Flashback Friday: John Lennon

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            He is John Ono Lennon, born John Winston Lennon. He was an English musician, singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a founder member of the rock band the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. With Paul McCartney, he formed a songwriting partnership that is one of the most celebrated of the 20th century.

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           Born and raised in Liverpool, as a teenager Lennon became involved in the skiffle craze; his first band, the Quarrymen, evolved into the Beatles in 1960. When the group disbanded in 1970, Lennon embarked on a solo career that produced the critically acclaimed albums John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, and iconic songs such as “Give Peace a Chance” and “Working Class Hero“. After his marriage to Yoko Ono in 1969, he changed his name to John Ono Lennon. Lennon disengaged himself from the music business in 1975 to raise his infant son Sean, but re-emerged with Ono in 1980 with the new album Double Fantasy. He was murdered three weeks after its release.

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            Lennon revealed a rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing, drawings, on film and in interviews. Controversial through his political and peace activism, he moved to Manhattan in 1971, where his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a lengthy attempt by Richard Nixon‘s administration to deport him, while some of his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement and the larger counterculture.

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               As of 2012, Lennon‘s solo album sales in the United States exceeded 14 million and, as writer, co-writer or performer, he is responsible for 25 number-one singles on the US Hot 100 chart. In 2002, a BBC poll on the 100 Greatest Britons voted him eighth and, in 2008, Rolling Stone ranked him the fifth-greatest singer of all time. He was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

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           At around 10:50 pm on 8 December 1980, as Lennon and Ono returned to their New York apartment in the Dakota, Mark David Chapman shot Lennon in the back four times at the entrance to the building. Lennon was taken to the emergency room of nearby Roosevelt Hospital and was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:07 pm. Earlier that evening, Lennon had autographed a copy of Double Fantasy for Chapman.

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          Ono issued a statement the next day, saying “There is no funeral for John“, ending it with the words, “John loved and prayed for the human race. Please pray the same for him.” His body was cremated at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. Ono scattered his ashes in New York’s Central Park, where the Strawberry Fields memorial was later created. Chapman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life. As of 2014, he remains in prison, having been denied parole eight times.

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John Lennon’s Signature

To know more about John Lennon, just go here: http://www.johnlennon.com/

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Iggy Azalea

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           She is Amethyst Amelia Kelly, better known by her stage name Iggy Azalea. She is an Australian rapper from Mullumbimby, New South Wales. She left for the United States at the age of 16 to pursue a career in hip hop music, first residing in Miami, Florida, and then other parts of the southern United States, including Houston, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia. She first gained recognition after the respective music videos for her controversial songs “Pu$$y” and “Two Times” went viral on YouTube. In September 2011, she released her debut mixtape Ignorant Art and subsequently aligned herself with Atlanta-based rapper T.I. In March 2012, T.I. announced Azalea‘s signing to his record label imprint Grand Hustle. In July 2012, she released an EP executive-produced by T.I., titled Glory. Later, she went into professional modeling, became represented by Wilhelmina Models and was announced as the “New Face of Levi Jeans“. Also in 2012, Azalea became both the first female and the first non-American rapper to be featured on XXL‘s annual Top 10 Freshmen cover issue.

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           After label conflicts, her debut studio album The New Classic was finally released on 21 April 2014, under Virgin EMI and Def Jam Recordings. The album debuted among the top five of several charts worldwide and received generally mixed reviews. The album was preceded by four singles, “Work“, “Bounce“, “Change Your Life” (featuring T.I.) and “Fancy” (featuring Charli XCX). “Fancy” went on to reach number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, with Azalea becoming only the fourth solo female rapper ever to top the Hot 100. Additionally, with Azalea featured on Ariana Grande‘s single “Problem“, which rose to number two on the Hot 100, the same week “Fancy” topped the chart, Azalea joined The Beatles as the only acts to rank at numbers one and two simultaneously with their first two Hot 100 hits. Additionally, Azalea went on to pass Lil’ Kim as the female rapper with the longest-leading number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 and moved into a tie for fifth place, among lead women who have scored the longest commands on the Hot 100 this decade.

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           Although Azalea is Australian, she raps with a Southern American accent. When she first moved to America, she was involved in the Southern hip hop scene of Miami and later Atlanta, which made it easy for her to cultivate the Southern influence in her music: “I lived in the South for five years; you pick up things from your surroundings and teachers. The people who taught me to rap are all from the South and so was the music I had listened to as a teen.” While Azalea‘s debut extended play Glory was intended to focus on hardcore-rap, the EP also touched up on other genres including electronic dance music.

