Blog Archives

Review: ‘The Search for Everything’.

John Mayer’s latest album, “The Search for Everything”.

I’m so excited for today – a new semester of my Blog Class kicks off at UT – plus, we’re halfway through the week! I know I was pret-ty skeptical of John Mayer’s latest album a few months ago, when we were only given a measly four songs per month.

But, now that it’s been released in its entirety (I actually got a free copy with the purchase of a concert ticket), and I’ve had a chance to listen to it – in my car and in my earbuds – and have heard a few songs from it live, I think I’ve got a grasp on my opinions.

From the jump, in general: I like it. Is it my favorite album? Nope. But there are definitely some gems that cannot (and will not) be ignored in the entirely of Mayer’s career. Here’s my take.

Best song: In the Blood 

If you’re looking for one of those typical John Mayer songs that’s got genius lyrics and is going to cleverly teach you some life lessons, THIS is the one.

Although we’ve been told from Mayer before that he’s aware of his ways (you know what I’m talking about), this song really seems to drive it home, while also discussing his family life – which he’s alluded to in a few previous songs.

“In the Blood” has been released to country radio stations as his next single.

How much of my father am I destined to become?
Will I dim the lights inside me just to satisfy someone?
Will I let this woman kill me, or do away with jealous love?
Will it wash out in the water, or is it always in the blood?

I can feel the love I want, I can feel the love I need
But it’s never gonna come the way I am
Could I change it if I wanted, can I rise above the flood?
Will it wash out in the water, or is it always in the blood?

I still really like “Love on the Weekend”, and it will probably remain to be a favorite of mine – I’ve had too many long distance relationships and understand what he’s singing about all TOO well.

There’s two upbeat tracks that are really fun: “Still Feel Like Your Man” (which Mayer admitted was about Katy Perry), and “Moving On and Getting Over”, which I had the pleasure of hearing live. It was fantastic. Many critics said this album was Mayer’s “return to pop”, but I disagree, and I think these two tracks are fair proof that he’s still going his own way.

And finally, there’s “Rosie”, which reminds me of early 90’s Lenny Kravtiz – loungey blues with desperate love lyrics. It’s catchy as hell, and makes for a good ear worm.

Yes, there’s a few other tracks stuffed in… and they may as well go forgotten. I’m not even going to pretend like a song titled “Emoji of a Wave” is worth my shit. Not even for John Mayer.

It’s no “Battle Studies”, but I definitely feel like we got a lot of hype for this one that was perhaps unwarranted. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll hold me over, but I can’t help but wonder if Mayer is suffering from a little bit of writer’s block.

In albums’ passed, we’ve gone on a journey with him over heartbreak (admittedly the ones we saw play out in the tabloids), his life as a famous person (before moving West), his family, and his struggle with getting older.

But is his journey over? His life is quiet now, and although that’s good for him, it sometimes isn’t good for the art. Been there, done that.

We were spoiled with the release of “Born and Raised” and then right afterward (#blessed) with “Paradise Valley”. It miiight be awhile before we hear from Mayer again, despite his claims that he’s got a vault of songs that were meant for “The Search for Everything”.

Guess we’ll see…

John Mayer’s perfect setlist.

Hello, love.

Well, I’m heading to Vegas on Thursday and aside from seeing the Backstreet Boys, the excitement of the Strip, the relaxation of the Palms’ pool (and bar), I’m also seeing my soulmate, John Mayer.

I’ve loved John Mayer since the first time I saw him live, when I was 16. If you do the math, that was almost 16 years ago – a very long time to be in love. But, like most relationships, we’ve had our ups and downs…

Almost exactly five years ago, I made plans to cross an item off my bucket list: Go to a city I’ve never been to and see a concert.

That city was Las Vegas, and that concert was John Mayer. I bought the tickets, lined up to meet a friend there, and we were SO excited. But about six weeks before our trip, John Mayer cancelled his tour because he had to have surgery on his vocal chords, and would be on rest.

Needless to say, I was crushed. But, my friend and I still decided to go to Vegas, and we still had a lot of fun. It would be another long while before John Mayer went on tour. And when he did, I saw him three times, in three separate states. I’d seen his tour so many times that year, I’d nearly memorized his set list, and could often tell by his guitar choice or chord tuning, what he was about to play.

But that was, like, three years ago – and now the guy is finally back on tour. I’ll be honest, I’m not so sure about this album, “The Search for Everything“. Yes, there’s some songs I like, but it’s no “Paradise Valley” – I absolutely love that album.

When he released “Love on the Weekend“, he promised he was going on tour, and he also said it would be everything we’d ever dreamed of. Whoa, whoa, whoa – big promises! It’s really okay, John, you don’t have to put on a nationwide tour just to finally profess your love for me.

Kidding aside, I got to thinking about what a perfect John Mayer concert would look like. After seeing him at least a dozen times over the years, I’ve heard him play some of my favorites. But what if there was a concert full of them?

I’ve refrained from looking up the setlist for this tour, but I’ve put together my own – what would be the perfect John Mayer concert setlist for me? This was tough, but here it is:

Why Georgia

If I Ever Get Around to Living

Moving On And Getting Over

Waitin’ On The Day

Split Screen Sadness

Born And Raised

Love On The Weekend

Clarity

On The Way Home

Tracing

In Repair

Dear Marie

Stop This Train

*Encore*

In Your Atmosphere

Wildfire

…What do you think? We will see how his concert compares… I have absolutely NO idea what to expect! I’ll definitely let you know… (you could also follow me on SnapChat and see for yourself @OrangeJulius7).

 

Albums that changed my life.

