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Breakfast Tunes

Mornings are made for breakfast.

Starting this January, I’ve made it a habit to rise out of bed by the time the clock strikes 6 if only for the inviting aroma of bread and butter (it’s more of a personal challenge, actually) and so far, I’ve been successful. But no matter what delicacies you start your AM with – croissants, English breakfast tea, muffins, orange juice, buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, grilled tomatoes, beef sausages, et cetera – light, playful tunes are bound to excite you and set you up for the day.

Let music be a savory treat for your ears. So pick a morning soundtrack and eat, listen and be jolly. No time to assemble your track list? Here are whimsical ideas you can steal for a relaxing musical breakfast. Mix them with your own for a personalized morning playlist.

Enjoy!

  • “”Jolly Holiday” – Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke (from Mary Poppins)
  • “It’s a Good Day” – Peggy Lee
  • “Good Morning” – Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor (from Singin’ in the Rain)
  • ”Isn’t This a Lovely Day” – Ella Fitzgerald
  • ”Boy in a Rock N Roll Band” – The Pierces
  • “Frim Fram Sauce” – Diana Krall
  • ”Chasing Pirates” – Norah Jones
  • “Lulu’s Pie Song” – Sara Bareilles (from Waitress)
  • “It’s a Wonderful World” – Joan Chamorro, Andrea Motis, Bobby Gordon & Sant Andreu Jazz Band
  • ”Mona Lisa” – Nat King Cole
  • “Another Day of Sun” – La La Land Cast (from La La Land)
  • “What a Difference a Day Makes” – Jamie Cullum
  • “A Wink and a Smile” – Harry Connick Jr. (from Sleepless in Seattle)
  • “Wonderful” – Idina Menzel and Joel Grey (from Wicked)
  • “In a World of My Own” – Kathryn Beaumont (from Alice in Wonderland)
  • “White Winter Hymnal” – Birdy
  • ”City Love” – John Mayer
  • “Goody Goody” – Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga
  • “My Sugar is So Refined” – Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers
  • ”A Spoonful of Sugar” – Julie Andrews (from Mary Poppins)

 

 

 

2017 Highlights, 2018 Greetings

It’s here, it’s now, it’s 2018. Well, almost. Before I start my annual New Years Eve movie When Harry Met Sally (been enjoying brunch with some good friends and a cozy family dinner), allow me to present a brief list of my 2017 highlights. You’re welcome to share yours as well.

Happy 2018! 😀 Here’s to another year full of opportunities and adventures for all of us. #DreamBig

FILMS

  • Loving Vincent
  • Baby Driver
  • The Beguiled
  • A United Kingdom
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • Goodbye Christopher Robin
  • Lady Bird
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Coco
  • The Greatest Showman
  • Spiderman: Homecoming
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle

TV SHOWS

  • Reign: The Final Season
  • The Crown
  • Big Little Lies
  • The Orville

MUSIC

  • What’s That Sound? – Haley Reinhart
  • Baby Driver Soundtrack – Various Artists
  • Anastasia Broadway Soundtrack – Christy Altomare & Cast
  • Meaning of Life – Kelly Clarkson
  • Glory Days: Platinum Edition – Little Mix
  • Robin Hood Soundtrack: Disney Legacy Collection – Various Artists

NOVELS

  • The Last Tudor – Phillipa Gregory
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – J.K. Rowling
  • All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
  • The Land of Stories Series – Chris Colfer
  • Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
  • The Witches of New York – Ami McKay

Lana Del Rey’s “Lust For Life”

After the masterful and darkly cinematic Born To Die, Ultraviolet and Honeymoon, Lana Del Rey returns with a brand new record Lust For Life. Her smiley face on the cover signals a more sunshiny set of tracks and a shift towards the positive without losing her signature.

Collaborating with respectable music icons like Stevie Nicks, A$AP Rocky, The Weeknd and Sean Ono Lennon, Ms. Del Rey once again delights listeners with her vintage vocal and songwriting talent.

