Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

>

Here’s just a blast from the past, the couple of months in 2008 I started my MySpace blog!

May 25, 2008 – Sunday

08 Album Reviews
Current mood: high
Category: Music

I got Usher “Here I Stand” today and was going to write a little review. And I figured since i have the time (i’m at work, but theres no research work to do and no calls coming in) i’ll go ahead and talk about some of the good cd’s that have been released this year.

Gnarls Barkley, “The Odd Couple” – definitley a cooled down/melancholy-ish version of their first album but it has some great StandOut tracks that rival “Crazy” or “Smiley Faces”. My favorites are “Charity Case”, “Whatever”, “Would be Killer”, “Going on” and the first single “Run”. The tracks, by Danger Mouse, are just hella moody and than Cee-lo brings the perfect lyrical and vocal arrangements to match the tracks. I would imagine it would be hard to write to some of the tracks so i give Mr. Green all the props.

The Divas: Janet, “Discipline“/Madonna, “Hard Candy“/Mariah, “E=MC2

Mariah Carey definitely wins this race by a mile. Madonna’s “Hard Candy” is very — Different, and i do give her credit for trying something new. i HATE the first single with Timberlake, so my expectations were very Low for this album (because “4 Minutes” and the other leaked track “Candy Shop” sounded like re-treads of Nelly Furtado/Gwen Stefani tracks). I think Pharrell is the real star of this album though, his production on “Incredible” (http://youtube.com/watch?v=Va6eBb2osrs) “Heartbeat” and “Give it 2 Me” are damn-near Amazing. These tracks renew my faith in the Neptunes (who had been slowly dying up until Jay-Z’s “I Know”). It’s a true DANCE album, and at least she sticks to that concept. Janet’s “Discipline” on the other hand starts out really good. Than, it slips into a completley different album and vibe. And than towards the end it sounds like she just tacked on some unreleased stuff from years ago (“What Ur Name” and “The 1” seriously sound like they were recorded and mixed and mastered and shelved in 2004). I think the problem is that it’s too long, she should have shaved some fillers out of the mix. Still “2Nite” “LUV” “Greatest X” and “Rock With U” are still Standouts and worth listening to over and over. And ofcourse the first single “Feedback” still has heat.

But, Mariah. I think “E=MC2” is her best album. It’s an album that has No-Filler. Every song has something about it that makes you want to come back. The album has been out almost 2 months, and it seems like i have a new favorite song every week. “Side Effects” “OOC” “For the Record” “Cruise Control” and “Migrate” ofcourse is undeniable thanks to that undeniably addictive every-Man T-Pain. Mariah took her time and put together a truly Solid Album.

The Roots, “Rising Down

I’m not a big fan of the Roots. I own two of their albums but don’t really listen to them all that much. So ofcourse i wasn’t expecting to even Care about a new Roots album. I saw the video for “Rising Up” on BET and loved it so i was like, what the hell i’ll download it. This cd is shockingly good to me, i like every song. It’s like every song has this intensity on it that you can’t deny (“Get Busy” “The Show” “I will not apologize” for example) and every song has some pretty important lyrics that are definitley refreshing to hear. They even have some ready made Radio-friendly tracks, however i guess it’s sad because i doubt i’ll hear “Singing Man” or “Rising Up” on the radio over something like “Get Silly”. This is definitley my biggest surprise of 2008.

I take that back. Panic at the Disco, “Pretty.Odd” is oddly good. I mean it has this whole oldie Beatle early 60’s rock type vibe to it and i wasn’t expecting that from the people who sang about a bride being a “Whore” on their last album. So i guess i was surprised to listen to it and find it… Pleasant Lol! I dont know, it’s not one of my Favorite albums of the year at all — but it’s a nice album that i may end up getting into more as the year progresses.

Danity Kane, “Welcome to the Dollhouse“/Day26, “Day26

I was definitley wrapped up in the Making the Band series when i was into these two albums. Now that the season has worn off, i realize these two albums aren’t really as great as i thought they were at first. Danity Kane’s is alright , standouts being “Sucka for Love” and “Xtasy”. Most of the album though sounds like a Rihanna/Britney/Pussycat Dolls wannabe-electro-pop-r&b/light sound so the songs may not be Terrible, but end up being pretty forgettable. Day26’s sounds more like a Jagged Edge/Jodeci/112 compilation. I like most of the songs, but again… they are pretty forgettable. I gravitate more towards the uptempos “I’m the Reason” “Im my Bed”. and “Co-Star” is a REALLY great song (vocally) which shld be a single. I give them credit for putting together a pretty solid cd for their first time… but neither of those two albums will even really be remembered at the end of the year.

Usher, “Here I Stand

So — the album i had the highest expectations for. And yeah, okay… Usher pretty much delivers. He MIGHT have the same problem as Janet though with maybe too many songs. However, i just downloaded it today so it still needs time to truly grow on me. That being said, there are already a number of stand-outs that i see myself looking stupid in the car singing along to. “Whats Your Name” (http://youtube.com/watch?v=yuiImpkZ4k8) with Will.i.am is HOT!!! “Trading Places” (http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ovm-VWS0VgI) or “Before I met you” should definitley be the third or fourth single. “This aint sex” “His mistakes” and “Apetite” are other instant standouts. The rest is pretty okay, there’s only one song i really dont like. I will say that Vocally, he definitley is miles ahead of the Timberlakes and Chris Browns and NeYo’s. All in all, after only having the cd for a few hours I really like it though. I’ll definitley buy it on the 27th.

I cant remember right now any other cd’s i may have downloaded, but those are definitley the top ones of the year. I’m eagerly anticipating a few of the upcoming releases though. N.E.R.D. (6/10) is probably the Most anticipated right now, Weezer (6/3), Lil Wayne (6/10), Coldplay (6/17), Ne-Yo (8/5), Nas (7/1), Sean Paul, Busta Rhymes are some of the ones dropping in the summer that i can think of.

so signing off — The Drums, The Drums, The Drums, The Drums…

(The Ting Tings “Great DJ”)

EDIT: I forgot about Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu, “New Amerykah, Part One

The reason i probably forgot to mention this, is because it’s my biggest let-down of the year so far. I Love Love Erykah, but it took me Years to get into her last album “Worldwide Underground” and i feel like this album will have to have the same fate. I do like a few of the songs already, first single “Honey” and “That Hump” definitely speaks to me and cheers me up. Other songs are pretty good (oh yeah “Hip Hop The Healer” is pretty awesome) but i haven’t listened to that full cd in so long i dont even remember a title. I will say that the “Honey” video is probably my favorite music video i’ve seen in Years. It reminds me of being little and looking through my mom’s/aunts/uncles record collections =)

http://youtube.com/watch?v=_9jpkF1ehD8

July 1, 2008 – Tuesday

N*e*R*D, Coldplay, Weezer, WeezY & The BET Awards – Reviews
Current mood: optimistic
Category: Music

New reviews.

So June is officially over, about 5 hours ago, and I didn’t post any reviews of the new music i’ve gotten this past month. So let’s just go ahead and do that Now!

First of all, the last blog i said that Usher’s “Here I Stand” may grow on me. Well unfortunately it hasn’t. I barely listen to it anymore. It’s such a run of the mill R&B album and for Usher that’s a No-No. So i’m pretty much over Usher in the 08. And did you see his BET Award performance?? He was so tired, he was lipsynching and we hasn’t Hitting his moves. Really disapointing.

Anyhow onto the June reviews.

N*e*R*D,Seeing Sounds

Nerd’s first album was pretty awesome. It dealt with concepts you didn’t really hear, and the mixing of Rock/Alternative/HipHop was genius at the time and really refreshing. Their second album was a more polished album sonically, however it didn’t have as many solid tracks. Seeing Sounds is completely different from both two albums. I have yet to determine what exactly the albums main message is… what i can assume is a message of “DO YOU!” but i could be wrong. All of that aside, it’s a really good album. The production this time is CRAZY! The group still plays with Rock and Alternative and mixing it with pop, but this album also introduces more of an Electronica vibe and some Drum and Bass thrown in the mix. The concepts of the songs are pretty out there, but some are really relateable. All in all, I’d give this the stamp of approval. “Windows” “Spaz” “You know What” and “Sooner or Later” are my favorites (along with the UK only bonus cut “Lazer Gunz”- which is the first song you hear when you log on to my page).

