Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Video spotlight: Scars to Your Beautiful and All Time Low by VoicePlay featuring J.None

That moment when you were going to finish up a post about someone else, but end up writing about VoicePlay instead. Such is the life of a certified VoicePlayaholic. Of course, if they stopped putting out such great content, I wouldn't want to keep writing about them. But who am I kidding? It's VoicePlay. That's not going to happen. Alas, I have no choice but to keep promoting them to the best of my ability. I'd be a sorry excuse for a VoicePlayaholic if I didn't. That other post I was going to work on will get finished at some point. Today, however, it's all about VoicePlay and their wonderful new video.

Truth be told, I was actually pretty anxious about this video. Not this video specifically. We didn't know this was coming until right before it came. So, no, that anxiety had nothing to do with this mashup and everything to do with the fact that it is the first VoicePlay video filmed in 2017. The first one filmed since they announced that Tony had left the group. Now let's be clear. At no point did I question whether I would continue supporting the group or not. One of my favorite things about VoicePlay is that each of them brings something special to the table. I love and appreciate all of them. VoicePlay, in the time that I've been a fan, is what it is because of the individual talents of each of the five members. When combined, the result is greater than the sum of all their parts. Tony leaving did not have any impact whatsoever on the love I have for any of the others. Nor did it impact my love for the group as a whole. There was absolutely no chance that I was going to stop supporting them. None.

I knew that VoicePlay was still going to be VoicePlay. I knew that they were continue to produce quality content. This past year convinced me that not only would they maintain the level of greatness I've come to expect, they'd more than likely exceed it. That's another thing I love about them. They're not the kind of group to be happy staying where they are; they're the kind that gets better and better over time. So what in the world did I have to be anxious about?

On one hand, I know that a lot of the VoicePlay sound is going to stay the same. Oh sure, they might try new things and they might push themselves, but four of the voices are going to be the same. We'll still be able to listen to them and know, without a doubt, that it's VoicePlay just from hearing them. On the other hand, I also know what a difference one voice can make. I've been worried that I wouldn't be able to listen to them without missing Tony's voice. That wouldn't be enough to make me stop listening to them, mind, but I was concerned that there would be a void.

Before we continue, I do need to mention that the fifth gentlemen featured in this video is not the new member of the group. His name is J. None and he is one of our dear VoicePlay fill-ins. Meaning that if you've been to a VoicePlay show over the past couple of months or so, you may have seen this guy. If not, maybe you saw Erik Winger (from ECHO) instead. I know they've had other guys fill-in, but J. None and Erik seem to be their main fill-ins. Let me tell you something: we VoicePlayas love our fill-ins. Hence, why I call them our dear fill-ins. Seriously, while I have not gotten to see either of them perform live - a most terrible problem that I need to remedy at some point - I know other VoicePlayas who have. The comments about our fill-ins aren't just good. They're glowing. 

That's right. Glowing. The general consensus is that both of these guys are wonderful. Not just really talented and entertaining, but really nice as well. I've been a fan of Erik's for months now. He's great and if you've never listened to ECHO, you need to. No, really. You do. I've written about them a handful of times and you can find all of those posts here. Get on that. As far as J. None is concerned, this video was my introduction to him. I'm going to be talking more about him after the video, but spoiler alert? I only have good things to say about him. If you've never heard of either of them, you have a couple of choices. You can go get your ECHO education (ECHOcation?) on and come back afterwards. Or you can keep reading and get acquainted with J. None first and then learn about ECHO. Whichever way you choose to do it, I do hope you check them both out because they're both pretty wonderful.

As for VoicePlay? No, I didn't forget about them. This video has effectively put my anxiety to rest. It's exactly what I needed. It's proven to me, once and for all, that I am able to listen to them without missing Tony. Because you know what? I actually did not find myself missing him at all. That is not meant as an insult to Tony, but rather a compliment to J. None. Again: J. None is just featured on this video. He's not the new member of the group (though I would be completely okay with it if he was). But this reaffirms my belief that whoever VoicePlay ends up bringing up will be someone that can stand on his own two feet. Someone who will bring their own unique talents to the group and make it better. I said this in my "Still Alive" video spotlight and it bears repeating. VoicePlay is still going to be wonderful, no matter who they end up bringing on board. They'll just be wonderful in a different way. 

If this mashup is any indication, this is going to be an outstanding year for VoicePlay and their VoicePlayas. Check it out. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Arthritis Awareness: Music Therapy, part 5 - Beauty and Self-image

It's been way too long since I've gotten up a new post in my Music Therapy series and I thought it might be a good idea to go with a theme this time. Namely, beauty and self-image. In this society, it's so easy to get caught in the trap of thinking that we have to look a certain way. To think that if we don't fit in, if we don't look that way, that there's something wrong with us. We might feel insecure. We may feel ugly and unwanted and unlovable. This can lead us down some dangerous paths if we aren't careful.