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           Although Azalea began rapping at the age of 14, she was infatuated with hip hop from age 11 when she heard Tupac Shakur‘s “Baby Don’t Cry (Keep Ya Head Up II)“: “It was the song that made me fall in love with music and also what sparked my Tupac fascination. That would later make me pick up my own pen and write songs”. In her early interviews, Azalea regularly mentioned Shakur‘s influence: “I was sickly obsessed. I had every picture of Tupac ever printed on my wall”. She has also mentioned Missy Elliott as the female rapper who she is influenced by and admires the most. Outside of music, her fashion sense is influenced by various people such as Grace Kelly, Lil’ Kim, Gwen Stefani, Spice Girls, Victoria Beckham, and Fran Drescher.

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           In late 2011, Iggy Azalea began dating American rapper ASAP Rocky, whom she met through American record producer Chase N. Cashe. She confirmed that they were dating in a January 2012 interview with Vibe. It was around this time that she got the title of Rocky‘s breakout mix tape Live. Love. A$AP, tattooed on her fingers. She had claimed she was not the only one with tattoos dedicated to the relationship, just Rocky‘s were not visible. In July 2012, Rocky stated they were no longer dating. In March 2013, Azalea revealed she had crossed out the “A$AP” part of the tattoo months previously. She has been in a relationship with Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Nick Young, an American, since November 2013. Azalea and Young were featured in the March 2014 issue of GQ magazine.

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To know more about Iggy Azalea, just go here: http://iggyazalea.com/

Throwback Thursday: Selena Gomez

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            She is Selena Marie Gomez, also known as Selena Gomez. She  is an American actress and singer. Gomez first made her debut appearing as Gianna in Barney & Friends, lasting from 2002 to 2004. Following this, Gomez had cameo roles in films such as Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003) and Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire (2005). In 2006, Gomez appeared as a guest star on an episode of the Disney Channel series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, as well as Hannah Montana. Following this, Gomez starred in the Disney Channel television series Wizards of Waverly Place. The series was a critical and commercial success, earning Gomez numerous awards and nominations. Gomez later appeared in numerous Disney Channel series and films including Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream (2008) and Disney Channel Games (2008). In 2009, Gomez appeared in the films Princess Protection Program and Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie before releasing her first studio album as Selena Gomez & the Scene, titled Kiss & Tell. The album was a commercial success, peaking inside the Top 10 of the Billboard 200.

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            Following this, Gomez appeared in the film Ramona and Beezus, one of her first roles outside of Disney. Gomez & the Scene released their second studio album, A Year Without Rain, later that year. The album entered the Top 5 of the Billboard 200, and spawned two Top 40 hits. Gomez began appearing in more films such as Monte Carlo (2011) and The Muppets (2011). Gomez, along with her band, later released their third and final studio album, When the Sun Goes Down, in 2011. The album spawned the hit single “Love You Like a Love Song“, which was certified 4× Platinum by the RIAA. Following the release of the album, Gomez confirmed she would be taking a musical hiatus to focus on her acting career. She then went on to appear in the films Hotel Transylvania (2012) and Spring Breakers (2013), the latter of which saw Gomez portraying a more adult role.

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           Despite her early comments of a musical hiatus, Gomez confirmed in October 2012 that she was working on her solo debut album. The lead single, “Come & Get It“, was released in April 2013. It became her first Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and was certified double platinum by the RIAA. The album’s second single, “Slow Down“, was released in June. Gomez has since announced plans of a second musical hiatus following the release of Stars Dance in July, later denied. She signed a record contract in mid-2014 with Interscope for future musical releases after breaking with her all-time label Hollywood Records. Gomez is set to release a Greatest Hits album in December featuring two new songs as her final record with Hollywood. Outside of her work in the entertainment industry, Gomez is involved in philanthropic activities through charity work and various social and environmental causes.

