That’s why the above lyrics speak to me – because obviously I’m the dumb one (and my friends are of the same philosophy, so we are all dumb together) expecting these things and checking my phone regardless.

Looking at my tag cloud, it strikes me that the 3 biggest things (at the moment) are “appreciating life”, “music” and “relationships”.  I guess I am glad that I am not a one-dimensional person, and I am able to write about lots of different facets of my life, because I suppose it means that I am not totally boring.  Today I went and had coffee with Hannah, saw a totally beautiful but too expensive Armani bag that I will not even consider buying before I have a paycheck again (or at least until my credit card ticks over to September 😉 ), got an interview for a call centre which I am going to do even though the hospital thing seems more or less certain (I take nothing for granted in the current job market!) and had some good news regarding university funding which I might well receive after all because I have XY chromosomes. But I was wondering, a couple of my friends say that my blog goes deeper than “today I did this and that” and say that I should be the male Carrie Bradshaw.  Apart from being a huge compliment, one reason why I don’t know if I am ready for that is because I don’t know if I could choose one niche to write about.  I suppose relationships is the most meaty topic, and there are plenty of music blogs that are much more devoted to the daily developments than I would be.  I wonder how you get to be a columnist?  In any case, I have noticed that (the Whitney Houston post aside!) I tend to get more views on writing about topics that are personal to me and yet relatable to everyone, like relationships and frustrations and life’s mysteries and conundrums.  I find that touching, and while I hope for my life to go smooth and to live happily ever after with a rich Brazilian model and a lucrative music and fashion career, that might never happen and it’s still a work in progress. 😉 So I hope to write more about my relationships and life’s trials and tribulations, and maybe someone will notice and want me to write a column for them.  Anything is possible!  And I am happy to do it, as long as you’re all right here with me. 🙂

h1

positive speaking.

July 25, 2009

One maxim that I try to live by, wherever possible, is that of “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all”.  Of course, it’s natural that we aren’t 100% happy and sweetness and light all of the time, and nobody is a perfect saint, but I try never to be deliberately nasty or spiteful towards people if I can at all help it.  If I feel resentment towards somebody, it is something that I try to channel in a constructive way, or keep to myself so that they won’t know how I feel.  I believe that it is classier not to diss people, and although occasionally I can’t resist the urge, most of the time I can.  Instead of wasting time hating on others, I try to step my own game up – that’s my response.

After my video singing Whitney Houston’s new song was posted on Thursday, I received a barrage of comments on my youtube account, as well as some comments on a Whitney forum.  Some people were positive, some people were critical, which is fine.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  What really irks me (and what I am always prepared for, because I’ve been doing these youtube videos on and off for 2 years now) is the senseless hateful comments that I get.  I understand that if somebody covers your favourite artist’s song, you may be a bit disgruntled because you like the original version.  But it doesn’t mean that nobody else is ever allowed to sing that song.  I’m not trying to be Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston or Chris Brown, I’m just having fun singing a song.  And I try to separate the genuinely valid comments from the ridiculous (for example: “Whoever told you you were good has mental problems” O RLY? I feel sorry for my friends, for the entirety of my school and its teaching staff, for the students of Oxford University, for a couple of Oxford journalists.  We’re all crazy! Bish please.) and improve upon what I can.  I know I am not the consummate singer, and I am not perfect.  Of course, you can’t please everyone.  But if you have nothing constructive to say, or nothing to back your criticism up, then please keep your mouth shut.  I make it a rule never to reply to comments on youtube because I don’t want to dilute anyone’s opinion, nor enter into a slanging match with any deranged fans.  I sing the song, I make my video, and then I let people say what they want.  It’s freedom of speech.  But if you can’t be nice, at least be classy!

It’s not just me, obviously.  There are plenty of comments on youtube saying Beyoncé is a fat whore (um?), Mariah Carey cannot sing (The Voice? yeah right), that singers who are legitimate superstars are rubbish at their craft.  And while I don’t like every famous singer out there, I have respect for their hustle and appreciate that it is not easy to put yourself up for criticism and hate (as well as adoration and love 😉 ) night after night and day after day.  You have to be incredibly thick-skinned  to keep on going – to give her her due, Paris Hilton made her album and records her tv shows and doesn’t give a fuck what people say and think about her.  If it’s negative, they’re still wasting their negative energy talking about her, so it’s all promotion and job done.  That is something I have a lot of respect for.  But these armchair critics who think they are Simon Cowell are only feeding into these people’s fame, and if you don’t wanna hear from them anymore, then you have to go one better.  If you aren’t willing to do that, or you’re not capable of it, then you should sit your ass down and keep your mouth shut.  If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

