Saturday, February 28, 2009

Introducing... N-Dubz

N-Dubz emerged from the UK grime scene with their 2006 underground hit "Better Not Waste My Time", which became an anthem for school kids, like myself all over the UK. Despite many delays they released their much awaited debut album Uncle B in 2008, which has been certified platinum, churning out 4 top 40 hits, including "Papa" which became their highest charting single, peaking at #19 on the UK singles chart.

Album Review: K'naan - Troubadour (4.5/5)

Hip-hop in the 21st century has definitely taken a twist in comparison to the 90s and 80s, while the top artist of this decade indulge in synthesized, pop bassline backed cuts, K'naan doesn't jump on the contemporary bandwagon. Troubadour is a definitely the best hip-hop album I've heard in a while. The latest releases Kanye Wests 808s & Heartbreak, Commons Universal Mind Control and Plies' Da REAList have all been decent efforts, but nothing praise worthy.

Troubadour is a remarkable collection of 90s old school joints all spun with a modern twist. I'd never heard of K'naan, but I did hear good stories about his previous album, 2007s The Dusty Foot on the Road and 2005s The Dusty Foot Philosopher which I have yet to listen to in full, but what I can tell from the 30 second previews in iTunes, they're pretty good. "T.I.A." is a brillaint opener, em-basking in a series of rhythmic handclaps, beeps and excessive chanting of the title. The song also incorporates song M.I.A. like indian vibes.

The follow up track "ABCs" is another key track, as well sounding... not so contemporary but very single worthy. The song talks about Africa, describing it as a land of different priorities, I love the lyric: "nobody fat enough for lipo". The chorus is fairly catchy too. "Dreamer" sounds very 90s ish, with its retro funky bassline, it lacks a chorus that sticks, but it does get the job done. In comparison to The Dusty Foot Philosopher which was admittedly more contemporary and modern ("Soobax" and "Strugglin") are good examples and are what are missing from this album. The lack of contemporary cuts deny this album of the rich feel of Philosopher. "Bang Bang" is one of my favorites, incorporating a very melodic chorus sung in an higher register vocal, the round-off the chorus: "bang bang, she shot me..." very catchy. "If Rap Gets Jealous" is again one of my favorites, it takes off in a more alternative rock direction, incorporating the typical ingredients for an alternative songs, electronic guitars, drums and a very breezy chorus --the production on the song is brilliant.

The more mellow "Somalia" as well as having a great melody and beat but its very lyrically charged too. "Take A Minute" and "People Like Me" go in the same direction. The only downfall of the album is the closing track "Doesn't Really Matter" which sounds like it belongs on a Nelly album. Troubadour is certainly the best piece of hip-hop I've heard in a long time, I decided to get this to fill in the time leading to the biggest release I'm looking forward to, Jay-Zs The Blueprint 3 but luckily it didn't turn out a time filler, but a very good offering. Unfortunately the lack of contemporary cuts does bug me.

Best Tracks: M.I.A. ABCs, Dreamer, Bang Bang, Wavin' Flagn, Somalia, America, Take A Minute, People Like Me, 15 Minutes Away

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jennifer Lopez "Hooked on You"

"Hooked on You" is the latest from Jennifer Loepz, supposedly for her forthcoming first greatest hits album, check out the song below.

Billboard Hot 100, 28/02/09

Boring Hot 100 this week...

1. FloRida - Right Round

FloRida's "Right Round" spends its second week at #1 - I haven't grown to like this song much yet, it's certainly no "Low."

4. All-American Rejects - Gives You Hell

Rock band All-American Rejects score their first top 5 single "Gives You Hell" ascending up to #4 this week (the song is also doing well at top 40 radio, poised at #2 being blocked from the top spot by Britney's "Circus) it's the their highest charting single since 2006s "It Ends Tonight."

6. Lady GaGa - Poker Face

Lady GaGa scores her second top 10 with "Poker Face" following her #1 smash "Just Dance", I smell a #1 coming on very soon.

