Message of the Day: Love

I was so busy this week! Amongst the chaos, I observed this picketing/preaching event that these christian extremists had on my campus, just to witness the clash of personalities (I’m in a Cultures in Conflict course and it seemed like a good example to observe – I even got extra credit for turning in an essay on it!). Anyways, I heard some of the most hateful things I’ve ever heard, from racist remarks to anti-homosexual remarks to sexist remarks and everything in between. Frankly, it was disgusting. Yes, I am a christian – and even I was offended. I think God made everybody perfectly, no matter who you are, what you look like, or who you love. John 8:7 said: “When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” — So who am I to judge?

Nonetheless, I felt compelled to share some of the music that shares a message of love. Of course, I will start out with the most popular one ever; Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love”.

The next (my favorite) is “Free Love” by Mod Sun is pretty much the foundation of what I’m going for. AND HE’S SO GOOD LIVE! Check him out :)

The next song is “She Likes Girls” by Metro Station. Love on, ladies! And for the gents, I present to you the tatted hunk/Lead Singer Trace Cyrus (yes, he’s Miley Cyrus’s brother).

The quality of the official music video for the next song, “Hold On” by Good Charlotte, is depressingly terrible, so bare with me. Some people respond to affirmation, like in the music above. However, some people want a song that addresses the pain directly. For those people, this one’s for you.


At the end of the day, I just want to convey a few messages.

1.) A reminder that culture is fluid, meaning no one person or small group of people can represent a culture (or religion) in it’s entirety. This is to say that christian extremists linked to or modeled after the Westboro Baptist Church DO NOT represent the religion as a whole. In my experience, christians are taught to love unconditionally, not spread propaganda and hate. And to the students that were the victims of oppression, judgement, and bigotry this week at Oregon State, I apologize on behalf of the traditional christian faith.

2.) These hateful types of people will always exist. Always. There nothing anybody can do to stop them, and it’s best to learn to understand that if there are 6 billion people in the world, there is a good chance that no matter who you are, someone is bound to find you offensive. But there is also bound to be a much larger number of people who will love you. If you close yourself off from society, you’ll never find those people. Basically what I’m saying is that the worst reaction to “haters” is to avoid people all together. Find the “lovers” out there. That’s what you call opposite of “haters,” right? :)

3.) Don’t quit. By “quit,” I mean don’t give up on life. Now I know this won’t apply to 99.99% of the people reading this. But to the .01%, you are worth taking the time to speak to directly. Especially for those who are young, I know that you don’t have the life experience to know that things actually do get better, because things may only be getting worse right now. But life has it’s ups and downs, and just because you’re experiencing your first down (even if it last four whole years – yes, I’m looking at you, high school…), it doesn’t mean life won’t turn around and start going back up. I promise you it does.

4.) LOVE. Simple as that.


Have a good rest of your weekend, ya’ll :)

Sunday Slam

“OCD” by Neil Hilborn
“Direct Orders” by ANIS MOJGANI
“S For Lisp” by Watsky

From now on, unless I have an interview to post, Sundays will be dedicated to poetry. Each week I will share a few slam poems followed by media rooted in poetry. I personally believe that spoken poetry, like rap, is a true form of music, as it mimics the artistic combination of rhythm, meter, and narrative of songs, but on a conversational level. I have learned so much from my english courses about poetry. I find the ability to say so much in as few words as possible to be an incredibly difficult yet rewarding skill, and I can’t help but share some of my favorites.

“OCD” by Neil Hilborn

How do you define love? How do you convey the depth of your feelings for someone? Personally, when someone asks me these things, I refer them to this slam poetry piece – and no, I’m not kidding. If you can watch this whole thing without a little tear swelling in your eyes, you’re stronger than me. Perhaps I’m just too empathetic (which I’ve been told before), but how can you not feel the physical sensation of heaviness in your chest as he says “I leave the door unlocked / I leave the lights on”? His pain is almost palpable, and not only that, but all the emotions he conveys in his narrative. From his modest surprise that she’s so accepting of his differences, to the mild embarrassment that he portrays in a humorous light on organizing his food or locking the door, to his adoration of her little mannerisms, he portrays every emotion relating to the rise and fall of a relationship. He is able to articulate the emotions we find hard to put into words, and that’s why I believe this poem is so relatable! As a 22 year old, I’m already fairly set in my ways but that doesn’t prevent me from trying to get over some of my biggest obstacles for the person I love. Even though we may not suffer from OCD in a literal sense, isn’t the idea of love somewhat of an obsession in and of itself? Aren’t we compulsive in our nature at times to repair things that are in fact unfixable? Think about it ~~

Direct Orders by Anis Mojgani

How can this slam poetry piece NOT get you pumped?! Anis creates a sense of urgency by reminding you that your life or even the world could end tomorrow, and that you need to take advantage of the time you have RIGHT NOW and have fun! He uses humor, bold comparisons, sentimental meanings, and historical context to reach each type of listener. Which line speaks to you? Personally, I really understood his what he means by rock out when he says “rock out like the mangoes are in season” – go ahead and laugh, but I reeaaallllyyy love me some mangoes!

This piece in it’s entirety creates imagery that portrays the definition of happiness at its core, which is why I love it so much. So, readers, you’ve received your direct orders! Have the happiest Sunday of your life today!

“S for Lisp” by Watsky

I SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST. George Watsky is no stranger in the poetry world. He won the title of Youth Speaks Grand Slam Poetry Champion in America, and was named Brave New Voices Slam Champion on the international level in 2006. He was then featured on Season 6 of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry on HBO in  2007. The last several years he has developed a rap career, with one of my favorite songs ever which you should absolutely listen to right now.

