Monday, December 20, 2010

Crazy About Committed

My name is The Media Elitist and I am addicted to watching clips of Committed(from NBC's The Sing Off) perform. *Crowd says, “Hi Media Elitist!”* Are you confused yet? Have no idea what I'm talking about? Okay, let me back up a bit. On NBC's series The Sing Off, a capella groups compete against one another for a cash prize and recording contract. The groups come from all around the world and have diverse musical styles. An undeniable talent is the tie that binds all competitors.

On the December 6th Season 2 premiere of The Sing Off, viewers were introduced to the 10 teams competing for their chance in the spotlight. Among them included a high school team, a jazzy group of teachers,and a legendary musical group from Yale University. For me, the breakout team was a group called Committed from Huntsville, Alabama. At first glance, they didn't seem super interesting—a 6 member group that got their start in church singing gospel music and selected their name because they're committed to God and one another. Um, yawn. With an introduction like that, I wasn't confident that these guys would be particularly entertaining. Then they stepped on stage to sing Maroon 5's This Love and all doubt was erased from my mind.

Now, I don't know much about music so I won't use a lot of technical terms. To put things simply and honestly, the men of Committed can sang! No, not sing. Sing isn't powerful enough to describe the magic this group can create with their voices. During their debut performance, Committed dazzled the audience with a vibrant show of vocal genius.  Throughout the show they've proven that together, they blend and harmonize so smoothly that you're left in awe. As solo performers, each member can truly hold their own and has their specific contributions to the overall sound. Seeing how they shared the soloist responsibility from week to week was always a treat.  It is important to note that being an a capella group doesn't just mean that they sing without music. It also means that they create their own instruments using their voices. Seeing them recreate string instruments for Apologize one week and then switch styles and duplicate the synthesized instruments that drives Usher's music conveys how challenging it is to sing and maintain the instrumentation.

I love Committed because I think they are immensely talented. They've proven that they can go from soulful R&B to boy band pop with ease. Committed maintains their unique style through each performance and I think it's important that they continue that trend. It was their faith in God and dedication to one another that got them on the show in the first place. Hopefully, it will also take them to the very end of the competition. The finale of The Sing Off airs tonight at 8/7c on NBC. I know I'll be glued to my sofa watching every moment—won't you join me?

Talk to me readers: Have you ever watched The Sing Off? If so, what do you think of the competition? If not, what music oriented reality shows do you enjoy? Never heard of Committed? Check them out:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Top 10 Sexiest R&B Videos (Keri Hilson--Take Notes)

By now I’m sure that everyone has seen Keri Hilson’s video for her new single The Way You Love Me, heard about all the drama surrounding it, it or both. In case you’ve somehow managed to avoid this issue all together (perhaps you were out of the country? Or maybe living in a cave?), here is my summary of the song and video:

Song: In short, Keri is telling her man exactly how she wants him to lay in down in the bedroom while applauding her own sexual prowess.
Sample Lyrics: “Love me, love me—it’s the way you love me…touch me, touch me—it’s the way you touch me…f*ck me, f*ck me—it’s the way you f*ck me” & “ So good I make ya think my bed is my work place…you can’t overwork me, baby don’t hurt me”
Video Plot: Keri and her all girl gang are setting her man up for something that is never really explained. Faith Evans, Jojo, and Dawn (of Making the Band/Diddy Dirty Money fame) make cameo appearances. More importantly than the “plot” is the “dancing.” I use the term dancing loosely as it really just boils down to Hilson gyrating about wildly wearing what amounts to a bra and panties. There is a lot of pelvic rolling, p-poppin’(not on a handstand though), and one confusing part where she licks a vault door.

In hindsight, I wondered just why Keri was able to cause such uproar. Personally, I disliked it for 2 main reasons. 1) It was just poorly executed. Cringe-worthy acting? Got that. Uninspired lyrics? Check. Cliché video elements? Yup. Less than stellar singing? Of course. I just feel that if you’re going to do the very most in life, at least do it well. 2) I found the lyrics unnecessarily crude. Say what you will, but I don’t find it sexy or empowering to repeatedly yell about getting f*cked. Personal feelings aside, I think it is safe to say that Keri Hilson didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel with her latest release.
There is a long standing tradition of women in R&B/hip-hop taking their sexuality in their own hands and expressing their wants and desires through music. But for whatever reason, they didn’t insult my sensibilities the way Keri did. Contemplating what made their songs/videos more intriguing or cutting edge, I decided to compile a list of women who did the sex/sexy thing in their music and did a much better job than Miss Keri Baby.
10) “Rock the Boat” Aaliyah: 
Why It’s Better Than Keri’s: First of all, it’s Aaliyah—she’s in a league of her own. Secondly, I’m sure we all knew what she meant when she sang about “rock the boat” and “change positions” but her angelic purring added an air of subtlety that music today lacks. Thirdly, she always had the hottest dance routines in her videos and everyone wanted to learn them. I’m sure people out there still remember the Rock the Boat routine and it’s 9 years later. I doubt The Way You Love Me will be relevant 9 months later. 

