On The Air

So I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before or not, but I am a DJ for 90.3 The Core, a Rutgers based, student-run radio station, and I’ve had a few shows this semester! Woo!

It was something that I wanted to get into since my first semester, so it’s so cool to think that I’m doing it now and that I’m having a great time with it.

I joined last semester and it was so much information!! I was terrified to go on air because we have to operate the board ourselves and there’s SO MANY BUTTONS!!!

During most of my training, I was more or less thinking:

BUT! I got a show! And I’ll admit, my first one didn’t go well. Like at all. It was actually terrible. Started off with about 2 minutes of dead air, played announcements over and over again because I kept hitting the screen, couldn’t figure out the CD player so I wound up playing songs I didn’t even know or like – BASICALLY everything that could have gone wrong went SO INCREDIBLY WRONG.

But the next show, I decided not to panic. And then I got the greatest invention known to mankind:

THE RCA CABLE! Now I can play directly from my computer!

So finally, I am able to, using that beautiful wire, connect to my laptop and play songs straight from my vast library on iTunes (6,000 songs strong and growing!). Anyway, so my last show went great! I finally, after four shows, figured out the board and am able to use it competently!

WOO BASIC POWERS OF DEDUCTION, YEAAAA!!! 

…. anyway, SO my show is called The Summer Vibe with DJ Niks (That’s me) – Saturdays at 1 PM, on 90.3 FM The Core. If you want to check out some of the music I play, here is the set-list from my last show, and I’ll be posting what I play from now on every Saturday! You should check out The Core, check out my show, check out la musica. :)))))))

St. Walker – Young The Giant
All Over Again – Lost Royals
Can’t Get Away – Third Eye Blind
Tiptoe – Imagine Dragons
Supremacy – Muse
Weight of this World – The Kingston Springs
Rocket – Home By Hovercraft
Color On The Walls (Don’t Stop) – Foster The People
Kittens – Herra Terra
What you Know – Two Door Cinema Club
Quesadilla – Walk The Moon
How Will I Call You – Water Liars
Setting Son – Teenage Kicks
Company – Third Eye Blind
Summer Vibe – Walk Off The Earth
A Modern Age – The Strokes

Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey poising in the 2012 Paris Motor Show (credit to Wikipedia for the picture).

Alright, so she’s not so completely new, but she is a rising star and her popularity has boomed over this passed summer. Lana Del Rey’s real name is Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, daughter of a wealthy domain investor Richard Grant, and a bit of a wild troublemaker from her youth. After a bit of a troubled past, Del Rey began to perform on stages in New York, eventually signing a joint contract with Interscope Records, Polydor Records, and Stranger Records in 2011. This was when her big break came.

Personally, I enjoy Del Rey’s music, but I find that some songs can bleed into each other or sound a tad boring. She’s good, but she’s not my personal favorite. However, she fits a specific mood and has this sensual sound that mixes the fun and the dark, as well as the old with the modern, so I have to giver her credit.

Del Rey at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival (another credit to Wikipedia).

Her first album was Lana Del Ray a.k.a. Lizzy Grant, released in 2010. It wasn’t until 2011, though, that her debut single, “Video Games,” put her on the map as a viral internet hit with over 20 million views on YouTube, and introduced her first album, Born To Die (2012). The album Born To Die is very well put together, and each song has that sensual feel that is Del Ray’s trademark. Since the release of this, Del Rey has been on one tour featuring Born To Die in 2012, and plans to do a European tour in 2013, featuring her new album, Paradise, which is featured on iTunes as a “Top Album” in Alternative Rock.

Del Rey performing on December 5, 2011 (another credit to Wikipedia for the picture).

Lana has become a celebrity and has received many awards, including the Q Awards “Best New Thing” and ECHO Awards “Hit of the Year” in 2011, and several MTV awards in 2012, as well as others. She has been very critically acclaimed and has become a great success at the age of 26.

The songs that I recommend are “Radio,” “National Anthem,” “Dark Paradise,” and off of her new album Paradise, “Ride.” Enjoy!

Radio

National Anthem

Dark Paradise

Ride

(As usual, credit to Wikipedia for the background information and the pictures. Thanks Wikipedia!)

One Direction

For those of you die hard rock and alternative fans who are shaking your heads and palming your faces, yes, indeed, I said One Direction. But you know what? They’re new, and are the definition of rising star, so I have to write about them! Plus, they’re actually really talented, and I must say one of my personal guilty pleasures. But then again, I was born in 1992, and therefore will always have a soft-spot for boy bands.

For those of you who either love phenomenon pop artists like One Direction, or who don’t know what I’m talking about, One Direction is a boy band from England/Ireland who won the British version of the TV show The X Factor in 2010. After, the boys signed to Simon Cowell’s label, Syco Records. In just two short years, they released two albums, Up All Night (2011) and Take Me Home (2012), which topped charts, and their single “What Makes You Beautiful” has become one of the most popular songs in the US.

One would expect One Direction to be overproduced and overrated like much of the dribble the pop-music-mill has been turning out these days, but from the stand-point of a musician and singer (that’s me), the boys are actually pretty talented. They’re a group of very skilled singers who all have their individual talents, and the songs they turn out, albeit arguably written for sale-value, are catchy and fun! I like emotionally dark music as much as the next girl, but sometimes, it’s nice to take a break and have a little fun.

One Direction performing live on NBC’s Today Show (picture courtesy of The Telegraph).

The band is made up of Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson. These boys have sold over 15 million albums, singles and videos globally, and they have completed a 2011-2012 tour. One Direction has won three MTV Video Music Awards and the BRIT Award. Huffington Post said that 2012 is “The Year of One Direction.”

