It is probably just my strange obsession with the Tupac conspiracy – yes, I am one of those who believed he never died when he did – but when Tupac appeared during Snoop Dogg’s Coachella performance, it was one of the coolest things I’ve seen (on YouTube) in a long time! I would like to believe that it was really him but rumor has it that Tupac’s appearance was thanks to a visual effects house, Digital Domain Media Group. For this trick, the Group didn’t use a hologram, instead its a twist on the 19th century optical illusion magic trick.

Will this start a movement? This definitely caught the eye of concert goers and the world of YouTube. But, at an estimated cost of $100,000 to over $400,000, I don’t see this technology popping up everywhere. I do see it pushing the concert experience to new limits, inspiring other innovations to emerge. And not only within music, I can see this sort of innovation trickling into them realms of retail marketing, movies and video games.


1. Adele – 21: Adele pushes her voice to the limit and her lyrics and tone resonate. After listening to the album, you just want to give her a standing ovation…

2. Bon Iver – Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago, was a hard album to follow. But Bon Iver does it with this self titled album. It takes you away with beautiful sounds and thought provoking lyrics.

3. Jim Ward – Quiet in the Valley, On the shore the End Begins & The Elec: This album is based on old EPs, but when I listened to this album, it was like hearing these songs for the first time.

4.  Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes: Not as catchy as Youth Novels, but this one will chill you to your bones. You’ll be memorized by the end.

5. Rihanna – Talk That Talk: She’ll stay on top with this album. Lot’s of #1 singles in the mix.

6.  Foster the People – Torches: One word, “Pumped Up Kicks.” It was probably stuck in your head at some point this year. Like that song, the album is all too catchy and danceable.

7. Florence + the Machine – Ceremonials: I got hooked with “Shake It Out’ and it took a while before I listened to the entire album, but once I did, I got hooked on the entire album. She definitely went “bigger” with this album.

8.  Cut Copy – Zonoscope: A great flowing album from start to finish. It wasn’t exactly In Ghost Colours caliber, but this album has some great sounds.

9. Britney Spears – Femme Fatale: Not usually a Spears fan, but this might be her best album – maybe because of the intense auto-tuning. Great summer album with quite a few hit singles that will keep you dancing.

10. Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See: This is the first album that I really liked since Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. This band is really maturing and I hope it continues in this direction.

Last night’s Bon Iver concert at The Pageant, simply put, was magnificent! I now understand that Bon Iver isn’t the Justin Vernon one-man-show, it is a band.  Bon Iver consists of nine ridiculously talented musicians. This was evident in every single song and in every instrument that was played.  From the moment those nine guys walked on stage, they had the uncanny ability to make every song explode into your body – making you feel something beautiful.

What I loved most about this concert was the ability to make each song its own and completely different from the album version. They pushed each song to its limits, creating these new layers I never knew could exist, and they did this all with the utmost taste.  “Creature Fear” was probably the best example from last night. The band rocked it out on this song – creating a cacophony of sounds towards the end which transformed into a jungle of screaming animals, all beautifully controlled.

Justin Vernon was plagued with a technical problem, I believe it was his pedal board, that was addressed about midway through the show. As a guy tried to fix the cables, the band played on and you couldn’t even tell something was wrong or missing. They played “Calgary” then “Blood Bank.” This was the song I was most looking forward to hearing. “Blood Bank” didn’t disappoint. They pulled out he brass instruments and bathed the stage in a sea of red lights, taking the song to a new level.

After “Blood Bank,” the technical problem seemed to be squared away and the band left the stage, leaving Justin alone. He smiled as he asked the audience, “Do any of you have problems?”  “This is for people who have problems.”  It made you wonder if he was talking about the next song, “Re: Stacks” or the problem that just occurred on stage or just a double meaning.  Whatever he was talking about, all problems seemed to disappear as he sung “Re: Stacks.”

I’ve never have heard – or not heard – an audience be so quiet during a show. I think, like me, they were all soaking in the emotional sounds and savoring this experience. This all changed when the band returned for the encore. The encore began with “Beth/Rest.’  This is not my favorite song, but the live version was able to transcend the cheesy 80s sound of the song and also pumped up the crowd’s energy. Next, they played “The Wolves” and got the entire audience echoing the chorus. Then finally, the band played, “Skinny Love,” which was, I’m guessing, the most anticipated song of the evening. The audience erupted in clapping and signing along with the entire song.

As the band left the stage they waved and bowed gratefully. It should have been the audience bowing to them, for they are the ones who gave us the music and this emotional, inspiring experience. Hands down, one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.

Jim Ward – Broken Songs.

The acoustic version of this song, Broken Songs, is undeniably amazing. It features the lovely voice of Tegan Quin from Tegan & Sara. I love and have loved Jim Ward’s acoustic EPs, from which this album, In the Valley, On the Shores the End Begins & the Electric Six, is made of.  It is simply beautiful!

“When it gets too intimate, then I fall apart / And I carry on / Singing broken songs / Like you said I should / Like you understood” 

Spotify has opened their doors to American music listeners. Klout users with high scores were granted first access to Spotify.  Klout scores your overall online influence. If the user has a great Klout score, which in essence means you are a top influencer within social media, you could get a Spotify Premium account.

By teaming up with Spotify, Klout has self-validated their claims of finding influencers and generated a lot of buzz for their cause.  But I’m not convinced that their scores are an accurate measurement of your online influence. Klout scores range from 1 to 100, higher scores represent a wider and stronger influence. These score are generated using over 35 variables (clicks, comments, interactions, tweets, retweets, etc…) on Facebook, Twitter in three categories: True Reach, Amplification Probability and Network Score.

Yes, in essence, influence is having the ability to drive action from others, convincing them something is important. So I guess if someone retweets something you posted, you could be considered influential. But being influential is a pretty vague concept and like most things, influence is relative.

I have a couple of friends who are obsessed with increasing their Klout score utilizing simple methods like adding hashtags and links, mentioning each other in tweets,and re-tweeting each other’s tweet.. They have successfully increased their Klout score, but are they really that more influential now? Probably not, maybe within their small circle, but I think instead they have just created more action and Klout confuses this with influence.

Another factor that questions Klout’s measurement accuracy of influence is that my score says I’m influential about Zappos. I simply follow Zappos on Twitter. I have not mentioned them in my tweets or Facebook posts, and I’ve only shopped with them a handful of times in my life. I have no clue how I would be influential about Zappos.

So bottom line, be weary of those who throw their Klout score around and want you bow down to them.  Actual influence is harder to measure than with just a Klout score.  But hey, if it gets me one of the first American invites to Spotify, I’ll play along 🙂

Bon Iver’s self titled album dropped today, and my finger is starting to hurt from clicking the replay button. With the overwhelming power of his last CD, For Emma, Forever Ago, I had high hopes for this CD, and Justin Vernon didn’t disappoint; he nailed it again!

This seems to be a very different album from his last, which was unabashedly raw and candid. It was about one central idea and feeling that came out in every song, loss.  This album, Bon Iver, doesn’t seem to surround one central theme – at least from what I can tell after the first couple of listens – though many songs reference geographic locations. There’s a lot more musical variety displayed on this album, each song is very unique. What makes this album great is that, even with this variety, all the songs still come together to make one great, cohesive album.

Some of my favorite songs, right off the bat, are Holocene, Towers, Michicant, and Calgary (his first single). The weakest song, in my opinion, is at the very end, Beth/Rest.  Not to say that this song is terrible, but it’s almost right out of the 80’s, and a little too cheesy for my liking. Despite the last song, this entire album warrants multiple, entire track-list, listens.

Here is the official video for his song Calgary:

About six months ago, a rough version of Kanye West’s video for “Monster” was leaked. I didn’t get to see it, but from the reactions, you knew this was going to be another Kanye controversy.  Mainly, the video seemed to be taken as misogynistic. In fact, women’s right activists were so outraged, they created a petition trying to ban this video, to no avail.

After months from this leak, Kanye’s official video for Monster has debuted…with the disclaimer: “The following content is in no way to be interpreted as misogynistic or negative towards any groups of people. It is an art piece and it shall be taken as such.” I have a feeling this disclaimer won’t ward off the criticism. The line between artwork that celebrates exploitation and one that critiques it, is definitely a gray one – especially with something like this video. I think the main problem, making the video lean towards celebration for most is the juxtaposition of the lyrics and the images; together, they are very shocking.

Kanye West’s “Monster” video: misogynistic or artistic?  The best way to decide for yourself is to watch: