High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pop Goes the Millennium: Rising Female Stars Who Put the "POW" in Girl Power!



"I was a boomer with blinders!"

Silly me. I used to believe that all great
music was produced in the 20th century.
(see above) Boy Girl was I wrong!

A few years ago I got curious and decided
to explore the diversity of music being
produced in the 21st century. To the
delight of many readers (ha!) I got
into hard rock and heavy metal,
but I continued to avoid pop,
hip hop and rap because I kept
telling myself I didn't like it.
How could I know for sure
if I didn't give those styles
a chance? When I took time
to investigate I discovered
that there are many great
young singers on today's
pop music scene.

I want to atone for the mistake
I made of neglecting pop for so
many years and do it in a big way.
Today I begin a 12-part series
on pop, pop rock and pop rap
of the 2010s and the talented
female recording artists who
perform in those styles.

Many of the young women you will
meet in this year long series are closely
identified with today's ubiquitous hip hop
culture. As you listen to them sing you
will get an education in the linguistics
of hip hop. You will hear its influence
in their diction, in their use of street
slang and in the way they enunciate,
including the practice of dropping
consonants. ("Counting" becomes
"coun-in" (no "t" sound and no "g").
The song lyrics, the manner in
which they are sung and the
images contained in the videos
are all in accordance with hip hop
sensibilities - cool, street smart
and tough - the direct opposite
of vanilla and white-bread.

With millions of followers on You/Tube,
the rising stars you will meet in this series
sing original songs along with covers of
hits by other artists. I promise that you
will see many exciting performances
in the months ahead. Now, without
further delay, I proudly present
the first group of Generation Y
and Generation Z wonder women!


Meet singer, dancer, actress and model
Ashlund Jade. This young lady from Utah
mesmerizes me with her vocal talent and
dance routines. Ashlund has modern pop
down to a science - the glottal fry, the
the confident attitude, the choreography,
and the sophisticated, slickly produced
videos that fans of the genre
have come to expect.

In the spring of 2015, barely 12 years of age,
Ashlund sang and danced her way into our
hearts when she covered "Uptown Funk"
by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars,
Record of the Year winner at this year's
Grammy Awards. The performance by
Ashlund and her dance troupe must
be seen to be believed. Watch and
listen as this little uptown girl
takes it downtown!

"Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat.
Bruno Mars cover by Ashlund Jade
(May 2015)

Now let's turn back the clock and watch Ashlund's
very first You/Tube cover song, "Cool Kids," the
Echosmith hit. Eleven year old Ashlund's version
got more than a million views in 3 months!

"Cool Kids" - Echosmith cover
by Ashlund Jade (Nov. 2014)


Seems like only yesterday that I watched
Casper Meets Wendy a hundred times with
my granddaughter, a toddler in the late 90s.
My granddaughter is a college woman now
and child movie star Hilary Duff is all grown
up, too. She continues to appear in movies and
TV shows and is a successful recording artist.

In mid 2014 Hilary Duff released the single
"All About You." The following year the song
showed up as a bonus track on the Japan Edition
of Breathe In. Breathe Out. - Hilary's 5th studio
album and the first in 8 years. "All About You"
pleased critics. Time Magazine's Nolan Feeney
praised the single for having the "kind of rowdy
punch" needed for Hilary to effectively stage
a comeback. I agree. Hilary gets my vote as
comeback artist of the decade!

"All About You' - Hilary Duff
(Sept. 2014, h.c.p. #20 Australia
#38 US Mainstream Top 40
from June 2015 album
Breathe In. Breathe Out.)


Remember when Kiss destroyed Anaheim?

In the new millennium, the California community
has been rocked by Jessica (Jessie) Eden Malakouti.
In the mid 2000s Jessie formed an edgy girl band
called Shut Up Stella. In 2010 the singer released
records as Jessie and the Toy Boys. In 2013 Jessie
took the recurring role of Dusky on the Llanview,
Pennsylvania-based TV soap One Life To Live.

Signed to Virgin Records, Jessie changed
her name to Eden xo and in August 2014
released her debut single " Too Cool To
Dance." I think Eden xo looks and sounds
a lot like Madonna in her "Like a Virgin"
period. See if you agree.

"Too Cool To Dance" - Eden XO
(Aug./Sept. 2014, highest chart pos.#14
US Hot Dance Club/#31 US Pop)


Now here's another number by young Ashlund.
In the fall of 2015 Ashlund released this cool
cover of "Sledgehammer," a Top 40 hit by the
Miami-based X Factor girl group Fifth Harmony.

Fifth Harmony cover by
Ashlund Jade (Oct./Nov. 2015)

In addition to her singing, dancing and
modeling, Ashlund Jade is pursuing an
acting career in Los Angeles. At age 11
Ash appeared in the movie Galyntine
and the miniseries The Red Tent.

Let's wrap up the post with one more
command performance by Ashlund.
Listen for the melismatic division of
syllables into two or more parts.
"Car" becomes "ca-ar-r" and "miles"
is pronounced "mi-yels" as Ashlund
covers "Love Me Like You," the hit
by the British girl group Little Mix.

"Love Me Like You" - Little Mix
cover by Ashlund Jade (Jan. 2016)

Just call me "Jaded" because I am
completely sold on Ashlund Jade.

All my life I have been drawn to soulful artists.
Ashlund's got soul and my attention is riveted
whenever she performs.

Ashland, who just turned 13 yesterday,
is a star on the rise and I look forward
to following the trajectory to its zenith.


Stay tuned. You will meet more
talented young pop artists in part 2
of the series coming soon!

Have a Shady day!


