Archive for February, 2010


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Contemporary pop is crowded with wannabes. In this sugar coated carnival, I find myself clinging to any artist who breaks through the manufactured wrapping, while having higher, creative dreams in mind.

Alan Pownall, 24, has the world at his feet, and yet he has reached this position in an almost unheard-of way. He is not one of those singer-songwriters who first picked up the guitar at birth, writing his first song in half an hour, and playing at a thousand open-mic shows before anyone had even heard of his name. In all honesty, he’s almost catapulted into stardom like a firecracker, once lit, unstoppable.

Alan had only performed a few times when he met Adele at the Troubadour. “I sheepishly said to her, you can check out a couple of my songs on MySpace. Within a couple of weeks, I was in her Top Friends. Two weeks after that, I was on holiday, and I got a message from her saying, Do you want to support me on my first UK tour?

“I was excited at the prospect – and I had to do it, I wasn’t going to get the opportunity again – but at the back of my mind, I knew I wasn’t ready. I only really had four songs to my name, which included ‘Colourful Day,’ and three others which I don’t really do anymore. I was writing songs on the road. There were some gigs, where I was reading the lyrics off a piece of paper. It was so unprofessional.” He shudders. “I definitely remember coming off that tour feeling a little bit broken, but it was all part of getting there.”

And he’s officially arrived. Mercury Records has now signed the singer/songwriter who has already supported the likes of Adele, Florence & The Machine, Jack Penate, Noah & The Whale & Laura Marling (just to name a few).

Pownall’s debut is due out later in 2010, but in the meantime please check out his cover of Beyonce’s SINGLE LADIES, below.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Mat Kearney is out with his new video for his single ALL I HAVE. Kearney, who is known for his heartfelt tunes, recently performed at Heavy and Light at the House of Blues in Orlando. The performance was a part of an all-star lineup to bring awareness to the organization To Write Love On Her Arms.

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. The organization recently gained much exposure thanks to a video in support of the group by Miley Cyrus.

Watch the premiere of Kearney’s latest video, below.


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

As of lately, lovelorn lyrics may not immediately come to mind when you here the words Jersey Shore. Sittin’over Neptune City is singer/song writer Nicole Atkins. This unique woman can be caught in small venues with huge performances. Her posse, The Black Sea, is merciless and just waiting for your ears to drown in them. Ms. Atkins has been on the brink of fame for some time now; she is not just “Cool Enough”, she is outrageously cool.

While she may not be the next Annie Lennox overnight, she continues to provide a musical high one gig at a time. Her album titled “Neptune City”, named after her home town in New Jersey, lets you know that “maybe if you pay attention, you could learn to love the landscape your born too”. The title drips with the emotion of a girl torn between staying and leaving. The album keeps pushing forward with the big sounds of Brooklyn’s on Fire, which is where she currently resides.

Give your ears a treat and take a listen to Nicole Atkins, and you’ll start to include her name in the list of great artists of this generation. With music today we sometimes forget that sound is a physical force, but not when this rock chanteuse is belting it out. Neptune City will swoop you in and carry you along for a 40 minute ride through timeless music. There are towns that have been written about, and sung over; towns that have been mythologized and idealized; and towns that have been mocked and oiled up by reality television shows. Next time you think of New Jersey, think of something worth pumping your first for; Nicole Atkins.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Got me lookin’ so crazy right now!

Fresh off the press. Now, start spreadin’ the love. I wanted to do a Snooki Valentine but maybe I’ll save that for next year. Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day and yes, you might not have a date but that doesn’t matter because you’ve got a friend in me. Seriously–screw the self-doubt, get some guts, and open up to that crush, Jay & BK style.



By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

We’ve heard it all before, small town band makes it big; so what? Over time, many female-fronted rock bands have invaded the music scene. A recent addition, Halestorm, holds a fresh melodic sound. I’ve been following the steady progress of this storm for several months now, and they have the goods packed to ensure the ride is going to be a long one. Conducting this hard rock train is dynamic singer Lzzy Hale who brings intensity and sensuality to your ears in an 11 track dosage. Their first single “Get Off On You” is about the bands relationship to their fans at shows, how they get off on each other. Although the meaning may be as is, each time I hear the song I interpret something different, and that’s what good music does. I don’t know whether to grab a sweat rag or give the kids “earmuffs”, and that’s why it rocks. It’s dirty, fun music that’s as retro in spirit as it is fresh and modern in delivery.

Halestorm breaths a minty freshness into “hard rock” that in my opinion, has been m.i.a. for quite some time. They live up to their name with thundering rhythms, crashing drums and guitars, and a throaty power female voice, that if seen live, is bound to blow you off your seat. So dance in the rain for a little and catch these guys on tour, for if we spend our time waiting for the sunshine, we’re bound to miss the storm.


