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Album Review: Is There Anybody Out There? by A Great Big World

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A Great Big World, Is There Anybody Out There?

Source: iTunes

Unless you’re an indie pop listener, chances are that you never heard of the duo A Great Big World before they released the duet-version of “Say Something”. The version featuring soulful pop singer Christina  Aguilera has been an international hit. Now, A Great Big World’s Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino have released their debut album “Is There Anybody Out There?”

One of the best things about the album are its lyrics. They are simple, but also upbeat,  honest, and empowering. “I’m learning anything’s possible now” the duo sings on the opening track “Rockstar.” “And change will come/it’s on its way/ just close your eyes/and let it rain” sings Ian Axel on “You’ll Be Okay.” A particularly notable track is the LGBTQ  anthem “Everyone is Gay”.

In addition to the lyrics, the vocals are great. Ian Axel has a good range that is capable singing some high notes, low notes, and soulful notes. In his case, his best track is the apparently live recording of “Shorty Don’t Wait” which has a blue-eyed soul vibe. Also, his solo version of “Say Something” is worth a listen as well.

As for Chad Vaccarino, he is someone not to be underestimated. While he is usually the secondary singer for most of the tracks, he is given a solo spot on the track, “I Don’t Wanna Love Somebody Else.” Here Vaccarino’s vocals show that he has just as much soul  as Ian Axel. With the poignant and sad lyrics added to the mix, you have a track that deserves just as much attention as the duet and solo versions of “Say Something”.

Furthermore, the production is a pleasant surprise. Although there is a pop sound to most of the record, there are elements of other genres too. “Land of Opportunity” has pop and a classy jazz sound while “Shorty Don’t Wait” has a gospel choir in it. Furthermore, the track “Cheer Up” features the calliope (the music you hear at a carnival).

Overall, this is a fantastic debut album. If you like piano pop singer Sara Bareilles, then give these guys a listen.

Written by Serena Zola

January 24, 2014 at 5:06 PM

Why P!nk Is One Of The Most Underrated Female Musicians

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Pink (singer)

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Authoress Note: I’m aware that I’ve already done a spotlight on P!nk. However, since P!nk now has a new album and tour, I’d thought I’d do an updated spotlight on her. 

On December 10th 2013, pop-rock singer Pink will be honored as Billboard’s Woman of The Year.  While Pink has received huge amounts of praise and numerous awards, she has rarely received them here in the United States. With all the superficial music out there, Pink is a rare gem for many reasons.

1.  She can sing more than one genre.

Pop- “The Great Escape” from the The Truth About Love (2012)

Rock- “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” (Led Zeppelin Cover)” from Funhouse Tour: Live in Australia (2009)

Blues- “Misery” (feat. Steven Tyler)” from Misundazstood (2001)

R &B- “Most Girls” from Can’t Take Me Home (2000)

2, She can sing live while doing acrobatics and dancing.

“Try” (Live from The Truth About Love Tour 2013)

“So What” (Live from The Truth About Love Tour 2013)

“R&B Medley” (Live from The Truth About Love Tour 2013)

3.  She empowers women with her songs and music videos by showing you can be assertive,  emotionally vulnerable, and that you can express your gender however you want.

“Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”– music video from The Truth About Love (2013)

“Perfect”– music video from Greatest Hits… So Far!! (2010)

“Stupid Girls”-music video from I’m Not Dead (2006)

“Don’t Let Me, Get Me”-song from Misundazstood (2001)

4.  Many of her lyrics are honest, reflecting on things that have happened to her or around her

“Run” from The Truth About Love (2013) – this song is for her daughter, Willow

“I Don’t Believe You” from Funhouse (2008)- this song is about how Pink wanted to reconcile with her husband Carey Hart

“Dear Mr. President” from I’m Not Dead (2006)- this song was about then president George W. Bush

“Family Portrait” from Misundazstood (2001)- this song is about how Pink felt when her parents got divorced

5.  With P!nk, what you see is what you get. She’s being herself not only in her music, but in her interviews and rare candid moments.

Marie Claire Magazine Interview (August 2013)- Warning: mild profanity

Pink Stops Concert for Crying Girl (March 2013)

Ultimately, P!nk’s honesty as a person and a musician makes her an inspiration for anyone who doesn’t fit the mold.


Written by Serena Zola

October 21, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Musician Spotlight: Adam Lambert

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

Back in December, I was watching some “best of” program on VH1. Then, the commercials come on. I was going to change the channel when I see Adam Lambert going from mike to mike singing a few notes. The very last mike is sparkly and suits Adam’s taste. He looks at it in approval and then proceeds to blow my mind by hitting one of the biggest notes I’ve ever heard.

As it turns out, the commercial was promoting the tribute show VH1 Divas and Lambert because he was hosting it that year. I decided to check out the show to see what Adam was like and to see how he performed. However, I managed to forget about the show and ended up watching the last half of the re-airing on tv and certain performances online. I thought Adam was a funny host and a charismatic  performer.

Soon, I was looking up Adam’s music. His first album, For Your Entertainmentdidn’t impress me much. With the exception of the songs “Strut” and “Aftermath”, it felt like the album lived up to its name by being standard entertainment with very little passion. However, the two songs still made me want to hear more from Adam.

It wasn’t until recently that I checked out his latest album TrespassingThis time, I enjoyed listening to most of it. It reflects more of Lambert, lyrically and vocally.  My personal favorite tracks are “Trespassing”, “Broken English”, “Underneath”, and “Nirvana”.  Not to mention, the album cover and title is a clever metaphor for the album’s purpose. It crosses lines by going back and forth  from conformity to individuality, sanity to insanity, outside to inside.

