Category Archives: Features

MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 83: LEONA LEWIS

You know how you hear a song and then instantly you know that this artist, even if you don’t know them, is destined for greatness? That this artist will blow everyone out of the water, this artist will have a long career, and this artist will inspire many, and be influential to many? The other year I think, I heard a song on the radio, that was somehow buried deep in my psyche that was unearthed this year. But when I heard it, I immediately thought that this person was blessed, that they were going to change a generation, and impact the world at large. Any guesses as to who this artist is? Is the artist I’m going to be writing about today Mariah Carey, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, Kylie Minogue or Robbie Williams? After all, they each have distinctive voices, am I right? Well, no, no, no, no, no, no and no again. This artist rather is rather underrated, has flown under the radar for a while, and is only really successful in their home country of Britain. Theirmost successful album remains their debut album back in 2007- and they’re an artist where at first glance may not fit into this blog series. But you know how God has surprised me over and over and shaken up my definition of who is influential and who isn’t? He’s done so again for this next artist. That’s right, it’s time to dive deep into the discography of British pop/gospel singer Leona Lewis. And yes, it was the song “Footprints In The Sand” that hit at my heart and emotions all those years ago in 2007.

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 41: The Shires

Maybe I’ll just say this from the outset…I don’t know how to start off this blog, or at least I didn’t know, when I initially decided to take the plunge, and give blogs 81-100 over to my brother Josh, and I then decided to take over the blogs that he was writing, 41-50. With the possibility of that even occurring, and how my brother and I were discussing it over the last few months, I was in fact very eager to have a change, per se. Let’s just say that writing about a certain ‘type’ of artist- the more established, while my brother explored more artists that were ‘new’, took a little bit of a toll on me. Not to say that artists like Keith Urban, Lady A, John Legend, Creed, Coldplay, John Farnham, John Mayer and Goo Goo Dolls (to name a few) weren’t good, quite the contrary actually. But you know how if you’ve been doing something long enough, you’re in need of a much-deserved change? Looking back on it now, I know I did. Having said that, now that my brother has embarked on the journey that I was on this last 2 years, posting the 81st post not too long ago about Tim McGraw, here I sit about to start writing…and I don’t have much at all. Usually when I write, I just do- the words flow out, and more often than not, I stare back at the page, and I’ve already written a page in about 5 minutes. Now, the words don’t come that easily anymore. Maybe it’s because I’ve been exploring more well-known artists that I’ve felt more at ease in writing about them, than compared to the up-and-comers I’m about to explore now, but whatever it is, at this moment I’m getting a massive amount of writer’s block. You know how you take over a task from someone, and then you feel pressure (either from yourself or even from outside sources) to make the continuation of the task, as good or even better than whence you first took over? That’s how I have felt, a little, since I started to listen to The Shires, in preparation for the 41st blog of the series ‘Influential Artists of the Next 5 – 10 Years’, what my brother Josh has been embarking on, from April 2019 onward.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 82: GWEN STEFANI

Fear. F. E. A. R. Fear. It’s a concept that many of us think we understand… But in reality, I reckon there’s a lot to unpack about this simple yet profound emotion that exists within us all. Fear is something that can cripple the best of us, can show us our deepest and darkest worries and concerns; and can be as rational as the sky being blue, or as irrational as the earth being flat. Fear can paralyse us and persuade us to stay still, or it can even motivate us to keep on keeping on with our journeys along this terrain called life. Whatever and however fear brings forth the best or worst in us, providing us impetus to actively change or a reason to be more shut in from the world; this pesky emotion has buried its way into our psyche and has lived there for years and years and years. Dare I say it- I reckon it’s the most important yet the most harrowing emotion that we could have?

