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Saturday, May 31, 2014

MARIAH CAREY'S STUNNING RETURN TO FORM ON NEW ALBUM - ME I AM MARIAH...THE ELUSIVE CHANTEUSE


When listening to this gorgeous new album, I cant help but be transported back to a time when Mariah Carey was first starting out and you would hear these powerhouse vocals on the radio or on TV. She took a break from this style of singing in the last decade chasing after fresher beats and muted vocals. I am so glad to report that Mariah focuses on showcasing her lyrical prowess and that vocal magic on this album.
What you get here is a jam packed album of beautiful melodic music from an iconic artist who becomes eligible for the rock n roll hall of fame next year. What you may not be getting is immediately accessible made for radio tracks which I am relieved about. Mariah no longer needs to be recording music for radio to respond to.  This lack of radio friendly music has kept all of her singles from really making waves except for #Beautiful which peaked at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Without a big first single along with Mariah's five year absence from the music scene, she is expected to debut on the Billboard album charts next weeks in the Top 3 with first week sales in the range of 50-60k.  This is her lowest first week sales tally.  Her previous effort, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel which was ultimately a critical and commercial failure opened with a dismal 168k in first week sales due to the slight success of her top 10 first single, Obsessed.  In comparison, E=MC2 sold almost half a million copies in its first week riding on the waves of #1 first single, Touch My Body.

To describe this album, lets start with her tradition of doing a cover or two on her albums. My favorite track on the album happens to be one of these covers, the George Michael track "One More Try." For you 80's kids, if you really want some nostalgia, listen to this one immediately. Mariah also dips into disco dance sounds for two tracks and she just sounds right at home. One of them, You Don't Know What To Do, could be 2014's summer dance jam and features Wale while Meteorite is a magical disco house jam which rockets her into exciting new territory.

The balladry is just near perfection on tracks like Cry. and Camouflage while tracks like Thirsty and Dedicated have super fresh urban beats that could easily find a home on today's radio playlists. There really is something for all of her fans of this project all the while maintaining a full project experience.

Here's my breakdown of the album GEMS:

1 One More Try - stunning emotional balladry / hope to see this released as a single.
2 Cry. - This haunting, emotive ballad feels like it comes from the "butterfly" era. This is going to be on the list of Mariah fan favorites like "Petals" and "Close My Eyes" -
3 Meteorite - Q-tip produces this spacey, disco jam and her voice is just sheer magic on this track.
4 You Don't Know What To Do - This seems like it is going to be a single based on Mariah performing in live during her album promotion. This is bound to be a summer dance jam if promoted properly and picked up by radio. Highly addicting chorus.
5 Camouflage - heartbreaking, emotional and highly dramatic with vocals, piano and some background vocals. Just beautiful.
6 Heavenly - Is a powerful, uplifting anthem with choir and all and a perfect album closer.
7 #Beautiful - Its highly disappointing this track didn't do as well on the charts and I firmly believe it is because the featured artist is so prominent on the track. This should have been a Mariah only track. Nonetheless, it fits perfectly on the album.

The Good Stuff:
1 Dedicated - Think 90's Mariah in the vein of "Always be my baby" or something from the "Daydream" album.
2 Faded - seems to borrow heavily from her monster hit "We Belong Together" in structure but doesn't quite hit the mark for me. This is the whispery Mariah vocals of the 2000's.
3 Thirsty - bound to be a single. Very addictive beat and chorus. Think "Migrate," "Its Like That."
4 You're Mine - This was released as a single and didn't do as well. This is one of the more vocally balanced tracks on the album, where Mariah does her whisper vocals and then also kicks in a little into powerhouse vocals.
5 Supernatural - This reminds me of many tracks from the last decade from Mariah. I wont give this track "gem" status because the baby sounds become too distracting as the song progresses.
6 Art of Letting Go - Another beautiful ballad that should not have been considered as a single but beautiful as an album closer.

The Tracks I can skip (which dont necessarily mean they are bad tracks but just not my cup of tea):
1 Make it Look Good - Not a terrible track but Im not a fan of that jazzy sound and she always seems to include one track that sounds like this on every album since Mimi.
2 Money - This sounds like a Mariah track from the last three albums and doesn't work for me especially because Fabulos' vocals are just too prominent. I don't mind a featured artist here and there but Mariah's vocals should always be front and center.

