Category Archives: Music

Celebrating Tupac and Stevie Wonder all in the same night

Stevie Wonder and friends sing happy birthday to MLK.

Last night was one of the best music nights of my life.

It started off with a day at the Grammy Museum checking out an exhibit on my favorite rapper of all time, Tupac. Then afterward, an all-star Grammy salute to Stevie Wonder at the Nokia Theater. And that all-star showcase was phenomenal. But before I get to that, I want to tell you how this all came about.

I always sign up to be a seatfiller for great Hollywood events and I so happen to get one for this Stevie Wonder tribute show (which airs next Monday on CBS). So since I will be heading to Nokia Theater that day, I decided to go check out the Grammy Museum. I have been there before but that was over a year ago and there was a new Tupac exhibit there. So me and my friend met up and checked it out. It was a small little wing of the museum but it was impressive.

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I really enjoyed Katy Perry’s Super Bowl halftime performance

So here’s the thing. Before Sunday, I could only name two of Katy Perry’s songs. I never paid much attention to her but I always knew that she was very popular and had a lot of great hits. After beefing with her father, I was optimistic about her performance being a good show.

Call me a fan now. Well, let’s be specific. I am not a fan of Katy Perry’s music still. I think they are catchy, but this performance I am a fan of. Check it out. It started with a big gold lion. Wow! I actually know the song “Roar” and the final roar was phenomenal. What a spectacular way to start the show. It had all the visuals that really captured the audience.

When they transitioned to “California Gurls,” I was really excited. Check out how much she was enjoying herself. I think that is what made me like the performance so much. She was having fun. Other Super Bowl shows I see artists trying too hard. But for Katy, she was so into it that I liked it. Plus, did you see those sharks? Left shark was all out of sorts but I don’t care. The baked beach balls also were funny.

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Shame on you Sam Smith for your Tom Petty ignorance

I don’t know anything about Sam Smith. I might have heard one of his songs in a shopping mall once, but that’s it. But when I saw news about him on my Twitter feed and how he offended Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, then I started to pay attention. The above link details how Sam Smith wrote a song that sounds a lot like a Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers song.

Listen to it yourself and see if there is any similarities.

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TLC is back for one more album!

So I just found out that TLC wants to do one more album via Kickstarter. This will be their last album and I just backed it up. I wonder how this is going to be. Obviously without Left Eye it might not be as exciting even though they are trying to go back to the roots of their success to make this.

But still, for nostalgia’s sake, I backed it up. I want to be part of the final album of the greatest female group of all time. Who knows? This could be a wonderful, amazing thing.

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Would you believe me if I told you I had Part 3 already in mind?

So when I wrote my tRolling Stone piece for the first time, I never had an idea of writing any more of it. Then a couple days ago I released Part 2. But when I was writing Part 2, I actually had the final piece to the trilogy in mind. If I was going to do a sequel, I knew I had enough juice for a third story.

So what is the third story going to be about? The obvious answer is that I would reunite the two and form Champaign again. But that is not the direction I had in mind. In fact, the third story would have nothing to do with either Ami or Pickles.

Well, that’s what I had in mind when I created the second story. But who would the third story be about? Well, I have an idea but I don’t even know if I would write the third story, so I will keep that on hold. And who knows? Maybe I do write a reunion story. But I will say this, the idea of a Part 3 is very much in play.

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ROLLING STONE: The backstory of Krystaline

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The design to the cover of the magazine is a lot more polished than the first one I made for Ami Mills and I think it looks a lot more like an actual cover of Rolling Stone. I studied hundreds of past covers to capture the style and design of the magazine. I considered Joe Cocker on the cover but decided against it. Cocker appears on the actual cover that comes out this week.

To read the original piece, click here.

To read the story that started it all (PART 1), click here.

THE BACKSTORY

I had no initial desire to write this story. When I first wrote the Ami Mills story, I was content with that being just that and I wouldn’t continue her story or any other character’s story. But always in the back of my mind, I wondered if the opportunity came, if I would actually go with it. I had scrapped two non-music stories during that time frame and really wanted to write another story but had no juice. The idea of writing about Krystaline (aka Pickles) actually came when I first wrote the Ami story when a few of the readers asked me about Pickles. I didn’t have an established identity for Pickles (except that she was a Polish brunette) when I first wrote the Ami story and if I knew I would be writing her story, then her characteristics in the original story would have been different.

But I sat there on New Year’s Eve wondering what kind of artist she would be. I had labeled her as an R&B star but I knew she wasn’t going to be like a Mya or Mary J. Blige type of R&B singer. My first thoughts were Alicia Keys and Janelle Monáe (the idea behind Michelle Edwards), both styles distinct but very marketable. Before I even considered writing the story, I thought about the graphics package. When I wrote the Ami story, I had the story mostly written before I even researched for a celebrity to use for the magazine cover. This time, I did the reverse. I started looking for the images before a story was even written. That actually made it a lot harder for me because I had to base my story on the photos I found. It gave me a boost in setting the parameters for the storytelling, but it limited where I wanted to go with the story.

Nevertheless, I worked with what I got and I came up with Krystaline. My first goal was to make her really different from Ami. Even though the two have been childhood friends, the reason why they split was because they were maturing and changing. I wanted to reflect that with Pickles’ character being a little out there to reflect that change. I had to take a lot of the characteristics of artists I have read about in previous Rolling Stone articles. One carryover from the Ami Mills influence was Lana Del Rey. A piece of her attitude, especially the complex diva aspect, was taken from her. The other influences are mentioned below.

This story took me two weeks to put together and the length is half of the first story. I didn’t want to make this a long story or a minute by minute account of the artist’s day. Instead, I wanted to focus on one evening and that only. And since it was based on a New Year’s Eve party, I had to quickly turn this story around before it became irrelevant. Like some of the articles I have read, one evening is all I need to understand the artist. Am I actually a fan of the artist I created? I am, but there are parts about her character that are puzzling and that was my intent. We can’t love everything about every artist we like and she is no different. That’s why she’s the enigmatic diva.

∴∴∴∴∴

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ROLLING STONE: Krystaline – New Year’s Eve With The Enigmatic Diva

RollingStoneCover

Note: Following the positive feedback I got for my Ami Mills story, I pondered whether or not I should challenge myself and continue the fantasy music world I created. My intention was never to write a continuation and that my created story of Ami would stand alone by itself. But I had struggled to write tremendously during that time period before and after I wrote the fake magazine article. I scrapped two separate stories I was trying to write and I couldn’t find myself overcoming my writer’s block. It was on a whim on New Year’s Eve that I decided to just brainstorm and see if there was a possibility that I could make a sequel.

I enjoy doing these things because it challenges me creatively. In my line of work I have to watch events and regurgitate it — that’s what I write for a living. Very rarely do I get a chance to take something out of my own imagination and build something so exciting. With my passion for music and the various happenings I see in the music industry, I am always intrigued about the lifestyles of these famous artists. Rolling Stone magazine has helped me see a different side of many of my favorite artists and I wanted to be a part of that. Once again, I’ve taken something that doesn’t exist and with the influence of writing, I’ve completed another chapter to this story.

My writing remains a work in progress and I want to continue to write to improve my skills. But in order to grow as a writer, I have to write every day and challenge my mind to go to places and universes that I never knew existed. This is the universe I have created and I am living in it. This is Part 2.

For more details on the inspiration and creative process of this story, I’ve posted more information at a link at the end of this story. Thank you for reading and I welcome any kind of feedback. Enjoy!

- Samuel Lam (12/31/14 – 1/13/15)

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