The way I see it, even the most secure of us need some reassurancesometimes. Maybe we don't fit into what Hollywood considers beautiful. That's okay. Maybe we've been picked on and made to feel worthless because of the way we look. That's not okay, but you know what the good news is? Our worth does not come from other people. As a Christian, I believe that our worth is given to us by God. We are beautiful because we're His creation. I know that not everyone who reads this will be a Christian, so I hope no one takes offense. The point is that we all have something about us that makes us beautiful. Even if there are those who can't or won't see it.

So I've put together this list of seven songs that all have to do with beauty or how we see ourselves. Please note that some videos will be included in the posts and the others will be linked.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Video spotlight: Still Alive by VoicePlay

2017 is off to quite a start, I must say. There's good news and not-so-great news. The good news is that if you're a male who sings in the baritone/tenor 2 range and have dreamed about being in VoicePlay, well, you just might be in luck.

I imagine that most of the people who come across this have already heard and those of you who haven't can probably guess. The not-so-great news is that that means that someone has left. If you've been paying attention over the last year, it shouldn't be too hard to guess who. Here's their announcement.


Yeah.

Tony is no longer with VoicePlay. It's funny because this was obviously coming and yet the news still managed to hit like a ton of bricks. I was going to write this a couple of days ago, but decided to wait until I got myself in a better frame of mind. This more or less cause a tidal wave of feels. I've cried. I've been upset. I've cussed. I've prayed. I've said goodbye, shook my fist and asked God why. I've...launched into a Lee Brice song.

Get it together, Alexander.

Okay, so maybe I didn't actually do all of those things. There's been no fist shaking involved, for instance. There have been tears. A lot of them. What can I say? I'm an emotional person. I cry every time I watch Tangled, for heaven's sake. But that's okay. I have a habit of getting attached to groups as evidenced by many of the posts on this blog. I've had groups I loved break up and I've seen members come and go. It happened with Home Free last year and now it's happened with VoicePlay. I will say that if there was one group I hoped that this wouldn't happen with, it was VoicePlay. But it is what it is.

Does this mean I've given up on VoicePlay? Um, no. I don't mean a regular ole no either. It's a big, fat, resounding heck no! Give up on my guys? Never! If anything, this has renewed my commitment to the group. Am I still sad that Tony left? Yes. But I know that it'll be okay. The important thing is that Geoff, Eli, Layne and Earl are still together and looking for a "new Tony".  I have a lot of love for these four men and am not about to abandon them now. I'll miss Tony's voice and what he brought to the group. I'm so grateful for all of the music and videos he helped create. It's definitely not going to be the same, but you know what? That's okay. It's still going to be wonderful. It'll just be wonderful in a different way.

We already know that Geoff, Eli, Layne and Earl are crazy super talented. Today's video is just one example of that. I don't think it's possible for these four men to get together and not come up with something great. I have so much faith in these guys. I have no doubt that I will end up loving "new Tony", whoever he turns out to be. I'm looking forward to meeting him and I'm so excited to see what VoicePlay does in 2017.

Still feeling unsure about all of this? Maybe today's video will help.

Monday, January 2, 2017

My Favorite Musical Discoveries of 2016

In a perfect world, I would have gotten this up while it was still 2016. Alas, the world is not perfect and neither am I. But you know what? That's okay. I still wanted to do this because I wanted to give these acts some love. There are four total and they're all acts that I wrote about in 2016 to surprising success. You never really know how something will be received, especially when writing about someone new. And especially when it's someone you're really excited about. So the fact that the posts about these four did well makes me very happy. 

As the title states, these are my four favorite musical discoveries of 2016. If you know me, you know that one of my favorite things is coming across more acts to love. As if I don't love enough already. Honestly, it's never enough. Not with all the time I spend listening to music. How about we get to it?

Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Favorite VoicePlay Videos from 2016

Once again I've gone and saved the best, i.e. my absolute favorites, for last. If I were to make a royal court out of my favorite artists, VoicePlay would be King. Given the way that they have catapulted themselves into that position this year, it seemed only right to end 2016 with them. After all, I did write about them 22 times this year - this post included. Granted, some of those weren't exclusively VoicePlay, but still. I think it's safe to say that my love for this group is pretty well documented!

One of my favorite parts of 2016, aside from the guys themselves, has been the friendships that I've gotten to make because of them. I'm slowly getting to know more VoicePlayas and I know I've said it before, but this is a wonderful group to be a part of. We might be different in many ways, but we can bond over a love for a group. This love is always supportive and fun and it doesn't just extend to the guys, but also to anyone who considers themselves a fan.

