JT in the UAE! An Interesting Read for all the Justin Timberlake Fans Out There!

Here’s another one for all the music lovers!

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We are just DAYS away from seeing JT perform live in Abu Dhabi, Yas Island and after being blown away by his performance way back in 2007, I cannot contain my excitement to see him live once again. Especially after he won SEVEN Billboard Awards last night AND made an epic speech thanking everyone except Donald Sterling, he’s gone up several notches in my books!

Justin has shown us that he’s come a long way over the last seven years and after reading the article below from Flash Entertainment, I was inspired by the rise of his entire career. If you’re a big fan, I thought you would appreciate this article too! Enjoy:

Justin Triple Threat

Set to light up the du Arena on May 23rd, we ask; is Justin Timberlake the world’s most talented modern performer?

Innovation in music has drawn criticism for its ability to fake raw talent. Auto-tuned choruses have made true talents a rare treasure in the music community and with his instantly recognizable sound and vocal flair, Justin Timberlake is one of those golden children. Timberlake, however, may even put the favored few to shame with his ever-growing roster of skills within music and beyond as a dancer and actor.

This triple concoction of entertainment is not new to the business. Step back in time to the “golden age” of Hollywood from the 40s and 50s, where making it big meant bringing multifaceted talent to the stage and screen: singing, dancing and acting. Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Sammy Davis Jr., Audrey Hepburn, Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand—even Clark Gable – all would sing, dance and act for their roles.

If you couldn’t dance you were taught or had to be a knock-out in one department, think Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra or Rosemary Clooney, whose voices and acting skills brought them to stardom. But even they tapped their toes when the script called for it.

From his boy band days until now, Timberlake has been famed for both his singing talent and dancing style, both of which smoothly transitioned into a solo career known for its fantastic performances. But the true surprise came with his acting talent.

Though he began acting in films from 2006, Timberlake struck big with his role as Napster creator, Sean Parker, in 2009’s The Social Network. Truly embodying the snarky, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Timberlake shocked audiences with his role.

Timberlake has also shown off comedic chops as well throughout his acting with his role alongside Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher in 2011. Proving his apt for comedic gold, Timberlake marked his fifth hosting of famed sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” in March 2013, joining the ranks of Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Candice Bergen, Alex Baldwin and Tom Hanks; all of whom appeared in a skit with Timberlake for the show.

Timberlake also has drawn a following for his sketch comedy and improv performances with sketch trio, The Lonely Island, and his multiple appearances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

As he stepped back into the music spotlight, Timberlake released a video for his 2013 single “Suit & Tie”, featuring hip-hop legend Jay-Z. Almost an acknowledgement of his modern-day showmanship, the video for “Suit & Tie” is a Rat-Pack styled, black and white affair directed by David Fincher.

With no sign of stopping, Timberlake’s modern day show man seems to have embodied and reinvented itself with its outreach on music, film and even social media channels. With the announcement that Timberlake will star in a biopic of Neil Bogart, the disco-era mogul behind Casablanca Records, Timberlake may have his evolved “triple threat” on display with singing, dancing, acting and, now, producing.

Catch the show of the century this May, on Friday the 23rd at the du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. Tickets are on sale now at www.ticketmaster.ae and all Virgin Megastores across the UAE.

Justin Timberlake Timeline

1981: Timberlake born in Memphis, Tennessee

1990: Timberlake appears on Star Search

1993-1994: Timberlake cast as member of The Mickey Mouse Club, alongside Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, JC Chasez and Ryan Gosling.

1995: N’Sync formed.

1999: Timberlake makes his acting debut in the Disney Channel original movie Model Behavior.

Jan 2002: N’Sync went on permanent hiatus after three smash albums, multiple tours and performances at the Academy Awards, the Olympics and the Super Bowl.

Aug 2002:Timberlake premieres his debut solo single “Like I Love You” at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Nov 2002:Releases his debut solo studio album Justified

2003: Timberlake and Aguilera headline the “Justified/Stripped Tour”; Timberlake also records the song “I’m Lovin’ It”, which was used by McDonald’s as the theme to its “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign

Feb 2004:Timberlake performs at the halftime show of the Super Bowl XXXVIII alongside Janet Jackson.

Feb 2004:Timberlake wins two Grammy awards: Best Pop Vocal Album for Justified and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Cry Me a River”

2005: Collaborates with the Black Eyed Peas on the 2005 track “My Style” and Snoop Dogg from the 2005 single “Signs”.

2006-2007:Driving his acting career forward, Timberlake appears in Alpha Dog, Black Snake Moan and voiced Prince Artie Pendragon in Shrek the Third.

2006:Timberlake releases his second studio album, FutureSex/LoveSounds

2007:Timberlake tours the FutureSex/LoveShow.

Feb 2008:Timberlake wins two Grammy Awards: Best Male Pop Performance for “What Goes around…Comes around”, and Best Dance Recording for “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows”.

March 2008:Timberlake collaborates with Madonna for her single, “Four Minutes”

Sep 2009:AnnouncedTimberlake is to star as infamous Internet entrepreneur/former Facebook president Sean Parker in David Fincher’s The Social Network.

Oct 2010:The Social Network opens, garnering critical raves for Timberlake’s portrayal of Parker.

Dec 2010:Timberlake voices character in the animated feature Yogi Bear.

May 2011: Timberlake has first hosting gig, not musical guest, of “Saturday Night Live”

Jun 2011: Timberlake co-stars with Cameron Diaz in the comedy Bad Teacher.

Jun 2011: Timberlake makes an ownership investment in the relaunch of MySpace. He takes a creative role in the site’s redesign and later takes part in press conferences promoting its new look.

July 2011: Timberlake stars alongside Mila Kunis in the romantic comedy Friends with Benefits

Sept 2011:Timberlake joins an ensemble cast headed up by Clint Eastwood in the sports drama Trouble with the Curve.

Sep 2011:Announcement that he will put on his boogie shoes and take the lead role in Spinning Gold, a feature-film biopic of Neil Bogart, the disco-era record mogul behind the Casablanca Records label, that he is also producing.

Oct 2011: Timberlake stars alongside Olivia Wilde in the science-fiction action film In Time

Oct 2012: Timberlake marries longtime girlfriend Jessica Biel in a secret ceremony in southern Italy.

Jan 2013: Timberlake unveils “Suit & Tie,” a single featuring Jay-Z

Feb 2013: Bud Light Platinum names Timberlake the brand’s “creative director,” announcing as well a Team Timberlake-conceived commercial called “Platinum Night” to air during the Grammy Awards telecast. Timberlake performs “Suit & Tie” at the Grammy’s with Jay-Z

Mar 2013:Justin hosts “Saturday Night Live” for the fifth time, joining the hallowed ranks of Steve Martin, Paul Simon, Chevy Chase, Candice Bergen, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, and Martin Short, all of whom deigned to appear in a skit with Timberlake

Mar 2013: Timberlake releases The 20/20 Experience

And this coming Friday, I’m sure he will leave us in awe of his captivating stage presence and impressive vocal abilities, proving why he deserved each and everyone of those Billboard Awards! I CAN’T WAIT!😀

Mack-le-e-e-mo-mo-ore

Loads of people are pumped for this coming Friday (April 25th) because Grammy Award Winners Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are coming to perform for us at du Arena, Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. Although they are relatively new to the industry, since their debut with chart-topping hit “Thrift Shop”, they have taken the world by storm.

Being the music-obsessed chica that I am, any time an artist makes such an impact on the industry, I always like to understand what elements of their music make them so successful. While the performers usually take all the spotlight, it’s often the producers who work behind the scenes that actually create the magic. Ryan Lewis (aside from being pretty hot!) definitely has a magical touch and even Billboard has recognized this, naming him #1 Producer of the Year.

Flash Entertainment interviewed two of the UAE’s most influential producers, Dany Neville (from Radio 1 and Underground Procedures) and Olly Wood (of Hollaphonic) to find out what it is about Ryan Lewis and his music that they find inspiring. I loved their answers so thought I’d share them with you here:

How would you describe the sound Ryan Lewis is creating?

DN: His is sound is uplifting; it’s the ever popular formula of aggressive flow matched with beautiful sounding melodies on the hook. That coupled with a great message, means you can’t go wrong.

OW: It’s Hip Hop in its purest form. The genre’s always been known for sampling tracks and drawing inspiration from a wide variety of music and channeling it into new beats. Ryan Lewis samples everyone from The Killers to Arcade Fire, Shirley Brown to Christina Aguilera.

What is different about his music?

DN: His music is not necessarily different; he delivers it in a way that is unique to him, it is always refreshing to hear artists execute music in a way that reflects their personality, especially in an industry with way to many “try-hards.”

OW: I think its crossing over boundaries between genre specific listeners; because of this, even house heads, Rn’B lovers and classical musicians can find a part of their sound that they like.

Is he using any specific techniques, formulas or technology to create his sound?

DN: His technique is just being true to his surroundings. When it comes to subject matter, production wise, he has formed a great synergy between him and Macklemore, it is always good when an artists has a producer that understands his sound inside out.

OW: I definitely think time and pressure were a major factor in what they have produced, I have immense respect for them being an independent outfit and enjoying as much success as they have.

What can aspiring producers learn from him?

DN: Up and coming producers need to pay attention to how open minded he is with his sounds; there is no formula to any genre of music, if it feels and sounds good, it works.

