Your Ad Here

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Pop Blitz

Beyonce ft. Lady Gaga - Video Phone
I probably would have never listened to this if Gaga wasn't on it. As it is, her part is definitely the highlight. Like the worst Beyonce songs, the track's utterly tuneless. Oddly enough, it's growing on me a little. Maybe it's the ridiculous lyrics. C+

Marina & the Diamonds - Mowgli's Road
Sort of a feistier Feist, this track has a a distinctly "arty" feeling to it. If I'm being honest, I've heard better from this band. But still, as their breakthrough, this is alright. B

The Killers - Happy Birthday Guadalupe!
Weird. I wish they'd just release another album and forget about all of these Christmas singles (wait, is this for charity? Then scratch that, I guess). Anyways, I've always been a fan of this band but this song is pretty uninspired. It hardly sounds like them at all. More like an unfinished demo. C-

Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind
I maintain my position that there is nothing remotely interesting about Alicia Keys. I find her utterly, annoyingly dull, and it's her more than Jay-Z that prevents me from liking this. The hook is droning, and I don't see why anyone who wasn't from NYC would care about it. C-

Lily Allen - Who'd Have Known?
I'm not a big fan of the album as a whole, but there's already been a few nice tracks from Allen this year. This one's got a very memorable chorus that makes up for some sleepy verses. All in all, one of her better singles. B+

Shakira ft. Lil Wayne - Give it Up to Me
I should hate this. It's so much less inventive than most of Shakira's releases, but for some reason it's completely addicting. The production is circa 2007, but the chorus totally makes it. Lil' Wayne isn't even all that annoying. A-

Jennifer Lopez - Louboutins
Not sure what exactly Jennifer was attempting here, but this is utter crap. I mean, no one was expecting miracles with a voice and personality like hers, but it sounds like she's hardly trying here. It's quite lifeless and the production sounds very cheap. F

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Melody Club & Anna Järvinen - I Don't Believe In Angels

"I don't believe in angels, but I've just seen one"

How the hell did I miss this?!? Seriously, it combines two of my favorite things (Melody Club & Christmas), PPG and Jessica have both posted about it, and it's been out for a month now. Sheesh! I must be really off my game. Melody Club is, after all, a card-carrying member of my holy trinity of music (see sidebar) and I'm guaranteed to love everything they do. This Christmas track, with newcomer Anna Järvinen, is no different, though it's more of a curio amongst their impressive catalog than anything else. It sounds like you'd expect a holiday-themed MC midtempo to sound: an instantly singalong melody, cheesy lyrics, and lots of sleigh bells. I hope that it's a success for them. Maybe it'll rejuvinate interest after their last (flippin' fantastic) album failed to light the charts on fire. Either way, it's always a pleasure to have them around.

Melody Club & Anna Järvinen - I Don't Believe In Angels

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter at nickajames)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Track-by-Track: Allison Iraheta - Just Like You

On her debut album, American Idol contestant Allison Iraheta comes across as a mix of Kelly Clarkson and Pink, but her vocals and attitude really shine. It may not be the most original work ever created, but it's a solid debut... certainly better than I expected.

1. Friday I'll Be Over U - A blast of youthful power pop, this was an obvious choice for the first single, though somewhat of a red herring since this style doesn't really repeat itself until the end of the album. It's undeniably a Max Martin-penned track, with those big punchy choruses and mammoth instrumentation. 10/10

2. Robot Love - Over a glam-rock-meets-electro beat, Iraheta sings/chants an addictive song about a boy in love with technology. It's one of the album's most interesting detours, and a style she'd be wise to follow, as it really sets her apart. This is another big sounding record, and something very current. 10/10

3. Just Like You - Now we're in Kelly Clarkson territory. Iraheta has a very strong voice and presence, so this works, but it's nothing innovative or different. There are better Clarkson-esque tracks on here. 7/10

4. Don't Waste The Pretty - A strummy little upbeat number, this feels tailor-made for radio, and that's one of its weaknesses. I like the melody and the overall sound, but something's just a little irritating. Maybe I'm just not a fan of these type of "inspirational" message songs. 8/10

5. Scars - The first big ballad, and Iraheta really shines here, sounding much older than she is. The lyrics are nice, and the chorus is especially beautiful. It's very Breakaway-era Clarkson. 9/10

6. Pieces - This kicks off sounding a little like Kings Of Leon's Use Somebody, but never scales the heights that they achieved with that hit. The verses are better than the chorus, which is kinda weak. 7/10

7. D Is For Dangerous- Another exercise in attitude, this one also feels a little lacking. The tempo's a little middling, missing the extra boost of energy that this song needs to be successful. The chugging guitar stomp of the verses is nice. The chorus is a little shrill. 7/10

8. Holiday - Now this is more like it! A straight up rock song, this sounds like something from Green Day's last couple of albums or even Hole's Celebrity Skin. The melody is great, and Iraheta really comes into her own here. It's probably the rockiest song on the album. 10/10

9. Still Breathing - Radio fodder, for sure, but pleasant enough. The melody in the verses is especially nice, and the dramatic chorus works well enough. Still, it's one of the more forgettable tracks. 8/10

10. Trouble Is - Some of this is a total rip-off of Christina Aguilera's Beautiful, but then there's that bluesy chorus, one of the best on the album. The strings at the end are absolutely gorgeous, and Iraheta sounds particularly stunning here. 9/10

11. No One Else - Now this actually sounds like Melissa Etheridge. It's a ballsy rock song where Iraheta really gets to sing her heart out. I love these harder edged tracks. This feels like a real catharsis, and it's the type of thing she does best. 10/10

12. Beat Me Up - Back to the style of the first track, this 80's rocker possesses probably the finest, most instant pop melody on the album. I take some issue with the lyrics, which really don't fit the song, but the melody and energy alone earn this a 10/10

13. You Don't Know Me - Another pop rocker, this is sort of a comedown after the last track. It's sort of middle-of-the-road, which would certainly work for American radio, but isn't one of the strongest tracks here. 7/10

Album Grade: 8.6/10

Monday, November 30, 2009

Allison Iraheta - Beat Me Up

"I know this isn't just a phase"

Allison Iraheta came in fourth place on this year's Idol, and her debut marks the last Idol album released from this season worth caring about. It's pretty good (look for a full review soon), and pretty eclectic too. Her single, Friday I'll Be Over U, is certainly a standout, as is Beat Me Up. I do have an issue with the lyrics of this song, since it really seems strange for a 17-year-old to sing about wanting to be abused. Not sure I quite get what she's going for there. But, the music more than makes up for it. Melodically, it's in-your-face and striking--a punchy 80's pop/rock masterpiece, bringing back the days of Joan Jett and Pat Benatar. On an album where she sounds more like Pink and Kelly Clarkson, this is a very promising direction.

Allison Iraheta - Beat Me Up

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