Smart Pick of the Day: T-Pain’s NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Wow.

I have long been a fan of the great T-Pain, king of auto-tune and creator of the best song no one’s ever heard of. But for some reason it never occurred to me that the guy could actually sing:

Yeah. All the hairs on my arm are sticking straight up too.

I guess I assumed – I’m sorry, T-Pain, truly I am – that the use of auto-tune has always been a bit of a crux. Now it seems auto-tune was just the guy’s thing, a branding method. This performance at NPR Music’s tiniest of desks was, from what I understand, completely unplanned. So T-Pain has accidentally set the internet on fire with the grand epiphany of his gorgeous, soulful voice, and must now face the question: why not try getting rid of the auto-tune altogether? What if T-Pain were to re-brand?? He could fill the hole in the pop music industry that douchebag Cee-Lo left behind!

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Smart Pick of the Day: Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, “Better Things”

I could go on about why the powerhouse vocals of Sharon Jones & the funkalicious sound of the Dap Kings and how they never fail to put me in a good mood…

But I got better things to do.

Smart Pick of the Day: Paloma Faith’s ‘A Perfect Contradiction’

I don’t know what this world is comin’ to!

The fact that Paloma Faith has never been featured on this blog – which professes to love all things fabulous, divalicious and, well, British – is sacrilege! Released in March but soon to be presented as a repackaged version, A Perfect Contradiction is Faith’s newest album and the strongest declaration of her specific brand of pop artistry. Before now her sound has always resonated on a nostalgic level, drawing from the smoky jazz lounges of the 50s and irresistible Motown beats. “Upside Down” has been a longtime favorite of mine because it takes that vintage sound and, in its music video, gift-wraps it in the kind of candy-colored cheekiness I so adore.

A Perfect Contradiction firmly plants Faith in darker, weirder territory: Amy Winehouse’s trauma mixed with a Gaga-esque attention to striking imagery. Fabulous and haunting, the album echoes Faith’s greatest musical influences, retranslating those styles through her astonishingly capable voice. “Take Me” is pure Earth, Wind & Fire , while “Impossible Heart” channels Diana Ross and Cher. “Mouth to Mouth” is straight out of the 80s too – is that a cowbell I hear? And “Taste My Own Tears” is my second favorite (after “Can’t Rely On You,” of course) because it quasi-samples Sam Cooke and is just plain fun. But it doesn’t get much better than Faith’s emphasis-on-the-power power ballad, “Only Love Can Hurt Like This,” written by the great Dianne Warren. Treat yo self this lazy weekend to the song and video that is surely Miss Paloma at her peak:

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Who’s In Charge of the Giant Bubble?

Check out my TDF Stages article on Fuerza Bruta WAYRA, and then go check out that wild, immersive and dazzling show!

WAYRA

Liam Lane in WAYRA

For performance art junkies and thrill-seekers alike, Fuerza Bruta WAYRA offers a breathtaking array of multi-sensory spectacles not found in an ordinary theatre. From the high-flying performers to the epic, Argentinian-influenced music—not to mention the massive, two-sided climbing wall and the pool of water hovering above the audience’s heads—this operation begs the question: who on Earth is running the show?

“Everyone is in communication with each other from the very start,” says stage manager Roumel Reaux, who also managed Fuerza Bruta‘s previous Off-Broadway incarnation. “The lighting engineer, sound engineer, automation, the riggers, the carpenters: every crew member is in touch.” So while WAYRA features an impressive cast of aerial singers and dancers, Reaux’s eighteen crew members are also stars in their own right.

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