Category Archives: Features

Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 27: Peter Hollens

I think I’ve said this many times throughout the time that this site has been online. But now I’ll say it again. All throughout my life, I’ve been sheltered. Jon too. Mainly because we were born 3 months premature and hence our parents wanted to keep us at home and make sure we were super healthy and not exposed to anything that could and would hinder our development in any way possible. We never went to pre-school, and Mum never worked at all for the 5 years that both Jon and I were at home before kindergarten. I know, it may seem like a pretty intense and drastic measure- but hey, that’s what Mum and Dad were feeling at the time, and I absolutely cannot fault them for raising me and Jon the way they did. I have so much thanks and gratitude towards them, and there’s so many things in my life that are great, all because Mum and Dad were present during the formative years of my life. I think that I’ve actually had a pretty great childhood- but then again I’m not comparing my childhood to anything, so perhaps I’m biased? Anyway, as I was saying- both Jon and I were sheltered, through no fault of our own… but this meant that Mum and Dad were a bit hesitant in letting us try new things. From my own recollection from what Mum and Dad have told me, Jon had to be ‘forced’ every type of food for the first time, otherwise all he’s be eating would be chicken drumsticks; while Mum and Dad have told me countless times that I mostly copied my brother because, well I don’t know, isn’t that what brothers do when they’re young? When Jon decided not to talk and just point and use non-verbal cues to grab our parents’ attention, I followed suit. When Jon chucked a tantrum, I followed suit. When Jon decided that he was scared while watching Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs for the 7th billionth time, well naturally I’d hid behind the couch with him at the sight of the witch giving Snow White the apple. Life indeed was simpler back then, yet I’m sure others could say that we missed out on a lot during that time. And yeah, on some level you all may be right. But I believe that in a roundabout way, missing on quite a few things while we were younger- namely music and movies- is actually a blessing in disguise. Because it may have led to this blog series being written… and this series is one of the most humbling, enjoyable, enriching, inspiring and compelling activities I’ve embarked on in recent memory.

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 26: Thomas Rhett

The other day I was reflecting. As you do when the world has gone to pieces because of COVID-19 and other things, and you have extra time on your hands. I think I was sitting. Or maybe I was standing? Anyhoo, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that as I was reflecting on the year that was and is- and boy haven’t we all have had it rough, and don’t we all wish that 2020 would be ‘over’! – it slowly dawned on me that I’ve actually written 25 blogs out of 50, for artists who I deem as just coming to be influential now (for their respective genres and for their vastly different audiences), or maybe about other artists who may not be influential yet but will be within 5-10 years. I know that that is a mouthful to remember, because one’s definition of influence differs from person to person, and who you reckon is influential is who I reckon is not, and vice versa; yet nevertheless I have reached the half way point on my musical journey that I never thought that I would ever embark on in my wildest dreams. And the results so far… well they’re interesting. I stepped into this journey not knowing which artists would speak to me and what wisdom would be imparted to me- a similar thought process to Jon when he embarked on his much grander musical journey; yet at this half way point, much like Jon at his half way point, the questions I asked myself remained, and the answers to them not so clear cut… which in some ways is a good thing as it means that God is still speaking. I mean, have I learned anything about the music industry at large at this point, or about specific genres that I hadn’t known about before, or was God speaking to me in a profound way through an artist who I previously thought was superficial or shallow? Or was I even underwhelmed by a certain artist for whatever reason? And most of all, did I feel good about my choices of artists to include on this list at the end of the day, considering there’s other talented and up and coming artists who missed the cut on this arbitrary list?

