Friday, October 31, 2008

Britney Spears "Circus" cover art

The cover for Britney's forthcoming album Circus has been reveled Beautiful. Not as edgy and interesting as Blackout but beautiful nevertheless.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

T.I. "Live Your Life" video preview

Here's a quick look at the video for the new T.I. single "Live Your Life" Featuring Rihanna. Looks like it's going to be portrayed in a movie format. Pretty cool.

Personal Airplay, 30/10/08

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... So What - P!nk (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 5 .... Womanizer - Britney Spears
3 .... 2 .... When I Grow Up - The Pussycat Dolls
4 .... 7 .... Love Lockdown - Kanye West
5 ... 13 ... Hot N Cold - Katy Perry
6 .... 3 .... Girls Sugababes
7 .... 9 .... The Promise - Girls Aloud
8 .... 4 .... Forever - Chirs Brown (1 wk @ #1)
9 .... 8 .... Take Back The City - Snow Patrol
10 .. 6 .... Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Album Review: P!nk - Funhouse (4.5 / 5)

P!nk has always been one of the more remarkable structures in today's pop music. Her earlier rivals, notably Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, both made (and still make) clean-cut pop songs that could pass as easy-listening --not exactly sharing any views expectant of your typical pop singer. P!nk however, has made a remarkable transformation since her debut Can't Take Me Home, which introduced the singer to the world as your archetypal R&B singer, with the help of (my favorite) R&B producer, Babyface. Spawning the the top 10 hits, "There You Go" and "Most Girls."

Pink shook up her image on her sophomore effort, M!ssundaztood which re-introduced the singer as a singer with something to say --adding a more rugged and rockier edge to her music, additionally spawning 3 top 10 hits ("Get The Party Started," "Don't Let Me Get Me" and the UK #1, "Just Like A Pill"). Her next album, Try This continued to materialize P!nk's now signature jaunty attitude, but just wasn't as good as its predecessor, proving a botch in sales. P!nk made her return on 2006s I'm Not Dead which was indeed an in-your-face reinstatement of her relevancy --also being by far my favorite album of hers, churning out my favorite set of singles by her, ("Who Knew," "U+Ur Hand" and "Nobody Knows").

Now we have Funhouse. Which essentially uses the same formula as its predecessors --except taking a more contemporary route (not to say that, I'm Not Dead didn't have its modern moments). The albums kicks of with the lead single, "So What" which became P!nk's first #1 in the U.S., it's a fun, upbeat number produced by pop genius Max Martin --it's your typical pop-rock venture, supported sweetly by its jaunty nature and the recurring playground chant:"na na na..."

Now, Funhouse is a som-what misleading title as most of the material on the album is more retrospective and depressing, like the ballad "Sober," which is backed with an electronic guitar, enhancing the songs moody vibe. Following up swiftly is another ballad, "I Don't Believe You," which is essentially more mellow than "Sober," pacing with strings, smooth orchestration and P!nk's robust vocal. "One Foot Wrong," starts off pretty slow, but slowly progresses more buoyant, but that feat is masked by the cogitative lyrics and distorted bassline towards the build up to end. I also love the horns incorporated towards in the end.

Max Martin lends his producing talents again on the comedic, "Please Don't Leave Me" which finds P!nk asking her man not leave her despite the arguments and her apparent tantrums. The song is mainly drums and strings, accompanied by the recurring murmur of: "da da da." Those, da da das start of the next song, "Bad Influence," which solidifies it's role as the more upbeat of the album, it reminds of "Trouble" from, Try This except more pop-orientated.

The title track, "Funhouse," is another fun number, sounding like something Kelly Clarkson would sing. I love the artistry with the electronic guitar during the hook and chorus. It contains some weird lyrics: "this use to be a funhouse, now it's filled with evil clowns." The song surprisingly changes it's tune to something more aggressive during the bridge and returns swiftly to its normal venture to finish off.

"Crystal Ball," is beautiful ballad, mellowing out with the acoustic guitar. "Mean," sounds like an old western rock number, beautiful melody and electronic guitar running through. When I first heard, "It's All Your Fault" I knew Max Martin had to have something to with it because it was one of the cuts I fell in love with instantly --apart from "So What," this sounds like it could be real contender for another #1 for P!nk, it's so contemporary it even goes as far as using a vocoder on the bridge. P!nk's so badass.

Normally when a regular pop-rock album reaches its second half it begins to lag, but, Funhouse actually kicks it up a notch, the moody, "Ave Mary A" is a great electric number --strings, drums and guitar--perfect. The album closes gently with, "Glitter In The Air" a smooth piano ballad with some pretty good lyrics: "have you ever looked fear in the face and said, I just don't care." Sometimes, P!nk's courage is just so inspirational.

