Top 20 Unheard Tracks of 2015

This has been an amazing year for music! Honestly, probably one of the best years for music in a long, long time. But I was thinking...unless you go out and buy CDs or religiously listen to full albums on iTunes or Spotify, you're probably only familiar with the singles that artists released to the general airwaves. If that's the case, you've missed out on tons and tons of great tracks from your favorites artists! 

SO, as 2015 comes to a close, I wanted to share with you some incredible songs that you probably 
DIDN'T hear this year, but SHOULD HAVE!

You may actually recognize a couple tracks on this list, but for the most part, these songs flew under the radar instead of getting the spotlight that they deserved. So here we go: Here are my Top 20 Unheard Tracks of 2015!

Enjoy the list, and I'll see you in the New Year!

20. “Together” by Ella Eyre, Together
This song is probably the most recognizable off this list. Still an underrated gem!

19. “Double Vision” by Prince Royce (feat. Tyga), Double Vision
He’s been bae since I saw him at Ariana Grande’s The Honeymoon Tour. That’s all.

18. “I Got You” by Ciara, Jackie
Jackie was an amazing album to come out of 2015, and her sweet motherhood ballad is not one to be missed.

17. “Lighter” by Miley Cyrus, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz
I could’ve picked ANY song off of MC’s Dead Petz album and threw it on this list, because not many people took the time to go to SoundCloud and check out her amazing new album! MC gets such a bad rep, but her artistry and talent are off the charts, and “Lighter” is just one of many incredible songs that MC released this year. Check out her full album on SoundCloud when you get the chance!

16. “We Can’t Move To This” by Ellie Goulding, Delirium
I don’t understand why more people aren’t raving about EG’s Delirium! Nearly every song on the album will either move your body or move your heart. “We Can’t Move To This,” ironically, will move both!

15. “Bad For You” by Meek Mill (feat. Nicki Minaj), Dreams Worth More Than Money
One of the main reasons why I like this song is that Nicki Minaj builds off of her incredibly vulnerable Pinkprint persona and harnesses her emotions towards the main man in her life, Meek. “Bad For You” is a downright example of a perfect, modern love song. Also see “All Eyes On You.”

14. “Without” by Years & Years, Communion
Just listen.

13. “Brave Honest Beautiful” by Fifth Harmony (feat. Meghan Trainor), Reflection
I know I’ve written endlessly about Fifth Harmony, so I’ll keep it short: They know their stuff. They know how to throwback and honor their idols, while still blazing a unique trail of their own. “Brave Honest Beautiful” is an incredibly fun song that you need to hear.

12. “Pity Party” by Melanie Martinez, Cry Baby
This chick is literally crazy AF, and I love it. That’s all.

11. “Smile” by Mikky Ekko, Time
If you had a rough 2015, just remember, “Smile. The worst is yet to come.” Powerful song that should’ve topped the charts this year. Check it out! P.S.: Mikky Ekko is the father of my children.

10. “I Was Made For Loving You” by Tori Kelly (feat. Ed Sheeran), Unbreakable Smile
All jokes aside, I want this to be the song that I dance to at my wedding. So don’t steal it!

9. “Stars” by Demi Lovato, Confident
Confident is probably one of the top 3 albums of 2015, in my mind. It’s full of pain, love, and emotion that everyone can relate to. “Stars” is just a feel good song that makes me feel like I can take on the world!

8. “I Didn’t Just Come Here To Dance” by Carly Rae Jepsen, Emotion
Who knew that CRJ could be so sexy and risqué? This song = me.

7. “Iconic” by Madonna (feat. Chance The Rapper, Mike Tyson), Rebel Heart
Any song that has Mike Tyson as a featured artist should be on ALL of the “Best Of” lists. No, but for real, this song is HOT.

6. “New Bohemia” by Transviolet, Transviolet
I have been with this band since the beginning! I absolutely freaked out at U Street Music Hall when they opened for Mikky Ekko. I can’t wait to see what 2016 has planned for them!

5. “Fire N Gold” by Bea Miller, Not An Apology
This may sound like a teenaged-emo track, but this song really, really moved me this year. Whenever I would be feeling down-and-out, I would just press play and remember that I’ve got “fire n gold” in my eyes. So cheesy, but so, so powerful. This is why I love music.

