Category Archives: Features

MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 93: THE CRANBERRIES

Contrary to underlying and assumed popular belief that the U.S. charts comprise of the holy grail of artists, and that they comprise of the be-all-and-end-all of every artist that is undoubtedly the most inspiring and the best; there has been, and probably will forever be, something much more poignant, moving, powerful, compelling and encouraging if you will, about music that is produced, written and recorded outside of the U.S.A., in my humble opinion. I’ve already mentioned in a previous blog post (or maybe in the introduction post in this series) about how we aren’t as caught up as most people on the state of ‘pop’ music these days; and since that time we’ve found out that a number of artists on the top 100 charts whom we do not listen to, and haven’t blogged about- are American. Artists like Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, BTS, The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, Post Malone, Drake, Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, Megan Thee Stallion, Maroon 5, Lil Nas X, SZA, Luke Bryan, Dan + Shay, Jason Aldean, Kane Brown, Khalid, Imagine Dragons, Eminem, Cardi B, Chris Brown, Twenty One Pilots, Kendrick Lamar, Jonas Brothers, Eric Church and Panic At The Disco; have all dominated the charts over the past year or so, and apart from BTS who is from South Korea, they’re all from America, or American adjacent countries. None of these artists are artists who we have blogged about, or are going to be blogging about (except for Justin Bieber, who was recently a late addition to this blog list!); and so when looking at who is cool and hip at the moment… does this mean that we’re out of touch with American pop, and even if we are, does it matter in the grand scheme of things?

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 92: LINKIN PARK

Life is fragile. One minute it’s there and the next, it’s not. You could be healthy one day and dead the next, and the day before, you’d be none the wiser. Gee, that sounds morbid, doesn’t it? That sounds like a super way to start a blog post, don’t you think? But bear with me, everyone; there’s a point to this introspection and this depressive start. You see, if death can come knocking at a moment’s notice, and you can’t really prepare for it…then what is the point of striving so hard, to acquire money and possessions and the like, if you’re not going to take it beyond the grave? Death is so certain, and it’s something that affects all of us; and the fact that it’s not just the old and sick that die, is pretty scary and overwhelming. As cases of COVID-19 keep rising around NSW and in Australia and also around the world, and as people keep on dying, I often of late have thought about the lives cut short by the pandemic, especially people who are young. I wonder about their hopes and dreams and how they can’t ever accomplish everything that they would want to- because they’re dead. Dreams cut short and potential not realised- because you’re dead. I know that if you’re dying not because of old age, but because of any other means; then that is an incredibly sad way to go. And though I’m being reminded about death a lot, I know it’s not something that you can change. You can’t cheat death, no matter how you try. When it’s your time, then there’s no two ways around it. Death is something that we all, like it or not, eventually will have to accept. Death happens to ALL of us. Not some. Not just the old or the babies who are unfortunately aborted. But to all of us. And though I’ve seen death and been to funerals before (for my uncle and also for a friend from church), the thought that death can happen tomorrow…actually sunk in for me about a week ago.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 91: NSYNC & JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE

The other day NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian extended the lockdowns across NSW for yet another 2 weeks. With little change happening over the past few weeks of lockdown that NSW has had so far, freedoms are once again limited to exercising around the block and only one person going out to the shops for groceries. It remains to be seen whether the two-week extension of the lockdown will have any effect at all on case numbers and whether COVID-19 infections will decrease or not; but the fact of the matter is that we all are frustrated. Tired of staying at home, wanting more human interaction, and mingling with friends and co-workers. We long to go over to people’s houses for a barbecue and a cold beer, and we long to go to the movies or to a concert. In short, we as a nation and as people globally, long to get back to a life that is semi-normal, before COVID. Because at home, we don’t seem to be productive, and at times we think that we’re not doing anything. Yes, we’re listening to music, we’re zooming, we’re binging on all of our streaming shows, we’re sleeping in… but as we look abroad to other countries who have opened up the country a whole lot more than us Australians have (and it’s largely due to a supply issue of vaccines, which are more readily available overseas, plus people from other countries are generally more willing to receive vaccinations!); I reckon we’ve all become slightly envious. Envious and jealous of how many countries around the world have sprung back to normalcy (to an extent). Envious of how people are living overseas with apparent freedom. And though we know that there are still rampant COVID-19 deaths happening overseas… we choose to overlook them, in favour of our biases and preconceptions that other countries have it better than us because they have less restrictions. Are we envious and jealous though… unnecessarily? I mean, someday Australia will have opened up to the world, and for now we just gotta be patient and stay the course until more vaccines come, am I right?

