Sunday, November 30, 2008

Musiq Soulchild "If You Leave"

Soul singer, Musiq Soulchild currently has single on heavy rotation on US rhythmic radio "If You Leave" (or "Ifuleave") Featuring Mary J. Blige. It's been out for awhile not, but it's the first I've heard of it. It's pretty good. His forthcoming fifth album, OnMyRadio, due out December 9.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Killers "Human"

The Killers, "Human", has been out for a while now, since I'm not a strong alternative fan this just flew past me, but I forced to listen today and I am now a growing Killers fan. The sound is awesome. "Human" is a melodic offering, oozing with gushes of rock built up of drums and strings.I've also been checking out some of their previous work (Hot Fuss and Sam's Town).

Album Review: Britney Spears - Circus (3.5/5)

The story of Britney Spears is quite the remarkable telling. A southern girl who hit it big in her teens; staying on top for a couple years, becoming the biggest thing in pop since Madonna; hitting rock bottom and returning to prominence --leaving all hardships and struggles on the backburner. Britney Spears' sixth album, Circus marks that return. It's astonishing to have whiteness such a harsh transition in Spears' life over the course of this year. 10 months ago, she was shaving her heard, attacking cars with umbrellas and being carried away to a general ward on a stretcher. Fast forward 10 months and now we have a more sane Spears', who looks to be getting back on track. But does the music live up to the life turnaround?

Last years' Blackout was released in the mist of all the chaos, but proved to be a very decent effort, indulging in an electronic venture, which found Spears' vocals completely dubbed with almost inaudible vocoders. It seems as though Spears' was really just the vocal behind the producer's masterpiece. Now, Circus isn't nearly as futuristically adventurous as, Blackout, It takes a more missionary route --A couple uptemos, mid-tempos and ballads-- but it gets the job done.

Whilst, Circus can be seen as more soft encounter in comparison to, Blackout, it does aquire some musically strong moments. The comeback single, "Womanizer" can be described as electronic, but is essentially made up of gushes of syth and a catchy kinetic handclap backed with alerting sirens going off in the background. Probably Spears' best singles since, "Toxic" (not to say "Piece of Me," "Gimme More" and "Break the Ice," weren't good too) although just not as good --it's the perfect comeback single.

Following swiftly is the title track, "Circus" which finds a more urban venture. I've always wanted Spears' to explore the urban genre more in her music, whenever she puts a song out of the latter she always sound amazing ("Why Should I Be Sad," "Boom Boom," "I'm a Slave 4 U," "Don't Go Knockin' On My Door" are just a few examples) and "Circus," is no exeption, riding on an compelling, cutely synthed R&B bassline, produced by Dr. Luke and Benny Blanco the brains behind Katy Perry's biggest hits this year.

The last ballads Spears' spawned was 2003s ("Everytime," and "Shadow") which were both brilliant. "Out From Under," is definitely a moment to appreciate as they often come as rarities when it comes to Britney Spears (Blackout lacked in ballads). Accompanied by an acoustic guitar, it's a beautiful haunting ballad and she sounds the best she has in a long time, it's great to hear her without all the electronic and vocoders beheld on her vocals. Another ballad on the album is, "My Baby" which also rides on an acoustic guitar, only on here it sounds a tad empty, overall sounding very unfulfilled -- It's not as good as "Under". Like her single, "Someday (I Will Understand)" "My Baby" is a sweet dedication to her sons.

There are only two more songs that I don't particularly fancy. Like last years' "Piece of Me," -- "Kill The Lights," is another song of Spears' that takes a stab at the Paparazzi, only it's not as good. It contains some very strong vocals, especially during the beginning but quickly fizzles as she works her way through the song, it sounds very bland and lacks a catchy hook. The last is, "Blur" which is almost a direct reminiscent of "Early Morin'," from the In the Zone album -- again-- only it's just not as good. It starts off a tad cartoonish before breaking into 3 minutes of utter bleakosity.

The rest of the album is genuinely good. The futuristic, "Shattered Glass" is among favorites, pulsing with layers of synth and layered vocals. Another highlight, "Unusual You" is similarly futuristic, portrayed in a more elegant manor, also pulsing with synth toppled by Spears' distorted vocal work. The song is also backed with delicate piano keys, which gives a fragile effect.