4. “Why Me” by Jess Glynne, I Cry When I Laugh
Jess Glynne has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard. She’s the definition of a “hidden gem.” Can’t wait to see her next month at her SOLD OUT show at 9:30 Club!

3. “Love Me Or Leave Me” by Little Mix, Get Weird
If you went through a tough breakup this year…you probably shouldn’t listen to this song. You will cry. But just remember, it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all!

2. “Salvatore” by Lana del Rey, Honeymoon
Honeymoon was the most underrated album of 2015. HANDS DOWN. I was glad to see “High By the Beach” gain traction with some mainstream audiences, but the album as a whole should have gotten way more attention than it did. I picked “Salvatore” for this list, because it amazes me how Lana del Rey can seamlessly make tragedy sexy, while adding a scoop of “soft ice cream” on top.

1. “River of Tears” by Alessia Cara, Know-It-All
Like “Love Me Or Leave Me,” “River of Tears” is another tearjerker. But I HAD to make it number one on this list, because Alessia Cara was the artist that made the biggest impression on me this year. Each and every song on Know-It-All spoke to me in a way that no other artist did. If you were to check out ONE artist on this list, please let it be Alessia Cara. If you're in the D.C. area, make sure to check out her show next month at 9:30 Club!

New Tracks Tuesday - November 24, 2015

It's been a while! But I'm back! It's a holiday week, so I'll keep this short and sweet. Hope you enjoy these tracks as much as I have!

“My Song” – Alessia Cara
Alessia Cara is seriously one of the most underrated singer-songwriters in the field right now. Her music is infused with tremendously valuable wisdom about self-identity and self-love, which has really impacted my life recently. It blows my mind that this 19 year-old has learned lessons that I hadn’t even recognized were potential problems in my own life! You’ve probably heard her massive-hit single, “Here,” a straight-edge narrative about being true to oneself during an eye roll-worthy crowded party, surrounded by people who care only about finding solace in their superficiality. “My Song” is similar in rhetoric. She sings about literally marching to the beat of your own, self-penned drum. She coolly sings, “I may never be what you assume. Don’t want your hooks or auto-tune…Oh and maybe you will learn this when I’m gone: My song will carry on.” This girl has got it down! She is the voice of a nonconformist generation which needs to be heard by people both younger and older than her. I know plenty of people in their 30s and 40s who could learn a thing or two from what she’s teaching. Keep an eye on her. A+, Earworm of the Week

“Hell No’s and Headphones” – Hailee Steinfeld
Hailee Steinfeld is another young artist who carries a nonconformist sentiment. What first drew me to this song was my weakness for electroharmony. If there’s any hint of electroharmony at the beginning of a track, 99% of the time I will favorite/like/download on iTunes/share on FB/add it to a playlist on Spotify/and Tweet the artist….all within 30 seconds of hearing the initial riff. Needless to say, I was pulled in by her voice, but stayed for the message. Again, like Alessia, Hailee draws for the listener a picture of a sad, desperate party scene that she’s anxious to escape. She sings, “I don't judge what's on your tongue. Yeah, I know you're having ‘fun.’ But I'll stick with hell no's and headphones.” So she quietly exits the scene, pops in her earbuds, and goes on her way, content and at peace. Sounds like my kind of girl. Check out her EP when you get a chance. It’s fantastic! A-

“Refuse” – Kevin Garrett
Okay, this is the third song in my post, and I just had a thought. These young millennials are really putting my peers to shame. They are so young, but have their lives more together than most people I know who are 10 or 20 years older than them. They’re aging us and making us look like losers, guys! We need to get our act together. I’ll keep this review brief: Piano. Voice echoes. Crystal clear falsetto. Lyrics like, “People try to change me since my youth. But I refuse.” ‘Nuff said. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he’s touring with Alessia Cara next year…That’s a show I HAVE to see. A

“Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” – Adele
Let’s face it. For the past few days you have been unable to escape Adele. AND YOU’RE LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT! Well, if you’re like me, you are obsessed with this song. Not only does it speak to your soul, but with the right remix, it’s clubworthy! It’s got the charm of a T. Swift revenge track (which makes sense since Max Martin produced it…along with Tay’s “Shake It Off,” “Bad Blood,” and “Blank Space”) with the baseline essence only Adele can exude. 25 is amazing in general, but SML is a standout hit! (Sadly...Adele YouTube audio is limited...So go buy her album and listen to this song for yourself!) A-

Too Cute Beyond Words: “Grown” – Little Mix

New Tracks Tuesday - September 8, 2015

I am LOVING the music I've been reviewing lately. I've noticed that I haven't been giving many negative reviews...BUT THAT'S BECAUSE ALL THIS MUSIC IS FAN-TAST-IC!!!! Hope you enjoy these great, handpicked new tracks!

