Thursday, January 31, 2013

CAN WE TALK? The Package Tour Starring New Kids on the Block with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men



By now we are sure you've heard about the upcoming NKOTB tour with Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees called The Package Tour.   Of course the very opinionated women of BGLU have more than enough to say about this here.  So without further ado, let the commentary with a side of shade begin. 

Tia's Take


I mean...I guess if that's how they want to do it...

I really don't know where to begin without sounding like a hater. So if you feel the need to label me as such, so be it.

We all know that BGLU gets down for NKOTB. We clown Donnie and 'em sometimes but if given the opportunity, I would act 50 shades of wrong if left unattended with Donnie E. Walhberg, Jr. So going to see them in concert is pretty much a given. But my desire to go to The Package tour...hold on...REALLY...THE PACKAGE. First the penis stage, now this...y'all just don't want to be right. That's fine. At least I know....anyway...I was truly geeked when I heard that Boyz II Men would be out with The Block this summer. That is until I found out B2M (I'm lazy...typing out Boyz II Men every time is NOT happening) were the openers...for 98 Degrees!!!

Wait...how does that even work?

When Toya told me that B2M were opening, I was genuinely confused. No shade to 98 Degrees (it's shade) but they had like 2 hits. I sat for 3 full minutes trying to remember anything they sang beyond "Una Noche" and "I Do." And the only reason I remembered the latter is because Screech from Saved By The Bell was in the video. How does the most successful R&B group OF ALL TIME open for a group that had a handful of hits? Whose idea was that?!?!

Again, not to shade 98 Degrees (again, it's totally shade) I finally gave up trying to remember what they sang and headed over to Wikipedia. Some of the singles listed sparked vague recollections, but that was about it. For giggles I headed over to B2M's Wiki page. They have so many singles, their discography is on a separate page. But you know...they're the openers. 

I will admit that I liked Nick Lachey's single "What's Left of Me." But that's because I enjoy a "broken man" ballad a little more than I should. But aside from that, 98 Degrees has NO BUSINESS going on AFTER Boyz II Men. (I'm so upset I typed out their whole name.) 

I won't sit here and say I'm not going to the show out of protest. That would just be a boldfaced lie. I'm going. But I'm going for all of the wrong reasons: 

1. I never give up on the dream of making out with Donnie Wahlberg at least once in my life. So I continue to go to the shows with that goal in mind. 
2. I recently saw B2M with the Nashville Symphony. They were amazing. And Wanya has the spirit of Bobby Brown (read: extraness) real bad. They're going to go over their time as the "openers" guaranteed. I want to be there for that. 
3. 98 Degrees haven't toured since the early 2000s. I'm predicting their first performances will be train-wreckish and I REALLY want to be there for that. 

The Package tour can do as they please. I'm certain it will make a gazillion dollars. I mean, I find it egregious that one of the most successful groups of all time has to open for a group most of us can't name all of the members of. But I'm still going. 

And even though I make this face every time I think of the order of the lineup or say the name of the tour...
I really do wish them all the best. Nick has that baby to feed. And I'm sure those other three dudes, whose names I don't know, have bills to pay as well. So, you know, Good Luck. Don't let my hateration stand in your way.
Toya's Take

"Just tell me that Boyz II Men aren't opening so I can be remotely happy about this."

5 minutes later

"What the *flith flarn filth flarn filth*???? Are you KIDDING ME?!"

That is all I wanted to know about when this tour was announced. Who is opening. Surely Boyz II Men weren't going on first. Not before 98 Degrees. Surely!  Perhaps I should explain first where I stand with 98 Degrees so you can get an idea on why I almost stripped myself naked and put on sackcloth and ashes when I found out that Boyz II Men are indeed the openers on this tour.
  • 98 Degrees pretty much missed me when they came out. The only song I know and like of theirs is "Una Noche".  Unless they open their set with "Una Noche", close with "Una Noche" and encore with "Una Noche", I will have no clue as what to do when they sing their other hits.  All 2 of them.
  • Are you telling me that Boyz II Men, who have hits on top of hits, are going to get less stage time than 98 Degrees?  How is this even possible??? Even if I were a 98 Degrees fan, how on earth do you justify Boyz II Men, the greatest selling R&B group of all time, opening for them? The only thing that I come up with is that they wanted a really great and energetic opener. Okay fine. I'll take that. Perhaps they think that this will be a great buildup for die hard 98 Degrees fans to sit through in anticipation of them hitting the stage for the first time in over 10 years. Perhaps. But if you were 98 Degrees, would you want to go on after Boyz II Men?  After WANYA?  "I sing folks under the table and make them wish they would've never touched a mic in the first place" Wanya?  At first I felt bad for talking so bad about 98 Degrees but why would you even agree to something like that? 
  • Finally, 98 Degrees can't and don't dance.  You mean to tell me that I have to sit through Nick Lachey and three other guys I can't tell from the Beach Boys two-step for about 45 minutes while I wait for NKOTB? I mean...I'm sure they are all cool dudes and all but...  *Sigh* I'm not saying that putting 98 Degrees on this tour is not a smart business move. It's brilliant. But personally I can name about three other acts off the top of my head that I would rather see in their place:
                                                               1) The Jets




