Genre Spotlight: Rock

Rock and roll really started to take off in the 1960’s, with bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Artists like Jimi Hendrix were radically changing the way a guitar was played. There seemed to be no limit to the genre itself, spanning from artists like James Brown to Pink Floyd to The Beach Boys.

One band came along in the late 1960’s that changed rock music forever. This band Imageconsisted of four members: Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham. Few people have never heard of this legendary band: Led Zeppelin.

They hail from London, England, and began playing in 1968. By 1969, their debut album Led Zeppelin reached the top ten on American billboards, and number six in the UK. It was a bluesy album, as this is where most of their inspiration stemmed. Throughout their North American tour, they recorded their second album Led Zeppelin II at various studios. This album peaked at number one in both the US and UK.

From there, the band entered into an era known as “The Biggest Band in the World.” This Imagelasted from 1971-1975, until they took their hiatus. They avoided TV appearances, trashed hotels, and released an album with no name in efforts to avoid labels by the media. And people loved them. Their fourth album sold 37 million copies. Songs such as “Stairway To Heaven,” “Black Dog,” and “Rock and Roll” cemented their success and fame.

Seven of their nine studio albums reached number one in the UK (six of nine in the US). All of their albums went platinum.

Their touring style became the model for future bands, as they introduced large stadium shows. The band set attendance records and made history, selling out Earl Court Arena in 1975, five times. They also sold out Tampa Stadium, and Madison Square Garden to beat out The Beatles in attendance records.

Led Zeppelin’s legacy lies in their ability to match experimentation with tradition. They set Imagethe standard for recording music, putting on concerts, and album-oriented rock. In 1980, after John Bonham’s death, the remaining members decided to disband. Led Zeppelin was inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

What’s your favorite Led Zeppelin song? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!

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Genre Spotlight: Pop

Who is one of the most influential pop artists of all time? Where other artists came to mind for other genres such as country and rap, this one couldn’t be more obvious: The King of Pop, The Gloved One, MJ. I’m talking about none other than Michael Jackson.

ImageSure there are names like N’Sync, Backstreet Boys, Justin Bieber, and even Adele, that have done great things in pop music. But Michael Jackson was untouchable in terms of influence and popularity in the pop music culture. Aside from being a great musical artist, Michael Jackson was a slew of other professions from producer to actor to businessman.

In essence, MJ was one thing: an entertainer. Guinness World Records named him most successful entertainer of all time.

His singing career started in 1964 as the youngest member of the Jackson 5. The groupImage produced songs we all know and love (be that a guilty pleasure or not) such as “I Want You Back,” and “ABC.” I challenge you not to bob your head, tap your foot, or sing along with any of those songs.

In 1971, Jackson started his solo career. From there everything took off. He broke down racial barriers with songs and their videos, including “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” and “Thriller.”  He had a large impact on bringing MTV to popularity.

As a dancer, Jackson invented new moves (robot, moonwalk), perfected old moves, and stunned audiences with his moves. He is the only artist to be inducted into the Dance Hall of Fame as a pop artist.

In his four-decade career, Jackson supported 39 charities, won 26 American Music Awards, 13 Grammy’s, 8 Guinness World Records, was inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame twice, and is Imagecredited for paving the way for modern pop music. The list of achievements goes on and on and could be talked about for hours.

Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009 of cardiac arrest. His death sparked a worldwide outpour of grief. Jackson’s legacy lives on to influence artists of all forms and genres today.

What’s your favorite Jackson 5 or Michael Jackson song? Let me know in the comments section below, and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!

 

 

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Genre Spotlight: Blues

The blues….not something a lot of us know much about apart from being sad. But in reality, a lot of the rock and roll we know and love came from blues. There are many artists that I could talk about today, including W.C. Handy, Robert Johnson, and Bessie Smith. However, in terms of influence (and because I’m a guitarist), I’m going with legendary artist B.B. King.

As a guitarist, he was ranked number six on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists. ImageHe introduced a new style of soloing that just about every blues (and rock) guitarist who followed would be influenced by. Think guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, or George Harrison.

As a blues musician, his nickname is “The King of Blues.” His career started in 1949 with scattered large shows and numerous small venues. Until his seventies, King would play an average of 275 shows a year. In 1956 he had 342 shows booked. The same year, he created his own record label called Blues Boys Kingdom.

Some of his biggest hits came in the 1950s, including songs such as “3 O’Clock Blues,” “Every Day I Have The Blues,” and “Sweet Little Angel.” He earned mainstream success after signing to what is now Geffen Records in 1962, with his interpretation of the song “The Thrill is Gone,” which earned him a Grammy Award. 

He was inducted in to the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Throughout his career he has earned awards such as the Polar Music Prize, the Presidential Medal of the Arts, and the Medal of Freedom.

ImageIn the past 64 years, King has put together over 15,000 performances. His most recent was July 5, 2012 in Lebanon at the age of 87. On top of being a great musician, he will be regarded as one of the most influential blues guitarists of all time. Check him out at the local record store, catch him on the radio, or search him online! But be prepared to devote at least a half-hour on YouTube if you watch one of his performances.

Do you have a favorite B.B. King song? Let me know in the comments section below, and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog! 

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Genre Spotlight: Country

Continuing on with the genre spotlight series, today I chose the genre of country music. When I started thinking about artists who have changed country music, I thought of names like Hank Williams, Garth Brooks, and Merle Haggard. And then it occurred to me. Johnny Cash was a country artist.

Johnny Cash was influential in more than one genre, as he was indicted into theImage Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and even The Gospel Music Hall of Fame. On top of that he was an actor and an author. He deserves the spotlight today.

Coming from Arkansas, Cash started singing at the age of five while working on the family farm. He began playing guitar before high school, and compiled a collection of gospel songs.

In 1954, Johnny Cash and his wife Vivian moved to Tennessee, where he worked selling appliances. At nights he would play music, until he eventually garnered the courage to drop by Sun Records for an audition. At this point he was still playing gospel, which didn’t get him a record deal. He came back with more rock’a’billy songs, which helped him gain fame.

The year 1956 was a good one for Cash. During a recording session, Johnny Cash joined in an impromptu jam session with Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis. That same year he recorded his album Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar, which boasted the chart topping singles “I Walk the Line” and “Cry! Cry! Cry!”  and was released in 1957.

ImageIn 1958, Cash signed to Columbia Records, where he recorded on of his biggest hits “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town.” This boosted his career into what became a nearly five-decade run at the top. Besides recording some of his biggest albums and songs, including The Man in Black and “Ring of Fire,” Cash had his own TV show that aired for three years. 

Cash was not restricted to one single genre, which is what made him so popular. He is highly praised for having a unique ability to cross-span genres from gospel to country to rock.

Cash recorded over 1,000 songs in his career, and was ranked number 31 on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.” He had a major impact on gospel, country, rock, and even punk-rock. He passed away in a Nashville Hospital on September 12, 2003.

What’s your favorite Johnny Cash song? Let me know in the comments section below, and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog! 

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Genre Spotlight: Rap

ImageI’ve never been a huge fan of rap, but there are times when I’m driving that I feel like Ice Cube from his It Was A Good Day video. There is no doubt that rap is a great genre, and like any other genre there are good and not-so-good artists. There was one rapper that revolutionized the genre, and I’m sure many of us know who I’m talking about: Tupac Shakur.

Few rap artists can say they aren’t influence by Tupac in some way. He wrote slow songs, fast songs, violent songs, aggressive songs, loving songs, and pretty much everything in between. And he did it well. He has sold over 75 million albums worldwide to date.

It started in 1991 when he released his debut album 2Pacalypse Now. It received praise on theImage rap charts, but it wasn’t until he released his second album that he grew to fame. Singles such as, “Keep Ya Head Up” and “I Get Around” topped pop-charts and escorted the album into the platinum realm.

Rap wasn’t enough for Shakur. He began his talented acting career in 1992 debuting in Juice and later Poetic Justice in 1993, alongside actors such as Samuel L. Jackson and Janet Jackson.

In 1995, Shakur was shot five times in a recording studio during a mugging. After recovering from his injuries, he wrote Me Against The World, a more reflective and philosophical album praised by critics.

Back in full-force, Shakur came out with All Eyez on Me in 1996 with smash hits such as “California Love” and “Shorty Wanna Be A Thug.” His rap career was flourishing, as well as his acting career, scoring a co-starring spot with Mickey Rourke in the film Bullet.

ImageIn September of 1996, Tupac made a trip to Las Vegas, where he was shot while riding in a car. He died six days after being shot, on September 13, 1996 at the age of 25. His talent was cut short, but his inspiration to rap artists is continuous.

What’s your favorite Tupac song? Let me know in the comments section below, and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!

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Genre Spotlight: Raggae

Everyone has that favorite artist to settle down and relax to. For me, a number of bands and artists come to mind, but at the top of the list is none other than Bob Marley and his work with The Wailers.

The last few weeks have been especially stressful for me, so when I finally had a minute to breathe, I threw on a Bob Marley album, cracked a beer, and waited for my next blog idea to hit me. And then it did.

I will be doing a little series I’m going to call “Genre Spotlight” where I will be picking a genre, and an artist out of that genre has done something worthy of writing about. Some I’ll like, some I may dislike. Today’s artist I definitely enjoy.Image

Robert Nesta (Bob Marley) was born in 1945 in Jamaica to his 19-year-old mother Cedella. The Wailers began playing music in the early sixties as a ska and rocksteady band. It wasn’t until he married his wife Rita in 1966 that he was introduced to Rastafarianism.

Rastafarianism not only had a major impact on Marley, but Raggae music in general. The Wailers took this new-found influence and ran with it, writing tracks such as “Duppy Conqueror” and “Small Axe.” Ironically, the band didn’t get any international fame until Lee Perry sold some records in England, thinking they were his.

The Wailers were immediately signed to Island Records and wrote the album “Catch a Fire,” with top hits such as “Get Up, Stand Up” and “I Shot the Sheriff.”

Shortly after this, things took a turn. In 1974 The Wailers split, and out of the ashes came Image“Bob Marley and The Wailers” with a new lineup, including Rita Marley as a backup singer. The band went on to create eleven albums, including some of the most loved raggae records of all time, including “Exodus,” “Survival,” and “Uprising.”

Marley’s final concert was performed in 1980 in Pennsylvania. The cancer Marley had known about had spread throughout his body. He passed away on May 11, 1981 in a Miami hospital.

ImageBob Marley, in his 36 years of life, became one of the most influential artists in Raggae history and rightfully so. His passion for love, life, and music created a legacy that lives on for those who have connected to his music.

What’s your favorite Bob Marley song? Let me know in the comments section below, and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!

“Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!” – Bob Marley

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GarageBand: Finalizing A Project

If you have read any of my last blog posts, you know I have been talking a lot about the ImageGarageBand program. Today, I am going to be talking about how to finalize a project and wrap up a song. 

 In my second GarageBand post, I discussed how to record a song using musical typing. From there I talked a bit about recording using loops. The last two times I talked about editing: splitting, and timing. Today I just want to go over some concluding actions for a song that allow you to use it in videos, or export to iTunes or on your iPhone. 

GarageBand is great because we’ve seen the two most basic ways to make a song: typingImage and loops. It is a more complex program that that, as it is possible to record real instruments with microphones and interfaces, but for the purposes of this blog we assumed simplicity.

Anything you make in GarageBand can be used on a video or to your liking, because it is not copyrighted material. The loops and drum tracks are all royalty free, but if you bring in any other loops or tracks, they might be under copyright. 

So the last step in making a song in GarageBand is exporting it. You’ve done all that has needed to be done to the music part, you’ve edited your way to perfection, and now you want to share. This is done by going to Share > Send Song to iTunes. GarageBand will then “Create a Mixdown,” where it auto-normalizes your project and allows it to be opened in iTunes and converted to different formats. And that’s it!

ImageNow we know how to make a song in GarageBand from start to finish. I hope you’ve learned a thing or two about the program should you ever use it.

Already used GarageBand to make a great song? Comment below and let me know how it sounded! And don’t forget so subscribe to my blog!