I looooove this slam poetry performance, as it basically reminds you to ignore (have to keep my site mama friendly) the haters. People who mock you really aren’t worth your time, and you should love every part of you that sets you apart from the rest of the general population. He not only embraces, but emphasizes his mild lisp, and although his delivery is direct, aggressive, and merciless, he maintains an element of confidence without crossing into egotism. His skills are undeniable. If you liked what you heard, he has at least a dozen other slam poems and music videos circulating YouTube, so check those out here!



Unlike my last review (Imagine Dragon’s latest album Smoke + Mirrors), this review is of a single track: “Wait” by M83. Continuing with the Sunday Slam theme, I wanted to share a poetic analysis I wrote about this song for my english class, since, you know, girls are great at over analyzing 😉

Let’s start with form. This entire six-minute song has only 15 lines, 7 of which are the repetition of the same two words. The form of this song makes it look less like a traditional song (bridge/chorus, etc.), and more like a poem.

Send your dreams
Where nobody hides
Give your tears
To the tide

No time (x2)

There’s no end
There is no goodbye
With the night

No time (x5)

Each of the short lines (of no more than four words each) give the listener a very concise message in the same way that iconography can figuratively structure sentences in a temporal artwork. Each line is actually saying sooo much more than the literal diction is inferring by providing us with a vibrant and paralleling symbolic narrative.

The repetition of “No time” invokes a sense of urgency in the fact that we don’t have time to procrastinate, today really could be our last day on Earth (more on what we shouldn’t procrastinate later~). Aside from those seven lines, the two quatrains seem to separate two different concepts, the first of which is what we must rid ourselves of. The second stanza seems to refer to the hope that we can gain as a by-product of that action.

Now let’s talk about my favorite part of analyzing poetry: diction. For example, when they say “Send your dreams / Where nobody hides,” they can’t be speaking in a literal sense. So what are we left with? dreams, though synonymous with hopes, goals and desires, implies subconscious guided thoughts. The things that you don’t realize you really want or need. The opposite of hide is expose, so where do people go to expose themselves? NO, not a nude beach! I think they are talking about being your true self. Exposing your true personality isn’t easy, especially for teenagers and young adults. As a Catholic, I can’t help but think of some sort of heaven, or paradise where nobody is judging one another and can freely express themselves. So “Send your dreams / where nobody hides” to me personally means to communicate your deepest thoughts (thinking of the glacier/deep ocean imagery of the subconscious -dreamland- Id) to heaven. More simply put, find and pray to God.

Speaking of ocean, why did they choose use the term “tide” instead of synonyms such as ocean, or water? The answer lies in the connotation of the word tide, implying a motion of rising and falling. While the melody reflects this concept (more on that later), the lyric -in my opinion- is hinting at the highs and lows of life. It’s an inevitable cycle, just as the tide is.

While we’re still on the topic of tide, “Give your tears / To the tide” together may not make much sense if you’re taking it for what it is. BUT, if you dig a little deeper, give your tears (made of saltwater) to the tide (also made of saltwater) means that they will forever as they blend into the ocean. It’s basically saying to take your stresses, pains, and heartache and put them down in a place where you can’t pick them back up again. Rid yourself of your sorrows and burdens – permanently. Those six words convey a much larger concept, which reflects the band’s true artistic brilliance.

Therefore, I find the first quatrain to mean “Talk to God, and rid yourself of emotional pain.” 

The second quatrain is almost reassuring when they say “There’s no end / There is no goodbye.” It’s like – Hey, don’t worry, everything is going to be okay, it’s not the end of the world. You don’t have to say goodbye if there is no end. But what are they talking about?

“Disappear / With the night” could go two ways. It could be an ominous synonym of death itself, orrrrrrr it could reference what happens after death (I’m going wit the latter). “Disappear” has a connotation of invisibility, NOT the ending of something. To me, its says that the human spirit doesn’t end, but lives on with you in an invisible way. Thus phrases like “I’m with you in spirit” or “They will always be in your heart.”

I believe the second quatrain means “don’t be afraid of death, your spirit will simply transition into the afterlife.”

“No time” is repeated a total of seven times. Seven is the holy number. They are divided into sets of two and five. The number two representing both union and division (two becoming one, one becoming two). The number 5 represents God’s grace and goodness for mankind.

I looked into M83’s religious preference just out of curiosity, and although they are not labeled as a christian band, they have been featured and given interviews to christian based websites like and So perhaps I’m not too far off base with my lyrical analysis?

In summation, I think this song is about embracing life RIGHT NOW without burden (giving those to Jesus/God), and not fearing the unknown by having faith that our spirit will carry over into the afterlife.

Now before he dive in too deep to a religious base here, let’s carry on to melody and sound. M83 have been known for their ambient, dream-like shoe-gazing music. Now what I was talking about earlier with the rise and fall of melody, not only does the beat quicken and slow, but the actual volume of the track as a whole goes from quiet to loud and back again. Interesting. The two points in the song with the most prominent difference is the low and slow 0:26-0:52 and the emotional, percussion-heavy 4:45-5:23. Between these two points are several waves (get it?) of building and settling.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite track that feels more like a poem than a song? Can you think of a track that can be disected the same way M83’s “Wait” can? Let me know! You can always #BackstageByte, and feel free to leave a comment as I will attempt enabling them on articles. If not, I know you can go to the VIDEOS section and leave a comment there.


Remember, no part of a song (form, lyric or melody) is unintentional. Every aspect of a song has been carefully selected by the artist and/or their team, so go ahead and try to put the puzzle together! Happy Sunday :)



Saturday Spotlight

The Neighbourhood

The Neighbourhood

For this week’s Saturday Spotlight I’d like to share one of my favorite bands, The Neighbourhood, as they have recently announced that they are currently working on highly anticipated sophomore album! Although the title and release date has yet to be announced, I can promise you that there are probably very few people in this world as excited about this album as me, no matter what it’s called or when it’s released.

