#MusicCrushMonday- Twenty One Pilots (Sept. 28, 2015)

Hey Pop-Stylers!!!  Im so glad to be back!!  It’s been longer than I wanted since my last post but Im back now with a new edition of #MusicCrushMonday!!  Lately, music has been my saving grace.  It is the thing I reach for after I wake up, when Im grading assignments, when Im planning my next lesson (remember Im a dance teacher), when Im feeling my outfit, when Im going out on the town, when Im searching for motivation, and unfortunately, when I need to pull myself out of a funk.  I discovered this band via the MTV Video Music Awards this year, and their album has been speaking to me ever since.  My #MusicCrushMonday goes to…..

TWENTY ONE PILOTS

blurryface 21 pilots

I had never heard of this band until their performance with A$AP Rocky on the MTV VMAs.  I was instantly hooked and looked up their album “Blurryface.” (which is actually there 4th album).  It’s a slightly dark, existential questioning, honest lyric, soul searching album that has really resonated with me recently.  Their sound is a combination of synthesized rock, pop hip-hop, and open mic funk.  Every song, honestly, hits in its own way.  My favorite is “Fairly Local which just lets your head knock to a constant beat while your ears get invaded with monotone raps.  I also love the upbeat anguish cry of Heavydirtysoul and the longing of childhood peace and easier days in Stressed Out.

The meaning behind Twenty One Pilots music is somewhat abstract and yet purposeful.  The bandmates (Tyler and Josh) speak about communicating encouragement and meaning to their listeners- almost giving them reason to find themselves the will to continue and march on even in their times of struggle.  The album title (Blurryface) is the personification of Tyler’s insecurities- it’s the thing that distorts your vision/purpose/motivation for doing what you do.   This is probably the reason why I resonate with their music so much right now.  According to the band, their purpose for making music is “to make people think”, as well as encourage them to find joy in what they come to believe in life.  Thanks Twenty One Pilots for helping me do this right now and confront my Blurryface“.   Til Next Time- Keep it #PopStyle

~Ashlee Dawne
#PopStyle
@PopStyleBlog on Twitter
@manifested55 on Instagram

#MusicCrushMonday- RIP to Amy Winehouse- Sept. 14, 2015

Welcome back Pop-Stylers for a new addition of #MusicCrushMonday.  I dedicate this week’s pick to a young artist who left us too soon in 2011.  She sported a distinct look with an even more distinct sound.  Today would have been Amy Winehouse’s 32nd birthday.  So in honor of her life and the impact of her music my #MusicCrushMonday goes to her.

Amy Winehouse came Pic Of Amy Winehouseinto our musical live in 2006 when she released a classic album entitled “Back to Black.”  This album brought us the easy musicality of smooth jazz, the visions of dark smoking rooms in underground lounges, with the sound of as classic of the Donnie Hathaway Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and Curtis Mayfield.  Amy brought us soul with her music- Soul that came straight from the heart and was distinctly connected to an era where “music was music.”  This was quite honestly a huge feat for her because she was from across the pond (England) so to convey that era of American music in her voice and lyrics captured the mainstream audience.  It also didn’t hurt that she was vetted by Jay-Z and Nas.

One of my favorite tracks from this album is You Know Im No Good.” (See below)  This song just seems to speak honestly about how easy it is to fall to your own devises…. how easy it is to make mistakes that continue to haunt you.  Actually, most of Amy’s songs speak honestly from the heart… like she’s telling a story in every single word from the lyrics….. a story that she in fact has experienced and remembers quite vividly.  Maybe this led to her tragic end in 2011…. the soulful singer was both here and gone before her time.  Regardless of how she left us physically, she wont leave us musically because of the #earworm she has bore into our ears.  Thank you Amy for your music.  R.I.P.

~Ashlee Dawne  #PopStyle

“You Know Im No Good”  (Live in London 2010)

What is your dance teacher REALLY thinking?- Guest Interview 9/10/15

I was recently interviewed about by a fellow dance teacher whom I met via Facebook.  We are both members of a group called Dance Teacher Network which provides a forum for dance teachers around the US and world to share stories, teaching methods, ideas, and get opinions.  Alexandra Jackson asked for members who would be willing to answer the question “What Is Your Dance Teacher Really Thinking?”   I gladly shared my views on some questions such as:

  • What do you think about the show “Dance Moms?”
  • Do you mind when students give their input about music and choreography?
  • What do dance teachers think about favoritism?

Enjoy the read from the article (click on title to the right)…… The astound project

~Ashlee Dawne

#MusicCrushMonday- My Sweet Summer

Hey PopStylers!! It’s Labor Day Monday and I’m celebrating by not having school today, eating grilled food, chillin with family and friends, and overall reminiscing on the Summer of 2015.

