Review: UVU’s Top 20: Mixtape Live

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Utah Valley University offers a degree for every type of person, including commercial music. The commercial music degree allows students to familiarize themselves with the music industry and Mixtape Live is their end of semester concert. It permits the students in the program to show off their various talents and skill levels.

“A lot of people don’t realize that we have this program here,” said Corbyn Milius, a commercial music junior who writes and sings. “If they did, I think people would be more inclined to come to a concert like this.”

Mixtape Live, held Dec. 4 in the Ragan Theater, was divided in half, each part being a different band. The first group on stage was UV Groove of which Milius is a member. The second group was called Sonic Exchange. Each group did 11 songs and of those eleven there was at least one original number. The original compositions were written by Corbyn Milius (UV Groove) and Lyssa Lohner (Sonic Exchange.) Here are the top 20…

20: “Boogie Night” – Written by Heatwave and Performed by Sonic Exchange. The music was upbeat and the singer’s stage presence was admirable.

19: “Wocket In my Pocket” – Written by Migo and Performed by UV Groove. The accompanying light show was highly amusing and the trio of singers produced a very well-balanced sound.

18: “Back At One” – Written by Brian McKnight and Performed by Sonic Exchange. This particular song was dedicated to one of the band mate’s significant other. The vocalist’s stage presence was excellent and despite singing to the dedicatee made sure the audience was equally involved.

17: “Talk Too Much” – Written by Coin and Performed by UV Groove. The singer danced across the stage in a delightful manner and the back up vocals provided by Evelyn and Corbyn really set the rendition apart from its original cover. This was accompanied by a fabulous guitar solo that was full of passion and character.

16: “The Man” – Written by The Killers and Performed by UV Groove. The singer had a commanding presence and the back up vocals were stupendous.

15: “River” – Written by Bishop Briggs and Performed by Sonic Exchange. The opening was magnificent, before any lyrics were sung it had fully captivated audiences. The back up vocalists’ subtle -yet synchronized- foot stomp adding a certain professional edge.

All the performers in Sonic Exchange have chosen commercial music because of their pure passion on the subject. Lyssa Lohner, who is a junior in commercial music, chose the program because she “loves music” and “has her whole life.” Lohner describes her group’s name as, “You hear it and think of men in their 50’s playing jazz music.” This is especially true of Ryan, one of the male singers in the group whose voice really thrives on the old time sound.

14: “Back To You” – Written and Performed by Korbyn Milius and UV Groove. An extraordinary original composition, the song is well-written and the duet section really allowed the song to come into its own. Milius’ vibrato, when accompanied with Evelyn Escalona’s rapping, is a match made in heaven.

13: “Bang, Bang” – Written by Ariana Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj. Performed by Sonic Exchange. This version was incredibly well done. Their clothes and professional demeanor a constant source of envy. The rapping section was tricky but excellent.

12: “I Wanna Love You” – Written by Akon and featuring Snoop Dogg. Performed by UV Groove. This was the first number in which the band actually introduced themselves. It was played near the beginning of the show. The vocals were great, but their introductions were somewhat overpowered by the blasting of the music.

11: “White Tiger” – Written by Izzy Bizu and Performed by Sonic Exchange. This was Tanner Anderson’s solo. She is another of the primary singers for the group and this song was great. Her belting vocals and the lovely lyrics really made it a fantastic spectacle.

10: “Just the Way You Are”- Written by Billy Joel and Performed by UV Groove. The band sounded like it was straight off of the Rock Band games on this one. The notes simply mesmerizing. This allowed the vocals to be more reminiscent of icing on a delectable cake.

Having spoken so much on Milius’ vibrato and Escalona’s rapping, it’s only fair to discuss what they credited with their success. Milius has 10 years of vocal training, but the person she gives the greatest credit to for the state of her voice today is her teacher Nancy, who she said, “Is beyond amazing… I pay homage to her.” Escalona, who is actually going for a certificate of musical performance, on the other hand said, “I just hear a lot of rappers and I was like ‘this would be a sick song to sing’.” Escalona’s rapping is just that, sick.

9: “I Feel It Coming” – written by The Weeknd and featuring Daft Punk. Performed by Sonic Exchange. The band was perfect and the song was full of suggestive lyrics. Ryan’s sultry vocals lend this song all the seduction required to place it on the top ten list.

8: “Pop, Lock, And Drop It” – Written by Huey and Performed by UV Groove. It is clear from the professional sound of this song that UV Groove adores the song. Escalona’s great rapping ability placing it safely on to the top ten list.

7: “Back To You” – Written by Selena Gomez and Performed by Sonic Exchange. The tribal background music as provided by Sonic Exchange’s marvelous band adds an extra layer of wonder to the song. The vocalists were perfectly balanced and their stage presence well worth the admission costs.

6: “Lovin’ Me”- Written by Johnathan McReynolds and Performed by UV Groove. Milius was the lead vocalist and this was by far her best performance yet. Her vocals a combination of vibrato and belting that one can only achieve through a great deal of training. Securing this song a spot on the top ten list.

5: “Shake like an Earthquake” – Written and Performed by Lyssa Lohner and Sonic Exchange. Lyssa’s soul felt lyrics and amazing vocal accompaniment lands her original piece in the top five list. The duet with the lead guitar really added a certain commercial sound to the song.

Lohner hopes to continue “writing, singing, and connecting with people.” She even has interest in helping others achieve their dreams. The best place to start would be with Tanner Anderson, her bandmate. Anderson is a sophomore of commercial music and member of Sonic Exchange. Her dream is to be a recording artist. She is positive she’ll be able to accomplish that goal because “The professors in the program have prepared [her] for a life in the music industry.” She also hopes to continue a relationship with her current bandmates who she has been working with for three years.

4: “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” – Written by Tori Kelly and Performed by Sonic Exchange. With Ryan leading the vocals, it was impossible not to include this song in the top four. It is a familiar song these days but remains timeless in its sound. Ever enjoyable, it ranks at four on our list.

3: “Watch Out” – Written by 2 Chainz and Performed by UV Groove. With Escalona on vocals and rapping at her peak level, this track is the undeniable third on our list. The background of her fellow vocalists keeping us grounded the whole time as she fluidly spouted rap lyrics.

2: “Creeping” – Written by Lil Skies and featuring Rich the Kid. Performed by UV Groove. The opening was amazing and the music itself was filled with sounds one might not have even thought possible. It sounded positively alien, but in the best possible way. The duet between Escalona and Milius the glue of an already fabulous song, even better than the original.

1: “Under The Stars” – Written by John Legend and Performed by Sonic Exchange. Ryan was the lead singer and the vocals were reminiscent of David Archuleta or Bruno Mars. Due to the quality of his performance and the commanding prescence he had on stage, it was impossible to place this song anywhere but number one. This was also one of Sonic Exchange’s first tracks, talk about putting your best foot forward.

Overall, “Mixtape Live” was well worth the viewing, and the commercial music program is -while little known- full of talented individuals that deserve more lip play than they’ve been given. The musicians are just as talented as the vocalists leading them. Together they are a well-balanced and organized machine.