The Memoirs tracks:
1 Betcha Gon Know - One of my favorites tracks from her last album. It hasn't been changed at all in terms of beat or arrangement. This is the version which features R. Kelly on the second verse. This was released back when Memoirs came out by R Kelly as a male response to Mariah so not sure why it's here. This is a stunning track in general and I think should have always been a single on her last album so excited that it's getting an opportunity to be re-discovered.
2 It's a Wrap - This was one of the weak tracks for me on the last album and doesn't do a thing her either. Not sure why this is here. I would have replaced one of these with her "target" bonus track, "America the Beautiful."
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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Britney Spears releases Britney Jean today. My track by track review



Britney Jean, the newest album from Britney Spears is being released today, one day after her 32nd birthday. Overall this album has more hits than misses but strangely the strongest tracks weren't released as the first or second single. Unlike, Femme Fatale, this album features a fair balance between the dance tracks and the mid-tempo/ballads.  While I think Britney's voice is suited for dance backdrops, she sounds surprisingly good on half of the mid-tempo tracks.  The lyrics have gotten significantly deeper than her previous albums and we are seeing a more grown-up Britney.  While her manager and record company touted this record as Britney's "Ray of Light," referring to Madonna's most critically acclaimed 90's masterpiece which revived Madonna's career and is on many respected greatest albums of all-time lists, Britney Jean doesn't have the same cohesive theme or energy as the album it was inspired by.
If you are only going to buy a couple tracks to try the album out, then you should start with:
1. Body Ache
2. Till It's Gone
3. Passenger

Here is a review of the tracks IN ORDER of FAVORITES:

1. "Body Ache" -- This hot electro house edm track reminds me most of "Scream & Shout," mixed with some 90's hi-nrg euro. The best track on the album with her best vocals to date. RELEASE THIS NOW!

2. "Til It's Gone" -- Heavy EDM track that is hard to get out of your head and another vocal stand-out from Ms. Spears. One of her best songs ever!

3. "Passenger" -- Katy Perry gets writing credits and Diplo gets production credits on this slower mid-tempo track and what I think should have been, either the first or second single from this album.

4. "Alien" -- William Orbit worked on this awesome mid-tempo track.

5. "Work B----" -- We all know this one. While I love this track, I am not happy that it was chosen as the first single. Nonetheless the beat is hot and the video is hotter.

6. "Tik Tik Boom" (featuring T.I.) -- Super sexy lyrics against a hip-hop pop-hop backdrop with super catchy chorus to boot. Ultimately this could have been released by any of todays female singers so expect more from britney but nonetheless its highly addicting.

7. Now That I Found You - Great EDM track with a country vibe similar in sound to that Pitbull/Kesha collaboration thats out. Beautiful lyrics, beautiful vocals. Great track! This should be on all versions of the album.

8. "It Should Be Easy" (featuring will.i.am) -- This is my least favorite of the EDM Will.I.Am tracks.

9. "Perfume" -- Sia gets writing credits for this track. I was expecting much more from a Sia collaboration and these are not my favorite Britney vocals. Shocked that this was chosen as a single release. This is sadly headed for flop status. The "Dreaming" version (which is on the deluxe) sounds significantly better to me than the original

10. "Chillin' with You" (featuring Jamie Lynn) -- Awkard track on an overall great album. Clearly, shes trying to help promote her sister with this filler track. Pass.

11. "Don't Cry" "Brightest Morning" "Hold On Tight" -- Not impressed with any of these slow jams.        

Monday, December 2, 2013

LADY GAGA - ARTPOP ALBUM REVIEW


Artpop is a solid album of pop gems. Lady Gaga melds the accessibility of her Fame album with the electronics of the Born This Way album to give us this superb collection of art pop. DJ White Shadow produced half of Artpop. I personally would like Gaga to try out new producers when she starts work on her next album.  Half of their effort I love and the other half I could easily do without. The following tracks are DJWS productions:
"Sexxx Dreams" - Super sleek production and a major contender for a single - my only concern is the song name might be deemed to controversial so they may change it to the name that appears on the clean version of the album, X Dreams.
"Jewels n' Drugs" (featuring T.I., Too Short and Twista) - Though this is my least favorite song on the album it is still quite catchy and works with todays trap sound. I think if this track and one or two others were left off, this would have been a perfect album.
"ManIcure" - Super cathcy anthem with a chorus that seeps into your brain and won't stop.
"Do What U Want" (featuring R. Kelly) - super sleek and sexy with an 80's vibe. Hands down this one is an album gem. While it was originally intended as a promo single, the fact that it went to #1 in over 71 countries, was proof enough that this could potentially be a major hit for Gaga, and is now the official second single for Artpop.
"Artpop" - This track could have easily been on the Born This Way album. Electronic pop opera is what comes to mind when I hear this. The clean electro production and the sexy vocals from Gaga are pure magic.
"Swine" - This track may not be as accessible as others on the album but like every track on the album has a sense of melody, some stronger than others but all have a common pop theme. This is probably the most edm, club heavy track.
"Applause" - love this track. It's a crime it didnt go to number one.

