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Weekend Music Roundup- Taylor Swift "Evermore" Review, New Sturgill Simpson, New Kid Cudi Review, The Greatest Christmas Essential Playlist Ever, and More.

Christmas is almost upon us.

Going to let you in on a secret. All you need for holiday music is right here. 

The Elf on a Shelf mix I made from a few years ago. Certified fire by Rico Bosco.

And my Holiday Essentials Playlist on Spotify and Apple Music-

- The big news in pop music this week was that Taylor Swift gifted her fans with a companion album to Folklore at midnight on Friday, just ahead of her 31st birthday on December 13th. She titled it Evermore in a nod to Poe's "The Raven". It is an ok album. That's it. I'm sick of everybody making everything she does now out to be greater than it is and giving her passes nobody else in music gets. (Just like everybody did with Reputation and Lover.) 

It isn't terrible, but there are some terrible tracks on it- "Champagne Problems", "Closure", "Dorothea", "Long Story Short".

The good songs on it are some of the most depressing songs you've ever heard. "Fables" or not. 

My favorite songs from the album- "Cowboy Like Me", "Tis the Damn Season", "Ivy", "Coney Island", and “No body, No crime”.

Not mad whatsoever we got a third album in the last 15 months from Taylor Swift. And it looks like there's a fourth coming again very soon. Is this all a carefully strategized ploy to steer her fans towards streaming this new material steering them away from her Big Machine recordings she's been battling out Scooter Braun about over the last year and a half? All while she re-records those records? 

Sure seems like it.

But nobody's complaining. All new good music is appreciated. Especially nowadays where people's attention spans last 20 seconds.

If you think I'm joking about another new album on the way look at the evidence her diehards uncovered. 

You think you're a Taylor Swift fan and then you see people like this.

At least she's been busy this lockdown. Absolutely crushing song writing. Wish more artists took notes since nobody is touring.

- There was supposed to be a Verzuz battle last night between Ashanti and Keyshia Cole but Ashanti canceled yesterday afternoon after testing positive for Covid.

It looks like fans will have to wait until January for the Verzuz battle between Ashanti and Keyshia Cole.

Ashanti announced Saturday on Instagram she tested positive for Covid-19.

"Hey y'all I can't believe I'm saying this but I tested positive for COVID-19. I'm ok and not in any pain. I'm actually down to do the verzuz from my house… we're trying to figure it all out!!!" the singer posted.

She later posted a video saying "never in a million years did I think I would get Covid."

- Youtube announced a global New Years' Eve virtual celebration.

The "Americas" virtual event, hosted by Juanpa Zurita and Storm Reid, will bring together this year's biggest stars and public figures, plus musical performances from Dua Lipa, J Balvin, YG, Karol G and Kane Brown.

Demi Lovato, Matthew McConaughey, Behzinga, RuPaul, Larray, Emma Chamberlain, Anne-Marie, Marques Brownlee, the D’Amelio Family and more will also make appearances.

"Hello 2021" will also host events in the United Kingdom, Korea, Japan and India.

- Bad Bunny's new album, El Ultimo Tour del Mundo was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart which made history being the first all-Spanish-language album to reach No. 1 in the 64-year history of the all-genre chart. 

- Britney Spears teamed up with her 90s buddies the Backstreet Boys for the new dance song “Matches”.

RAP - 

- Kid Cudi released an amazing album Man on the Moon III: The Chosen, completing his Man On The Moon 3 album trilogy, after teasing its release for years now.

The first Man On The Moon album, The End Of The Day, released in 2009, remains one of the best album of this generation. Nobody in hip hop had ever really taken on depression and been so open about anxiety before.

He revisited the series and those issues in his latest release.

"In the last 10 years, Scott Mescudi has been through hell and back. After feeling like his world was over, he found hope and overcame the darkness that was plaguing his life," the album's liner notes read. "But happiness isn't forever. What he thought was peace turns into a nightmare. He finds himself lost dealing with the same pain he had not felt in years. In one night, he must face himself again and fight to win back his soul from the evil Mr. Rager."

The album jumps right into things from there establishing the tone with "Tequila Shots" which is all about self-medicating (and is a banger). He examines his ability to manage the anxiety and depression and still be happy. On "Damaged" he speaks more about the negative effects of sex, drugs, and partying. 

He also released his first music video for the project in years-

The track “Show Out” features Pop Smoke and Skepta taking the album to another level. 

He teams up again with Evan Mast of Ratatat on “Elsie’s Baby Boy,” which serves as a flashback to the struggle of his childhood when his dad passed away and his mom struggled to raise him and his family by herself.

Phoebe Bridgers is featured on “Lovin’ Me” as the two sing of their struggle with self-love. It is a career moment for Cudi. It takes us to outer space sonically yet keeps our feet planted firmly on the ground lyrically. 

This was my favorite new album of the week and one of the best of the year.

- Jack Harlow released his debut studio set That’s What They All Say-

- A year after releasing One of the Best Yet, DJ Premier of Gang Starr has put together an instrumental version of the album. What’s more, they’ve paired the release with a previously unreleased song called “Glowing Mic”

ROCK-

- The Deftones released their White Pony remix album, appropriately dubbed, Black Stallion. The record reimagines the 12 songs on the band’s landmark 2000 release, following the same track sequence as the original.