I wanted to also congratulate my friend Hannah on her family dog sitting job she’s netted in September – she’s getting £500 for a week’s work!  Of course I am slightly jealous, because I could really do with £500 myself.  But instead of criticising her or being unsupportive, I congratulated her and am genuinely happy for her, not just because she is one of my very best and closest friends, but because I don’t believe I am a negative or spiteful person.  If somebody does something well, has a great stroke of luck, or is talented, I congratulate them and express my appreciation.  You get what you give, and I believe in passing out positive energy instead of negative.  It all comes back around to you, ultimately, even if it’s a long time in coming… But I never understood the point of hating on people who are luckier or more talented than you in a specific area… instead of wasting your time hating on them, you get your game up.  I am hugely envious of models and guys with better bodies, but instead of commiserating at home eating Ben & Jerrys, I get my ass down the gym and watch what I eat because I want that body and my determination to get it will one day pay off (even if it could hurry up. please.). That will be the sweetest victory.  As Blu Cantrell says, “Revenge is better than money you seeeeeeee!” (“Hit ‘Em Up Style”)  So don’t hate; appreciate, and step your game up… because when the time comes that people are hating on you, you must be doing something right!

h1

communication.

July 23, 2009

Certain situations lately have been making me think of the “Communicate” interlude from TLC’s Fanmail

“Communication is the key to life
Communication is the key to love
Communication is the key to us

There’s over a thousand ways
To communicate in our world today
And it’s a shame
That we don’t connect

So if you also feel the need
For us to come together
Will you communicate with me?”

We have so many avenues of communication open to us nowadays: face to face, email, telephone call, text message, blog, vlog, instant messengers, chatrooms and forums, twitter and social networking… It’s so easy to keep in touch with people (and now I can do it all on my beautiful Prada phone, more or less!) that it’s almost overwhelming choosing the method of communication.  Do you text, email, write a letter, call on the phone?  Different people suit / prefer different methods, and some are more anonymous while others are intimate and suggest more effort and attention.  A situation last night occurred where I sent a text message to B to see how he was, and he didn’t reply because his phone was on silent… meanwhile, he sends me a message on a different, completely unrelated site asking me how my day had been and everything! I was touched that he thought of me as much as I of him… but it was a bit frustrating that there are so many avenues of communication open to us that it is almost a problem to remember to be consistent!  You can hit me up on twitter, myspace, vox, last.fm, facebook, on my cell (well, if you have my number 😉 ), email, msn… how do people choose?  And is it not surprising that problems occur when we don’t check all of these different places for messages every day?
The other thing I quickly wanted to address tonight is why I am writing this blog.  In my introductory post I was in a bit of a crazy mood and I was being inspired by Bai Ling‘s insanity… but now I realise that that is something special that cannot be duplicated!  As fun as it sounded at the time, I don’t really think I am into aping Bai Ling (well, not often). And surprisingly, I have my own things to say! I’m touched that people are taking the time to read, be it my views on relationships, the internet, sexuality or just life, and the music reviews and videos and downloads I post for you all. 🙂  It’s thrilling that I can share myself so openly with you all, and I’m touched that you are all reading it and keeping up with me! I hope that you keep coming back because at the moment I still have plenty to write about (how’s that for tempting writer’s block! 😛 ) and I have lots of music-related stuff in store also. 😉 At the end of the day, this blog allows me to communicate in a more full way than twitter (my other current favourite avenue of inet-based communication), which is definitely great for on-the-go updates of where I am and what I’m doing… but this blog here allows me to expose my thoughts and communicate with you all on a deeper level.  Thankyou for listening, and please don’t hesitate to communicate with me, however you prefer.
h1

Singing Whitney Houston – I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.

July 23, 2009

Okay, after applying for yet another job today, and working on my final song for my album (which is proving just not to want to obey me!  Making slow progress though… deadline is still July 31st!!!), I realised that I am in good voice.  So I decided to record myself singing a song.  And I have been enjoying Whitney Houston’s new song “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength”, taken from her upcoming comeback album I Look To You.  I can’t imagine this album not doing well… it has so much promotion and attention behind it, and Whitney genuinely sounds in good voice. We’ll see.. fingers crossed.  So here is a video of me on youtube (channel = onyxparadise) singing the song!  I hope you enjoy it.  Things I am already aware that I need to improve:

  • I have to learn to keep my damn head still in front of the camera!  To me, this is the biggest thing… I guess I’m n2da music haha.
  • I must speak less at the beginning of songs.  And remember to use my low voice lol.
  • I need to make my falsetto a bit more gritty… though tbh I doubt that is going to change, this is my voice and at least I can do all the notes!

Other than those things, I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out!  If you want to compare it with the original, you can stream that here.  And below is my version, acapella!  I hope that you enjoy it… and I hope to do more and better videos for y’all in the future! 🙂

h1

veterans.

July 21, 2009

I opened up Crunk + Disorderly yesterday morning and was confronted by this post about Cyndi Lauper & Lil’ Kim’s recent performance at the Nelson Mandela concert.  Kim looked fantastic (better and better, certainly an improvement on recent years, with her weight back down and her face not looking so exaggeratedly plastic), and I was intrigued to watch the performance.

I was blown away.

