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Adrianna Velazquez

Adrianna is a 20-year-old college student attending Wayne State University majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Journalism. With a passion for music and photography she spends most of her time at concerts photographing and interviewing musicians. She also enjoys baseball and coffee, lots of it!

Album Review: "FOUR" by One Direction

With One Directions new album, FOUR, two things are clear: their momentum is keeping them moving forward and their sound is naturally maturing. The album is the band’s fourth in just three years.

FOUR is something not many boy bands see come to life— that is, in rare instances that not bands ever see a fourth studio album come to life prior to breaking up and One Direction is breaking that trend. Instead, the band is transitioning fans into their adult selves which means a maturing sound that reflects their growth both personally and professionally.

The album is cohesive with retro vibes with a splash of 80s pop rock and a hint of the 70s. The album is full of rolling rhythms that send them back into classic rock opposed to popular trendy EDM beats which surely sets them apart from every other mainstream act.

Four opens with the hit single “Steal My Girl” and its piano riff introduction. Songs like “Stockholm Syndrome” can be compared to Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” with its throwback chorus melody that sends you into another decade with an R&B style.

“Ready to Run” speaks to every fan, in every stadium, anywhere in the country as the guys sing over an acoustic guitar set while making each listener feel as if they are singing directly to them.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the album overall is the guys’ involvement. The guys had a more hands-on approach with this record with songwriting credits by the band members most songs with the exception of “Girl Almighty” and “18” penned by fellow Brit, Ed Sheeran.

Their hands-on involvement with the songwriting process that went into the album can be credited to the more mature and evolving sound both sonically and lyrically as FOUR aims to transition the quintet into their adult career as a band.

The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, making it a surefire transitioning success for the band manufactured by X-Factor and Simon Cowell’s Syco Music. The acoustic rock/folk fusion serves them well on FOUR and sets them apart from other boy bands leaning to EDM style beats and futuristic sounds with their throwback sound that now parents of One Direction fans may just find enjoyable too.

Jay Sean Returns To His Roots On "The Mistress II"

After R&B singer-songwriter Jay Sean announced that he would be parting ways with his longtime label, Cash Money Records, he surprised fans with one of the best mixtape releases of 2014 titled The Mistress II, the follow up to 2011’s The Mistress.

Sean recently released a collection of original and remixed versions of three tracks exclusively on iTunes as an EP including, “All I Want,” “Jameson,” and “Tears In The Ocean.”

This past October, Sean shared news that he would be leaving his Cash Money Records label after six years and three albums and noted that the decision to depart from the label came from within.

“It got to the point where I was chasing pop success and ‘the smash’ when really my heart wasn’t in it anymore,” he said. “That’s not why I got into this game.”

Sean said that while his wants and his labels wants were two completely different things the departure left them on good terms.

“I had and still maintain a great relationship with Slim and Baby,” he said. “They believed in me and my talent and our partnership obviously garnered a lot of pop success.”

The Mistress II EP is hard proof that Sean is returning to his roots with smooth vocals and heartfelt lyrics.

It will be interesting to see what Sean does in 2015 now that he is clearly taking back creative control and producing music that has meaning for him beyond Top 40 hits.

Eminem Announces He's Gay In Controversial Film, "The Interview"

Rapper Eminem has been criticized for his notorious “homophobic” lyrics and despite taking a stance in support of gay rights he is still targeted by The LGBT community.

However, it seems like Eminem is cleaning out his closet— at least in Sony Pictures’ blockbuster, The Interview where he comes out as gay.

Eminem appears for a cameo in the controversial film, The Interview, where he decided to make fun of his public persona. Eminem comes out as gay in an interview to James Franco’s character, Dave Skylark.

“I like men,” the 42-year-old rapper said. “When I say things about gay people, or people think that my lyrics are homophobic, it’s because I’m gay.”

The “Detroit Vs. Everybody” lyricist continues to make a mockery out of homophobic persona by saying, “I’m more shocked that people haven’t figured it out yet. I mean, it’s kind of like I’ve been playing gay peek-a-boo.”

Seth Rogen who plays Aaron Rapoport as a producer of “Skylark Tonight,” a popular tabloid-TV show in the film exclaims the news of Eminem coming out as “the greatest moment in gay history.”

Check out the opening scene here!

Tyga, The Game and DJ Mustard Join #MillionsMarchLA

From protests in Ferguson, Missouri to the streets of New York City all the way to Los Angeles, celebrities are taking a stand on the front lines to share their voice on real issues facing our country.

From rapper J. Cole and Flava Flav walking with protesters in Ferguson in honor of Michael Brown to J. Cole walking with protesters in New York City weeks later in honor of Eric Garner, celebrities from Russell Simmons and Nas among others are taking a stand.

Most recently, rapper Tyga, The Game and DJ Mustard have joined forces after taking part in the #MillionsMarchLA protest against police brutality that took place on Dec. 27.

Their participation comes after recent cases raising concern regarding police brutality and the loss of innocent lives that seems to flood mainstream media as of late.

Last week, The Game turned heads after commenting on two police officers slain in Brooklyn. He commented, “I guess y’all can’t breathe either,” before clarifying that his comment “suggest that #AllLivesMatter.”

Protesters took to the streets of Fairfax and Miracle Mile districts with Tyga, The Game and DJ Mustard beside them for #MillionsMarchLA which shut down traffic as protesters marched with signs and chanted for injustice to those who have died or been harassed by police forces nationwide. The march is similiar to the Millions March protests that occured a few weeks back in New York City and Washington D.C. 

Tyler Carter Releases Second Solo Single "Tears On The Runway Pt. 1"

With the popularity of metalcore band Issues skyrocketing this past year, frontman Tyler Carter’s solo debut has been highly anticipated among fans and he couldn’t have picked a better time to give fans a taste of his original work outside of the band.

The announcement of his solo EP, Leave Your Love created a lot of excitement among fans and his second single, “Tears On The Runway Pt. 1” carries radio potential with its R&B style that allows Carter’s vocals to shine bright.

A song about a romantic relationship that is sure to fall apart in part 2 makes it a stronger song compared to his first single, “Georgia” because of its underlying storyline that captivates listeners from the start. The track carries a lighthearted tone with guest artist Nylo on the track.

What’s most impressive is Carter’s vocals which remain smooth and delicate, showcasing his impressive voice and mainstream qualities making for future success among radio airwaves should his solo work receive the necessary marketing and distribution to get it there.

It’s the simplicity of the track that truly wins new listeners over as it showcases not only Carter’s singing abilities but his songwriting skills as well, making the song a bright moment for Carter’s solo work.

Needless to say, although Carter proves well for himself through his solo work it’s difficult to see him ever leaving Issues, which he contends isn’t the current plan of action. Either way, it’s no doubt that music remains a part of his journey.

'American Idol' Winner Phillip Phillips' Heart Is Raging With Fire

American Idol winner Phillip Phillips and his longtime girlfriend Hannah Blackwell are engaged. The handsome stud popped the question on Christmas and shared the news with fans via social media.

“My best Christmas surprise is happening. We’re engaged yall! @HannahBlackwell,” the American Idol Season 11 winner posted on Facebook on Friday accompanied by a photo of the husband and soon-to-be wife with excited faces as Hannah showed off her engagement ring.

Blackwell shared her excitement on Instagram where she shared a close up of her new bling with the caption, “I’ve been dreaming of this for over 20 years. I’ve been dreaming of this guy for just that long. Overwhelmed with happiness. @phillphill”

The two met while volunteering at a women and children’s center when Phillips was just 18. Blackwell was featured in his video for his breakthrough single, “Home” and joined him on tour in between her studies as a nursing student.

The now 24-year-old Phillips recently wrapped up a long North American tour in support of his latest album, Behind the Light and will hit the road again starting Jan. 30 with international dates in Canada and South Africa.

January 2015 Album Releases

With the year coming to a close there’s a lot to be excited for in the coming year, like music for example. With many tours and album releases already announced, here is a list of album releasing in January that will get things started on the right foot.

Jan. 6
Rain In July / A History of Bad Decisions by Neck Deep
Sremmelife by Rae Sremmurd
Let the Road by Rixton

Jan. 13
Title (Deluxe Edition) by Meghan Trainor
40oz. To Freedom by Sublime
Redemption of the Beast by DMX
Mind Games by Palisades

Jan. 20
American Beauty/American Psycho by Fall Out Boy
The Pale Emperor by Marilyn Manson
B.4.DA.$$ by Joey Badass

These are just some of the exciting albums to be released in 2015. Other exciting releases to follow include new albums from Kid Rock, Imagine Dragons and more.

For pre-orders and ordering physical or digital copies of albums be sure to visit Amazon’s future music releases section.

Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken" Leads Box Office Following Christmas Day Releases

The biggest movie day of the year has come and gone and despite hacks to deter movie-goers from seeing Sony Pictures’ comedy film, The Interview, the box office did well on Christmas Day.

The Interview ended a crazy week with an unconventional released that raked in over $1 million at the box office following its controversy. The film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco was only made available in 330 independent theaters nationwide after threats of terrorism caused major movie chains to pull the movie from its Christmas Day release.

The comedy could potentially make more money online through $5.99 movie rentals in addition to future streaming sales through services like Netflix.

With $15.6 million in sales on opening day, Unbroken ranks as the third-best Christmas Day opening of all-time according to studio estimates from Box Office Mojo. The film, featuring Angelina Jolie is a true story about Olympian and war hero Louie Zamperini (Jack O’Connell).

