@Sia’s Talent isn’t an Act with ‘This Is Acting’

Before Sia was singing of swinging from chandeliers or being made of titanium with David Guetta, she was Sia Furler, born December 18, 1975 in Adelaide, South Australia. She began her career as a young child imitating her musical influences, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Sting. After being part of a jazz band named Crisp from 1994-1997, she moved to London in 1997 and performed background and lead vocals for various artists including Jamiroquai before signing with Sony Music’s label imprint Dancing Pool. Prior to this, Sia released her debut album OnlySee independently but it only sold 1200 copies. With Sony Music, Sia released her second album, Healing is Difficult. Displeased with how the album was promoted, Sia fired her manager, and left Sony Music, signing with UMG subsidiary,  Go! Beat.

In 2004, Furler released her third album, Colour the Small One. Once again, the album was poorly marketed. She relocated to New York in 2005. She left Zero 7, her Australia Band that began her music career, and in 2008, released her fourth studio album, Some People have Real Problems. It not only charted high in Australia but charted at number 26 in the U.S. which makes it Sia’s first album to chart in the U.S.

Being that her fame was slowly rising like steam in the U.S. she was approached by pop singer Christina Auguliera to help write her sixth studio album. Bionic contains three songs co-written by Furler. In 2011, she wrote the song “Titanium” for Alicia Keys but it was later sent to David Guetta and he kept her demo vocals on the track and it became a worldwide success. Sia was upset about this because she had just retired as a pop artist and was trying to become a songwriter only. Before this, Sia had released her fifth studio album, We are Born. From the David Guetta fiasco, she co-wrote songs for Beyonce, FloRida, and Rihanna from 2011 to 2013.

In October 2013, “Elastic Heart” was used in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. In July 2014, Sia released her sixth studio album, 1000 Forms of Fear. She released it in order to finish out her record contract but with the worldwide success of the album, she decided to work on a follow-up album and continue writing her own music.

In 2008 until 2011, Sia suffered from suicidal depresssion going so far as writing a suicide note. Following her depression, she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease- an autoimmune disease that causes symptoms of an overactive thyroid. Because it was so hush-hush, a lot of people aware of Sia are unaware that she was married to Erik Anders Lang on August 2, 2014. 258612B200000578-2946583-Settled_down_Sia_is_said_to_have_wed_American_documentary_maker_-a-24_1423531072719

On January 29, 2016, Sia released her seventh studio album This is Acting. It’s a compilation of songs that were rejected by other pop artists such as Adele and Rihanna. Musically, the album has a electropop sound with soul influences. The album is called This is Acting because most of the songs were written for other artists and Furler said when she wrote it and later recorded it, she felt like she was play acting with it because it wasn’t necessarily something she would say.

Song by Song Review

“Bird Set Free”: With this song, which was originally written for the Pitch Perfect 2 soundtrack, it was then pitched to Rihanna then recorded by Adele before being cut from the final 25 album. Sia’s vocals soar on this song about not giving up even in the face of death.

“Alive”: With this song, originally written for Adele but rejected at the last minute, it’s a song that motivates as no matter the obstacles, the speaker isn’t going to let it defeat or destroy her. I think Sia sounds better singing it herself than Adele may have sounded.

“One Million Bullets”:The only song on the album that wasn’t written for anyone else, it definitely has Sia’s trademark sound that was primarily showcased on 1000 Forms of Fear.

    “Move Your Body”: Despite Sia’s ballad signature, this song doesn’t disappoint with it’s dancy sound and EDM-stylistic elements.

    “Unstoppable”: This song  almost sounds like Demi Lovato’s “Confident,” and some people believe it was intentionally written for Lovato. It’s one of my favorites off the album because of it’s pop anthem theme.

   “Cheap Thrills”:  It was also written for Rihanna, and definitely has the sound of a Rihanna song despite being rejected. I like the message and musical stylings of the track: having fun with just a dance floor and some good music, no money needed. It’s another one of my favorites off the album.

     This song  was co-written with Kanye West for Rihanna but Sia liked it so much she decided to keep it for herself. I like it because it follows the theme of not giving up your life for anything or anyone like “Bird Set Free” and “Alive.”

     This song is about needing someone so much you burn with desire for them. This track is another one of my favorites because of its electropop sound and lyrical content.

This song reminds me of the Christian poem Footprints about someone that carries you threw some of the darkest times of your life. In the original poem, this is Jesus but with this song, it could apply to anyone.

This track contains elements of Sisqo’s hit song, “Thong Song,” and Sia even references it throughout the song. I like the overall musicality of this track.

    With this track, Sia returns to her ballad style singing in this track about not giving up on a romance that appears to be weathering storm after storm.

   With the final track on the album, Sia creates a dark vibe  that has a haunted sound. I would have to say this track is a masterpiece in itself about the death of a love between two people, and reminisces “Cellophane” from 1000 Forms of Fear.