OW: Don’t imitate, don’t copy and recreate other people’s vibe, channel it into your own and do what come naturally to you. Aspire to move people and get your message across: whether it is love, joy, sadness or suffering, pipe every emotion into what you do and wait… ‘they’ will be moved. I’m sure Ryan Lewis & Macklemore’s sentiment would apply to that.

After reading this, I knew that the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis concert this weekend is one not to be missed! And if all this wasn’t enough, Wiley AND Rick Ross have been confirmed to be performing too! If you want details on tickets, check out http://www.thinkflash.ae.  See you there!🙂

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How Richard Branson Touched My Life.

Yesterday I managed to get myself into the du CEO forum to hear Richard Branson speak! I’m pretty sure people were looking at me funny, wondering what on earth I was doing there because I was obviously NOT a CEO… they probably thought I was a “social media winner” or was on the hunt for a rich CEO husband or something but no – I actually used wasta* for the first time to get in there (wasta meaning begging my friend who was organizing the event).

I have a confession – I have not read any of Sir Richard’s books…but after last night, I definitely want to read them and even make notes about some of the truly inspiring things he has to say. He not only has a great business mind, but from a few comments here and there, I realized that he could also be a great source for life lessons and providing ways to be a better human being.

One of the things I loved most about hearing him speak yesterday was seeing that he’s taken the successful business model that has served him so well in each of his ventures and has been applying the skills and resources from them towards making the world a better place.

If you ever get the chance to hear him speak live, I highly recommended it, but until then, here are some key points that stuck with me after yesterday’s experience:

– Creating a great business is about finding something you LIKE and turning it into capital.
– A company is nothing without the PEOPLE behind it – motivate them and encourage innovation by being a ‘YES’ type of boss, giving people room to make mistakes without reprimanding them and using positive reinforcement. “People do not flourish if they’re not praised.”
– There’s no point starting a business unless you can do what you do BETTER than the others in your sector.
– The secret to success is not to look for the ‘cheapest way’ to do something, but the ‘most AMAZING’ way to do it.

And finally, the point that struck a chord with me and made me look at Sir Richard Branson as not just a great man, but a beautiful soul: his emphasis on the importance of forgiveness. He pushed the idea of forgiving, letting go of conflict and ensuring that you have no bad blood with anyone in your life – whether it be an ex-spouse, business contact, friend, child, parent – whatever – forgive and clear your heart. That advice was not only inspiring, but enlightening.

People like this are the people who inspire change in this world. That’s how we will save it.

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*for a general idea of what “wasta” is, find it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasta

#AUSGotTalent

I had the privilege of being a judge for this years #AUSGotTalent show at the American University of Sharjah this week and oh what a night!

Not only was I blown away by the many talented students at AUS (singers, breakdancers, musicians and even magicians!) but there were a few events that made it an evening I will never forget.

Firstly, I met a girl (who has asked to remain nameless) who DOESN’T OWN A MOBILE PHONE AND DOESN’T USE SOCIAL MEDIA! She lost her phone about a year ago and just realized the freedom she felt by not being ‘connected’ and ‘reachable’ all the time, and now she’s lived a wonderful happy and liberated life for a year! I was so inspired by her because I really feel like we have become so enslaved by our phones, chats, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – whatever it is – that we often miss out on the ‘here and now’. I have noticed that I sleep much later than I plan to simply because I get into bed and get on my phone. I think I will try and take at least a weekend of being ‘phone-free’ and see how that goes.

Speaking of that new Social Media Culture, the second thing I noticed last night was the change in the way we capture the moment. Last year I was also a judge at AUS Got Talent and after the event, several of the students came up to take photos. You know that feeling of asking someone to take a photo for you and worrying that they won’t have the proper photography skills and not get your good angle? Well there seems to be no need to worry about that anymore because last night, no one asked me to take a photo with them. Instead, they came up to me and said “Sheena!!! Selfieeee!!!” and would throw one arm around me and stick the other arm out with their smartphone at the end of it and *click* – moment captured and ready to be shared and tagged on the world wide web! After experiencing this I just had that dreadful “#Selfie” song playing over and over and over in my head… if you haven’t heard it, here you go:  (listen at your own risk :P).

And finally, the moment that will forever make me crack up whenever I think of 50 Cent!

My friend was walking next to me and she could feel this guy staring at her. She glanced at him from the corner of her eye and said to me: “I think that guy is checking me out! Or maybe I know him…” She then turned to get a better look at the perpetrator and burst out laughing. I looked over to see why she was laughing at the guy and realized that it was because it wasn’t a guy at all – it was a CARDBOARD CUT OUT of 50 Cent! Maybe you just had to be there, but I thought it was hilarious! My abs still hurt from laughing about it and I giggle every time I look at the picture of Hemani with Fiddy:

aka the weirdo who was checking her out...

Hemani and Fiddy…aka the weirdo who was checking her out…

Overall, a great event and I can’t wait to be a part of it again next year! Well done, AUS! You really do “got talent”!🙂

Product Review: The Ultrabook

Today was a sad day. I had to return the Dell XPS 12 Convertible Touch Screen Ultrabook that I had been given on loan for a few weeks and I must say I became quite attached to it! This little gadget quickly became my best friend over the last few weeks as it came with me everywhere and helped me to do just about everything!

I finish The Sheena Show by 1pm every day and am usually out of the office all afternoon. Although people think that I only work 3 hours a day (my radio show is from 10am – 1pm on Radio 1, 104.1/100.5FM in the UAE), the truth is – the work never stops! Everything I do and everywhere I go has potential to create content for the show. This is where the Ultrabook came in super handy! First of all, the ultra-thin, light and sleek design made it so easy to throw it in my bag and carry it around with me so I always had it accessible. Secondly, I could use it for so many things from making quick notes about things I needed to remember (using a funky post-it note style interface), taking quality photos and posting them up on social media, sending important emails, sharing presentations in meetings, reading scripts for MC events and even watching Suits! The screen and sound quality were perfect for streaming Youtube videos or using Skype.

The best feature of this Ultrabook is that it’s a laptop and a tablet in one. You can actually flip the screen over to turn the full-keyboard computer into a 12″ touchscreen tablet. This allowed for ease of use depending on what I was working on. For example, when writing emails or a blog entries, I HATE using touch screen devices so being able to flip the Ultrabook into a proper laptop was so helpful and I was able to type faster with less typographical errors. The Intel processor also made sure battery life lasted virtually all day, something I need when I’m constantly running around with no power plugs to be found!

The Ultrabook uses Windows 8, which I was apprehensive about at first because it looks completely different (although much prettier) than other interfaces I have used before. To my delight, not only were there easy-to-follow tutorial videos on how to use the device and operating system, the computer itself even TALKS to you and helps you navigate through by voice. I even started talking back! (Surprise, surprise! :p)

To sum it up, it has only been a few hours since my separation from the Ultrabook and I’m already itching for it while typing this! Too bad my birthday isn’t for another 10 months!!

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90s R&B

It’s been a few months now since I’ve started the REWIND segment in my show (The Sheena Show on Radio 1 in the UAE) and I’ve noticed that ever since I’ve started listening to more “feel good” tracks from my youth, I’ve felt so much more alive!

I don’t know if it’s just that music from the 90s was really that good or if it’s the nostalgia factor that comes into play – the memories of the silly things I used to do, the people I used to hold near and dear, the first experiences, the heartbreaks, the growing pains. Whatever it is, I feel that the music from the 90s connects to my heart and soul much more than most of the music that comes out today.

Is it just me, or did music back then have much more substance? Not just in the lyrics, but the quality of voices, the harmonies, the melodies, the instruments… it was just SO good!

I truly miss artists who made music because of their passion for it and not just to make money and be famous. Artists like Joe, Donell Jones, SWV, 2Pac, 112, Biggie, Aaliyah, Boyz II Men, Blackstreet, New Edition, just to name a few.

So far, 2013 seems to be the year of the comebacks. Destiny’s Child is back together working on an album, Justin Timberlake is back on the scene, even Kris Kross seem to be reuniting. I was hoping that some of the artists from the 90s R&B scene who I’ve grown up with might surprise us with a comeback as well and was delighted to discover that many of them are!

Donell Jones has just released Forever, the title track off his new album, Keith Sweat is back in the studio, LL Cool J and Joe just teamed up to record Take It, RL from Next is working on another solo album, and even Maxwell has been teasing us of his upcoming release.

The question is – will their new music be as good as the old? Will they save us from the over-commercialized pop that seems to have taken over? Or will they follow the new trends and change their style?

I guess we will have to wait and see what happens…

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Album Review: Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 – Lupe Fiasco

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The biggest factor that sets Lupe Fiasco apart from other rappers is the fact that his every word is thought-through, intended, and meaningful. Although you could enjoy this album as background music, bopping to the Hip Hop beats and grooving to his flow, the best way to experience this album is to really listen and reflect on what Lupe is saying.

As one of the pioneers of conscious rap, every track on this album has a message. They are a collection of honest exposures of Lupe’s beliefs and viewpoints about social issues from political prisoners, global warming, revolutionaries, misogyny, vanity, materialism, the perversion of values in pop and Hip Hop culture, etc.  

For those who have already followed Lupe through his musical journey, you will find that this album takes us deeper into his psyche, revealing the depth of his intelligence and reflection through brilliant references, metaphors and allusions.

If you truly listen to this album, it is sure to leave you inspired. I can onlyimagine what we can expect from the follow up, Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 2, scheduled for release this Spring.

Rating: 4/5