Funhouse is a great follow up to, I'm Not Dead, I absolutely love it --aside from the mis-step with, Try This generally P!nk always impresses me with her offerings, she's brilliant.

Best: So What, It's All Your Fault, Ave Mary A, Sober, Please Don't Leave Me, Mean, Funhouse, I Don't Belive You

New videos this week

"I Stay In Love" Mariah Carey. I like this video, definitely better than the "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time" video. Kinda reminds me of the video for "Breakdown" with Bone Thugs N Harmony.

"Keeps Gettin' Better" Christina Aguilera. I wasn't too keen on "Keeps Gettin' Better" I guess the video somewhat makes the song a bit more compelling.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

iPod Nano Chromatic

Not my typical post, but it is something to do with music. Today I (my mum) purchased the new iPod Nano for me as an extremely early christmas present, meaning I had to give my previous Nano to my brother. Although I don't mind the idea of upgrading iPod's, I do hate re-loading the songs onto it, luckily this time the memory storage is an 8GB (2000 songs) a distinctive increase to the 4GB (1000 songs) I had before. It's a pretty tiny device, I love the curved edge effect and the extended screen and the new interface. The new accelerometer and shake to shuffle feature will probably not be that useful to me and the Cover Flow, which was also included on the previous edition of the Nano is another col feature.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ten years of Britney

It's already been 10 years since Britney took the world by storm with her debut single "...Baby One More Time" back in 1999. Here is a special tribute I found on YouTube to celebrate 10 years of Britney.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Personal Airplay, 23/10/08

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... So What - P!nk (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 3 .... When I Grow Up - The Pussycat Dolls
3 .... 5 .... Girls - Sugababes
4 .... 1 .... Forever - Chris Brown (1 wk @ #1)
5 .... 8 .... Womanizer - Britney Spears
6 .... 4 .... Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson
7 .... 7 .... Love Lockdown - Kanye West
8 .... 9 .... Take Back The City - Snow Patrol
9 ... 10 ... The Promise - Girls Aloud
10 .. 6 .... Sex On Fire - Kings Of Leon (2 wks @ #1)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mariah Carey "I Stay In Love"

"I Stay In Love" has been chosen as the fourth single from Mariah Carey's latest albm, E=MC2. After the flops of "Bye Bye" and "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time" I'm hoping "I Stay In Love" can redeem Carey on the Hot 100.

Album Review: Leon Jackson - Right Now (3/5)

Leon Jackson is the fourth winner of the UKs answer to American Idol, X-Factor. The first winner of the show Steve Brookstein back in 2004, is of course no where to be seen, his debut album Heart & Soul became a #1 album as expected, also scoring a christmas #1 with the remake of Phil Collins "Again All Odds", his sophomore album 40,000 Things became one of the biggest flops in UK history.

The second winner Shanye Ward isn't my favorite X-Factor winner but I do enjoy his music, following in the footsteps of Steve Brookstein he also topped the UK charts with his debut album, only with heavier sales, scoring 3 top 20 hits (and 1 #1) with "That's My Goal", "No Promises" and "Sand By Me". His sophomore effort wasn't remarkably successful, but it did get the job done Breathless failed to connect, internationally like his debut but put out a pretty decent performance in the UK, spawning 2 top 10 hits with "If That's OK With You" and "Breathless".

The third winner Leona Lewis is the shows biggest success ever, her achievements since winning the show have been countless. Her debut album Spirit became the fastest selling debut album since Britney Spears' ...Baby One More Time back in 1999, also topping charts across the globe including the U.S. Billboard 200. Her smash hit single "Bleeding Love" also saw similar commercial success.

Now we have 18 year old Leon Jackson. His debut album Right Now I think this the weakest X-Factor debut rivaling Steve Brookstein's Heart & Soul, "Don't Call This Love" the albums lead single, is really my favorite cut on here, it's a typical piano, string, drums combination with some violins soaring in the background. The ballad "Fingerprints" is another highlight, it's the more contemporary moment on the album, although I can sense a 50s throwback vibe, It incorporates a nice collection of trumpets, drums and piano.

Taking on more of a Take That sound is "Stargazing" which is another ballad on the album, it's a decent number but lacks a good hook and adopts a more bland chorus. "All In A Good Time" is yet another ballad except is one of the better ones and more experimental, it's those types that you would hear in a 60s 50s big band production, I love the choir in the chorus and the recurring trumpets. Another highlight is the rumba influenced "Creative" which is slated as the albums second single, although it sounds a tad old fashioned, it kinda reminds me of Ex-Spice Girl Emma Bunton's recent work, like the stuff on Life in a Mono or her sophomore effort Free Me, very 60s jazzy.