Okay, Cyndi Lauper sounded like a goat at the start, and I’m not used to hearing the classic “Time After Time” over a hip-hop-lite beat.  But then Kim opened her mouth and sang, and my jaw dropped to the floor. Kim is a fantastic rapper, and the undisputed best female we have (especially since Foxy, Eve and Lauryn have all but vacated their seats) in the current game.  I remember ordering her Notorious KIM album from amazon, and bringing it to school on the day it arrived and causing a storm because I was listening to explicit material (I was 14! but it was a private school, so who knows 😉 ).  I did feel a thrill in playing it to my friends and listening to a woman spit explicitly sexual rhymes over exciting space-pop-hop beats, and ultimately I’ve become a fan of hers who possesses all her albums.  Her records are never anything less than lyrically complex and sonically thrilling.  But between albums, Kim doesn’t seem to be so consistent with her promotion nor her other ventures, so this video of her singing “Time After Time” was a beautiful surprise.  As was the fact that, although she sounded a little shaky (although she’s gotten flack for ‘singing’ on her rap records, she generally keeps in tune and the songs are always fun and playful), her voice was beautiful and hit the notes more or less consistently through the performance.

When it segued into “Lighters Up”, and Kim and Cyndi both traded rhymes, I was impressed at both of them for fusing their styles into something heartfelt and potentially classic: it was an unforgettable moment.  I hope you enjoy the video, because after her run on Dancing With The Stars was unfairly cut short, Kim seems much more dedicated to proving just competent and talented an entertainer is, and showing us more facets of who she is other than through rapping.  It was something a little different, but taking risks does pay off, and Lil’ Kim proved she is a veteran of the rap game who can do things other rappers just don’t do (Lauryn did, but not anymore… I guess Missy and Queen Latifah are also exceptions, but then they’re also veterans too, in their own ways).  I hope you enjoy the performance as much as I did.

This goes to show that the truly talented can never be counted out: Madonna, Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, among many others always have a fanbase to come home to, as long as they keep displaying their talented and the reason why they are legends.  Whitney Houston’s new album I Look To You will drop in August, and I have a feeling it might be her turn now… although the leaked tracks from the record don’t sound amazing, the set looks like it will sound classy and restrained and come from an emotionally mature place following her troubles of the past few years.  At the end of the day, if you still have it, then you have nothing to be afraid of because nobody can take your talent away; you have to surrender it.  And in the long run, it’s the veterans who never give up.

h1

Brooke knows best.

July 15, 2009

Yesterday I received this tweet from an online buddy of mine:

DonCortez@onyxparadise you losin’ cool pts. with that B. Hogan commentt smh

Allow me to explain.  In the last week or so, I’ve been notching up the ipod plays on Brooke Hogan’s new mixtape Judgment Day. I downloaded her first album Undiscovered when it came out, and it took me until a trip to Paris and the Virgin Megastore on the Champs-Elysées (where I also finally managed to pick up Tamia’s stellar Between Friends album, and Lumidee’s Undiscovered which was a surprisingly strong listen) until I could get my hands on the cd.  By this point, some of the album was admittedly filler but other songs had revealed themselves to be pleasantly solid :

Those are my two highlights from the first album.  At the time, Brooke Hogan was being compared with Paris Hilton, who had also come fresh off reality tv success and had just released a pop album.  Both albums pretty much bombed on the charts, but the feeling was that Paris’ album was the better of the two because the songwriting was so solid.  When it came out, I played Paris’ album quite a lot and the songs were guilty pleasures, but nowadays Brooke Hogan is the one that I’m still playing. The two songs above are examples of solid contemporary R&B/Pop songwriting, and I still play them regularly today.  Vocally, Brooke Hogan isn’t going to be Mariah Carey or Christina Aguilera anytime soon, but she can sing rings round Paris Hilton, and on her new album The Redemption it’s apparent that her vocals have improved.

IMO, some of the songs on the mixtape are better than some which made the album.  The Judgment Day mixtape has more of a credible urban feel, whereas The Redemption album proper is more poppy, though there are still some R&B tracks to be found.  Between the two, there is an album’s worth of strong material, and I’m definitely going to get repeated spins out of them. I think that although I’m more or less oblivious to what happened on Hogan Knows Best and Brooke Knows Best, and although my knowledge of her rift with her mother (explored on the album’s incendiary “Dear Mom…”) is limited since I stopped reading Perez Hilton (and you should too, he is a prize fool), I enjoy what I enjoy and Brooke Hogan makes solid music and has a serviceable voice, whatever her reputation.  And that is what’s most important to me when I’m listening to someone on my ipod, because although it’s inevitable that we want to know the background to our favourite stars and new celebrities alike, it’s not their reputation who sings on the record or crafts their beats.

So I just thought I would defend myself against my friend’s lil’ comment at me, haha, and also dedicate some time out of my own personal life to promote Brooke Hogan, because if I were in her shoes, I would appreciate some helpful promotion so that my music got heard.  After all, I’ll be in that position soon enough, here’s to hoping!

To close, some of the best new songs from the Judgment Day mixtape (the first two videos) and Redemption album (the last three).  Check them out!