2) The Party


3) Zack Attack

  
                          
I pretty much had decided that I wasn't going to this show even if it was for free because I was so mad. But then I pulled up an article on it and was reminded that NKOTB look like this:

      Ummmmmm...yeah.

      So perhaps for free I'd go. But you best believe that if I do and 98 Degrees get more stage time than Boyz II Men, Tia and I will be throwing so much shade at 98 Degrees that they will have to change their name on the marquee to 85 Degrees. 

      Wednesday, January 30, 2013

      Throwback Video of the Week - Tia


      See...here's the thing. I know I sound old and curmudgeonly but music just isn't the same anymore. I find so many of the songs that are out today to be trite, contrived and just lazy.
      *sigh*
      "Choose" came on the other day when I had my iPod on shuffle and I proceeded to listen to it on repeat for an hour. I think I can safely say it is my favorite Color Me Badd song. Bryan Abrams is singing his whole heart out on this one and I'm not even mad.

      I can't get behind today's young artists. It's like they don't even try. Do we really need 5 guys singing one chorus and one version? (Looking at you One Wanted Direction...Yes...in my eyes, they're one in the same.) And where are the boy bands, man groups, whatever we're calling them these days, who can actually sing? I mean SING!!! It seems like now you just need a gimmick to get a record deal. With a few notable exceptions (hey Adele!!) most "singers" today are "entertainers." Legitimate singing abilities not required.

      Whatever...I'm getting old. I accept that. Pretty soon I'll be that chick who begins every sentence with, "Back in my day..." It is what it is.


      Monday, January 28, 2013

      Weekend Roundup

      I think it may be the fact that I'm getting older...and the fact that cats are jerks...but this was hilarious to me. I especially like the double tap at :31. It's like the cat was saying, "No, no." - Youtube

      I have honestly never had a desire to go to China. But now, I MUST go. - NPR

      New Kids have a new tour and a new song. - MTV

      J.J. Abrams is directing the new Star Wars. I would be excited about this because I like J.J. and I like a lot of what he's done. But I genuinely don't care too much. After episodes I-III, I have no confidence in any additional Star Wars sequels. As far as I'm concern there are only 3 Star Wars movies. - Variety

      People aren't really this dumb, are they? - BuzzFeed

      There is something called Vine and Facebook apparently doesn't like it. - Mashable

      Apparently, people in New Zealand did not have movies in the late 80s. - Stuff.co.uz

      Friday, January 25, 2013

      Thursday, January 24, 2013

      The Comfort Zone- Toya



      Does anyone remember Vanessa Williams' album The Comfort Zone?  Vanessa has hits y'all. Don't sleep. 

      I think Steve Harvey may be my fairy godfather.

      Every morning at 5 AM, my alarm clock goes off because I have the intention of hitting the snooze button to finally get up at 5:15 and work out. Now mind you, I sometimes don't get out of the bed until 7:20, but it goes off nonetheless.  Anyway, it goes off at the exact time that the Steve Harvey Morning show comes on. Every morning Steve Harvey gives a morning inspirational pep talk and every morning I listen. Why? Because someway, somehow, he always manages to get all up in my Kool Aid.

      Steve: "You know you're supposed to get up at 5:15.  If you want something you've never had before (or as he would say it, befo'), you've got to do something  you've never done before."

      Me: *Rolls over* "Wait, what?"

      Steve: "Yeah you called the man about credit counseling but do you really believe you are going to get out of debt?  Start believing!"

      Me: "Is my phone tapped?"

      Steve: "You might be doing a lot of praying but this year you've got to do more planning."

      Me: "Wait.  I just wrote that down in my journal last night word for word. I'm dusting my journal for fingerprints. He's been in here."

