HillTop Records Scam

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Today I received a letter in the mail from HillTop Records. In brief, the letter said that HillTop Records has begun a recording project and is interested in my compositions. The letter requests that I send 3 or 4 of my best compositions to them and they will arrange, produce and record my songs if chosen and pay me royalties on the back end. Whaa? Like any songwriter, I must admit that I was a little itty bitty bit excited to be getting correspondence from a record company, especially since their address is in Hollywood, CA. However, I did notice some strangeness in the letter. They didn’t say what artist or artists they were marketing the songs to – they just mentioned that their artists had performed with some very famous names in music, like Barbara Streisand and Dolly Parton. Performing with a famous artist really doesn’t say much. I performed with Shania Twain in October of 1998 at the Hulman Center…as a backup person – for one song – along with 5 other people. But, I could say that I’ve performed with the stars, as Hilltop Records would put it.

After doing a google search for “Hilltop Records” the first thing I saw on the list was “Hilltop Records Scam”. My heart sank. The itty bitty bit of excitement vanished entirely. I read the other people’s reviews of Hilltop being a scam. Apparently, they collect names from the Copyright office when people file to copyright their songs. (These are public documents and available for anyone to review.) After they choose one of your songs to put on their compilation CD, they ask you to pay around $400 for recording fees for your song. Then, they arrange it and have crappy musicians record it. The final product does not sound remotely professional, produced, or even edited. The sound quality would not have even “cut it” had these songs been recorded in the 60’s before the use of music technology became a must in the industry. Anyway…back to their services. After they have a product to sell, they list it on Amazon. I have seen other reviewers say that they couldn’t find HillTop Records CD’s anywhere, validating that they ARE indeed a scam. So…it seems that in order to prove that they aren’t a scam, they listed some things on Amazon.

The CD they have listed on Amazon is a compilation CD of Christmas songs, sung by “Hilltop Records Singer”. Ah yes, I’m sure LOTS of people will search for that when they want to purchase a CD.

They took the time to upload one song from the compilation CD, which has a picture of an Asian man on the front of it. The sample song is of a woman singing. The singing is not good. Not good at all.


Click here to listen to HillTop Records on Amazon

There are 2 other CD listings from Hilltop Records. One of these has an image, and the description of the songs directs the buyer to zoom in on the image to see what songs are on the CD. There are no samples to listen to on any of their Amazon listings besides the one song. Oddly, all of these CDs have “only one copy left”.

HillTop Records has even created their own rebuttal, insisting that they are not a scam, that they are a legitimate company doing as they promise. One of Webster’s definitions of “scam” is “A fraudulent business scheme; a swindle.” Webster also defines it as “To swindle, by means of a trick.” Aha! They definitely fall into that second definition of “scam”. And they seem to have their bases covered just enough that they think they don’t fall into the “fraudulent” department…but with enough research, you will see that they are fraudulent.

On their website, they state “Our emphasis is on Production Value, Promotion and Sales”. OK, Production value is objective. Promotion? They want writers to believe that Hilltop will promote the music, but what is being promoted is more Production…so that Hilltop Records can make more profit. Their emphasis certainly isn’t on sales of the product/songs. What they are selling is the service of having your songs recorded at your expense. You won’t make any royalty money, because Hilltop is not promoting your songs to sell them. They are promoting themselves to sell the scam.

You will also see on Hilltop Records’ website that they have Internet Radio. OK, possibly a legitimate way of promoting for the artists, right? No. It isn’t even radio. It has been pre-recorded, and advertises Hilltop Records’ services. We get to listen to a short snip of a song from one of their artists. You can rewind the pre-recording…it’s just an audio track…NOT radio.

On the right hand side of their website, they have artists and their songs with buttons that say “play” and “buy”. If you hit the play button, you will hear about 20 seconds of the song. 10 seconds of intro, and then 10 seconds of the first verse…with the singer not sounding so great and the intro music sounding like a karaoke track from a cheap DJ. Basically, given such a small sample of the song and not even in the chorus part of the song, I would not say that having a song up on their site is worth the $400 they are charging.

I did say that they fall in the “fraud” description too…and here’s how. Their songwriter’s testimonials are fake. If you compare the page that has their written letters of thanks and appreciation with the page that has the list of all their “Hilltop Records Songwriters”, you will find that none of the names match up. NOT ONE of the names that are signed in the testimonials can be found in the list of their songwriters. This is fraud, because it means one of two things. 1. Hilltop Records falsified testimonials, creating a lie and thus a fraudulent trick to make people part with their money or 2. These artists that sent letters of thanks were not included on their list of songwriters, a benefit that these people (if they are indeed real and not falsified people) paid for.

 

Tread carefully musicians…and be sure to research anything that smells fishy.

Beautilicious Bath Bubbles Review

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Yes, I do realize this website is supposed to be about music…but has become my catch-all for whatever I feel like sharing with the world. Today, it’s another product review.

I found this bottle of “Beautilicious Sugar Coated Candy Apple Bath Bubbles” at a ROSS store for $1.99. There was a foil seal over the top of the bottle, so I was unable to do a smell-test before purchasing, but the description of the scent sounded good…and the cartoon 50’s pinup-style girl on the front had an heir of honesty about her. She looks like such a nice girl, right? How could this product not be anything less than wonderful?

Actually, it’s not a bad bubble bath. It doesn’t yield a lot of bubbles…even with a significant amount of it added to the running water. The liquid is a pretty pink. The smell really reminds me of cough medicine. The flavor could have easily been “Candy coated Robitussin” and I would have rated the scent as being exactly that.

So, it’s not amazing. But the cute pink bottle sure looks nice sitting on the side of my tub. And I didn’t have any adverse skin reactions to it.