Pop genius, Max Martin lends his producing talents on the albums most provocative number, "If U Seek Amy" say it really fast and it spells out F-U-C-K me. The profanity is cleverly disguised, not because of the name 'Amy' but because she's actually talking about a girl called Amy in the verses. The song itself is your typical upbeat-pop number, thumping a slick synthesized bassline building up to a killer chorus, which is essentially backed by the repetition of ("la la la la") similar to singer, P!nk's "So What" where she exclaims ("na na na na"). Funnily enough, produced by the same person.

"Mmm Papi," is a cheeky number -- Spears' at her most jaunty. It has a swinging 60s beach scene to it, featuring a catchy kinetic handclap and a very awkwardly funny chorus where she proclaims ("mmm papa love you, mmm papa love you"). "Mannequin," is the albums more inventive moments --Spears' vocal becoming virtually inaudible but thumping a bricky bassline and featuring some cool lyrics ("you cry eyes outta your head"/"you cry cry cry again again, my face like a mannequin").

The funky, "Lace and Leather" is an interesting number, starting off with a nice string and drum venture before bursting into a breezy chorus. Circus, is by no means Spears' best album, but it marks a safe return to the top ("Womanizer" scoring her first #1 in 10 years) and despite its flaws Spears managed to churn out winner, a safe winner, but nonetheless a winner. Hopefully on her next album, we find a more risk taking spears. I would die for another In the Zone.

Best: Womanizer, If U Seek Amy, Circus, Out From Under, Shattered Glass, Unusual You

Gym Class Heroes "Guilty"

Taken from their somewhat lackluster, but still decent fourth album. "Guilty" Featuring Estelle, was probably the best song on the album, along with "Cookie Jar," so it's not as surprising now it's a single. Check out the video below:

The Saturdays "Issues"

I'm absolutely loving The Saturdays so far all the singles released from their debut album, Chasing Lights, have been outstanding. Here is the video for the third single, "Issues".

Album Review: Britney Spears - In the Zone (2003, 4.5/5)

As the release of Britney's sixth studio album Circus creeps up, I thought I'd take a lengthy reminiscent back to 2003s In the Zone, which I think is indeed her best album in her entire catalog. In the Zone marked Britney's departure from her sugary-sweet bubble-gum pop cuts, embracing a more cutting edge, adult sound. Her debut album ...Baby One More Time was simple yet remarkably well crafted into perfect cut pop --bringing the help of pop genius, Max Martin, who produced the title track which was among the albums best highlights (along with "Born To Make You Happy"). It's follow up Oops!... I Did It Again used the same formula, indulging in a more aggressive state of pop (on "Stronger" and "Don't Go Knockin' On My Door").

Her third album Britney was a slight departure from bubble-gum pop, teaming up with The Neptunes and Rodney Jerkins, the album spawned its key hit accompanying her successful transition from sexy, mid-riff baring teen to fiery, sexed up vixen ("I'm A Slave 4 U") backed with sultry and layered vocals. Max Martin also put his touch on the album to keep up the Pop side. The album also spawned the whispery, broiling ("Boys") which is among my favorite songs her.

Catching us up to In the Zone. Ditching the help of long time producer Max Martin, Britney pulled in the help of Bloodshy & Avant, who produced her biggest hit in years "Toxic", a dramatic, bond-themed, guitar-backed number, with a just as equally dramatic video. The rush of violins during various portions of the song never failed to amuse me. Also hopping abord the Britney-bandwagon was R. Kelly who produced the flirtatious, urban, indian-styled "Outrageous", the song has a killer chorus --a cloying, dulcet combination between whispered vocals and background sonant. Moby churns out the throbbing and pulsating "Early Morin" which is backed with a blustery and buoyant chorus.