By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

My only wish for the music industry is that every female vocalist takes something from folk singer Aimee Mann. It’s not that the female leads of today’s pop groups and bands can’t belt it out (though, unfortunately, many of them can’t), or even that their corporately produced lyrics don’t have enough depth (though, sadly, lots of their lyrics are as poetic as a cereal ad). It’s the fact that I have yet to find a female lead who carries the same soulful feeling, as well as the calmly sorrowful edge that resonates in Aimee Mann’s voice and music, her haunting melodies all prime candidates for getting stuck in your mind. Each one of her albums are a step forward musically, as she is an explorative artist who is always pushing her own boundaries.

For someone just being introduced to her, the best place to start would be her album ‘Lost in Space’, released in 2003. This album takes a definitive mark on her as a musician since it was one of the first albums she released with her own music label. In this album, the songs provoke images of darkened, rainy days, heartbroken lovers pounding silently on cement, greasy hair and darkened eyes, chapped lips sucking on the end of a cigarette. It is crooning, and bitter, and sinks into your cerebellum like opium. Constantly standing on the edge between indie folk music and indie rock, this album leans more to the mellow, beautifully paralysing angles of her folk style.

Where is she now? Not sitting on her ass, that’s for sure. In fact, she’s scheduled to perform at the ‘Stand in Haiti’ benefit in her hometown, LA. That action proves that not only is she a true musician, but she’s one who really cares about humanity. Thankfully, such a fact isn’t only shown through her emotionally and politically charged songs, but through her actions.

So, if you want to check her out, watch below. And, to any corporately soul-sucked female singers: take notes.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Bringin’ nerdy back!

Motion City Soundtrack’s major label debut with Columbia was produced by Blink-182 member Mark Hoppus and it shows. The music video for HER WORDS DESTROYED MY PLANET is endearing and full of indie rock sass. The choreography at the end, besides making me smile, showcases how awesome, non-pretentious, and fun the boys are. Basically, they got mad skillz and are about to erupt. VOLCANO STYLE!

If we’d only stayed together
I might not have fallen apart
But the words you said destroyed my planet.
I stall before I start.
I stall before I start anything at all.

Check out the action, below.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Last night kicked off Hollywood week on American Idol and I have to say, I was unsure how things would play out with Ellen Degeneres being added to the judging panel. Ellen is one of my heroes (and my favorite character in a Pixar movie), but after hearing some talk that her and Simon’s personalities were going to clash (almost as much as her face in the ad above when she played a joke on David Beckham for her talk show), I was a bit nervous. But in the end all seemed well. Ellen was hilarious as usual (and her facial expressions were awesome), and Simon was, well, Simon. And for the record, I just want to say that Simon is my favorite judge. Although the show is not the same without Paula, what I like about Simon (even if he is borderline mean sometimes) is that he keeps it real, and in the entertainment industry where it’s easy for one to get ripped apart, I think his advice is often necessary to hear. I actually think he is looking out for the kid’s best interest, in all seriousness. Ok, enough rambling.

My favorite last night was Andrew Garcia, the father hoping to make a better life for his child. When he took to the stage with his guitar for a rendition of Paula Abdul’s STRAIGHT UP, I was rooting for him, but also nervous, because that’s a bold song to choose. I knew it was going to be either brilliant or bummy (I just wanted to say bummy).

It was “genius” according to Kara and I couldn’t agree more.

Watch Andrew Garcia’s performance, below.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Early last year I wrote about a teen from the UK who had gotten my attention (and the rest of the YouTube stratosphere) with her cover of One Republic’s Apologize. And now, four singles into her debut album, Pixie Lott has released a video that I feel finally showcases her sound & style perfectly. Ok, I’ll admit it–I’m a bit obsessed with this song. But I’ll leave off the exclamation points in hopes I don’t come off too spazzy/lame-tastic. Is spazzy even a word? Either way, I wear her loud and proud.

My only curiosity is wondering when Mercury Records will release Lott in the states. If they’re smart, they’ll make it happen. I definitely could do with less Ke$has and more Lotts!

Check out the visual video for GRAVITY, the fourth release taken from the British pop singer’s debut album Turn It Up, below.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

As I was watching Beyonce on the Grammys, I was certain that no other performer of the night could top her If I Were A Boy/You Oughta Know performance. But I was wrong. The minute Pink stepped out in her heavenly hoodie, igniting her raspy voice to sing GLITTER IN THE AIR, I knew we were all in for a special treat. The song is one of my favorites on Funhouse–the words, the meaning, all cascading in a way that is as beautiful as Pink when she dangled in her aerialist dance routine. And once she was dipped wet and spinning in a climatic motion to bring the piece to an end I realized– PINK IS THE MOST UNDERRATED POP STAR OF OUR GENERATION.