  1. As a rocker, I was all set to hate this post, but instead--I actually love it. I use ear plugs and turn away when I hear sickeningly sweet singing on those talent shows, but these girls are sassy--they have attitude-- and that makes a huge difference for me. You are right about Ashlund--she has a lot of talent and a bright future ahead. For someone her age--or any age--she did an amazing job with Uptown Funk. I can't believe that is Hilary Duff. I was still picturing her from her Casper Meets Wendy years and didn't even know that she is a pop singer. I am not a big fan of Madonna--and it stands to reason that I am not crazy about an artist who looks and sounds like her--but Eden is another great singer and dancer and I enjoyed her performance regardless.

    I am looking forward to the eleven remaining posts in this series, Shady!

    1. Hi, Kathryn!

      Thanks for reporting in this morning. I am pleasantly surprised to learn that you like these modern pop picks of mine. I am very much in agreement with you about some of the performances on those TV talent contests. Overwrought, artificially sweetened warbling is not my cup of tea. It is that type of singing that turned me off to the whole pop genre for so many years. I incorrectly assumed that all pop was the same. I'm glad I opened my mind and took time to investigate. The young women in today's post offer a refreshing alternative to sugary sweet and overly dramatic singing styles. The artists in today's post are poised and confident with just the right balance of sweetness and sass. They are civilized and, at the same time, street wise.

      I am delighted to know that you recognize the star potential of Ashlund Jade. Ashlund brings a certain intangible magic to every one of her performances and I have become a big fan. I wish her all the success in the world.

      Yessum, Hilary Duff is a successful recording artist and continues to appear in movies and TV shows. I'm sure you remember watching Casper Meets Wendy, our granddaughter's favorite movie in the late 90s.

      The part of the Eden xo video in which she reminded me most of Madonna comes at the 37 second mark where the dance routine begins. It reminded me of Madonna's "Virgin" and "Holiday" videos.

      Thank you again for your comment, dear Kathryn. I hope to see you next time!

  2. Goodness gracious that lil Ashlund is going places! Not only with great talent but with a great team of people surrounding her, she WILL go far!!
    I'm glad you've been making the effort to explore good music. i don't that that time or genre can separate us from a song or group, if it's something we like, no matter what time era it's from.
    Hey hey shady, it's good to be back and listening through your fun posts again!

    1. Hi, dear Abigail!

      I am delighted to see you today and to know that you remain a devoted friend as we roll through 2016.

      I'm thrilled to know that you see and hear the greatness in Ashlund Jade's performances. Nearly every one of Ashlund's videos features a choreographed dance routine by her and her posse. I will be presenting more from Ashlund in a future volume of this 12-part series.

      I agree with you that great songs and great song and dance performances can be found in any category of music from any time period (including the big band era of the 30s and 40s). It is a pleasure to discover gems like these by Ashlund, Hilary and Eden and bring them to you here on SDMM.

      Thank you again for your kind visit and comments, dear friend Abigail. I hope you and Daisy are having a fine week and that you will come back and see me next time.

      God bless!

  3. Ashlund is amazing with a capital A, but my personal perspective: I hate to see the make up and sexual innuendo on a child. And twelve to me is still a child.

    1. Hi, dear Sandra!

      Thank you very much for coming over as I begin this ambitious 12-part series on modern pop, pop rock and pop rap.

      I am well aware that some of the content I present in this series will be controversial and that it will provoke discussion. I invite discussion and welcome it.

      There's no getting around the fact that today's kids grow up faster and shed their innocence earlier in life than we did. Worldliness, street smarts, attitude, make up and sexual innuendo are elements commonly found in recordings and videos of this genre. You can't perform a convincing cover of "Uptown Funk" unless you turn on the 'tude and come across as bold and beautiful, brash and sassy. I believe that an artist like Ashlund has the maturity to perform this type of material. (Remember young Brooke Shields playing a child prostitute in the film Pretty Baby?) I also believe that today's children are much more sophisticated than we were at that age and can view videos like these w/o suffering ill effects. Compare what you have seen here to child beauty pageants and you might agree with me that the latter is a much more disturbing phenomenon.

      Thank you again for your visit and comment, dear friend Sandra. Enjoy your Wednesday and the rest of your week!

  4. Hi Shady!
    What a first-rate presentation! Introducing Ashlund with Uptown Funk was brilliant in that the song is so fresh on the minds of many. She is indeed destined for success - more so once she grows into that distinctive voice; which will no doubt facilitate genre transitions as she matures. Though, about now, I imagine she's basking in the light of youthful fame:-)
    Oddly enough, the 'older' girls sounded sugary and a bit juvenile, appearances notwithstanding;-)But you've managed to offer a little something for everyone in classic Shady style! I look forward to every post :-)

    1. Hi, dear Diedre!

      Thank you very much for coming, dear friend! You seem more in step with the current music scene than I am. Going into the series I wasn't familiar with "Uptown Funk." I never heard of it until I found Ashland's brilliant cover on You/Tube. I was delighted to find out that it won Record of the Year honors at the Grammys this week. That alone is good timing for this post, plus Ashlund's 13th birthday was yesterday.

      I absolutely agree with you that Ashlund's vocal style has more maturity than that of the two older women in this post. She is poised and confident and I find all of her performances compelling. Ashlund is an old soul, I suppose you could say.

      I am very pleased to know that you enjoyed volume 1 of the series, dear friend Deidre. Thank you again for dropping by and enjoy the rest of your week!

  5. Hi, Shady;
    I try to keep an open mind about newer music and do like some of it, but not a whole lot. That said, Ashlund is indeed a talented young lady sure to have a bright, showbiz future. When her voice matures, she'll be even more spectacular!