“Bloodstream”- Transviolet
Transviolet is proving more and more, every day, that they are my new favorite band. They captured me mercilessly with their hit “Girls Your Age,” and have continued to hold me captive with their follow-up “Bloodstream.” On a random note, the music in this song makes me want to run away from the law, in the dead of night, in the woods… Don’t know why I shared that with you, but I cannot hide my true feelings! Anyways! This song is incredibly sexy, and reveals the thinning lines between addiction, lust, and love. They never fail to send chills down my spine. Please check them out! I’m expecting HUGE things to come from them and I do NOT want you to miss out. (Also, they are going on tour with Mikky Ekko in October. You may remember a little, ‘ole duet that Mikky did with a small town girl named….RIHANNA! And that little, ‘ole duet was the MASSIVE HIT “STAY”!!!! It’s a win-win to see him AND Transviolet! You can find out about ticket information on their Facebook page.) A+, Earworm of the Week

 “New Obsession”- Frankie
Wow! Frankie has reinstated my faltering faith in people named Frankie (I’m looking at you Frankie Grande…). This Oakland native’s fresh track “New Obsession” is exactly the song I needed to end this summer with a BANG! Her smooth and cutesy charm will draw you in, but by the chorus you will feel the heavy punch that she’s got behind her voice! In her song, she claims to have “tricks” and “moves,” and let me tell you….SHE DOES! I think I have found a NEW OBSESSION! (pun intended) Can’t wait to hear more of her music soon! A

“Rescue”- ZZ Ward
I’ve heard ZZ Ward’s name thrown around a lot within the last few years, but I never got the chance to check out her music. For some reason, the name threw me off and reminded me of some type of heavy, death metal band. So I naturally stayed away. I’m SO SAD I DID! I could listen to her sweet and crackly voice all day long. If you’re looking to get better acquainted with ZZ Ward, “Rescue” is the perfect song to start with. It’s a powerful, crescendoing anthem about complete and utter dedication to unconditional love. (P.S. Her real name is Zsuzsanna….I HAVE NOW OFFICIALLY PICKED OUT MY FIRST BORN’S NAME.) A

“U12”- Daya
You know when you hear a song that’s so filled-to-the-brim with soul, that you can’t handle it? Daya’s “U12” is a perfect example of when this occurs. The song is drenched in electro beats, but, at the same time, it couldn’t be more emotional and human. Daya takes a simple message about love and transforms it into an electro-R&B, complex movement. LOVE IT! (Also, this song incorporates number play, which I will always and forever be obsessed with. I’ve had Brian McKnight’s “Back at One” on repeat since the 90s…) A-

“My Love Is Strong”- The Furious Seasons
If the band Lynyrd Skynyrd somehow had a love child with Bob Dylan, The Furious Seasons would be the result of that torrid love affair. In “My Love Is Strong,” The Furious Seasons present an original sound to the Americana and folk genre! The vocals are whimsical, but tight, and the lyrics paint a picture of love that can’t be denied. On top of that, David Steinhart on the electric guitar…SICK! Americana and folk music can be an acquired taste for some people, but if you’re new to the genres and are looking to jump in, The Furious Seasons is a GREAT place to start. You may find that your love, too, is strong for them….(see what I did there??) B+

Too Cute Beyond Words: “Gave Me Something”- Jess Glynne

New Tracks Exclusive: The Como Brothers Band

You know that inoffensive, forgettable pop band that your mom RAVES about and makes her feel like she’s hip with the times? The type of band who tries really hard to relate to 18 to 34 year-olds, but in reality they have a strong, unintentional following of parents over 50? That band is most likely The Como Brothers Band

On paper, these two brothers should be fully-realized pop stars. They’re cute, have great voices, and their songs are tight and well-rehearsed. But they are lacking that edge and provocation that would separate them from the innocuous Josh Grobans and Michael Bubles of the world.

