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MTV Video Music Awards Recap


This year, the MTV Video Music Awards found its way back to New York City, but instead of using Radio City Music Hall as its classic venue, the show took place at Madison Square Garden for the first time. In recent years, the VMAs has not had a traditional host and this year was no different. Comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele were in character as social media mavens (because if you know anything at all, you know the best place to watch an award show is on Twitter) but none of their antics, most of which were impossible to follow, seemed to connect with the audience. Other stand-in hosts included MTV’s own Nicole Byer from Girl Code, comedian Jay Pharoah with his great impressions throughout the show, and lastly DJ Khaled, who kept the energy going with his signature catchphrases.

Rihanna was this year’s recipient of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award and she did something different then all the recipients before her and treated us to four different themed performances throughout the show, each showcasing a different style of music she has perfected. She opened the show with a medley of her hits from her pop era. Dressed in light pink from head to toe, she sang “Only Girl In The World,” “We Found Love,” and “Where Have You Been.” Her second performance of the night was a tribute to her culture and homeland in which she brought a traditional Caribbean bashment party to the stage performing all her reggae influenced hits such as, “Rude Boy,” “What’s My Name,” and her recent hit “Work.” Later in the show, she performed her more mellow party records “Pour It Up,” “B*tch Better Have My Money,” and her latest single from ANTI, “Needed Me.” She ended things off with her crowd favorite ballads, “Stay,” a slowed down version of “Diamonds,” and her next single “Love on The Brain,” fully taking in the opportunity to show how much her vocals have grown since she was first introduced to us in 2005. To end things off with a bang, Drake presented Rihanna with her award, giving a speech that sounded more like a love letter. He expressed, “I’ve loved Rihanna since I was 22 years old.” He also so spoke on what makes Rihanna a great artist: “She succeeds by doing something that no one in this industry does by just being herself.” After a sweet embrace between the two, Rihanna expressed her excitement by showing love to her country of Barbados, her friends, family, and fans and her disbelief that at only 28 years old she is lucky enough to accept such an award.

Now as we all know, MTV always keeps us on our toes with surprise antics and this year it came in the form of Kanye West taking to the stage to talk about whatever it is he wanted. He walked out to his song “Famous” which contains the infamous line that has reignited the Kanye vs. Taylor Swift beef and stood as the crowd chanted “Yeezy.” Highlights from his six and a half minute “speech” include saying “I see you Amber,” to his famous ex girlfriend Amber Rose, expressing his hope to win video of the year but it being okay if he lost to Beyoncé, shouting out his wife Kim Kardashian West, and finally debuting his new video for his song “Fade.” The video is a performance piece starring singer Teyana Taylor in what could almost be a tribute to Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. In true Kanye fashion, he has to leave us somewhat bewildered as the video ends with Taylor becoming a cat woman, with her fiancé Iman Shumpert of the championship winning NBA team the Cleveland Cavaliers and their 8-month old daughter “Junie” surrounded by sheep.
In addition to winning eight of the 11 Video Music Awards she was nominated for, and passing Madonna for acquiring the most VMAs ever, Beyoncé completely turned the stage into her own personal concert with a full on recreation of her visual album Lemonade. She eased us in starting with her song “Pray You Catch Me” and followed up with “Hold Up” carrying her signature baseball bat from the video and smacking the camera to the floor. She continued with “Sorry” and “Don’t Hurt Yourself” throwing on a fur coat and aggressively performing as flames and sparks surrounded her. She closed her performance with “Formation” filling the stage with an army of female dancers and ending in the formation of the symbol for woman.

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Beyonce performs onstage during the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards at Madison Square Garden on August 28, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 28: Beyonce performs onstage during the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards at Madison Square Garden on August 28, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Britney Spears also returned to the VMA stage to perform her new single “Make Me” featuring G- Eazy. This performance was her first performance on MTV in almost 10 years since the cringeworthy performance of “Gimme More” at the VMAs in 2007. Other performers included Nick Jonas who performed his new song “Bacon” with Ty Dolla $ign and Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj who gave a lackluster performance of “Side to Side” off Grande’s album Dangerous Woman.  Newbies to the VMA stage, The Chainsmokers and Halsey performed their number one hit “Closer” and rapper Future gave an excellent performance of his hit song “F*ck Up Some Commas.”