The remix LP accompanies the 20th anniversary reissue of White Pony, the album that established Deftones as one of the most innovative metal bands of the 21st century. The band embraced electronic and turntable music without losing an ounce of their metal edge — a sonic trait that becomes more pronounced on the electro leaning Black Stallion. The list of artists chosen for the task includes DJ Shadow, Robert Smith of The Cure, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, and Squarepusher, to name a few.

- Chris Cornell’s Estate released a new covers album No One Sings Like You Anymore

On behalf of Chris Cornell’s estate, the late rocker’s wife Vicky Cornell and her children, Toni and Christopher, have released a new album of cover songs recorded by Cornell. It’s called No One Sings Like You Anymore and it’s available to stream right now via Apple Music and Spotify below.

No One Sings Like You Anymore is a collection of 10 cover songs handpicked by Cornell himself. The Soundgarden singer recorded and sequenced the tracks back in 2016 as a way to honor the artists who inspired him, such as John Lennon, Janis Joplin, Harry Nilsson, and Electric Light Orchestra. A physical release is expected to drop on March 19th, with pre-orders currently ongoing.

The album includes several staples from Cornell’s solo career, like his take on Lorraine Ellison’s “Stay With Me Baby” for the HBO show Vinyl; a new studio recording of Prince’s classic “Nothing Compares 2 U”; and his cover of Gun’s & Roses “Patience”, which was released on Cornell’s birthday this year and earned him his first solo Billboard No. 1. He also recorded covers of Ghostland Observatory, Carl Hall, and Terry Reid for the album.

- For The Hanukkah holiday, Dave Grohl launched The Hanukkah Sessions, a new song series from him and Grammy-winning producer Greg Kurstin. The project sees the pair covering one Jewish musician every night of the eight-day holiday.

For the first installment, Grohl and Kurstin take on Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”. 

- The Avalanches have just released their new album, We Will Always Love You

The follow-up to 2016’s comeback album Wildflowers spans 25 tracks in total and places an emphasis on its guest vocalists. So to bring those songs to life, the duo cherry-picked some of the biggest names in music to help, including The Clash guitarist Mick Jones, Johnny Marr, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O, Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell, Kurt Vile, MGMT, and Cornelius. Other guests include Orono, Cola Boyy, and Kelly Moran.

Country- 

Sturgill Simpson has another surprise album in as many months with Cuttin’ Grass Vol 2 – The Cowboy Arms Sessions. The new LP follows Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 — The Butcher Shoppe Sessions, which was released back in October and saw Simpson reinterpret 20 songs from his discography.

This time around, Simpson and his backing band — which he’s dubbed “The Hillbilly Avengers” — reimagine 12 more songs from the musician’s catalog. “On Volume 2, we recorded everything I was too afraid to do on Volume 1,” Simpson said in a statement. “It’s hard to deny that this is a much more personal record. I was thinking about my kids, my grandfather, my wife.”

More fire from Simpson. This guy doesn't miss and that's saying a lot because he has bigger balls than just about anybody in music right now. He experiments and pushes the envelope holding back nothing.

- Charley Pride passed away on 12/12/2020 at the age of 86 due to covid complications. He broke racial barriers in the country music world a la Jackie Robinson… baseball was part of Pride's life, too. In the 1950s, he pitched for the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro League and played in the Yankees farm system. He was part of a trade where the Louisville Clippers traded him and Jesse Mitchell to the Birmingham Black Barons for the Barons' team bus. "Jesse and I may have the distinction of being the only players in history to be traded for a used motor vehicle," Pride mused in his 1994 autobiography.

After baseball, he worked as a smelter in Helena, Montana, shoveling coal from railroad cars into 2400 degree furnaces. He kept playing baseball for the local team, the East Helena Smelterites (whatever that logo looked like, had to be awesome). He batted a ho-hum .444 the first year. While in Montana, the Smelterites team manager recognized Pride's singing ability and paid him to sing for 15 minutes before each game. He also played local gigs solo and with the Night Hawks.

Eventually, Pride relocated to Nashville and signed with RCA Records and at the time, became the best-selling performer for RCA since Elvis. Here's what Pride accomplished in his music career:

- First black member of the Grand Ole Opry  

- One of three black members of the Country Music Hall of Fame

- 52 top-tens on Billboard country charts, 40 hit number one

- 2x World Series National Anthem performer (1980 game six, 2010 game five)

- Super Bowl VIII National Anthem

RIP to a great.

- Eric Church gives a nod to those in his life who've stuck through thick and thin with him releasing "Doing Life With Me"

- Dierks Bentley channels his inner Dwight Schrute in the video for "Gone"

- Kalie Shorr released "My Voice" which gives a middle finger to the radio establishment with "too rock for country, too country for punk, but who said I had to pick either one." Nod to there being two genres of music - good music and bad music.

She said she never expected the song to see the light of day. Ironic how you be yourself, stick it to the establishment, and they'll still pay your bills.

Thanks Jeff