Friday, December 23, 2016

2016 Jams

10. Postmodern Jukebox, Squad Goals
If you haven't been exposed to Postmodern Jukebox yet, it's about time to are. They are brilliant. They take current hits (or in some cases, old hits) and make them into jazz/swing masterpieces. I love a lot of things about PMJ, but one of the best things about them is that they showcase different vocalists and musicians. Several former American Idol contestants (Haley Reinhart, Casey Abrams, Rayvon Owen, and Melinda Doolittle, to name a few) have taken the lead on some of their most popular covers. Take a listen for yourself and prepare to get hooked.

9. Jimmy Eat World, Integrity Blues
I haven't listened to Jimmy Eat World in years. But earlier this year, my brother shared one of their songs with me. I loved it, and then learned that they had recently released a new album. The album flows together beautifully, it is truly crafted in a heartfelt, emotional tone that I can't get enough of. The songwriting and lyrics are what stand out the most to me.

8. Kris Allen, Letting You In
Kris Allen is a singer-songwriter, who found his fame on American Idol. His album Letting You In is full of sweet lovesongs. What I love about this album is that is very authentically Kris. He is not trying to be anyone else, he's kept the same sound and style. And while sometimes it can be good to mix things up, for Kris, this is what works. The songs are great, he has a passionate, sweet voice to match.

7. Haley Reinhart, Better
You may recognize Haley from her videos with Post Modern Jukebox, or her voice from the Extra Gum commercial. I know Haley from American Idol. I actually wasn't a fan of her for most of her season, but the night she was eliminated she sang "Bennie and the Jets" and I listened to it so many times I thought I was going to break my computer speakers. It was that good. I was a fan of her first album, released in 2012, and have followed along with her as she took the spotlight several times with PostModern Jukebox. Her second album, Better, was released in 2016. I knew I was going to like the album the minute I heard the first single. Haley's sultry, raspy, soulful vocals are near perfect on this album.

6.Castro, Diamond Dreams
I was absolutely ecstatic when I learned that the Castro siblings were finally putting their talents together for form a band. Jason Castro is one of my favorite American Idol contestants of all time, and I've actively followed his brother Michael on Youtube for a few years now. I knew that their sister, Jackie, had pipes of her own. Combined, they make a beautiful, soulful trio. Their harmonies are pure goodness, dipping into Americana/folk sounds. I immediately added "Automatic" to my list of potential Wedding songs.

5. Halo Circus, Bunny
I've been following Allison Iraheta's career since her American Idol days and I was so glad when I found out she had started an alternative band called Halo Circus. Their debut album dropped this year, and shortly after the band went on tour, which was funded by fans. (And yes, I happily donated to help bring them to Detroit). The album reminds me a lot of pop music from the late 90's/early 2000's. (I'd use No Doubt as a comparison).  Allison's raspy, yet beautiful, vocals carry throughout each track. I fell even more in love with the album when I was able to see the band perform it live.

4. Sia, This Is Acting
This album was one of the biggest blessings to come my way in 2016. When I was going through a really dark, sad period, I stumbled on the song "Alive" by Sia and felt so overcome with hope and determination. The song soon became my anthem, and I checked out the rest of the album, drawn to Sia's incredible vocals and lyrics. I'm so glad that I did, because soon the album was on repeat. Many of the songs have a similar message to "Alive", and suddenly the album became an aide in my healing.

3. JohnnySwim, Georgica Pond
One of my very favorite singer/songwriter duo's, and they happened to be married! I love these two, their harmonies, lyrics, and their soulful voices. Hoping to see them live for the first time this spring. Georgica Pond is simply another beautiful album from Johnnyswim. It is probably best described as soul mixed with blues and if that's your thing, check this album out.

2. Bruno Mars, 24k
Bruno's last album was released in 2012. I have been anxiously waiting for new music for him since then. Besides Uptown Funk, Bruno has remained pretty quiet. Until earlier this year, when he announced his album would be out in late 2016. It's just the album I was hoping for: pop, with heavy Motown/funk influence. It was well worth the wait!

1. Beyonce, Lemonade
Full Disclosure: I was not a big Beyonce fan before Lemonade dropped. I mean, I've always liked Beyonce. I have passionately sung my heart out to many of her songs. But I've never owned a full Beyonce album. And then Lemonade happened. I watched my twitter feed explode when the Lemonade full video dropped, and I was instantly fascinated. So I gave it a listen, and I fell so in love with the album that I downloaded it immediately and listened to it at every chance that I had. It is so incredible. It tells a story, and it tells that story across several different genres of music. I recommend listening in order.

As you can see from my list, I've included a handful of American Idol alums. Before you roll your eyes, I'd encourage you to give it a listen. I think you'll find that they each have a very different sound. I've included my three favorite songs from each album listed (with the exception of Lemonade, since that's not on Spotify). Go ahead- listen- and then report back. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts.

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