PLAYLIST: New Edition Family

In honor of the New Edition story that premiered on BET last weekend, we have compiled a playlist on TMJ!’s Spotify.  Not only does the playlist include NE’s best hits, but features Bobby Brown, Bell Biv DeVoe, Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill’s most popular songs as well.  We even dug up some of Ricky Bell’s and Michael Bivins’ other songs, like the Boyz II Men remix of “Motown Philly”.

If you haven’t watched the 3-part biopic on BET, make sure you do.  Check BET for listings or watch the episodes directly on BET.com.  As an ’80s /’90s kid, New Edition, Bobby Brown, Bell Biv DeVoe along with the Michael Bivins’ proteges Boyz II Men was part of the soundtrack to my childhood.

Unlike the unauthorized made-for-TV life stories on Lifetime (have you seen the preview for the Britney Spears one?), the New Edition Story was co-produced by the members of the group.

Watch NE grow up as pop stars, while still living in the projects and fighting for the spotlight.  While the band had their differences, the message of the story is clear: family always sticks together.

Listen to TMJ!’s New Edition Family Playlist on Spotify!

For more That’s My Jam! Radio playlists, follow us on Spotify!

JAX Drops Debut EP “Funny” Today + Discusses American Idol, Battle with Cancer

JAX - Funny EP
“Funny” available now on iTunes.

New Jersey native, JAX won the world over on season 14 of “American Idol” with her sassy rock style, talent and likability.  While she placed 3rd in the competition, J.Lo stated she could have won the whole thing.

After the show ended, JAX was ready to jump head first into her music career, but that didn’t happen when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at 20-years-old.

She had her thyroid removed along with radiation treatment and is back to great health.  JAX took that scary situation and wrote about it on her debut EP, Funny, which drops today on iTunes!

The 6-song EP features JAX’s sultry vocals, poppy hooks and intoxicating melodies.  Read what JAX has to say about the EP in my interview with her!

Hi JAX! Thanks for letting me pick your brain. How is 2017 treating you so far?

Hey! Of course! Looking forward to it. 2017 has already been a blast. January is a crazy month!

Congratulations on the upcoming EP! How would you describe the sound and vibe of the songs on Funny?

I think the lyrical tone is honest, vulnerable, and incredibly sarcastic. I refer to the overall sound as “confused pop”. I think it has some rock and electronic elements…And on tracks like Funny even some hip hop. But at the end of the day it’s clearly a pop record and I hope it brings good energy to everyone listening. I always thought pop music was the universal language.

Photo by Cortney Armitage
Photo by Cortney Armitage

I know you endured some serious health issues. What got you through those dark days?

Writing and exercising! I trained for a marathon once the doctors told me I could work out again and I basically lived in the studio aside from that. Writing has always been my go-to outlet when I’m going through something. Running and creating were the most cathartic healing methods for me on a physical and emotional level.

“Stars” is your first single. What does that song mean to you?

“Stars” was the first track in the writing process (among a few others that never made the EP lineup) where I wrote and sang about what I was going through health-wise. It was the first moment I could appreciate the strength that came out of a dark time for me and I wanted to share my story…because I know I’m not the only one.

What was it like working with Nash Overstreet from Hot Chelle Rae?

LOVE Nash. He’s the coolest. He also brought this gem Sidnie Tipton on board in the studio who is just as rad as Nash. We had the most natural session and then went and ordered ramen. So Cal 😜

There are plenty of people that are skeptical of the “American Idol” process and results. How has the show helped and hurt you?

I think it was an incredible platform and learning experience regardless of the results. I made some of the best friends I’ll ever have on the show and I got to embark on this wild journey of television, which I had zero experience in coming onto the show. It was definitely a trip and there are emotional ups and downs in every intense experience. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Now that the EP is out, what’s next? Touring? More recording?

YES. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store. Definitely working on some shows and I’m always in the studio banging out new material.

Describe what a JAX concert is like.

Being on stage is by far my favorite part of this whole things. I have a pretty special connection with the fans and it always gets pretty intimate. It’s pretty surreal to me still that people come out to see me…It’s seriously humbling. I love to break it down at the piano because it gives me some space to breathe and converse with the audience…Feel out the crowd. Every crowd is different. At the end of the day I just hope people leave the show with a smile on their face, feeling like they had their own personal connection with the music and show.

If you could tell your fans one thing collectively, what would it be?

Weird. Is. Beautiful.

Listen to the Funny EP on Spotify!

For more on JAX:
www.jaxofficialx.com
www.facebook.com/jaxofficialx
www.instagram.com/jax
www.twitter.com/jax

Featured photo by Cortney Armitage.

Just Because We Don’t Agree…

My entire life I went slightly against the grain.  When people made fun of a certain culture, I defended it.  When everyone was wearing one style, I wore another.  When people glorified bacon, I never liked it all that much.  Some things are simply a matter of opinion while others are viewpoints that force groups to take sides.  With political conversations ready to tumble out of mouths so freely these days, it’s become difficult for me.  I don’t identify as a certain political party.  Everything is too far left or right for me, and maybe that’s the problem in general.

There is no middle ground.

As a compassionate human of this planet, the only thing I can proudly be 100% sure of is my love of all walks of life.  No matter color, sex, class, human, animal or plant.

Just because I may not agree with you totally, doesn’t mean I don’t see your point.

Just because I don’t like what you say, doesn’t mean I don’t see what you do.

Just because I care deeply for the well-being of animals and the environment doesn’t mean I don’t know about the other problems the world faces.

Just because I go about my life not complaining about political outcomes doesn’t mean I don’t know or worry about them.

Just because I hope for the best and look past the ugly in people to see the good doesn’t mean I’m naive.  It means I have faith.  I have hope.  And deep down, that is the only thing we can control.

This is my only political statement. 🙂

 

Featured image by Big Frog Plano

My Heart Almost Died.

I was always known to take chances, for following my dreams and being a free spirit. At times it was a little scary, but the thrill and pure joy of doing what I love outweighed that fear. It squashed the doubt inside too; all of those practical questions about money and the future didn’t matter. I was living in the moment, for “right now”, and I wasn’t going to grow up and let my “heart die” like Ally Sheedy claimed would happen in “The Breakfast Club”.

I spent my twenties finding myself, building my self-confidence and reaching for all of the exciting possibilities as a journalist and author. Money was not an obstacle; not because I had a ton of it, but because I could make almost anything work on very little.

I interviewed some of my favorite celebrities, could state I was the first person to interview Taylor Swift, made so many wonderful connections in the entertainment industry, and published 5 books all by the time I was 30. I even started seeing more money from book sales and actually got some paying gigs for articles.

I moved around a ton, leaving New York, my family, and some of my closest friends, always knowing they were there, cheering me on. To Nashville, back to New York, then to Anna Maria Island, and my 6 months of travel of the West Coast and New Orleans, and back to Nashville… something changed after that last move.

It wasn’t that money started to matter to me, but time did. I spent so much time running toward my next adventure. I gave so much of my time working as a barista even after it stopped supporting my free spirit lifestyle.

Suddenly, I was back in Nashville, where I had felt so alive just five years ago as I wrote “The Watch Dog”, but now I was stuck. Stuck being underpaid and overworked as a barista. Stuck doing digital marketing to create more income, and because I was trying to force myself to like it more since it was related to my chosen career path.

I always knew journalism wasn’t going to pay much, but times have really changed. With every high school and college kid blogging and writing articles, talent doesn’t mean as much as the time, energy and social media strategy you can bring to the table.

This past year, I have lacked in all of those departments. I’m fully aware I’m no longer 25. I don’t have the energy to run around behind an espresso bar for eight hours, write a chapter of my novel afterward, interview a singer-songwriter, write three articles, spend an hour on social media, cook dinner, and still have a social life.

Believe me, I used to do it all. I used to wake up at 4am and go to bed at midnight, and be at my best. I was bubbly about it all, too. Now, I’m a grumbly shift manager at one of the busiest Starbucks I’ve ever worked at, lucky if I write in my journal twice a week and my energy along with my spirit is depleted.