    I remember Hillary Duff from a few years ago and she has grown up considerably, but her voice is still too "girly" for my taste. Same goes for Eden, but they are both good singers, regardless.

    Looking forward to the next installment of this series!

    1. Hi, Debbie the Doglady!

      I am very happy to see you back in action today, dear friend. I hope this means you are feeling much better. :)

      I'm sorry I didn't have a classic rock post running this week and thank you for your generous remarks about this one, given that it is not your favorite music genre. I'm glad you recognize Ashlund Jade's talent and potential. In the related subgenres of millennial pop, pop rock and pop rap, many of the artists have girly voices. It's part of the formula and part of the appeal for fans of this type of music.

      Yessum, it's hard to believe that Hilary Duff will be 29 years old later this year! She is probably the oldest artist that I will be presenting in this 12-parter.

      Thank you very much for being here today, dear friend Debbie. Please take extra good care of yourself and stay in touch with me.

      Bless you!

    2. Yes, I am doing a little better and getting bored. ☺ Thanks for keeping tabs on me, Shady. Hillary Duff turning 29? Wow, time sure does fly. I'm never going to be a fan of most pop music, but there are always exceptions and I do recognize talent when I see it, regardless. This is an interesting series.

    3. I'm very happy to know you're doing at least a little better, Debbie. I hope that trend continues.

      Hey, I've been dissing this type of music for years. If somebody had told me a few years ago that I'd be running a 12-part series on 21st century pop, I would have told them they need a psych consult. I continue to surprise myself with the styles of music that I end up liking or loving. At the moment I am digging these pop artists and their club friendly sounds. I am still listening to rock and metal but mixing in other categories like this one.

      Thanks again, dear friend Debbie!

  6. I am quite surprised that I had never heard of Ashlund. I thought I was pretty "up" on the pop music scene, since my daughter is so in to it. She sounds like a very talented young lady with a bright future.

    Have a wonderful week!

    1. Hi, dear Sherry!

      Thank you very much for coming to the pop party, dear friend! That's right! Your teenage daughter probably knows most of the artists I will present in this year long, 12-parter. You'll have to let me know as we go along.

      I am very pleased to know that you enjoy the singing and dancing of Ashlund Jade, a rising star on a number of fronts.

      Thank you again for checking in, dear friend Sherry, and enjoy the rest of your week!

  7. Hi Shady and welcome to the millennium!
    Ashland sure has tons of confidence, talent and cuteness to go a long way! "Spunky" is my word for her! Uptown Funk is one of my fav songs of all time --she did a great job covering that as well as the other hits!I also enjoyed Hillay! I never heard of Eden. I know you like to find less known artist but in 2016 my vote for THE most talented, confident, beautiful girl singer today is Taylor Swift! She writes most of her HITS and BOY! did she give Kanye West what he deserved during her acceptance speech at the Grammys on Monday (when she won album of the year)!!!! You go GIRL(S)!!!!
    Thanks for sharing these up and coming pop stars!

    1. Hi, dear Toni!

      Thank you very much for coming over for the launch of my new series. Can you believe I finally broke down and started listening to the type of music you have been urging me to try for years? I never thought it would happen!

      I agree. "Spunky" is an excellent adjective to describe Ashlund. You need to have spunk, drive, ambition, confidence and courage to make it in this business. Ashlund has her share of haters as do all of the artists I will present in the series. I wish people would stop hating on goal-oriented young people who are working hard and following their dreams.

      I'm also happy to know that you like Hilary. That's another thing I never thought would happen. :)

      Ironically, Taylor Swift is an artist that I will not be featuring in this series simply because she is so big, so dominant in the industry. Some of the young artists you will meet have recorded convincing covers of Taylor Swift songs.

      Thank you again for joining the fun today, dear friend Toni. Enjoy the rest of your week!

  8. It's One Day At A Time time in Casa Martin, so I'll be back to listen, but I will say it makes a guy wish he was a teenybopper again..

    1. Hi, Chris!

      Looks like I'll be getting two comments for the price of one from you again this week. :)

      Hey, I think I saw the episode of One Day At a Time that Laurie is watching. It's the one in which Schneider walks into the Romano apartment unannounced wearing a tool belt with a pack of cigs rolled in the sleeve of his T-shirt in order to look macho.

      As Jed Clampett would say, "Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear?"

    2. Okay, post #2:

      I'm sorry to say I couldn't make it through Uptown Funk. That was just too much annoying for me. However, the Cool Kids track was really good. It will be interesting to see if she stays with it, and how her voice changes over the years if so.

      I admit to a bit of trepidation clicking on HD, but it was a good song, as well as a guilt-free watch. (:) )

      Eden xo- Not bad, but a real head scratcher that it charted ahead of HD. Definitely see Madonna in the look, which prolly helped, but I'd take HD over either Madonna or Exo look wise.

      I'd say the third AJ song is the pick of the litter. Pop without the hook swiftly loses my interest and the last song had the best hooks of the night. A lot of great young voices simply run out of good songs; time will tell if she can find them.

      Of course, I believe that Del Shannon woulda been up near Elvis level had he not been so stuck on Runaway clones. Thanks for the intro!

    3. Hi, Chris!

      Welcome back! Just curious, do you like the Record of the Year, "Uptown Funk," as performed by Ronson and Mars, or don't you like that song at all no matter who performs it? I'm a little confused because there are four Ashlund videos and you picked the third as your favorite, but then described her last video which would be the fourth, not the third. May I assume that you miscounted and meant to select the 4th song, "Love Me Like You" as your Pick-to-Click? My favorites by AJ are "Uptown Funk" and "Sledgehammer" (not the 80s Peter Gabriel song).

      I'm glad you gave Hilary your vote. Never through I'd live to see the day!

      :) :) :)

      You need to be careful when comparing those various record charts. There are so very many different charts nowadays that it gets confusing. I read, however, that Hilary's single did not perform as well in the U.S. as might have been expected (#19 on the Bubbling Under chart and #38 Mainstream Top 40) and that it did better in Australia. As I told Mrs. Shady, Eden xo most reminded me of Madonna during the dance formation segments, starting at the 37 second point of the vid.

      Every time Mrs. Shady and I watch the Miami Vice related drama series Crime Story we crank it up when the opening theme comes on. It's Del Shannon's rerecording of "Runaway" with different lyrics. Did you ever hear it?

      Madonna urged you to "express yourself" and, by golly, you did, Chris, and I appreciate your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed a couple of these tunes and learned a few things about the featured artists.

      Enjoy the rest of your week, good buddy!

    4. I think I completely deleted Uptown Funk from my memory banks and thus the miscount. I had not listened to the song in any prior incarnations, so I'm guessing safe to say it was the song and not the singer.

      No, I haven't heard the reworked Runaway- I'll have to look into that.

      Okay, I gotta get the tardis fired up. She's a bit cranky in cold weather. See ya later!

    5. AOK, Chris!

      Mrs. Shady and I are watching the new mini-series 11-22-63 and it made me think of your Time Machine. Please note that I might be late getting to your TM post tomorrow but I will get there eventually.

      See you tomorrow, good buddy!

  9. Now Hilary Duff, but none of the other young dames ... anyway ... enjoy, Mr. Shady ... Love, cat.

    1. Hi, cat! Welcome back to SDMM, my good friend!

      Do you remember Hilary from her Casper Meets Wendy movie?

      Thanks for your visit and comment, cat, and please come back again soon!

      Love, SDK.

  10. Wow, I was really impressed with Uptown Funk. Not only Ashlund's singing but the choreography was great. She must have a decent manager. Will be interesting to see where her talent takes her.
    The others were good too, but the voices are too young-sounding for my taste. I don't think I'd choose to listen to these groups on my own...but I sure enjoyed giving them a listen here! Thanks for sharing Shady.
    Looking forward to this Pop Series! GREAT idea! Glad you are giving the genre a good review...

    Michele at Angels Bark

    1. Hi, Michele!

      I'm very happy to see you, dear friend! Your response is similar to that of Debbie the Doglady. She likes Ashlund and thinks the older women's voices are too girly. It's funny how "Uptown Funk" is your favorite and mine while good buddy Chris disliked it so much that he needed to bail out in the middle of it and block it from his mind. It just goes to show that we are all wired differently. I'll say this. Your current band battle is all killer -no filler.

      As I told Debbie, I was a hardcore pop hater for decades. For some reason, at the start of this year, I had the desire to explore these related genres of modern pop and determine once and for all whether or not I was clinging to a false preconceived notion. Turns out I was. There are still certain types of pop that I don't like, particularly overwrought songs performed by artists who take themselves too seriously. The young women I will present in this series put a lot of fun, energy and pizzazz into their performances and I like that.

      Thanks again for coming by, dear friend Michele. I hope both your mom and your dad continue to make steady progress day by day.

      Take care!

    2. Thanks Shady. It's been a rough few days. My Mom was supposed to come home on Thursday last week but on Wednesday she coded! She flat-lined and a Code Blue was called: everyone came running. She came out of it on her own, they didn't need to shock her, Thank God. I got a call from the Chaplain at the hospital and he told me she had coded. I freaked out, as you can imagine. My Dad and I rushed down there and by the time we got there, she was alert and talking, and scared. They ended up putting a pacemaker in her the next day as her heart wasn't pacing the way it should. It was beating way too slow. So that kept her in the hospital a few more days and we just got her home yesterday. It's so good to have her home and she's going to heal a lot faster being here at my house than she would staying in the hospital. Thank God all that happened (her flatlining) while she was still in the hospital. Just think: I was to bring her home the next day. If that would've happened here at home, we could've lost her! She definitely had her angels working overtime and I'm so grateful that it happened there. It was a blessing in disguise. Now she has the pacemaker and it won't let her heart go below 60 beats/minute.
      It's been a busy few days here, getting all her new meds figured out. They changed up a bunch of meds so we spent an hour this morning trying to figure everything out. But she's in the kitchen now, drinking coffee and having a cinnamon roll! It's all upward from here!
      Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers during this very scary time.

    3. Oh my God, Michele! I am so sorry to learn about the terrible scare you experienced and thankful that your mother pulled through it and is stable once again. Mrs. Shady has been working with hospital cardiac patients for many years. It is her specialty and I am familiar with the use of pacemakers to regulate the heart rhythm. Your mother's episode was indeed a blessing in disguise, coming at a perfect time for her to get immediate help and to be reevaluated. I am very happy to know that she is back home with you because I read that having loved ones close by is of tremendous benefit to recovering patients. You are a wonderful daughter and a great friend for devoting so much time to keeping me updated. I appreciate it, dear Michele, and I will continue to keep your mother, your dad and you in my prayers!

      Bless you all!

  11. This was definitely what I was expecting when I read "pop."

    I'm a Hillary Duff fan from her days on Disney Channel. When I saw last year that she was releasing new music, I was excited. Not only is she talented, I think she's a good role model. I especially like the stand she's taken on post-pregnancy issues.

    Have a good weekend!