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 81: TIM MCGRAW

Influence is a funny thing. It’s a topic that, by all accounts, is very, very subjective. Something or someone that you may believe to be influential, for either your own life or for the wider world, either at a national level or at a global level; may in fact be regarded by myself or by someone else as not influential at all, and perhaps superfluous. When we’re speaking about influence, we’re usually speaking about people and the mark they’ve made on human history, for either good or bad, and the impression that they’re destined to leave us all when they die. Sure, you can measure popularity by the numbers- if it’s a music artist, then by number of albums sold or songs streamed, or even twitter followers or hit radio singles; or if its an actor then number of movies starred in or number of Golden Globe or Academy Awards won. Influence, on the other hand…. Well that’s measured by…that’s measured by… well what is it measured by? Number of lives impacted after watching a movie or listening to a song? How would you determine the magnitude of the impact and whether the direct impact of a song or an album on a person is life changing or not though? Did the song save them from death or give them a sense of direction or purpose? Or is a measure the number of people directly inspired by that artist, so much so that a person considers said artist a role model and someone they look up to? How about during an unforeseen tragic circumstance, a song from left field, by an artist one would never imagine or think they’d ever listen to, inspires and comforts and heals, and brings them back from the brink, from depression and from hurt and pain unimaginable. Is this artist influential to that person? If the artist has had little sales and hardly any radio hits, but has changed lives for the better, and has released maybe the ‘theme song’ for someone’s marriage or graduation or something like that- are they influential? Maybe… maybe not. But regardless, don’t you reckon influence is now a bit grey and dependent on a variety of factors that can change as they days, months, years progress?

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 80: JOHN LEGEND

It’s been hard to even comprehend and conceive the fact that this is my 80th blog post in this series about artists who have been influential in modern music history. It can feel that it was just yesterday where I wrote the introduction blogging post, that led to what I reckon, was one of the most enriching musical experiences I have ever partook in, and now 2 and a bit years later, embarking on my 80th blog discussing John Legend, before my brother Josh takes over to discuss Tim McGraw in the 81st blog, and I move over to take over his ‘Influential Artists’ list, about artists that are more newer on the spectrum of artists, how they are indeed much more influential to a newer generation of people, or maybe not necessarily influential now per se, but could probably in the upcoming years ahead…and so before this all takes into effect and I pass this beacon of a project to my brother in the upcoming weeks ahead, I’ve decided to make this blog a short one. Like…probably really short. It’ll be special, unique, different, more like a reflective blog of sorts. Looking back on what I’ve learnt and what I believe God has been speaking to over the last couple of years, about music, life, God and everything else in between.

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 40: Marie Miller

The other day I was contemplating, reflecting as we often do during this uncertain time of COVID-19… with no end in sight. I was contemplating as to why people have certain likes and dislikes, and why other people have others. I know, I know, it’s a strange topic to dwell upon. But bear with me for one second. See I love Chinese food, and most things Asian. Noodles, rice, laksa, curries, stir fry, satay, teriyaki, tom yum soup, wontons, dumplings… you name it, anything remotely Asian I will try, and I will most definitely like. I’m pretty much easy to please on that front. Food-wise I’ll give most things a go- and perhaps it’s because my mum’s Malaysian; that an innate part of me will always be drawn back to Asian food. On the other hand, though my dad is German, his cuisine has hardly grabbed a hold of me- not in the same way that Chinese food has. Sure, there’s Adendbrot, and Kassler, and Red Cabbage (maybe that’s a family tradition on Dad’s side rather than a German tradition!); but aside from that there isn’t much more that resonates with me. Though there are a lot of German dishes– some that probably Dad hasn’t heard of! Dad really loves liquorice, and Jon and myself do not. Dad loves Dominostein, and we don’t. Pfeffernüsse is ok-ish, but again- Dad loves it! And this got me thinking. That if our likes and dislikes in terms of food can be so contrastingly and vastly different, with only a few things in common… then does that translate into other areas and aspects of our own lives? And more specifically in terms of music (of course I’d go back to music… as I am in the midst of a blog series on artists and their burgeoning influence!), how do we all find one artist resonating and deeply impactful, and someone else find the same artist downright horrible and uninspiring?

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 79: NICKELBACK

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I wonder what it’s like to be hated, disliked, or even universally panned, as a music artist. What goes through a bands’ mind (or a solo artist for that matter) if a lot of the publicity is negative, a lot of the reviews of their albums are negative, and just the vibe of the critics towards this artist/group is negative, full stop…can an artist/band still be impactful, influential, and the rest of it, in spite of that? Yes, if you’re reading between the lines here, and you’ve read the title of this blog, then you’d know which artist I’m about to delve into today. You guessed it, it’s about time, after 78 blogs, to tackle Nickelback as blog #79. And I know, it’s probably a long time coming for me to say my two cents worth about Chad Kroger and co. but here I am, around a couple of years after my first blog to talk about a band that quite possibly, alongside Creed (I dunno why though) are two of the most ‘hated’ bands of all time…ever. And what do I do with that information though- do I let this piece of knowledge (reliable or not), bias my own opinions of the band, and thus, sway this blog post altogether? Or should I just write about the band regardless, and form my own opinion, nevertheless? Nickelback have been singing and making music for quite some time- over 20 years in fact. Chad’s distinct voice and gravely texture to it, makes the band one of the most unique in modern music history- and maybe it’s because of this uniqueness that it seems like Nickelback’s talent, can be viewed by the public as fading away, in place of a band’s ‘brand’, for lack of a better term. Whatever the case of how the band got to be known by the public as one of the most hated bands (maybe not only in America but around the world too), what we know now is this- that Nickelback are hated for some reason, and that I was hesitant in writing this blog post, until now, of course. I mean, what do you write when you’re tackling a band that is unfortunately, universally disliked? Do you write anything? Nothing? Write, but then realise that you’re writing about something else entirely? Nickelback are indeed so much more than just a band to be ‘hated’, and as I’ve listened to them this past week and a bit, I’ve grown to appreciate Chad’s singing style, and writing style. This is a band that has soldiered on in spite of popular opinion; and have continued to weather the proverbial ‘storm’ which is their music career thus far. For a band to last this long in the music industry, let alone last this long in the music industry with a lot of ‘hate’, dislike, shade, and generalised panning, is nothing short of a miracle. It really is. Kudos and credit to Chad and the band for continuing to press on through these bouts of adversity, because if such hurling of insults happened to any other band, I’m not sure how they’d react. I mean, lets be honest right here. I’m not your average rock and roll fan. I like the odd occasional band here and there (Lifehouse, the Goo Goo Dolls, Daughtry, Skillet, and now to some extent Creed), but I’m not into your heavy rock that Nickelback seems to ‘flirt’ with on occasion throughout their discography that I’ve listened to, this past week or so. Hearing them is like the mixing of radio friendly rock and the hardness of a band like Hoobastank or Evanescence (I mean, both Hoobastank and Evanescence are fine, it’s just that both these bands aren’t necessarily my go-to if I want to hear rock music). And that’s interesting and weird at the same time. And maybe it’s just the confusion that surrounds the band’s definite musical genre (Is it hard rock? Is it radio friendly rock?), or maybe it’s because of how Chad Kroger’s actual singing voice can seem a little jarring if you hear Nickelback on repeat for more than 30 minutes at a time. Needless to say, in spite of my own hesitation to announce the band as one of my favourites (rather, it’d be a band that I would thoroughly respect at the end of the day, but won’t necessarily seek them out later on for my general listening pleasure), Nickelback continue to sell, and for a band to be in 2021, still musically active…well, they must be doing something right, right?

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 39: Shawn Mendes

Have you ever listened to a song, an artist, maybe an entire discography, and have been totally amazed, flabbergasted, lost for words, full of pride and admiration, for the artist- even from the get-go? Have you ever listened to a song and been grateful that you are alive in this very moment while this particular artist is alive, to breathe the same air as them? On second thought…wow, that sounded creepy and hero-worship like, don’t you think? No, but seriously, have you heard a song by an artist, and have concluded from the outset that ‘this person gets it, he/she knows what the point of music is, and that that’s what music is all about!’? Have you ever heard a song and immediately concluded that this artist is ahead of their time and is bound to be an instant fan favourite and a future star? Perhaps it was an artist who was very young and they were writing music as accomplished and as resonating as veterans of 30 or 40 years. Or perhaps they were talked about as being a has-been, a fading star that has recently recaptured their spark and has also ‘made it’ with the younger crowd. Whatever the case, I am sure there has been one artist that has clicked with you, that has made you want to dive deeper into music as a whole and has challenged you with questions about life, love, death and everything else in between. For me there have been several- influential artists whom both Jon and I have written about, that have stood and are going to stand the test of time, and have indeed written about and sung about meaty issues and often taboo topics. Artists that have looked at a blank canvas and have declared “Yes, I will sing about this, this, and this, even if it doesn’t win me any awards”. Artists that have used a proverbial blank piece of paper and a proverbial paint brush and just painted for themselves, and not for others. Artists who aren’t afraid to shake the status quo, artists who in my mind are fearless. So for these artists, you can read about them in our blog series, and yes, I intend to briefly touch upon another artist right here and now- but let me first speak about the concept of walking fearlessly and what that mindset does for you.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 78: CREED

Let me just say from the outset, that my go-to type of music hasn’t really been rock. It was only recently where I heavily listened to artists like Switchfoot and Skillet, alongside other rock bands like Train, Evanescence, Daughtry, Goo Goo Dolls, Lifehouse, Hanson and Hoobastank (all of which are present in my blog post series) that I’ve come to a better appreciation of a genre that I wasn’t necessarily quick-to-listen-to in the first place. Nothing notably ‘wrong’ with rock, it’s just for me growing up, I was much more susceptible to enjoy other more radio-friendly CCM/pop, and even now, that’s where I’d go to, if I want something familiar and comfortable. But as I’ve continued to say throughout these blog posts these last few years, I’ve thrown out comfortability when listening to a myriad of artists and genres over the last couple of years or so- from country, rap, boy-bands, pop and CCM, to rock, operatic pop, folk/singer-songwriter, Australian music and worship; I’ve explored a fair amount of music out there, only to discover that I was a little naïve about the music that didn’t necessarily fit my initial ‘mould’ of what I assumed each genre of music to be. I had pre-conceived ideas going into listening every genre of music aside from CCM, and as I listened and heard artists and genres that changed my perceptions of them, and the music genre their body of work represented; I was less quick to judge musical genres that weren’t necessarily my first choice- I’m much more accommodating and explorative than I was a couple of years ago. Artists like Alicia Keys, John Mayer, Goo Goo Dolls, Josh Groban, Alanis Morrissette, Jon Foreman, Jackie Evancho and Pentatonix have all broadened my appreciation of their respective genres over the years, and my blog posts have all reflected a sense of wonder when it comes to discovering a little nuanced facet of music that I maybe hadn’t thought about, prior to listening to said artist. And so, as I approach my 78th blog post (phew…that’s a lot of blog posts, if I am to be completely honest), I come with a sense of honesty- that I don’t really know much about this band I’m about to discuss. And maybe that’s ok.

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BEST OF 2020- PART 7: TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2020 [JULY-DEC]

Hey everyone… guess what! It’s March 2021, and slowly coming up to April. And I’ve just found out that we haven’t uploaded our top 20 albums of the second half of 2020 yet! Shame on us! Anyway… it’s time to rectify this issue right away! So without further ado, let me present to you all our favourite 20 albums as a site for the period of July-December 2020! Impacting and inspiring songs are special, but whole album near-masterpieces? They’re even more special!  So sit back, be inspired, and let these full length projects minister to you during this time of uncertainty!

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