The Neighbourhood formed in August of 2011 in Newbury Park, California. After two EP’s (I’m Sorry... and Thank You — such polite names!), they immediately broke into the limelight with their 2013 debut album I Love You. via Columbia Records. The Album was a huge success, putting them on the map for mainstream America with their 2x Platinum single “Sweater Weather,” and other two chart climbing hits “Let it Go” and “Afraid.” If you haven’t heard “Sweater Weather,” I recommend taking a moment and listening to it now:

For this week’s Saturday Spotlight, I really want to focus on their latest release, an 18-track mixtape entitled #000000 & #FFFFFF (a color hex code that literally translates to Black & White), which was released on November 28th, 2014. I personally LOVE this collection of songs. It’s not often that you find a band that releases a biennial-gap project. It’s even more unusual to have such a product be so large volume, as their debut album only had 11 songs. While there hasn’t been much of a push for the mixtape to hit radio-airwaves, its quality of is undoubtably high nonetheless.

There have definitely been some changes in the direction of sound for The Neighbourhood since I Love You., which can only be described as the band’s evolution of sound. There are two prominent differences between I Love You. and #000000 & #FFFFFF, the first of which is a new foundational element in sound. While the mixtape reflects the indie/alternative rock influence seen in their previous work, #000000 & #FFFFFF highlights its roots in hip-hop. Lead singer Jesse Rutherford has been known for his incredible singing voice in I Love You.‘s “Sweater Weather,” and “Let It Go.” However, this time around he clearly emphasizes his developing sprechgesang capabilities, a form of speech used in sung-rhythmic styles of rap. *(Sprechgesang is where pitches are sung, but the articulation of the words are rapid and loose like speech)*

The second most notable difference between the two works, is the number of featuring artists; while I Love You. had ZERO#000000 & #FFFFFF has ELEVEN. Rutherford’s new recitative vocals are complimented by the speech-effusive rap styles of his collaborators, such as YG in “Dangerous,” G-Eazy in “When I Get Back,” and French Montana in “#icanteven” (my personal favorite ~ listen below). With such prominent rappers finding their way onto the mixtape, it only furthers the notion the project holds its roots in hip-hop.

A smaller, yet equally notable evolution in #000000 & #FFFFFF is The Neighbourhood’s incorporation of less-familiar sound effects in several songs throughout the mixtape. A perfect example is the seagulls dubbed in at the end of “#icanteven,” and another being the strange yet complimentary blend of an unconventional siren and chime-type effect in the intro to “Silver.” These seemingly mismatched sounds offer a discombobulating dynamic as some listeners attempt to decipher their meaning or purpose, knowing that no element of a song is ever truly random. Perhaps these effects are for artistic or symbolic measure?

Another seemingly artistic evolution for The Neighbourhood is their new use of interludes. While I Love You. lacks any interludes at all, #000000 & #FFFFFF is broken up by three, all of which seem a little out of left-fieldThe first example is track three’s “Ye Interlude” where they literally take, edit, and use a forty-three-second clip of a Kanye West concert monologue, in which ‘Ye uses the phrase “black and white.” The second interlude is track eight’s “Phone Call Interlude,” where Rutherford speaks to a friend on the phone, mentioning how nervous he is about sounding like a “fucking idiot” in the intro recording. The last interlude is track 11’s “Rain Interlude,” which is exactly what it sound like – pouring rain and muddled lyrics being sung in the background.

The Neighbourhood has mastered the transition to a foundational fusion between their established indie/alternative rock sound and slow-tempo, low-pitched hip-hop. This, in part, is why I have come to love this band so much. While there is undeniable change in the direction of their music, it’s gradual enough for them to be able to retain a sense of familiarity for their long-time fans. This consideration allows us to evolve with them, instead of feeling caught off guard (like All That Remains fans did with the stark contrast between their 2010 critically acclaimed album For We Are Many, and the -frankly underwhelming- 2012 follow-up album, A War You Cannot Win).

The Neighbourhood’s upcoming album announcement photo


I’m curious to see if their next album presents yet another elemental evolution for The Neighbourhood, or if it solidifies the direction that #000000 & #FFFFFF has them going in. Either way, I appreciate the effort that The Neighbourhood has put in to making #000000 & #FFFFFF, and I know I’m not the only one.


Fresh Take Friday

Flashback Friday EVERY Friday may be a little excessive and/or redundant, I am going to mix it up a little this week with Fresh Take Friday, and interchange them every week. What is this exactly? This is where I share favorite music from people other than myself, as you will never be able to truly explore all forms of music unless you ask other’s what they are listening to.

This week, with permission from my best friends, I am sharing a song that reminds me of them, along with their favorite music RIGHT NOW. Everybody in my life has very different tastes in music, and what better way to find new music then asking? The songs they are listening to are unfiltered by myself or anybody else. Enjoy!


Brianna is my longest standing friend. We met a few years ago in chemistry 121 where she was accidentally presented as a New Zealand exchange student, which I found absolutely hilarious, as she couldn’t possibly be MORE native to the area. Nonetheless, we hit it off and have been best friends ever since. She’s very selective with her friends, and there is a good chance she won’t get along with most people. But if you have the luck of being her friend, she couldn’t be a kinder soul. Nonetheless, to 95% of people find her mildly terrifying. Because of this, we’ve agreed that her current anthem is Just Like You by Falling In Reverse.

On top of that, I’d also like to share her favorite songs. Of course, the song above is one of her favorites. Her other current favorites include Bad Girls Club by Falling In Reverse (She’s in a F.I.R. binge lately) and Often by The Weeknd.