Happy Humpday, my friends! Ever since I found out I’m seeing the Backstreet Boys (in just a few short weeks), I have been taking a stroll down memory lane via old CDs. Yes, I still have CDs. A lot of them are still in my car, and once I got started, I couldn’t stop digging through my collection to see which ones still worked and what songs I still remembered.

So, I started thinking about the albums that really, really meant something to me – then, and still very much now. I didn’t realize it until I wrote this post, but they’re all female empowerment albums, so I guess you could say I’ve been a feminist from the start! Here are my life-changers:

Jagged Little Pill (1995)

I first heard Alanis Morissette when she released the music video for “Hand in my Pocket”. I thought she looked so cool, and I loved that song. I was in 5th grade, and she was speaking my soul.

Shortly after, she released “Ironic”, and I was hooked. I begged my mom to take me to see her in concert, and we did, and it was AWESOME (even though she’s a bit much in-person). I have no real idea how her lyrics connected with me at such a young age, but they did.

I had never experienced heartbreak, or at least not really, but I felt like an outsider, and she was rebellious and I liked that. And today? I still do. I actually have “Jagged Little Pill” on vinyl, and it is incredible. My favorite song has to be “All I Really Want”, because all I really want, is SOME JUSTICE…AAHHOOWWWOWOWOWOWOWWOOOOWWWW.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)

The Fugees’ album “The Score” was one of my first tastes of hip-hop. I loved it, so when Lauryn Hill debuted her solo album, I was all over it. And wow. I would venture to say this album has had the most impact on me, musically, in my life thus far.

This was a popular one, selling 1 million copies in its first month (8 million copies in 4 years), and it remained in the top charts for 81 weeks. At the time, Lauren Hill was an icon, and her album was everywhere – even later being placed on several “Best Album Ever” lists.

But in 2000, Hill basically disappeared from the public eye, and stayed hidden for nearly four years. To this day, anytime I see her on TV, I’m shocked. I know that a lot of artists describe an album release as having a child, and she also had a REAL child, after her album release… and I think that album was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

Regardless, I respect her tremendously, and frankly, I don’t know where I’d be without “Ex-Factor”.

Back to Black (2006)

Amy, Amy, Amy… Rest in peace. I had been a long, long time since an album hit me like this one did. I was fresh off a string of bad men, and wow, this chick had something to say. Frankly, I didn’t realize her authenticity, until I read a Rolling Stone article about her life, her drug use, and her eternal love for Blake.

That article still hangs in a frame in my apartment. It was a true loss of innocence, but also a realization that this was an artist who wasn’t just putting on a show. Sadly, she was living every bit of her pain.

While I couldn’t connect with her drug and alcohol addiction, I could very well connect with her willingness to love wholeheartedly, even when it was just wrong. And I still very much love her for putting all of that into words – it healed me in a way I cannot full understand.

The title track is one of my favorites, as is “He Can Only Hold Her”… it all varies depending on my mood.

…There you have it! Notice you don’t see any John Mayer albums here… while all of his albums have meant a lot to me, they have served as “soundtracks” to sections of my life, but not anthems, if that makes sense (still love you, John!). I’d love to know what albums you can’t quit; tell me in the comments!

Loneliness is tragic.

Walking alone isn’t always easy.

Lately, I’ve been feeling lonely. There’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely, because, well, I’ve been alone for a greater part of the last 14 years. Most of that time, though, I haven’t felt lonely.

After two tragedies struck my friends and family in Indiana over the last six weeks though, I started to feel homesick. I left Indiana at 18, headed South, and really never thought I’d turn back. And yes, I’ve had some great times in these parts, and met some great people – but is anyone ever quite as great as the friends you’ve known since middle school? Doubtful.

I still don’t know if I’ll ever go back to Indiana, or the Midwest, other than for quick visits. Although in times like these, I can’t explain just how much I wish I could hop right on over to Indiana, to spend a Friday night with people who know me; people who make me excited to be alive. Regardless, I’m trying to make the most out of my life in Austin, and I know it’s one of the most entertaining cities in the country.

But my attempts at making friends here have left me feeling more lonely than when I started. People have flaked for things I’ve invited them to do – movies, concerts, brunches – and even things they’ve invited me to do. Everyone is looking for the Bigger, Better Deal (the BBD), and apparently I am not it.

After years of suffering from breakup after breakup, I quickly learned that a man was not going to be the source of my happiness, and I’ve basically given up on that part of my life. I know I can still live a meaningful, happy, and fulfilling life as a single person.

But I can’t do it alone, can I? I suppose I pictured my life as a single person much like the lives of the women on “Sex and the City” – only, minus the sex and designer fashions. Or perhaps like those on “Girls” only minus the sex and easy-going careers. You get the picture: I need a few friends to do shit with.

Because you know what? No matter how cool I think I am, hanging out with just myself gets old. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried to surprise myself with yet another great, home-cooked meal. These days, I’m so over myself that I buy all of the organic, pre-made goods I can because then at least I have time to read or to build a plan to get friends.

During the week, I don’t have much time for social outings given my job, my dance schedule, and this blog. Some weekends, I am busy with chores or writing projects, but other weekends it would be nice to meet up with friends for drinks, a sporting event, or simply a movie.

Holidays, though, those are the worst. I hate admitting this, but I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas by myself last year, and as much as I tried to make it pleasant for myself – baking a pie from scratch & mixing craft cocktails – it was a very depressing time.

Because the truth is, when you’re not close to family, and your friends live 19 hours away, it almost seems as if I’ve built so many walls around myself that my only choice is to be alone, even for the moments when being together is all that really matters.

This is not the first time in my life I’ve felt lonely, of course. In fact, it is during these times when I have fallen into a dark pattern of meeting friends, or sometimes, men, who are terribly wrong for me. Because of this, I am very weary of my actions during these times – I don’t want to fall for the wrong people out of desperation.