      One morning he was talking about getting out of your comfort zone. "Aha!" I thought. "Comfort zone, schmumfort zone. This will not apply to me today, Uncle Steve. I ain't scared.  I am always down to try something new. I do something new every year!"  However, as I rolled over back to sleep (triflin'), something came to mind.  A comfort zone is not just an area you stay in because you are scared to do something unknown and extraordinary. It's not always about branching out. Sometimes a comfort zone is something you stay in because you just simply don't want to change, don't believe you can change, or haven't asked God to change you.

      I don't like being uncomfortable. I don't believe anybody does but I will make excuses on top of excuses to avoid discomfort. One discomfort that I hate almost more than anything is the discomfort of being overwhelmed. And when I'm overwhelmed, I oversleep.

       
      Steve: "If you spend more time sleeping & playing than you do working on your dream, sleeping and playing are the only things you're going to be good at."

      *Side eye*

      I get really touchy when my need for sleep is jeopardized. I work a full time job and a part time job. Sleep is precious.  However, I work a full time job and a part time job because my side hustles aren't making me any money yet. So Steve has a point with my name on it because if I'm not more diligent, they never will.

      See I don't always sleep because I need to.  I sleep because it's a means of escape. I sleep when I get overwhelmed. "Oh I didn't *fill in the blank* because I needed to sleep."  The fact of the matter is, there is a single mother of 3 in school with two jobs right now who would probably punch me in the face if I were to talk about how much sleep I needed.  Sometimes I look at all that I want to accomplish or haven't accomplished and I just want to take a nap. Yeah I hate the discomfort of being tired but really it's the discomfort of being overwhelmed that I need to work through.

      There are other comfort zones that I know have kept me from growing in the past.  Unforgiveness can be a comfort zone. Sometimes holding bitterness against someone is more comfortable than admitting that you really do love them so you just stay there.  Sometimes forgiving someone means letting them go and so we don't do it.  We rehash what they did to us to try and keep them close. Staying in the past is sometimes what feels the most comfortable.  Low self esteem can be a comfort zone.   Sometimes we are so comfortable hating ourselves and being depressed because we just don't want to fight. We can be more comfortable fighting for other people than we are fighting for ourselves.  It's crazy but misery can be comfortable!

      There is a scripture that says "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews12:11)"  Discipline produces peace.  It's hard to naturally see it that way.  It's hard to see that I am going to have to miss some hours of sleep to later have peace.  I'm going to not eat that slice of Meat Lover's pizza so I can later have peace.  I'm going to have to be real about my debt, deny myself things that I think I should have and cut corners so I can have peace.  I'm going to smile in the face of this person who I know has said mean things about me so that I can later have peace.  Everything in me wants to do the opposite because the opposite is where my comfort zone is.

      Steve: "Convenience is built through inconvenience." 

      Stepping out of my comfort zone and moving to Nashville has been way easier than me stepping outside of my comfort zone and forgiving a few people. Easily.  But one has to decide whether they want to have comfort or they want to have peace.  When ten years from now you aren't where you wanted to be because you stayed in your comfort zone, are you going to say "Well at least I was comfortable."?  No. There will be an absence of peace. You won't entirely be at peace because you know you could have done things differently.

      Right now it's 11:28 PM and I am not even halfway through what I intended to accomplish tonight because by the way, procrastination is also one of my comfort zones.  So with that being said...

      Presented Without Comment: S Club Reunited - Tia

      I used to LOVE S Club 7.

      That's all I have to say about that.

      Monday, January 21, 2013

      For a King


      Today we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Coincidentally, President Barack H. Obama, the first president of color, will be sworn in for a second term of office. That fact would lead many to believe that we have reached the mountain top. That we are living Dr. King's dream. And maybe on some level we are. But you'd be a fool to believe that there isn't still work to be done.

      While there can be no doubt that racial relations in the great U.S. of A. have improved, we still have quite a way to go. Dr. King's dream is a work in progress. And it is up to all of us, REGARDLESS of race, to ensure that his dream lives on.

      I'm proud and thankful to be a black woman. I would have it no other way. And I'm humbled and honored to have friends of so many races, colors and religions. I pray that this country will continue to move forward and become the nation that Dr. King dreamed about.

      God bless you all and thank you Dr. King for everything you did. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.

