Sunday, September 28, 2008

Album Review: Pussycat Dolls - Doll Domination (3/5)

Three years after their fantastic debut and the Pussycat Dolls are back with their second album, Doll Domination, and the results are somewhat lackluster. Their last album, PCD, was a very good introduction, admittedly a tad messy because of its genre hopping--it had the fiery, flirtatious lead single "Dont Cha" the melodic ballad "Stickwitchu" but also incorporating elements of rock; the medley "Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go" and jazzy Broadway style numbers "Right Now" and "Feelin' Good," It was a scattered acquired album, but it was an enjoyable scattering.

Doll Domination, falls short on its diversity within its body of work. This time the dolls are more based around R&B and contemporary pop--not really exploring (or re-exploring) any new horizons, which is an okay thing--some of my favorite albums of the decade have been nothing more than joint R&B and pop efforts. There are a couple tracks on the album that are actually pretty good, but as an overall project just doesn't work.

The best track on the album is a song called "Happily Never After" produced R&B singer, Ne-Yo. It's a nice acoustic styled pop number, taking obvious influences from Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" or a more slower version of Chris Brown's "With You." Lead singer, Nicole Scherzinger sounds really good on here. The piano riffed, down tempo club number "Out of this Club" is pretty nice number, produced by R. Kelly. I espcially love its chorus ("let me take you out of this club I wanna be with you").

The hardlined, piano backed "I Hate This Part" is another fantastic, more serious pop number and the jaunty, indian influenced "Whatcha Think About That" Featuring Missy Elliot. I also like quite a bit. Aside from a few other just-past-decent tracks, that's were the credibility ends.

I was a tad skeptical about the albums lead single "When I Grow Up" at first I thought it was cheap retread of "Don't Cha" but now it's grown on me quite a bit--It's still not that great though. For the most part--if you take away the great pop songs the album delivers--it does the foolish thing of indulding in too much generic R&B, which is what indeed drags down the album. "Take Over the World" and "Magic" are good examples.

Rapper Snoop Dogg makes an appearence on "Bottle Pop" possibly the most ridiclous song I've heard in awhile. It's just awful.

The hugely dramatic "Halo" should've been the gem of the album, but it wears itself out too quickily, partly due to the fact it lingers on for nearly 6 minutes. Anything worth giving credit for is featured in the first half of the album, saying the second half of the album was lackluster, would be an understatement, the album does go on for too long (a lengthy 16 tracks).

The best track on the second half is the haunting old school Destiny's Child styled R&B flavored "Hush Hush." I guess the jaunty "Elevator" is pretty good too. The album closes with "I'm Done" an empowering piano ballad, surprise surprise, with Scherzinger taking lead vocal.

Doll Domination is indeed a disappointment and it seems the Pussycat Dolls won't be avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump--along with my disappoint (and plenty other critics too), the album is set for a poor performance commercially.

Best: Happily Never After, I Hate this Part, Out of this Club, Whatcha Think ABout That, Hush Hush, When I Grow Up

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Personal Airplay, 25/09/08

TW LW PK Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... 1 .... The Man Who Can't Be Moved - The Script (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 3 ... 2 .... Sex On Fire - Kings Of Leon
3 .... 6 ... 3 .... So What - P!nk
4 .... 4 ... 4 .... Forever - Chris Brown
5 .... 2 .... 1 .... Closer - Ne-Yo (1 wk @ #1)
6 .... 7 .... 6 .... When I Grow Up - The Pussycat Dolls
7 .... 8 .... 7 .... Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson
8 ... 14 ... 8 .... Girls - Sugababes
9 .... 5 .... 1 ..... Disturbia - Rihanna (3 wks @ #1)
10 .. 21 .. 10 ... Love Lockdown - Kanye West

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New single releases

Love Lockdown - Kanye West. Turning in his archetypical sense of rap for a more auto-tuned affair is Kanye West's new single "Love Lockdown." It's the lead single from his fourthcoming fourth studio album, 808s & Heartbreak. I'm not too sure about it at the moment--I'm not completely won over by the autotune, however I do love the chorus, so we'll see how this fairs. Without a doubt this is sure to be a hit.

Forgive Me - Leona Lewis. After 2 ballads, Leona Lewis releases "Forgive Me;" finally something upbeat. I originally heard this awhile back--back when, Spirit was released--I wasn't too optimistic about it, I thought it was a bit old fashioned but I really like it now.

Miss Independent - Ne-Yo. This is a brilliant song from R&B singer, Ne-Yo. "Miss Independent" is a great synth-soaked urban number.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Personal Airplay, 18/09/08

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... The Man Who Can't Be Moved - The Script (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... Closer - Ne-Yo (1 wk @ #1)
3 .... 4 .... Sex On Fire - Kings Of Leon
4 .... 5 .... Forever - Chris Brown
5 .... 3 .... Disturbia - Rihanna (3 wks #1)
6 ... 8 .... So What - P!nk
7 ... 10 ... When I Grow Up - The Pussycat Dolls
8 .... 9 .... Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson
9 .... 6 .... Miss Indepedent - Ne-Yo
10 ... 7 ... All I Ever Wanted - Basshunter

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Girls Aloud Track

Girls Aloud's new single, "The Promise" can be heard on their official website. Nice upbeat 70s throwback trip, definitely something new from the girls. I'm looking forward to their forthcoming fifth studio album.

Britney's Circus

Pop singer Britney Spears is reportedly putting the finishing touches on her upcoming 6th studio album titled Circus. The album will be her first offering since 2007s Blackout which although had critics singing it failed to connect to commercial success becoming her first album not be certified platinum, I'm guessing this was due to the lack of promotion (except the embarrassing performance of its lead single "Gimme More" at the 2007 Video Music Awards). Her recent appearance at the at 2008 Video Music Awards does show signs to a healthy recovery. No more late night antics, shaving of the head, flashing of the gentiles or crucifying cars with umbrellas.

Producers for the album have not yet been announced, but we know newcomers The Outsiders produce on the lead single "Womanizer" which is set for release September 22. The single is suppose to be Britneys comeback single - "Gimme More" would've done the track, if been released at the right time, it was a brilliant song, using nothing more than synthesizers, a deep bassline and a repetitive chorus, managing to peak at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 - her highest peaking single since her debut album 1999 with "Baby One More Time".

Circus is an interesting title, seeming as though her life does seem like a 24 hour circus. Blackout was a good electro-pop album which heavy on the vocoder and pounding album cuts like "Toy Soldier" and the enticing "Heaven On Earth", all very good, but Britneys work has seen better days. Here some of the things I expect to see in the upcoming Circus.
  • Loose the vocoder (and leave it to T-Pain and Cher)
  • More ballads ("Why Should I Be Sad" doesn't count - more "Not A Girl" esque)
  • Not so electro and more contemporary pop
  • More songs with intricate beats, making it fulfilling to perform on stage ("Me Against The Music" and "Slave 4 U" are prime examples)
  • Another "Heaven On Earth" (I just really like the song)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Album Review: Ne-Yo - Year of the Gentleman (4.5/5)

When it comes today's contemporary male R&B, there are only a few artist who do the job and do it well--both in quality and commercial preferences. Ne-Yo, among those few, has it all--the voice, swagger and just the edge to produce great contemporary R&B songs. His last album, Because of You, was what really solidified me as a fan. The album wasn't groundbreaking, but it was slick set of solid R&B tracks that all just worked. The album scored the top 10 hit with its title track "Because of You" followed by the top 40 hit "Do You" and the personal favorite "Can We Chill."

Year of the Gentleman, really confirms Ne-Yo as the best in R&B--his R&B contemporaries such as Chris Brown, should really take note. Brown's latest album, Exclusive, seemed to attempt the same sophisticated direction as, Year of the Gentleman is doing. Unfortunately for Brown, his album was released before--his attempt fell short, lacking the swagger Ne-Yo so effortlessly caries.

In comparison, the new album isn't widely different from the last, they're both pretty urban soaked, only, Gentleman, as Ne-Yo's noted in numerous interviews, carries a more European pop vibe. This can be seen in the lead single "Closer" which rightfully opens the album, pulsing with layers of synth, strings and kinetic handclaps. It's possibly among his best songs overall, it also has a fantastic chorus. Following swiftly is "Nobody" a '70s soul, funk influenced numbers, pondering with a raw R&B soaked bassline.

The first slow jam of the album is "Single" which was originally recorded for the new, NKOTB album, The Block. Although I liked the track before, admittedly I do like the track better with Ne-Yo only. Without the bolded vocals the chrous does seem abit empty, but it's good nonetheless. It is among the best songs on here. The first ballad on here "Mad" perfectly positioning itself behind "Single" --keeping the consistency. It's your typical yet still pretty compelling ballad, mainly tracked by piano chords and recurrent hi-hats.

The best song on the album comes in the form of "Miss Independent" R&Bs never sounded better. It's almost as good as his breakthrough hit "So Sick" and "Sexy Love." Thumping a slick urban soaked bassline, which could appeal to both pop and R&B audiences. Following is the more downbeat "Why Does She Say" which takes a more classic approach to R&B. It's lack of a distintive melody, makes it a tad lackluster.

The synth, bass and piano built "Fade Into the Background" is probably my least favorite song on the album. It's just not that great--bland verses and lackluster chorus. It does indeed fade into the background, or the bulk of the album. Another song I don't like too much is "Part of the List" not because it's a terrible song--it's attempt at pop contemporary doesn't quite do it for me. Those are really the only duds of the album, everything else is almost immaculate.

The slightly stripped down "So You Can Cry" I like a lot, backed with clicks and strings. The heavily acoustic influenced, but more assertive than you'd think "Back to What You Know" is another jem.

The last 2 tracks "Lie to Me" and "Stop This World" are both ballads, good ballads at that. Giving a really nice ending to the album. Year of the Gentleman, is probably the best R&B album of the year, if not the most consistent. It's also Ne-Yo's best album to date, slightly edging out both, Because of You and his debut In My Own Words.

Best: Miss Independent, Closer, So You Can Cry, Nobody, Mad, Single, Lie to Me, Stop This World

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Leon Jackson "Don't Call This Love"

Leon Jackson, winner of last years' series of Britains X-Factor returns with his single "Don't Call This Love" the first from his forthcoming debut album, Right Now due out October 20. It's sweet, old fashioned ballad--sure to do well on its chart run, however whether Jackson will be able to match the success of previous winner (now worldwide superstar) Leona Lewis' success.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Billboard Hot 100's all time top artists

In celebrating their 50th Anniversary, Billboard have put up their Top 100 artists of the Hot 100; the paramount US singles chart that measures single sales, digital sales and airplay. Here is the top 10, click here for the full 100:

  1. The Beatles
  2. Madonna
  3. Elton John
  4. Elvis Presley
  5. Stevie Wonder
  6. Mariah Carey
  7. Janet Jackson
  8. Michael Jackson
  9. Whitney Houston
  10. The Rolling Stones

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Personal Airplay, 11/09/08

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... Closer - Ne-Yo (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 3 .... The Man That Can't Be Moved - The Script
3 .... 1 .... Disturbia - Rihanna (3 wks @ #1)
4 .... 5 .... Sex On Fire - Kings Of Leon
5 ... 10 ... Forever - Chris Brown
6 .... 8 .... Miss Independent - Ne-Yo
7 .... 4 .... All I Ever Wanted - Basshunter
8 NEW> So What - P!nk
9 .... 15 .... Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson
10 .. 24 ... When I Grow Up - The Pussycat Dolls

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Preview Ne-Yo's Year of the Gentleman

You can preview the new Ne-Yo album, Year of the Gentleman, on Amazon. From what I've heard so far, this is going to be a pretty nice follow up to the last album, Because of You.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Pussycat Dolls "When I Grow Up"

The new Pussycat Dolls single "When I Grow Up" has been out for awhile now, I wasn't too adamant about it before, it sounds like a retread of "Don't Cha" but I do like it now.

Album Review: New Kids on the Block - The Block (3/5)

After staggering 14 years apart, New Kids on the Block return with their sixth studio album simply titled, The Bock. It's their first offering since 1994s, Face the Music. Understandably no longer kids, NKOTB's music is naturally updated, seamlessly more adult--entering a more urban adult contemporaneity territory. Whilst, The Bock is a slick run of contemporary R&B songs--it does feel as though their trying to compensate their younger days, which is tad awkward considering now every member is verging on 40 years old or younger.