Seemingly missing from the VMA stage this year was any form of Rock or Alternative music. It seemed to be a show for only the “who’s who” in pop culture right now. Also many of the awards were not given out on camera. Those lucky enough to take the stage to give speeches were DNCE for Best New Artist, Fifth Harmony for Best Collaboration, and Beyonce for Video of the Year and Best Female Video.  Drake also won for best hip-hop video but missed his chance at an acceptance speech because he was “stuck in traffic.”
Our U.S. Olympians Michael Phelps and “Final Five” gymnasts Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman (minus Gabby Douglas, who was absent due to an injury) were lucky enough to take the stage and introduce some of the musicians for the night. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte was also there in spirit as Jimmy Fallon impersonated him in a platinum blonde wig while singing Justin Biebers “Sorry.”
All in all, the VMAs did not disappoint. What they lacked in variety and a host they made up for in electrifying performances and a who’s who of celebrity presenters. For a complete list of VMA winners, and video clips head over to MTV.
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MTV Video Music Awards Recap: Featured image courtesy of MTV

Fifth Harmony’s Album ‘7/27’ Screams Girl Power


On May 27, 2016, Fifth Harmony released their new album 7/27. July 27th seems a far long way from May, but the meaning behind 7/27 was the day Fifth Harmony formed on Season 2 of the U.S. version of X Factor. The group, consisting of Lauren Jauregui, Ally Brooke, Camila Cabello, Dinah-Jane Hansen and Normani Hamilton, has been strong since then.

The album is your ultimate girl power soundtrack with a mix of romance and a hint of feminism. (Seems to be a reoccurring theme in the music industry; here’s looking at you, Meghan Trainor.) You may be familiar with their hit songs “Work From Home” feat. Ty Dolla $ign and “Write On Me.” You know, when “Work From Home” trailed just a few days after Rihanna’s own hit “Work,” so all you heard on the radio for a week was something about working. Aside from featuring those two songs, the 12-track deluxe version of the album has a mixture of songs you can’t help but bob your head to.
It’s without a doubt there is some tropical house influence in a few of their songs that seems to be popular as of today, a la Kygo. My first thought? At least radio stations don’t have to constantly rework these songs into their own remixed versions since it’s done for them already. Not to diss on EDM or anything, but since it has been a huge influence that only continues to grow over the years, I’d much rather prefer to hear less produced beats from the girls.
I was ultimately disappointed with track number eight, “Gonna Get Better.” Despite being absolutely easy to remember, the only reason for this is because there are two verses that are literally on repeat. At first, I didn’t even notice this until I hopped on a lyrics page that revealed the truth. I mean sure, it’s a given that most pop songs are a constant repeat of the same words (“Shake It Off”, “Work”), but you’d think Fifth Harmony would give you a bit more.
The curveball track of them all? “All in My Head (Flex)” feat. Fetty Wap. FETTY WAP! I did not see that coming from a mile away, but as soon as you hear the track, tell me you don’t hear “Again” by Fetty Wap. In fact, he does allude to that one famous line: “I want you to…” Other notable collaborations is with the legendary Missy Elliott lending her rap skills to to the song “Not That Kinda Girl.” It’s pretty much an anthem to all girls who refuse to be seen as an “easy” girl.
Their sophomore album was strongly reminiscent to their debut album Reflection. The five powerhouses are the perfect soundtrack just in time for your summer vacation, whether you’re cruising down to the beach or getting ready for an epic GNO. Fifth Harmony will always have you covered with tracks that will certainly get you in the feels. Props, ladies. Keep it up. I’ll see you soon in concert singing right there with you.  
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Fifth Harmony ‘7/27’ Album Review: Photo courtesy of Syco Music & Epic Records

Fifth Harmony’s Normani Kordei Talks Girl Power and Career Moves


Every so often, an all-girl group comes along that blows up the music scene. From TLC to Destiny’s Child, these groups redefine girl power with their confidence, talent, and powerful performances. For the next generation, this source of influence and inspiration can be found in the ultra-popular girl group Fifth Harmony. Although the group formed four years ago during The X-Factor (U.S.), for Fifth Harmony member Normani Kordei, the success still hasn’t sunk in. “Knowing that my dream is no longer a dream, but my reality, constantly blows my mind,” she said.

While Kordei initially strived for a solo music career, like her fellow group members, the formation of the group has resulted in great success. After finishing third place on the X-Factor, Fifth Harmony has gone on to produce hit singles like “Miss Movin’ On,” “BO$$,” and “Worth It.” The group’s songs are earworms, full of catchy lyrics and thumping beats. Their dance moves are on point, perfectly timed and choreographed for the music’s rhythm.