This was the first summer I did not have to work a 2nd job to stay afloat financially and I am thankful for it! Because I enjoyed every last minute of my summer time fun!!  The song I choose is from last year but its so fitting. A cool piano lick with a synthesized beat in the background that just entices you to reminisce and relax in the last few moments of summer time.  And that’s why, with Labor Day being the official end of summer,
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Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz Album review- Jedi Mind Trick

Miley Cyrus was the host of this year’s MTV Video Music Awards this past Sunday.  We all knew that when Miley was given free reign to host the show that we could expect both themiley vmaexpected and unexpected.  Almost simultaneously, Miley Cyrus was able to NOT disappoint and TO disappoint…. AND THAT TAKES SKILLS FOLKS!!!  It’s like she’s female Houdini! (Jedi Mind Trick anyone??)

Here is what Miley gave us at the VMAs that made us cringe with guilty pleasure AND with disgust, nausea, and overall sadness for the girl:

  1. The interlude skits with all her rapper friends (Tyga, MikeWillMadeIt)
  2. Her obsession with Instagram
  3. The southern drawl mixed with the ratchet and vulgar language
  4. The half naked/barely there ensembles that she honestly believes looks amazing on her
  5. The immense amount of drag queens she brought on stage to close the show to premiere her new album “Miley and Her Dead Petz”

Miley announced her new album was available for FREE.  In all honesty, her last time “Bangerz” was actually pretty good- solid beats, catchy hooks, high profile collabs with Pharell, French Montana, Britney Spears, Big Sean, and overall a fun/party driven sound.  (yes I bought this album- dont judge me). So being the person I am…. I proceeded to find her new on “Miley and Her Dead Petz” anmiley vma performance 2d give it a listen….. man I wish I hadnt…..

I have 5 questions for Miley which will sum up my review of her newest her:

  1.   Miley…. did you want me to feel like I was smoking the same stash you and Kanye were smoking at the VMAs?  If so, job well done.
  2. Miley…. was I suppose to congratulate you on your vocal progress on this album, or your lyrical composition in the songs?  I need clarity because I dont get it
  3. Miley….. did you give the album for free on your website because you care so much about your fans or because you knew there wasn’t a single person would buy this crap?
  4. Miley….. did you make 23 tracks on this album to pay homage to your first big hit “23”?
  5. Miley….. why oh why did you do this?  You know good and well that people cant stop staring at a trainwreck…. and now I cant stop listening to this trainwreck!!!!  Well played, Miley, well played.  (The Jedi Mind trick wins again)

~Ashlee Dawne
Twitter @PopStyleBlog

2015 MTV Video Music Award Predictions- The Battle of the Mainstream!!

*Im already correct for Best Pop Video. read below!*

We are 2 hours away from the MTV Videovma Music Awards airing at 9pm.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, MTV should be saluted for being the first channel to air a music video “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles.  And without them, these music award shows (MuchMusic, iHeartRadio, Billboard Music, Teen Choice, etc) would not exist because there wouldn’t be a platform for the exposure of the artist and their craft.  We Salute You MTV!!!

But as the evening approaches for this year’s award show, I am naming my predictions for each category.  Miley Cyrus is the host and I already predict that she will bring a lot of thrill, nudity, tongue sticking out, winking, and awkward twerking.  But as for the music, let’s get on with it!!  And dont forget to follow the commentary, updates, and more @PopStyleBlog on twitter!!

~Ashlee Dawne

VIDEO OF THE YEAR

Should be:  Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”
Will be:  Beyoncé – “7/11″

BEST MALE VIDEO
Should be/Will be:  Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud”

BEST FEMALE VIDEO
Should be:  Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”
Will be:  Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”

BEST HIP HOP VIDEO
Should be: Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”
Will be: Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth – “See You Again”

BEST POP VIDEO
Should be: Beyoncé – “7/11″
Will be: Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”

BEST ROCK VIDEO
Should/Will be:  Hozier – “Take Me To Church”
(Best song in this category though) Arctic Monkeys – “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”

ARTIST TO WATCH
Should be: FKA Twigs – “Pendulum”
Will be: Fetty Wap – “Trap Queen”

BEST COLLABORATION
Should/Will be:  Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth – “See You Again”

VIDEO WITH A SOCIAL MESSAGE
Should be: Rihanna – “American Oxygen”Will be: Big Sean ft. Kanye West and John Legend – “One Man Can Change the World”

BEST ART DIRECTION
Should/Will be:  Skrillex & Diplo – “Where Are U Now” with Justin Bieber (Brewer)

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY
Should/Will be:  Beyoncé – “7/11″ (Beyoncé, Chris Grant, Additional choreography: Gabriel Valenciano)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Should/Will be: FKA Twigs – “Two Weeks” (Justin Brown)
Will be: Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud” (Daniel Pearl)

BEST DIRECTION
Should be: Hozier – “Take Me To Church” (Brendan Canty and Conal Thomson of Feel Good Lost)
Will be: Kendrick Lamar – “Alright” (Colin Tilley & The Little Homies)

BEST EDITING
Should/Will be:  Beyoncé – “7/11″ (Beyoncé, Ed Burke, Jonathan Wing)

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Should be: Skrillex & Diplo “Where Are U Now” with Justin Bieber (Brewer, Gloria FX, and Max Chyzhevskyy)
Will be: Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood” (Ingenuity Studios)

Where Music Videos Started- MTV we salute you!!