This is Acting peaked in the U.S. at number four on the Billboard Hot 200 in it’s debut week. Despite being written for other people, the songs not only sound like Sia signatures but further prove her talent is far from an act.







The Highs and Lows of the 2016 #Grammys

I’ll be honest. The Grammys actually rank low on my own personal totem pole when it comes to music award shows just because they are equivalent to the academy awards where they are boring as hell and very very dry. Now I know a lot of people just side-eyed the screen but let me explain why:

The Grammys are one of the highest accolades a musical artist could hope for but that doesn’t mean the show is exactly entertaining.

Last night in Los Angeles, the show was opened by Taylor Swift singing her newest single off her album 1989, “Out of The Woods.”


This performance was followed by Sam Hunt and Carrie Underwood doing a mash-up medley of their hits. Some fans say Sam butchered “Heartbeat” but I thought they both did a great job.

Some lows of the Grammys were definitely Adele having technical difficulties during her return performance on the Grammys stage.

Another low was speculation that Taylor Swift robbed Kendrick Lamar of an Album of the Year win. I feel that last night proved that the country as a whole is sick of Taylor Swift because I saw memes making fun of her haircut and the above picture of Tori Kelly went viral because that was the face she was giving Taylor during her acceptance speech. I was happy for Taylor because she got to acknowledge Kanye West’s claims that because he interrupted her acceptance speech at the VMA’s back in 2009, he made her famous or relevant. Let’s get real here, Kanye. Taylor’s talent alone speaks for itself. You haven’t released anything of value since Stronger. Please stop the Twitter rants in an effort to publicize your album because I’m sure plenty of people will buy it simply because you are Kanye West.

Some highs at the Grammys

Demi Lovato slaying during the Lionel Richie tribute.

Kendrick Lamar put on a crazy poetic performance highlighting racism while performing his single, “Alright”

The Full Performance

Lastly, my girl Tori Kelly did a mash-up performance with James Bay. And they both sounded way too good not to make us all hope for a future collaboration

A clip of the performance

Congratulations to all the winners! This means you are officially the best in your genre.

As much as I’m excited for a lot of my favorites in pop finally getting acknowledged by the Grammy Foundation, I really hope they will get a little more lively next year.




#HowToBeSingle Stands Out in opening weekend

The movie is armed with an all-star cast including Rebel Wilson, Dakota Johnson, Leslie Mann, and Alison Brie. The movie follows these four women as Alice’s character comes out of a long-term relationship and goes off to find out who she is. With her new job at a law firm, she meets Robin who is an expert at being single, and she goes about teaching her the stereotypical way to go about being single (partying every night, having sex with any guy that shows interest, waking up hungover the next morning) but when Alice meets up with her ex and asks him to take her back. She’s surprised to find he’s moved on with someone else.

Without giving more away than necessary, I will end with saying that this isn’t your typical raunchy romantic comedy. What you go to the movies thinking you will see isn’t what you leave having seen. It actually holds an amazing message in favor of the single life, and that’s totally refreshing for a movie that was released on Valentine’s Day weekend.

My Smart Cookie Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

How To Be Single debuted in third grossing 18.7 million in its opening weekend at the box office.


#NineTrackMind: @CharliePuth wows way before debut album

Hailing from Rumson, New Jersey and at only 24 years old, Charlie Puth first caught our attention as the lead vocalist who croons the chorus of Wiz Kahlifa’s award winning song “See You Again” for Fast and Furious 7.

At the young age of two, Puth suffered a near fatal dog bite incident that damaged his right eyebrow. At age 12, he began his music career unofficially by participating in a jazz ensemble in Red Bank, NJ. Despite attending regular high school, from 7th to 12th grade, he attended Manhattan School of Music pre-college, majoring in jazz piano and minoring in classical music. From here, he went to college on a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music where he majored in music production and engineering. He graduated in 2013.

His music career sprung into action when Puth began a Youtube channel called Charlies Vlogs, where he released his first single, “These Are My Sexy Shades” in 2010. Charlie Puth was originally signed to Ellen Degenerees label, eleveneleven but left in 2013. In 2015, he signed with Atlantic Records. Prior to the release of his debut album, Nine Track Mind, he was a feature act on the 2015 Jingle Ball Tour.

Song by Song Review

“One Call Away”: A song he wrote with his best friends in L.A. it showcases Puth’s songwriting style as well his signature musical style of pure vocals across a piano track.

“Marvin Gaye”: The debut single off his album released with Atlantic Records, the track is all about the heat of passion between two people who just met, and features Puth’s friend and fellow pop artist, Meghan Trainor.

    “Dangerously”: One of my favorites off the album, I relate to the message of the song and love the musicality of the track because it’s got a soul pop vibe. Puth himself tweeted that the part of the song where he sings, “knew we would crash at the speed that we were going” part took about 100 times to get right. You can’t even tell, Charlie. Either way, your voice sounds as smooth as spoonful of brownie cheesecake ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s.

“Losing My Mind”: I feel like this track should be my text notification since I am probably losing my mind 21 out of 24 hours a day. Puth explains the song as a track on an emotional day when he felt like he was the worst songwriter in the world and that he was losing his mind. Sounds like he fixed his writer’s block with this song.

      “We Don’t Talk Anymore”: A great song that I can dedicate to my ex since things there ended entirely terribly. This is my favorite track on the album because I love the back and forth between Selena Gomez and him on this track as well as the overall musicality of the track.

“My Gospel”: Love the musicality of this track as well as the overall message of the song. Now if only I could get a guy who looks like Charlie Puth to sing this to me because he dedicates it to me. This song was co-written by Josh Kear, most known for writing the hit Carrie Underwood song “Before He Cheats.”

    “Up All Night”: Puth’s vocals and jazz piano backtrack make this sound a lot like the sequel to “One Call Away.” He wrote this while doing head stands according to Puth’s Twitter page. This track is incredibly relatable for anyone who’s ever had a crush. Bravo, Charlie.


    “Left Right Left”: Another piano ballad that talks about that moment when time has past and you finally start picking yourself up and moving on with your life after a breakup that you thought would destroy you for good. Ironically, Puth recorded this song on a hover board and he fell really hard during the recording session.

“Then There’s You”: Max Martin added his own personal touch to this track but this has the makings of being as popular as Bieber’s “One Less Lonely Girl” if it becomes a single. If not, I enjoy the pop musicality of the track and only hope I can get married one day to this song.

“Suffer”: This track reminds me of a Temptations song, and makes me feel as though I’ve transported back to the fifties with it’s malt milkshake diner vibe but Puth wrote this about a girl that was messing with his mind.

“As You Are”: Ok so I stand corrected. This is my absolute favorite track on the album. This track was co-written by Shy Carter Mayne. Also, Charlie if you ever want to have a shotgun wedding to someone you don’t really know, I’m only one call away 😉

“Some Type of Love”: The song that helped him get a record deal with Atlantic Records, this was written and recorded in his parent’s house. The perfect song to listen to on Valentine’s Day.

So far, Nine Track Mind has debuted at #6 on the Billboard Hot 200. Puth may be one call away but he’s definitely a someone you should watch out for. His music will have you losing your mind because it’s just that good.


.@ToriKelly deserves a Grammy for new single, #SomethingBeautiful

Tori Kelly is an amazing songwriter but as far as the music industry goes, she is only known for her angelic vocals. See, I was late to the Tori Kelly fan party. I happened to see a tweet from someone I followed on Twitter (isn’t this how all good stories start nowadays) talking about Tori Kelly. Then, a few days later, I saw her on the Radio Disney music awards and I started to take notice but it wasn’t until I wrote my first ever article for Outloud.com reviewing her debut album, Unbreakable Smile, that I realized how amazing of an artist she really is.

Her new single, “Something Beautiful” is no exception. The song gives a positive spin to what others consider beautiful as well as tackling themes of confidence, self-esteem, and belief in oneself and the strength one holds inside. I can’t stop listening to it. And when I’m not listening to it, I find myself humming it or singing it to myself because it gave me an earworm. My favorite thing about the song is that it’s the perfect remedy when you are having a bad day, a bad week, or heaven forbid, a bad year.  The single was released as part of her Unbreakable Smile repackaged edition.

Tori Kelly is scheduled to perform this upcoming Monday February 15 with fellow breakout artist James Bay (and my British bae) on this year’s Grammy Awards. You can bet I’ll be tuning in and singing along.


#SB50: Advertisements Gone to the Dogs

I’m the last person to ever sit through a game of football yet watching the Superbowl for me is less about the game itself and more about the ads throughout and the food I get to munch on while I’m watching.


Doritos Ultrasound

This commercial definitely caught my attention but it also gave me the creeps a slight bit. I’d give it a 3.5/5 stars for creativity but it lost 1.5 stars for the creepy factor.

Paypal: There’s New Money in Town

 This commercial made me and my dog take notice because we are huge Lovatics (fans of Demi Lovato)because of the use of Demi Lovato’s song, “Confident” but as far as what Paypal was advertising, it was hard to tell. Do they have a new feature on their site? Is it easier to use their site? Or were they advertising Paypal makes you feel confident with your money. 2 out of 5 stars.


This commercial was very smart and clever and featured rapper Lil Wayne. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Shock Top: Unfiltered Talk

This commercial was funny and had my attention throughout, and at the end of it, I was definitely craving a beer. 4.5/5 stars.

Buick: The Big Game Meets The Big Day

                Featuring rising talent Emily Rajenkowski, most known for her role opposite Zac Efron in We Are Your Friends, and Obdell Beckham, Jr. It was funny and clever, and I knew what product they were advertising by the end. 3.5/5 stars.

Dollar Shave Club: Zeke

This ad definitely kept my attention, grossed me out, and had me considering signing my dad up. 4 out of 5 stars.

Acura: What He Said

Featuring Van Halen, this commercial got the point across and was one of the few car commercials that didn’t annoy me. 4.5/5

                QuickenLoans: RocketMortgage

I like that they suspended things in the air in this ad but still got the concept across. 4/5

                Hyndai: Ryanville

Who doesn’t get distracted looking at Ryan Reynolds? Clever ad and got the point across. Another car commercial that didn’t annoy me. 4.5/5

                Budlight Party

This was one of my favorite commercials of the night. Super smart. Amy Schumer is way hot right now, and I love when she says: “It’s not too big, I mean, you can handle it.” I laughed out loud. Very entertaining commercial. Genius concept using the caucus as the theme. I’m definitely a voting member of the #BudlightParty. 5/5

Skittles: The Portrait

Very clever and features Aerosmith legend, Steven Tyler. 4.5/5

Prius: Heck On Wheels

This commercial definitely made me want a red prius. This was incredibly clever centering around a police chase in a prius that becomes a national phenomenon. 4.5/5

                Coke: Ant Man vs The Hulk

                This commercial was clever, as most Coke ads are, advertising the new mini Coke by comparing it to Ant Man and the Hulk.

Butterfinger: Bolder Than Bold

This commercial was good but not great. A little predicatable for someone who studied marketing. 3.5/5

                Kia: Christopher Walken

This was funny and as a Kia customer, I definitely like how they advertised the new Optima. 4/5

T-Mobile: Drake

This commercial had me erupting in racauous laughter. So funny and still got the point across. 4.5/5

Colgate: Turn Off The Water

A very socially conscious ad that still got the point across in terms of brand and product. Very clever. 4.5/5

Third Place Finish: Turbotax

This commercial was a little dull until he called for his dog and it was named Turbo Tax. Also, TurboTax is a great way to file your taxes absolutely free, and your refund comes super quick.

Second Place: Doritos Dogs

                As a dog lover and proud owner of two beauties, let me tell you. Dogs love doritos. This commercial was absolutely brilliant and totally appealed to me as a dog lover.

First Place: Heinz Ketchup

My daschund Katrina is one of my favorites and this commercial just made me so entirely happy, all the while I ended up craving a hot dog. Honestly, that’s just right now since I’m incredibly hungry.

All in all, if you want your product or brand to shine, have a dog in your commercial. Trust me on this.

#GreaseLive: GREASE is definitely the word

On January 31, 2016, Fox’s musical remake of the hit musical movie, Grease went live starring Julianne Hough as Sandy, Aaron Tveit as Danny, and Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo.

GREASE: LIVE: (L-R): Keke Palmer, Kether Donohue, Julianne Hough, Andrew Call, Carly Rae Jespen, Carlos PenaVega Aaron Tveit, David Del Rio, Jordan Fisher and Vanessa Hudgens in GREASE: LIVE airing LIVE Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 (7:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX. Cr: Tommy Garcia/FOX

The musical started out with a killer cover of “Grease is The Word” by pop chart sensation Jessie J as well as a cover of “Beauty School Dropout” during the live performance by 90’s favorites, Boyz II Men.

Everyone did phenomenal and it’s hard to pick a star but I’d have to say that notable moments for this reviewer would be:

Vanessa Hudgens performance throughout despite the death of her father, Greg Hudgins, the night before. Despite the devastating loss, Hudgens showed true professionalism as well as the depth of her talent as a singer, dancer, and actress. The show was also dedicated in his honor. I was absolutely blown away by how well she performed that I almost forgot that Sandy and Danny are the major characters of the musical, and Rizzo is only a minor character. Yet, last night, Rizzo became the star of this new rendition of a 1970’s classic.

Another crazy and notable moment was when Didi Conn, who played Frenchie in the original movie, starred as Vi the diner waitress, who shares a scene with Frenchie (played by Carly Rae Jepsen). Joe Jonas even made an appearance during the big American Bandstand dance scene.

Newbie Aaron Tveit isn’t a musical newb at all, and brought a new perspective and demeanor to the role of Danny. His IMDB shows that he’s starred in a role on hit tv show Gossip Girl and in the 2012 film version of L`es Miserables. Julianne Hough on the other hand, gave Sandy a sexy edge while still upholding the mold of the original role, and even gave a quick nod to Dancing With The Stars.

Overall, I give the musical five out of five stars and can’t wait for Fox’s next live musical project as I will be definitely be tuning in.