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           In October 2008, Gomez was named UNICEF‘s spokesperson for the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign, which encouraged children to raise money on Halloween to help children around the world. She said that she was “extremely excited” to “encourage other kids to make a difference in the world.” In August 2009, a 17-year-old Gomez became the youngest UNICEF ambassador ever, passing fellow songstress Hayley Westenra, who was 18 when she was chosen. In her first official field mission, Gomez traveled to Ghana on September 4, 2009 for a week to witness first-hand the stark conditions of vulnerable children that lack vital necessities including clean water, nourishment, education and healthcare. Gomez explained during an interview with Associated Press that she wanted to use her star power to bring awareness to Ghana: “That’s why I feel very honored to have a voice that kids listen to and take into consideration. I had people on my tour asking me where IS Ghana, and they Googled it and because I went there, they now know where Ghana is. So it’s pretty incredible.” Gomez said of her role as ambassador that: “Every day 25,000 children die from preventable causes. I stand with UNICEF in the belief that we can change that number from 25,000 to zero. I know we can achieve this because every moment, UNICEF is on the ground providing children with the lifesaving assistance needed to ensure zero becomes a reality.”

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            Gomez was named spokesperson for UNICEF‘s 2009 Trick-or-Treat campaign, for the second year in a row. Gomez, who raised over $700,000 for the charity in 2008, stated that she hopes to be able to raise 1 million dollars in 2009. Gomez participated in a celebrity auction and hosted a live web cast series on Facebook in support of the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign. Gomez returned as the UNICEF spokesperson for the 60th anniversary of Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign in 2010. In celebration of the 60th anniversary, Gomez and her band, The Scene, held a benefit concert donating all proceeds to the campaign. In February 2011, Gomez traveled to Chile to witness and meet with the families of UNICEF‘s supported program, “Programa Puente” which helps families better understand and develops skills to deal effectively with early childhood education, development and other issues related to raising children. From her field trip experience, Gomez said “UNICEF is helping Chilean families get out of poverty, prevent violence within the home and promote education. To witness first hand these families’ struggles, and also their hope and perseverance, was truly inspiring.” In March 2011, Gomez participated in the UNICEF Tap Project‘s “Celebrity Tap Pack” limited-edition, custom-made water bottles featuring tap water from the homes of each celebrity advocate, in order to raise funds and increase profile for the clean water and sanitation programs. She is also featured in videos promoting the campaign.

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To know more about Selena Gomez, just go here: http://selenagomez.com/

Throwback Thursday: Miley Cyrus

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           She is Miley Ray Cyrus born as Destiny Hope Cyrus, also known as Miley Cyrus. She is an American singer, actress, and songwriter. Her father is country singer Billy Ray Cyrus. She held minor roles in the television series Doc and the film Big Fish in her childhood. In 2006, Cyrus rose to prominence as a teen idol after being cast in the Disney Channel television series Hannah Montana, in which she portrayed the starring character Miley Stewart. After signing a recording contract with Hollywood Records in 2007, Cyrus released her debut studio album Meet Miley Cyrus. It was certified quadruple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for exceeding four million shipments, and produced the hit single “See You Again“.

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           In 2008, Cyrus released her second album Breakout, which featured the successful track “7 Things“, and launched her film career as the voice actress in the animated film Bolt. In 2009, Cyrus starred in the feature film Hannah Montana: The Movie; its soundtrack produced the hit single “The Climb“. Cyrus developed a maturing image with the EP The Time of Our Lives (2009), which featured the successful track “Party in the U.S.A.“. The transition continued with her third album Can’t Be Tamed (2010); however, it made little commercial impact and became the lowest-selling record of her career. Later that year, Cyrus starred in the coming-of-age film The Last Song. During its production, she was involved in an on-again, off-again relationship with her co-star Liam Hemsworth; the couple ultimately separated after ending their year-long engagement in 2013.

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          Cyrus focused on her acting career with several television and film appearances throughout 2011 and 2012. Cyrus later signed a recording contract with RCA Records, and generated controversy by cultivating a sexually explicit public image while promoting her fourth studio album Bangerz (2013). Its singles “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball” were promoted with controversial music videos; the latter became her first number-one hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

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           Cyrus has had five non-consecutive number-one albums on the U.S. Billboard 200, two of which are soundtracks credited to her titular character Hannah Montana, and has earned numerous awards and nominations. In 2010, Cyrus ranked number thirteen on ForbesCelebrity 100, and was named the “Most Charted Teenager” in the 2011 Guinness World Records with twenty-nine Billboard Hot 100 entries as of November 2009. In 2013, she was declared “Artist of the Year” by MTV.

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To know more about Miley Cyrus, just go here: http://www.mileycyrus.com/

Woman Crush Wednesday: Ariana Grande

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           She is Ariana Grande- Butera, also known as Ariana Grande. She is an American singer and actress. She began her career singing on a cruise ship, at sporting events and with various orchestras in South Florida. She appeared in the Broadway musical 13, before landing the role of Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon television series Victorious in 2009. After the show ended, Grande rose to prominence as a teen idol on her own spinoff, Sam & Cat, along with iCarly actress Jennette McCurdy.

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          As she kept herself busy with television, Grande began to pursue a musical career appearing on the soundtrack, Music from Victorious (2011), and subsequently signed a recording contract with Republic Records. She launched a music career after the release of her debut studio album, Yours Truly (2013), which debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200. The album’s lead single, “The Way“, became a top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with critics comparing her wide vocal range to Mariah Carey.

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         Grande developed a maturing image while promoting her second studio album, My Everything (2014), which became her second consecutive number-one album in the United States. The album produced the successful tracks “Problem” and “Break Free“. Some of her achievements include New Artist Of The Year at the 2013 American Music Awards, Favorite Breakout Artist at the 40th People’s Choice Awards and Breakthrough Artist of the Year by the Music Business Association.

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         She was in a relationship with Jai Brooks, a member of the Australian YouTube group The Janoskians, from August 2012 to July 2013. On May 1, 2014, Grande was photographed kissing Brooks and confirmed that they were back together. On August 5, 2014, Grande was reported to have split with Brooks for the second time. And now, he is now dating Big Sean.

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          Grande is a vegan and has adopted four dogs. She was raised a Roman Catholic but abandoned Christianity after Pope Benedict reportedly labeled homosexuality and working women as sins. Grande stated, “I lost faith when the Pope decided to tell me that everything I loved and believed in was wrong. I needed something else to believe in.” She has since started following Kabbalah‘s teachings, believing “the basis lies in the idea that if you’re kind to others, good things will happen to you.”

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          On July 5, 2014, Grande halted her plans when she heard that her grandfather was dying and went to be by his side. Her grandfather died twenty days later, and she received supportive messages on her Twitter page from her manager Scooter Braun, Jennette McCurdy, and other fans.

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To know more about Ariana Grande, just go here: http://www.arianagrande.com/

Flashback Friday: Whitney Houston

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         She is Whitney Elizabeth Houston, also known as Whitney Houston. She was an American singer, actress, producer, and model. In 2009,Guinness World Records cited her as the most awarded female act of all time. Houston was one of the world’s best-selling music artists, having sold over 200 million records worldwide. She released six studio albums, one holiday album and three movie soundtrack albums, all of which have diamond, multi-platinum, platinum or gold certification. Houston‘s crossover appeal on the popular music charts, as well as her prominence on MTV, starting with her video for “How Will I Know“, influenced several African American women artists who follow in her footsteps.

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           Houston is the only artist to chart seven consecutive No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits. She is the second artist behind Elton John and the only woman to have two number-one Billboard 200 Album awards (formerly “Top Pop Albums”) on the Billboard magazine year-end charts. Houston’s 1985 debut album Whitney Houston became the best-selling debut album by a woman in history. Rolling Stone named it the best album of 1986, and ranked it at number 254 on the magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Her second studio album Whitney (1987) became the first album by a woman to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

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           Houston‘s first acting role was as the star of the feature film The Bodyguard (1992). The film’s original soundtrack won the 1994 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Its lead single “I Will Always Love You“, became the best-selling single by a woman in music history. With the album, Houston became the first act (solo or group, male or female) to sell more than a million copies of an album within a single week period under Nielsen SoundScan system. The album makes her the top female act in the top 10 list of the best-selling albums of all time, at number four. Houston continued to star in movies and contribute to their soundtracks, including the films Waiting to Exhale (1995) and The Preacher’s Wife (1996). The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack became the best-selling gospel album in history.

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           On February 11, 2012, Houston was found dead in her guest room at The Beverly Hilton, in Beverly Hills, California. The official coroner’s report showed that she had accidentally drowned in the bathtub, with heart disease and cocaine use listed as contributing factors. News of her death coincided with the 2012 Grammy Awards and featured prominently in American and international media.

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Whitney Houston’s Signature

To know more about Whitney Houston, just go here: http://live.whitneyhouston.com/