    1. Hi, Ashton!

      Thank you very much for coming by, dear friend! Yessum, you are the perfect age to be a Hilary Duff fan. More than an actress and singing star, Hilary puts her fame to good use spearheading philanthropic work, most of it to benefit children. Her method of slow and natural weight loss after giving birth has been praised by many.

      I hope you enjoyed a tune or two and thank you again for coming, dear friend Ashton!

  12. Sorry I'm late this week for your post! It's a fun one! I'm constantly amazed at the talent of the younger generation...and when I say younger I mean really young like this little lady Ashlund. You can see the beautiful woman she'll be when she's older. I know I'll sound like my Grandmother but sometimes these talented kiddos are a bit provocative for their age. I wish her all the luck in the world and hopefully she'll be a big star in the future. I think you're on the money with Eden and her Madonnaish video but I also got a flashback to a Brittany Spears spot with the pleated skirts on the Eden group! I've seen Hillary Duff go from child to adult in the industry and I do enjoy her. She seems to have come through her childhood fame a bit better than maybe Miley what's her name? Have a great weekend's going to be 62 tomorrow here in Ashland!

    1. Hi, dear YaYa!

      Thank you very much for dropping in, dear friend! I am tickled silly to know that you appreciated the offerings in this post and that you recognize young Ashlund Jade's potential. Given her age, Ashlund is amazingly poised and polished. I love her performances!

      I understand the complaints that kids today are growing up too fast, but that's the world we live in. Kids who want to make it in show business start grooming for it very early, usually with the full backing of their parents. They imitate older singing idols and that means performing songs with mature themes and looking the part while doing it. I don't think performing adult songs has a negative impact on most young performers or on their young audiences. Thanks to the internet and social media, children today are more worldly and sophisticated than ever before. Child and teenage entertainers are career oriented. They know what it takes to make it in the business and traits like rigidity and timidity are not going to get them where they want to go. Boldness and confidence will.

      You're right! Eden xo could easily be compared to Britney Spears during her earlier years. Hilary Duff will soon be in her 30s, but she is still an idol to teenagers and preteens and sets a very good example for them.

      A-ha! I immediately got your "62 in Ashland" reference, dear friend, and realized you aren't talking about the weather. Let me be the first to wish you a very happy birthday, my sweet and wonderful friend!

      Thanks again and have a safe and happy weekend, dear YaYa!

  13. So now I can relate a little. Haha. I love songs by Hilary Duff, Echosmith. And Bruno Mars' is so dancy.

    1. Hi, Lux!

      Thank you very much for coming to the pop party, dear friend!

      I'm very happy to know that you can relate to this post. Seems you are the ideal age to recognize and appreciate these pop cover songs by Ashlund and the originals by Hilary and Eden. Isn't that Bruno Mars tune amazing?

      Thank you again for joining the fun, dear friend Lux. I hope to see you again soon!

  14. Kathleen Mae SchneiderFebruary 20, 2016 at 1:05 PM

    What a contrast! Mother and I watched Ashlund Jade in between our exercises this morning and we agree she certainly exudes a lot of artistic energy and almost addictive enthusiasm.
    Comparing our modest leg raises, and side and ankle stretches to those backbends and twisting movements of hers made us hurt! But then, we're not 13. Mother is almost 104 and this is my last year in the 60s, so what do we expect, right?
    Like Sandra, it's also hard at my age not to be somewhat alarmed at Ashlund's projected sexuality when she's barely out of her childhood, but in our post modern times a Kathy Lennon would really seem out of place!
    With all the confusing seductive visual and cultural clues thrown at our youth, it follows that they will emulate what they see and hear. Just look at the Barbie doll phenomenon. If that's not unrealistic and promoting sexuality to very young children, then I don't know what is!
    I remember vividly my daughter Elisabeth and her best friend Emily, when they accompanied me to my elementary art classroom one weekend. They were about 10 or so, and happily playing with some clay scraps when I headed down the hall to work on a display.
    Imagine my surprise when I returned to find them on top of one of my tables, barefoot and with midriffs exposed, bumping and grinding to "Electric Avenue" playing on the radio! They sure didn't learn THAT from their mothers! (I'm relieved to report that both girls grew up to be beautiful, intelligent and very modest women!)
    If I was Ashlund's mother, I would hire a personal bodyguard to protect her pretty soon. There are so many predators, especially online. There's a shocking case reported this week in York (Mother's neighborhood actually), that involves a very young girl of 14 and an older man from out of state.
    This being said, I agree we cannot turn back the cultural clock to earlier times. Rather, we can appreciate the creativity of these budding artists, marvel at their gifts, and follow their successes as they mature.
    In every generation there were prodigies and stars at very young ages (Mozart comes to mind.). Some rose to greatness, others burned out quickly, but a beautiful girl like Ashlund who has all the street-smart moves and a knockout voice has potential staying power.
    I really admire performers of any gender or age who interpret their world through their art, put their own shameless spin on what they encounter in life and celebrate their heritage.
    In this vein, I recently discovered the gifted UCLA gymnast, Sophina DeJesus, who absolutely killed her floor routine by adding hip hop moves and wonderful attitude with a capital 'A' to the competition.
    Watch her here: Sophina DeJesus UCLA Floor 2016 vs Utah 9.925, as she literally struts her stuff and the crowd goes wild and joins in! (After watching the viral-level video multiple times, I had to research "nae nae" and learned it's a dance lifted from the streets of Atlanta.)
    This is way too long now, so I'll be back to comment on the other gals later.