      Saturday, January 19, 2013

      Weekend Roundup

      I already bought tickets to the So So Def 20th Anniversary Concert. Am I scared Bone Crusher is going to take off his shirt? Immensely. Do I hope that Kriss Kross will do "I Missed The Bus"? Heck Yeah. Do I hope that Xscape does their WHOLE hood catalog including "My Little Secret"? Very much so. So many, many questions about this show. But all shall be revealed February 23.

      I still don't fully understand this and don't care enough to try to figure it out. - Deadspin

      I read Shannon's Scandal review every week. I love her take on the show. - PITNB

      First of all I LOVE Tard the cat. Second of all, the minute I saw Tommy Lee Jones on the Golden Globes I immediately thought of Tard. Third, apparently, I wasn't the only one. - Storify via Twitter

      It's not that I don't like Justin Timberlake's new song. It's fine. I just...Meh. Maybe it will grow on me. -  JT's site

      How DARE Jeremy Renner have a baby with someone else?!?!?!?! - Just Jared

      I tried to watch American Idol. I couldn't take Nicki and Mariah. So I missed this audition. - People

      Agree to disagree BuzzFeed...Agree to disagree. - BuzzFeed

      If anyone is looking for a Valentine's gift for me, look no further. - GeekSugar

      The series finale of Fringe was this week. I was completely satisfied with the ending. UNLIKE Lost. I still haven't forgiven J.J. Abrams for that one. And if he'd pulled the same crap with Fringe that he did with Lost I was determined to burn the Bad Robot building to ashes....in my mind. - EW.com

      Monday, January 14, 2013

      Happy Birthday LL!

      I'd like to make everyone aware that the finest man alive, LL Cool J, is 45 years old today.

      Let me repeat that.  LL...




      Cool J...


      is FORTY FIVE YEARS OLD TODAY!


      Okay the last picture may be a few years old but he still pretty much looks like that. Y'all know LL maintains.

      Somebody give God a hand praise for his wondrous works and the marvelous thing he did 45 years ago today! My soul does delight! All crushing aside, LL has accomplished so much from Krush Groove to the Grammys, from In the House to the big screen. He has really shown us that no matter your small beginnings, if you work hard, you can do anything you set your mind to, still stay true to yourself and be a super nice guy.


      What you thought y'all weren't going to see this picture again? Shoooooooot, if he wasn't married this would've been my Christmas card last year. Story here if you missed how this happened.

      Get your jinglin' on with this throwback to one of my favorite party jams of all time and his brand new video for "Take It" ft. Joe. Happy Birthday Mr. Smith.

      "Jingling Baby"




      "Take It" ft. Joe


      Thursday, January 10, 2013

      You Done Good, Girl!: Quvenzhané Wallis


      BGLU would like to send out a HUGE congratulations to Quvenzhané for becoming the youngest person ever nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award. Her performance in "Beasts of the Southern Wild" was nothing short of amazing and awe-inspring. Just 5 years old when she auditioned, Quvenzhané gives a powerful performance as Hushpuppy, a Louisiana Bayou kid balancing childhood innocence with grown up issues that no child should ever have to face.

      "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is thought-provoking and heart-wrenching with air of fantasticality that I did not expect. I loved it from start to tear inducing finish.

      Once again, CONGRATULATIONS Quvenzhané!! You da man!!!!

      Wednesday, January 9, 2013

      New Music: Jessie Ware "Sweet Talk"

      Seriously, who's adorable child is this? I can't take it.
      Those sidebar video recommendations on Youtube can either be the devil or a gateway to discovering some really great music.  Fortunately for me this time, the rabbit hole I went down last week led me to this new video by Jessie Ware's and not a half hour wasted watching people's grandmoms dance to 2 Chainz. 

      I tend to read more about new music than I listen to it so I've been familiar with Jessie Ware for a little bit but had never heard her music before this. She hit me where I live with this joint.  If I had to describe it I'd describe it as a mid-80's R&B cut that is giving me Lisa Stansfield meets Groove Theory realness. I love pretty much anything that has that recipe.



      This is her latest video "Sweet Talk" from her debut album Devotion which is out now.  Have you heard of Jessie Ware? Are you feeling her?  And finally, good grief how cute are those kids?!

      Open Letter to the Creators of Ruzzle - Tia


      Dear Ruzzle Creators,

      Where do I begin? I was recently introduced to your game and it has become the biggest time waster in my life. I don't know if I should be mad at you for creating Ruzzle or mad at the person who introduced me to the game. (At the moment, I dislike you both.)

      I find myself constantly logging in on my phone and my iPad to see if anyone has challenged me. Last night I had a DREAM ABOUT RUZZLE!!! Seriously, it has taken over and it is not pretty.