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 57: DIDO

I’m 56 blog posts in, through my writing of the main ‘top 100 influential artists’ list, and I’ve started to wonder and ponder a few things. There’s actually been more times than I can count that I’ve caught myself wondering why I’m even writing this blog series in the first place. Sure you can read my introduction blog here, but what I will say is this- that sometimes the mundaneness of it all, the routine day-in-day-out writing of this blog series, can sometimes become disillusioning, disheartening, and maybe even downright confusing as to why I’ve carved up a year plus, to discuss artists who are influential in some shape or form…or am I just writing about the popular ones? 56 blogs in (and a few instances where I’ve had 1-2 months break), and I’ve understood this- that there is no pressure to make these blogs longer, more sophisticated, more introspective and nuanced, more ‘wordy’ and more ‘interesting’. Because more often than not, blogs are meant to be short and sweet, and I’ve turned them into something that I know I myself wouldn’t necessarily read in one sitting, if I were to read it back to myself again, upon reflection and review. Nevertheless, in light of my very own conscious decisions to shorten my blogs, I will say this- that from taking a break in June from blogging (and instead becoming more heavily investing in watching the news and keeping up to date with current affairs), I’ve become much more rejuvenated and more enthusiastic than ever, to tackle the next 44 blogs about artists I still firmly believe have crafted their own musical careers as being one of influence to people who listen. Sure, I acknowledge that my last 56 blogs, in a holistic sense, have been ‘easier’ artists to discuss, unveil and unpack, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not excited for music that is to come- artists like John Mayer, David Bowie, PINK, Taylor Swift, Robbie Williams, Coldplay and Spice Girls, are just some of the many, many artists to come in this series- artists that have shaped music in the past, and continue to do so even now…but what about the forgotten artist; the artist that was great once upon a time, came out with such a blaze and a big album (or two), and then faded into oblivion, according to the media and through popular opinion? What happens then? Does being influential mean throughout a whole career, or just a part of it? Can an artist have a one album wonder (or in this particular artist’s case- two very big albums, and then other albums released that pale in comparison), and still be regarded as one of music’s most impactful and influential in modern music history? Maybe.

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 25: Colony House

Hands up who loves watching nature films/series/documentaries? Anyone? No one? Nope The Lion King doesn’t count! Nor do Cats And Dogs, Homeward Bound, Napoleon, The Secret Life Of Pets, Beethoven, Zootopia, Marmaduke, Ice Age or Ferdinand! No, I’m talking about real in-the-wild behind the scenes nature documentaries like Richard Morecroft Goes Wild, or anything from David Attenborough such as Blue Planet or the Life series. I guess other nature films include Wild Australasia or Wild Asia and anything else in that series. My point is that regardless if you love watching them or not (and believe me, I have seen a few episodes of a number of nature shows in my life, and some have resonated with me and some haven’t…); there are indeed a few things that animals themselves can teach us humans about life. Especially in this period of isolation and quarantine due to COVID-19. Not to say that animals are smarter in every way than humans… but there’s been a few times where I’ve seen something in a nature show- like how a number of species of animals gather their food or look for shelter or travel and migrate south or north for the winter, or fight other animals for territory or how they raise their young; and I think to myself. I think to myself ‘Gee, creation is so complex, could it be possible that God made it that way so that humans not only can learn off other humans but off animals too?’. Now I’m not completely bonkers, so don’t write me off or send me to an asylum… hear me out for a bit. Sometimes us humans let our emotions take the best of us, and instead of thinking things through methodically and systematically with calmness and no panic, we go right ahead and do the opposite. Often this leads to disaster and unforeseen calamity which could have been avoided had we sat for a little bit and thought about the course of action best needed to be taken. So what if we took a page out of our four legged and winged pets and friends? Is there something to learn from man’s best friend?

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 56: COLBIE CAILLAT + GONE WEST