    1. Hi, Kathleen!

      Welcome back to your home away from home, Shady Dell Music & Memories! (Maybe I should call SDMM your OTHER home away from home! :)

      I am surprised to find out that you showed this post to Mother. I doubt that 11, 12 and 13 year old girls looked, sang and danced that way in the Roaring Twenties, although the Charleston was pretty racy for its time. :) And that's the point here, as you have already mentioned. It's a new day, a new world. Like it or nuts, kids are exposed to mature subject matter years earlier in their lives than we were. I believe most of them are able to imitate older performers, sing songs with mature lyrics and themes and do twerk dances w/o turning into tramps. I think the vast majority of these kids have their heads on straight, are mature for their age and are goal and career oriented. I guarantee that Ashlund Jade will seem like Shirley Temple to you after you see one of the other young ladies I will present in this series. The spark plug to whom I am referring shall remain anonymous for now, but she is making a splash and collecting millions of views on You/Tube. Like Ashlund, she is multi-talented - a singer, dancer, actress, model and more.

      You mentioned Kathy Lennon. Go to You/Tube and watch little sister Janet Lennon serenading a much older man with the love song "I Want To Be Loved (and kissed) By You":

      And watch this one, "Do You Love Me":

      Do you see what I mean? The thing is, just because these performances took place on the dignified, straight-laced Lawrence Welk Show, everybody took them in stride and nobody I know of raised objections to such pairings. Taken out of context they could easily have seemed creepy. Even in context, those two Janet Lennon performances creep me out!

      I think it's important to remember that, almost w/o exception, young entertainers like the ones you will see in this series have the blessing and full backing of their parents. A lot of money is being invested in them - voice lessons, dance lessons, acting lessons, modeling school. When you look at the slickly produced videos used to showcase the talents of these girls, you realize that a lot of people are working behind the scenes to turn them into stars. It's undeniable - pop, hip hop and rap are everywhere these days - TV commercials, TV shows, movie soundtracks and sporting events. I went to You/Tube and watched Sophina's gymnastic program. It was unbelievable, but the choreography didn't surprise me. Just as it always was, young people today strive to fit in, demonstrate their their street smarts and keep up with the latest sounds and dances. The music in this 12-part series is the stuff that's driving the mainstream music industry today.

      Thank you very much for your input, Kathleen! I am very interested in getting your reaction to the other young women in the post. I hope to see you soon, dear friend!

  15. I feel a bit like a lecherous old man watching these videos. Call me Aqualung--oh not yet, please!

    These young ladies are talented for sure and there is a lot of great young talent out there. I've seen some outstanding performers doing some very listenable music when I've watched some of what my granddaughters watch. Today sure ain't like the Micky Mouse club back in the 50's.

    All this talent! I hope the lifestyle doesn't warp their minds and stress them out too much. We've seen what's happened to the kids like Miley Cyrus--she's gotten very wild, but she does have a lot of talent and still have time to calm down a bit. I guess the young people want a bit of wild in their lives. Kind of like when I was younger I guess.

    Nice intro to some decent music.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    1. Hi, Lee!

      How are you doing, good buddy? Thank you very much for coming by and for leaving this excellent comment! I remember you and I both voting for Miley Cyrus in recent band battles. It doesn't make us lecherous old men and it doesn't make Miley anything other than a smart, talented entertainer who knows what will sell in the marketplace. Many comparisons can be drawn. Little Shirley Temple shocked and outraged some people when she tap danced with a black man. As I reminded another reader, Brooke Shields started out playing a child prostitute in Pretty Baby. Underage Janet Lennon serenaded much older men with love songs on The Lawrence Welk Show. Playing a certain role or executing a certain type of performance does not mean that you become that character. It's a role. Shirley and Brooke and Janet all turned into decent women, most would agree. I think folks of our generation are shocked when we see young people handling material that was once reserved for mature adults but, to them, it's normal, it's the style commonly found today's mainstream entertainment. Whether you are a rocker or a popper or a rapper, it seems like a legitimate career strategy to start out performing edgy material, making waves, stirring controversy and shocking people, because it gets you noticed and opens doors. Many if not most young performers who have a wild reputation early on gradually mellow out over time and move toward we we commonly think of as the mainstream for the long haul, making room for the next generation of wild ones.

      Thank you again for such a terrific comment, Lee. It is greatly appreciated. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, good buddy!

  16. I am so sorry to have not responded until now. These girls do have talent without doubt but I hope they have good parents. The first little girl, Ashlund, has so much going for her but to be honest I was uncomfortable seeing how these girls were dancing in front of these young boys. The girls may be having fun but they have no clue how many horrible people are out there ready to take advantage of them. I hope this young girl does not take the Miley Cyrus route

    1. Hi, Birgit!

      Thank you very much for coming down, dear friend!

      The music I am presenting in this year long series and the young women I am showcasing will surely spark lively discussion. I welcome it and thank you for participating.

      Today's pop music is influenced by the pervasive hip hop culture which spans the globe. It has its own language, style and attitude. In the 2010s a major trend is electronic dance music played in clubs around the world. I was surprised to discover so many artists from the UK and Sweden making pop, R&B, rap and house hits in recent years.

      In general the most popular themes in today's music seem to be pretty much the same as they were in the 60s - a celebration of youth, freedom, independence and empowerment. Some of the songs acknowledge "haters" and encourage listeners to become empowered, ignore bullies and celebrate their individuality.

      When I watch young artists like Ashlund I keep asking myself what I am really witnessing. I have concluded that I am seeing a young professional executing a performance of a certain style of music. To me it is the same as watching an Olympic figure skater executing her short program on ice. There are certain compulsory moves, certain nuances, technical and style, that the judges expect to see if they are to award a high score. The music in these related categories requires a young woman to look, sound and act cool and to exude confidence. They dress sexy and wear make-up, but the message often seems to be "look but don't touch."