Hannah is also one of my best friends. I met her through Brianna, and she is one of the kindest, most beautiful, and generous souls on planet Earth. She would give you the world if she could, trust me. I wish I could match her energy and positivity, but frankly I don’t think anybody could. When I think of her, my best synonym would be sunshine. In fact, her contact in my phone is exactly that, along with a yellow heart and the dancing girl in the red dress :) Her anthem (in my personal opinion), at least 98% of the time should be “Happy As Fuck” by Mod Sun.

Unfortunately, they say the biggest hearts are also some of the easiest to break, and that rings true for Miss Hannah. Lately, she has been listening to City and Colour’s “O Sister” and “Grand Optimist,” Sam Smith’s “Not In That Way,” and X Ambassador’s “Litost.”



Josh is easily one of my best guy friends. We met about 9 months ago, and instantly bonded over music. Finally a friend that loves metal as much as I do! He reaches out from time to time just to see how I’m doing, since we live a few hours away from each other right now. He always picks me up when I’m down, and is always there when I need him. He even puts up with my bad-day attitude! I hope he knows I’m here for him too. For all the guys out there who always have faith in their friends, this anthem is for you!

The latest music that he’s been listening to is “Fallen Angel” off the new Three Days Grace album, “In Focus” off Rest Among Ruins’ upcoming debut album Fugue, and All That Remains’ new song “Criticism and Self Realization.


What are YOU GUYS listening to? I want to hear it! Perhaps the next Fresh Take Friday (5/29) will be the reader’s favorite songs! #BackstageByte to let me know!





Kanye West Pulls A Kanye West


From the infamous interruption of Taylor Swifts acceptance speech to the close-call of his second interruption with Beck, and everything in between, Kanye West is best described as, well… Kanye West. It’s no surprise that he does whatever, whenever, and this applies to the name of his upcoming album. I posted a news update when he first announced the name of his new album, and he has recently come out with the updated title Swish, accompanied by a picture of naked Kim K. Why? Because he felt like it.

He also tags on that he may change it again, but for now, Swish it is.

What do you think he is going to change it to next? Feel free to #BackstageByte with your guesses on Twitter and Instagram!


Somebody Wants to Kill Drake?


Ahhhh, college. Amongst the hangovers and stresses of midterm, a short film has risen with the obsessive and crazy monologue of arguably his No. 1 fan. Of course, it’s an artistic take on the concept of fandom for an NYU Tisch School of the Arts course in filmmaking. It seems that the base concepts is focused on where fans may cross the line. A perfect example of the reality of such ramblings is John Lennon’s assassinator, Mark Chapman. He loved the Beetle’s more than anything for the longest time, before turning against them in his religiously based psychosis. Needless to say, this video is purely fictional, on frankly, quite comical. While Drake has yet to respond, there’s no doubt that he’s seen the short film, and that is a feat in and of itself. Check out the video below!


Taylor Swift Hints at Bad Blood


No, there is no rumored wars against Taylor and anybody else (at least for now), but instead, an upcoming music video. With teaser posters popping up all week, excited is an understatement for Swifties. The “Bad Blood” music video seems to be encompassing a short film narrative littered with stars including:

Taylor as Catastrophe,
Karlie Kloss as Knockout,
Zendaya as Cut-Throat,
Kendrick Lamar as Welvin Da Great,
Ellie Goulding as Destructa X,
Hayley Williams as The Crimson Curse,
Jessica Alba as Domino,
Serayah as Dilemma,
GiGi Hadid as Slay-Z,
Lily Aldridge as Frostbyte,
Hailee Steinfeld as The Trinity,
Ellen Pompeo as Luna,
Lena Dunham as Lucky Fiori,
Martha Hunt as HomeSlice, and
Mariska Hargitay as Justice!

That’s quite the lineup! The “Bad Blood” seen in the video seems to be between Catastrophe and Knockout hinting at a battle between besties. Check out some of the posters below!

What do you think the story line for the short film will play out to be? #BackstageByte to give us your guesses!


Hey Y’all! Sorry I haven’t posted at all in several weeks, I’m getting back to it. Good news is that I am getting straight A’s in my courses now! I have been able to finish all of my major projects for the term several weeks in advance as well, so I’ll have time to get back to work!


First off, I’d like to say thank you for all the kind comments, I didn’t even realize they were there until just now.


Secondly, I’d like to note that I know I am having a small formatting problem that I have been trying to figure out how to fix, so bear with me on singular blog URL’s! :)


Lastly, I’d like to give you a list of who I am currently listening to. It’s sort of funny that some of these artists are only now getting traction, as I’ve been sharing them with my friends for several weeks now, if not months. SO! Here is a current list (keep in mind that these are from the last 2-3 months) in no particular order!


1.) 90210 – Blackbear & G-Eazy (both are AMAZING live btw!)

2.) Pressure by Milk & Bone

3.) Put Em Up by Priory

4.) AhHa by Nate Ruess

5.) Aftergold by Big Wild

6.) Operate (Feat. Royal) by Kill Paris

7.) Colors by VÉRITÉ

8.) NEW COKE by Health (fantastic breakdown)

9.) 2shy by Shura (very late 90’s middle school slow dance sounding)

10.) Technicolour Beat by Oh Wonder

11.) Medusa by GEMS

12.) Wait by NF


Remember to always have an open mind in music! RW

Throwback Thursday
What ever happened to:

Aaron Carter, JoJo, &James Blunt?

Aaron Carter

You may remember the tween popstar from songs like “Aaron’s Party” and “I Want Candy,” but where has he been in the last 15 years? Yes, it’s been 15 years. Feel old yet? Don’t worry, me too. Anyways, if you aren’t big into D-List celebrities have no fear, I have learned more than I want to learn about how creepy Aaron Carter really is.

Remember when Hilary Duff and him dated when they were 13 year old? That was 14 years ago, and even as she dated, married, had a child, and divorced since then, he still tweets about her.