In a probably concentrated attempt to comeback relevant, The Block, has 5 featured guests, most of which are the hottest in the industry right now. R&B singer, Ne-Yo helps out on the mellow, click and piano strung, "Single" (the song is set to feature on Ne-Yo's forthcoming third studio album titled, Year of the Gentleman). Possibly the best song the album--nice vocals, great melody, I love this, although I would like to hear the Ne-Yo only version. Lady GaGa shows up on the thundering synth backed, "Big Girl Now" which is a shameless attempt at hip-hop. It's a nice upbeat cut, (definitely not as bad as the stuff on, Face the Music) maybe without Ms. GaGa this wouldn't have the freshness it has--and would sound like a bunch of perverted men murmuring provocative lyrics like ("your a big girl now, yeah that's for sho', your booty like woah").

Nicole Scherzinger... I mean The Pussycat Dolls, pops up on, "Grown Man" another song about admiring the female figure, with Nicole seductively singing ("do you like my body"). Last of the notable features is Akon who shows up on the breezy, "Put It On My Tab" this should've featured T-Pain, instead of Akon (even though he produced the song) but it seems more T-Pain's venture, Akon sounds a tad out of place.

It's unfortunate to point out that where the album falls short is the tracks where NKOTB sing alone. "Click Click Click," is a mellow, handclap and faint bleep composition--not really building up to anything, lacking any notable melody and the lazy vocals don't help. "Sexify My Love," sounds really dated (very late 90s and early 00s) and a forced attempt to contemplate at their heartthrob days, falling very short. Boyband with Boyband, New Edition pop up on, "Full Service" this isn't bad, pounding a thunderous bassline, but it seems more of a grower.

The worst song on the album is, "Light Camera Action"; I do get the appeal of the song--maybe if it was sung someone else, but this is just terrible. No melody--lazy vocals--backed stupid analog synths.

The lead single, "Summertime" is nice summery track, with nice breezy chorus--not a knockout but still a decent song. "2 In the Mornin'" (I'm getting tired of songs with these kind of titles, soon where going to have the whole early mornin' scheme) It's a nice piano backed number, but still remaining somewhat upbeat. "Dirty Dancin'," is a great upbeat, bump n grind number; I love the stutter of ("d-d-dirty dancin'") it works well on here.

The album closes with 2 ballads, "Stare At You" and "Close to You" which both ironically have the same running time (3:34). Their nice ballads, and the sound really good. The Bock, is both a decent comeback album and a disappointment, although I've really been of NKOTB (They weren't around when I was growing up) I have listened to their previous albums, released in the 80s and early 90s and if ranked their albums this would probably enter somwhere near the bottom of the pile (rivalling, Face the Music).

Best: Single, Dirty Dancin', Summertime, Stare At You, 2 In the Mornin'

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Personal Airplay, 04/09/08

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Disturbia - Rihanna (3 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 3 .... Closer - Ne-Yo
3 .... 4 .... The Man Who Can't Be Moved - The Script
4 .... 2 .... All I Ever Wanted - Basshunter
5 .... 9 .... Sex On Fire - Kings Of Leon
6 .... 6 .... All Summer Long - Kid Rock
7 .... 4 .... No Air - Jordin Sparks Featuring Chris Brown
8 ... 10 ... Miss Independent - Ne-Yo
9 .... 7 .... Viva La Vida - Coldplay (1 wk @ #1)
10 .. 18 ... Forever - Chris Brown

Rihanna secures a third week at #1, fending off competition from Ne-Yo, who currently has 2 singles in the Top 10. I've been very late with Chris Brown's new single "Forever," It's actually been out for awhile now, this week it rises 8 notches up to #10.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Missing hits in the US

Check out ww_adh post about missing hits in the US, Inspired by moi.

Christina Aguilera "Keeps Gettin' Better"

Christina Aguilera returns with her new single "Keeps Gettin' Better." It's taken from her forthcoming greatest hits album of the same name. The song acquires a thundering electronic trip, I like it--obviously influencing from Goldfrapp; It's not her best though. Check it out below: