best pop vocal album

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HAPPY ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY DANGEROUS WOMAN!

Dangerous Woman, Ariana Grande’s third studio album, was released a year ago on May 20 2016. The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200, earning 175,000 album-equivalent units in its first week. It became her first number one album in the UK. The album has been certified Platinum by the RIAA and has received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album.

From the Taylor Swift Spotify page.

Taylor Swift is that rarest of pop phenomena: a superstar who managed to completely cross over from country to the mainstream.

Other singers performed similar moves – notably, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson both became enduring mainstream icons based on their ‘70s work – but Swift shed her country roots like they were a second skin; it was a necessary molting to reveal she was perhaps the sharpest, savviest populist singer/songwriter of her generation, one who could harness the Zeitgeist and turn it personal and, just as impressively, perform the reverse. These skills were evident on her earliest hits, especially the neo-tribute “Tim McGraw,” but her second album, 2008’s Fearless, showcased a songwriter discovering who she was and, in the process, finding a mass audience. Fearless wound up having considerable legs not only in the U.S., where it racked up six platinum singles on the strength of the Top Ten hits “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me,” but throughout the world, performing particularly well in the U.K., Canada, and Australia. Speak Now, delivered almost two years later in the autumn of 2010, consolidated that success and Swift moved into the stratosphere of superstardom, with her popularity only increasing on 2012’s Red and 2014’s 1989, a pair of records that found her moving assuredly from country into a pop realm where she already belonged.

This sense of confidence had been apparent in Taylor Swift since the beginning. The daughter of two bankers – her father, Scott Kingsley Swift, worked at Merrill Lynch; her mother Andrea spent time as a mutual fund marketing executive – Swift was born in Reading, Pennsylvania and raised in suburban Wyomissing. She began to show interest in music at the age of nine, and Shania Twainwound up as her biggest formative influence. Swift started to work regularly at local talent contests, eventually winning a chance to open for Charlie Daniels. Soon, she learned how to play guitar and began writing songs, signing a music management deal with Dan Dymtrow; her family relocated to Nashville with the intent of furthering her music career. She was just 14 years old but on the radar of the music industry, signing a development deal with RCA Records in 2004. Swift sharpened her skills with a variety of professional songwriters, forming the strongest connections with Liz Rose. Taylor’s original songs earned her a deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing, but not long after that 2004 deal she parted ways with Dymtrow and RCA, all with the intent of launching her recording career now, not later.

Things started moving swiftly once Swift came to the attention of Scott Borchetta, a former DreamWorks Records exec about to launchBig Machine Records. Borchetta saw Swift perform at a songwriters showcase at the Bluebird Cafe and he signed her to Big Machine in 2005; shortly afterward, she started work on her debut with producer Nathan Chapman, who’d previously helmed demos for Taylor. Boasting original song credits on every one of the record’s 11 songs (she penned three on her own), Taylor Swift appeared in October 2006 to strong reviews and Swift made sure to work the album hard, appearing at every radio or television event offered and marshaling a burgeoning fan base through use of MySpace. “Tim McGraw,” the first song from the album, did well but “Teardrops on My Guitar” and “Our Song” did better on both the pop and country charts, where she racked up five consecutive Top Ten singles. Other successes followed in the wake of the debut – a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist (she lost to Amy Winehouse), stopgap EPs of Christmas songs – but Swift concentrated on delivering her sophomore set, Fearless.

Appearing in November 2008, Fearless was certified gold by the RIAA in its first week of release, and the record gained momentum throughout 2009, earning several platinum certifications as “Love Story,” “White Horse,” “You Belong with Me,” “Fifteen,” and “Fearless” all scaled the upper reaches of the country charts while “You Belong with Me” nearly topped Billboard’s Top 100. Along with the success came some headlines, first in the form of an infamous appearance at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards where her acceptance speech was interrupted by Kanye West, who burst on-stage to declare that Swift’s rival Beyoncé deserved the award more, but her romances also started gaining attention, notably a liaison with Twilight star Taylor Lautner, who appeared with the singer in the 2009 film Valentine’s Day.