Spawning a new “British Invasion,” as their Wikipedia article says, the band has definitely been one of the most popular and most successful rising stars, not only this year, but since the death of boy bands circa the N’Sync and Backstreet Boys days. The new age of the boy band has been mirrored also by The Wanted, another British boy band, and it is plain to see that the boy band has gotten a second chance at life. And I say, let it live!

Recommended songs are “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Live While We’re Young” (as honestly that’s all that I really know by them). I dare you to listen to them and tell me you don’t, at least, smile a little bit, and at most, have the urge to start a rockin’ dance party! Enjoy!

What Makes You Beautiful

Live While We’re Young

(Again, credit to Wikipedia for the background info!)

Imagine Dragons

In case you have not yet uncovered the secret to my blogging, I am writing about bands that are fairly new, not necessarily to the music business, but to the popular music scene. These are bands that may have started from humble beginnings, but have made a pretty big splash in a pretty large pond.

One of these bands had been fairly unknown until the release of their song, “It’s Time,” and since has been a staple on iTunes Top lists and have gotten their fair share of radio play. This band is Imagine Dragons.

The indie rock band formed in 2008 and started their journey from Las Vegas, Nevada. A fun fact is that their name, Imagine Dragons, is an anagram, the original meaning of which is only known to the band’s members, who are:

  • Dan Reynolds – drums, vocals (2008–present)
  • Ben McKee – bass (2009–present)
  • Wayne Sermon – guitar (2009–present)
  • Dan Platzman – drums, viola (2011–present)

I first heard Imagine Dragons on the radio when I heard, “It’s Time,” their debut hit. At first, the song actually, to be honest, annoyed me a little bit (probably due to the amount it was played on the radio). But as I started to listen more and more, my intrigue grew and I checked out their album, Night Visions, released in September of this year by Interscope Records. My personal opinion, one that surprised me, is that the album is a work of art, and truly great. The songs are moving and emotional, yet also uplifting, talking of personal redemption coming from a darker past. The lyrics are extremely well written, and the band has a great sound to it that emulates the words.

Before the band signed with Interscope in 2011, they had only released two EPs, Imagine Dragons EP and Hell and Silence EP. They hadn’t even entered a studio until 2009, and before then, they were competing in several “Batlle of the Bands” competitions. It is plain to see that they have come a long way, having competed a sold out tour with Awolnation and performing on the The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, all this year. Their song, “It’s Time,” was covered on the TV show Glee! and Billboard magazine put them on the list of “2012’s Brightest New Stars.”

In a very short time, Imagine Dragons has skyrocketed into fame, and have made a big impact on the popular music scene.

Songs that I recommend are “Radioactive,” “Demons,” “Nothing Left To Say” and “On Top Of The World.” Enjoy! 🙂

Radioactive:

Demons:

Nothing Left To Say:

On Top Of The World:

(A credit to Wikipedia for the helpful background information.)

Now, Now

I went with a few of my friends to see Fun. at Terminal 5 in Manhattan last June. I was so excited for the concert, being a huge fan of Fun., who was really blossoming on the popular music scene at the time. That day, I did what I usually do before concerts, and that’s to check out the openers. The openers were a rising indie rock band called Now, Now, who was just breaking their way into success in the industry. I had never heard of them before, but once I listened to one of their most popular tracks, Wolf, I was hooked. They’ve got this cool, dark sound that builds intensity and grabs you right away, and the lyrics are ripe with feeling and poetry. That was the studio version though. I wasn’t expecting them to be great live, since their stuff sounded almost too clean for a band that was just getting it’s start.

At the show, we were able to walk straight in to the front row, but all the way over so that we could see the side-stage. Before the show, we saw the lead singer, Cacie Dalager (vocals, guitar, keyboard), pacing back and forth on the side of the stage, trying to calm her nerves. From the moment they stepped out you could tell how nervous the three-man-band, also consisting of Bradley Hale on drums and Jess Abbott on guitar, was feeling. They started out a little timid with their song Wolf, the one I had listened to that day. To my happy surprise, they sounded just like the studio version, if not better. It was obvious that only a few of the people in the crowd knew them, but everyone was silent, listening intently. The song starts off slow, so the crowd was just waiting to see where they were headed, waiting to be given a reason to end their conversations.

Band Members (Left to right): Cacie Dalager (vocals, guitar, keyboard), Bradley Hale (drums, backing vocals), and Jess Abbott (guitar, vocals).

Then came the crescendo, and the crowd suddenly woke up and went wild! I’ve been to a lot of concerts, and I have never seen a reaction like that to an opening band. A smile grew on each band member’s face, and their energy skyrocketed. Song after song, they killed each and every one, and the crowd loved them. It was a great way to start the show, and it was clear that when they stepped of the stage, there would be no need to be nervous for their next concert.

Now, Now formed in high school 2003, and put out their first album in 2008, Cars, under the Minneapolis-based Afternoon Records indie label. The album Threads debuted in March of 2012 under Trans Record Label. In the same year, they joined The Naked and Famous’ Spring Tour in the United States and also joined the Fun. US tour (the one that I saw). They even have a music video out now for their song “Thread,” featured on their YouTube Vevo channel (below). Surprisingly, the band’s success grew so much that they were actually on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon November 7, 2012, performing their title song “Thread”.

Now, Now performing “Thread” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

A band that started out in high school and is now performing on several tours and even TV is definitely set on making a big impact. Who knows, maybe in a few months, Now, Now will be having their own tour! In the meantime, check out some of their best tracks below! Enjoy!

Now, Now – Thread

Now, Now – Wolf

Now, Now – Prehistoric