9. Soulja Boy - Kiss Me Thru The Phone

Soulja Boy is sales gainer of the week with his latest single "Kiss Me Thru The Phone" which rises 9 spots up the chart to #9.

19. Beyonce - Diva

After a taking a minor dip last week, Beyonce's "Diva" rises 4 notches inside to the top 20, at #19. Unfortunately "Halo" has still yet to enter the top 40, it's at #46 this week.

94. Britney Spears - If U Seek Amy

My favorite song of the moment re-enters the Hot 100 at #94 --after its brief debut at #86 last year due to heavy digital sales, when Circus was released, this week the song entered the mediabase top 40 and currently rests at #38. Could this be a 3rd Hot 100 chart topper for Britney?.

Personal Airplay, 26/02/09

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 3 .... Let It Rock - Kevin Rudolf Featuring Lil' Wayne (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 2 .... Circus - Britney Spears (2 wks @ #1)
3 .... 4 .... Breathe Slow - Alesha Dixon
4 .... 1 .... Single Ladies - Beyonce (1 wk @ #1)
5 .... 7 .... I'm Yours - Jason Mraz
6 ... 10 .. The Fear - Lily Allen
7 .... 5 .... Issues - The Saturdays
8 .... 8 .... Day 'n' Nite - Kid Cudi
9 .... 6 .... Sober - Pink
10 .. 15 .. Poker Face - Lady GaGa

Monday, February 23, 2009

Album Review: Kelly Clarkson - All I Ever Wanted (4.5/5)

Since the mid 2000s, Kelly Clarkson has became one of the main staples in today's contemporary pop music, her second album, Breakaway, became stellar hit for the singer (selling up 13 million copies worldwide) spawning the back-to-back-to-back hits, the Max Martin produced "Since U Been Gone," "Behind the Hazel Eyes" and the tearjerker "Because of You." This was possibly why Clarkson's last album, My December, wasn't so well received --the album did tank in sales-- but was also accused of lacking any pop moments, while this wasn't necessarily true, the album did acquire a more angry and dark theme. This resulted in an feud between Clarkson and her record label, who were reportedly against the release of the body of work she had produce. I was a tad skeptical about that album at first, but I really liked it, it was a great album. The progressive ballad "Sober" and the revengeful single "Never Again" were awesome.

After the bleak reception of, My December, Clarkson has definitely learned her lesson: never go against your record label, especially when it's fueled by music mogul Clive Davis. Like a Frisbee returning to its thrower, on the new album Clarkson returns to contemporary pop, a more happy and lighhearted venture, although there a couple tracks that could ruin that take on the album. Bringing back in the help from Max Martin, also acquiring the producing and writing skills of new American Idiol judge, ironically, Kara DioGuardi and Ryan Tedder also lends his talents.

DioGuardi is the only producer from the last album to work on this one--she lends her producing skills on "I Do Not Hook Up" (which I hear was originally for Katy Perry) although it sounds like something Perry would sing, Clarkson fits the bill perfectly--backed with a jaunty electronic guitar and a cheerleader like chant on the chorus, this is a fantastic pop rock song. As it should be, All I Ever Wanted, is very pop/rock built (sorry for stating the obvious) leaving the darkening territories of, My December, behind.

Just among the best pop/rock numbers on the album is the lead single "My Life Would Suck Without You" produced by pop hitmaker Max Martin--who is arguably the best producer when it comes to pop music--almost everything the man touches turn to chart gold. Last year Martin produced P!nk's "So What" which became the singer's first US #1, so it shouldn't really come as a surprise that "Suck" has become Clarkson's most (chart-concerned) successful song ever. The song broke the record for biggest jump to #1 in the US and it made Clarkson the first American Idol winner to top the UK singles chart. Kicking off the album with bang, this breezy radio-friendly number, I'd say, has done pretty well in solidifying Clarkson as a powerful force in today's pop music.