I own every single one of her albums, have cried to several of her songs, have wanted to kick someone’s ass to others, have felt moved and inspired to feel confident in my skin through them all. In the midst of rock n’ roll’s finest, there on the same stage shared with legends before her time, Pink held her own and set us on fire with a song that wasn’t about shallow antics that many of her counterparts often sing of. It was about life and love. And that is why it felt so utterly refreshing to hear.

Here’s a big toast to Pink, the woman who I hope doesn’t stop painting the town anytime soon.

You can watch Pink’s Grammy performance in HD, below.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Heartbreak’s a teacher…

Even Angels, written by Heather Bright and produced by The Stereotypes, was just released and I have to admit, I’ve been playing it on repeat over and over and over. It’s a feel-good breakup song, an I’m moving on kind of anthem full of vulnerability, and with Fantasia’s story and the struggles she’s had to bear, you can tell that it’s coming from a place she knows all too well.

And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the song is a perfect message for those who have had their heart crushed.

Listen to the song, above.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

“Seeing Taylor Swift in person is always fun for me,” Drake told Extra on the night of the Grammys. “I bought this Taylor Swift T-shirt the other day that I might wear tonight.”

Although Drake didn’t wear any Swift tee onstage for his performance of “Forever,” alongside Eminem, Lil Wayne and Travis Barker, he swiftly opens up about being a proud Taylor supporter. “I just have this small little thing with her; I just like her whole being. I’m excited about her career,” he said, adding he’d like to get into the studio with her. “That would be nice, I’m down!”

A Drake/Swift collaboration? It sounds a bit strange but with the right song/production team, I think it could be cool.

Swift has meshed her sound with hip hop in the past. Who could forget her little diddy with T-Pain for the VMAs? Just for flashback purposes (and because I love the part when she gets bleeped out), here’s THUG STORY, in all its glory. Hey, that rhymed!


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Besides being a good father, Ricky Martin is undoubtedly one of pop music’s greatest humanitarians. The singer, who has been campaigning against human trafficking for several years, just returned from Haiti.

“Situations like this, unfortunately, people take advantage and they start to traffic human beings,” he told USA Today. “It’s very intense down there, kids crying in the street, corpses everywhere. It’s going to take a while for things to get back to normal.”

Martin, who is currently merging his efforts with Habitat For Humanity, hopes to help kids and adults in Haiti who may be forced into sexual slavery by means of human trafficking. In an interview for Hope for Haiti Now, Martin’s broken heart is written all over his face as he explains the intense disaster and how monsters that work in human trafficking maneuver in these broken environments.

You can watch Ricky’s heartfelt interview, here.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Indie-pop folk rolled into a scruffy hobo-chic gentleman. That’s Charlie Winston in a nutshell.

I just discovered this dude and I’m diggin’ his style/sound. The video may start off a little slow but I love the climax. If only all corporate environments had this energy. Take notice, ya corporate criminals!

Check out the soulful stylings of IN YOUR HANDS, by Charlie Winston, below.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

PA PA PA Pickle Face, PA PA Pickle Face.


Snooki Snooki Snooki
Where you be?
Your hair bump & fist pumps hypnotize me
And I just love your classy ways
I guess that’s why girls are jealous because you’re so paid

Ok, I’m done remixing Snooki into songs, although I do have more up my sleeve. I best not see my wonderful lyrics up on Youtube or I’ll sue. Moving on…

I was going to do a full report on the Grammys but since I am sure you’ve already seen the performances & formed your own opinions, I’ve decided to throw in something special–a pickle eatin’ bumpette, known as Snookers.

There’s just something about Nicole Polizzi (AKA “Snooki”) that I can’t get enough of. Even if she is orange and often unclassy, I can’t help but to find her charming, sweet, and incredibly hilarious (see pickle pic above). And even if the show does center around young guidos and guidettes binge drinking and fisting pumping til’ the break of dawn (behavior I do not promote), no one can deny that it’s often a part of young people’s transitioning lives. Sure, it definitely goes a little overboard on Jersey Shore, but being messy is a part of life, and a part of growing into mature adulthood. Besides, most people who watch the show do not intend on being the next Snooki/The Situation. We take it for what it is, which is, entertainment without a fake plot/tanline.

Check out the pint size bouffant that is Snooki, in action at the Grammys, below.