      When Brooke Shields played a child prostitute it didn't turn her into one. As you know from watching countless movies, actresses who portray despicable characters on screen are often the nicest people you'd ever want to meet in real life.

      I sense that young Ashlund has a great deal of maturity and that she has a network of adults guiding her career and keeping her on track. I believe that the vast majority of young women I will present in this series have their heads on straight and know what it takes to make commercially successful recordings. Like it or not, music presented with flash, sexiness and a bold attitude is what's selling these days and we can't blame these young artists for trying to capitalize.

      Thank you again for joining the discussion, dear friend BB, and have a wonderful week ahead!

    2. You are quite right and you know music much, much better than I do. I feel like I have become one of thos old curmudgeons:) Actually you have showcased other girls who were very young and had hits in the '60's but we don't think anything negative because of the dress style but that doesn't mean it wasn't forward back then. heck I was born in 1964 so I wouldn't know. you are so right about Brooke Shields and there is Jodie Foster as well. I have to admit that when I would see those figure skaters trying to throw in some sex appeal and they are 12 or 14, l shake my head a bit oops, curmudgeon coming out

    3. Hi, dear BB! I'm so glad I found this follow-up comment from you.

      Deep down, I'm curmudgeonly, too. I struggle to comprehend all the changes that have taken place in the world since I was young. I hardly recognize it sometimes. The age of consent might be the same as it always was, but kids today are getting an earlier start learning the facts of life and the ways of the world. It is reflected in the nature of the songs they sing. I try not to press the panic button or read too much into it. From what I have seen, the vast majority of these young artists are handling themselves responsibly and have strong family ties. Most of them are also philanthropic and actively involved in social issues including human rights. I choose to give today's youth the benefit of the doubt until they prove me wrong.

      Thanks again for pondering these questions with me, dear friend Birgit. I'll be chatting with you again soon!

  17. Hi Dear Shady again! I read your reply to me and I thought I'd better set the record straight..I was actually talking about the weather! However, it proved not to be 62 but a balmy 70! Yikes it was super wonderful! But I want to be the first to thank you for your bday wishes because next weekend is my day and how thoughtful that you remembered it was this month! So I'll give you my forecast for Sunday, next week...a balmy 63 dear friend! Thanks for always giving me a smile!

    1. Hi, dear YaYa!

      Ha! As soon as I posted that reply, I started to worry that I might have been reading too much into your comment. I wondered if you actually were giving me a weather forecast. And then I thought to myself, geez, what if I insulted YaYa? What if she is turning 39 this year? She's gonna unfriend me! :) I'm so glad you corrected me because I was expecting you to run a post tonight showing pictures of your b-day party festivities. I will be eagerly awaiting that post next week at this time. You are a cherished friend, Kathleen. Always remember that!

      God bless!

  18. Tom, ahhh I left a comment earlier or at least I think I did,but it may show as unknown Google account. *smack forehead* Let me recreate that message, if I can. *think, think* It's hard to get on board with new music. I am not a fan of rap or hip hop, but I'm sure there are exceptions out there as with any genre. These are interesting selections by a very young and talented upcoming lady, Ashlund. Clearly, she can sing and has an awesome presence in front of the camera. This will carry her far in the business. The only problem I see is her vocal style. She doesn't sound unique. There are a lot of other established and rising female artists who mirror her sound. The good news is Ashlund has youth on her side and she can learn from this to separate herself from the mundane flock. My favorite new artist you shared in this first of 12 parts is Eden xo. She sounded totally 80ish and maybe the reason I like is because she reminds me of Madonna, too. Thanks for sharing. I will look forward to the rest of this series. Have a POPlucious week!

    1. Hi, dear Cathy!

      Thank you very much for coming by, dear friend! I have just returned from a day trip and that explains why I am late replying to your comment.

      I'm sorry the dog ate your previous comment and thank you for taking time to compose it again. :)

      It is fascinating to learn which artist or artists the various readers prefer. I'm very happy to know that you enjoyed the retro 80s style of Eden xo's recording and video and agree that she has a Madonna thing going on there. Another reader pointed out similarities to Britney Spears.

      I think up-and-coming young artists like Ashlund try hard not to sound "unique." Their objective early on is to prove that they can stick to the tried and true formula and imitate the sound and style of their singing idols. I think all 72 recordings that I will feature in this series are up tempo dance club hits. That's my favorite sound at the moment. I have found that most club hits adhere to the same formula. They start out rather quiet and subdued, build to the next plateau of intensity, then explode into full volume and booming club beats. It's a formula that works. It is popular in the clubs and it sells records. You will hear some great examples in this series, I promise you.

      Thank you again for making time for a visit and for your excellent comments, dear friend Cathy. I hope you will stick around for the remaining 11 posts in this series which will take us all the way to Christmas time.

      God bless!

  19. Kathleen Mae SchneiderFebruary 22, 2016 at 8:12 PM

    My kids were too grown up by the time of Hilary Duff's Wendy, so I missed her then, and (before this post) as a singer too. She's sure all grown up now, and almost has a Claudia Schiffer look and demeanor to me, especially in 'All About You' ending with that seductive stroll on the beach. Bob will like watching that I'm sure, as well as that cool,classic Mercedes.

    That song has an addictive beat and melody, and it's going round and round in my head now. That's sure a good antidote to dullness and exhaustion.

    I was surprised to see some -ahem - "mature" dancers in Eden xo's video. Why, there was even a graybeard in there. I wonder if they were added for contrast, humor, or just to show that anyone can have fun dancing regardless of age (and questionable fashion sense!).