Coldplay,Viva la Vida or Death and all his Friends

Okay here’s the deal. I thought “XY” was an amazing album. However i read somewhere that the critics didn’t agree with me. Now i’m reading really great reviews of This album and I don’t know if i agree. The album is cool. I really really like the song “Lost!” and a few others. However, it’s not really a memorable album thus far for me. I know that i enjoyed a majority of it because most of the album is still on my iPod. But there is nothing like “Talk” or “Square One” on this album. It’s very mellow. Chris sounds good though, and the band does do some awesome musical arrangements. I just wish i could remember more than 4 song titles.

Weezer,Weezer aka The Red Album

“Heart Songs”. That’s the reason to get this CD. It’s an awesome song just about their musical influences growing up. The first time i heard it, it sounded just like a normal love song, with a great track that i instantly loved. When i listened to the lyrics i fell in love with the song even more. Aside from that song, the first half of this album is good. The second half kind of ventures off into terrain that’s a bit less adventurous, more predictable and unoriginal. “Everybody get Dangerous” “Trouble maker” and “Pork and Beans” are the only other real standouts. Not that great. Not that bad.

Lil Wayne,Tha Carter III

So he’s the greatest rapper alive eh??

Well this album isn’t bad. I must admit though that i can’t listen to it all the way through. It’s like he’ll have some nice cuts like “Mr. Carter” “Dr. Carter” “Shoot me Down”, and than have two or three less than thrilling tracks afterwards. A pretty uneven album, that actually sounds like he had been saving tracks for the past two years and just put them on this album. Making it sound like more of a compilation album than an actual album. BUT, i can’t fault him. That’s the way of Hip Hop these days. I wish’d he would have done something like “Hip hop is dead” or “American Gangster” where all the songs have a vibe about them. Maybe in the future. For right now this is a pretty solid Hip Hop album (which pretty much sticks to the Hip Hop album Norm) with a number of filler tracks. By the way i also like “Got Money” “Let the beat build” ofcourse “Lollipop” and “A Milli” and i actually like the one with Babyface “Comfortable”.

Now let’s talk about the BET Awards.

I THINK?? they gave out some awards?? I’m pretty sure. But we all know that the BET Awards (and any other Music award show for that matter) is about the Performances. I already told you all what i thought of tired ass Usher (I really think this was not the right time for him to come back out/ i think he’s dealing with his own personal issues and is just not invested in the music thing right now… i could be wrong). It was funny thought because I’m sure Chris Brown and Ne-Yo were super nervous thinking they couldn’t top him. But they did. Chris Brown did a Slower set which surprised me. He started with “With you” and than into “Take you down”, where Ciara came out and did some nasty/naughty dance moves with Breezy. The only bad thing about his performance was … it was too short! Since about 2006, me and my friend had said that a Chris Brown/Ciara dance off type thing would be the Dopest thing ever. And yes when they got into their danceOff part they Killed. But it just didn’t last long enough.

Ne-Yo, in my opinion, KILLED IT. He’s not the best dancer (and i noticed that on second viewing) but he knew better than to do some difficult ass choreography because he still had to actually sing Live. When he did hit his moves, he Hit them. And i think the best thing, it seemed like he was trying to pull off this “Year of the Gentleman” persona… and being able to hold onto that character while dancing and singing and hitting your marks and working the stage… to a House song… is most likely pretty difficult and he pulled it off. Standing Ovation! I cant wait to hear what his album is gonna be like.

Alicia Keys seemed like she was the highlight of the night to most people i talked to. She basically did her own “Teenage Love Affair” with three backup dancer/singers. Like a girl group right? Than she broke it down and started singing “Weak” and everybody was like WTF. And than SWV came out and finished the song with her, than EnVogue came and sang “Hold On” with her. And than TLC or TC came out and did “Waterfalls”. It was definitley nice to see all these chicks that used to love back in Jr. High again. Nice performance Ms. Keys.

Another person I was REALLY glad to see again was Maxwell. His performance was My personal favorite of the night. He was the third performer in a Al Green Tribute. Jill Scott did her thing with “Still in love”, Anthony Hamilton sounded so much like Mr. Green on “Tired of being alone” but Maxwell killed it with “Simply Beautiful”. And one thing i do have to say about the BET awards, i LOVE when they do the tributes. Because when the actual Tributee is on stage doing their thing, you see in the audience all the different generations of performers from different styles singing along.

Who else performed? Well TPain did a mix of all his “featured on” hits with Rick Ross and FloRida and all the gaggles of rappers that were on that “Im so Hood” remix. TPain came BACK out during Lil Waynes closing performance. These performances were good and all, but not worth writing about. Nothing else was really worth writing about. But i do have to put Keyshia Cole on blast. She sounded terrible. And, okay maybe i’ll rephrase. Her voice in itself wasn’t bad. But she does not know how to use her voice , Live. She really needs to work on that.

But the 08 BET Awards was pretty okay. Better than last year.

July 21, 2008 – Monday

Nas… ” ” better known as “Nigger”
Current mood: melancholy
Category: Music

THE most anticipated album of 2008 did not disapoint.

Nas’ past few albums have been like Textbooks to me. An album that talks in many ways about one issue. So, much like a textbook, i really need to study the material and than come up with an overall feeling for said Textbook. Therefore my final review for this album is still Pending.

I’ll say now that it IS a great album, it did NOT disapoint. And current standouts are “America” “N.I.G.G.E.R.” “Y’all my Niggas” and “Black President”. Every song is great though. Support this man… maaan!

September 15, 2008 – Monday

Janet Live! and Ne-Yo – Reviews
Current mood: breezy
Category: Music

I finally went to a concert!!!! So i missed the major concert i wanted to see this year and that was the Glow in the Dark tour. I also missed Mary J and JayZ, Coldplay, Musiq Soulchild, and Alicia keys. I missed the Killers last year and just barely was able to see Beyonce. So with work sucking at the maximum capacity for the last two weeks, i just needed to let off some steam and get drunk and get loud. So me and my friend Aleta finally decided to go to the Janet Jackson show. A couple of cool things happened though, we didn’t have to pay for parking AND i only bought $40 tickets… but i think the show just wasn’t selling, so people that worked at the arena were running around Giving people seats in the lower sections… so basically i paid $40 for $120 tickets. AWESOME!!! How often does that happen? Never! At least not for me.

The show… yeah i guess it was cool. Lol! No i had fun. I think just the fact that Janet was onstage for 2.5 Hours singing pretty much ALL of her hits. In fact i think she did ALL of her hit singles, and a few album tracks from the new album and some verry verry old songs… and songs that don’t belong in the Oldies but ‘Good’ies category. It was a fun show for the fact that she kept it moving. I’m not gonna get too negative on her, there are a few things that i have small gripes with. They are very minor though, so it didn’t take away from the whole experience.

So i had fun, and it made me kinda miss concerts!! Hopefully 09 will be a better year for me. Kanye GO ON TOUR AGAIN NEXT YEAR PLEASE!!!!

And now my album review.

Ne-Yo “Year of the Gentleman”

When “Closer” came out around April of this year, Ne-yo’s album shot to the top of my most anticipated albums of the year… and I dont even really like dude. The album was supposed to drop in june originally, than it got pushed back to August, and now it’s being released this Tuesday the 16th. In the months it’s taken to actually be released, I did seriously lose a little interest. And the followup single “Miss Independent” is good, but it wasn’t as hot or different as “Closer”.

Anyway the album leaked, and even though it’s not quite what I expected it’s still easily the best album by an R&B Dude to come out this year (Take that Usher!)

The album is really alot more laidback than I expected. In fact I expected a totally different sound from the interviews he was giving talking about the album, that it would be really different, how he’s tired of R&B, how Patrick Stump of FallOutBoy was supposed to collaborate on a track. And when i listened to the album, the first thing i thought was What Happened. It’s a total R&B album, nothing else… “Closer” is the only thing on the album that seperates itself from Ne-Yo’s sound from his previous two albums.