But it is also during these times when little things hurt even more than they would on a good day. The cat call of a construction worker (“You have a fat ass”) on your morning walk to the Texas Capitol stings more; being ignored by a crush cuts a little deeper; and getting ditched by a girlfriend calls for a bottle of wine to keep all to yourself.

I struggle with gathering the courage and confidence to do things alone, or to simply just curl up on my couch and accept my fate.

After a week of debate, I braved downtown Austin and went to see Big Freedia in concert, alone. I put on my best twerking outfit, dark lipstick, and treated myself to a beer (or two). As I was standing at the bar alone, a few ladies approached me and asked if I’d come alone. Yes, I did, I said.

So had they. All of our friends had ditched us. And so, we danced the night away, together. It was great, and just the night I needed. I had done it for Freedia – her positive attitude and awesome music got me off my couch, and her presence sent me floating into the night.

I am still trying to make friends; and to figure this whole thing out. Until then, perhaps I’ll just live by a new set of words: What Would Freedia Do?

“All I can do is do what I do and make it do what it does.” -Big Freedia 

Backstreet’s back… ALRIGHT!

The Backstreet Boys are back…in Vegas!

For whatever reason, I decided to watch this season of “The Bachelor” (totally blaming all of the marbles Nick Viall keeps in his mouth), and so far, the best episode has been when the ladies on a group date were invited to dance and perform with The Backstreet Boys!

Nick is so lucky none of the women decided to ditch him and scoot over to one of the BSB fellows – I sure would have.

Anyway, several months ago, this iconic boy band announced they had earned a residency in Las Vegas – basically the pinnacle of existence for any artist – and they were promoting their said residency in that episode of “The Bachelor”. And it worked; because I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I probably needed to get my booty to The Strip and sing throwback jams with Nick and A.J.

So, I am. I’ve got my trip booked for next month and let me tell y’all: I CANNOT WAIT.

Hanson was the first band I really drooled over, but I don’t consider them as a part of that 90’s boy band era we all loved so much. Boy bands are classified with the over-coordinated dance moves, the strict harmonies, pristine lyrics, and that cheesy low-voiced talking at the beginning of the ballads.

And, well, we can’t forget the fact that boy bands have their molds within the group. There’s your heartthrob (Nick), the bad boy (AJ), the old soul (Kevin), the nice guy (Howie), and the charity case (Brian). Sorry, Brian, love you!

Together they sold millions of albums, survived and sued the evil Lou Perlman, and then went on to make millions of dollars, and score a residency long past their time in the spotlight. Go boys!

I’ve seen the Backstreet Boys twice in concert, and I remember specifically that after seeing them for the first time, my heart felt so broken the next day because I knew we were no longer in the same city. I know, LAME.

But, I loved their music, and cannot even attempt to guess how many hours I’ve spent listening to and singing along with their albums. Since I got my tickets for the Vegas show, I’ve been searching my ole stacks of CDs (yes, I still have them) and remembering all of the old tunes I loved so much. You’d be surprised just how many I still know the words to – and have already been blaring them in my Jeep on my way to the office #NoShame.

Some of my favorites include “Get Another Boyfriend”, “I’ll Never Break Your Heart”, and who doesn’t love “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” …but my all-time favorite song has got to be “As Long As You Love Me” (siiiiggggh).

While we’re on the subject, “As Long As You Love Me” was released in 1997 – when I was in 7th grade. The music video is classic 90’s; complete with Howie on a flip phone thinking he’s super fly.

But Nick, my first love, with the bowl cut and the sweeping arm gestures. GET IT. And let’s be real, the chair dance was, and still is, everything. So slick.

Best line: “I don’t care what is written in your hist-or-yyyy, as long as you’re here with me.” STRAIGHT GOLD.

Since those days, I believe all of the guys have gotten married, overcome personal challenges, and now, it seems like they can finally have a little fun, while making loads of cash. And if I haven’t said it enough, I am so excited!

Dear Nick and AJ, I’ll see y’all in Vegas!

All hail, the Queen of Bounce.

Bow down to the Queen Diva, Big Freedia.

Bow down to the Queen Diva, Big Freedia.

I spent a decent portion of last weekend in bed watching back-to-back episodes of “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce” on FUSE.

As if I don’t already have enough shows on TV I like to watch, I find great joy in seeing what else is on that I can possibly latch onto. About a month ago, I saw this series was on and starting recording all of the episodes.

I let them pile up and then started from the beginning on Saturday – it was the perfect excuse to turn my head away from the protests and political craziness for a bit.

The thing is, I’d heard of Big Freedia, and have done some dancing to her songs at the studio, but really didn’t know much else. That changed, and I’m hooked. Here’s the trailer for season 1:

There’s at least five seasons, if not six, so there’s a good binge-session waiting for you. Anyway, who the heck is Big Freedia, the Queen Diva, YOU already know!!!! Okay, I’m sorry, I really do just love her positive energy!

Big Freedia is from New Orleans, where Bounce music originated, and has been popular since the 90s. Although many other artists have dabbled in Bounce before moving on, Freedia has been credited with taking it out of NOLA, and throughout the world.

Bounce music is difficult to describe – you’d know it if you heard it – but it’s music to twerk to, clap to, shake ya rump to – that’s the best part about it, it’s a genre of music that’s meant to be positive, meant for everyone to just cut loose without judgment.

Freedia started performing Bounce with drag queen and Bounce legend Katy Red in the late 90s. Hurricane Katrina sent Freedia to Texas, but when the city recovered from the storm, Freedia was performing several times a week, and became very well-known.

The television show catches Freedia just as things are really kicking up in her career. She’s about to embark on her first international tour, and is trying to figure out how to affordably become mainstream and go global.

Of course, the focus is on Freedia, but Katy Red is also in the show a lot, along with Freedia’s managers, dancers, producers, and family.

What I really love about the show is how it really shows this homegrown artist – a person who was born and raised in New Orleans, performing music known mainly in New Orleans; a person who has designed her own outfits and hair and styling for performances… and watch as they attempt to make it big.

The managers have one opinion, Freedia has another. But which decision will be the best for the career? For the tour? For the music?

It’s bittersweet to see because Freedia is just so awesome and humble and has this unique view of the world; but it hasn’t gotten her global (until now, of course).

Freedia started appearing nationally – in the New York Times and on HBO, in 2009, and is very well known for her performances at SXSW and her collaborations with RuPaul. She has set the Guiness World Record for twerking, and serves as the opening voice for Beyonce’s “Formation” Tour.

I’m only two seasons in, but I’m excited I still have plenty to watch, and plenty to learn. I don’t think I can quite convey how awesome the energy is – whether it’s in the music, the dance, or just the way Freedia talks (you’ve got to love a deep New Orleans accent, okey beh-beh) – it is just what I needed in these dark times.

So… if you need me, I’ll be twerking. YOU ALREADY KNOOOOOW.

‘The Search for Everything’.

Okay, John Mayer fans! Tomorrow is the day we get to hear some new stuff, finally! While I don’t really have the inside scoop (as much as I wish I did), we can discuss what we know so far.

1. The title of the album is called “The Search for Everything”, which John said in a Facebook Live feed that the title basically explains his life.

2. The album will obviously feature the single we’ve heard, “Love on the Weekend”, which I love – but John said, also on Facebook Live, that the song does not represent the entire album. Guess we’ll see.

3. The album was among some greats on The Rolling Stone’s list of the 63 most-anticipated albums of 2017. However, the release date isn’t mentioned there, because…

4. John Mayer is releasing his album in 4-song increments, monthly. WHICH IS THE WORST IDEA EVER.

Let’s just discuss this a little more.

Now, I know artists have released their music in increments before. Kanye West did it with his G.O.O.D. Fridays, where fans were rewarded with a free download as long as they kept visiting his new website, and Justin Bieber did it with his “Journals” album, releasing one song each Monday in a “Music Monday” campaign.

When Kanye did it, it was genius because no one had ever done it before; when Justin did it, it was pretty fun.

But, seriously John Mayer? The first reason this sucks is because the initial 4-song drop we get includes the single we’ve already purchased, “Love on the Weekend“, so we’re actually only getting three new songs this month. Here are the tracks we’ll see tomorrow:

  1. Moving On And Getting Over
  2. Changing
  3. Love On The Weekend
  4. You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me

The second reason this sucks is because am I honestly supposed to listen to a 4-song loop for a month and then download another 4 songs? Let me make this clear: I love me some John Mayer, but I’m not going to be putting it in my calendar every month to “Download the next 4 John Mayer songs!!”

Here’s my other question: how many songs are there in total? According to Mayer’s Instagram account, “The album will be released four songs at a time. Every month. There were too many songs to ever get out the door at once.”

There’s several issues with this statement. I hate to be that person, but it’s the digital age, right? So what does it even mean that there’s “too many songs”? Like is it 25? 40? Because anything 20 and under is a pretty standard album length.

This just makes me wonder, what’s the real story? Like are the songs not done? Because if they’re not, don’t tell us there’s an album coming. If they ARE done, well hand ’em over, ’cause frankly, John Mayer, you’ve put the fans through too much! Just hand us the SONGS!

Am I the only person pissed about this? Le sign… I know there are bigger problems. I’m just greedy and want all the songs – besides, I’ll be in the car road-tripping for a minimum of 10 hours this weekend and I could really use some new tunes (more than four, BTW).

At the very least, I have a feeling these are going to be some GOOD songs… I mean, what we’ve heard so far is fantastic. Here’s to “The Search for Everything”!

hf-refresh_c3_300x250

‘Mariah’s World’: The show must go on.

Another episode of 'Mariah's World'.

Another episode of ‘Mariah’s World’.

Hello! Thank you so much to everyone who wished me luck and sent me well wishes yesterday – it was very sweet and I really appreciate it.

I’ve got the recap of Sunday night’s episode of “Mariah’s World” for you – a day late – but hey, today may seem like a Monday for those of you that had yesterday off work.

So, the tour is still on, and Tanaka is still hanging around despite the fact that he’s injured and not doing the one job he was hired for: dancing. Instead, he’s wearing a lamb costume.

Meanwhile, another dancer gets injured – because that is how FIRE the show is (it really does look intense, but cool). With another dancer down and a show in two days, Mariah is worried about the lift, and wants to simplify the choreography.

On the plane, Mariah is playing with Tanaka’s hair… and Stella wants to jump out of the place because it feels so awkward. Later, Stella tells Mariah that Tanaka MUST have a crush on her, and Mariah is acting so clueless.

The creative director is not down to simplify the show, so he’s called in some new dancers to help fill in just in time for the big show in Paris.

In other news, remember how Mariah Carey’s social media manager is 12? No, she’s really 12, it’s Stella’s daughter. Like that is a job people my age would KILL for. Forget the money, just the experience itself would be baaaad-assss; and a 12 year old posts a picture of Mariah’s ass in just hosiery, and she gets a little slap on the wrist.

Huh? Child, please.

And then Mariah has her last fitting with her wedding dress, along with her daughter in her little gown. Awkwaaaaard. Obviously this is the closest window I have into Mariah’s life, but I totally didn’t realize she was this far in to the wedding planning before they called it off.

James Packer makes a shocking appearance (although it’s very short), and Tanaka is finally starting to remember, ohhhh yeah, there’s another guy in this picture.

Right before the show, Mariah and her staff learn of the news that Prince has died. Mariah is very upset, as Prince was not only a big inspiration for her career, but also a very close friend.

However, the show does go on, and even with the new dancers – everything looks great (and they’re wearing these awesome hoodies that are completely covered in blue sequins). She has a moment of silence to honor Prince, and then sings “Hero”, and it is quite lovely.

Post-show, Mariah is hosting a vodka launch (her own vodka, and the label is pink). James is there, and he’s all over Mariah… and Tanaka is in the corner, pouting. He’s so sad, in fact, that he slinks off into the elevator alone, as elegant as anyone on crutches can do.

Tanaka is on the roof talking to one of the other dancers, and he confesses that he likes Mariah, and that seeing her with James is bursting his bubble.

In the preview for next week’s episode, Tanaka gets weed and Mariah is all flirty again… oh, boy.

On another note, is anyone watching “The Bachelor”? Don’t worry, no spoilers, but I just want to mention that The Backstreet Boys were on last night’s episode, and AJ and Nick (Carter), looked fine as all hell. Still.

That ‘Nine Track Mind’…

Helloo Charlie Puth.

Helloo Charlie Puth.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that my latest celebrity crush is Charlie Puth – and he still is. I borrowed his debut album, “Nine Track Mind” from the library and listened to it for a solid month before purchasing it on my own. It’s delightful, in a traditional pop music way, and there are a few songs I cannot get enough of.

The album features the hits we’ve heard from Charlie such as, “One Call Away” and “We Don’t Talk Anymore”.  But there are also some others that I like – “Left Right Left” being an upbeat, cheery tune that’s good to listen to on the way to work.

My favorite is “Suffer”, which is shockingly suggestive… and catchy. I have never seen Mr. Puth live in concert, but I hope he brings a girl on stage for this song, because I would D-I-E if it was me. Here’s the tune:

I also borrowed some other albums from the library when I had to rent a car while my Jeep was in the shop (finally), and I’d love to share them with you, just in case you’re looking for new music.

I got James Bay’s album, “Chaos and the Calm“…wow. I really liked the single off the album, “Let it Go”, and I didn’t expect to like the rest of it. I was wrong. Every single song is good, and it’s one of those albums you can listen to in its entirety.

This is Bay’s debut album, which came out in March of 2015. He co-wrote all of the songs, and I cannot wait to see what’s next for this guy.

I also got “Attack and Release” by the Black Keys. I had the HONOR of seeing them several years ago at Hangout Fest, and it was really the first time I’d listeened to them… and they rocked the joint.

“Attack and Release” is the 5th studio album from the Keys, and was released in 2008 – so hey, I’m pretty behind on the game here, but this is some good stuff!

I’ll be honest here, I am not well-versed in rock music, but the Keys’ sound is perfection in the way it sounds gravelly and cool all at once. I have really enjoyed cranking this one up in the car and crusing through Austin.

Finally, I also got “The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac” – a 2 CD set, which was quite well-loved (the case was broken), but obviously the CDs weren’t affected. I hadn’t heard many of the songs – I’m a recent Fleetwood Mac fan, but I enjoyed hearing the new-to-me stuff, and of course, blasting “Gyspy” as loud as I possibly could.

So, there you have it! I’d love to know what you’ve been listening to lately – I’m always on the hunt for new music!

‘Mariah’s World: For Love of the Tour’.

Welcome to 'Mariah's World'!

Welcome to ‘Mariah’s World’!

Hellllooo! How was your weekend? Mine was… eventful in an unexpected way. I spent a majority of my Saturday running errands – mostly for Christmas presents – which was hectic, and to top things off, it was cold and rainy. I came home around 6, got things put away, and settled into bed to watch “Orange is the New Black”. I was about 5 minutes in when Blanche comes running into my room, chasing a mouse.

Yep, a real mouse. With a tail.

Longtime readers may recall this exact thing happened to me last holiday season – you can read about that incident right here.

Last year, after screaming bloody murder and finding refuge standing on the back of my couch, I coaxed myself into my car, drove to the nearest Walgreens, and bought all the traps they had. I set them that night, and then locked myself, and the cat, into my bedroom, in hopes the traps would solve the issue.

I never saw the mouse, or any mouse, again until Saturday night, when one ran through my bedroom, heading toward my Christmas tree, which is in the living room. I said nothing, grabbed my keys, went to Walgreens, set the traps, and locked us back into the bedroom.

Apparently, we’ve got a new holiday tradition. Holly, Blanche, and the Christmas Mouse. Look for it in Barnes & Noble, nationwide November 2017.

Despite being terrified the mouse was going to jump out at me, much like the squirrel in “Christmas Vacation”, I spent Sunday cleaning, wrapping gifts, and watching Christmas movies.

And of course, I was counting down the hours until the premier of “Mariah’s World”! Sooooo who else watched it? Let’s get into this recap.

 The show started off with what I assume was a preview of what’s to come on this 8-part “event”… and in this 3-minute series of clips, I had no freaking clue what was happening. There were so many different people, lots of arguing, and lots of audio from “Fantasy” on repeat.

Right off the bat, we’re taken to Italy, where Mariah is vacationing on her yacht, which is across the water from her then-fiance’s yacht. I noticed immediately how vocal Mariah is about material things. It’s not enough that she’s on a lavish yacht, wearing diamonds, as she’s about to jump in the ocean, but she has to say it outloud that she’s wearing a dress and diamonds and is about to jump into the ocean.

I don’t know why this surprises me, but it certainly does, and it’s kind of annoying. She acts like she’s new money, when sure, she came from nothing, but that was many, many years ago (not a knock to her age, but rather a nod to how long she’s dominated the industry).

The residency in Las Vegas has just wrapped, and for some reason, Mariah’s assistant Stella, is scheduling a 27-stop European tour, that’s going to start in just two weeks – around the same time as her wedding.

So there’s lots of scrambling, lots of yelling on the phone, even a bridal fitting (super awkward), and eventually, Stella hires a person named Molly, who seems to have no experience as an assitant, yet she’s going to work on this European tour.

Seriously, HOW DOES THIS SHIT HAPPEN?

But nonetheless, that’s not the high point of the episode. Instead, it’s the first side of Bryan Tanaka – one of Mariah’s dancers, but also her now boyfriend.

Bask in the shady palm trees, my friends.

Like, let’s lay this out, because in the show, she’s PLANNING a wedding with James Packer. But during these dance rehearsals, she is ALL about some Tanaka.

Here’s my other odd observation. Why are the dance rehearsals held in her home? Better yet, why doesn’t she have a rehearsal space in her home? She’s literally practicing beside a pool table, and then when they go to rehearsal, there’s no real equipment – she’s using a water bottle as a mic, and they’ve set up gymnastic mats and plywood as a makeshift staircase.

Did anyone get the memo that it’s a Mariah CAREY reheasal?? That just seems odd to me. She doesn’t strike me as the kind of person to cut corners, but shit.

By the end of the episode, Mariah has pushed back the wedding, strictly in the name of the tour, and she’s a whopping 3-hours late to rehearsal.

This… should be an interesting 8 weeks, folks.

‘Love on the Weekend’…

John Mayer's new single.

John Mayer’s new single.

Last Thursday, I had the WORST day at work. It was one of those days I contemplated quitting (do other people do that, or just me?), I had to walk outside and pace the parking lot and get some deep breaths in before going back to my desk, putting in my earbuds, and just doing my work. It was only 10 am.

Although my morning had sucked, I knew I had two things to look forward to that day: 1. John Mayer was releasing his first single in THREE YEARS that afternoon, and 2. I was going to a late-night premier of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”.

So, I got to work and patiently waited until 3pm, when John Mayer did a round of questions of Facebook Live. He talked a lot about writing new music, and said this would be the first album (I’m guessing it’s coming out in January) that didn’t revolve around a single event (i.e. a love affair).

He also said the single, “Love on the Weekend”, wasn’t a representation of the entire album, but he did admit he had lots of fun “dancing in his kitchen” to it. He also confirmed there will be a tour for the album, starting in the spring of 2017.

HALLELUJAH!

And then he played the song…

And then I’ve had it on repeat pretty much ever since then. I freaking love this song! And can I just say what a relief it is? I was worried we might have another “Battle Studies” on our hands.

Couple things to note here: 1. the sound. It’s not as Montana-country as “Born & Raised” (which is one of my favorite albums), but it’s not all the way back to pop, either.

The song is catchy, and frankly, it’s a great reminder of why fans fell in love with Mayer in the first time – his catchy, clever lyrics that paint a familiar picture for so many of us.

Best line?

“And I’ll be dreamin’ of the next time we can go into another seratonin overflow.”

Second best line? 

“We found the message in a bottle we were drinkin’.”

Needless to say, I am really looking forward to hearing this entire album! Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for that to happen.

A scene from 'Fantastic Beasts'.

A scene from ‘Fantastic Beasts’.

Okay, so later Thursday night I joined a friend for the premiere of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”! Honestly, I didn’t know much about this movie other than that it’s a prequel to the “Harry Potter” series, and it was written by J.K. Rowling herself.

Sounded good to me! Here’s the official scoop from IMBD: The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school. 

Mr. Scamander is in New York, where wizardry is very much illegal… and he just happens to have a suitcase full of tricks… and fantastic beasts. The film follows him attempts to make it through the city without getting jailed forever or killed, and he makes a few friends along the way. It is simply… for lack of a better word… FANTASTIC!

I got to see it in 3D, which I would recommend, and I’ll say my jaw was dropped for at least half of the movie. The magic was way more intense than what I recall from the Potter films (but I loved those, too).

On a final note, I kept hearing about how Johnny Depp was going to be in the second movie. Eh, he makes an appearance in this one, and it was very unexpected. Keep your eyes open for him!

Celeb Crush: Charlie Puth.

Well, hellloooo.

Well, hellloooo.

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve done an edition of “Celeb Crush”! Truthfully, I’ve been doing a little work behind on the scenes on the blog, trying to figure out the best things to write and where the future of this thing is going – don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere, I’m just working through some identity crisis.

But there are so many times when I’m writing a post or coming up with ideas on what to write and I get so inside my head wondering, “Does ANYONE even care about this?” And then I remember that it really doesn’t matter, because this is my blog, and some days we talk about serious things and some days – like today – we just need the fun, lite stuff to keep us going.

So, Charlie Puth. I did not give this guy a lick of attention until… well, until he had the song with Selena Gomez, “We Don’t Talk Anymore“, because I was feelin’ some kinda way about that song! It was hitting almost too close to home, but not to the point where I couldn’t listen to it. I loved it.

Still though, I wasn’t entirely certain just who this guy was. And then he was on “The Voice”, serving as one of the mentors for (my favorite) Alicia Keys. And I was sitting on my couch thinking, “Okay, he is cute!” Even his voice is just so hot. I can’t.

So, WHO the heck is this Charlie Puth guy? According to Google, he’s 24 (turning 25 on December 2), and can thank YouTube for the rise of his success. His debut was on “See You Again”, written, produced, and co-performed with Wiz Khalifa in tribute to Paul Walker. WHOA.