Here’s a track-by-track commentary based on my first listen of the entire album. Nothing beats the joy and pleasure of a first listening experience, and with Lust For Life, nostalgic surprises are everywhere to charm the ears.

  1. Love” – “Love” is a lovely opener that evokes the sensation of being in a quaint English garden on a late afternoon. The ascending chorus brings forward an uplifting vibe… like a spring awakening.
  2. “Lust For Life” (ft. The Weeknd) – If divine intimacy has a melody, this song would be it. A wonderfully recorded duet.
  3. “13 Beaches” – Very cinematic it could easily fill the end credits of a perfectly crafted noir film.
  4. “Cherry” – Dark, mysterious and moody. Classic Lana. It has a Hitchcockian vibe with a hint of danger and an unsolved puzzle. Favorite part of the lyrics? My cherries and wine, rosemary and thyme/And all of my peaches are ruined.
  5. “White Mustang” – Has a hypnotic quality, especially in the repetitive chorus. Super impactful.
  6. “Summer Bummer” (ft. A$AP Rocky & Playboi Carti) – It captures the feel of her first album Born To Die and has the making of a post-party jam in the summer. Great mix of haunting melodies, the rap, eerie moments and dope beats.
  7. “Groupie Love” (ft. A$AP Rocky) – Single-worthy. This song has the magic touch. Gets me in a nostalgic mode with its dreamy Bohemian flair. It’s like a love letter to the hippie days.
  8. “In My Feelings” – Another powerfully hypnotic tune. One of my favorite tracks from the record. It definitely got me in my feelings.
  9. Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind – Also single-worthy. A Coachella story told through music. Whimsical tune with a narrative quality in the lyrics.
  10. “God Bless America – And All The Beautiful Women In It” – A special dedication to the beautiful ladies of America… and all females with an American heart and a fighting spirit.
  11. “When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing” – Given today’s political climate, this thought-provoking song from Lana is immensely needed. As emphasized in the lyrics, the best we can do is hold on to hope and strive for a happy ending.
  12. “Beautiful People Beautiful Problems” (ft. Stevie Nicks) – Two musical goddesses recording together results in a retro-inspired track that sounds amazing on both CD and vinyl.
  13. “Tomorrow Never Came” (ft. Sean Ono Lennon) – Simply timeless. A Beatles sound is to be expected. There’s a great degree of authenticity in it.
  14. “Heroin” – An exploration of a very dark subject matter. Flying to the moon again, dreaming about heroin… 
  15. “Change” – Very piano-driven. Perfect for a reflective moment. The lyrics grab your attention from the get go. After all, change is a powerful thing.
  16. “Get Free” – As a conclusion to the album, this track is a finely crafted epilogue. It’s like her commitment, and she’s doing it for all of us.

Jazz… Hot and Cool!

“Hot can be cool, and cool can be hot, and each can be both. But hot or cool, jazz is jazz.” – Louis Armstrong

Jazz. A relaxing night and day soundtrack. Soothing like syrup and honey. Fresh for the ears. Unlike La La Land‘s Mia, I heart jazz. My friends call me Jazzy Jules, as I happen to be the only jazz admirer in my circle. All my online usernames are jazz-inspired, from jazzy.avenue to jazzontherocks. In fact, an all-jazz CD from the Lazy Sunday Box compilation series that I picked up at a little record shop in Melbourne, Australia is keeping me company as I’m working on this dedication to jazz in the spirit of International Jazz Month.

I grew up with jazz, and it provided the first bits of inspiration for my adventures in music and songwriting. My experience began with the ultimate jazz queens like Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee and my all-time favorite Ella Fitzgerald, whose records I still play these days. I would also put on some Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole plus modern jazz greats like Diana Krall, Harry Connick Jr., Michael Buble and Renee Olstead. All jazz-inspired and Woody Allen films I enjoy, such as Midnight in Paris, When Harry Met Sally, Down with Love and Cafe Society. It was this appreciation for jazz that led me into taking Jazz Lab and Ensemble during my training at the California College of Music in Pasadena, CA (I was incredibly lucky to be mentored by one of jazz’s greats Dee Dee McNeil as well as SWITCH member and astounding soul artist Phillip Ingram who I’m still in touch with). And I’m now left thinking about my singer-songwriter career. In case it never takes off, I just want to be a jazz musician.

