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Friday, June 17, 2011

Pop Blitz 6/17/11

Black Eyed Peas - Don't Stop The Party
I'm not sure that BEP has released any singles from this latest album that I've liked. This definitely doesn't break the pattern. It's not as irritating as a few of the others, but it's not as effortlessly catchy as their best work. The production's better than the hooks. C-

Selena Gomez & The Scene - Bang Bang Bang
Not technically a single (just a promo release), but I wanted to include it because I (surprisingly) have really fallen for this song. It's like a tween version of La Roux's Bulletproof. I LOVE the synth production and the general laid-back coolness of this. She's growing up! A-

Nicole Scherzinger - Right There (ft. 50 Cent)
It's not up there with the prior two singles (particularly the brilliant Don't Hold Your Breath), and I hate the unnecessary 50 Cent feature, but this has grown on me. I like the hook, and that's about it. Problem is, it doesn't have much of an impact when all's said and done. B-

Eric Saade - Hearts In The Air (ft. J-Son)
It's not as strong as Popular, but this is still a decent follow-up. The verses are better than the chorus (which sounds a little too familiar). It's enough to get me excited for the album, though. B+

Shania Twain - Today Is Your Day
It is so GOOD to hear Shania again. This gets instantly higher marks just for that. The song itself is pretty underwhelming... not one of her better ballads. But she sounds great and there's a catchy guitar hook buried somewhere in here. B

Jason Derulo - Don't Wanna Go Home
This is probably the most important single for him as far as longevity is concerned. The multiple samples used make this more of a hodgepodge than an actual original song, but the production's reliably glossy. I think the jury's out. All this has done is confused me. B-

Cher Lloyd - Swagger Jagger
Oh, how I loved Cher Lloyd in X-Factor last year. However, this track is all of her worst tendencies thrown into one song. Whereas I'm not sure about the Jason Derulo song, the sample here (Oh My Darling Clementine? Really??) does not work at all. What the hell did they do to her? D+

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Word on Katy Perry

Well, it looks like the just-released Last Friday Night has a good chance of being Perry's fifth straight #1 from her latest album. And with such a fun video, it really deserves it (the song's pretty good, too). Five #1's is no small feat. Five #1's from one album is even rarer.

And this, to me, is good news. Yes, I am a Katy Perry convert.

I remember first hearing I Kissed A Girl on the radio during the winter of '07-'08. It was played during the block of "new" or "not-yet-famous" music and it definitely had an effect on me. I couldn't believe that, after so many lackluster years of American hip-hop and dirgy rock filling the airwaves, something so POP was actually on the radio. Of course, it was bound to fail, right?

I played the damn thing to death before the rest of the country seemed to catch on. By the time of the follow-up single (the excellent Hot 'n Cold), I had sort of worn out my Katy Perry goodwill. Then came the album, which was a thorough disappointment in my eyes. Too generic, too much alt-pop tedium. The pair of singles stuck out like glistening jewels in a puddle of mud. I wasn't all that impressed with the follow-up singles either, or the mulitple collaborations that came after. In fact, Katy Perry had started to annoy me.

Then something happened. The moment I read the title of her next single, California Gurls, I knew we were in for trouble. The first time I heard it (in low quality), I couldn't convince myself that it wasn't some sort of joke. So many bad lyrics. But then Summer hit, and that chorus stuck. The stupid lyrics somehow became fun (or at the very least, bearable). I was back aboard the Perry train, though somewhat grudgingly.

Then, Teenage Dream. This is the song that did it. I don't think I'm alone in saying that this is where she cemented herself as an artist with staying power. It remains one of her undeniable high points. The perfect pop song, really. I liked the album, too. It seemed such a leap in individual personality and sound from her debut. I started to get all the Katy Perry-isms. The music had grown on me, but so had Perry.

And the weird thing is, the more singles are released, and the more success the album finds, the more I'm liking it. It's that strange album that has gone from "alright" to "wow this is kinda good" to "this is one of the best mainstream pop album's America's produced in awhile." I'm so happy that we're back to an era where we've got proper popstars (if only of the female variety). Think about it: even if you're not a fan, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Rihanna form a pretty substantial trinity. Sure, it's not Madonna-Michael Jackson-Prince, but at least it's something.

So, for no other reason than I've been listening to this album a lot lately, there's my Katy Perry story.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Take That - Aliens

"Baby I'm with you"

Take That is one of those bands that I'd never have really listened to or had any interest in a few years ago. But after the Robbie comeback and excellent Progress, I'm completely on board with their new sound. And now they've released a companion album/EP called Progressed, which continues their new sci-fi, electronic pop. Song for song, I'm pretty much in love with it. I'm not sure any other band is doing this kind of thing right now. It's incredibly shocking (at least to me) that this is the route Take That have decided to go. It would've been so easy to keep churning out treacly, lovelorn ballad after ballad and score hits that way. With this music, they may not have the huge monster hits they used to, but you can tell the guys are really enjoying themselves. Aliens comes late in the album but is instantly memorable for its intense guitar riff. It enforces the sci-fi theme of the album (further supported if you choose to add the b-side Rocket Ship -- I add it as track 8, just before Wonderful World). It's ridiculously catchy from the get-go and a little silly, but it'll lodge itself in your brain after one listen. Like the rest of the album, it's a lot of fun.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Preorder the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark - Boy Falls From The Sky

"I'm not ready to give up the fight"

When I was in New York a few weeks ago, one of the things I did was to see the Spider-Man musical. So many people had tried to deter me (all of whom had never even seen it), but I had to see what all the hype--good or bad--was about for myself. After all, I was an enormous Spider-Man fan growing up and it's not like it was the only show I was seeing that week. After experiencing (and that's probably the best word) Turn Off The Dark, I was pleasantly surprised. Obviously, melding comic book and musical wasn't going to result in anything profound, but it was an incredibly entertaining (and oftentimes, self mocking) night. The music was neither bad nor great, but I'm really not a big U2 fan so I was expecting worse. However, lead actor Reeve Carney has an amazing, gritty rock voice that carries tracks like this big ballad, the nicely titled Boy Falls From The Sky. It also builds to the show's trademark guitar riff. This song was memorable in a good way. Others were memorable in a bad (or a "really?!?" way) or just not memorable at all. Above all, the show's about the spectacle. And that's where it really succeeds. The technical aspects, the flying and the set design is really something special and worth the price of admission alone. The soundtrack's out today and isn't a bad purchase, either.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Example - Changed The Way You Kissed Me

"And now you're gonna miss me"

This track has been around for awhile and is currently a huge hit in the UK, but I think it's worth talking about just for the excuse to let you all know how much I love it. I also loved about half of Example's last album (what was good was REALLY good, but the rest wasn't quite so memorable). And this could very well be his best single yet. Nobody's merging hip-hop, electro, dance and rock as well as Example is right now. This has an extremely epic scope to it for a radio pop song. The electronic instrumental track alone would be worth lauding. The fact that the melody and even the rap parts are just as good is icing on the cake. I think (and have thought) that he's got ridiculous potential to cross over to the States and I wonder why no record company has scooped him up/promoted him here yet. It's our loss, certainly.

Example - Changed The Way You Kiss Me by OLIHARRIS

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the most recent album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.