      I'm too competitive for my own good. I NEED to win. The problem is I CAN'T SPELL. How am I supposed to win a word finder game when I spell everything phonetically and horribly wrong? And since I refuse to cheat, I find myself on the losing end of more games than I would like. There have been many rounds that have ended with me yelling, "I HATE YOU!!!" to absolutely no one in the vicinity. It's embarrassing and it's all your fault.

      And can we take a moment to talk about how "sh!t" is a word? How are swear words allowable but contractions aren't? Yes, I'm bitter about that.

      I wish I had the willpower to stop playing this game. I wish I could uninstall it and pretend it never happened. But like my dad always says, "If you wish in one hand and poop in the other, which one is going to fill up fastest?" (Yeah...that's how my dad rolls.)

      We all know that I will continue playing Ruzzle and my love/hate relationship with the game will continue to burn on. I will continue to scream at opponents who can't hear me when I am defeated. I will continue to look up words that I don't really believe exist at the end of each round. I will be under a Ruzzle spell for the foreseeable future.

      And since my iPad just tinkled indicating someone finished a round and now it's my turn, I must end this letter and go feed my obsession.

      Kindest Regards,
      Tia

      P.S. For those who have not played Ruzzle, here's a link. And I'm not sorry for being an enabler. I dragging as many people down with me as I can.

      Tuesday, January 8, 2013

      Top 25 Singles of 2012 - Part 3: Guest Blogger - Brandon P

      I'm really sad to see this end. Brandon can WRITE!!! We may have to invite him back soon. 

      9. Black Keys - Gold on the Ceiling
      El Camino was one of the best albums of last year by far and it wasn't even the Black Keys' best work.  "Lonely Boy" was a deservedly huge hit last year but this, the followup single hinted that there was more to the album than just one catchy hit.  It's what they do best. Grimey, dirty, hazy, unapologetic rock, with hints of soul running throughout.  Danger Mouse pops up again on the list, adding Bee Gee's-esque organ, tambourine, and nearly gospel backup singers to the production, resulting in something the Keys' have not always specialized in; having fun.  It sounds dark but celebratory at the same time; retro but decidedly current.  None of these are easy tricks to pull off but it never sounds labored, only effortless, like they could do it again in their sleep.  Rock music is not dead yet.

      8. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals - Stars 
      Some of you may be familiar with this song due to Amanda Brown's searing performance on The Voice but if that is the only version you have heard, do yourself a huge favor and get familiar with Grace Potter.  This woman's voice completely derails me.  It's classic and beautiful and she and her band, the Nocturnals have been consistently churning out 60s and 70s revival rock for a few albums now.  Then along came "Stars", the first proper power ballad from GP&N and it's about time!  This song is achingly beautiful and so, so sad.  Anyone who has ever looked at the stars with someone they cared about will relate to her not being able to do so anymore, since losing said loved one.  It can relate to a myriad of situations and relationships but is universally heartbreaking due to Potter's breathtaking delivery.  Veering from delicate, near whisper to impassioned howl, all in the space of three and a half minutes, simply put, she sells it.  Anyone who is a fan of great singers delivering great songs should take this one to heart.

      Monday, January 7, 2013

      Happy Birthday Kenny Loggins!!

      Toya and I often refer to Kenny Loggins as "The Man Who Sings The Hits." Say what you will, the man has HITS. (And when he sings "This Is It" I often change the lyrics to "I sing hits.")

      BGLU once had a chance to meet TMWSTH. That is a whole other story for another time. But just know that there is a reason that Kenny usually doesn't do "Love Will Follow" in concert.

      In honor of TMWSTH's birthday, here are my top 3 favorite Kenny Loggins' songs in no particular order.

      Weekend Roundup

      Apparently, Icelandair's slogan is, "We are NOT the ones." - CBS New York

      As if you needed them, here are 17 more reasons to watch Downton Abbey - Buzzfeed

      I feel like Suge Knight is bad luck for anyone he works with. - TMZ

      George Lucas is getting married to a brown girl. I hope they have a Millennium Falcon wedding cake. - People

      I'm so watching the Golden Globes this year. 

      I have never seen one episode of Honey Boo Boo. But if this is true, I have a lot more respect for Mama June. - Yahoo!