Last but certainly not least, his live performances are amazing. He is one of those performers who sound even better live than on the album. While he sounds great on both his uptempo and slow songs, it is his slower songs that are a special treat. Adam Lambert’s run on American Idol foreshadowed what was to come in the future. Without a doubt, Adam Lambert is one of the most original and talented performers I’ve ever encountered.

Here is Adam Lambert performing his song “Underneath”

Written by Serena Zola

May 24, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Great Eclectic Musicians

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Once in a while, you might find someone who listens to more than one type of music. An even rarer find is a musician that has more than one sound. Here are my personal favorite eclectic musicians the songs that display their variety:

Musician: Pink


Lonely Girl-


I’m Not Dead-

Bridge of Light-


Musicians: The Beatles


Oh Darlin-

Tomorrow Never Knows-

Eleanor Rigby-

Paperback Writer-


Musician: David Bowie


After All-

Rock n’ Roll Suicide-

Dead Man Walking-

Bring Me the Disco King-

Written by Serena Zola

June 11, 2012 at 9:29 PM

Musician Spotlight: Pink

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With today’s bubble-gum pop music, it seems rare that a musician in this genre is authentic. When Alecia Moore, aka Pink, came on the map on her own terms in 2001 with the album Missundaztood, it was the start of something new.

Pink is known for having soulful vocals similar to that of Christina Aguilera. However, Pink’s music is different from Christina’s in that it focuses on things that are personal or things that she observed around her.

For instance, Missundazstood was mostly a personal album that focused on Pink’s experiences with her parents’ divorce, the angst and loneliness that came with it, and what she did to numb herself from her personal pain. At the same time, it is also about celebrating and being proud about doing her music the way she wanted to.

Songs from the album:

I’m Not Dead, another album by Pink, is the album that starts her social/political observations of the world in addition to being personal.

Song from the album:


Today, Pink is still releasing songs that are personal and relatable to others. For that, she is a true pop star.

One of Pink’s most recent songs:

Written by Serena Zola

March 7, 2012 at 8:32 PM

8 Things to Save a Life Part 1

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This week I’ve been shocked by some tragic and happy news involving teens.

The happy news involved the support of Jonah Mowry, a gay teen who posted a heart-wrenching YouTube video this past August about his experiences with bullying. Recently, he has done an interview with Good Morning America about his ordeal.

The tragic news involves the death of Jacob Rogers, a gay teen who recently committed suicide due to bullying.

When I heard about the death of Jacob Rogers and the support of Jonah Mowry, I wondered what would have happened if the two had known about each other. Personally, I think that if Jacob Rogers had seen Jonah Mowry’s video, he would have gained the will to live and known that he wasn’t as alone as he felt.

In addition, I’m reminded of the things that gave me the most comfort when I felt lonely as a teen: music and books.

As a special gift to anyone, but especially any teen or child, who has been bullied or felt suicidal, I present in a two-part post, four songs and four books for comfort. I’d also like to dedicate these songs and books to Jonah Mowry and all the victims of bullycide (suicide due to bullying).

First, the songs:

Make It Stop by Rise Against


Don’t Jump by Tokio Hotel


Perfect by Pink


Beautiful by Christina Aguilera


Written by Serena Zola

December 10, 2011 at 12:17 PM

The Music Boxes

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Many people young and old have been complaining about the sad state of today’s music. While I do agree that some of today’s music isn’t great, I think music still shines with artistic brilliance today. Why? Because I have gone beyond one genre, one time period, and one country to find music that I love.

When some people think of crappy music today, they think of either pop or rap. Most people don’t realize that pop and rap have sub-genres that they may find enjoyable because they think that a music genre has just one sound.  For example, pop can have a rhythm and blues sound as seen here:


Furthermore, pop can have a rock sound.


Also, rap can have a rock sound:


It is these songs that bring me to my next point: time period. These songs are old, but some people who have never heard them may like them anyway. If that’s the case, then why just focus on listening to the latest music? If it’s because everyone seems to be doing it, then why follow the crowd? Be an individual and listen to whatever music you want. You never know what you’ll discover on your own. You might find you like music from before you were born, something like this:


The previous song has another important point: it came from a British rock band. Most people today seem to think that just because we live in America, we have to listen to American music all the time.We only call American music “American” because we are in America. Actually, we all come from many different ethnic backgrounds. These differences are something that should be celebrated in music and beyond. Fortunately, there are some musicians that have already been doing this:


We need to keep an open mind when listening to music. Just because we live in a certain time period,  a certain country, or prefer a certain sound, doesn’t mean there isn’t more to what we hear.

Written by Serena Zola

November 13, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Album Review: Mylo Xyloto

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I have only recently become a fan of Coldplay, but based on what I’ve seen and heard, this is one of today’s best bands. Compared to U2 and The Beatles, Coldplay is a band that hails from Britain and brings music of love and peace. After three years, they are back with their brand new album Mylo Xyloto. According to lead singer Chris Martin, the album was inspired by American graffiti and the White Rose Movement.

The songs range from an upbeat tempo pop-rock sound to a soft piano and acoustic guitar sound. While the upbeat songs may seem out-of-place for long-time Coldplay fans, listening to the songs while viewing the lyrics may make them easier to follow. The soft piano and acoustic guitar songs are reminiscent of songs such as “Clocks” and “A Message”. Another notable element is the short seconds of instrumental music that adds a beautiful ambient prelude to the next song. In addition, there is also a first time collaboration with R & B singer Rhianna on the song “Princess of China”. With Chinese-sounding chords combined with love story lyrics and bold vocals, it is a song worth listening to. All in all, the album is a good balanced record of expression, love, peace, and hope.

Written by Serena Zola

October 29, 2011 at 2:54 PM

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