Even after performing for America’s First Family, Kordei isn’t letting the group’s accomplishments go to her head. While Fifth Harmony has amassed plenty of awards, such as a 2014 MTV Video Award for Artist to Watch and a 2014 Teen Choice Award for Choice Female Music Group, Kordei still can’t believe her luck. “I will forever be humble and grateful for this gift,” she says, remarking on her launch into stardom. “I can never get used to the idea of being nominated.” With big dreams and a bright future in the music industry and beyond, we’re excited to see what Kordei will do next.

Normani Kordei054-GT

Dress: House of CB, Rings: Sucre, Earrings: Jennifer Fisher

Cliché: As you’ve demonstrated with Fifth Harmony, you’re both an incredible singer and dancer. Which was your first passion? How’d you get into each?
Normani Kordei: I have been singing and dancing for as long as I can remember. I would sit on my parents’ bedroom floor, looking up at the television watching 106 & Park and seeing Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together,” Alicia Key’s “You Don’t Know My Name,” and Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” music videos. I could never keep still, not even for one minute. I couldn’t help but prance around the house. The kitchen was my own personal stage because it was easiest to do pirouettes in and gave me the space I needed to be creative.

        I asked my family to enroll me in dance classes at the age of 3. My pre-school had an after school program that specialized in dance, so my mom, dad, and grandmother immediately enrolled me. I remember going to school and being excited for the day to end. All I could think about was changing into my ballet slippers, tap shoes, and most importantly, my pink tutu.  My first love was dance, and through dance I learned to appreciate different genres of music. My love for music, along with a little push from my parents, led me to singing.

I think it would surprise a lot of people to realize that, while you’ve received multiple gold and platinum records, you’re only 19! Did you ever envision yourself where you are now? Where did you think you’d have been at your age?
I wake up every morning thinking about how drastically my lifestyle has changed and all that I have accomplished thus far. I am 19 years of age, and I never thought that I would have ever lived through as much as I have, being so young. I have been introduced to many different opportunities and situations that people much older [than me] typically handle. I can say that I’m a lot more prepared for my adult life now than I would have been if I never had this opportunity.

         I honestly thought that in this moment in life, I would be in college, not that far away from home, of course. I thought I would still be dreaming of what has now become my reality. I just can’t say it enough: I’m so blessed.

Normani Kordei012-GT

Bodysuit: GCDS, Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell 

Many of Fifth Harmony’s songs like “BO$$” and “Worth It” boast a confident attitude and encourage women to know their value. Is this a belief you’ve always held, or was it one that developed as you got older?
I definitely think that it’s been something I had to grow into. I saw confidence in others but lacked it in myself. I have always been my worst critic, and I’ve overanalyzed everything. I was afraid of trying things, knowing that there was a possibility of me failing. Being fully confident and comfortable with showing others who I truly am is something that I have always wanted. I have grown so much in the past few years and have become fearless, confident, lionhearted, valiant, and powerful in my own right. In this business, you’re constantly under a microscope and always being judged by people who don’t really know you. I’ve learned to disregard what others think and say and simply carry on with being me. I know my heart, and I’m my own best friend. I am surrounded by people who show me that love has no end.

        I think that it is very important to know that you’re important and to trust yourself. Women should be empowered and wholeheartedly know their worth. We have such a significant role in this story being written.

In a time when it’s so easy to compare yourself to others on social media, how do you stay confident? What advice could you give our readers?
I definitely feel that it’s unrealistic to not compare yourself, especially with social media existing in this day and age. Since this tool was created, it has been both positive and negative. I feel like a lot of people forget that we live in a real world, not just a social media world. I absolutely know because my occupation requires me to keep up with my socials on a daily basis. I see the way people talk to each other, some with love and others with such disrespect. It seems to be a competition of who has the most followers or who can become a social media celebrity. The whole thing is actually insane, but I don’t feel like the majority of our generation use it in a positive light. Yes, it’s a way to express yourself, but you also have to remember that when you do, it’s completely valid for others to do the same. Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat were all created to help you build a space that you feel represents you so [that] others can get to know you. It is also super helpful in keeping up with the current events that are actually going on in the world that we live in. I think that it’s all about being smart in the way we use these outlets. I go on social media every day, and at times, I enjoy it, and other times, I wish it never existed. It’s either full of love or it’s full of violence and hatred.