With the comeback of all things retro and a swinging band like Postmodern Jukebox that gives jazz a whole new spin, the future of jazz looks brighter than ever. In my opinion, jazz is much more vibrant than the classical genre. It’s adaptable, it’s built on improvisation, and it fosters collaboration and creativity within the players. Everybody is welcome to contribute to it and reinterpret a standard the way they want to. To quote Miles Davis, “Don’t play what’s there. Play what’s not there.” This is definitely the polar opposite of classical music and even musical theatre, where you’re supposed to stick to what’s written on the music sheet.

In jazz, every note is allowed to be sung or played differently, creating a new flavor along the way. There’s no right or wrong. It’s all about creating your own vibe in your performance. You can even mix it with other styles to create acid jazz, jazz-soul, acoustic pop-jazz, smooth jazz, French jazz, and so on. In Bill Evans’s own words, “You can’t explain jazz to anyone without losing the experience because it’s feeling, not words.”

And that, my dear friends and readers, is why I find jazz to be both hot and cool. Enjoy this international jazz month, everyone!

Here’s a list of delightful jazz tunes I keep returning to:

  • It Had to Be You
  • As Time Goes By
  • Mona Lisa
  • C’est Si Bon
  • Deed I Do
  • It’s Only a Paper Moon
  • Moanin’
  • Peel Me a Grape
  • Bluesette
  • God Bless the Child
  • Walking My Baby Back Home
  • Cruella DeVil
  • The Nearness of You
  • Sunday Kind of Love
  • Moonglow
  • Singin’ in the Rain
  • If I Only Had a Brain
  • ‘Round Midnight
  • I Love Paris
  • Easy Living
  • I Wish You Love
  • Old Devil Moon
  • The Very Thought of You
  • Moon River
  • Witchcraft
  • Orange Colored Sky

Haley Reinhart’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” Now Certified GOLD

Songstress and F is For Family voice actress Haley Reinhart finally has a certified GOLD single with her lush, dreamy rendition of Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love. This divine, magical tune flawlessly displays the grandness of Haley’s vocals and has charmed listeners worldwide. It was also wonderfully used in an Extra Gum ad.

If you haven’t already, watch the commercial and download the song on iTunes. You know you “can’t help falling in love” with Haley again and again!

Back to 1989: 27 Songs on Taylor Swift’s 27th Birthday

1989. The year Taylor Swift came into this universe. Fast forward 27 years later, and she is a global superstar and hitmaker with award-winning records and chart-topping singles. To celebrate her Birthday, I’m listing 27 of my top favorite Taylor tunes. Feel free to list yours too.

  1. “New Romantics”
  2. “Style”
  3. “Mine”
  4. “Sparks Fly”
  5. “Clean”
  6. “I Knew You Were Trouble”
  7. “Picture to Burn”
  8. “Red”
  9. “Speak Now”
  10. “Innocent”
  11. “I Know Places”
  12. “Blank Space”
  13. “Should’ve Said No”
  14. “Bad Blood”
  15. “Starlight”
  16. “Hey Stephen”
  17. “Welcome to New York”
  18. “State of Grace”
  19. “Enchanted”
  20. “Safe and Sound”
  21. “Fearless”
  22. “Wildest Dreams”
  23. “I Don’t Want to Live Forever” featuring Zayn
  24. “Everything Has Changed” featuring Ed Sheeran
  25. “22”
  26. “Love Story”
  27. “Wonderland”

“Someday at Christmas” by Jackie Evancho is a Delicious Holiday Truffle for the Ears

Another holiday season, another Christmas album from the young and gifted classical songstress Jackie Evancho. With an elegant, cinematic orchestration and pure display of vocals in every track, this is one record worth collecting. Someday at Christmas is like a musical painting that’s full of grandeur yet very sincere in capturing the essence of Christmas and in igniting a spark of hope for the world.

