Release Date: August 12th 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Throughout the past few years, my brother and I embarked on a musical and lyrical journey like no other. We boldly, fearlessly, and maybe naively, decided to write about 100 artists (and a further 50) whom we deemed to be the most ‘influential’ of all time, and also who we believed to be burgeoning and up-and-coming artists who would be influential within 5-10 years. These artists can be viewed here, and you can read them all to your heart’s content, and at your own pace. These artists can be conversation starters at the dinner table, they all can be hotly debated, agreed upon and disagreed upon. We wrote about artists who probably would have been on anyone and everyone’s list (Avril Lavigne, U2, Phil Collins, John Mayer, Michael Bublé, OneRepublic, Ed Sheeran, Christina Aguilera, Taylor Swift, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams, Alicia Keys, Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Tina Arena, Backstreet Boys, One Direction, Coldplay, Jennifer Lopez, John Legend, Tim McGraw, Justin Bieber, Beyonce and Mariah Carey to name a few), while we wrote about 20 or so Christian/worship artists, who probably would not have been present on any other list- sad to say. Some artists were influential within their genres and could have been argued either way (Jason Mraz, Seal, Jackie Evancho, Alanis Morrisette, Gwen Stefani, Hoobastank, Natalie Imbruglia, Hanson, Colbie Caillat, Goo Goo Dolls, Pentatonix, Train, Mandy Moore, Owl City, The McClymonts); while we did not include many rap or gospel artists, nor pop artists of today. Some artists we claimed to be up-and-coming, but they weren’t (Matthew West, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Little Mix), while others like The New Respects, Jess Glynne, and Conrad Sewell… well frankly they kind of faded, and are they really up and coming when they may not be popular or influential? Others like Maddie & Tae, Thomas Rhett, NF, Dua Lipa, Sabrina Carpenter, Sofia Carson, Mickey Guyton, Zach Williams, Tori Kelly, Lauren Daigle, Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Chris Stapleton and Ava Max (to name a few) are indeed ‘up-and-coming’ and actually fit the scope of the 50 artists; while Cory Asbury is indeed certain to be influential… but we just spoke about the controversy of “Reckless Love” the song for virtually the whole blog. There were pluses and minuses of both lists. And quite frankly, if any of you have a different 100 or a different 50- I would not blame you at all. After all, that’s what the honourable mentions are for- you can read them here, here, and here.
Chrysalis Records Limited
Release Date: May 6th 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Don’t you just love feel-good stories? Stories where there is 100% chance of a happy ending? Stories where the protagonist or main person grows and learns from their mistakes and becomes just… you know, better in the end? I know I do. Over the years, I’ve watched almost every show of the Arrowverse (aside from Black Lightning), as well as every movie and TV show of the MCU. I’ve seen Once Upon A Time in the past almost religiously week to week; as well as binging on Nancy Drew, One Tree Hill and Hart Of Dixie in recent times (shows grounded in reality somewhat but set in fictitious towns). And in each and every show where there is a distinct good v evil concept, or at least a concept of one person versus another; I’ve always rooted for the hero, which is most of the time presented to us to be the underdog. You see, we all have our favourite books or movies or TV shows or comics or fables or other works of fictions; and we all have the people that we root for. The people that could do no wrong in our eyes, the people that we always know are going to make it, the people whom we aspire to be like, or even to be. Sometimes though, we as people can be lost in the idea of a feel-good story, and the idea of good overcoming evil with a click of a finger; that we sometimes forget that real life can be a real hard slog. We dream about the what-ifs and think about the worlds that we have immersed ourselves in. We think about Storybrooke or National City or Central City or The Enchanted Forest, or The TVA or Madripoor or Wakanda or Blue Valley or Horseshoe Bay or Tree Hill or Bluebell; and we wish. “What if I was there? What if I was living ___, being a superhero or a hero or a detective and doing something worthwhile with my life? It would certainly be more interesting than real life, than what I’m doing right now!”. And then we spiral. Now, before each one of you object and try to explain to me that there’s no way that you’d ever, ever have these thoughts about escaping reality and hoping to be existing somewhere else in the world, or in a fictitious world that is very much alive through a certain movie or TV show; well, let’s not kid ourselves, shall we? Because I reckon all of us, at one point or another in our lives, have hoped to be part of something bigger than the world we live in right now, and have latched onto the hope and the dream and the fantasy that these fictitious worlds bring. Am I right? Am I wrong? Too close to the truth?
Warner Music Inc.
