By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
Björk, Volta: "This was in heavy rotation. I love her and she is insanely cute. On the cover she looks really Super Mario Bros. or Donkey Kong.... Her fashion sense is crazy. So cool."
Antony Hegarty: "When he's singing, he sounds like he is clutching the pearls around his neck and spilling a gin and tonic all over the place."
Phoenix: America's idol and a hoops star keep Phoenix's mercury rising.
Arizona native Jordin Sparks has the distinction of being the youngest American Idol winner in the show's history. The 17-year-old Glendale resident — whose father, Phillippi Sparks, played for the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys — was sent home after her initial L.A. audition, but bounced back to win a second audition in Arizona and end up at the Seattle tryouts, where she made the Hollywood cut with Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me" before being crowned the show's sixth winner, on May 23.
Since winning, the energetic and talkative teenager has been busy. From July through September, she traversed the States as part of the American Idols Live! tour. Then she headed straight into the studio to record songs for her eponymous debut, released November 20 on Jive Records. The album boasts creative input from the likes of Robbie Nevil, Chris Brown (who duets with Sparks on "No Air"), and producers Eman (Backstreet Boys, Celine Dion) and Sam Watters (Jessica Simpson). Jordin Sparks runs the gamut from pop to rock to R&B, much like the contents of her iPod.
Rhianna: "I love her song 'I Hate That I Love You,' the one she does with Ne-Yo. The first time I heard that song, I knew it was going to be a hit. I have it on repeat on my iPod. It keeps growing on me and I never get tired of it. I like the way their voices blend together."
Chris Brown: "I haven't heard his new CD [Exclusive], but two years ago, when his first CD came out, all I wanted for Christmas and my birthday was his album. I'd love to tour with him. It would open me up to his R&B audience, and it would open him up to my pop audience. We're both somewhere in the middle."
Plain White T's: "I remember hearing 'Hey There Delilah,' and it was so simple — guitar, voice, and strings. [It shows] you don't have to make a complicated song to have a hit single."
Kanye West, Graduation: "Yeah, I listen to hip-hop. I hope my mom doesn't kill me [laughs]. I like Kanye West and 50 Cent, and I didn't take a side in that whole battle. But I did buy [West's] Graduation, so I guess I took a side. The album is in heavy rotation on my iPod. 'Stronger' — that song is genius."
Post-hardcore and screamo: "I like Silverstein and a local band called Greeley Estates that's doing really well. My favorite is a band called Dizmas. They're really good, and I love their music. They came and performed at my church [Calvary Community Church in Phoenix], and it was really funny, because people were like, 'Are they screaming?' But I like post-hardcore because it's really cool for when you're angry. Anybody who can scream like that and not blow their voice out is amazing. It takes a lot of skill and practice to be able to do that. I can't do it."
Alicia Keys: "I haven't heard all of her new album [As I Am] yet, but I like her new single ["No One"]. Alicia Keys just amazes me. She plays piano like no other, she's got a great voice, and she writes her own songs."
For basketball star Diana Taurasi, 2007 was a stellar year. The six-foot guard for the Phoenix Mercury helped lead the franchise (and the city of Phoenix) to its first basketball championship, toppling defending WNBA champion Detroit Shock on its home court in the final game of a best-of-five series. The Mercury made it onto the Wheaties box, Taurasi re-signed a half-million dollar deal to play in Russia during the WNBA off-season, and now she has one of the most popular athlete blogs on sports site yardbarker.com (www.yardbarker.com/dianataurasi).
One of the reasons Taurasi's blog rocks is her candid banter about all sorts of things, but most often music — and the fact that she'll carry on conversations about music with her fans in the comments section.
Because Taurasi is bundled up and playing b-ball in the former Soviet Union right now, we'll refer you to some of her Yardbarker commentary on what rocked her world in '07:
Kanye West (posted 9/11/07): "So here we are, on the eve of 9/11 — still at war — and we're presented with one of the most important questions of our generation: Kanye or 50? Really. Kanye. Seriously. I'm buyin' that one and burnin' a copy for the car. Is there really a comparison? Fiddy? Are there recording studios at Shady Acres? For real, 'Stronger' is the jam of the summer. While you can question the sunglasses indoors, you can't fight Kanye's creativity. I won't venture to say lyrical genius (nobody is touching 'Pac in my book, most likely ever), but the guy has undeniable talent. I like him. In the wasteland of what has become hip-hop (who can even listen to the radio anymore?), Kanye delivers.