      I like horny, dumb thieves. - Geekosystem

      Supposedly, this is the "perfect" Batman face. All I see are Clooney and Keaton. Guess I'm not the Batman fan I thought I was. - Geekologie

      Beiber may have been smoking pot. I wish I cared more about this but...Meh.  - MTV

      Sunday, January 6, 2013

      Top 25 Singles of 2012 - Part 2: Guest Blogger - Brandon P

      As promised, part 2 of the Brandon's favorite tracks from 2012. 

      17. Justin Bieber f/ Big Sean - As Long As You Love Me
      "Boyfriend" was cute and all.  It proved the point that Bieber is still a heartthrob and the heir apparent to the greater Justin's throne.  Please, Mr. Biel, we love this Justin a lot but there is room for you both!  But with "As Long As You Love Me", Bieber decided to go for a more epic feel and it resulted in his best single so far.  Lyrically, it's a nice sentiment, that as long as his girl loves him, that's all he really needs but when the end of the chorus comes and he sings "As long as you lo-lo-lo-lo-love me", the production takes a turn for the intense and it turns from a nice sentiment into a desperate plea.  Biebs' falsetto is on point.  Big Sean turns in a memorable rap.  But the production  is the undoubted star of this show.  Moving from intense to sinister to near explosion, only allowing the listener enough time to breathe and get ready for the next chorus eruption, the trusty Rodney Jerkins (Darkchild if you're nasty) did everything right with this one.

      16. Mumford & Sons - I Will Wait
      Mumford & Sons really need to be seen live to understand the breadth of their talent and appeal but obviously something is clicking.  This, the lead single from their sophomore album, Babel is pretty similar to many of their other songs but with just enough difference to note at least a little bit of forward movement artistically.  Lyrically, there is still a lot of symbolism that could be speaking of a romantic relationship, but seems much more likely linked to the spiritual.  The banjos pluck and the guitars pick.  The guys have really perfected the rise and fall of a song, using only acoustic instruments to build real drama and climax, like most great rock songs.  But here, they also incorporate brass and piano and a sense of world-weariness that many in my generation relate to all too easily.  "So tame my flesh/And fix my eyes/A tethered mind freed from the lies".  It's a cry for something more.  Something beyond the everyday and mundane and that is worth waiting for, indeed.

      Wednesday, January 2, 2013

      Top 25 Singles of 2012 - Part 1: Guest Blogger - Brandon P.

      Hey Everyone!!! Happy New Year!! Tia here, blogging from the comfort of my couch, in a truly lazy state of mind. I know Toya and I have been slack with our postings. Between our crazy work schedules and traveling home to see our families, we have not be as diligent as we should be with the blog. My hope is that in 2013 we'll be bring you a redesigned site that will feature CONSISTENT content. 

      The following 3 part post is from my musical soul mate Brandon. I decided to split it into three parts because with the number of songs and videos, it seemed obnoxious to have them all in one post. BUT that just means you have guaranteed content for the next few days. (WIN!) So yay!! and enjoy part 1. 


      25. Demi Lovato – Give Your Heart a Break
      Of all of the Disney girls who have ventured into Top 40 territory (Miley, Selena, Hilary) Demi is, without a doubt, the best singer.  But, she has had some trouble finding material that connected with a broader audience.  That is, until she released the gut-wrenching ballad "Skyscraper", which combined inspirational lyrics with an emotionally raw vocal delivery and something finally clicked.  Her next single, "Give Your Heart A Break" has been her best charting song to date and really, how could it not be?  It was co-written by the guys responsible for JoJo's "Too Little Too Late" and one of the co-writers, Billy Steinberg, co-wrote "True Colors", "Like a Virgin", "So Emotional", "Eternal Flame", and "Alone", just to name a few.  Simply put, they write hits.  That, paired with Demi's scorching vocal, an uptempo dance beat, and a beautiful string section made this a pretty perfect pop song.  Her stint judging on X Factor is only helping her star to rise even further and deservedly so, because pop music needs more real singers with solid material.

      24. The xx - Chained 
      The xx are masters of minimalism.  Their songs are almost always sad, beautiful, and deceptively simple.  But they are also almost always pretty great.  In "Chained", Romy and Oliver lament that they "used to be closer than this", asking if they "held too tight" or didn't "let enough light in".  Their vocal interplay is genius in that they almost never sing together until their voices finally unite in the chorus.  It feels like a lovers' argument, set to Jamie xx's elegant beat.  The song is sparse, intimate, and hushed, but is all the more powerful because of it.  It's the sound of two people nearing the possible end of a relationship and beginning to quietly realize that the fault might lie in both of them.