Archive for February, 2011

QUICKIE: On Esperanza Spalding’s Grammy Win and the Reaction of Justin Bieber’s Fans

February 14, 2011

In 2009, I posted a blog topic titled ‘My Thoughts on the Grammys,’ in which I felt that the Grammys often nominated – and in some cases, awarded – artists and albums based on commercial success more than artistic success. However, there have often been times when awards shows like the Grammys do honor talent instead of just popularity, and sometimes give prizes to people that aren’t as well-known as those who are, and last night wasn’t an exception.

One Grammy winner has stood out to some people who aren’t Justin Bieber fans, and that is the jazz performer and instrumentalist Esperanza Spalding – a native of Portland, Oregon. She unexpectedly won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist over more well-known artists like Justin Bieber and Drake. But Bieber’s fans didn’t take his loss seriously. Instead, they flooded Spalding’s Wikipedia entry – to say nothing of flooding Twitter – with obscene death threats to her. One has said on Wikipedia: “Justin Bieber deserved it. Go die in a hole. Who the heck are you, anyway?” (NOTE:  Spalding’s Wikipedia entry has none of those “death threats” now, but if you’d found such entries anywhere on the Internet within the first few hours after her Grammy win, your mouth would’ve dropped open in shock like mine did.)

Spalding was the first jazz artist ever to be awarded a Grammy for Best New Artist, which is an historic achievement in my opinion. She played for President Barack Obama (who cites her as one of his favorite artists) and has drawn on a whole variety of musical styles in her work. Bieber plays guitar and piano, but he’s a teen R&B singer with a much bigger following than Spalding.

However, I, non-Bieber fans, and true music fans know that telling an award-winning artist to go drop dead, or calling them names, just because they’re not Justin Bieber or Jennifer Lopez or any teenybopper-like music-maker is tantamount to calling the cast and the crew of a movie that wins an Oscar, instead of a movie you prefer, idiots or [expletives]. It’s insane.

The Grammys, for all their focus on X, Y, and Z popular artists, felt that someone like Spalding deserved the award for the simple fact that she was a better new artist than Bieber.

I’m not a fan of artists like J. Lo, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, the Backstreet Boys, N Sync, Lady Gaga, past Grammy winners like Christina Aguilera (whose Bionic album was snubbed, although she performed) and Shakira, or artists in their vein (no offense to their fans, though), but I wouldn’t go around wishing death threats on those musicians just because they won a Grammy – or, in J. Lo, BSB, and Bieber’s cases, at least received a nomination for one – over other artists.

Oh, and congratulations to all the winners.

From MSNBC: Bieber Fans Go on Grammy-Fueled Wikipedia Rampage

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ALBUM REVIEW: Charice (2008) by Charice Pempengco

February 5, 2011

 

ARTIST: Charice Pempengco

TITLE: Charice (EP)

RELEASED: May 2008 in Philippines

CERTIFICATION(S): Earned Platinum certification in Philippines (sold over 30,000 copies)

TRACKLIST:

1. And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going)

2. It Can Only Get Better)

3. I Will Always Love You

4. Born to Love You Forever

5. I Have Nothing

6. Mama

7. And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going) (Minus One)

8. It Can Only Get Better) (Minus One)

9. I Will Always Love You (Minus One)

10. Born to Love You Forever (Minus One)

11. I Have Nothing (Minus One)

12. Mama (Minus One)

NOTE: Sorry for the long delay. This is my first time reviewing an album or EP in over a year, because I’ve been fairly busy with finishing up college and playing in two college bands.

Born in 1992, Charice Pempengco (her full name is Charmaine Clarice Relucio Pempengco) has gained serious global fame since her discovery on YouTube. Her self-titled debut EP, which appeared in May 2008, features interpretations of hits by Jennifer Holliday, Whitney Houston, and others.

“And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going),” which opens the disc, is a well-executed rendition of Jennifer Holliday’s smash hit from the musical Dreamgirls. Jennifer Hudson also did a great rendition of it when she appeared in the movie version of Dreamgirls, for which she won an Academy Award. Anyway, Charice maintains superb control of the high register throughout on this cut, just like on her other songs. “It Can Only Get Better,” originally covered by Amy Diamond, is another example of how Charice can take virtually any song and make it good, just like people like Bette Midler, Sarah Brightman, and Frank Sinatra did. (NOTE: I’m not comparing Charice to those three artists; just saying.)

“I Will Always Love You,” originally performed by Dolly Parton and best known as performed by Whitney Houston in her movie The Bodyguard, has Charice paying tribute to both artists at once with her rendition. However, this version leans closer to Whitney’s version, even though there’s no denying that Ms. Pempengco still belts her heart out. WARNING: The high notes toward the end are guaranteed to either send shivers down your spine or just move you to tears.

“Born to Love You Forever” is a bittersweet cover of the Preluders song, while “I Have Nothing” (by Whitney) shows Charice at her finest on this CD. She even employs background vocals to fine effect on “I Have Nothing.” Finally, “Mama,” originally by Smokey Mountain,” closes the first half of the disc in a fashionable manner with attention-grabbing vocals and a pretty arrangement.

The second half of the disc is comprised solely of instrumental versions of the first six tracks. I personally felt that these instrumental versions (listed as “Minus Ones”) could’ve been left for a second disc on this EP, but they’re fine enough if you want to hold a karaoke competition or just practice. And at least they’re not bland, like the karaoke CD I heard on Ultimate Disney Princess.

Pros: Wonderful interpretations of old cuts and recent ballads.

Cons: Padding the rest of the disc with instrumentals might sound weird to some people, but to be fair to Charice, it’s not like they’re MIDI-remade instrumental versions.

Bottom Line: Good start to Ms. Pempengco’s singing career.

Final Grade: B+