Not only it makes a perfect companion for a festive holiday dinner with family and friends. It also serves as a delicious holiday chocolate truffle for the ears. I applaud Miss Evancho for a very inspired selection of songs to record and the classical greats in all the duets, such as Placido Domingo and Il Volo. They add to the divine quality of Someday at Christmas.

TRACK LIST

  1. “Someday At Christmas”
    Serving as the title track, this is one tune the world needs. Powerful lyrics with an imagined vision of the future – a future we all crave for.
  2. “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
    The cinematic intro paves a path to a very fine song. She really gets into the storytelling aspect.
  3. “Guardian Angels” (featuring Placido Domingo)
    A very exquisite duet. This song is the Truth.
  4. “Little Drummer Boy”
    Definitely a one-of-a-kind version of this popular song. She gives it a fresh energy.
  5. “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”
    Probably one of my top faves from the record. I enjoy Christmas albums that have “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” on the list, and Jackie is doing this whimsical tune justice.
  6. “Pie Jesu” (from Requiem – featuring Placido Domingo)
    What a fine duet. Respect!
  7. “Christmas Waltz”
    She delivers the tune in an imaginative way, and it definitely feels like a magical post-dinner holiday waltz, and all the guests, reindeers and sugarplum fairies are watching.
  8. “Hallelujah” (featuring Peter Hollens)
    The Leonard Cohen hit is definitely perfect for Christmas.
  9. “The Christmas Song” (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
    A fresh new take on a holiday classic. Feel the warmth in this song.
  10. “O Holy Night” (featuring Vittorio Grigolo)
    Simply divine. That’s all I can say.
  11. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
    It’s like a personal letter from Jackie to all of us this holiday season.
  12. “Little Drummer Boy” (featuring Il Volo)
    Two times a charm. Love the call-and-response bits in the verses that are followed by a vocal unison in the chorus.

Get Someday at Christmas and Jackie’s other records here.

Postmodern Jukebox

Watch what happens when today’s biggest hits meet Old Hollywood glam! Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox successfully mixes well-known tunes like “Royals”, “Shake It Off”, “Creep” and “Sweet Child O’Mine” with a jazz-flavored syrup, resulting in all-new numbers with a swingin’ vintage sound. It’s like a grand trip to the retro times without ever leaving the present.

The regular artists chosen to collaborate with the band include a roster of American Idol stars like Haley Reinhart, Melinda Doolittle, Casey Abrams and Von Smith plus amazing vocalists like Ariana Savalas, Morgan James and Sara Niemietz. For new listeners, PMJ’s newly released compilation album The Essentials make the perfect introduction. Grab yours in a combo pack featuring an old-fashioned shirt. Or if you’re a vinyl collector, the vinyl version is also offered on the PMJ site.

Below are a few of my top fave PMJ videos…

 

Nick Fradiani Will “Get You Home” With His Sizzling New Music Video

You want it? You got it! This week, we celebrate American Idol Season 14 winner Nick Fradiani’s second music video with Big Machine Records. Boasting a super catchy hook and chorus, “Get You Home” is bound to electrify you from start to finish.

Sampling lyrics from popular 80’s hit “Safety Net” seems to work in Nick’s favor, as it infuses a fresh energy into the single. Also, props to him and the entire Big Machine team for a very excellent production of the video. From Nick’s classy suit and limousine to his leading lady and the glass of champagne, everything has been filmed in style. We’re talking creme de la creme here. Suave!!!

Take a look behind the scenes on the making of “Get You Home”!

Nick’s solo album Hurricane is scheduled for an August release. Pre-order it on his official site.

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