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 90: CHRISTINA AGUILERA

It’s been about a couple of years since I’ve seen a reality series in full. In general, the reason I think that is, is because there’s not many reality shows that I can be fully invested in, as in shows that leave me fully satisfied come the seasons end. But I somehow always am sucked in… for more times and many occurrences than I would ever care to admit. For me, I’ve always had this love hate relationship with reality shows, especially singing shows, and it started all the way from Australian Idol back in 2003, stretching all the way to The Voice from a couple of years ago. But I’ve found that I’m easily drawn into reality shows that aren’t just singing shows like Australia’s Got Talent or The Voice. My weaknesses (which I’m not proud of at all!) extends to cooking shows like MasterChef and Iron Chef as well. Thankfully though, I’ve never caught many other variety shows like I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Survivor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother, Farmer Wants A Wife, The Block and Beauty & The Geek; although I did watch Lego Masters, Australian Ninja Warrior and The Masked Singer a few times. Yet these shows are extremely popular by society’s standards. For me though, in the most general sense I could ever extrapolate, I just find that people’s fascination with everyday people’s lives is quite disturbing… yet then again I’m a culprit and I am part of the problem for certain shows. I’ve often sometimes sat down on the couch on any given night, turned the TV on and done a bit of channel surfing, and then end up on YouTube on my computer instead, simply because reality TV is dominating the channels. I wonder to myself ‘why are these shows on the air’, and then I forget about said reality show, my puzzlement and confusion at them being on the air, and my frustrations… until the next reality TV show. It’s a never-ending cycle of me being completely disinterested in a show, then being sucked in by some clever advertising midway during the season (for singing and cooking shows), then me coming to my senses and drifting away for a bit, then being sucked in for the final week or two weeks. I always thought that that’s the way it was… and it’s only recently that I’ve realised that maybe there’s a reason for me being drawn in by reality shows, and singing shows in particular. On the surface, the incessant need for us to be filled with entertainment, is mindless. Yet a deeper look reveals that singing shows may not be so mindless after all, and may serve a purpose beyond us wanting to be entertained.

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 45: Ava Max

I dunno if this thought can be a bit presumptuous, simplistic or even revolutionary, but I’ve realised that throughout the last 2 or so years of me blogging about specific artists in terms of their influence and impact on music, society, and music history as a whole, that pop music comes in various forms, and the various pop artists I’ve discussed in these blogs each employ a unique way of crafting their music within the confides of this three lettered word ‘pop’, and each of these artists I’ve listened to, have gained a greater appreciation and respect from myself. The piano pop of Delta Goodrem who delivers powerful ballads and has a big voice, is different from the pop of Kelly Clarkson that is as traditional as they come. Carly Rae Jepsen’s version of pop leans more EDM, while the 80s synthpop that has been prevalent in a lot of Bryan Adams material is on a different scale than anything else. Ed Sheeran’s pop lies more in the folk/acoustic/experimental category; and provides a unique way of how music from Britain is progressing at the moment, while John Farnham’s pop relies a lot on anthemic moments of emotion and heart, as big ballads consist of most of his discography. Each and every one of these artist’s way of delivering ‘pop’ is unique and distinct, and just like the musical genre of country, pop can be as vast, expansive, and confusing, especially when you are more gravitated towards a certain aspect within a certain genre compared to another. Pop has many fans, and I’ve been privileged enough to take a glimpse and snapshot into a genre that I still don’t know much about, even though I’ve discussed and blogged about more pop artists than any other artist in any other genre, in this blog series thus far.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 89: PINK