The MTV Video Music Awards are scheduled to air today Sunday August 31st and let me tell you…. I AM SO STOKED!!!

As someone  thoroughly engrossed in the pop culture world, award shows are my bread and butter. They give me a glimpse into the over the top, exuberant, exciting, alter ego world of entertainment that I secretly long to be part of (ok well I guess it’s not a secret now).  And the MTV VMAs are no different… Except for one thing:

THEY ARE THE EPITOME OF POP CULTURE MUSIC AND HAPPENINGS!!
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Yes, I have stated before that the Grammy’s are the 1 music show I will not miss… But the VMAs are the one music show
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Happy Birthday Michael!

Today is Michael Jackson’s 57th birthday. Even though he is no longer with us, we celebrate today for what he did for all of us.  I don’t know anybody who wasn’t affected in some way by him.

Personally, I looked up to him as a performer icon. Michael was flawless on stage, innovative in his videos, and made dancing look so effortless. He created the Moonwalk for goodness sake!! When he passed, I cried a little knowing that there would be many imitators but no duplicators. Chris Brown, Ciara, Tinashe, Mario, Ne-Yo… U can all thank Michael for your careers. Actually, I can thank Michael for my career- for inspiring me to try new things, dance from my core, and to stay grounded and innovative. 

We love you Michael. Happy Birthday!!

~Ashlee Dawne

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#MusicCrushMonday- Fetty Wap (August 24, 2015)

Hey, What’s Up, and Hello!  Welcome to another edition of #MusicCrushMonday here on PopStyleBlog.com!  This week’s choice is a new comer to the hip-hop game who is playing the game to his advantage and making his mark.  Not only did he have one the biggest #SongsoftheSummer with “Trap Queen,” but he has also been nominated for 3 MTV Video Music Awards (airing on August 30th).  AND…. he just became the first artist on Billboard Music Charts to have ALL 4 of his singles land in the Top 10 Rap Chart at the SAME TIME!!!  (He has the number 2, 3,6, and 8 slots).  This week’s #MusicCrushMonday goes to…….

FETTY WAP!!!

Fetty-Wap-Trap-Queen

Fetty is a young rapper from New Jersey who has made his rounds to become mainstream enough among a pop culture audience, yet maintain his trap roots with those form his community.  Fetty’s story about losing his vision in 1 eye at a young age has pulled on the heart strings of many of his fans, while his gritty lifestyle lyrics, easy to memorize hooks, and “zone-out” beats capture his fans eardrums.  I must admit I did not think Fetty Wap would be around for more than 1 single, but I have easily become enthralled in his music… especially his latest track ““679” ft Remy Boyz (WARNING: the video and lyrics are a little explicit).  But this track is great for the choreographer and dancer in me.  It has an actual beat that can be counted and it has a tempo that can be adapted to hip hop dance.  He gives me Dance Battle with “679,” Club Anthem with “Trap Queen,” House Party with “My Way,” and Holla at Me with “Again.”  In my opinion,  its FETTY WAP FOR THE WIN!!!

Til next time folks….. Keep it #PopStyle

~Ashlee Dawne
@PopStyleBlog on Twitter
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#MusicCrushMonday- Gwen Stefani (August 17, 2015)

Welcome to another edition of #MusicCrushMonday on PopStyleBlog.com.  Today was my first day back to school (#Teacherslife, #EducatorsRock, #DanceTeacherForever) and I needed to give myself a pep talk to just break my summer cycle of living.  I needed a pep in my step, a swing in my hips, and beam in my smile as I greeted my colleagues after 2 months a part.  Who else to give me that feel good, California chill, effortless smile/pep, and enviable swag other than this week’s #MusicCrushMonday….                   GWEN STEFANI!!!!

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The lovely Gwen Stefani has always been able to churn out pop-ska-alternative hits that give you the “feel goods” and the spunk to kick some a**.  Whether they were with her band No Doubt from the 1990s or as a solo artist, Gwen knows exactly what it takes to get you up and say “Just a Girl” but I aint no “Hollaback Girl”!  Both of these songs were my #MorningMotivation jams to get me in the mood to return to the schoolhouse and plan for a kick a** year!! (Click the titles above to see the music videos).

I hold a special place in my heart for Miss Gwen, my 1st girl crush, and have always respected her hustle as a an artist, clothing designer, coach on the Voice, and integrity in the music world.  She remains humble, in fabulous shape, and true to her musical roots.  Here’s to you Gwen!!  Shout out to all the educators/teachers/school admins holding it down last week, this week, next week, and beyond as we get ready for another school year!!  We aint no Hollaback Girls! (or boys!)   Til next time… Keep it #PopStyle

~Ashlee Dawne
#PopStyle
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