What I’ll give Ne-Yo credit for is his songwriting and the ability to make some catchy hooks. Easily one of the top songs on the album, “Why Does She Stay” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH8rKj6VYi0 is a good example. It’s just really refreshing to hear lyrics like:

I step outside of myself
To see how much she loves me
And all the things that i should do for her that i just dont…

just dont…
And i realize

She’s so much better than me
Im so unworthy of her

Why does she stay ?

Which is quite a change from the “I cheated on her, now i dont understand why she doesn’t trust me” or the “I’m so much better than your current dude, you need to drop him and get with me” type of songs that come from most R&B Dudes (Take that Usher!)

There’s another really well written song, well there are ALOT actually… but the one i really love is “So you can Cry” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkpLZkUR68M ,

Life is long
There will be pain but life goes on
With everyday a brand new song
But if you rather stay at home
Let me do you a favor

I’ll ask the sun to shine away from you today so you can cry
(if that’s what you want)
I’ll ask the clouds to bring the rain for you today so you can cry .

Nice right!

And than there’s the song that is just WAITING to be used at all the upcoming weddings “Stop this World”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzSrPjBXQ7w

Bottom line, this 12 track album has Several potential hits… and even if he didn’t go outside of his box as much as i expected (and that was probably more due to his label and those politics than him) he still delivered.

September 28, 2008 – Sunday

Saadiq, The Way I See It – Review
Current mood: annoyed
Category: Music

It must really suck to have your very first solo album be a Masterpeice. Where do you go from there?? Usually down. It happened to Lauryn Hill, and unfortunatley it looks like it’s happened to Raphael Saadiq. 2002’s “Instant Vintage” was easily the most refreshingly soulful album released that year, if not the whole decade. And his just released third solo album shows that even though this man is still obviously a genius, he seems to be having a hard time matching the artistic success of his first outing.

Not to say that “The Way I See It” is a bad album. It’s a step above decent. It’s a throwback to the 60’s and 70’s Motown sound. And the inspirations behind a couple of the songs are painfully obvious. The album definitley stays true to that sound, and the songs end up sounding like they literally could be put on a Motown hit album and fit perfectly. And, that might be a bit of the problem with the album. You’ve got Amy Winehouse, Duffy, and even Solange Knowles (i know right) using the 60’s throwback style but the difference is that they also add contemporary elements to make it something new. Saadiq didn’t add any up to date elements to make the songs pop a little more, but maybe he didn’t want to.

Having said that, the song “Oh Girl” is easily the best song on the album. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0qJ_V66n8Q It’s actually a little more “DooWop” than the rest of the album, the fact that the production is so raw and the lyrical and melody are so simple. Much like “Still Ray” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoyaITkdLA0 from “Instant Vintage”, a simple song all around that makes such a powerful memorable classic. Some other high points on “The way i see it” are “Calling”, which is also a simple slow burner, the first single “Love that girl”, and “Never Give You Up” which features the Legend Stevie Wonder.

Outside of that, it’s a decent album to have on but it’s nothing that i’m running to my iPod to listen to. Though, like i say alot, it might grow on me. His second solo cd “Ray Ray” i seriously only listened to it once when it was released in 2004, and just last year I started to listen and it really grew on me. So maybe in 2011 or something I’ll fully appreciate this album. For right now, it’s Aaiiight! =)

October 5, 2008 – Sunday

TI, Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, PCD, NKOTB, Jason Mraz, Britney, Killers … Week in Music
Current mood: anxious
Category: Music

It’s dead at work, so time to Blog.

So this week was a bit of an exciting week for music, at least for me. There were two highly anticipated album releases this past Tuesday in the form of T.I.’s 6th album “Paper Trail” and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson’s self titled debut album. Some news on Beyonce’s upcoming third solo album, and single releases from Pop Queens Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Ciara and The Killers also released their first singles from their upcoming Fall releases.

So where to start?

Britney vs Christina. The late 90’s Pop Tarts are back, and practically going head to head this Fall. Ofcourse Christina Aguilera’s album coming November 7th is just a Greatest Hits (“Keeps Gettin’ Better — A Decade of Hits”), and Britney’s “Circus” due November 23rd is a full fledged studio album which is supposed to be her “ComeBack” (even though her last album was released a little over a year ago, but whatever!). However their first singles are being released just a few weeks apart from each other, and oddly enough they sound almost exactly the same. Christina’s “Keeps Getting Better” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsnOdf3_8jc) was debuted officially at the recent MTV VMA’s during an lipsynched, Lady Gaga inspired performance. And just like the lackluster performance, the song is very boring. Coming from Christina Aguilera, this single is a true disapointment. For an artist who has always prided herself on going against the grain of the Pop scene and doing her own thing, this song sounds like every other song on Dance/Pop radio these days. It sounds like Britney Spears (specifically Britney’s “Blackout” album cut “Radar” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3wvPts-Z8w) and the mere fact that the song sounds like Anybody other than Christina warrants a pretty low rating. Britney’s new single “Womanizer” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_bu4N5qacU) isn’t much better, it’s a dance/pop/electronic upbeat song that is very similar to pretty much all of Britney’s post-KFed recordings. It’s a fun, upbeat song though. You can definitley dance to it. And even though I personally Hate the hook on the song, it’s damn catchy and something as repetitive as that is only going to help the song gain popularity.

Beyonce. Ms. Destiny’s Child or Mrs. Jay-Z or Miss Sasha is also planning a Fall release (scheduled for November 18th) with an as yet untitled album. Unlike Britney and Xtina, Beyonce has not released hardly ANY info. She is slated to premiere Two new singles on Tuesday October 7th, and it’s pretty surprising in this Digital Day and Age that neither of these singles have leaked online yet. Not even a snippet has leaked. It’s quite impressive that she was able to withold it from leaking, and a smart move as well. However on different blogs and message boards there is information that has been gathered to keep us Stans happy while we wait. An official statement from Beyonce’s camp has the two song titles as “If I Were a Boy” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)”. The former is being pushed to Pop radio, and is written and produced by Toby Gad who is behind Fergie’s monster hit of last year “Big Girls Dont Cry”. There was a demo of this song released a few weeks ago, it’s sung by the cowriter of the song but it’s allegedly alot different than the final version Beyonce recorded and wrote additional lyrics to. Give it a listen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpWHml42_Rg . The other single is produced by Tricky and written by The-Dream who have basically appeared on every R&B and Pop album released since their massive hit “Umbrella” last year. No other info was given out on this song besides the facts that the song is upbeat, the video is done and the dancing in said video is supposedly “On Point”. Additionally, like i said before there is no album title yet but a few things have been passed around online. The first official report had the album titled “Virtuoso Intellect” which was quickly followed by “Virtuoso Effect”. Than a few weeks ago on one of the boards, someone very trusted that allegedly works really close to Beyonce said the album title would be “sumthin u hear her say all the time”. A few days later, it was reported somewhere that “Empowerment” was the title. All this mystery! I think that’s good, there’s no mystery left with albums these days.

Jennifer Hudson. She stole all the spotlight from Beyonce during the promotions for her Oscar winning role in “Dreamgirls”, but apparently the spotlight might not shine too long on Hudson’s music career. Her self titled debut album came out September 30th to some Very underwhelming reviews from some of her die hard fans. I personally haven’t listened to the album yet so i’m just reporting what i read, which was that the self titled debut is nothing but a hodgepodge of different styles and that it doesn’t work too well. I may just download it this weekend and post another review if i feel it’s worthy. I do know that she needs to release a follow up single, because “Spotlight” the albums first single, died Months ago.