Boston Market Swedish Meatballs Review

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In my quest to find easy-to-fix dinners, I came across this box in the frozen foods section at Giant (our local supermarket food store.) I figured since it was from a reputable restaurant, it might be good. I throw the term “reputable” around like the government hands out welfare checks …frequently and with little concern for validity. OK, so Boston Market is an actual restaurant. I’ve driven past it a few times. I’ve never stopped to eat there, but I am 100% sure it exists. So, based on this existence of a physical property where you can get food, I assumed that this boxed meal might be good. I even bought TWO boxes since I planned to make it as a dinner and hoped for leftovers.

The first indicator that this meal might not be the best choice was the color. The sauce is a strange orange color. I’ve made Swedish Meatballs before (from scratch) and there is nothing in the ingredients that would make the color orange. The sauce should be a pale white color from the sour cream or heavy cream, whichever you choose to use. So…orange colored sauce…erm, ok.  After checking the expiration date to see that it was OK, and reading other reviews that raved about this product’s value for the low cost, I resumed preparation. Heat in microwave, stir, heat again, let it sit a few minutes. Easy.

The second indicator that this product was not good…the smell. I can only describe this smell as “dog-foody”. It was readily apparent that there was no actual cream in this meal…heavy cream, sour cream, or otherwise. It was some sort of chemical that was made to have the “sharpness” of a sour cream. However, someone at the chemical plant was having an off day when they invented this concoction, which falls somewhere between the smell of dog food and hairspray.

It looked like a wholesome meal on the box….this is what it really looked like after the heat-and-stir…

Boston Market Swedish Meatballs

I hadn’t noticed before I purchased this that the serving size has 1290 mg of sodium…more than 50% of the daily value. So, eat this meal if you want to retain a lot of water or raise your blood pressure. Luckily, it was only about $3.50 a box, but since it was almost completely inedible, I won’t be buying it again. And my previous curiosity of “maybe I’ll stop at the Boston Market one of these days and check it out” has been thoroughly banished from thought.

Loreal Feria Haircolor Review – Extra Bleach Blonde

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OK, So I’ve had this box of hair color (or rather, bleach) sitting in my bathroom for a week now and finally got the chance to try it last night. CVS did not carry my usual blonde color, which seems to be a shade “cooler” than this particular box. But with a name like “EXTRA Bleach Blonde”, how could I go wrong, right?

The color I usually use is a Loreal Preference color…a blonde one. I never remember the number, just the picture on the box. This one is #205, but I probably won’t remember that the next time I go to buy  color for my hair.

 

The first difference I notice between the Loreal Feria bleach blonding and the Loreal Preference (besides the blonde chick on the front of the box) is that the Feria came with two packets of powder that I was to mix into the applicator bottle. There was ALSO a little bottle of some kind of oil that I was to mix in after the two powder packets. The applicator bottle of “creme”, or whatever they call it, is much larger in the Feria.

I cut the first packet along the dotted line only to find that it creates a hole in the packet that is much too big for the hole in the applicator bottle. I ended up taking a long time trying to shake all of the powder from the packet into the applicator bottle and still managed to spill some of it all over the bathroom sink. I tried cutting a second (smaller) hole on the other corner, but this didn’t help much either.  Luckily, I had those handy-dandy gloves on that come in the box, so I managed to brush what was spilled to the edge of the counter into my hand and then carefully dump it into the applicator bottle. They are not kidding about that warning regarding the powder becoming airborne being a breathing issue…it burns big time. With the second packet of powder I did NOT cut along the dotted line.  I cut just above the line, making the opening significantly smaller, and that packet was much easier to pour into the bottle.

 

 

The instructions say to add the two packets of powder, put the cap back onto the applicator bottle, and shake until mixed. Then, you add the container of oil, and shake again to mix. My problem was that I evidently shook the bottle for too long to mix in the two packets of powder. By the time I took the cap off of the applicator, the mixture had begun to expand and “foam”. This wasn’t so bad, except that there was no longer enough room for all of the oil to go in. I tried to pour in the oil, hoping that it would make the expanding foam “de-foam”, but with no luck. This just made it overflow. I ended up dumping some of the mixture out so that I could add the oil. At this point, what is supposed to be a relaxing beauty treatment has turned into what seems like a failed chemistry project.

Finally, all of the chemical components mixed together and smelling like it will burn the hair right off of my head…I apply it to my roots and to some of the lengths of my hair. Here is the before picture of my dark roots – – keep in mind I haven’t washed my hair for a few days in this picture. (I have a newborn in the house…self-care has become less frequent.)

Before dyeing with Loreal Feria Bleach Blonde

 

Dyeing with Loreal Feria Bleach Blonde

 

After Loreal Feria Bleach Blonde

This picture is incredibly generous to the “after” results of this product. Did it lighten? Yes. Did my hair look like the chick on the box? No. The resulting color was much more “warm” and brassy/yellowy than what I had anticipated, and what the hair sample and box color made me believe it would turn out. It may look better in a few days after it has had time to “set” and my roots show just a little. It does look a bit strange to have no root at all near the base of the hair shaft. Since this was one of the more expensive hair color boxes out there ($9.99 at CVS), I was expecting it to give me results that were a bit closer to the box color, especially since my hair is naturally blonde, just darker at the roots when it first grows in.

Here’s a picture of my hair before I had ever dyed it:

 

Sara Tiemogo (Sara Chappell) never-dyed blonde hair, 2000

Regretfully, I will not be buying any Feria products again, and will return to my “Loreal Preference” haircolor, which gives better results, requires less work, and is $3 cheaper.

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