 The remaining half of the album includes production from french house producers Zedd and David Guetta along with Leqlercq AKA Madeon and will.i.am:
 1. Fashion! - This funky track sounds like a merging of Daft Punk's Get Lucky, Madonna's Holiday, and David Bowie's Let's Dance and just makes me want to move. This is a David Guetta/will.i.am production and for the most part is pop perfection. The problem for me is the last 40 seconds kind of get too hectic and kill the groove. Nonetheless, I absolutely love this track.  In her recent muppets thanksgiving variety special that aired on television, Gaga surprisingly performed this track and invited, drag race diva Rupaul to duet with her.  Its was perfection.
2. Donatella - This beat is so fierce and strong with a diva-esque fashiony comedic alter ego with comicy lyrics to go along with what is a surefire club banger. This Zedd production needs to be released asap!
3. Gypsy - Produced by Leclercq, this is the "Edge of Glory" on this album and should be the next single.
4. G.U.Y. - Guy Under You is another excellent Zedd production with a great beat to dance to. 5. Dope - This is the only ballad on this album and is just stunning. Based on the strength of the other songs on this album I am not sure I support this one being a single but based on indicators when it was released as a promo, it may do well.
6. Aura - Strong fresh electronic opener. There's a demo floating around that some gaga fans prefer over the final released version. It may be worth searching the web to hear what you think.
7. Venus - While I love the beat of this track, I am just not a fan of the lyrics.
8. Mary Jane Holland - is one of the very few track on the album which I skip. The chorus is drab and brings the energy down.

 Long story short, Lady Gaga has put out an album of 15 tracks with minimal fillers and a strong number of potential number one singles. If you want a fantastic electronic album to dance to, this is the one. She exudes confidence, pokes fun at herself and pop culture while infusing today's electro edm beats as her back-drop.  The pic is from the limited edition RSD record story day vinyl release of "Applause."  There are only 2000 copies of this 12" in existence.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Britney Spears - Work Bitch New Single

Britney returns to the limelight today, not that she ever left, with her new Will.I.Am produced first single, "Work Bitch" from her as-yet-untitled eigth studio album release. This is her first full length since 2011's wildly successful Femme Fetale which spawned her fourth #1 single, "Hold it Against Me" but also contained one of her most successful radio hits, "Till the World Ends." Riding the heels of her previous #3 Billboard hit, with Will.I.Am, "Scream & Shout," Britney keeps the same formula: spoken british vocals, melodic breakdown and a heavy club beat. Let me know what you guys think of the track in the comments section.

Britney Spears - Work Bitch (Will.I.Am)

Here is a pic of Britney on the set of the video for "Work Bitch"



Here's another pic from the shoot Britney posted on her twitter.



Thursday, May 16, 2013

TRAK OBSESSIONS OF THE WEEK

Here are this weeks top tracks that I can't stop listening to:
Lana Del Rey - Young and Beautiful
Lana Del Rey returns with another stunning gem, Young And Beautuful, which is the theme song to the Baz Luhrmann film, The Great Gatsby.

Little Boots - Every Night I Say A Prayer
Taken from her album "Nocturnes" which hit iTunes this past week. The album is excellent and has prompted me to fall in love with "Every Night I Say A Prayer" again. It was heavily featured on my playlist in 2012 and is now back for 2013. The album version has been touched up a bit. Take a listen to this excellent album.

I Miss Janet Jackson - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

I know she's off gallivanting around the world with her billionaire arab husband, but I think its time Mrs. Janet gets back to work. We need some new music from you Janet! I loved 2008's Rodney Jerkins produced, "Feedback", from the not-so-amazing "Discipline" and I even loved her soundtrack single "Nothing" from Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married 2" but we are long overdue for a comeback album.

I would love it if Janet got together with Andy Butler from Hercules and Love Affair and put out some early 90's sounding house tracks reminiscent of artists like Inner City, Black Box and Technotronic. I would also love a collaboration between Janet and Calvin Harris who seems to do wonders when he gets in the studio with amazing female artists. The work he did with Kylie Minogue, Rihanna and most recently with Florence and the Machine all come to mind.
Anyway, I just uploaded some classic Janet from 2004 when she made a post Super Bowl appearance on Good Morning America to perform singles from her, at that time, newly released 2004 album, Damita Joe. She performed one of her very few memorable tracks from the last decade, All Nite (Don't Stop) and the very forgettable, disastrous first single, I Want You. She also talks about the Super Bowl incident and then some. Check it out and leave comments. Part two to come shortly.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Madonna - Give Me All Your Love - Full New Single 2011


 
Sorry for the messy blog post - go here now to hear the new single from Madonna, produced by Martin Solveig off her upcoming studio album.

Madonna - Give Me All Your Love - Full New Single 2011
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