I don’t know if you all know this, but mainstream music hasn’t really been my thing. I don’t think that’s it’s been a secret, for those of you who religiously follow this site, but it really, really hasn’t. You see, since as early as 2018, I was still listening to Christian music. Not that there’s anything bad with that. But the fact of the matter was that I was still listening to Delirious? and Carman, and since 2006, other bands and artists like Natalie Grant, Newsboys, Casting Crowns, Third Day, MercyMe, for KING & COUNTRY, Tenth Avenue North, Britt Nicole, Kari Jobe, Meredith Andrews, Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Lincoln Brewster, Phil Wickham, Francesca Battistelli, and Jeremy Camp to name a few. Some of these artists were indeed pop in musical nature, but to me were Christian first and foremost. So I didn’t consider them as pop- I instead considered them all as ‘Christian’ music. Not that ‘Christian’ should be a music genre, but the facts are the facts. CCM (or contemporary Christian music) is in fact a genre, and it is very isolated from the rest of the music industry. And I guess I might have been naïve, but I thought Christian music was so big, and that everything outside of Christian music was bad. Because songs weren’t talking about Jesus. To be fair though, in hindsight and looking back, songs that do not talk about Jesus but do speak about relevant, prevalent and confronting issues such as identity, self-worth, love, death, relationships, God, faith, doubt, other kinds of spirituality, sex, hurt, pain, betrayal, the wonder of the cosmos… songs about all of that without the explicit mention of God; they’re all not all bad songs. If the message of said song doesn’t point you directly to Jesus, but speaks about living a better life and improving upon your previous efforts as a person; do you think God used that song or that artist or that album, to maybe subtly draw listeners back to Him or at least to more focused conversations about religion and spirituality? I know, I know, I might be speaking blasphemy or heresy depending on who you talk to, whether you are a Catholic or a Protestant, or Conservative or a Progressive… but keep in mind that 3 years ago I was of a similar viewpoint. That Christian music is good and everything else is bad. I think I might feel like a broken record by the end of this blog series… but the truth of the matter is this: that it was virtually since Jon and I started this blog series, that I have had an appreciation for music that isn’t decidedly ‘Christian’ in nature. I’ve understood more about how God can move, and I’ve actually liked a few mainstream artists more than their Christian counterparts. I’ve realised that all music can be used to better our society, and to inspire ourselves and to further God’s kingdom; and I’ve also realised that the timeless artists and the iconic artists and the influential artists- predominately aren’t in the Christian music industry.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 88: RICHARD MARX

I’ve often wondered what constitutes a timeless song. A song that is regarded as being legendary in its own right. Something that can tug at your heart, and can invade your innermost being, bringing forth emotions to the surface that you never knew you had. I’ve often wondered if it’s the artist who makes a great song, or if it’s the songwriter. Because usually, the great songs (like the great songs in the 90’s like “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion and “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey), are 9 times out of 10, written by a songwriter, or maybe two or more; and then given to a singer to ‘make famous’. Is a song famous because of the name and reputation of the artist, or because of the reputation or repertoire of the songwriter? Songwriters like Diane Warren, Ashley Gorley, Justin Paul & Benj Pasek, David Garcia, David Foster, Justin Tranter & Julia Michaels, Sia, Ryan Tedder, Toby Gad, Shane McAnally and Ester Dean, are all in high demand; and only some of these are artists. The rest just keep chugging along, ploughing away at their craft, helping to make artists famous by crafting a radio friendly hit song. Many of these songwriters are world renowned and respected by their peers- and so the question needs to be asked as to whether the song lives on in the hearts of all of us because of the artist or the songwriter. I reckon it’s about 50/50 at least, in that the songwriter generally does around about 50% of the work in propelling an artist into stardom. But whether a song lives on in my heart, and then just doesn’t connect in your heart- that’s a different thing altogether. But generally speaking, the big iconic songs that we’ll still be singing in 20-30 years’ time, are because of a symbiotic or sometimes parasitical relationship between the songwriter and the artist. But what happens when an iconic song is written by the artist who has sung it? Does that artist achieve the recognition, the praise, the accolades, before the songwriters who write for other people? If an artist has been going and going and going for a long period of time, writing and singing, and keeping their head down… and they don’t receive any awards because their songs aren’t flashy nor of big production; is that fair? Even if they’ve worked with a wide variety of people and are considered a legend in their field, by their peers?

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 44: Apollo LTD

Motivational pop-rock isn’t necessarily all the rage, nowadays that is. Gone are the days of artists like the Goo Goo Dolls, Train and to some extent, Coldplay. Yes, these artists during their heyday (which unfortunately, isn’t really now) dominated the sonic landscape and created music with an inspirational edge, all the while utilising the mainstream music market and delivering songs of poignancy and fun, reminding us that it is ok to have a deep song right next to a jovial, fun track on a track-list on an album. Coldplay brought to us one of the 2000s best in ‘Fix You’, quite possibly for me, one of the top 5 songs to ever grace our ears in that decade. Also in the same decade was both Train and Goo Goo Dolls- Train brought to us the quirky and often nonsensical ‘Drops of Jupiter’ (but we all didn’t care, it’s still a classic song, all these years later), and even the thought-provoking ‘Calling All Angels’, ‘Marry Me’, ‘When I Look to the Sky’ and ‘If It’s Love’. And while the Goo Goo Dolls’ biggest hit ‘Iris’ was unveiled in the 1990s (1998 to be precise), the band still had relative success during the 2000s, with songs like ‘Big Machine’, ‘Here is Gone’, ‘Better Days’, ‘Give a Little Bit’, ‘Stay With You’ and ‘Sympathy’. Coldplay, Train and Goo Goo Dolls were all delivering what was considered to be popular during that era- motivational pop-rock, and while that type of branding has always been able to strike a chord with me (considering my own love of CCM and worship music, this umbrella of motivational pop-rock is something in the mainstream that can be very closely attributed to CCM/worship if ever someone was able to find a proverbial link there!), it seemed that as though time went on and music changed, the artists that changed with them seemed to not as care as much for the ‘motivational’ genre as the next guy, and started to place more emphasis on the glitz and glamour of the music, than the lyrics and music themselves. Which is a bit of a shame though- but when you do look around at the music of today, it can be hard pressed to find artists that seem to embrace the motivational pop-rock umbrella as well as bands like Train, Goo Goo Dolls and Coldplay did, way back in the 2000s. Sure, these three bands are still at it today, and are still delivering motivational pop-rock anthems for the masses, but there is where it all stops.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 87: CROWDED HOUSE

The other week, I made a very big assertion with regards to the criteria of this blog series list. And it was that there wasn’t a concrete criteria, that virtually anyone could get in if they were ‘influential’ or ‘popular’ enough– a metric which in some ways is extremely bias. Regardless if an artist debuted in the 80’s or in the 2010’s; regardless if they had a hit in the 90’s or had 5 hits in the 90’s; regardless if they were known just for their music or for their life outside of music too… if you glance through our list, you’d find a vast smorgasbord of different artists, who in my opinion each deserve their place in their own special way. And because you could conceivably argue that each artist deserved to be there, and each artist was vastly different to each other… ergo this meant that there was hardly any criteria for inclusion on such a subjective list as this. But as I pondered this past week as I was ruminating as to who to write about, it struck me that there was indeed a bit of a pattern with the artists whom I was choosing to write about, and with whom Jon was choosing to write about, even if we didn’t know it at the time.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 86: SNOW PATROL

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. It’s been about a couple of months since I had a crazy idea to swap blog series with Jon (as in I write about influential artists of all time, and he write about artists who are virtually certain to be influential in the near future!); and it’s been a bit more taxing that I thought it was going to be. Not that I’m complaining… which I’m not, because I’ve been musically stretched beyond anything that I even thought I would be, and more than I ever was when I was writing my portion of the blog series all that time ago. It’s just that at this stage of the blog series, from entries #81-#100, you’d think that the 20 artists would be self-explanatory and would reveal themselves like the drop of a hat. And you’d be right… somewhat. Artists like Tim McGraw, Jennifer Lopez and Spice Girls were in the list for as long as I could remember- so there were no surprises there. But Gwen Stefani and Leona Lewis surprised me in a good way- they weren’t in the list for very long, and the fact that I was so compelled to write about these artists meant that there was no room for Blake Shelton and Norah Jones (at the moment). I’ve noticed that even at this stage, I can be enamoured and fascinated by the discography and life of an artist so much that I could include them on a whim at the expense of another; and that’s ok. At no point during this process of writing did I feel as if Gwen and Leona weren’t worthy of being included in a subjective list such as this. But it did give me pause and reason for reflection for the remainder 15 names.

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