By the way, i did download The Pussycat Dolls second album “Doll Domination” last week. And surprise surprise, it doesn’t totally suck. A Very predictable pop album for sure, but they are a predictable pop group so you can’t expect much else. Only about half of the album is worth listening to. Top songs being “Halo” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Jf9moh09so) “Hate this Part” “Elevator” ‘Happily Never After” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqWL1C2Etik) “Magic” and a song that is really stupid but i just can’t get enough of “Bottle Pop”. Everything else is really Average, not terrible but not memorable at all. And while we are on predictable pop groups, New Kids on the Block delivered a reunion album a few weeks (months?) ago, and aided by their recent VH1 Behind the Music special (and my B urging me to listen to it) I checked out some of the songs. I didn’t like many of the songs, they aren’t bad… but those dudes are out of it. I don’t totally remember New Kids from the 90’s, i wasn’t that into them just maybe two or three songs here and there, but it seems like Jordan and Joey are the only ones who can actually sing and the others just kind of phone in their vocals. Still “Click Click Click” is a really good song, and i can’t get “Twisted” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pScuRQjqRoo) out of my head for the life of me.

Keeping in the vibe of Average albums, I have to talk about Jason Mraz. I think “We Sing.We Dance.We Steal Things” is now his third studio album, and with “Im Yours” being such a great single, i felt a little compelled to listen to the whole thing. The problem, Jason Mraz is obviously a talented guy. He has a great talent for coming up with creative melodies and he seems to have some great musical influences, and the problem is that either he or his label don’t know which influence they want to copy from the most. There are some really awful songs on this album, for instance “Butterfly” which is him obviously trying to be Jamiroquai with terrible results. Honestly there are really only two singles you need to hear, the first single “I’m Yours” and his duet with Colbie Caillat “Lucky”. While you get those online, get “The Remedy” from his first album in 2002. This is the song that made me take a first notice at this guy. I think he has potential to be a huge artist, but unfortunatley this album isn’t really going to take him there.

That finally brings us to T.I., whose 6th album “Paper Trail” dropped the same day as Jennifer Hudsons. And it’s evident that T.I. is going to anihalate her on the charts come Thursday, and you know what… he kind of deserves to. This album is still Typical Hip Hop. Pretty much the same concepts, the same producers, the same type of songs. However T.I. is one of the dudes who actually has talent so him alone sets this album apart from Every Other Hip Hop album. Funny that it sounds so much like his other albums though, at certain points during listening to the album I thought “T.I.’s the Jagged Edge of Hip Hop”, meaning those R&B dudes tend to release the exact same album year after year. However i love Jagged Edge, and yeah i love T.I., so it ends up working in his case. Best songs include ofcourse “Swagga Like Us” with Jayz Kanye and Weezy, “Ready for Whatever”, “My Life Your Entertainment” with Usher, “Live your Life” with Rihanna, “I’m Illy”, “Porno Star”. All the rest of it is good though, and ofcourse this will probably end up growing on me in the coming months, there is already enough to get me to want to actually listen to the album more than once.

Oh, last but not least… The Killers have a new single out. It’s called “Human” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvVOoCKjonY) and it’s produced by Stuart Price who i f’ing LOVE. He’s one of those Euro Electronic artists, he has a bunch of electronic groups that he heads and he also produces and remixes under various aliases. He actually contributed a hit remix to “Mr Brightside” under the alias Jacques Lu Cont. Anyway i love that guy, and i love the Killers so i obviously love the song. I really can’t wait for the album “Day and Age” which is supposed to drop November 11th. They also have a show in San Francisco on October 21st. Who Wants to Go With Me???

Additonally, there have been some shake ups with other Fall releases…

Keri Hilson’s “In this world” has been moved from October 7th to November 4th. And TPain’s “Thr33 Ringz” moves from September 30th to November 11th.

October 14, 2008 – Tuesday

New Videos
Current mood: chipper
Category: Music

Beyonce’s back!! Nobody should be surprised that I’m excited, but i think people will be surprised how awesome her two new videos are. Ofcourse “If I were a boy” as a single and video completely Shit on “Single Ladies”, but they are both good efforts.

If I were a Boy is a cinematic, movie styled music video with a bit of a Power struggle/role reversal plot going on. Its just really well done, and the video fits the song perfectly. The twist ending seals the deal and makes it that much more powerful. And there’s all kinds of Hotness in the video as well.

Single ladies is really simple. Its just her and two girls dancing on a plain set. The lighting and the cinematography on this video Amaze me and are really the stars in the video. The choreography is simple, but has some interesting moves in there and really sexy. And beyonce’s legs… OMY! The song is still kind of boring to me though.

So Common released “Unviersal mind control” earlier in the summer, so i’m not sure why he’s just now getting around to releasing a video for the single. Frankly he should have chosen a new single to make a video to. But anyhow, the video is kinda cool… i like the Pharrell robot. but Common is looking a little long in the tooth these days, so it kinda feels like it’s not … hmm… Age Appropriate. This should have been Lupe’s video.

Ciara also premiered a new video this month, and while the video is insanely futurstic and original. The song in my opinion doesn’t match. And i really like the song. But the sound is very urban, very “driving down Mission with the bass bumping” and the video needed something a little more Futuristic, Electronic sounding. Ciara is still the best dancer out there right now, and this video at least proves that.

Last, and pretty much LEAST (lol) is Britney Spears’ “Womanizer”. Okay i have to admit the video is kinda cute. It reminds me ALOT of one of her other classic videos, “Toxic”, it almost follows the concept exactly. Britney looks really good though, i mean not only is her body back on point, but even her face. It’s not all puffy, and she actually has life in her eyes. All in all this video is pretty good I can’t lie. It’s entertaining, never boring, and visually appealing, and it did the job a video is sometimes supposed to do and it makes the song a little more bearable. It’s just a little predictable for Britney, it seems like she does the same stuff over and over. But i think i’ve already made that complaint.

October 20, 2008 – Monday

P!nk, T-Pain, John Legend, Ray Lamontagne, and Fall Out Boy … Week in Music
Current mood: irritated
Category: Music

I love my iPod, i mean i would probably literally bust out in tears if anything bad were ever to happen to it. (That being said, i really need a new one) I’m starting to love my iTunes just as much because it really is one of the only places I check out regularly that keeps me up to date on whats new. I hate the radio, and there are hardly ever any music videos on music video channels, I watch stuff on youtube but that’s really only when i’m specifically searching for an artist or if somebody on a message board links the video. Other than that, I would be a lot more out of the loop if it weren’t for iTunes. For instance, this Tuesday I go on there to check out “What’s New” “What’s Hot” and notice some dude named Ray Lamontagne is sitting at the top of the iTune album chart. I clicked on some of the samples from his album, and the voice made me download it. The album “Gossip In the Grain” is not necessarily the type of album i would normally listen to, it’s very folk/blues/rock and very mellow love songs. However a great voice will make you pay attention to things you normally wouldn’t, and this guy has a really awesome unique voice. It’s perfectly suited for rock with it’s raspiness, but it also has a deep soul to it that is somewhat close to Temptations’ David Ruffin or Sam Cooke. Still, for me there aren’t many stand outs on the album, it’s a nice alternative option for me when i’m bored with Overproduced Pop tracks (and believe it or not, that Does happen from time to time).

I also found two new Fall Out Boy singles. Actually I downloaded “I Dont Care” a few weeks ago, and it’s a cool song, kind of typical Fall Out Boy song. This week they released a follow up in the form of “What a Catch, Donnie” and this song is really … pretty… amazing. And speaking of Voices, I definitley think Patrick Stump has the Best Male Voice out there today, at least in the commercial mainstream Pop world. He just knows How to sing and How to perfectly compliment the song with his voice and vice versa, and he nails this song which is somewhat of a ballad for them. (The best part of the song actually is towards the end, they incorporate some of their older hits into the closing melody… Nice!)

Staying in the Rock for the Pop Charts frame of mind, Pink‘s 5th album “Funhouse” will be released in stores October 28th and although i got it online already, it would actually be worth the purchase. I’ve always loved Pink, and even though her last four albums have all been more Rocked Out Pop than the R&B of her first album, each album always takes a slightly different direction. The 4th album “I’m Not Dead”, for instance, was way more of a Fun Popped up Rock album while the one before that “Try This” (which btw was criminally underrated, check out “Save My Life” and “Waiting for Love”) was alot darker deeper and moodier than anything she released before. Unfortunatley, or maybe Fortunatley for some, “Funhouse” is more of a mash up of both of those albums. There are an awful lot of slower songs, surprising given the albums title. Those slower songs do happen to be the best off the album, the second single “Sober”, the albums closer “Glitter in the Air” and the should-be single “I Dont Believe You”. All of these tracks show off her awesome voice, which apparently has grown quite a bit in the last 2 years. These slower tracks also showcase some great songwriting which is rare in the current Pop scene. I must say that this album was Obviously inspired by her divorce and she talks about it Alot in a huge number of the songs on this album. There are a few upbeats on this album, nothing as fun as “U + Ur Hand” or “Cuz I Can” or even this albums first single “So What”. “It’s your fault” “Ave Mary A” and “Bad Influence” are the best of the more uptempo half of the album. Overall, Pink always delivers even if she didn’t really do anything all that Risky with this album.

Let’s get back to how great iTunes is for a second. I notice they’ve been doing this thing for certain artists where they release a different song every week or so as a “Countdown” to the album release. They did it for T.I. leading up to “Paper Trail”‘s release, and it seems like they are doing it for both T-Pain and John Legend who have albums releasing within the month. Now John Legend’s last album “Once again” was one of my favorites, and the First single he dropped on iTunes, “Green Light”, is one of the best of this year. Featuring Andre 3000, it’s an uptempo club banger booty/bass track which is a departure for Legend’s slowed down R&B style he normally goes for. And the music video fits perfectly. He followed that up with a ballad “If You’re Out There”, and yeah it’s one of those Inspirational anthems and i’m not a big fan of those but the lyrics are on point. I just never feel the need to want to hear it. I downloaded the other two singles he’s dropped “No Other Love” featuring Estelle and “Everybody Knows” — but haven’t gotten around to listening to them.

T-Pain, Teddy Pain, Nappy Booi-o-e!, Teddy Pinned-her-ass-Down, whatever you wanna call him. I know ALOT of people say they are sick of him and his vocoder, but i’ve never gotten tired of him. In fact every single thing he touches i seem to like… if only for his verse or hook on the song. He has a talent for melodies and hooks, and the singles released so far from his upcoming 3rd album “Thr33 Ringz” are all proof of his obvious hit making skills. By now i think everybody’s heard “Can’t Believe it” featuring Lil Wayne, which is some what of a slow jam/love song, took me a minute to get into this song but it’s definitley solid. “Silver and Gold” is actually Not available on iTunes and Won’t make the final cut of the album, but check it out… it’s just a fun Dranking song in the vein of “Bartender” and “Buy U a drank”. I guess there was some “controversy” with Kirk Franklin in regards to this song, apparently Franklin also has a Gospel song titled “Silver and Gold” and he was Upset that T-Pain used the same title to sing about liquor (“Drinkin both kindsa Patron’s/ I done mixed up Silver and Gold” as opposed to “I’d rather have Jesus/ than Silver and Gold”). I’m curious if this is the reason the song isn’t included on the albums tracklist, if so that’s weak, i mean it’s only a TITLE!! Not the first time two artists have shared the same song title and the songs have been drastically different.

Anyhow, he released “Chopped ‘N Skrewed” featuring Ludacris last week and this week “Freeze” featuring Chris Brown. Now I do like both of these songs, but these might be evidence that T-Pain may just be dipping in the hitmaking. They just sound very similar to his other songs… “Chopped ‘N Skrewed” actually sounds like a Chopped and Screwed version of “Silver and Gold” but Ludacris does contribute a nice verse that’s worth checking out. And “Freeze” kind of reminds me of that one song he did with Lil Mama “Shawty get Loose”, it’s a nice dance song and it has a cool hook but i don’t really see it going anywhere.

And lastly, I heard probably the 2nd Worst Song of 2008. Here is actually my rankings for the Worst songs this year…

1. Vanessa Hudgens, Sneakernight — I dont even want to waste much time talking about this CRAP, I’ll just say I’ve learned to Mute the commercials when I’m watching Nickelodeon (this song is played on her EckoRed commercial that they seem to play every 10 seconds on Nick!)

2. Pleasure P, Did you Wrong — Heard this song today and WOW it’s Terrible! Dude can’t sing (AT ALL), the concept is played the Fk out, and the lyrics are just plain stupid and lazy, example:

I ain’t tryna waste your time
And, I ain’t tryna waste my time
There ain’t no need to waste no time
’cause we done put in too much time
I ain’t tryna waste your time
I ain’t tryna waste my time
Ain’t no need to waste no time
’cause we done put in too much time

TERRIBLE!!

3. Ashanti, Good Good — So at least she put out a decent music video behind this Mess. However this is Ashanti stooping to the lowest common denominator… Come up with a stupid repetitive hook and not even worry about anything else and i’ll get a hit. Wrong! I think this song may have finally put that nail in the coffin that is her Career.

Alright, until next week…

November 2, 2008 – Sunday

John Legend “Evolver” – Review
Current mood: energetic
Category: Music

I wish I wasn’t so lazy. I intended to include my review of John Legend‘s new album “Evolver” in my updated Week in Music blog last Monday. I was lazy, so I didn’t. And I’ve been putting off for a few days (I had a test this week so studying kind of took up my time), all the while knowing I was going to write a Glowing review of the album because it is really that good.

Firstly, I’ll just say that I haven’t been a Huge fan of Legend. I didn’t really like his debut album “Get Lifted” all that much, and wasn’t really even excited when his follow up was released in 2006. Eventually (thanks to Starbucks) I bought the second album “Once Again” and it became one of my top plays of 2007. And a pattern I can sense with John Legend that I hope he continues is that he keeps all the songs on one album in the same Vibe and they seem to all be connected. Much like some of the greats have done in the past. “Evolver” isn’t a Legendary or even Amazing album, but because everything flows so well into each other I think this is probably one of the best ALBUMS of the year. And by ALBUM i mean something that was put together to be appreciated on the whole and not just a Compilation type album (Janet, Usher). The Vibe… To me, being that I’m so damn old (LoL) is very early 90’s. Makes sense, the pop charts have been dominated by 80’s inspired music the past 5 years… the natural transition would be to bite off music of the 90’s. Except on “Evolver” there are subtle hints of the 90’s under pretty contemporary production, like the PM Dawn inspired harmony tacked on the end of “Everybody knows”, the SWV sample on “It’s Over”, and even the lyrical content of “Quickly” is very reminiscent of A/C Phil Collins. Again, just subtle hints so the music on the whole does sound really Fresh and original. And there are some classic songs on here, the music industry is so unpredictable these days so i’m not sure if “Everybody Knows” or “This Time” will get the success on Pop radio that it deserves. They are both Classic ballads that rival Richard Marx, Bryan Adams and Michael Jackson in the 90’s, with very relatable lyrics and slick production. The whole album is solid, there’s not one song I hate or would even skip past (okay maybe “If You’re Out There” which is more along the lines of a Gloria Estefan power ballad for the Olympics or in this case a Democratic Campaign — GO OBAMA!!) but some definite stand outs for me are “I Love To, Love” (reminds me of “Show Me” from the last album… but sweeter) “Cross the Line” (Love the production on this) and “It’s Over” (Kanye kinda kills it, again!).

All in all, it’s definitley John Legend’s Best, but on top of that it hopefully showcases what we can expect from him in the future, solid ALBUMS and not just singles.

November 11, 2008 – Tuesday

Beyoncé “I Am…” – Review
Current mood: okay
Category: Music
No matter what anybody says, Beyoncé is definitley the closest thing we’ve seen to a Living Legend in a long time. And it’s not even because she’s the Best vocalist, or the best dancer. It’s not because her songs are groundbreaking or even original or innovative. It’s basically because she’s so well rounded a artist/performer/celebrity. She combines her talents with her image and she’s just one of the best total packages out there.
That being said, in anyone’s music career the Third album is (in my opinion) the MOST important album, Especially for someone as huge as she is. And it shows on “I Am…”, her third album in stores on November 18th, that Beyoncé understood the importance and took her time. The album is split into two discs, and the first “I Am… Beyoncé” is Amazing. It’s obvious she was going for a more mainstream Pop vibe with this side, and even though it’s a pretty calculated move the songs are instant classics. First single “If I were a Boy” is a perfect taste of what you’ll get on the album. That song is almost a bit of a Rock/Pop anthem which fits well into the Top40 Sound of today, but obviously has inspiration from an 80’s Adult Contemporary sound, this song reminds me of the 80’s pop duo Heart, while “Smash into You” and “Satellites” (two amazingly great songs) have a bit of a Genesis/U2 vibe to them while still staying contemporary. The excellent production value and the writing on this half of the album almost overshadow Beyoncé, but only Almost. Like on the second single “Halo“, an excellent peice of lyricism (Thanks to Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic and writer and producer of Leona Lewis“Bleeding Love”) and a great track, but Ms. B’s vocals are so strong she makes you feel the power in the words…
I swore I’d never fall again
but this don’t even feel like falling
gravity can’t begin
to pull me back to the ground again.
And now that brings us to the second disc, one “I Am… Sasha Fierce”. This is supposed to be the upbeat “sassy” side of Beyoncé. It’s really her Stage persona, but if we’re being honest Sasha Fierce peaked on the last album “B’Day” (in the studio that is, Sasha Fierce still KILLS Everybody on stage!!) . The vocals were so strong and the lyrics were so attitude filled, unlike alot of the stuff on this rather disapointing side of this new album. I guess there is some sass on this side, just laid over some pretty boring tracks. “Ego” is supposed to be released as a single and it’s a nice track with a nice hook but the lyrics need some work. (Although i do tolerate most of the song to hear her cuss Finally…
Ego so big
you must admit
I got every reason to feel
like I’m That Bitch.
Yeah B, you are)
However it seems like she got real lazy on this half of the disc. The creative vocal workouts are gone, the interesting lyrics are gone, even the tracks on here are underwhelming. They almost feel like she didn’t really put much thought or effort into alot of these songs. I mean listen to the first Urban single “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)” without seeing the awesome video it’s just “Get Me Bodied” part two. And i won’t even get into “Diva”, her female answer to “A Milli” (i’ma a Diva i’ma i’ma a Diva. Diva is the female version of a hustla) which could have been pretty good but the song definitley lacks something. Alot actually.
There are some really great standouts on this half though. “Hello” is a sweet upbeat love song about Jay. Very addictive hook and just a great total production, vocals included. And “Radio” is a bit of Change for her style, it’s a Europop club track and she brings a real Urban vocal style to it. This album seems to be intended to cross her over into a true International star and this would do huge in other countries. As well as “Sweet Dreams”, which most of us Stans were playing all year when we thought it was titled “Beautiful Nitemare”. Another club offering that will do big on the other side of the pond.
All in all, Beyoncé went to work. At least on reforming her image as a International Pop Star with huge classic anthems. However she took so many steps forward on the first half of this album, and so many steps back on the bottom half. Anyhow, we’ll see you on Tour Ms. Sasha.
On a side note, Jim Jonsin is doing his thing this year. I’m glad he got a chance to show his diversity on this and former DC3er Michelle Williams’ albums. For me Jim Jonsin is THE producer to watch for next year. And one of my favorite producers Mr. Bangladesh who has been floating under the radar for Years (but finally has some major exposure this year because of “A Milli”) also came to work. Although “Diva” does sound almost exactly like “A Milli” (and also Kelis‘ “Aww Shit!!“) his production of “Video Phone” is f’ing awesome
November 30, 2008 – Sunday

Kanye, Killers, TPain & Britney Spears
Current mood: happy
Category: Music
I am So Late.
Being Unemployed now, I wanted to really start trying to do weekly blogs. Maybe bi-weekly. And I meant to post this Blog about two weeks ago… but have just been really lazy. That being said, I want to get this out for Monday… because Monday is going to be my Official New Blog date.
So now that that’s all cleared up, here we go…

Firstly, the album I’ve been Dying to write about… Yeezy’s new one. Now the song “Amazing” is the best way to describe both Kanye Wests 4th album just released November 25th 808s and Heartbreak, and Kanye west himself.

I’m a monster
I’m a maven
I know this world is changin’

Never gave in
Never gave up
I’m the only thing I’m afraid of

No matter what
You’ll never take that from me
My reign is as far as your eyes can see

It’s amazin’
So amazin’

Speaking about the artist first, he’s definitely drives in his own lane and always has. He has always gone slightly left from everybody else in both Hip Hop and just Music in general, especially on his Second album “Late registration”, but still making his stuff mainstream enough for it not to be ignored on the charts. With this album though, he seems to be driving on an entirely different Highway than everybody else. And some of the creative calls he made on this album truly (imo) present him as a genuine Artists, the likes of which we haven’t seen probably in a decade. For instance, the longer than 3 minute instrumental looping at the end of album opener “Say You Will” track, or the minimal lyrics on the also Amazing “Street Lights”. The tracks in themselves also take music to new grounds. He seems to have cultivated a Perfect blend of real late 90’s Electronica, Hip Hop and Mainstream Pop classics, and normally trying to hybrid too many styles ends up a mess and this works seamlessly. Because he’s a genius. One complaint about the album is that he seems to be talking about the same thing on every song. However that complaint also sort of proves what a great artist he is, this album was obviously motivated by his emotions at the time and a way to vent to get over the Heartbreak. And not only lyrically, but vocally (and yes he does sing most of the songs… but not in the way where he’s trying to become the next John Legend. More of just a melodic way to get his lyrics across) you can feel the pain, like when he screams “I won’t EVER Love again… Never again” on the albums BEST track “Coldest Winter” you really really feel it. This is truly my album of the Year. Kanye has Yet to disapoint.

However, Britney disapoints me all the time. She had a trio of live televised performances within the past few days… and let’s just say she’s no longer the Dynamic Live Performer fans Claimed her to be. Which is truly disapointing because before those performances I did get to listen to her new (now 6th album) “Circus” being released Tuesday and I don’t hate it. Her last album “Blackout” released in the midst of her “Crazy Bitch” phase, was Fun but very One-Note and Britney was barely there. Her vocals were totally vocoded and there was just no life behind the lyrics. “Circus” fortunately does bring her voice more to the forefront, and while there are an awful lot of “Blackout”-like Dance cuts, on the whole is alot more diverse and somewhat similar to her Best album 2002’s “In the Zone”. The standout cut on this album is “Unusual You” which may just be the best song she’s ever recorded. It really is a beautiful song, lyrically production wise and her vocals do really set the song off. The next really great track is the Addicting Max Martin production “If U Seek Amy”, which suceeds in being that Guilty Pleasure song that actually eclipses Katy Perry’s trio of addictive singles put out this year. And it’s such a “naughty” little hook that’s so much fun to sing a long to…

All of the girls
and All of the boys
are begging to
If U Seek Amy
(get it? If U Seek Amy… F U C K ME)

… The album actually shows a little progression in Britney’s stifled career and is actually a pretty good (stay clear of “Kill the Lights” and “My Baby” – but Do check out “Out from Under”) listen. She just needs to work round the clock on delivering an Awesome performance one of these days or this album is gonna tank Hard!

I was also surprised that T-Pain‘s third album “Thr33 Ringz” didn’t completely suck. It’s really just a Fun, Funny album. You dont really expect anything of much substance from a dude who could deliver such a hilarious lyric like…

One, two, three, four
Get the hell up out my door
Five, six, seven, eight
I don’t need your sex, I’ll masturbate

… but a line like that is really Fun to sing and he has alot of stuff like that on here. I think what he was trying to accomplish was pulling off a great Album instead of just another vehicle for a few singles to be plucked from. He does try to get diverse on us, with the truly Hardcore Hip Hop (Karaoke with Dj Khaled) and some straight up R&B (Reality Show with Musiq Soulchild and Raheem Devaughn). He even tries (and fails in my opinion) to do a bit of a Message song with Mary J Blige, Diddy and Akon in the form of “Change”. He doesn’t totally fail with this album, none of the songs are Unbearable, but he’s showing that he’s a bit more than just the Auto Tune dude. All that being said, this album basically comes down to 5 great songs. The singles “Cant believe it” with Lil Wayne, “Chopped and Skrewed” with Ludacris and three great album cuts “Blowing up” with Ciara “It aint me” with an amazing verse from T.I. and “Therapy” with Kanye. I think you can get away with just those 5.

And while we were speaking, kind of, about Disapointments I have to say The Killers have (at this moment) disapointed me. Their third proper album “Day and Age” was released the same day as Kanye. And maybe being so blown away by that album set my expectations higher for the Killers. I mean, they are my favourite Rock/Alternative group for the past few years and add that they hooked up with one of my Favourite EuroDance producers Stuart Price I expected to listen to what I assumed would be the Greatest album of the Year. However, when i first listened to it, i felt like i was listening to some weird 80’s compilation. I heard a bit of Paul Simon, Huey Lewis, Hall and Oates and even Madonna in there. I’ve only listened to the album once since than, and it did sound better the second time around so maybe i should just save the Definitive review for a few weeks and see where how much, if at all, it has grown on me. “Neon Tiger” and “Goodnight, Travel Well” are pretty Great songs though as are the two singles “Spaceman” and “Human”.

December 3, 2008 – Wednesday

Grammy Predictions
Current mood: optimistic
Category: Music
The Grammy nominations will be announced Tonight. They are making a big Television special out of the nominees, seems pretty lame to me, but the Grammy nominations actually do excite me. This year should be really surprising. I’ve actually been listening to older music this year so I’ve been somewhat out of the loop of today’s music (besides it generally sucks so bad can you blame me). I mean I’ve JUST discovered a couple of acts (keep reading) that had their buzz brewing since the Beginning of the year. So obviously if i made some predictions I’d probably be all wrong, but I do have some Hopes for nominees … artists and songs that i think actually Deserve nominations. So here we go.

I had this feeling in the summer when M.I.A.‘s “Paper Planes” song became so Huge in the US, that they might actually put this up for Record of the Year. And not only because the song is amazing, also because M.I.A. has been getting a Huge critical reception since her 2005 debut album “Arular” and she has yet to be nominated for a Grammy or any other American award for that matter. The Grammy committee loves to Look like they are young, fresh, and worldly and that’s M.I.A. and that’s Paper Planes. On top of that, she actually was set to Retire this year (which she has since retracted thanks to this song). She’s not a new artist but she’s a critical and media favorite who attained that commercial success this year and Grammy’s tend to award that. I wouldn’t be surprised if she got a couple of nominations. They’ll either put her in Urban/Alternative Performace or Dance recording. They might actually put her up for Hip Hop Performance Female which would be Smart because she would have virtually NO competition.

I’m just gonna say Rihanna needs to win Dance recording for “Disturbia“. However, the dance category is probably going to be filled up with MGMT, Lady Gaga, Ting Tings, Madonna, Janet. Plus they generally tend to have a bunch of respected House DJ’s and Electro heads in this category as opposed to pop stars. They’ll probably put her up for R&B Song and R&B Vocal Female for “Take a Bow“.

Jason Mraz should be nominated and Win Pop Vocal, Male for “I’m Yours“. And I’m guessing Sara Bareilles (“Love Song“) and Colbie Callait (“Bubbly“) will be in the running for Pop Vocal Female. However the obvious Winner in that category is going to be Leona Lewis who I predict will be a Grammy favorite this year. I see her getting this award for “Bleeding Love“. And she’ll definitley be in the running for New Artist which i was sure she would win a few months ago but she’s going to have to fend off other Critical favorites Adele, Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Ray Lamontagne and Estelle. By the way, put money on Adele for “Chasing Pavement” in that Pop Vocal Female category.

I really can’t call who I think will be the lead nominees or even the Album of the Year category. Last year, (when the Grammy telecast turned into “The Amy Winehouse Show” – still mad at that.) the nominees almost mirrored the Billboard top Albums and Singles, giving the impression that Grammy voters only voted for stuff that they heard on Top 40 Radio, and this year might just be the same. Having said that, Coldplay would probably get the most nods. Their album “Viva La Vida” got some of the best reviews this year and sold through the roof. Plus the Grammy’s already LOVE Coldplay, this could be the year when they truly become U2. I’d definitley put money on them for Album of the Year and since they are favorites one of their songs (don’t ask me which) should be in Record and Song of the Year as well. Also if we’re looking at chart dominance you might even see Lil Wayne up for Album of the Year for “Tha Carter III”, if not he’s definitley going to sweep practically All of the Hip Hop categories (Rap Album, Rap Song, Rap Solo, Rap Solo Male, Rap Performance Duo or Group, Rap/Sung Collab, ) and I don’t see why he wouldn’t Win all of those awards to be honest.
If we’re looking critically, you might see Vampire Weekend, Portishead, The Black Keys, The Racounters, Ray Lamontagne, Robyn and MGMT in the mix in the big 4 categories. I would also count in Raphael Saadiq, Beck, The-Dream, Ne-Yo, Gnarls Barkley, Panic at the Disco, Mary J. Blige, Keyshia Cole, and even Katy Perry for a nod or two.

So, let’s see how well I do.

December 9, 2008 – Tuesday

Grammy Noms, Brandy, Common, Akon … Week in Music
Current mood: impatient
Category: Music
Yeah Yeah Yeah, it’s Tuesday. I was supposed to post this yesterday… but whatever, nobody reads my blog. So just one day late isn’t going to kill… Anybody.

Now let’s first talk about how Awesome I am, and how good I was at predicting the Grammy nominations. Lil Wayne actually came out the leader in nominations with 8, and I really can’t say I’m surprised. His album sold through the roof this year, and Grammy’s just couldn’t ignore him. What’s even more awesome, is he was nominated for every single thing I predicted last week:

Also if we’re looking at chart dominance you might even see Lil Wayne
up for Album of the Year for “Tha Carter III”, if not he’s definitley
going to sweep practically All of the Hip Hop categories (Rap Album,
Rap Song, Rap Solo, Rap Solo Male, Rap Performance Duo or Group,
Rap/Sung Collab, ) and I don’t see why he wouldn’t Win all of those
awards to be honest.

7 of his nominations came straight from the Rap categories (Rap Album, Rap Solo for “A Milli”, Rap Performance Duo or Group twice for “Mr. Carter” and “Swagga Like Us”, Rap/Sung Collab for “Got Money” and Rap Song twice for “Lollipop” and “Swagga Like Us”) his eighth nomination came for Album of the Year. So I did pretty good there. Coldplay trailed Weezy with 7 nominations, and as you can see I was pretty spot on with those predictions as well:

Coldplay would probably get the
most nods. Their album “Viva La Vida” got some of the best reviews this
year and sold through the roof. Plus the Grammy’s already LOVE
Coldplay, this could be the year when they truly become U2. I’d
definitley put money on them for Album of the Year and since they are
favorites one of their songs (don’t ask me which) should be in Record
and Song of the Year as well.