Since the tweets were released just over a year ago, Duff addressed the social media tangents in an interview, stating:

“Him reaching out through social media? It’s ridiculous. But then people do it all the time, like Chris Brown and Karrueche? Come one guys. Keep it between text messages.”

Aaron, the stalker he is, must have read the interview as he took to social media AGAIN – so wise – and sent out this tweet just a few days ago:

“Aaron, oh Aaron, what are we going to do with you” – Yeah I just used his own lyrics against him, so what? Aaron, I would say “just keep doing you” but you is sorta creepy, so maybe don’t. Instead, I recommend filtering your social media sites as it takes years to rebuild a career, and 140 characters for it all to come crashing down again.


“Let’s put some essential JoJo notes into perspective, starting with the fact that when her last album, 2006’sThe High Road, was released, George W. Bush was president. The O.C. was still on the air. Gossip Girl was merely a best-selling series of novels. The Secret had just been published. Miley Cyrus was a year away from releasing her debut album and Lady Gaga was two years off from telling us all to ‘Just Dance.’” – Robbie Daw, Idolator

In the last nine years, JoJo has:

  1. released a mixtape (2010),
  2. became the face of Clearasil and HeartSoul’s Fall/Winter 2011 clothing collection,
  3. made appearances in a few music videos (Keri Hilson, Clinton Sparks) and TV shows,
  4. kicked out a remake of Drake’s “Marvin’s Room” -which he praised- and
  5. toured with the likes of Joe Jonas and Big Time Rush as well as appeared on SXSW in 2014

Recently, she has finished up her 3rd full-length album with Atlantic records (FINALLY!!!!!!!!!) which is set to release sometime “early this year.” I really can’t wait to hear the new tracks, since she was just 13 YEARS OLD when she sang “Too Little Too Late.” It’s been too long, missy!


James Blunt

How does someone go from selling 11 million Back To Bedlam albums to a D-list celeb? I think that’s just as impressive as the sales record TBH. The album we knew and loved landed him in the  Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest selling album in one year, and now he’s just that two-hit-wonder (“You’re Beautiful” / “Goodbye My Lover”) from 2004.

While he is virtually non-existent here in america, apparently he’s still big in the UK, Germany, and Australia. So much so in fact, he’s sold another 9 million albums over his last 3 LPs since Back To Bedlam. He has toured extensively all around the world with his new work, with artists such as Jason Mraz, John Legend and Sting along with several others. In 2012 he fell victim to the News International phone hacking scandal, and in 2014 he married his now-wife Sofia Wellesley.

James Blunt hasn’t retired and it’ll probably be another year or two before he releases his next album. Here’s a little snippet of nostalgia for you to enjoy :)



Never heard of Gondwana? You’re not alone. Due to lack of media attention on artists outside of the United States, a vast majority of the population has never heard of them. So who are they? Gondwana is one of the first established Chilean reggae bands and byfar the most popular South American reggae band today. They have graced the stage of South America’s most popular festival THREE times (Festival of Viña del Mar), they have had multiple singles hit the Top 10 chart and go multi-platinum. They have overcome financial and cultural obstacles, from living in slums to oppression. Their sound is passionate, earthy, and earnest, check out their music video for “Piensame” below!

Gondwana is absolutely incredible, and in the last 25 years, they have made huge strides in order to headline a cross-country tour in the United States. They have been touring with Rebelution since February of this year, and are still working their way down California before taking off to Mexico and Spain. Follow them on the social media links below to stay updated on their ever-expanding platform!


64x64-Circle-69-TW vinylz 64x64-Circle-69-FB

The R.A.C.C.

Jai Wolf, Scotty McCreery, PRHYME & I Prevail

It’s that time of week again: Monday morning… Quite possibly the worst few hours of the week. So why not post up some new music to help get you through the day? R.A.C.C. stands for Remix, Acoustic, Collab, and Cover, offering up fresh tracks and fresh takes for the day and week ahead. There’s always a little something for everyone, and in this edition of the RACC, I’ve highlighted electronic/trap, country, hip-hop, metal, in the forms of Jai Wolf, Scotty McCreery, PRHYME, and I Prevail!


Ease My Mind by Skrillex
Jai Wolf Remix

This is one of my favorite remixes this week. I have been a big Skrillex fan for a long time, but where Jai Wolf is able his music… It’s just a whole other level. And this isn’t his only song. My library is FULL of Jai Wolf remixes like Melanie Martinez’s “Dollhouse,Foster The People’s “Best Friend,” and one of my other favorites: Adventure Club’s “Wonder”. Jai Wolf also shows off his own work with tracks like “Trophy Wife.” I highly recommend not just taking a listen to this song, but to check out his entire SoundCloud profile HERE. You won’t regret it.


 See You Tonight by Scotty McCreery

I may have not posted much country  music on here as of yet, but that changes now! Growing up in South Carolina, I’d like to think that I have a true appreciation of good country music. Back then, I was popping in the Alan Jackson tapes my dad had in the car, singing along with “Summertime Blues.” Today, Scotty McCreery does a phenomenal job embodying that classic deep southern voice bringing me right back to a 1997 summer evening in the south (“Carolina On My Mind”??). His voice is an instant classic, and here I present a stripped down acoustic version of See You Tonight.


By pRHyme
DJ Premier & Royce da 5’9″

Do you listen to Nas? D’Angelo? How about The Notorious B.I.G, Jay-Z, Snoop Dog, Kanye West, Ludacris, Mac Miller, Eminem, Diddy, Dr. Dre, or Joey Bada$$? If not, I suggest you move out from the rock you’re under. DJ Premier and Royce Da 5’9″ are everywhere, even if you’ve never realized it, as they have either produced or written lyrics for each person I just listed. The top-tier producer and lyricist have teamed up to create a full-length album entitled PRHYME. What a fitting name for such an incredible product. Check out my personal favorite, Courtesy.


“Blank Space” by taylor Swift

I am a sucker for a good post-hardcore cover. I Prevail has produced a “Punk Goes Pop style” version of Taylor Swift’s hit “Blank Space.” Between Brian Burkheiser’s melodic voice and Eric Vanlerberghe’s harsh vocals, I Prevail gives fans a great cover of a radio hit. The Michigan band is about to set off on tour, and I’ll keep my finger crossed that they perform this cover!



Saturday Spotlight is a section of the blog where I share my favorite artist of the week. I will focus on a different genre each week, while occasionally throw in a few new finds that I can’t help but share. I will always try avoid overlapping Saturday Spotlight with an artist or band I have already written about this week – have to save the best for last!


DaughterBand: Daughter – Elena Tonra, Igor Haefeli, Remi Aguilella

Genre: Indie Folk, Alternative Rock

Formed: London, UK – 2010


With hauntingly poignant melodies and the soft voice of Elena Tonra at the helm, Daughter has made it to the international platform. The european band has been named Vogue’s Artist of the Week, as well as had their work featured on shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Skins, Teen Wolf, Arrow, and The Originals. Their album If You Leave was nominated for World’s Best Album at the World Music Awards in 2014 (only beaten out by G-Dragon, related post here), and made 5 separate Billboard Top 100 charts including independent, rock, and alternative. It also received Universal Acclaim on Metacritic.

In 2010, Daughter was formed between lead singer Elena, long time friend Igor on guitar, and their mutual friend Remi on drums. Elena was originally a solo act before realizing that it didn’t suit her, as she was self-taught and felt restricted with her abilities. The trio have brought out the best in each others strengths, and more than made up for each other’s weakness, leaving room for only the highest quality tracks. There’s no doubt in my mind that their soft spoken album has made it’s way into countless insomniac teenagers bedrooms across the nation. Potent images of an air of melancholy intertwined with breathy and sincere lyrics give you a storyline that everybody can relate to at one point or another.

From “Heaving through corrupted lungs, setting fire to our insides for fun” on “Youth,” and “I will meet my creators, and they will all agree, that I’m a suffocator” on “Smother,” Elena conveys heartbreak in a way that stands alone. This is why Daughter is this week’s Spotlight Artist.


To learn more about Daughter, feel free to explore in the social media links below!

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N*SYC, Ginuwine, & Led Zeppelin



Remember back when Justin Timberlake had tight-curled blond locks? Yeah, me too. I also remember music videos being crazy colorful (e.g. Destiny’s Child’s Say My Name) and a plethora of one-hit wonders like House of Pain’s “Jump Around” and Haddaway’s “What Is Love”

This week I’ve found an amazing cover of N*SYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” reformatted as a post-hardcore hit… Don’t worry, you can thank me later.

I’ve also managed to track down a song I heard a couple of years ago from Rihanna but couldn’t forget. The twist on Ginuwine’s Pony is just incredible, featuring a sultry low-toned voice and a heavier drop in the chorus. Please, indulge yourself below:


Last but never least, I couldn’t skip over this footage of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven.” A few years ago, a childhood friend of mine named Drake passed in a car accident. He used to play this song every friday night with his band at the local coffee shop’s Open Mic Night, and my friends would I would always crowd the front of the audience area to listen. I’ve never been able to listen to this song without thinking of him. This one’s for you, Drake.



G-Dragon is one of biggest hip-hop and K-Pop artists in all of Asia since his debut solo album, Heartbreaker, received an Mnet Asian Music Awards for Album of the Year. Since then, he’s won Record Of The Year from the 22nd Seoul Music Awards, Artist Of The Year from the 15th Mnet Asian Music Awards, and both World’s Best Entertainer AND World’s Best Album at the 2014 World Music Awards.

Between solo songs and collaborative tracks with other artists (including american star-studded producers like Missy Elliot and Diplo), G-Dragon has pumped out several chart-topping hits. He also contributed work on “Dirty Vibes” off Skrillex’s album Recess, seen on the music video below.

G-Dragon is one of the biggest international artists right now and he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. His collaboration with Taeyang, “Good Boy” was released in late November of last year and the music video already has 42 million view to date! He is also working on an album with the band he fronts called Big Bang, set to be released sometime this year after a major delay.

If you’re looking for a new addition to your music library, be sure to check out the rest of G-Dragon’s music using the linked social media below!



JEFF The Brotherhood & AWOLNATION

Artists To Watch features artists with albums set in the next month! This gives you a chance to get to know them and their previous work before their release, so you get an idea of what to expect. Check out this week’s featured artists, JEFF The Brotherhood and AWOLNATION!

JEFF The Brotherhood


Priorly working with Warner Bros. Records on their 2012 album Hypnotic Nights, they teamed up again, along with Infinity Cat Records for their upcoming album, Wasted On The Dream! The Nashville, Tennessee natives are no stranger to the music scene, relying heavily on their own capabilities to produce their music. Warner Bros. gave them “substantial creative control,” and in doing so, allowed for the “indie, punk, garage, and psychedelic rock” band to chose their direction for the album. Check out two of the three singles the have released off their new record via SoundCloud below!

JEFF has been featured on Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman, as well as having performed over 100 concerts including festivals and international shows in 10 different countries. Their next album is expected to take them to the next level, so you can expect to hear the eagerness and angst in this one! It’ll include 11 tracks for $9.99 via iTunes!