In the Zone is a nourishing consolidation between Pop AC and Firey Urban AC. The hot collaboration with rap stars, The Ying Twins on "Boom Boom" is very out of the blue, definitely something I didn't expect when I first listened through the album. Thrusting rhythmic handclaps and drums against a hardcore hip-hop bassline, followed by random screams from The Ying Yang Twins and a very voluptuous vocal performance from Britney. Admittedly this song took awhile to grow on me, but now I really do love it. "The Hook Up" carries another surprise --an irascible jamaican vibe, even finding Britney adopting a terrible Jamaican accent during the round off of the bridge. The broiling "Showdown" also has a distinctive Caribbean vibe, another one that took awhile to grow me --I always thought the verses were very weak and uninspired-- now I think their sexy and sultry.

The underappreciated collaboration with Queen of Pop, Madonna on the lead single "Me Against The Music" is an ultimate favorite. I love the recurring guitar and drums in the song --the incredibly fastly sung hook. Madonna does a good job on her part, the bridge and the breakdown is very libidinous. "Brave New Girl" is strangely very more pop than anything else on the album, bringing in synthesizers, vocoders and what-not. I love the blusterous chorus.

In the Zone constitutes 2 key animalistic moments on the throbbing "Breathe On Me" which finds some deeply oppressive vocals, backed with an enticing, resonating bassline. "Touch Of My Hand" is the most provocative song on the album as it's suppose to simulate masturbation with lyrics like: "I shut myself out from the world so I can draw the blinds... I love myself it's not a sin, I can't control what's happening". The song carries a very mellow, enchanting vibe. I love it.

The best song on the album is The Matrix-produced "Shadow" --which I love to pieces. The song starts out very mellow dramatic, with wolf howls and faint piano keys, building through a rush of delicate violins before everything ties in together in the climax of the song (drums, violins, piano keys and faint strings). Britney's vocal performance is stunning on here. The Guy Sigworth-produced "Everytime" is another favorite, finding Britney using very gentle vocal work on here. These 2 songs are possible among her best ballads ever.

In the Zone is a fantastic offering, definitely Britney at her best, creatively. So, What does the upcoming Circus have in store, from what I've heard so far, It couldn't be any more different to this --verging more similar to 2007s Blackout. It's lead single, the electronic "Womanizer" definitely holds a promising status for the upcoming album. I can't Wait.

Best Tracks: Shadow, Toxic, Everytime, Me Against The Music, Breathe On Me, Showdown, Touch Of My Hand, Outrageous, Early Mornin', Boom Boom

Thursday, November 27, 2008

More Single Reviews...

Here are some brief single reviews I missed out from yesterdays batch...

"No Can Do" Sugababes. A brilliant second single, I love the old school motown throwback vibe. Definitely better than the previous single "Girls".

"Just Dance" Lady GaGa Featuring Colbie O'Donis. Lady GaGa brings good old pop back with her debut single "Just Dance" with Colbie O'Donis who's known for his hit with Akon "What You Got". "Just Dance" is a great pop - dance contemporary song, Lady GaGa could just have struck gold with this.

"Run" Leona Lewis. Leona offers a great cover of Snow Patrol's2 2003 hit "Run". But will it be a hit for her?

"Sober" P!nk. A great but depressing offering from Pink, a very wierd direction to go after the success of the previous single "So What".

"Right Here (Departed)" Brandy.
I love this song so much. "Right Here" marks Brandy's return to the scene after her 4 year break. It's her first decent offering since 2004s "Talk About Us" with Kanye West. Follow up singles to that weren't anything past decent.

Personal Airplay, 27/11/08

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... Love Lockdown - Kanye West (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... Womanizer - Britney Spears (2 wks @ #1)
3 .... 3 .... Hot N Cold - Katy Perry
4 .... 4 .... Live Your Life - T.I. Featuring Rihanna
5 .... 5 .... If I Were A Boy - Beyonce
6 .... 7 .... Human - The Killers
7 .... 8 .... The Boy Does Nothing - Alesha Dixon
8 .... 6 .... So What - P!nk (3 wks @ #1)
9 ... 10 ... Forgive Me - Leona Lewis
10 .. 19 .. Papa - N-Dubz

Kanye West scores his 5th #1 single on my chart, dispacing Britney to #2, but still staying bulleted and could reclaim the top spot again next week if it can fight off tight competition from Katy Perry, Beyonce, T.I. and potentially The Killers. This week only has 1 new top 10 entry, which comes from N-Dubz scoring their 3rd top 10.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pink "Sober"

"Sober" is taken as the second single from P!nk's latest album, Funhouse. Check out the video below:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Should rappers sing?

This is a question I've been asking for a long time now, due to the release of Kanye West's fourth studio album, 080's & Heartbreak this question has arose "Should rappers sing?" here's MTVs lengthy report on the matter.

Single reviews

Heres this weeks single reviews.

"Superhuman" Chris Brown & Keri Hilson. This singles been out for a while now -- It's not a bad song, but it does seem like a cheap duplicate of Chris's previous debut with Jordin Sparks in the smash hit "No Air". The song has a current peak at #32 on the UK Singles Chart.

"I Hate this Part" Pussycat Dolls. I'm in love with this song a very nice mid-tempo ballad, with a heavy piano bassline. A great choice for a single, but whatever happened to "Watcha Think About That".

"The Boy Does Nothing" Alesha Dixon. Alesha was probably inspired to produce this rumba influenced track due to her triumph on the UKs Strictly Come Dancing. A very good delivering indeed.

"Rehab" Rihanna.
Another day, another single, isn't it time for a new album yet "Rehab" is the 8th single from Rihanna's third studio album, Good Girl Gone Bad. While it's a great song, I still think it's time to move on.

"Right Now" Akon. A Brilliant introduction to Akon's upcoming third studio album, Freedom the song has just only started receiving airplay in the UK. It has a very catchy chorus, brilliant stuff.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Britney vs Christina "Womanizer Gettin' Better"

Heres a cool mash up I've been seeing on some UK airplay channels, a combination between Britney's "Womanizer" and Christina's "Keeps Gettin' Better". Enjoy.

Rihanna "Rehab"

Although I'm still pretty mad that Rihanna's still sucking the daylight out of this one album, I am however pleased at the single choice "Rehab" was one of the standouts from on the Good Girl Gone Bad. A haunting, eery number accompanied by a distorted guitar. The commercial release of the single is set to feature Justin Timberlake. Oh joy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Leona Lewis "I Will Be"

FMQB are reporting "I Will Be" will be the third single taken from Leona Lewis' debut album Spirit only in the U.S. Shame, it should've been a worldwide single.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Personal Airplay, 20/11/08

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Womanizer - Britney Spears (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 2 .... Love Lockdown - Kanye West
3 .... 3 .... Hot N Cold - Katy Perry
4 .... 5 .... Live Your Life - T.I. Featuring Rihanna
5 .... 6 .... If I Were A Boy - Beyonce
6 .... 4 .... So What - P!nk (3 wks @ #1)
7 ... 10 ... Human - The Killers
8 ... 18 ... The Boy Does Nothing - Alesha Dixon
9 .... 7 .... The Promise - Girls Aloud
10 .. 16 .. Forgive Me - Leona Lewis

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Akon "Right Now"

Akon's first single, "Right Now (Na Na Na)", released from his upcoming 3rd studio album, Freedom, I never thought I'd find myself liking the song as much I do; the video's very cool too. check it out the song.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mariah Carey, The Ballads

Mariah's ballads have been a staple to her since the beginning of her career, with her most remembered ones such as ("Hero"), ("Love Takes Time"), ("Vision Of Love") and the more recent ("We Belong Together") just name a few. Last month she released her fifth compilation album titled The Ballads commemorating her past ballads. The album doesn't use any ballads 2005-present, only 1990-2001.