When you listen to their new EP Imagination, all you will find yourself doing is making comments like, “Oh, this song sounds like Maroon 5,” or, “Hmm, I hear John Mayer’s style in those instrumentals.” The Como Brothers are kind of a Frankenstein’s monster of male, pop musicians. They take little pieces from every artist and incorporate/imitate them in their own music. I mean, even the letter “M” in their band logo looks exactly like the “M” in Maroon 5’s logo. 

Don’t get me wrong, The Como Brothers Band’s music is pleasing and sounds nice. But, unfortunately, they are extremely forgettable. The only time any personality shone through in the EP was when Andrew Como fooled around with some staccato diction when singing “Tell You I’m Fine.” Other than that, the EP falls flat and turns into a bland, conforming mess. My advice to the two boys: Go back to the drawing table. You two clearly have talent, so don’t be afraid to experiment, to be edgy, and to be original. B-

New Tracks Exclusive: bitter's kiss

OMG!!!! My heart is racing because I just finished listening to an INCREDIBLE album and I’m trying to type as fast as I can because I want to get this out to you all ASAP!!!!!!!!!!! :::Collecting my thoughts and emotions. Breathe::: Okay. Let’s go.

Let me just give you the quick 411 on this artist: 1. Her name is Chloe Baker, and she’s in a duo with her father called bitter’s kiss. 2. Lana del Rey’s voice/melancholy + Lorde’s instrumentals + Taylor Swift’s heart and lyrics = bitter’s kiss. 3. I was brought to tears twice listening to her debut album, (also called) bitter’s kiss.

Okay, now that I’ve pulled myself together, here’s the review:

bitter’s kiss is full of paradoxes, emotional twists and turns, and complete infusions of actual life. My jaw dropped when I read that Chloe has only been taking music seriously within the last couple years and cranked out this album within a few months. My jaw dropped AGAIN when I came to the conclusion that she didn’t have any big-name writers or producers backing her up while putting together this album. That fact is astounding because the music sounds and feels absolutely polished and professional, and quite frankly, ready for the airwaves!

Chloe is the sort of artist that can sing about a simple, happy situation but make you only feel sadness and a bit of dread. On the flip side, she can also do the reverse; sing about sadness but still give off an aura of hope. For example, in the song “Love Won’t Make You Cry,” Chloe sings about the happiness that love brings into your life. But throughout the whole song, her voice only conveyed the opposite. Though she doesn’t outright say it, she completely blasts the idealism of love, without saying one negative thing about it. “Love Won’t Make You Cry” reveals that love has only brought her pain and sadness. It’s kind of cool, because if you take the song’s message at face value, it would be a go-to for a content and happy lover. But it can also be a go-to for the brokenhearted. DO YOU SEE HOW AMAZING THAT IS?! THAT ONE SONG CAN MEAN TWO DIFFERENT THINGS TO TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SETS OF PEOPLE!? THIS IS THE DEFINTION OF THE POWER OF MUSIC! Needless to say, listening to this song was the FIRST occurrence of tears being brought to my eyes.

On the other side of the spectrum, there is the depressive track, “No One Will.” This is a completely pessimistic song about the inevitable doom of love and relationships. For some reason, even though this song blatantly puts love on blast, I found it an extremely hopeful track! The whole time I just imagined Chloe on a soapbox preaching to the masses about the futility of love, only to step down off her box when she’s finished and come unexpectedly face to face with her soulmate. That is the vibe and feeling that bitter’s kiss gives off. This album shows that love and life are never what you think they will be, and that they will always turn your life upside down and crush your expectations, for both the better and the worse. Absolutely incredible.

There’s one last thing I want to say about bitter’s kiss. I always like to conduct a certain experiment when it comes to listening to a fresh artist. I pick a song, any song, and just focus on the instrumentals and the voice, completely tuning out the lyrics and message. I’m always curious to see the effect that the pure notes have on me. I tried this during “Bitter’s Kiss.” This was the second occurrence of tears rising to my eyes.

I’m telling you, this girl has an amazingly unique talent. To have the ability to convey life the way she does is incredibly difficult to achieve, and makes me anxious and impatient to hear more from her as she grows older and experiences more life. A


Number of times I used a form of “incredible” in this post: 4
Number of times I used a form of “amazing” in this post: 3

Yes, I’m aware I need to rotate more positive adjectives in my reviews, but I was in a rush and couldn’t wait to share bitter’s kiss with you. It’s an incredibly amazing album (make that 5 and 4)! Make sure to follow bitter's kiss on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on new music, shows, and what they're up to!

Fifth Harmony's The Reflection Tour Review (a.k.a. Tweens, Screams, and Diva Queens)

Camila. Lauren. Dinah Jane. Ally. Normani. YES. I was able to see them last night in ALL THEIR Mini-Beyonces-in-Training glory!!!!!! If you don't recognize those names, maybe you'll recognize their girl band name: FIFTH HARMONY!!!!

Let me start out by saying that I wasn’t planning on going to see them. But a week ago, I started re-listening to their album Reflection (which is also one of my Flavors of the Week), and I fell in love with them all over again. I made a decision then and there that I HAD to see them! The only problem was getting decently priced tickets, seeing that the show was basically sold out, and the worst seats in the house were going for $200 apiece. Umm, baby boy over here is on a B-U-D-G-E-T and I ain’t got time for that!

Seeing those resale prices made me nearly faint in despair, but I hunted through Craigslist every hour on the hour for five days, holding out hope for a couple miracle tickets. The thing with CL is that a lot of third-party resellers spam and blow up CL with sketchy and overpriced offers. Scrolling through these spammy ads deepened my desperation. But suddenly out of nowhere, a nice little ad appeared and read “2 Fifth Harmony tix for sale. $35 each.” MY EYES NEARLY ROLLED OUT OF MY HEAD! I immediately messaged this person begging for the tickets. He didn't mention the seat numbers/section, but I didn’t care! I blindly offered him $50 apiece to secure these mystery tickets! Come to find out, they were comp tickets, and he wouldn’t know what the seat numbers would be until he picked them up at will-call the day of the show, two hours before show time.

Needless to say, I was taking a major major chance on this dude. I met him on the corner of 13 & F (a block away from Warner Theater), and my expectations were blown out of the water. THESE SEATS WERE SIX ROWS FROM THE FRONT AND WERE CENTER ORCHESTRA!!!! LITERALLY THE MOST PERFECT SEATS IN THE HOUSE!!!!! THANK YOU MAN-WHO-SHALL-REMAIN-NAMELESS!!! I HOPE YOU AND YOUR BOYFRIEND HAD A GOOD NIGHT MISSING OUT ON THE SHOW! One man’s trash is another’s treasure for sure. Not only did I secure perfect seats, I paid WAY below original retail value. SCORE!

So, I rolled up to the theater around 7 or 8 and I yelled to the cabbie, “Yo---“ errrr, sorry wrong story. No, but for real, I got to the theater around 7:30 p.m. There was a line wrapped around the entire block. It was crazy! But funny enough, I felt really
at home with all these giddy preteens shaking and squealing with Fifth Harmony excitement! Now THESE ARE MY PEEPS!

Immediately after getting through the horrendously long line, we were ushered into the lobby of the tiny Warner Theater. I had forgotten how SMALL the place is. The last time I was there was for my 16th birthday to see a Tyler Perry musical (I'm not ashamed of my teenage-TP obsession). Granted, FH is not popular enough to sell out arenas and stadiums yet (but don’t worry, they will be very soon), but I feel like they could have handled a somewhat larger venue, like the Patriot Center (Now recently renamed EagleBank Arena. I do not approve of the name change.). Anyhow, we squeezed between all the tweens and tired, stressed out parent chaperones, and made it to the bar to get our vodka-on-the-rocks on (which I basically inhaled during the walk between the bar and our seats).

After chugging my vodka, we arrived at our front orchestra seats to find them occupied by three little tween girls chatting and obnoxiously giggling over their Instagram accounts. Enter me: “Umm, excuse me ladies. I think you’re in our seats.” Tweens and accompanying eyerolls: “Um. Whatever.”  They then proceeded to scoot down two more seats to let us sit. They eventually were booted from the row due to their unlawful seat hopping. Some advice tweenies: GO BACK TO THE NOSEBLEED, BALCONY SEATS WHERE YOU BELONG! Leave the orchestra section to the adults who worked hard to pay for these immaculate seats (or to the two guys who randomly hit the CL jackpot…but nevertheless!). Apparently, row hopping was a very hip thing to do, seeing as the young crowd seemed to ebb and flow between seats and sections. Kinda annoying. Kinda felt like a bitter, old man. Not cool kids...not cool.

First up was Natalie La Rose! I was actually very impressed with her! Her set was simple and had two very talented back up dancers onstage with her. If you don’t know NLR, she is the artist who sings “Somebody,” which is a current hit on the airwaves. She’s beautiful, inside and out. She has a genuine love for the audience and fans, and her positive spirit literally radiates from within her. Couldn’t have been more happy! A standout moment in her set was when Lauren and Dinah Jane came out and performed “Somebody” with NLR. The crowd went wild over the surprise FH cameo (my ears still haven’t recovered from the piercingly painful preteen shrieks)! I’m usually not a fan of pre-show cameos, because I prefer to see them for the first time when their actual set starts. But I LOVED it when they did it! So great and fun!

The second opener was an artist who I had never heard of before: Bea Miller. She’s a spunky, 16 year-old rocker chick. She was cool. She seemed to be extremely popular with the young girls. It wasn’t until her last song, “Fire N Gold”, that I recognized her music.

OMG! How could I forget this little detail! Both NLR and Bea Miller covered Nick Jonas songs. NLR covered “Jealous” and Bea Miller covered “Chains.” I found that a bit odd, but the NJ thread got stranger as the night went on….You’ll understand what I mean in a second.

After Bea, I was ready for FH! I was pumped!!!! The house went dark. The music started thumping. The audience went nuts with excitement! I knew it was time! Then spotlights shone on a guitarist rocking out in the middle of the audience! A band was jamming with him on stage. I thought, “Wow Fifth Harmony! I love this setup!” Boy, what a letdown. Come to find out they were a THIRD opener called Common Kings, a reggae rock group, that was VERY out of place in the show. They were all probably mid-thirty guys who were trying to look like they were younger, desperately trying to breathe life into a disinterested crowd. It was super awkward. I sat down. Fifth Harmony must have sensed how life-draining Common Kings were, because Dinah Jane and Normani came on stage and started dancing. NOW everyone was on their feet, including myself!

After the Common :::::yaaawwwwwwwn:::::: Kings were done with their set, tour crew members were hustling and bustling on stage, clearing the floor for FH's heavenly arrival. And, ohhhhh, did they ever arrive majestically. You can see the whole opening song below. Their solo, silhouette dance intros were to DIE for! I’m a huge advocate for silhouette dance openers. Nothing better!

I really appreciated the set direction. The back of the stage was a jumbo video screen that they would frequently go up to when singing in unison, before strutting down a mirror staircase to the front of the stage where eager fans awaited!. Lined up from stage
left, all the way up and around the screen to stage right were massive flash umbrellas, which set the DIVA tone to the MAX!

The girls’ live vocals were ON POINT during the whole show! And I was impressed with how they allowed each other to show off their individual skill sets throughout the concert. Very, very mature for them to share the stage equally. You also got a sense of their musical inspirations. You can unmistakably catch them channel Beyonce, Rihanna, Mariah, and Shakira, to name a few. Some people criticize FH for being “copycats” of other artists. I could not disagree MORE! They are starting off their careers right by acknowledging and thanking their predecessors and musical role models. Such class! In the long run, that is only going to be a positive for them. Way to go ladies!

Okay. Each and every one of these girls can dance (Special MVP shoutout to Normani. That girl can DANCE LIKE BEYONCE!). But, there were a few stumbles that occurred throughout the show. During a transition between songs, the girls (in the dark) each stood on top of a chair, getting ready for the lights to dramatically rise for the next song. When the lights went up, Lauren was awkwardly trying to keep her balance and nearly fell off her chair during the first line of the song. Kind of awkward. Also, even though I adore her, Ally’s stage presence is a bit awkward. She ran into a couple of the other band members a few time while dancing. When she's not singing, she seems a bit insecure and unsure of herself. But I know this will go away in due time.

Going back to the Nick Jonas thing…I can’t remember which song it was exactly, but FH covered NICK JONAS AGAIN! It was either “Chains” or “Jealous.” My jaw dropped, because how can they sing a cover that one of their openers performed!?!?! Three NJ covers in one show?!?! And two of the performances were of the same song???? Super strange... Nick Jonas must be blackmailing them or something, because there seemed to be major Jonas brown nosing going on during the whole show. So weird….