Ally Sheedy was right (or John Hughes rather)… I feel like my heart died a little. But I’m determined to get it beating again. What’s equally as bad as my dreams, or the energy to pursue those dreams, being on pause, is I miss home. I miss my brother, sisters, my niece and nephew. I hate watching them grow up so far away when I was there every day with them for so long.

It’s time to come home. I’ve spread my wings. I’ve left the nest. I soared. I fell. I got back up and soared again. And fell again. I’m tired now. Time is precious. I don’t want to waste that time working just to pay the bills. I am so drained and stagnant that I am not living.

When I move back to New York, I will be a nanny for my niece and nephew. There is nothing like being around children to awaken my creativity and remind me of all the excitement left in this crazy world. I will no longer have to waste all my energy at a job that underpays and overworks me. I will be making quality moments with people I care about, and when the little ones are off at school, I can focus on my writing.

I will encourage those kids to follow their dreams and that anything is possible. Along with their parents, I will try to help guide them with advice, but I know—and I hope—they won’t take all of it. Everyone needs to find their own way in life. There were tons of advice and warnings and discouragement thrown at me growing up.

Some of it was good advice, and maybe I should have taken it into consideration, but I wouldn’t have had this amazing journey with all of its ups, downs and wonderful surprises. My mother always said to me, “I don’t want you to get your hopes up”. To this day, I try to always get my hopes up. Sorry Mom, I know you didn’t want me to get hurt, but really, I’m fine!

Hope is one of the most important things. It’s our life line. Even if something didn’t work out, I never regretted the hope I felt beforehand. That feeling is magical; to allow yourself to get buzzed off of excitement and believe that anything can happen. I will always tell my niece and nephew to keep their hopes high. It’ll keep our hearts from dying.

Traveling Barista Picks: Coffee Shop Playlist

Let’s face it, being a barista is sometimes a gruesome job.  We romanticize it, and how it allows us to pursue our dreams, and connect with people.  While that is all true, there is also the downside.  We’re often underpaid, overworked, and take crap from everyone.

The particular coffee shop I currently work in is definitely the busiest one I’ve experienced.  We’re never staffed properly and while I’m making drinks, a crowd of millennials are either glaring at me to see if I’m working on their frappuccino or they’re totally ignoring me while staring at their phone.

Still, there are those customers you connect with and look forward to seeing.  One moment, one person, can make or break our day.  I have selected a handful of songs that express our hot and cold feelings toward being a barista along with the romantic notion of connections over coffee.

Barista or not, we’ve all sat in a cafe with a friend, crush or a dream.

1. One In A Million – Backstreet Boys
This song was the one that inspired this playlist. When the Unbreakable album was released by BSB in 2007, of course, I felt like “One In A Million” was dedicated to me.

Notable Lyrics: The line’s out the door/Serving up fraps/Until she can’t take anymore/I see it in her broken smile

2. Taylor The Latte Boy – Kristin Chenoweth
We all love Kristin Chenoweth! This song is about a customer’s hilarious crush on a barista.

Notable Lyrics: But I saw him flip the lever and for me he made it triple/And I knew that triple latte meant that Taylor loved me too

3. Falling In Love In A Coffee Shop – Landon Pigg
What a sweet song! The title says it all.

Notable Lyrics: I never knew just what it was/About this old coffee shop I love so much/All of the while I never knew/All of the while, all of the while it was you

4. Starbucks! – Bobby Bones & the Raging Idiots featuring Kelsea Ballerini
A silly country ode to the coffee corporation.

Notable Lyrics: There’s a tip jar on the counter/I’m about to make it rain/Hey its Bobby I’m not booby/Please stop messing up my name

5. The Starbucks Rant Song – Christopher Cristwell
One of my former Starbucks co-workers played this song for me years ago. Most of us would never be so mean, but we can all understand some of these thoughts that go through this guy’s mind. P.S. – He got fired for making this song.

Notable Lyrics: You get cappuccinos. You’re the pickiest of all. You didn’t order it dry, but you didn’t want any milk at all.