Disney’s movie musical Into the Woods sat well with movie-goers and trailed with $15 million at the box office on Thursday ranking as the fourth all-time for its Christmas Day opening while The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies raked in $13.1 million.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’s garnered $7.4 million while newcomer The Gambler brought in $5 million.

Interview: Country Songstress Kelleigh Bannen Talks Luke Bryan, College and More

Kelleigh Bannen didn’t get her start in country music until after graduating college where she studied political science. It wasn’t until she returned to her hometown of Nashville that she began writing again and set out to pursue a career in music. Although music was far different from her initial plans of earning a law degree, friends convinced the songstress that she lived in Nashville for a reason and she oughta make something out of it because according to her friends, you don’t accidentally end up in Music City and that they were right about.

Since pursuing a career, the singer-songwriter has shared the stage with country superstar Luke Bryan and seasoned acts Cole Swindell and Lee Brice all of which have taken country radio by storm. Bannen released her single “Famous” in 2012 which received rave reviews and recently released her latest single, “Smoke When I Drink” earlier this year and hopes to release her debut LP in 2015.

We caught up with Bannen during her time on tour with Cole Swindell on the Down Home Tour when it made its stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We sat backstage with the songstress and talked about touring, falling into music, obstacles and future goals.

College News: How has it been touring with Cole Swindell?
Kelleigh Bannen: It’s been  so fun, it’s been really awesome.

CN: Have you learned anything from him?
KB: We were friend before. One thing I think Cole is just really great at— and I don’t want to say he learned it from Luke but there’s a trend there— they’re really great at connecting with fans and being present on stage and connecting. On stage you do have a lot of things you’re thinking about. You’re thinking about the music, your entrances and exits but you’re also trying to connect, make eye contact with people so you’re thinking about a lot more than you may think you are. He’s really good at being in the moment so I love that and I think that’s really great. They obviously plan a lot but he’s really in the moment and I think that’s great.

CN: So when did you initially get your start? You grew up in Nashville right?
KB: Yeah, I grew up in Nashville, went to college, came back home to Nashville and I got signed to my record deal right at the end of 2010, early 2011. We put out our first single in 2012. Hopefully the album will come out next year but it’s a long, long process. For me, the turning point was getting a producer on board.

CN: What initially sparked your interest in music? What did you study in college?
KB: I studied politics.
CN: Oh, nice.
KB: Yeah… I thought I was going to law school.
CN: Did you finish it?
KB: I graduated. I was studying for the LSAT when I started really writing again. I’m curious..like how you got into what you’re doing. Like there’s a part of me that was always doing it, I was always singing, I played classical violin and always loved music but I wasn’t really sure I had a special enough sound because in Nashville…growing up there, you see people come and go. You see people chase it and it not happen. And so I think I was probably, I don’t know if I was intentionally more cautious but I knew that the odds were that I wouldn’t get to do it. But I have really great friends that were like, ‘You live in this town for a reason, you don’t just accidentally live here. You gotta go out there.’

CN: Yeah. Is anyone in your family musically inclined at all?
KB: Well, my mom was in a— like she and her sisters had like a little singing group and one played the viola and one played the violin and they sang. They were called The Singing Strings. Actually, up here in Michigan.
CN: Okay.
KB: In the Detroit area and so they all played. And my cousins actually is in the Houston Orchestra as a violinist but as far as like songwriters, not really. And my mom’s not really a singer but yeah.

CN: What inspired your song “Famous?”
KB: You know, I actually didn’t write that but I am a songwriter and I am kind of always jealous of a really great idea. I heard it and I was like, “Ah! That’s such a smart angle!” and I probably personally wouldn’t have— that’s not maybe my strength would have been writing that that way so it was almost like envy. I was like. “Ah! That’s such a great angle, I have to cut that song!”
CN: Yeah.
KB: And it was so infectious, I mean we were all just like “That is a hit song.” We loved it, you know? But it’s fun and everybody has those relationships where somebody kind of hurts you and you wanna get even, you don’t wanna do anything really bad but you’re like, “I’d really like to stick it to you.”

CN: What would you say has been the hardest obstacle you’ve had to overcome since pursuing music?
KB: You know, I haven’t overcome it yet but what’s odd is I think the biggest obstacle for me right now is that I’m a woman.
CN: That’s actually a good point.
KB: Yeah, it’s crazy.
CN: A lot of the guys dominate, it is true.
KB: This is what’s crazy… There was an article that came out and I thought they were wrong and so I looked it up. They were saying it’s been two years since a woman has had a number one on the Billboard Country chart. Now Miranda had a number one on the Airplay chart, so there’s two different major charts, right? And I was like, “That’s impossible. Miranda had a number one.” But it only went number one on the Airplay chart, it didn’t go number one on the other one. So that’s 52 weeks times two so 104 weeks of number ones with not a single solo female act at the top.
CN: Wow…I didn’t know that.
KB: I mean that’s crazy right? So that’s what I think is frustrating. That’s why I’m so thankful for Luke and Cole have been particularly supportive of me. If there’s a boys club I feel really thankful they’re bringing me into it but you know the radio question is huge.