Music has the power to change a life. Or several lives. Or they can just bring things to the surface that you may have tucked away in yourself for quite some time. Regardless of what you think music is to you, what music genre you listen to, what era of music you are a fan of, one can’t deny this fact and proposition- that music changes lives. A song, at the right moment and time in someone’s life, can change the trajectory of that particular person, whatever that is. I know we have all heard the cliché saying that ‘music is the universal language’ (but hang on, isn’t the universal language food?), but regardless of how cliché that sounds, I betcha that statement is 100% dead-on true. Because it is. No matter if you love rock, or pop, or country, or metal, screamo, folk, acoustic, even Christian music or worship music; music can creep into our very souls and show us things about ourselves that maybe we haven’t realised they were there in the first place. Listening to music can be a cool thing as we enjoy something and have a good time (like when music is just background beats at a party); or music can really transform a person’s character and personality- from the inside out. It is when the music can really transcend its time period and artist, that it can truly be considered timeless- lasting years upon years, and still having the same impact on people now as I’m sure it did back then. For we may not always have to understand what is being said in the music for us to be impacted and affected by it in a positive way- just because all the classical pieces don’t have words, nor the famous opera singers, delivering their work in English; that doesn’t mean we can’t be connected to the songs, even on a soul level. Music is here to stay; and is a reminder for us all that songs delve into territories and circumstances that often a sermon or a discussion online, can never do. Millions of things are often discussed in songs that can be relatable to people from all walks of life- love is discussed. Hate is discussed. Identity, worry, belief in God, doubt, uncertainty- there’s a lot of things that music often gets right, and why there is always a certain appeal to music in all its forms and facets, across decades and years, and in and amongst all the zillions of musical genres there have been. Music makes you feel happy, sad, convicted, compelled, challenged, and everything else in between.

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Why Celebrate Christmas All Year? An Introduction To Christmas In July 2020!

As I look up at the sky and look at the vastness of creation, there’s literally more and more that I’m in awe and in wonder of. The fact that this earth is the only planet in the solar system that is seemingly habitable is one of those glorious wonders that I still am in awe and gratitude over- every time I look around at creation, I become even more convinced that there is a God! Yet just because God is the author and perfecter of our faith, and just because He is able to rid us of our pain and suffering; doesn’t mean that life won’t be hard and that everything will be easy all the time. The Bible does say that in John 16:33 that we will suffer and we will go through trials. But we need not to fear as Jesus has overcome the world. Now this promise and assurance we have from our Father in heaven can comfort and provide healing… but there’s still 2 constants in life. Which is death and taxes. Well… 3 if you count the fact that 2020 will be a year of hardship and that COVID-19 will unfortunately be raging on and on and on.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 55: HANSON

I dunno where you were when it was the 1990s. Maybe you were growing up like I did. Maybe you were an adult working, trying to make a living, or maybe you were just born during that decade…but whatever the case may be, you cannot deny that the 1990s- the decade, had some pretty cool stuff going on, in the realms of TV, movies and music. I mean, think about it for a moment. In 1994, quite possibly one of the most poignant and heartfelt Disney cartoon movies graced the cinemas in The Lion King, while the 1990s also gave to us the first in the Disney/Pixar movie series, Toy Story. Movies like Good Will Hunting, Mrs Doubtfire, Clueless, The Matrix, The Castle, Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption, Braveheart, The Parent Trap, Schindler’s List, The Truman Show, Space Jam, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, were all prominent in society and culture way back when I myself was growing up, not to mention one of the most underrated movies in the whole 1990s decade, That Thing You Do. The Nintendo 64 was around during the 90s decade also, and I can remember myself as a kid, always staying up late during my primary school years, playing N64 games like 1080, Diddy Kong Racing, Mario Kart and the ever-popular Banjo Kazooie. And while I myself wasn’t really much of an avid TV show watcher during the decade of my growing up, a lot of TV shows debuted during the 90s era- some of them standing the test of time: Seinfeld, Friends, Buffy, Twin Peaks, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The X-Files, Fraiser, Full House, Spin City, Boy Meets World, Dawson’s Creek, My So Called Life, Freaks & Geeks, Party of Five, Charmed, Seachange and The Sopranos, are just some of the many, many TV shows that were delivered to our TV sets and screens during the decade, and though I haven’t seen any of these shows aforementioned (I may check out shows like Freaks & Geeks, and Party of Five soon), what I will say is this- there are a lot of lost gems of the 1990s that seem to be swept under the carpet, either because there’s newer, more ‘relevant’ stuff out there, or its from the 1990s and is now considered ‘old’, but for whatever reason; the 1990s and all the good things that they have to offer in terms of TV and movies, seem to be moved to the side right now in 2020, in favour of whatever is currently following the trends when it comes to executives choosing which shows to deem popular and which movies to promote. And it’s not just TV shows and movies where you actually realise that the 1990s was a good era- music from the 1990s was a great time to be alive, too: Madonna, Mariah Carey, Alanis Morissette, Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, TLC, No Doubt, U2, The Cranberries, Green Day, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Boys II Men, Elton John, Aerosmith, LeAnn Rimes, Steven Curtis Chapman, Rebecca St. James, Newsboys, Shania Twain, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Carman and DC Talk…well, lets just say that music from 20 or so years ago, are just as emotive, heartfelt, poignant, encouraging, challenging, unique and substantial (maybe even more so), than the music currently being played on the airwaves, in July 2020. Now let me add something else to this list. Above all the music, TV shows and movies I have represented here in this paragraph (so that we can reflect upon and admire and respect the 1990s for how great it actually was); there is one artist that often gets overlooked if we say the word ‘1990s’- even though they themselves have had quite an impact on this decade as everyone else. Known mostly for their chart-topping hit ‘Mmmbop’ way back in 1997 (and I’m not sure if there’s any other radio single that has reached the heights of that, since!); we are discussing this week, boy band, Hanson.

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 24: Kelsea Ballerini

It was in January 2019, when Jon told me. When Jon told me that he felt upon his heart the need and the desire to undertake what at the time was a year long musical journey into artists and their discographies. And not just to write extensively about any artist but to embark on a musical journey to delve deep into and examine influential artists. Artists that moved us, that invoked emotion, that told a story, whose songs were and are timeless, and whose discographies ushered in a new generation of storytellers, entertainers, performers, magicians and just plain honest songwriters. The artists that Jon intended to write about would challenge him to the core, flip upside down his entire definition of what it means to be a great artist, and would someday be some of his favourite, and most heartfelt and poignant artists of all time. Now this was a pretty big feat to undertake, so as Jon was voicing what was on his heart back then, he asked me for advice. And though I was quietly excited and intrigued as to how Jon would undertake such a feat given our demands at the café, in my heart of hearts I didn’t really believe it would pan out the way it thought that it would and should- and never once in a million years did I think that Jon would be here today still writing what is now regarded to him as one of his most special blog series, or things he’s done, ever!

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 23: Jana Kramer

I personally want them to find out [about the infidelity] before they find out from a friend or before they start Googling. Hopefully we’re still married and we’re able to sit them down and say, ‘Look, Mommy and Daddy went through some really crazy stuff in the beginning of our marriage, but look where we’re at now and how happy we are and how we communicate.

They don’t need perfect parents. They need happy parents, so however we’re happy is how our relationship will go.

A lot of it can be unspoken from this time leading up to it, so by the time they do find out, by the time we have that discussion and they’ve [potentially] read things that they read, it’ll be so opposite end of the spectrum of what they know about their mom and dad that it’s almost hard for them to even comprehend what that is.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 54: NATALIE IMBRUGLIA

‘…it got to a critical point for me where I was just like, ‘I’m not sure I want to be doing this’. All I wanted to do was be on stage performing, and there was all this other BS, for want of a better word. I just think I got to the point where I was so frustrated trying to please everyone, then please the label, and then make choices I didn’t agree with, and it was time for me to focus on something other than myself. It’s also very insular. You are your product and that gets annoying too. I think as you get older as well, I’m not really obsessed with my career in the way that some people are. For me, I just want to enjoy my life and be happy. I want to get the balance of work and pleasure more on an even keel…’
‘…I think that’s always been there [ageism in music]. The entertainment industry in general – whether it’s male or female – is always considered a young person’s game. More so for women than men, but it’s one of those ongoing problems that has always been there. We go two steps forward and then ten steps back sometimes. You can choose to let that bother you, or not bother you. It’s not something I allow to really frustrate me by any stretch, but it’s certainly there. It’s a constant pressure on women in so many different ways to be… even at my age I’m considered to be far along the line for doing it. Then you look at Fleetwood Mac killing it on tour and making good music. There are a lot of artists who still have careers…’

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