Another moment that threw me off was when they showed a long video around the middle of the concert. The girls were off stage, and the audience was left watching this strange, colorful video on the jumbo screen while the a recording of the ladies talking about “being yourself” played over the speakers. It was very long, so I assumed the purpose of the video was to allow FH time for a costume change! Yea, I was wrong. Following the video, they confidently strutted back on stage in the same royal blue outfits. Kind of a letdown, but I’ll give them a pass. Next tour, I expect at least THREE costume changes ladies! Kthanks.

This was FH’s first headlining tour, and they’ve got PLENTY of time to brush up and perfect their crafts. I’ve seen the ladies perform twice before. One time at DC Jingle Ball 2013 and then when they opened for Demi Lovato last year. They have made strides of improvement since then, and I expect them to keep growing musically and doing their thang!

The set list for the night was as follows:

1. "Boss"
2. "Reflection"
3. "Going Nowhere"
4. "Miss Movin' On" / "We Will Rock You" / "Bad Blood" / "Bitch Better Have My Money"
5. "Sledgehammer"
6. "Suga Mama"
7. "Them Girls Be Like"
8. "Top Down"
9. "Better Together"
10. "This Is How We Roll"
11. "Brave Honest Beautiful"
12. "Like Mariah"
13. "We Know"
14. "Who Are You"
15. Either “Jealous” or "Chains" (I forgo which, but they def covered one of those two songs)
16. "Everlasting Love"
17. "Worth It"
Encore: “Body Rock”

Show Highlights:

-Being so freaking close to the stage! I could practically see each individual strand of Dinah Jane’s extensions!

-The confetti cannons at the end were RIDICULOUS! Almost all concerts nowadays end with a dramatic confetti cannon finale. But these cannons literally were dumped on the audience. SO MUCH CONFETTI! IT WAS A CONFETTI WATERFALL. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face because the colorful little shreds of paper were attacking all of your body’s five senses. Absolutely insane…and I loved it.

-Also during the finale, I loved how all the opening acts (minus Bea Arthur…sorry, Bea MILLER) came to dance and bow out with the ladies. It made the show feel like it came full-circle. Great touch.

-As I mentioned before, Normani was MVP. She clearly has the strongest dance skills in the group, and she really connects with the audience. She did a fabulous job. If any of the FH ladies were to pull a Beyonce in the future and split off with a successful career, it will be Normani.

-Camila was a joy to watch. She was so erratic and giddy on stage, which made the show feel so spontaneous and fun. Props to her!

-Three words: FIFTH. HARMONY. JERSEYS. Black and gold trim and letterings. MUST HAVE ONE!

All in all, The Reflection Tour was a success! Had such a great time and experience, and I can’t wait for the girls to go on tour again! Make sure to buy their album, it is AMAZING! And follow them on Twitter! The ladies are up for a VMA on Sunday, so some really cool things are going to be happening with them! Can’t wait to see what’s in store!

New Tracks Exclusive: Ben Lorentzen

When I’m listening to folk rock, there are only a few attributes that I’m looking for in an artist or band. First, I’m looking for sparkling story-weaving that will take you on a journey from start to finish. Second, I’m listening out for that grassroots sound that has defined folk for decades and decades. Lastly, I’m searching for basic human connection. Though the storytelling can be specific about an issue, event, person, etc., it HAS to be relatable and speak to all hearts.

Listening through singer/songwriter Ben Lorentzen’s new album, America, I felt confused. On one hand, he has mastered his sound perfectly. His instrumentals are haunting, stunning, and downright dazzling throughout the album. The storytelling though, is lacking. In the first half of the album, most of the songs were heavy with repetitious lyrics, and not in a good way. As a result, the stories never get off the ground, and leave the listener with a massive disconnection to the music. It wasn’t that his story or lyrics were too simple (because simple can be powerful). Instead, it was more like there was no story at all. For example, in “The Ugliest Girl in the World,” all we know is that there is a girl, and she’s ugly, poor, and has a black soul. But to the singer, she’s the most beautiful girl in the world. There’s no call to action. Okay, now what do we do with that? Much like the whole album, this track was extremely open-ended and never resolved itself. This can be maddening when expecting to be transported by powerful storytelling.

With the exceptions of “Heap of Ashes” and “Masters of War,” the album left me wanting more from Lorentzen. Maybe next time. C