According to Wikipedia, his eyebrow is scarred from a near-fatal dog bite incident. Clearly, he’s a badass. And, random fun fact, when he was in 6th grade, he went door-to-door selling his Christmas album “Have a Merry Charlie Christmas”, which he recorded and produced, and made $600.

tomss_interstitial__300x250OKAY, now this is the inspiration we need on a Wednesday! The kid was recording and producing his own stuff in 6th grade? Time for me to get on my grind here.

His YouTube channel, Charlie Vlogs, was where he got his following, and he used the medium to post cover songs, including Sia’s “Chandelier”, comedy videos, and behind-the-scenes coverage.

At the beginning of this year, he released his debut album, “Nine Track Mind“, which peaked at number 6 on the Billboard 200.

Although he’s a talented singer and performer, I definitely think he’s found his success behind the scenes – writing, recording, and producing, which is respectable. I am looking forward to what comes next from him!

In other music news, John Mayer is releasing his first single off his upcoming album (expected to drop in 2017). The new single, “Love on the Weekend” will be released TOMORROW!!!

I’m not the only Mayer fan freaking out – it’s been more than two years since we’ve heard anything new from the guy. So, I’m anxious to hear what the sound will be – will it be an evolution of the Montana John we’ve gotten on the last two albums, or something new? I’ll be sure to report back.

Speaking of new albums, when are we going to get something new from Justin Bieber? He’s had two new songs out, “Cold Water” and “Let Me Love You”, which are both awesome, so does this mean there’s a new album on the horizon? I haven’t seen any news on the topic, but I’m keeping my eyes open on this one.

What music are you currently listening to, or looking forward to? I am always looking for more things to put into my ears, so let me know!

Okay, Drake, I hear you.

I think I'd lie for you.

I think I’d lie for you.

A few weeks ago, I took a 10-hour road trip (that’s 10-hours each way, which ended up being a good bit longer, but whatevs). I had to rent a car for my trip, because, well Jeep sucks (a story for another day), and about five minutes after I picked up the rental SUV, I realized just how spoiled my every day car has me – I love my Sirius XM!

I couldn’t figure out how to change the station in the rental car for the life of me – and anything I could find was definitely in Spanish. Not going to fly for 20 hours in the car. So, I drove right on over to my favorite place – the library – and checked out some audiobooks and some CDs. Here’s what I found:

“Hozier” by Hozier

This album includes the hits “Take Me to Church” and “Someone New”, so I was excited to listen to it. I absolutely love “Someone New”, but I was pleasantly surprised by the entirety of this album – it’s one of those you can listen to from beginning to end and enjoy it as a whole.

The album is a bit dark, lyrically and in sound, and it’s a bit gritty – but if you’re into soul, I think you’ll love it. One of my favorite songs is called “From Eden”.

This album really makes me want to see Hozier in concert – I can already imagine how much he would jam out!

Babe, there’s something tragic about you
Something so magic about you
Don’t you agree?

-Hozier, “From Eden”

“I Am Not a Human Being II” by Lil Wayne 

A long-time Weezy fan, I was really looking forward to hearing this album. However, I am not quite sure if there is any piece of work from Mr. Carter that can compete with “The Carter III”. Sorry, not sorry.

“I Am Not a Human Being II” however, brought us “Rich as Fuck” (with a killer beat) and “No Worries”, which is a song that will definitely put you in a good mood, if you’re not already:

What I love most about Lil Wayne is his ability to go bold and not give AF; and okay, he also spilled some clever, witty lyrics on previous albums that I’m straight up jealous I didn’t write. But, I have to say I rarely heard that on this album. It’s more about sex, and sex, and well, just lots of sex. Sorry, Weezy, can’t relate!

However, I did really like a track called “I Ain’t Nervous”, where you can hear a littttle bit of the Wayne we know and love:

Have my pants saggin like fuck it
I’m still on my business, spent my birthday in jail
I was making bad decisions, saw my enemy at the light

“Bangarang” by Skrillex 

I had the pleasure of seeing Skrillex live last year at Hangout Fest and was blown away by how fun he was! Plus, I love his SnapChats. While I’m a little obsessed with his work in JackU, I admit I’d never listened to an entire Skrillex album – until I was driving across Texas around 6:30 am.

Holy craaaaap! If you need a wakeup call, just pop in a lil “Bangarang”! I’ll be honest here, this wasn’t my usual cup of tea, but it was fun to listen to while on the road. Here’s the first track on the EP, “Right In”, and it will give you a good taste of what you can expect from the rest of the album:

“Nothing Was the Same” by Drake

Yes, I have a few random Drake songs on my phone, but I’ve never really paid tooooo much attention to the dude until this summer. I have a special attachment with “Hotline Bling”, and absolutely love “Too Good”. So, when I saw a few of his older albums at the library, I snatched them right up.

“Nothing Was the Same” was released in 2013 and brought us “Started From the Bottom” and “Hold On, We’re Going Home” – both songs I love, and they both give us a taste of Drake as a lyricist. I’m obsessed with the line “I’ma worry ’bout me, give a fuck about you” – cause that’s just where I am right now.

The song I kept replaying had to be “Worst Behavior” – as its thick beat is perfect for in-car dancing and general bad ass swag.

“Thank Me Later” by Drake

This album came out in 2010 and served as Drake’s debut – and damn, this one blew me away. The album starts with “Fireworks”, featuring the one and only Alicia Keys, and has some fantastic lines in it:

I missed them before but won’t miss them again
I keep having the same dream
And I think that I just realized what it means.

This album also brought us “Fancy”, along with its title track. But, the song I kept bumpin’, kept repeating, and ultimately the reason I ended up buying the album, was “Show Me a Good Time”. The beat, the words – I cannot help but dance to this one, and I really would love to see a performance of this, because it’s just so damn fun!