        I find it easy to compare yourself to others. I believe that when this happens, it’s a priority to step back and remember that everyone is human just like you are. You can feel so unappreciated, unworthy, and insecure because of someone else while that same person is feeling that way about themselves. This has been an ongoing cycle. There’s something my mother would always remind me of: there will be some who will love and adore you to no end, and then there will be some who will dislike you with a passion; but never forget that God has blessed you with the gift of life, and in this life, you have a purpose. Never allow anyone to deter you from fulfilling that purpose.

Fifth Harmony ‘Reflection’ Review


The wait is finally over. After four eps, pushbacks spanning from November to February and a billion tours, we are finally getting the debut album that we have been waiting for. It is worth the wait.
Fifth Harmony’s 12-track album (14 for the deluxe album), Reflection, features members Normani Kordei Hamilton, Lauren Jauregui, Ally Brooke Hernandez, Dinah Jane Hansen and Camila Cabello. The album  starts with the song “Top Down”. “Top Down” is a great opening song with a beat that will remind you of a memorable summer night with your friends. The beat is appropriate because of the fact that is what the song is about. The five girls discuss how the night and the world is theirs as they cruise with their friends in a city that is full of possibilities. The next track is “BO$$,” the first single off of the album. The track is the first of many that explore being confident and independent.  They also give shout outs to Oprah and the First Lady Michelle Obama for being bosses as they sing about having Oprah’s amount of money in their purses and being as independent and “Boss” as Michelle Obama.  The next track is their second single off the album, “Sledgehammer.” “Sledgehammer,” seems to be the most out of place and the weakest song on the album compared to all of the other tracks,. The song is about how their hearts feel like sledgehammers beating in the presence of their crush. The song is written by “All About That Bass” singer Meghan Trainor. This is the first of two tracks that she has written for the album. Ally Brooke, one of the members, has some power notes that are the saving grace of the song.

“Worth It” ft. Kid Ink is the next track. The track is definitely a dance track with a heavy horn that resembles Jason Derulo’s song “Talk Dirty.” Like “BO$$,” this track is full of confidence and pride. as the girls, talk about how they are worth the trouble so to speak, they are worth the time and effort and they want to make sure the guy has something to bring to the table too. “This Is How We Roll” closely resembles “Top Down.” The subject matter is the same as they sing about being free, young and having fun. They could have combined them into one song and the album l worked. “Everlasting Love” is self-explanatory and is the first true love song on the album.  It is a slower track with a medium-paced back-beat. The song talks about the early stages of a crush, meeting him or her for the first time, and knowing that they will be together forever. “Like Mariah” ft. Tyga is an ode to Mariah Carey. A sample is even used from one of her songs. The girls sing about how their boyfriends make them sing like Mariah Carey every time he touches them. Dinah Jane in particular has some impressive notes in this song that make it extraordinary.
“Them Girls Be Like” is the kind of track you listen to as you get ready. Dinah Jane opens the track with the memorable line “Does my a** look fat or nah?” starting the line of questions that most girls ask themselves before they go out or take pictures etc. “Reflection,” the title track, is a very clever track. The girls begin setting up this boy to believe that they are talking about how fine , independent and perfect he is before saying, “psyche” and revealing that they were in fact talking about their own reflection. The next four tracks on the album are my favorite tracks. “Suga Mama,” “We Know,” “Going Nowhere,” and “Body Rock” are my favorites because they are arguably the most feminist-driven songs on the album. They chastise a man who lies and cheats in the case of “We Know.” “Body Rock” discusses  how it is okay to want a relationship if that is what you so  choose and Suga Mama talks about the fact that the girls can take care of themselves and shouldn’t be made to take care of their man as well.
The last track “Brave, Honest Beautiful” is the ballad of sorts on the album. Despite the fact that the song focuses mostly on the vocals of member Camila Cabello; the song is fantastic. The girls use this track to showcase their vulnerable side and send a love letter to their fans. They remind  the fans that they are brave, fearless and beautiful and that there is no need to change anything about themselves. The chorus says it best, “You can dance like Beyoncé / you can shake like Shakira cause you are brave / yeah you’re fearless and you’re beautiful. So whine like Rihanna / go and pose like Madonna cause you’re brave, honest and beautiful.”
You can purchase Reflection on iTunes and at Target. For more information, visit fifthharmonyofficial.com
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Fifth Harmony ‘Reflection’ Review: Photographs courtesy of Fifth Harmony