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AWOLNATION is our second Artist To Watch with their album RUN to be released on March 17th. The electronic rock band’s prior album, Megalithic Symphony, featured their breakout song “Sail” which landed at #17 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and was certified 6x Platinum shortly after, selling over 5.5 million copies. The remaining content on Megalithic Symphony, along with the album in it’s entirety, ranked on 46 other Billboard charts including three tracks on the Top 10 on the Alternative Chart.

The single “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)” off their upcoming album debuted at #32 on the Mainstream Rock chart on February 9th, take a listen below!


There are high expectations for RUN and I couldn’t be more excited for its release. There’s no question it’ll be just as popular, if not more popular, than their last album as they continue to climb the charts. The album contains 14 tracks along with a Digital Booklet, for just $7.99, and I’ll bet it’s worth every pretty penny.



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Mumford & Sons

New Album, Wilder Mind, is Changing Directions!




No more banjo, no more acoustic strumming, and no kick drum in sight *begins hyperventilating*. What is a world where Mumford & Sons takes on synths, electric guitars and a…. drumming machine?! I think I can hear the crumbling of my own heart.

“We felt that doing the same thing, or the same instrumentation again, just wasn’t for us. […] We’ve got a broader taste in music than just that.” – Marcus Mumford (lead singer)

I have always been a HUGE fan of Mumford & Sons, how could I not with their unique sound and catchy choruses? But alas, there will be no Babel 2. So cherish the older records, and be on the lookout for their upcoming full-length album, Wilder Mind, out on May 4th. Check out the trailer for the album below:


Beyoncé & Cara Delevinge?

Two mysteriously similar photo’s showed up on Beyoncé and Cara Delevigne’s Instagram timeline yesterday! Queen Bey and high-fashion-model-actress both posted nearly identical photos just THREE MINUTES APART. No, this is not a drill! Are the photos hinting at a possible collaboration on a musical endeavor? If so, how great would that be?!

Cara’s & Beyoncé’s Instagram Posts:

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What do you think they’re up to?

The R.A.C.C.
Odesza, Flor, G-Eazy
& Blackbear, Pia Mia


It’s that time of week again: Monday morning… Quite possibly the worst few hours of the week. So why not post up some new music to help get you through the day? R.A.C.C. stands for Remix, Acoustic, Collab, and Cover, offering up fresh tracks and fresh takes for the day and week ahead. There’s always a little something for everyone, and in this edition of The RACC, I’ve highlighted electronic, indie, and alternative hip-hop in the forms of Odesza, Flor, G-Eazy & Blackbear, and Pia Mia!


“One Day They’ll Know” by Pretty Lights
Odesza Remix

Seattle natives Odesza had a big year in 2014 with the release of their album, In Return. The electronic duo took on Pretty Light’s “One Day They’ll Know,” taking the otherwise slow-paced, low-dynamic profile into a melodic bass-heavy trap hit. Check it out!



“Heart” by Flor

Flor is an fairly unknown band with a limited visual presence, but nonethless seem to know exactly what they’re doing. With just 4 songs out under their debut EP, I have in inkling that they are pulling a Your Old Droog, waiting for garner some attention before they release their identity. Until then, enjoy the acoustic version of their single “Heart”!



“90210” by Blackbear ft. G-Eazy

Fresh off Blackbear’s Valentine’s Day album release Dead Roses, comes “90210” featuring G-Eazy. As the album topped at #3 on iTunes Top Soul & R&B Chart, the entire project is top quality, but this collaboration in particular is a crowd favorite.



“Hold On We’re Going HomE” by Drake
covered by Pia Mia

I purchased this song from iTunes the moment I heard it. It’s similar to the original track, but gives a fresh take to Drake’s hit. Pia Mia is an up-and-coming artist who has gained attention through YouTube and SoundCloud with both covers and her own original work. She’s definitely worth checking out!

Shooting At N. Carolina Club Hosted by T.I., Jeezy, Yo Gotti & Diddy

Label Club was packed in Charlotte, North Carolina yesterday afternoon as a promotional day party was being held with special guests T.I., Jeezy, Yo Gotti & Diddy. The C.I.A.A. Weekend Takeover was going as planned until a gunman began firing, as seen in the footage below. The artists were quickly escorted out of the club as mayhem ensued.

And just like that someone ruins a poppin day party. Praying for the people who are hurt #CIAA

A video posted by Baller Alert (@balleralert) on

In the next video, you can clearly see the chaos in reaction to the gunshots, as people are seen jumping over furniture and ducking for cover amidst the screaming.

Shots Fired @ Club Label at a Day Party #CIAAWeekend

A video posted by Super Bowl + All-Star + CIAA (@partyfixx) on


There were two victims, one male and one female, both of which were treated for life-threatening gunshot wounds at Carolinas Medical Center, according to police in a press release this morning. One of the victims drove themselves to the hospital while the other was transported via ambulance.

Label Night Club has confirmed that the remaining weekend events will continue with “very substantial security” despite yesterday’s commotion.

Bobby Shmurda’s Lawyer Weighs in on Epic Records’ Refusal to Post Bail

After sitting in jail since December 15th, it’s become clear that Epic Records, Bobby Shmurda’s record label, isn’t coming for him. With a $2 million bail, Epic has turned their back, allowing Shmurda to await trail for his alleged involvement in gang-related shootings and drug trafficking. Shmurda’s lawer has finally spoken out about the matter, stating:

“These companies for years have capitalized and made millions and millions of dollars from kids in the inner city portraying their plight to the rest of the world,” Mr. Middleton continued. “To take advantage of that and exploit it from a business standpoint and then turn your back is disingenuous, to say the least.”


What do you think about Epic Record’s refusal to stand by Bobby Shmurda? Are they the villain here? Tell us what you think on twitter via @BackstageByte!

Google Invests $60 Million in a Music Rights Management Services Company, Kobalt

A London based company called Kobalt has recently become Google’s new frontier in reshaping the music industry. With the investment going toward global infrastructure to help take the company to the next level, Kobalt intends to “aggressively expand the companies footprint and capabilities.

With an increase in video streaming (SoundCloud, Spotify) and a decline in music sales (iTunes, Amazon), it has become increasingly difficult for streaming publishers to keep up payments for artists. Kobalt hopes to be the leader in the development of tracking micro-transactions (unique plays via streaming companies) on a global platform, and monetizing those numbers for artists and record labels within weeks instead of the years it’s currently taking.

“The music industry is going through dynamic changes all around the world, and Kobalt will be instrumental in shaping its future positively for all constituents, starting with artists,”


Do you think Google made a sound investment? Tell me what you think by tweet @BackstageByte!

Beyhive vs. Kid Rock

In a recent Rolling Stones interview to promote his new album, First Kiss, Kid Rock made some comments about Beyonce including her looks, her music, and even her fans. After reading through the comments on Kid Rock’s instagram, it’s become very clear that Hell hath no fury like a scorned fandom. So what did he say to create this perfect storm?

“Beyoncé, to me, doesn’t have a fucking ‘Purple Rain,’ but she’s the biggest thing on Earth… How can you be that big without at least one ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ or ‘Old Time Rock & Roll’? […] People are like, ‘Beyoncé’s hot. Got a nice fucking ass.’ I’m like ‘Cool, I like skinny white chicks with big tits.’ Doesn’t really fucking do much for me.”

With wishes for acts of violence and death for Kid Rock and his family members, I’m curious to know if he would change his statement if he had the chance to go back in time. Then again, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?


What do you think? Send me your thoughts by tweeting @BackstageByte!

Kanye West Announces the Title of His Upcoming Album



At 9:25 PST, Kanye West posted the name of his upcoming album, So Help Me God, along with the album cover (pictured above). The highly anticipated album comes later this year, and people are more than excited to see what he’s been working on.

No word on a release date yet, but we’re one step closer to finding out! What do you think about Yeezus’ album title? Tell me what you think by tweeting @BackstageByte!

Imagine Dragons
Smoke + Mirrors
February 17th, 2015


 Smoke + Mirrors

Imagine Dragons surprised me with the diverse sound of Smoke + Mirrors. The songs on the album range from borderline americana (“I Bet My Life”), to hard rock (“I’m So Sorry”), to alternative (“It Comes Back To You”).

Track listing:

  1. Shots (3:52)
  2. Gold (3:27)
  3. Smoke and Mirrors (4:21)
  4. I’m So Sorry (3:50)
  5. I Bet My Life (3:13)
  6. Polaroid (3:50)
  7. Friction (3:22)
  8. It Comes Back to You (3:27)
  9. Dream (4:18)
  10. Trouble (3:11)
  11. Summer (3:38)
  12. Hopeless Opus (3:59)
  13. The Fall (6:02)

Total Length: 50:55


Some people would rag on the fact that the sound of Smoke + Mirrors is “inconsistent,” but I’d have to disagree to some extent. Although the music is diverse, a majority of the tracks have underlying tone that make the tracks capable of being on the same album.

Lyrics like “pray for me sister,” (“Trouble”) and “all these sorrows I have seen” (“Dreams”) denotes a prominent old-fashioned rock theme, but their incorporation of choirs and outlier instruments a unique twist.

The one problem I have with the album comes from a particular musical element in songs like “Polaroid” and “I Bet My Life.” Although I appreciate the diversity, these two tracks seem more out of left field than the rest, and frankly, more like Mumford & Sons songs than Imagine Dragons. I expected an electronic, bass heavy rock album with a few alternative tracks sprinkled in, and although we received a good chunk of qualifying tracks, we also get a good portion with a bizarre folky stomp-clap sound.

I have a hard time believing that the “Demons” and “Radioactive” artists want to head in a direction with whispery “ooh’s” and a borderline Americana element. At least “It’s Time” and “On Top of the World” off Night Visions had a more contemporary take on the clappy feature, and they were infused with a much more mainstream alternative chorus. They completely omitted any sort of stomp-clap pattern in their prior album, where we all fell in love with them.

They’ve featured underlying synth-pop 80’s sounds on Night Visions with “Tiptoe,” and “Underdog” but the only track even obscurely following up that on Smoke + Mirrors would be “Shots.”

The title track is a beautifully written, soft-rock addition to Smoke + Mirrors with it’s story featuring poignant lyrics. However it also comes as a startling brake-pumping track after “Shots” and “Gold.” Maybe that was it’s purpose, but it was a pretty abrupt change of pace for me.

Besides that, I really do enjoy several of the tracks off Smoke + Mirrors, especially “I’m So Sorry” and “Gold,” as they are a perfect followup to their most popular tracks off Night Visions. THESE are the songs you want to listen to if you want to fall in love with Imagine Dragons! They have that masterfully unique take on electro-alternative-rock that only Dragons can create.


Deducting points for the syncopation and stop-go pace of the album, I’ll give Smoke + Mirrors 75/100. That’s a solid C, and as us college kids like to say, “C’s still get degrees!”

Good job Imagine Dragons!

Coming Soon
Exclusive Interview With Priory!


Priory is an up-and-coming indietronica-pop band fresh out of the Northwest city of Portland, Oregon. With the wild success of last year’s groundbreaking four-track self-titled EP (featuring their hit single “Weekend”), they have garnered the attention of several major labels. On February 26th, they announced their new full-length album’s April 7th release date via Warner Bros. Records, titled Need To Know.

With “Weekend” having peaked at #15 on Billboard’s Alternative chart and #30 on the Rock chart, there’s no doubt in my mind that Need To Know will feature tracks which will climb Billboard’s Hot 100. Stay tuned to BackstageByte for our exclusive interview, coming soon!