6. Tom’s Diner – Suzanne Vega
This song reminds me of my childhood. It’s about a diner obviously, but that was the coffee shop of the 80s and 90s.

Notable Lyrics: I am waiting/At the counter/For the man/To pour the coffee/And he fills it/Only halfway/And before/I even argue/He is looking/Out the window/At somebody/Coming in

7. Cold Coffee – Ed Sheeran
A sweet love song about wanting the person in your bed to stay.

Notable Lyrics: I’ll wake with coffee in the morning/But she prefers two lumps of sugar and tea/Outside the day is up and calling/But I don’t have to be so, please go back to sleep

8. You’re So Vain – Carly Simon
Not a song about coffee shops or even coffee really, but I just love the line: “I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee”. One day, a newby barista and I listened to this song on repeat after I taught her my trick to make cloud-like foam.

9. Cigarettes and Coffee – Otis Redding
There is no one quite like Otis Redding that can set any mood. I can picture this story in my mind and absolutely love when a song can do that.

Notable Lyrics: People I say it’s so early in the morning/Oh, it’s a quarter till three/We’re sittin’ here talkin’/Over cigarettes and drinking coffee, now, lord

10. Java Jive – The Ink Spots
My mother used to sing this song, but I never knew what the hell she was talking about. When I heard the song recently, it made me laugh realizing she wasn’t just babbling about “a cup, a cup, a cup”.

Notable Lyrics: Oh slip me a slug from the wonderful mug
And I’ll cut a rug just snug in a jug

11. Sugar Shack – The Fireballs
A fun oldie that puts you in a good mood!

Notable Lyrics: Well, it’s just a coffeehouse and it’s made out of wood/Espresso coffee tastes mighty good/That’s not the reason why I’ve got to get back

12. The Sad Café – The Eagles
This is another one of those great stories within a song. They don’t make artists like The Eagles anymore.

Notable Lyrics: Some of their dreams came true/Some just passed away/And some of them stayed behind/Inside the Sad Cafe.

13. Tryin’ – Little Big Town
This song is for all of us who refuse to stop dreaming!

Notable Lyrics: It’s been six years since she left home and she hasn’t made it big yet/Oh but there’s no second guessing baby, she’s got no regrets/She still works late shift down at the Greasy Spoon cafe/When she brings you out your milkshake you just might hear her say/It’s about hoping/It’s about dreaming/It’s about never not believing

14. Down – Mat Kearney
This song was recommended by some friends of mine who are huge Mat Kearney fans.  It makes me want to listen to more of him!

Notable Lyrics: I’m working late again slaving to make the rent
I’m slanging coffee with dreams heavy as cement
They’re coming one by one the face of falling love
I write a song with a prayer as I slide the cups

15. Black Coffee In Bed – Squeeze
I love the imagery in this song.  I have tons of journals with coffee stains on the pages, and it brings me back to how I usually write with coffee by my side.

Notable Lyrics: The stain on my notebook/Remain all that’s left/Of the memory of late nights/And coffee in bed

16. Me And Mrs. Jones – Michael Bublé
Hearing Bublé’s version of this classic gets you dreaming of a secret affair with him, which is why I chose his version over the others. I used to have customers who were both married to other people meet in our cafe every morning before they went to work. Sneaky jerks! All kinds of stories unfold at a coffee shop.  Baristas get just as many as bartenders do, if not more!

Notable Lyrics: We meet every day at the same cafe/Six-thirty and no one knows she’ll be there/Holding hands, making all kinds of plans/While the juke box plays our favorite songs/Me and Mrs. Jones/We got a thing goin’on/We both know that it’s wrong

17. Caffeine – Psychostick
This is the song on the playlist that will surely wake you up. Two of my oldest/best friends recommended this screamo-esque song for this playlist, and I couldn’t leave it out. It is in fact the only song on this playlist that’s straight up about coffee!  Be warned: Pretty sure the band was on more than caffeine when writing/recording it!

Notable Lyrics: Cappuccino is my mother/Frappuccino is my lover/Makes me feel exhilarated

Listen on Spotify!

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