Monday, November 16, 2009

Lady Gaga 'The Fame Monster' Album Review

Since blowing up in early 2009 after an extremely slow music scene debut in April of 2008, Lady Gaga has without doubt become more than just Pop music’s current ‘it girl’. With her first two singles “Just Dance” & “Poker Face” becoming worldwide number 1 hit singles and subsequent singles all hitting the Top 10, Gaga definitely helped start the current trend of Electro Pop/Dance music.

Shortly after “Paparazzi” became another Top 10 hit for Gaga, she released “Bad Romance” as the lead single to her new body of music The Fame Monster. Initially thought to be apart of the re-release of her debut The Fame, instead “Bad Romance” marks the first release from Gaga’s first EP (extended play). Gaga’s main collaborator RedOne produced the single that follows a similar sound to “Poker Face.”

Repaying the favor Gaga enlists superstar diva Beyonce, to have guest vocals on their second single together, “Telephone.” Currently the extended version of Beyonce’s “Video Phone,” marks their first single and video of the duo together. The Urban Pop tune features the duo singing about not wanting to be bothered by anyone calling them while they’re are in the club dancing. The only issue is they’re singing about telephones which many have long traded in for cell phones!

Straying away from the albums Electro Pop/Dance sound is the emotionally filled bluesy jazz cut “Speechless.” The song which is one of Gaga’s personal favorites was dedicated to her father whom she’s very close to. Gaga shows her vocals aren’t just suited for up-tempo club tunes as she sings “Could we fix you if you broke?/And is your punch line just a joke/I’ll never talk again/Oh boy you’ve left me speechless.”

More versatility is shown on the Electro Latin Pop tinged “Alejandro.” On the RedOne assisted song Gaga sings of a young love that’s “hot like Mexico,” but has to end because, “her boyfriend’s just like a dad” and she doesn’t want to be bothered. While on “Monster,” Gaga sings of a devilish boyfriend who’s like a monster that eats her heart and then her brain. The song lyrically explores Gaga’s more peculiar side but would still manage to be a great future single.

Overall on The Fame Monster Gaga continues to write great catchy danceable Pop tunes that fans will love and radio will eat up. With artists continuously emulating her style, a second unthought-of duet, and incorporating her now well known style Gaga continues to prove that she’s not just a music industry fad. If you enjoyed any of Gaga’s singles or debut album, The Fame Monster is a must hear.

Definite listeners:
"Telephone" [featuring Beyonce]

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rihanna 'Rated R' Album Review

Back in August of 2005, an unknown Barbadian singer Robyn Fenty released her debut Reggae fusion influenced album Music Of The Sun in the US. Known to the world by her middle name, Rihanna the pop star was born. Less than a year later after nearly missing the Billboard Hot 100 number 1 spot with her debut single “Pon De Replay,” she clenched it with “SOS” the lead single of her sophomore album A Girl Like Me which continued to prove she was not just a one hit wonder, by scoring two more top 10 singles. The following year Rihanna earned a second number 1 single with her worldwide smash hit single “Umbrella.”

Following her breakthrough Good Girl Gone Bad era Rihanna was on top of the world with a total of five number 1 singles. Not even a very public domestic violence case could knock Rihanna down. Now, the wait is over and Rihanna is scheduled to release her fourth studio album Rated R through Def Jam on Monday, November 23rd, 2009.

Surprising fans greatly, Rihanna released a dark ballad as her lead single. “Russian Roulette,” co written by label mate Ne-Yo and herself became her twelfth Top 10 hit. The haunting track will take some fans back to 2006’s “Unfaithful,” which was written by Ne-Yo as well.

You hear Rihanna’s Caribbean accent return as she sings the verses on “Wait Your Turn.” Sadly the captivating promotional single, is about as close as Rated R comes to recreating Rihanna’s past successful Dance Pop sound.

Released to radio early, is the self-assured “Hard,” Rated R’s second official single. Rihanna doesn’t hold back at all on the track claiming, “the Rihanna reign just won’t let up.” Knowing others are “aiming at [her] pedestal” Rihanna enlists Young Jeezy to help build the street grittiness of “Hard,” making it a must hear.

Up and coming artist Ester Dean lends a creative hand by writing “Rude Boy.” The song has got to be Rihanna’s most sexual song to date. Unlike the subtle “Shut Up & Drive,” which featured car expressions as sexual metaphors “Rude Boy” goes straight in! On top of the infectious beat produced by Stargate, Rihanna sings “I like the way you touch me there/I like the way you pull my hair/Babe if I don’t feel it/I ain’t fakin’no no.”

Rihanna steps out of her comfort zone and spits a decent flow twice on “G4L” but only for a few lines. Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist Slash tries to help Rihanna become a legit rock star on “Rockstar 101,” but it just isn’t too believable. Once again Justin Timberlake lends Rihanna a hand on Rated R’s best ballad “Cold Case Love,” which features Rihanna crooning about an unhealthy relationship that went too far and resulted in death.

