Backstreet Boys Headed to Vegas: Aging 'TRL' Fans Rejoice


Now that Britney, J.Lo, and Backstreet Boys all have headlining residencies in Las Vegas, all of us who came of age during the late 90s can now feel officially old AF.

Check out the announcement HERE.

@TheFirstEcho


RUNAGROUND's "Chase You Down" is My New Stalker Theme Song


There really isn't much to it.

The entire song is structured around a repetitive chorus that's accompanied by a driving beat. And I love it.

It's an irresistible slice of seduction from the 29-year-old electro-pop producer-singer-songwriter who made a splash on YouTube a few years back. Also? Bonus points for the lyrical shout out to "liquid courage."


Imani Williams's "Don't Need No Money" is the Anti-Materialism Anthem This Generation Needs


She may not "need no money," but pray tell, who's paying for all of those wardrobe changes in this video? Not to mention that sweet vintage convertible in the background...

Anyway, despite the double negative in the title that is driving my inner grammar Nazi crazy, this collab with Sigala and Blonde is the kind of pop fluff we could use during another week of depressing headlines. Listen and love:

@TheFirstEcho


My Life as a Shondaland Drama: 19 Lessons Learned While Living in L.A.


I have often thought of my life in Los Angeles as a primetime drama, peppered with twists and turns, building up a loyal following over the years.

That said, this past summer I wrapped up what is considered my 14th season. (With a 15th season renewal! Woo hoo!) The current cast of characters of this show is definitely not the same as the one that was introduced to viewers in the first season (back when I arrived wide-eyed and full of hope in 2002). Over the years, there were special guest stars. There were characters who appeared as regulars but were quickly written off. There were beloved figures who departed suddenly, leaving viewers (and me) devastated. And there were the few constants who, to this day, remain as part of the ever-evolving storyline that is my life. 

I'm like Meredith Grey, and the city of Los Angeles is my Seattle Grace. How's that for a Shondaland metaphor? True, I've never been implicated in a murder...or fallen for an elected official...or witnessed a loved one perish in a plane crash. But I am still hanging in there as the protagonist in the long-running serial that is my life. Everything selfishly revolving around me.

I have lived in L.A. long enough to see people come and go in waves. Within four months, I knew four individuals who left L.A. to pursue other endeavors earlier this year. Eight years (or seasons) ago, I witnessed another exodus: five people within two months, flying off into the sunset to star in their own spin-off vehicles.

And they keep coming and going. Sometimes I wish there was a loud, Hunger Games-style horn or gong that could be heard across the city each week, announcing in the sky the departure of those who no longer call L.A. home and heralding the arrival of their replacements -- fresh blood for the taking.


With that in mind, I like to think I'm a survivor of Los Angeles, a city known for chewing up and spitting out its population on a daily basis. And having honed in on such survival skills, I've become more aware of certain things.

Here are just a few personal observations I've made on the City of Angels after giving 14 years of my life to its boulevards, valleys, and beaches...

1. I can rock a parking space like no one's business.

2. Don't waste your time on those who don't wish to spend their time with you.

3. Avocado toast gives me life.

4. YouTubers are the new ingenues.

5. Publicists are the new pimps.

6. Enjoy and appreciate that cute, new coffee bar while it lasts because it will most likely be turned into an underwear boutique by this time next year. OR: If one of your favorite L.A. staples has been around for years/decades, most likely it will be shut down to make way for new apartments for the city's increasing population (again with the newbies moving here in droves each year). That said, an early R.I.P. to Amoeba Records in Hollywood.

7. Hearing from someone you haven't seen in years usually means they want something from you.

8. The Grove will always be a last resort when selecting a place to see a movie.

9. Instagram models with wholesome Midwestern backgrounds will inevitably end up gyrating their hips on boxes at FUBAR on Santa Monica Boulevard.

9. Carpooling is a great plan rarely executed.

10. When a friend captions a photo with #actorslife, it is completely acceptable to roll your eyes.

11. Based on the number of invites you'll get to someone's a.) stand-up show b.) improv show c.) gallery exhibit d.) independent movie premiere e.) self-help recruitment session or f.) fundraiser party, don't feel pressured to attend every single one of them. Keep a quota. Like one or two a year.

12. That friend who knows Joseph Gordon-Levitt's assistant's brother...is not a connection.

13. That TV pilot you wrote in your 20s...could use some retooling. Actually, not some. A LOT.

14. The longer you live in L.A. the less inclined you are to visiting annoyingly crowded areas (i.e. tourist traps like Hollywood & Highland, Santa Monica Pier, and again, The Grove). If you must play tour guide for out-of-towners, let them navigate those places on their own and save your time for showing them all the places you personally enjoy.

15. It's okay to rage with jealousy once in a while. It's healthy. Especially when a friend-of-a-friend you met 13 years ago (and meant to keep in touch with) goes on to become a writer-producer for one of the TV's biggest sitcoms...or when that underclassman from college goes on to become the creator/showrunner of a serialized thriller you could've created yourself...or when everyone's buying condos and houses while you've been holed up in the same apartment for a decade.

16. It's okay to go solo to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Because chances are you will bump into three or more people you know there.

17. Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon are great during the first 10 years. Then, it's time to move on to greener (and less crowded) places to get your cardio on. Like a foreign country.

18. There's a very fine line between calling in favors and emotional blackmail. Secrets can be a currency in this town. Make sure to save up on a few; you never know when you'll want to cash in. (So I've been told...)

19. No one reads your blog -- unless you're exposing those aforementioned secrets.

@TheFirstEcho


Obsession of the Week: The Fitness Marshall


People have been making fitness videos since the dawn of Jane Fonda, but there's one instructor on YouTube who's been helping folks burn calories for the past 2 years with fun dance moves set to some of Top 40's biggest hits.

Meet The Fitness Marshall (real name: Caleb Marshall) who brings an undeniably fun attitude (and sass) to a number of hip-hop-inspired dance lessons for all shapes and sizes (a huge plus and welcome inclusion, especially after years and years of seeing the same sculpted bodies in similar videos). And thanks to his retorts and side comments during each dance, you'll burn double the calories by laughing and moving at the same time.



Whether he's shaking some ass to Meghan Trainor (wait for that breakout moment at 1:01)...



Or educating us on "sexy serious face" during Ariana Grande's "Into You"...



...he's inspiring my lazy ass to start my mornings off right with some much-needed movement.

@TheFirstEcho


9 Britney Spears Songs That Should've Been Singles


With the arrival of Glory, her ninth studio album, Britney Spears has extended her discography with more pop fodder fans can chew on. (If you ask me, it's her best and most cohesive collection since 2003's In The Zone.) And on this new album are a bunch of hits-in-waiting, but will they ever be added to Top 40 radio rotation? We have yet to see. (If you ask me again, my picks for her next singles are "Clumsy," "What You Need," and "Hard To Forget Ya.")

Forget your standard retrospective of Brit's hits. Here are nine less familiar tracks from the past 16 years that deserved to be thrust into the spotlight and released as official singles. These are the gems most people will never have the pleasure of knowing. That's why I'm breaking them down for you right here, right now...

1. "Before the Goodbye" (2001, unreleased) - Produced by "godfather of electronica" BT (the guy responsible for 'NSYNC's "Pop"), this potential Top 40 track was a Calvin Harris-esque dance floor jam before anyone knew who Calvin Harris was. Just wait for that beat to drop at 1:40.



2. "Cinderella" (from 2001's Britney) - A close relative of 2000's "Stronger," this underrated piece was Brit's anthem, telling the world that she had no interest in being a princess anymore. The chorus is pure pop magic.



3. "Can't Make You Love Me" (from 2000's Oops...I Did It Again) - A quintessential Max Martin production from the turn of the century with a singalong chorus that works on all levels:



4. "Breathe on Me" (from 2003's In The Zone) - The early aughts were a time when Spears began experimenting with new sounds, much like the mellow electronic vibes she gave off here, accompanied by lyrics that make you sweat just by listening to them:



5. "Brave New Girl" (from 2003's In The Zone) - This go-go girl power track would've been a perfect companion piece or follow-up to megahit "Toxic," but sadly the record label shuffled this to the back of her fourth album.




6. "What You See Is What You Get" (from 2000's Oops...I Did It Again) - More Max Martin marvelousness:



7. "Scary" (2011, unreleased) - This Japanese import never made it to the American tracklist of Femme Fatale, and it's a shame, because we could've used a hypnotherapy call-to-action in pop.




8. "Alien" (from 2013's Britney Jean) - The critical and commercial dud that was her eighth album at least offered this debatably redeemable track. It's weird af, but still listenable.

9. "Shadow" (from 2003's In The Zone) - This electro power ballad is delicious treacle that sounds like it came from a straight-to-DVD, pre-Twilight vampire romance.

@TheFirstEcho


THE COOLDOWN: The 2016 Fall Playlist


Labor Day is over. Done. Finito. And sadly, so is summer.

And while some of you will be bracing for the onslaught of pumpkin-flavored EVERYTHING, I have gone ahead and prepped a playlist that shall get you through the next three foliage-filled months.

Once again, keep coming back as I'll be adding more tunes to this goodness.

Enjoy:


And thanks to @nicotortorella on Instagram for the cool image that inspired the above cover.

@TheFirstEcho