The more weaker moments on the album are "You Don't Know Me" which admittedly does adopt a very classy orchestration, but is very very bland, tepid and boring. Another is "A Song For You" which is just another tasteless ballad, abusing the piano. "Could Do Better" is slightly better but again suffers from a bland chorus. It's unfortunate the clunkers out weigh the good tracks.

"Misty Blue" is arguably the most old fashioned track on the album, but I am pretty familiar with it, it before remade my R&B singer Monica back in 1998 for her sophomore album The Boy Is Mine. The albums closing track "Caledonia" is mellow guitar backed ballad, which burst into a nice drum and tambourine combination during the second verse before bursting into a full blown rock-pop production.

Right Now is definitely not Leon's Spirit and the album will probably not be receiving the same global success as Spirit but it is a decent album, nothing spectacular but very decent. Now that I think about it, the way this album carries itself reminds of Ray (I forgot his second name) runner up to Leona Lewis on the X-Factor, debut album which also indulged in old-fashion Jazz (and surprisingly hit #1 on the UK album chart).

Best Tracks: Don't Call This Love, Creative, Fingerprints

Album Review: Sugababes - Catfights and Spotlights (4/5)

Sugababes (along with fellow girl group Girls Aloud) since the new millennium have been great representatives of great, fresh UK pop. Their debut back in 2000 with One Touch was a fairly mediocre offering churning out the mellow, rock steady, top 40 hit "Overload". Their sophomore effort Angels With Dirty Faces remain their best work to date, producing a string of top 10 hits and 2 #1s with the remake of "Freak Like Me" and "Round Round". Follow up albums Three and Taller In More Ways were very consistent efforts, keeping the group at the forefront of UK pop.

Their last release Change gave the group a fatal blow both in quality and commercially, the UK #1 "About You Now" and "Denial" were good cuts from the album but everything else was just not upto par with their previous releases.

Sugababes adopt redemption with Catfights and Spotlights which is admittedly a great improvement from Change, whilst Change was more electronic and european pop, Catfights and Spotlights indulge in a more motown throwback, urban contemporary vibe, something I've been longing for the group to do since their single "Stronger" back in 2002. "No Can Do" is my favorite track on here, which carries a delicious 70s motown throwback theme. The album already beats Change with its opening song, the catchy remake of "Girls" which also serves as the albums lead single.

"Hanging On A Star" and "Unbreakable Heart", are more euro-pop influenced tracks, they doesn't anywhere near as contemporary as they should, but they're flirty carrying an almost trip-hop vibe, so you can say "screw contemporary" here. "Side Chick" is an nostalgic number and another favorite, the chorus is mid paced going on slow, but more richer than some of the other slow numbers on the album - it's almost reminiscent of "Division" an album cut from U.S. Disney stars Aly & AJ from their Insomniatic album, but carries a more richer feel.

"Sunday Rain" is among the more dramatic ballads, with a very haunting yet melodic chorus, I like the lyric: " you break my heart and I'll break yours, that's how it goes". Another song about heartbreak is "Every Heart Broken" which another slow number, it lacks a good hook, it balances itself with rhythmic handclaps in the background a recurring piano, which seems to be playing one key throughout the song.

Aside from "Girls" and "No Can Do" the more upbeat moments on the album are "Nothing's Good As You" which sounds a tad Kate Nash-esque and "You On A Good Day" which is another one of my favorites, portions of it sound very cartoonish.

Catfights and Spotlight (without the addition of Change) is yet another consistent offering from Sugababes. Unfortunately as music progresses I fear they'll never ever be able to match Angel's With Dirty Faces or even Three. This may have some decent standouts, but it lacks its "Push The Button" or "About You Now" - "No Can Do" is the only song that comes close.

Best tracks: Girls, You On A Good Day, No Can Do, Side Chick, Sunday Rain

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Personal Airplay, 16/10/08

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... Forever - Chris Brown (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 3 .... So What - P!nk
3 .... 4 .... When I Grow Up - The Pussycat Dolls
4 .... 5 .... Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson
5 .... 6 .... Girls - Sugababes
6 .... 1 .... Sex On Fire - Kings Of Leon (2 wks @ #1)
7 .... 7 .... Love Lockdown - Kanye West
8 ... 10 ... Womanizer - Britney Spears
9 .... 9 .... Take Back This City - Snow Patrol
10 .. 16 ... The Promise - Girls Aloud

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spears breaks Hot 100 record

Britney Spears' new single "Womanizer" breaks the Hot 100 record for the biggest jump to #1 on ths weeks issue of the chart. The single jumped 96 - 1, giving Spears her first #1 since "...Baby One More Time" nearly 10 years ago.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Britney Spears "Womanizer"

After the traumas of 2007 and early this early this year, Britney Spears returns with her comeback single "Womanizer" a stomping, electronic fronted club styled track. Check out the video below; which finds spears taking up the roll of a housewife, assistant, waitress and cab driver.

Album Review: T.I. - Paper Trail (3.5/5)

After King and T.I. vs T.I.P., I've become quite a solid fan of T.I., those albums were pure quality. Paper Trail, became yet another commercial success of T.I. but in terms of quality it was a huge step down -- it in no way matched how good his previous efforts were, it's a shame too, I had high expectations for this album, but admittedly it does have just as many good moments as it does bad.

Kicking of the album is the fairly lengthy intro titled, "56 Bars", it's a midtempo track, it gives the album a stronger start than I thought when I first listened to it, it then swiftly moves into, "I'm Illy", which is one of the best moments on the album -- the track has a hard bassline and deep backing track, pushing T.I.'s vocals really hard. "Ready For Whatever", is another track I really like, main reason because of the noticeable electric guitar running through various elements of the song. "On Top Of The World", is more average than anything else on the album, it has the typical quick-fix backing track, used on many, many hip-hop filler tracks.

The album hits an all-time high with, "Live Your Life", featuring Rihanna, the song, suiting Rihanna than T.I., goes in a more R&B direction; which I guess draws me to the song a bit more, what I really like is that T.I. managed to keep up the thickness of his lyrics yet maintaing the catchy chorus without seeming flimsy. "Whatever You Like", served as the albums second single -- admittedly it did take a while for me to adjust to it, but now it is one of my favorite tracks on the album, it's like his own, ("Lollipop").

"No Matter What", is surprising melodic, which is the last thing I expect from a track sung T.I. himself, it's nice surprise but not one of my favorites, the song served as the albums lead single.

"My Life Is Your Entertainment", featuring Usher, this is one of my personal favorites, the song is wonderfully structured, it seems clear that T.I. seems to excel when he incorporated elements of R&B into his music. "Porn Star", I don't particularly care for, generally I don't mind sexually explicit song but this track just doesn't do it for me, but it does have quite a good backing track, which I suppose gives the song depth.

"Swing Ya Rag", has a distinctive literate popping beat to it, which becomes overly repetitive, the song in general does begin to sound tuneless at times. "What Up, What's Haapnin'?", is another one of my favorites, it has a eery dramatic vibe flowing through it -- T.I.'s vocals seem rather relaxed here... maybe too relaxed? especially during the chorus, and the few lines leading towards it.

"Every Chance I Get", is one of those typical, show of type songs, which has been a real problem, even in his previous albums. "Swagga Like Us", is a star studded track, featuring Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lil' Wayne, it's really all about the lyrics here, which would explain the average backing track. "Slide Slow", featuring John Legend is among T.I. best songs ever, it's heavily Piano based played by John Legend himself, it's an amazing track, probably why I've boosted the album's rating to 3.5 instead of 3.

"Ya'll Ain't Missing Nothing", is another beautiful track, it's really a vocal against acoustics and piano venture, I absolutely adore this track. Closing the album is, "Dead And Gone", with Justin Timberlake; the song is another paino-based track, it's very, very fast paced, which is what I love about it, it's always amazing when T.I. incorporated R&B into his songs. Paper Trail is an average hip-hop album with a handful of good tracks, like I pointed out before, definitely not better that, King or T.I. vs T.I.P.

Best tracks: I'm Illy, Ready For Whatever, My Life Is Your Entertainment, Live Your Life, Whatever You Like, No Matter What, Slide Show, Ya'll Ain't Missing Nothing, Dead and Gone

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Personal Airplay, 09/10/08

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Sex On Fire - Kings Of Leon (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 2 .... Forever - Chris Brown
3 .... 3 .... So What - P!nk
4 .... 5 .... When I Grow Up - The Pussycat Dolls
5 .... 6 .... Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson
6 .... 7 .... Girls - Sugababes
7 .... 9 .... Love Lockdown - Kanye West
8 .... 4 .... The Man Who Can't Be Moved - The Script (2 wks @ #1)
9 ... 10 ... Take Back The City - Snow Patrol
10 .. 38 .. Womanizer - Britney Spears

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Album Review: Jennifer Hudson - Jennifer Hudson (4.5/5)

After much delay, American Idol contestant and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson delivers her debut album. Surprisingly the album is very contemporary both on the urban and pop side, combining a polished combination of emotive ballads and upbeat cuts.

The opens with the first single "Spotlight" which gets the album off to a great start, backed with a distinctive piano bassline, I like how the song balances between modern R&B and still managing to maintain Jennifer's powerful soul-voice, It fits really well. Moving swiftly into "If This Isn't Love", which compliments "Spotlight" well, it's a still a ballad but with a heavier bassline and a nicely structured chorus.

"Pocketbook" is the only hip-hop influenced cut on the album, although the track does it's best to hold back Jennifer's vocal, it falls quite short on the experimental stages, there's no holding back her powerful vocal, the song is pretty repetitive, the one thing I don't care for about this song is the lack of lyrical content in the chorus, she repeats ("Don't make me hit you with my pocket") 3 times in the chorus after a collision of beat-boxing.

After the upbeat "Pocketbook" the album starts to slow down as it moves into "Give Myself", which is among the best ballads on the album, it's your typical modern-day slow jam, the song finds a newly confident reprising herself for her lover as she proclaims ("I'm giving myself, over to you, body and soul, I'm giving it all") although I've heard this message in many R&B songs, noticeably in most Mary J. Blige songs, there's something about this that grabs me after every listen.

The album takes a dip on, "What's Wrong (Go Away)" with T-Pain where we find Jennifer experimenting with T-Pain's signature vocoder, something Jennifer should stay far away from in the future, "What's Wrong" finds a distraught Jennifer awkwardly belting over T-Pain's electronic vocals, although the song itself is not that bad, it's also not that great either, I think the one thing that'll keep people listening to it, is just the plain fact that T-Pain's on it.

The album quickly picks itself up with "My Heart", now I don't know but for some reason I could imagine Mariah Carey singing it, until it reaches the chorus, when Jennifer makes it hers, it's one of the few songs where Jennifer's not belting but singing it like she's talking to you, which I really like. "You Pulled Me Through" is another ballad on the album, I really like this song but I think when it came to the chorus there could have been more background vocals helping Jennifer sing it, It sounds really empty but it's a really a decent ballad but not the best on this album.

Among my favorite tracks on here is "I'm His Only Woman" duet with fellow American Idol contestant Fantasia Barrino the song is like a bettered version of the 1998 hit "The Boy Is Mine" performed by Brandy and Monica, except this is more ballad influenced and heavily motown influenced it's a rare thing to have two big soul-belters on one track, without it seeming like their in competition with each others voices, but in this case it works very well. The intro to the song is very cool too, Jennifer tells Fantasia over the phone that: "If this was ten years ago, I would be at your front door, ready to whoop you ass", which I found excruciatingly funny.

Another one of my favorites is "Can't Stop The Rain" which sounds very singe worthy, it was one of the tracks I couldn't wait to listen to when I previewed the album on iTunes, there's just something about the chorus that lures me into the song.

"We Gon' Fight" is really remarkable, this song has what "You Pulled Me Through" lacked, great background vocals that pushes the song "that" far and Jennifer uses her huge vocals really well on this one. Brillitant stuff. The album closes with "Invisible" another great R&B ballad, which once again find Jennifer declaring self-Independence. This is a great introduction for Jennifer to the music industry, my expectations for her next albums are rising.

Best tracks: Spotlight, If This Isn't Love, Givin' Myself, My Heart, I'm His Only Woman, Can't Stop The Rain, We Gon' Fight, Invisible

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Gosspic cover Aaliyah

British band, The Gossip cover the late R&B singer, Aaliyah's 1998 single "Are You that Somebody?" Featuring Timbaland, which is one my favorite R&B singles of all time. I like the acoustic venture.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Personal Airplay, 03/10/08

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... Sex On Fire - Kings Of Leon (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 4 .... Forever - Chris Brown
3 .... 3 .... So What - P!nk
4 .... 1 .... The Man Who Can't Be Moved - The Script (2 wks @ #1)
5 .... 6 .... When I Grow Up - The Pussycat Dolls
6 .... 7 .... Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson
7 .... 8 .... Girls - Sugababes
8 .... 5 .... Closer - Ne-Yo (1 wk @ #1)
9 ... 10 ... Love Lockdown - Kanye West
10 .. 19 ... Take The Back The City - Snow Patrol

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Usher "Trading Places"

Usher's last single "Moving Mountains" failed to generate any substanstical interest, can the third single "Trading Places" taken from his latest album, Here I Stand, bring the singer back to prominence? check out the video below: