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FRESH OUT THE BOX: Foxes, Majid Jordan, St. Lucia, Sia, Zendaya, Grease! Live!, & More

The past three #NewMusicFridays have offered up some stellar stuff, including four albums I'm putting on my list as 'The Best of 2016 (So Far)'. That's some big shoes to fill. Last week saw an important anniversary in Janet Jackson's Control turning 30 (so make sure you do your homework and listen to the whole record). Also, if you didn't watch Grease! Live! on FOX (aka Vanessa Hudgens real star-making moment), you were missing out.

Read on for all the tea in terms of what I've been listening to for the past three weeks.

WATCH THIS: 17 Thoughts while Watching Beyonce's "Formation" Return

I guess you can say the Return of Beyonce was unexpected -- but considering the debacle TIDAL is facing with their Rihanna Rollout, someone needs to reinforce that they serve a real and potentially powerful purpose in the industry.

Queen Bey dropped a "surprise" music video featuring the first new material we've heard from her in what feels like forever. Don't have TIDAL? Watch it here.

My initial thoughts & feelings were:
  • What is this? And why does it feel like overnight Beyonce went from proper pop chanteuse to Voice of a Generation?
  • I also feel reckless when I rock my Givenchy dress, because I cannot reconcile that amount of $$$ for one piece of clothing I'll probably wear in public two or three times total in my lifetime, k?
  • Does this remind anyone else of "7/11"? That bounce beat both grates on my nerves and makes me want to dance.
  • I TWIRL ON THEM HATERS; RIDE ON ALLIGATORS (also someone get me a shirt that says I TWIRL ON THEM HATERS stat, kthanks....and in the time I took to type that, I'm sure it already exists) UPDATE: Yes, it already exists.

SECOND TIME AROUND: Smashes Covered by JoJo, Travis Garland, Andra Day, & Elle King

Because sometimes it's just as good (or better) the second time. Four of my favorite artists at the moment -- all fab in their own right, all with track records of being excellent at elevating material even when it's not their own -- have dropped some awesome cover versions that have either: 1) made me rethink how I felt about the original tune, 2) done exactly what a good cover should do: re-invented the original.

Read on for more and to hear the covers...

HEAR THIS: Moxiie causes "Chaos"; drops FREEBIES

Moxiie (with two 'i's) is one of those so underrated artists with so much potential to be great, it's criminal. Let's add it to our collective list as a Resolution for 2016: no more with that B.S.

Her brand of 'Jungle Pop' (also the title of her 2011 EP) feels both familiar to the scene and totally fresh. Overall, her sound is dance-floor friendly but she lends herself quite well to this burgeoning dark disco movement. So much of her music is so multi-layered, allowing her vocal performance to stalk her proverbial prey, calculated and contained. 

Her snare-drum thrashing dance stomper "Animal" was one of my favorites when it came out and since then she's been releasing great jam after great jam. "Anyway" quietly lurks with a electronic bass thrumming throughout. "Jilted" soars with an emotional delivery over a lush, electric mid-tempo beat.

Her latest -- "Chaos" -- a heart-wrenching ode to moving on after losing someone is yet another triumph. The lyrics are movingly picturesque and she sounds incredible.

Moxiie is offering "Chaos" (along with an alternate version of the beautiful ballad) for free through her social media accounts. You can download the song here. Do it now. You won't be disappointed.

I can't wait to hear what's next. My fingers are crossed for tour dates -- something tells me she'd be so much fun to see live on stage.

RIHANNA: Is #ANTI Truly a Platinum Success Story?

It seems like everyone and their mother has an opinion about one thing this week: Rihanna and the unconventional release of R8, now dubbed ANTI. If you're curious as to where I fit in, settle in -- it's gonna be a long one.

Let's begin with this -- I don't consider myself a hardcore Rihanna fan, but I do enjoy quite a lot of her music. So much so that she ranks as #14 on my current Overall Most Played Artists at my Last.FM. I've enjoyed her sound since the very beginning, back in the good ol' "Pon De Replay" days. Back when everyone -- including me, I admit it -- assumed she very well might become a One Hit Wonder.

A lot has changed since those days and Rihanna has become a bonafide Pop Star. It's a title I know that she has some issues with and fair enough. The reality is a lot of what's made Rihanna successful as an artist has been her "pop" material. "S.O.S". "Umbrella". "Only Girl (In The World)". "S&M". "We Found Love".

Stylistically (and sonically), she inspired a multitude of imitators -- and is still doing so despite not releasing an album in more than two years, an arguable eon in the mainstream music scene.

This past week, she unleashed her eighth album set for "free" and given the obvious snowball of interest, the album was declared platinum -- one million sold -- in one day. The question is: does this distinction have any real merit? And if it does, have we as 2016 Music Lovers, gone down the proverbial Point of No Return when it comes to real album sales?
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