So yeah, I’m looking forward to continuing listening to Drake – the old and the new; and now I’m just dying to seem him live. I know, I’m basic, but if it means dancing to Drake and finding some lines to live by, I’m all about it.

Fuck a fake friend, where your real friends at?
We don’t like to do too much explainin’
Story stay the same I never changed it

-Drake, “Started From the Bottom”

Why are we okay with ‘Lemonade’?

Gurl, bye.

Gurl, bye.

Disclaimer: Beyonce annoys the piss out of me.

I think she’s overrated, has taken advantage of a lot of people to get where she is, and I’ve thought that from day one, her marriage to Jay-Z was a total sham.

But, ALL HAIL, right?

Riddle me this: why are we okay with the queen letting her king walk all over her?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch or listen to “Lemonade”. For starters, I do not believe that Beyonce was ever handed lemons. She has a life that many of us would dream of – of course from the outside. If she WERE handed lemons, I’m sure she’d drop them into the hands of a staff member and push them toward her kitchen, made of marble and gold.

When “Lemonade” was dropped, I heard all the chatter and rumors, and what I gathered was that, the things we all thought were true: Jay-Z cheated on Beyonce, many times, with many women. And she smashed shit with a baseball bat in an HBO exclusive.

…And then she forgave him, and now things are fine.

So, you’re telling me that Beyonce, the Queen of “Independant Women” lets her man act like that? Not only is she essentially fine with it, but there was no consequence – instead, she used it to make money and share it with the man who did the harm to begin with!

Huh? How is it possible that women everywhere idolize this person? Are those the values she’ll be teaching her daughter; that it’s okay for a man to run wild?

It’s come out that Beyonce didn’t write most of the songs on “Lemonade”, which is fine, as she doesn’t write most of her songs, ever. And many successful singers don’t, and I’m fine with it. But I do draw the line when you’re pretending to live it.

If you didn’t write the song, then don’t act like you did, ahem “Single Ladies”. Why was she acting high and mighty like she got a ring from Jay-Z? Because she didn’t (they agreed no rings) in the beginning.

So why are you preaching to women everywhere, to demand diamonds and committment from the men, when that’s not how you run your game?

Oh, because it’s catchy and it sells concert tickets. It sells a dream that you, too, can be an independant woman and get a man.

A man that will cheat on you and you’ll forgive him because you’re too weak to stand on your own off-stage.

The other thing that kills me about this, is that we’ll (meaning Beyonce fans, not me personally) stand by women like Beyonce and Rihanna when their men treat them poorly, publically, but we’ll publicly bash women like Hillary Clinton, who has stood by her man over the years after infidelity.

Is it because Hillary rocks the pantsuit and not a leotard? Is it because Jay-Z makes more than Bill Clinton? What is it?

I’m not saying one is better than the other, but it doesn’t add up for me. But don’t teach women to be independant, and then tell them to “cater to” their men – SURFBOARD – and then be weak when they screw you over in real life.

Beyonce is bullshit. #LiveYourTruth

Fresh Friday: Velvet Orchid

Give it here.

Give it here.

Yeeeeehaawwww – here we are, yet again, on another fine Friday! The good news is you’ve made it through another week… and I have no bad news because it’s FRIDAY.

Between work and dance classes, the weeks seem to fly by pretty fast, but the weekends speed right on as well. This weekend, I’m really looking forward to getting my hair cut and colored, which is the usual routine for me, but I’m thinking about changing it up a little.

Hair envy.

Hair envy.

I’ve been considering a little bit of a shorter look, that captures my natural wave some (see: Khloe Kardashian). If you’re following me on SnapChat, you probably have noticed that I haven’t blow-dried or used any hot tools on my hair in months. I pretty much gave up trying – I like my natural wave, and straightening it is usually a waste of my time.

So, we’ll see. I’m pretty open to trying new things, and I’ve always been able to trust my stylist to give me a cut/color that’s going to flatter my skin and face shape. In other words, my hair future is in her hands.

Speaking of Khloe, has anyone been watching her new show, “Kocktails With Khloe” on FYI? It started last week and although I don’t watch “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”, I was pretty anxious to check it out, given that her first guests were Brandi Glanville and Snoop Dogg.

It has an interesting format: the set is a mockup of her home, and it’s supposed to seem like she’s just having people over, talking and drinking (and playing drinking games), instead of on a stage for a talk show. I don’t know if it will get a second season, but so far I kind of like it.

Aside from just dancing my booty off (give my new favorite song, “Wut” a listen below) this week, I’ve been wearing this week’s scent: Velvet Orchid by Tom Ford. According to Sephora:

Tom Ford Velvet Orchid is an oriental floral that evolves the carnal grandeur and seductive power of the iconic Tom Ford Black Orchid into an uber-feminine fragrance lavished with notes of cool citrus, dramatic petals, suede accord, and vanilla. Rich, spicy, and intensely floral, it evokes a warm exotic garden. The slim and elegant bottle is enhanced with bold vertical texture and the signature brass nameplate.

Notes: Orange Blossom, Hyacinth, Jonquil, Cattleya Leopoldii Orchid, Suede Accord, Vanilla Tincture.
Style: Lavish. Dramatic. Seductive.  

This scent is DEFINITELY feminine. So, if you’re getting sick of me featuring scents on here that have a masculine site, today is finally your day! Between the petals and vanilla, it’s a soft scent, but not so soft you don’t notice it. I’d definitely give this one a whiff the next time you’re in a department store – it’s different (in a good way)!

So, there you have it! Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 to keep up with me this weekend, and I’ll see you right back here on Monday for another fun week! Cheers!