In the end Rated R doesn’t exactly continue or capture the edgy influenced sound of “Disturbia” or the Alternative/Rock sound of “Breakin’ Dishes” & “Shut Up & Drive.” Nor does the album feature the Dance Pop feel of “SOS” or “Don’t Stop The Music,” which is a real disappointment since much of Rihanna’s two times platinum 2007 Good Girl Gone Bad album was. Although Rated R does follows in the Rihanna formula by once again changing up her musical style by compiling mid-tempo Hip Hop-Rock tunes and Pop ballads.

With Def Jam promoting Rihanna in great deal, Rated R will most likely become another success for Rihanna. But it is not likely Rated R will produce as many hits or receive the attention Good Girl Gone Bad achieved.

Definite Listeners:
"Rude Boy"
"Hard" [featuring Young Jeezy] [credited as Jeezy]
"Cold Case Love"
"Wait Your Turn"

Amerie 'In Love & War' Album Review

Back in 2002 Amerie quietly came onto the music scene with her debut album All I Have. But after releasing her sophomore album Touch in 2005 which spawned her only major Pop hit single “1 Thing,” she still has failed to make any lasting chart impressions. After parting ways with Columbia Records, Amerie’s fourth studio album entitled In Love & War was released via her new recording home Def Jam on November 3rd.

The initial first single “Why R U?” attempted to bring Amerie fans back to her debut album sound. With an old school Hip Hop beat, you want to feel like your hearing the magic Amerie and her past producer Rich Harrison created, but the vibe isn’t the same. The song didn’t make much of an impact and became listed as buzz single to promote the album.

Heard ‘Em All,” definitely brings up the tempo. The drum heavy based track definitely has a crossover vibe intended and meant not only for R&B radio but Pop radio and dance/club airplay. Although Amerie sets the songs tone perfectly alone, the official remix adds an unnecessary verse by current hot rapper Lil’ Wayne, which is a bonus track.

Trey Songz marks one of two features on the albums third single (second official). “Pretty Brown,” blends Amerie and Songz vocals together beautifully. The duet puts a modern spin on the 90s Mint Condition classic “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes),” with new lyrics and a more up tempo feel.

Amerie definitely gains her “Swag Back” on In Love & War. The Jim Jonsin (“Whatever You Like,” “Lollipop”) produced track features Amerie speaking of how she is finally over a past relationship and ready for a new start, as she declares, “My head is clear, I’m soul surviving. Cause you’re not here, but I’m not crying, no. I finally got my swag back.”

On “Higher” Amerie introduces a soulful rock edge while on “Dangerous,” she revisits a more familiar retro dance/funk sound. Majority of the album is filled with ballads mid tempos which help to make In Love & War have more of a throwback (to various decades) R&B feel, that hardcore R&B fans will love.

In Love & War compares similarly to other Amerie albums. The album has a selection of great songs, mixed in with some tracks that will grow on the listeners’ ear. If Def Jam decides to give In Love & War the correct promo and exposure, Amerie may be able to gain some more hit singles and credibility. Although if the expected happens, Amerie may continue to be one of the decades underrated female R&B singers.

Definite Listeners:
"Pretty Brown"
"Swag Back"
"Heard 'Em All"

Monday, November 9, 2009

New NOVEMBER Music! Week By Week

Get ready for a great deal of new music releases next month. November is filled with multiple highly anticipated album releases by various artists. Everyone from Country Pop star Carrie Underwood to popular producer/artist Timbaland seems to have materiel ready for public hearing.

The month gets off to a quick start with Carrie Underwood releasing her third album Play On, on November 3rd. The album’s first single “Cowboy Casanova” has already become a crossover hit, managing to peak at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. Not to mention both of Underwood’s previous albums have become Platinum US selling albums. On the 3rd Amerie releases her long awaited Def Jam debut In Love & War. Despite little promotion and attention this marks Amerie’s return to music in the US since leaving Columbia Records.

Britney Spears’ fans will be delighted to pick up her latest compilation The Singles Collection on November 10th. The album features Spears’ greatest hits which includes three Billboard Hot 100 number 1 singles, including the current single “3.”

A week later, on the 17th, America gets to hear from its current Idol winner Kris Allen who will release his self titled major label debut album including the thought provoking “Live Like We’re Dying”. X Factor winner Leona Lewis drops her sophomore album Echo; on which Lewis worked with big names including Justin Timberlake and Ryan Tedder. Janet Jackson releases her second greatest hits compilation album titled Number Ones, which features many of her biggest past singles plus the new single “Make Me”. Alternative pop artist John Mayer releases his fourth studio album Battle Studies, which is his first studio album since 2006’s Continuum. The Colorado based OneRepublic, will release their sophomore effort, Waking Up which the bands new sound on the lead single “All The Right Moves.”