CN: What would you consider to be your biggest achievement?
KB: Hm…maybe like there’s songs I’ve written that I’m really, really proud of. You know the moments that have been the real “WOW” moments for me have been the big performance moments… In front of Luke, getting to do this tour in front of fans like that. Those are the “Wow, I can’t believe I get to do this,” and then certain songs I’m really, really proud of.

CN: What would you say are some of your short term goals?
KB: Well gosh, we are after country radio. I am relentless. I mean I love country music, I love country radio, I fell in love with country music on the radio. We gotta figure that out and I think all the girls that are kind of up and coming with me, we’re all wondering the same thing. I have asked my label to support us putting out a remix of “Famous” abroad. So I hope that that comes together too because I think that there’s still more life for that song. I want another life for “Famous” and I hope that the label— they’re trying to help me take it overseas. Touring..it’s so fun, it’s so amazing to finally be out as an opening act.
CN: So you toured with Luke, that’s impressive.
KB: You know, we only filled in about 5 days. Luke…even if you don’t love the music, and I do. I’ve come to really love him so much as an artist, as an entertainer, he’s undeniable. He’s so himself. He’s so connected to the audience. You learn every time you watch another great entertainer. We were out with Lee Brice and same thing, I watched that show from front to back.

CN: Where do you find inspiration for songwriting?
KB: Everywhere! I’m that person making notes on their phone all the time. If someone says something, if I see an image or a phrase I’ll write it down. I like to start from a concept like a title. Like “You Are What You Love” was a phrase I had written down that I brought into the writing room. I like having something to stand on like that in the writing room. Observing people, observing life. 

CN: What’s your perspective on cross-genre collaborations? That seems to be something people either love it or hate it especially in country music.
KB: I honestly think that our fans don’t always love it because we do have a little bit of, “We do this, we’re not that.” But I think as an entertainer, we all have— I have fans in other genres and I think there’s something inspiring about getting to learn from them and there is so much similarity. I feel like we like to draw these boundaries and say this is this and this isn’t. But I think it’s a lot blurrier than we like to admit sometimes. Especially with all the Luke, loopy stuff that’s now happening on country radio. What do you think about it?
CN: I like it. I think music is music. I do think country is distinct in its own way but I feel like it’s perceived well, at least among fans, maybe not critics. Like Jason Aldean does it well with the rock influence and Florida Georgia Line masters it. It sells.
KB: It does sell. And it expands the genre too, right? Because we gain new fans, they’re like “Oh, wait that sounds like music I listen to.”
CN: Yeah, exactly. I have friends didn’t like country who like Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line.

CN: What advice would you give to anyone pursuing a career in music?
KB: Be committed to it taking ten times as much as you think it possibly could. Be ready to make that commitment and work harder than everyone else.

Album Review: "2014 Forest Hills Drive" by J. Cole

J. Cole bleeds honesty throughout his third studio album and it sits well with fans.

J. Cole released his third studio album 2014 Forest Hills Drive in which honesty throughout the album outdid any production on the record. Cole strayed away from collaborations and did not release any singles prior to the album’s release date, something he says was not necessary because the album speaks for itself and that it does.

It’s certainly his authenticity throughout the album that makes it a personal  success for the rapper who clearly poured his heart into tracks like “Apparently,” a song about being a college student in New York City while his mother was faced with foreclosure.

Cole is one of few rappers that is very much connected to reality. He appeared on the front lines of Ferguson, Missouri and again in New York City where he also took part in protests in honor of Eric Gardner. It’s no surprise that in his experiences he found inspiration for tracks like “January 28th” where he questions, “What’s the price for a black man life?,” a question that has raised much concern regarding police brutality in recent news.

“Love Yourz” is a song that explores fame and fortune vs. reality in which Cole explores his constant struggle to stay in sync with reality despite his success and celebrity status. It’s here that he speaks on self-defined happiness and self-fulfillment, in which he sings, “No such thing as a life that’s better than yours.”

What makes 2014 Forest Hills Drive so great is not only the honesty that bleeds through each track, but the fact that J. Cole successfully makes any listener empathize for him, making you see the world through his eyes and feel the very emotions he feels. Regardless of how it does on the charts, and how many singles it does or doesn’t produce, 2014 Forest Hills Drive is an honest record that deserves recognition and appreciation for its authenticity.