That's one of the reasons why VoicePlay became my favorites. In a perfect world, it would only be about the content, but there's other things that play a part. Likeability is one. I've said it many times, but liking a singer (or group) as a person (or people) makes it all so much better. If you like your fellow fans too? That's the best. I'm sad to say that there's some acts that I've been put off from due to the ridiculous drama that exists within the fandom. It shouldn't play a factor, but it does. This is not a problem I have with VoicePlayas. Not at all.

You know, earlier this year I decided that I wanted to write about how VoicePlay helps me deal with my rheumatoid arthritis. Only to come thisclose to not actually posting it because it ended up being super personal. The most personal thing I've ever shared publicly. You know what? As of this moment, it is my most viewed VoicePlay post to date. I even got a few really sweet comments from a few of my fellow VoicePlayas that took me completely by surprise and touched my heart. This is the kind of group that you want to be in. You can find that post here, if you're interested.

Suffice to say, while 2016 was a really hard year in some ways, these guys helped make it better. They, and their fans, were a bright light even when things seemed pretty dark. Especially then. So, it shouldn't surprise anyone that I would save them for last.

Not only that, but being VoicePlay, I decided to change things up a bit. See, with my lists of my favorite Hollens Family videos (found here) and my favorite Home Free videos (found here) from 2016, I picked a few of their videos from the year and listed them in the order in which they were released. But with VoicePlay? All of their videos are represented in some fashion. Well, assuming that I didn't miss any by accident. What's more? I decided to rank them. You could argue that this is kind of like my take on an ACA-top 10. Sort of. In a way. Although, some got lumped together. You'll see what I mean. Okay...so I might have cheated a little.

Before we start, let me make something clear: I really like all of these videos. I definitely have my favorites, but that's because I just love them more. Not because I don't like the others. We'll start at #10 and work our way down. If it was one of the videos I wrote about this year, the link to the write-up will be included (with the video in question in it). Let's do this.

Friday, December 30, 2016

My Favorite Home Free Videos from 2016

Continuing my little series on my favorite music videos of the year, we have Home Free. It was a good year for Home Free, albeit one that came with a brief period of uncertainity as we adjusted to the revelation that Chris would be leaving and Adam Chance would be coming in. But as I've said on here more than once, this worked out about as perfectly as it could have. Chris is doing great things and Chance fits in seamlessly. I say this with absolutely no disrespect intended towards Chris, but in a way it feels like Chance has always been there. That's how well he fits in.

The men of Home Free definitely gave their Home Fries a lot to be happy about. All of the videos they released were wonderful. So much so that trying to narrow it down to five felt pretty impossible. So, what did I end up doing you ask? Narrow it down to seven. Which is almost half of the videos they put out in 2016, but no matter.

How about we get started?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

My Favorite Hollens Family Videos from 2016

After deciding that I did not want to do a best albums of 2016 post after all, I knew that I still wanted to do something to commemorate the year. I first came up with the idea to highlight my favorite music related events from the year and you can find that post right here. While working on that, I realized that I wanted to do something else. But what?

Finally, it hit me. 2016 was a terrible years in some respects, but a great one in others. For instance, it was a great year for me musically speaking. I learned about some new acts that I've come to love. What's more, I ended up becoming a bigger fan of some acts that I loved coming in. So, why not find a way to honor those acts? And why not do so by highlighting some of my favorite videos of theirs from the year? After all, 2016 was the year that I decided to launch my video spotlight series. In fact, it was my love for the music video that first inspired me to start this blog in the first place.

The decision was made. Aside from my new music related loves, there were four acts in particular that really stood out to me this year. If you've been hanging out on my blog this year, you can probably guess who they are. I don't think it'll be much a surprise to any of you. But if you're new here (and if so, welcome!) or didn't pay that much attention (and if so, that's okay), let me tell you. The four acts that really stood out to me this year? VoicePlay, Home Free, Evynne Hollens and Peter Hollens. Between the four of them, they released a crazy amount of videos this year. 85 total on their combined channels, assuming I counted correctly. 87, if you add in videos that live on other people's channels. Yes, I actually went through and counted. I think I got everything, but it's possible that I didn't.

Actual number aside, it's still a lot of music videos. Not just that, but they're all good. Great, even. That made trying to narrow it down to a select few quite difficult. Hey, there's worse problems to have. Ultimately, I ended up just going with my gut because I figured I could drag this out forever if I didn't. I decided to break this up into multiple posts to make it simpler. That and considering that I'm including all the videos, that felt like the best choice.

Considering that the first two videos I featured in my video spotlight series were by Evynne and Peter Hollens, it felt appropriate to kick this off with them. Keep reading if you'd like to know what my top five favorite Hollens Family videos were from 2016.