Her flirtation with the silver screen proved brief, as she then poured herself into her third album, Speak Now. Released in October 2010, Speak Now was another massive first-week smash that refused to lose momentum. Hit singles like “Mine” and “Mean,” which won two Grammys, played a big factor in its success not just on the country charts but on pop radio as well. Following a 2011 live album called World Tour Live: Speak Now, Swift turned toward following a pop path on her fourth album, hiring such mainstream musicians as Dan Wilson, Butch Walker, and Britney Spears producer Max Martin. This mainstream pulse was evident on “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” the first single from Red. Upon its October 2012 release, Red shattered expectations by selling over a million copies in its first week, a notable achievement that was doubly impressive in an era of declining sales. Once again, Swift’s album had legs: it was certified platinum four times in the U.S. and its international sales outstripped those of Speak Now. She supported Red with an international tour in 2013 and more hits came, including “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “22.”

As Swift geared up for the release of her fifth album in 2014, she made it clear that 1989 was designed as her first “documented, official” pop album and that there would be no country marketing push for the record. “Shake It Off,” an ebullient dance-pop throwback, hit number one upon its August 2014 release. When 1989 appeared in late October 2014, it once again shot to number one and became her third straight to sell one million copies in its first week (a new record for any artist).

Swift gathered many awards during the subsequent year, including Billboard’s Woman of the Year, the Award for Excellence at the American Music Awards, and a special 50th Anniversary Milestone Award from the CMAs. Her 1989 World Tour crossed Asia, North America, and Europe during the last half of 2015, and she won three Grammy Awards at the 2016 ceremonies, including Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, and Best Music Video for “Bad Blood.” At the end of 2016, she released “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” a duet with ZAYN from the soundtrack for Fifty Shades Darker. The single reached the Top Five across the world. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

This pop category is especially intriguing because it could give two of the biggest Top 40 artists their first taste of Grammy gold. With Confident, Demi Lovato has notched her first career Grammy nod, so a win would have her batting a thousand; meanwhile, Ariana Grande  could snag this for her hits-laden Dangerous Woman LP. Both are facing stiff competition in Justin Bieber, Adele and Sia, but perhaps the voters will spread the love and give one of Lovato or Grande their due. (Best Pop Vocal Album)

Grammys 2017: 10 Categories To Watch
This pop category is especially intriguing because it could give two of the biggest Top 40 artists their first taste of Grammy gold. With Confident, Demi Lovato has notched her first career Grammy nod, so a win would have her batting a thousand; meanwhile, Ariana Grande (who’s also up for best pop solo performance) could snag this for her hits-laden Dangerous Woman LP. Both are facing stiff competition in Justin Bieber, Adele and Sia, but perhaps the voters will spread the love and give one of Lovato or Grande their due. (Best Pop Vocal Album)

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On this day in music history: April 5, 1988 - “Tracy Chapman”, the debut album by Tracy Chapman is released. Produced by David Kershenbaum, it is recorded at Powertrax in Hollywood, CA in Late 1987 - Early 1988. The young singer/songwriter is brought to the attention of record executive Charles Koppelman (The Entertainment Company, SBK Music) by his son Brian who is a student at Tufts University where Chapman is also attending school. Chapman works with veteran producer David Kershenbaum (Joe Jackson, Supertramp) on her first release. A number of producers pass on working on the project, not sharing Chapman’s vision of how the songs should be arranged and produced. The album is a huge critical and commercial success upon its release, spinning off three singles including “Fast Car” (#6 Pop), and “Baby Can I Hold You” (#48 Pop). Chapman also wins three Grammy Awards for the album including Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Best New Artist in 1989. “Tracy Chapman” spends one week at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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This pop category is especially intriguing because it could give two of the biggest Top 40 artists their first taste of Grammy gold. With Confident, Demi Lovato has notched her first career Grammy nod, so a win would have her batting a thousand; meanwhile, Ariana Grande  could snag this for her hits-laden Dangerous Woman LP. Both are facing stiff competition in Justin Bieber, Adele and Sia, but perhaps the voters will spread the love and give one of Lovato or Grande their due. (Best Pop Vocal Album)

Taylor Swift, accepting her Grammy for Best Pop Vocal album via speaker phone call from Jack Antonoff.

And a special s/o goes to James Taylor….if any of you know him……please tell him Taylor loves him!!

10 Songs You Didn't Know Bleachers' Jack Antonoff Helped Make: From Taylor Swift to Carly Rae Jepsen

Whether or not you’re familiar with Jack Antonoff by name, you’re guaranteed to have had his music stuck in your head over the last seven years.

As the main member of Bleachers, he’s releasing his band’s second album Gone Now on June 2. As a reluctant celeb, he’s known for being BFFs with Taylor Swift and for his long-term relationship with Girls star Lena Dunham. As a son and brother, he’s known for “forgetting his wallet” when it comes to paying for bagels.

And as a songwriter? Well, he’s everywhere. From his prior bands (inlcuding the Grammy-winning Fun.) to the songs he’s co-written/produced for others, Jack has helped create some of the most prominent pop songs of the 2010s. For him, it’s his music hobby to take a break from his music job.

“I need a hobby, and I don’t want it to be basketball. I want it to be music,” he told Vulture in 2014. “So to get away from music, I do other music. If I’m producing someone’s song or writing with someone else, then doing a Bleachers song or a fun. song is an escape and it keeps me creative and it keeps me locked into what I want to do. If something’s making me crazy, I need to go somewhere else and I don’t want that thing to be yoga.”

Check out some of Jack’s most famous hobby work below:

1. “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” Zayn & Taylor Swift [2016]

The only way to avoid having this earworm stuck in your head is to keep your radio off at all times. Jack teamed up with Taylor to co-write this track for the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack. This isn’t their first time writing together, but more on that later.

9. “Out of The Woods,” Taylor Swift [2014]

As well as being close friends, Jack and Taylor are also ongoing co-writers for many of Swift’s releases. They co-wrote her Golden Globe nominated track “Sweeter Than Fiction,” along with a handful of tracks off of 2014’s 1989. The two recorded the songs in his apartment, which would normally seem unorthodox, but seems to be where Jack does most of his work. When they won Best Pop Vocal Album at the 2016 Grammys’ pre-telecast ceremony, Jack phoned Taylor from on stage to let her know they’d won while she frantically asked him to tell James Taylor she loves him.

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On this day in music history: June 1, 1979 - “I Am”, the ninth studio album by Earth, Wind & Fire is released. Produced by Maurice White, it is recorded at Hollywood Sound Recorders, Sunset Sound in Hollywood, CA and Davlen Sound Studios in Los Angeles, CA from August - September 1978. Still riding a major wave of creative and commercial success, Earth, Wind & Fire return to the recording studio in the late Summer of 1978 to begin work on the follow up to “All ‘N’ All”. Wanting to explore some new musical ground, bandleader Maurice White collaborates on many of the new albums songs with musician David Foster and songwriter/lyricist Allee Willis. The release of the album is held back by nine months when the band and their label CBS Records decide to release a greatest hits album (The Best Of Earth, Wind & Fire Vol. 1") for the 1978 Christmas holiday season instead, taking the first two songs recorded during the “I Am” sessions (“September” and “Love Music”), and including them on that set. Proceeded by the single “Boogie Wonderland” (Featuring The Emotions) (#2 R&B, #6 Pop) in May of 1979, “I Am” is finally released on June 1, 1979. Like its predecessors, it is another huge success for Earth, Wind & Fire, spinning off a total of four singles including “After The Love Has Gone” (#2 R&B and Pop), “In The Stone” (#23 R&B, #58 Pop), and “Star” (#47 R&B, #64 Pop). The album wins three Grammy Awards including Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group and Best R&B Song (for “After The Love Has Gone”) and Best R&B Instrumental Performance (for “Boogie Wonderland”). Like their two previous albums, the LP’s stunning cover and inner gatefold artwork is painted artist Shusei Nagaoka. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1999 with two additional bonus tracks added. It is again remastered and reissued on CD as part of the box set “Earth, Wind & Fire - The Columbia Masters” in 2011, without the additional tracks. Music On Vinyl also reissues the album as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2011, with Friday Music issuing a 180 gram LP pressed on clear vinyl in 2016.  "I Am" spends one week at number one on the Billboard R&B Album chart, peaking at number three on the Top 200, and  is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.