November 23rd definitely marks one of the biggest new release weeks in music. Electro Pop singer Lady Gaga will re-release her debut album along with eight new songs. The Fame Monster includes the new single “Bad Romance,” and a song titled “Speechless” which Gaga dedicated to her father. Beyonce re-releases the deluxe version of her I Am… Sasha Fierce album as well. Ironically Beyonce will release a remix and music video to “Video Phone” which will feature Gaga. Latin Pop star Shakira returns will her first release since 2005, with her album She Wolf. The Second single “Give It Up To Me,” features Lil’ Wayne & Timbaland and was initially slatted for Timbaland’s album Timbaland Presents Shock Value II*, due out the same day. On Timbaland’s album, he worked with a large number of artists including Miley Cyrus, The Fray, Justin Timberlake, and others to create Part II of Shock Value which was released back in 2007. New to the US charts, Jay Sean releases his debut album stateside All Or Nothing, which will include the Hot 100 number 1 “Down,” [featuring Lil’ Wayne] and second single “Do You Remember” [featuring Sean Paul & Lil’ Jon]. American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert will release his debut album For Your Entertainment which is set to have songs written by Lady Gaga, Max Martin, & Ryan Tedder. But among all of these new albums, the most anticipated has got to be Rihanna’s latest. Rated R is set to be released as a double disc and will feature the lead single “Russian Roulette” which was written by Ne-Yo and Rihanna, herself. This marks the first Rihanna single and album since her February altercation with Chris Brown and 2007’s multiplatinum Good Girl Gone Bad.

Finally on November 24th, Britney Spears fans will be able to show their love by purchasing a box set of all Spears’ singles. The Singles Collection ultimate fan box set will include all 29 CD singles, and other items too.

So November definitely looks like it will be a good month for new music releases. Fans of Country, R&B, Pop, Hip Hop, and Alternative music will be able to purchase and support new highly anticipated music from various popular artists. Fans of music, enjoy!

*UPDATE This was written before Timbaland's album got pushed back until December 2009, but the article went well how it was written so I decided to leave in the information about his album. Know that his album has been pushed back until December 8th, 2009.

Mariah Carey 'Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel' Album Review

After working with The-Dream and Tricky Stewart on her 18th Billboard Hot 100 number 1 “Touch My Body,” the 20 year veteran diva decided to create an entire album with the current production duo; whose been creating hits for many artists. Mariah Carey’s twelfth studio album Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel was released via Island Def Jam on September 29th.

To set the summer off right, Mariah Carey released the fiery “Obsessed,” which found the singer making not so subtle jabs at an unnamed male; thought to be rapper Eminem. The lead single features Carey’s auto tuned vocals, singing over a thumping bass filled track. Mariah shows she’s not holding back as she declares “you a mom and pop, I’m a corporation; I’m the press conference, you a conversation,” regarding this mystery man who’s obsessed with her.

Separating from the more up-tempo Mariah Carey, Mariah covers Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is,” as the second release from Memoirs. The cover definitely tires to take Mariah Carey fans back to her big ballad glory days, but fails to make a lasting impression as a single, such as her 1989 debut “Vision Of Love.” The covered tune nicely features a gospel choir backing Carey to help her close out the song and album.

While Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel was initially thought to bring Mariah fans back to her classic 90s sound, Memoirs fails to do so in great amount. Though the albums standout track, “Angles Cry” could be considered an attempt to do so. Carey even still manages to give a dose of her ability to still hold a note as “Angels Cry,” ends. Carey carries a similar feisty attitude from 2005s “Don’t Forget About Us,” on “Up Out My Face.” The most memorable line from the song has got to be when Carey states, “even if we were two Lego blocks, even the Harvard University graduating class of 2010, couldn’t even put us back together again.”

The albums main creative team Carey, The-Dream, and Tricky Stewart seem to embark Memoirs as an advertisement more so than an album filled with deep lyrics. The album features a great deal of gimmicky lyrics, which seem to advertise products and services rather offer signature exemplary Mariah songs. On “The Impossible” Carey sings “love you like kool-aid…love you like a Holiday Duncan Hines yellow cake.” Another example of the almost child like lyrics, is heard on “More Than Just Friends.” Where Carey sings, “Steady feenin’ for you like them fries at McDonald’s, I wanna be all up on your lips like gelato (ice cream).” Lyrics like these don’t allow Carey seem true to her age (39) or let her mature as a lyricist.

The album cut, “H.A.T.E.U.” which quickly became a fan favorite is Memoirs proposed third single. Throughout “H.A.T.E.U.” Carey proves that she still has great vocal control, by entering her whistle register, which suits the song well. The title which is actual an acronym for Having A Typical Emotional Upset, explains the songs meaning extremely well; about a relationship that’s has ran its course and starting to fizzle out, as the narrator prepares for heartbreak.

While Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel will leave devote Mariah Carey fans, (AKA Lambs) ecstatic, the album doesn’t offer much for others. Memoirs is filled with a bunch of mid-tempos and ballads but as a whole the album seems a bit rushed. It seems as though Mariah is at her best when her albums are released after her musical breaks. Even though Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel isn’t comparable to older Mariah materiel, Mariah still manages to add great songs to her 20 year and counting catalog.

Mariah Carey in 2009, recreating the 1997 photo shoot an cover of Butterfly.