Release Date: October 1st 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Success. Influence. Popularity. And to some extent happiness. Is it possible that these 4 aspects of life are more intertwined more than we think? Throughout the past 95 blogs, both Jon and myself have written about popular artists, about not-so-popular artists, about rather obscure artists (by society’s standards), as well as about artists who are no-brainers. All of these artists are who we firmly believe to be influential. But more than that- the most influential artists of all time. It’s a bold statement to declare, and I reckon that artists like Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Keith Urban, Backstreet Boys, Ed Sheeran, U2, Adele, John Farnham, Josh Groban and Carly Rae Jepsen to name a few- would be instantly included for any subjective list, on what I believe is a dynamic and ever-evolving list anyway, and is right now only a snapshot in time. While I reckon that maybe on any other day and on any other list written by any other person, artists like Richard Marx, Hanson, Leona Lewis, Jackie Evancho, Cimorelli, Five For Fighting, Colbie Caillat, The McClymonts, Hoobastank and SEAL would not make the list at all. And for me to include the shoe-ins and the obscure artists on one list… it might be head-scratching for some. And that’s ok. Because we all have different preferences, likes and dislikes- everyone’s list of influential artists is going to be different. This list is not gospel. I’ve said it once and I will say it again until I think we understand that it’s ok to have different opinions on music. It’s perfectly fine. Differences make life interesting and underpin our humanity, don’t you reckon? But coming into the final 5 blogs about influential artists- I don’t think that any of us would argue anything with these representatives. Think about it. Rihanna. Taylor Swift. Kylie Minogue. Robbie Williams. And this week’s artist- Mariah Carey. There really shouldn’t be any doubt about the calibre, impact and prowess of any of these artists- and if you all have apprehensions to any of these artists- maybe a deep immersion into these artists’ discographies will tug at your soul and at your emotions; and quite possibly change your mind.
Not too long ago, the Dove Award nominations released. For those of you familiar with Christian music, and for those who have read our site since the inception back in 2014; I’m sure you’ll all believe me when I say that throughout the past few years, both myself and my brother Jon have always eagerly anticipated the Dove Award nominations every year. We’ve even written predictions for these awards on this site here, here and here (2017, 2018 and 2019); as well as our analysis of winners and nominations here and here (both 2014). But for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Dove Awards though, let’s just say that it’s like the Christian version of the Grammy Awards. It’s probably the most prestigious award show in the history of CCM music. And being that Jon and myself basically grew up solely on Christian music, the time of the year when nominations of the Dove Awards roll around is always nostalgic and sentimental to us. Even though of late, we have mostly read the nominations and shrugged our shoulders and rolled our eyes and written our own fantasy ‘fake’ lists. And it’s just because over the past few years The Dove Awards’ nominations have been somewhat spot on but somewhat off the mark at the same time. Yet… guess what? We always come back to these lists, and we always are eager to see the same things over and over and over again. And I reckon it’s what most of us (lovers of mainstream music as well!) do anyways, in a broader sense. We see these award shows nominate the same people year after year after year; and we’re still a sucker to watch them. And the Dove Awards nominations this year actually was a catalyst for me to ask the question… of why is that so? Why do we watch awards shows even when we know what’s going to happen? I’ve been thinking about how ingrained we all are in our likes and dislikes, even though we sometimes are indifferent to them as well. And it seems to me that with award shows with the biggest celebrities, we latch onto these events and spectacles like church services, and we hang onto the words of our biggest idols like they’re God. We elevate our role models like they’re perfect, and even if we know that award shows are like a popularity contest and that the nominations may not reflect in totality if these actors or musicians or artists actually have any talent or even have anything worthwhile to say; we’ve fallen into the trap that they’re still the best thing the world has to offer. And it’s because… I don’t know, actually. We love living vicariously and vivaciously through people, and it’s easier to be persuaded and encouraged to love someone who is popular and has nothing much to say than to be really invested in someone influential with something to say. If you think about most of these 100 artists we’ve written about in this blog series, from artists like Keith Urban, Pentatonix, Skillet, Jason Gray and Carly Rae Jepsen, to John Mayer, Carrie Underwood, Owl City, Train and Hanson… is it likely or probable that the majority of them would be present as a nominee, presenter or performer at a major awards show like the Grammys or The American Music Awards or The Billboard Music Awards or The MTV Video Music Awards? Yes? No? Yeah, I reckon it’s probably not. And that’s not a reflection on the talent and prowess of the artists in question I’ve blogged about… it’s just the way the music industry is these days. Popular artists sell and influential artists do not.
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?