Although the album is titled The Ballads not every track on here is a ballad, they manage to include the obvious choices for a ballad compilation such as ("Hero") ("Without You") and the Hot 100 monster #1 hit ("One Sweet Day") with Boyz II Men, but then mis-steps in including more soul-R&B/Hip-Hop oriented and less ballady tracks such as ("The Roof") ("Thank God I Found You (Remix)"), with Nas and R&B singer Joe, and ("How Much") with Usher.I did think the album managed to capture my personal highlights through Mariah's career post-2005s, Emancipation of Mimi but does seem to miss the obvious concept of the album, to include the actual ballads, I found myself wondering why the missed out great proper ballads such as ("Butterfly"), ("Through The Rain"), ("Can't Let Go"), ("Love Takes Time"), ("Can't Take That Away") or forget about the singles, there's even the great ballads buried inside her past albums that never saw the light of day such as ("Outside") and ("Whenever You Call") with Brian McKnight from Butterfly ("When I Saw You"), ("I Am Free") and ("Forever") from Daydream

With all that said, it does seem to be another remake of her first greatest hits album #1s, but the album is great, because of the songs in general, just a bit disappointed at the lack of ballads, thank god for iTunes playlists.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Preview Britney Spears' Circus

Amazon have put previews of the tracks on the upcoming Britney Spears album, Circus and I have to say for the most part I'm very impressed. Obviously, "Womanizer" is instant winner. I also like "Shattered Glass," a futuristic number -- I can't wait to here in full. There's also a ballad called, "Out From Under" which I quite like and the distorted, "Unusual You" which isn't bad.

Personal Airplay, 13/11/08

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... Womanizer - Britney Spears (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 3 .... Love Lockdown - Kanye West
3 .... 4 .... Hot N Cold - Katy Perry
4 .... 1 .... So What - P!nk (3 wks @ #1)
5 .... 7 .... Live Your Life - T.I. Featuring Rihanna
6 .... 9 .... If I Were A Boy - Beyonce
7 .... 5 .... The Promise - Girls Aloud
8 .... 8 .... Keeps Gettin' Better - Christina Aguilera
9 .... 6 .... When I Grow Up - The Pussycat Dolls
10 .. 17 .. Human - The Killers

Haven't done any commentary in awhile. This week Britney Spears scores her 15th #1 on my chart and her 2nd #1 of the year, following "Break The Ice," which had a 3 week stint at #1. Since tracking began in 1997, Spears now has the most #1s on my chart, see full list of #1s below.

Britney Spears' #1s on my chart
1. Baby One More Time (7 weeks) 1999
2. Crazy (1 week) 1999
3. Born To Make You Happy (2 weeks) 2000
4. Oops! I Did It Again (4 weeks) 2000
6. I'm A Slave 4 U (2 weeks) 2001
7. Overprotected (1 week) 2002
8. I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman (2 week) 2002
9. Boys (Co-Ed Remix) (1 week) 2002
10. Me Against The Music (3 weeks) 2003
11. Toxic (11 weeks) 2004
12. Everytime (2 weeks) 2004
13. Piece Of Me (3 weeks) 2007
14. Break The Ice (3 weeks) 2008
15. Womanizer (1 week, so far) 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Single reviews

Here are his weeks singles roundup, there's quite a few...

"Rain on Your Parade" Duffy. Duffy's back after a one-month absence since her previous single "Stepping Stone" which failed to crack the top 20 on the UK singles chart, peaking at #21. "Rain On Your Parade" is a great, dramatic, almost bond-themed song, with a pulsing beat running through it, a tad repetitive but great nonetheless.

"Gotta Be Somebody" Nickelback. Probably one of the more better rock-ballads of the year, Nickelback are back with their first single "Gotta Be Somebody" for their upcoming album Dark Horse It's definitely no "Rockstar" but a nice return to the game - the song has a great melody backed up with the typical strings, drums and other noise.

"I Stay In Love" Mariah Carey. "I Stay In Love" is the fourth single release from Mariah's latest studio effort E=MC2, after a string of flops hopes are this should perform well on the charts, there's no reason for it not 10. Mariah's last ballad "Bye Bye" might have been very sentimental, but not a strong choice for a single, "I Stay In Love" could indeed be Mariah's next "We Belong Together".

"Forgive Me" Leona Lewis. "Forgive Me" is the latest we've heard from Leona in a while, her last release was the double-a-side "Better In Time" and "Footprints In The Sand" earlier this year, which were both slow songs. "Forgive Me" is very refreshing on Leona's standards because it's something more upbeat, reminiscing back to Whitney Houston "Dance With Somebody" days.

"Hot N Cold" Katy Perry. "Hot N Cold" has been out for a while now, but I'm really beginning to take to it now. After Katy's worldwide hit with "I Kissed A Girl" it's obvious it would've been hard to follow it up well, but this raging piece of dance-pop seems to do the trick.

"Live Your Life" T.I. Featuring Rihanna. It's a shame T.I.'s going to jail soon the Paper Trail era seems to be going well for him and potentially his best era ever. His previous single, the Hot 100 #1 "Whatever You Like" was good but the second "Live Your Life" is brilliant, Rihanna does a good job on her part too. The single also topped the Hot 100 last month.

"Womanizer" Britney Spears. Britney's comeback single "Womanizer" took a minute too digest, it certainly no "Toxic" or "Stronger" but it a fantastic piece of modern electro pop, it consists of a layered pulsing electronic bassline, of course incorporating robotic vocals, reminiscent to the stuff on her last album Blackout, "Womanizer" really makes her forthcoming 6th studio album Circus look very promising.

"If I Were A Boy" Beyonce. "If I Were A Boy" is the lead single taken from Beyonce's forthcoming 3rd studio album, I Am... Sasha Fierce, It doesn't compare to her previous work, which contain similar buildings like "Irreplaceable" but it's a fairly decent song, with a pretty remarkable vocal performance.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Looking Back: 1989

Do I remember 1989? of course I don't, I grew up in the late 90s but looking back I do see why people love that decade so much, here are a few highlights from 1989.

Fine Young Cannibals - She Drives Me Crazy

I actually didn't know this was from the 80's when I first heard it, I first found it bundled inside my mum's old record collection -- I really love the song.

Paula Abdul - Straight Up

This song is really awesome, sometimes I really feel bad that I weren't alive when Paula Abdul was at her peak in the music industry, I figured this after listening to her first 2 albums Forever Your Girl and Spellbound.

Janet Jackson - Rhythm Nation / Miss You Much

Now Janet Jackson (along with Madonna) are the two of the few artist I'm really familiar with who emerged from the 80s. I do wonder why they never got compared to each other (especially Janet and Paula)

Madonna - Like A Prayer

Surprisingly Madonna's "Like A Prayer" still seems as relevant today as it probably did back when it was fresh on the charts. It was one of the first records my mum ever bought when she moved to London back in 1988.

X-Factor Finalists cover "Hero"

The X Factor finalists cover Mariah Carey's 1993 hit "Hero" in a bid for the soldiers in the war. Looks sure to be a hit.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Britney Scores 19th Top 10

Britney Spears scores her 19th top 10 in the UK today with her comeback single, "Womanizer" which debuts at #4. Here are her previous chartings:

1. Baby One More Time (#1, 21/02/99, 2 weeks)
2. Sometimes (#3)
3. Crazy (#5)
4. Born To Make You Happy (#1, 23/01/00, 1 week)
5. Oops! I Did It Again (#1, 07/05/00, 1 week)
6. Lucky (#5)
7. Stringer (#7)
8. I'm a Slave 4 U (#4)
9. Overprotected (#4)
10. I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman (#2)
11. Boys (Featuring Pharell William; #2)
12. Me Against the Music (Featuring Madonna; #2)
13. Toxic (#1, 07/03/04, 1 week)
14. Everytime (#1, 20/06/04, 1 week)
15. My Prerogative (#3)
16. Do Somethin' (#6)
17. Gimme More (#3)
18. Piece of Me (#2)
19. Womanizer

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Personal Airplay, 06/11/08

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... So What - P!nk (3 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 2 .... Womanizer - Britney Spears
3 .... 4 .... Love Lockdown - Kanye West
4 .... 5 .... Hot N Cold - Katy Perry
5 .... 7 .... The Promise - Girls Aloud
6 .... 3 .... When I Grow Up - The Pussycat Dolls
7 ... 28 ... Live Your Life - T.I. Featuring Rihanna
8 ... 16 ... Keeps Gettin' Better - Christina Aguilera
9 ... 18 ... If I Were A Boy - Beyonce
10 .. 8 .... Forever - Chris Brown (1 wk @ #1)