    The vibrance and vitality in 'Too Cool to Dance' are positively contagious. I remember when my kids started watching MTV when it was new, years ago. Even back then, listening to the likes of Culture Club and Cindy Lauper from the kitchen after a long day in the classroom helped me get through dinner prep. (I know, I'm dating myself.)

    Seeing and hearing these videos reminded me of a recent article in the paper about an elderly woman of 70. Yikes! According to the writer of that article, next year at this time I'll officially be OLD!

    Well, even if that's so, keeping up with posts such as this one will definitely prevent total fossilization. The exuberance and energy emanating from these melodies and images are contagious. They neutralize some of the seriousness that can define us if we let it.

    I wonder, did you ever see John and Helen dance at the Dell? I remember you wrote that Helen played her favorite songs in the snack bar. No doubt part of why she and John had such staying power as hosts to you and your friends was that being around you guys, entering your world and catering to your interests helped to keep them young.

    That's what posts such as this do for me. They often lift me out of drudgery, fatigue and pain, and I can vicariously experience youth again. Thanks for bringing these young women to our attention. It will be fun to see how high their stars rise in coming years.

    1. Hi again, dear Kathleen!

      Thank you very much for returning and sharing your thoughts about Hilary and Donald... uh, I mean Hilary and Eden. :)

      I will tell you right now that I don't have any slow paced pop ballads in this 72 song series. Right now I am into up tempo club beats and the recordings I will present in the remaining 11 volumes should lift your spirits, keep your toes tapping, get stuck in your noggin for hours at a time and help you to feel young again. That's what it's all about for me. If you are going to get addicted to something, there are many things worse than getting hooked on dance rhythms and catchy melodies.

      The more I watch that Eden xo video the more I conclude that she is a mix of Madonna and Britney Spears. The video itself borrows from Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" in its use of quirky older characters joining the party. Click at the 2:50 mark and note the similarities:

      So they're calling age 70 "elderly" now? Yikes! See, this is what we are up against, dear friend. Combating the aging process is enough of a challenge without being perceived as ancient by younger generations. That's why I try to stay current and explore modern music. A heaping helping of modern dance pop is good for what ails ya. It's the fountain of youth.

      To answer your question, I never saw John and Helen dance - ever. I think they were smart enough to stay out of the way and let the kids have their privacy and do their thing. I remember getting an uncomfortable, creepy feeling whenever my parents insisted on dancing to big band music and making me watch. They were hoping to steer me away from rock 'n' roll and covert me into a lover of "good music." I think it would have spoiled the Dell atmosphere if the Ettlines had joined the kids on the dance floor.

      Thank you again for making time for two visits and two extraordinary comments, dear friend Kathleen. I hope to see you back here soon. Please give Mother my love.

      God bless!

  20. Once again I apologize being late to the game. Just getting over the flu, or whatever it was I had.
    I love a good pop artist, but I have to admit, I don't pay too much attention to the very young artists. I have a hard time taking them seriously. Such youth singing about love and loss. I think at 13 I was more worried about lost Legos. LOL
    That being said, the songs were good but it will be interesting to see in which direction her career heads. It's sad to see such young artists lose focus in life so early. It ends up hurting their character and performances. You know what I mean?
    Looking forward to seeing the rest of this series. If anything else, the music is great. I love pop.

    1. Hi, Jeffrey!

      Thanks for dropping by, good buddy! Sorry to learn that you've been bitten by the flu bug. I hope you are feeling better now.

      I suppose you are right. It's hard to take very young performers seriously when they sing about love and loss. I am one of those people who never paid much attention to song lyrics. I tend to evaluate a recording based on its overall sound, feel and danceability. I listen for the quality of the vocals, the instrumental backing and the production quality. I don't see evidence of Ashlund "losing focus." I think she is sharply focused on developing her skills as a singer, dancer, actress and model.

      Older folks like Shady need to adjust their thinking a little and not be so easily shocked by what they see and hear in the videos made by these young performers. We need to understand that what we are seeing and hearing is a performance in a specific category of entertainment - hip hop, pop, rap, etc. There is a certain formula that goes into making recordings and videos in those related styles. If an actor or actress is required to smoke for a certain role, then they need to take up the habit and learn to smoke convincingly. If a role requires them to gain 50 pounds, a method actor will do just that. If a role requires a man to act like a villain or a woman to act like a bitch, he or she can perform that role and in real life remain the nicest, sweetest person you'd ever want to meet. Based on everything I have seen and heard, I think Ashlund and her family have their act together and she's on track for great things.

      I'm so glad you caught Part 1, Jeffrey, and that you are interested in following the series to its conclusion at the end of the year. Thanks again for your visit and comments, good buddy!

  21. I hope you don't feel I was pointing the finger at any one artist, I was simply saying it's always tragic whenever that does happen and I hope that does not befall anyone else.

    1. Thanks for clarifying, Jeffrey. I totally agree. Thanks again and enjoy the rest of your week, good buddy!

  22. I like the Too Cool to Dance vid:)

    1. I'm happy to know it, Sandra. My next post is coming tomorrow and this modern pop series resumes next month.

      Have a Shady day!

  23. Wow- these young girls are very talented. I liked Ashlund and Hillary the most.

    1. Hi, Holli!

      Thank you for perusing my back pages, dear friend. I'm very happy to know you enjoyed these performances by Ashlund Jade and Hilary Duff. Stay tuned for 11 more volumes of this modern pop series throughout the year.

      Thank you again for your kind visit and comment, Holli!


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