9) “Video Phone” Beyonce

Why It’s Better Than Keri’s: Beyonce rarely broaches sex topics in her music, so for her to openly sing about getting videotaped during her sexual escapades was mildly shocking. This sassier side worked in her favor and translated over to the video where we got gum smacking, gun wielding Beyonce. The video had tons of fun visuals including men with cameras for heads, shoutouts to pinup girls of the 50’s, and a dance-off between her and Lady Gaga. Anything that has Beyonce and Lady Gaga going toe to toe has to be made of win, right? 

8) “My Love is Like…Woa” Mya:

Why It’s Better Than Keri’s: I won’t lie—this song and video are one of my personal faves. I love the confident nature of the lyrics—there is just something empowering about declaring your love, kiss, touch, ass, and body to be “like woa.” Mya’s various costume changes prove that you can be just as sexy in shorts and sneakers and you can be wearing a dress and heels. Keying in on Mya’s strong dance background also makes this video great—the tap number stands out as a highlight. 

7) “Comeback” Kelly Rowland:
Why It’s Better Than Keri’s: In perhaps the sexiest track we’ve heard from Kelly, she’s telling the guys that her “comeback” has a lifetime warranty guaranteeing that they’ll never leave. She wins with that line alone because it sounds a heck of a lot better than Keri’s declaration of having the kind of p*ssy that will keep guys out the streets. The video is beautiful to watch—the way it was filmed gives a glamorous feel and Kelly looks especially gorgeous thanks to fabulous styling. 

6) “Good Good”

Why It’s Better Than Keri’s: Oh Ashanti. She’s not particularly impressive at singing or dancing but she always manages to release a catchy song. Good Good is just that. It’s one of those songs that you find yourself humming to yourself after a few listens. It’s also another song that exudes confidence that a woman is well equipped to keep her man at home. The video is campy with super bright coloring, over-the-top styling, and some of the lyrics splashed across the screen. And let’s not forget Ashanti doing household chores in tight clothes and high heels. Somehow this all works together and is entertaining(and perhaps a guilty pleasure for some).

5) “Dip it Low” Christina Milian:
Why It’s Better Than Keri’s: It’s late at night/He’s coming home/Meet him at the door with nothing on/Take him by the hand, let him know it’s on. Christina Milian certainly gets points for being direct. Like Good God, Dip It Low is catchy and the Asian inspiration in the music makes it a bit unique. In the video, she gives viewers a lot at certain points, but manages to pull back before it goes too far. She suggestively shows off in a bra and panties, but still wears a silky robe over it. She dances around in what appears to be a black leather bathing suit and rolls around in black oil—yet somehow it doesn’t seem too scandalous.

4) “Milkshake” Kelis:
Why It's Better Than Keri's: I love that of all the things Kelis could use as a metaphor to describe what makes women special, she chose a milkshake. She takes the milkshake theme literally in her video (which is set in a diner), as she sips on one in a seductive manner with various milkshakes overflowing in the background. That visual could take the video in a completely different direction(if you catch my drift) but you have Nas as a cook, sexy waitresses prancing about, and Kelis’ flirtatious dancing to focus on instead. 

3) “Rude Boy” Rihanna:
Why It's Better Than Keri's: With Rude Boy, Rihanna flips the traditional script and questions whether the guy can meet her needs and is granting him permission to be with her. Love it! The video is a technicolor dream with Rihanna gyrating all over the place, seducing all the guys, and riding animals typically found on an African safari. Rihanna looks fabulous throughout the video and the red, yellow, and green skirt she wears is to die for.
2) “Oops (Oh My)” Tweet:
Why It's Better Than Keri's: This song ranks high on the list because it is wildly believed that she is singing about female masturbation. It’s not a topic you hear often in R&B so it certainly earned a ‘wow’ factor when it was released. With lyrics like, Oops there goes my skirt droppin’ to my feet/Ooh some kinda touch caressing my legs, the video could be very racy. Instead, a more simple approach was taken—Tweet and her background dancers melting down an ice castle with their steamy dancing. This song and video are great examples of music having sensuality without being trashy. 

1) “Ride” Ciara

Why It's Better Than Keri's: Okay. I know this selection may raise some eyebrows. Before we all lashed out at Keri, this video garnered a lot of discussion and the reviews were mixed. Personally, I didn’t like it at first. I felt she left nothing to imagination and I really couldn’t see beyond that. Now I’ve had time to consider it and here is why I think Ciara actually scores with this song: She’s boastful, but in a brutally honest way. How many of us would blatantly say that our mate likes the way we sex them? Seriously—would you make this declaration? Additionally, the video is largely danced based and we all know that dancing is her strong suite. Would her dance routine fit in at strip club? Probably so, but so many women admired the routine and even more wanted to learn it. Forceful and in-your-face sexuality can be uncomfortable at times but being comfortable in your skin is more important than that. With Ride, Ciara took the topic of sex and her sexuality and put it on the table—in an upfront and unapologetic manner.

So now I'd love for my readers to weigh in on the topic. What are your thoughts about Keri's song/ video? Did you find it sexy--yes or no? Why do you have that stance?

Do you think I have a pretty good representation on this list? What songs would you add or take away from it?

Should it matter how explicit artists get in their music? Are concepts of "going too far" only applied to women in music?