They are up for Album of the Year, as well as Record and Song of the Year plus Pop Performance Duo or Groupfor “Viva la Vida”, Rock Song and Rock Performance Duo or Group for “Violet Hill”, and Rock Album.
Outside of the lead nominees I definitley called a few other nominations… “Paper Planes” by M.I.A. for Record of the Year. Adele and Sara Bareilles for Pop Vocal Female (additionally Adele surprised me and got Record of the Year and Song of the Year for her song). Jason Mraz competing in Pop Vocal Male for “I’m Yours” (also nominated for Song of the Year). Rihanna‘s “Disturbia” up for Dance Recording, and Leona Lewis for Pop Vocal Female for “Bleeding Love” (also nominated for Record of the Year).
Which leads us to my biggest surprises or Snubs of the year. The most glaring snub was Leona Lewis in the New Artist category. I mean seriously… The Jonas Brothers and Jazmine Sullivan over her? The-Dream not getting ANY nominations for his superior “Love/Hate” album and singles (while J. Holiday – whose only hit “Bed” was written by The-Dream – is up for Contemporary R&B Album of the Year? Did anybody even listen to that album?). And i’m not entirely surprised by the snubs of Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey, but given this years nominees they should have found themselves in at least two or three categories (especially Janet, who should have been up for Dance Recording with “Rock With You” or “Feedback”). I was really surprised that MGMT or Vampire Weekend weren’t mentioned at all.
And I guess I should talk about the welcome surprises. Ne-Yo , Album of the Year? Again, I felt like The-Dream and even Raphael Saadiq‘s albums were better but I was proud to see Ne-Yo up there. Keyshia Cole stormed through the R&B categories with “Heaven Sent” and I really believe she should win, that was one of the Few TRUE R&B Singles out this year. I was really happy to see Robyn up for Dance/Electronic Album as well as Beck and Gnarls Barkley competing for Alternative Album. Also Very happy to see the producer of both of those albums (as well as the Snubbed Black Keys) Danger Mouse up for Producer of the Year (He should win it).
In a couple of weeks I’ll post my predictions for Winners and see how I do. The awards will be telecast sometime in early February (really close to my Birthday… hint hint)

On to some new releases that might (but probably won’t) be up for Next Years Grammy nominations. Released last Tuesday was Akon‘s now third album “Freedom” and it’s set to debut in the top 5 albums this week. And if you’re a fan of the albums first single “Right Now (Na Na Na)” than you’ll most likely dig this album on the whole. Akon is a pretty talented producer and writer (I mean if you can put a song together that’s good enough to not be totally irritated by his voice than he’s doing Something right) but this album isn’t anything revoultionary. It’s actually a bit dated in certain respects, if this album came out last year I would have liked it alot better. It just relies a little too much on the electro-pop sound that’s been inundating the radio for the past two years, although songs like “Keep You Much Longer” and “Beautiful”, which features Colby O’Donis and Kardinal Offishall, are a little above average and do fit into that sound really well. Akon does try to diversify this album a bit, which makes the album not a total dud. The albums follow up singles “I’m So Paid” and “Holla Holla” are standouts, as are “Against the Grain” (featuring Ray Lavender — Nice Voice) and “Be With You“. The rest, well I have to admit that I kept thinking “when is this song going to be Over” a few times. For Akon though this is his most solid album to date. And it’s alot better than I expected.

Meanwhile, Brandy‘s 5th album “Human” hits stores today, and it’s a little weaker than I expected. I have always given Brandy praise for getting better with each album. However “Human” isn’t better than her previous (damn near Masterpeice) “Afrodisiac”, while that album was alot more mature and real, this album seems to cater to a Younger Poppier crowd with some pretty generic lyrics and concepts. I mean her answer to the World’s problems is to “Warm it Up (With Love)”, she talks about how her man is the “Definition of Love”, and the title track she sings “I’m only Human, Forgive me… I’m only Human, Love me”. None of those songs are awful, but given all that Brandy has been through since the release of the last album, you’d think she’d sing something a little more personal and heartfelt instead of Any-Artist-Pop-Songs. There are some moments of genius on this album though and they mostly come in the form of ballads along the line of her past hits “Have You Ever” and “He Is”. The albums second single “Long Distance” (which also suffers from very generic lyrics “You know right now I can’t be home, but I’m coming home soon”) just sounds like an instant Classic, and even better is “True” which wins on all levels (Lyrics, Production, Vocals) and even that song gets eclipsed by the “Acapella” of “Something’s Missing” which is a very fresh and original arrangement. Vocally, Brandy has always been very underrated and her voice has just grown leaps and bounds with every album. And on top of the growth, she’s a very creative vocalist and that is one of the things that is clearly displayed on this album. I would recommend the album though, even though it’s pretty Generic, there is alot on here that most people will relate to and again Brandy came to work vocally on this album. However, if you go to the store to buy this album and you don’t have “Afrodisiac” or the 3rd album “Full Moon”, do yourself a favor and pick both of them up.

Finally, also being released today, is Common‘s “Universal Mind Control”. The album was initially supposed to be released this summer under the title “Invincible Summer”. Than news came that Common only intended to do an EP for that title and put together a full album due in November. Knowing that, I can understand some of the inconsistency on this album. Even with that one complaint, this really is one of the better albums this year. Firstly, I have to say that I’m loving the fact that Pharrell is back, he really impressed me earlier this year with the stuff he did for Madonna’s album and now on Common’s album (which he produced 7 of the 10 tracks) he gives you a taste of why we loved the Neptunes in the first place (the club banger “Sex 4 Suga”, the laid back old school “Announcement”) and a taste of where he’s headed (the albums best track “What A World” featuring Chester French). A producer by the name of Mr DJ takes the reigns for the remaining 3 tracks and from the sounds of it (“Make My Day” featuring Cee-Lo, and “Everywhere” featuring Martina Topley-Bird which are two of the more superior tracks) he might be here to stay. Aside from the production, Common does bring something to this album (which yeah, it could have been just as good if it was all instrumental). Common commented on the album earlier this year and said that it was supposed to be a bit of a throwback dance Hip Hop album and he does bring very old school 80’s Rap flows very nicely to the very futuristic tracks, which are best displayed on the aforementioned “Make my Day”, which has him telling a Story in the same vein as Slick Rick and “What a World”. I’d definitley recommend this album, it’s not the classic that his last album “Finding Forever” was (which if you don’t have it, Buy it… Excellent Kanye and Will.I.Am productions), but at least it’s different and in this late stage of Common’s career it’s good to see he’s getting a little more Fearless with his music.

December 25, 2008 – Thursday

Best of 2008
Current mood: drunk
Category: Music

Merry Christmas to all my adoring fans.

Right!

Anyhow I have my lists of best albums and singles of 2008, and I meant to write a blurb about each album/song. However, it’s Christmas and I’m at my Grandma’s house and I guess I should enjoy the Holiday instead of blogging unnecessarily. I just thought I should post something… it’s been about three weeks since my DSL at home was shut off and I’ve missed some entries… so here is the most important entry of the year.

So I’ll just list my favorites now, and maybe one day at the library I’ll fill in my critiques about each ranking.

Top 15 Albums.

1. Modern Guilt, Beck

2. Paper Trail, T.I.

3. Robyn, Robyn

4. 808’s and Heartbreak, Kanye West

5. The Odd Couple, The Odd Couple

6. E=MC2, Mariah Carey

7. Oracular Spectacular, MGMT

8. Tha Carter III, Lil Wayne

9. Evolver, John Legend

10. I Am… Sasha Fierce, Beyonce

11. Year of the Gentleman, Ne-Yo

12. Universal Mind Control, Common

13. Not 4 Sale, Kardinal Offishall

14. Untitled, Nas

15. Shine, Estelle

Top 25 Singles.

1. Disturbia, Rihanna

2. Paper Planes, M.I.A.

3. Gamma Ray, Beck

4. Feedback, Janet Jackson

5. A Milli, Lil Wayne

6. Closer, Ne-Yo

7. I Luv Your Girl, The-Dream

8. With Every Heartbeat, Robyn

9. I’m Yours, Jason Mraz

10. Touch my Body, Mariah Carey

11. Great DJ, The Ting Tings

12. Let It Rock, Kevin Rudolf featuring Lil Wayne

13. American Boy, Estelle featuring Kanye West

14. Heaven Sent, Keyshia Cole

15. Heart Songs, Weezer

16. The Youth, MGMT

17. If I Were a Boy, Beyonce

18. Swagga Like Us, T.I. featuring Jay Z, Kanye West & Lil Wayne

19. No Air, Jordin Sparks with Chris Brown

20. Dangerous, Kardinal Offishall featuring Akon

21. Love Lockdown, Kanye West

22. Don’t Touch Me (Throw Da Water On Em), Busta Rhymes

23. I Don’t Care, Fall Out Boy

24. Everyone Nose (All The Girls Standing In The Line For The Bathroom) [Remix], N.E.R.D. featuring Kanye West, Clipse & Lupe Fiasco

25. We Made It, Busta Rhymes with Linkin Park.

Advertisements