Claude Kelly lends her writing talents on the rock-fronted "Don't Let Me Stop You." Kelly's also written for the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Britney Spears and Brandy. Solid verses and a fantastic chorus, this a terrific song. Clarkson's vocal is immaculate on here. It's as rock as most of the stuff on, My December, it does show some pop presensece but it is pretty rock styled. Another track which brings Clarkson's vocals to the forefront is the albums first ballad "Cry." It's your typical strings, drums and electornic guitar backed ballad but it's still pretty compelling especially on the chorus. The extended note on: ("It's this what it feels like to really cry") is heart churning. It's a pretty heartfelt piece. One of the best tracks on the album.

Ryan Tedder who produced Beyonce's "Halo" for her, I Am... Sasha Fierce, album, pops on "Already Gone" so it's no wonder they sound alike. If your familiar with "Halo" then "Already Gone" is no different, employing that same haunting element backed with distinctive drums and occasional piano to round out the song. Despite the similarity this is in fact a very good song--Tedder is responsible for being the brains behind this decades biggest pop songs. In 2007 he delivered to pop rock group, OneRepublic "Apologize" which became a worldwide hit and also in the same year he styled Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" which also became a worldwide smash. Maybe "Already Gone" could follow in their footsteps, really their shouldn't be any shades of doubt that this too could be a hit single. Tedder also shows up on the electronic styled (almost Muse reminiscent) "If I Can't Have You" which pounds with a catchy, slightly dark kinetic bassline--and do I spot signs of vocal tweaking. This isn't a favorite but I do like it, the chorus is a bit disappointing--there's no notable melody but it's not earth shatteringly lackluster, it sounds like it could've been included on My December.

Another great Tedder contribution is the 2 sided "Save You" which starts out a mellow composition between strings and vocal, which gradually ascends into strings, vocal and drums. Eventually aquiring a solid rock pop configuration. The middle of the song is a piano backed interlude, which is a nice surprise, then playing back into the rock pop composition--playing out with Clarkson's blended repetition of: ("It's gonna be alright... save you"). "Impossible" is a dark, piano, bass and synth backed number, it has a really nice chorus. The title track is among the albums remarkable moments, acquiring a nice rock venture--backed by electronic guitars which contribute to the fantastic thundering chorus. Which finds Clarkson's vocals using all it's power. The rock fronted "Long Shot" which finds writing credibility from Katy Perry is a great track--maybe not as good as "I Do Not Hook Up"--but I like it a lot.

I've come to accept that within every pop album by today's best pop artist contains at least a couple tracks that don't quite hit the mark. All I Ever Wanted, is unfortunately no exeption--although luckily there's only 2 so it could've been worse. The Metallica rock styled "Whyyouwannabringmedown" I initially thought was god awful, but then I decided it wasn't as terrible as I thought it was, but it is pretty lackluster--Clarkson's punk/rock venture is a bit of a failure. Clarkson recreated a '60's beach scene on "I Want You" which--again--doesn't quite hit the mark. It sounds like a revamp of Britney Spears's "Mmm Papi" from her latest, Circus, album. I think it could've been better.

The last couple tracks towards the end of the album aren't anything notable but good songs nontheless. "Ready" is a nice jaunty number, backed by mostly drums and strings--possibly the most lighthearted we've seen Clarkson in a long time. The closing number "If No One Will Listen" is an great empowering ballad which shows of Clarkson fantastic vocal range, as it should. Overall, All I Ever Wanted, is a fantastic pop album. Is it as good, Breakaway? probabaly not--that is a classic album, among the best pop albums ever created and, All I Ever Wanted, doesn't hit that mark, but it is a terrific album nontheless. Whilst, My December, wasn't a bad album--I liked it very much--I think this is an improvement.

Best: I Do Not Hook Up, My Life Would Suck Without You, Already Gone, Save You, Cry, Impossible, Don't Let Me Stop You, All I Ever Wanted

Singles Roundup

Here are singles reviews for songs getting their release (in the UK) in these upcoming weeks...

"Halo" Beyonce
(4/5) - I wasn't too keen on "Halo" but it's slowly starting to grow me, I still think "Broken-Hearted Girl" is its superior. Admittedly it does a very luring bassline and a catchy chorus.

"Crush" David Archuleta (4.5/5) - I was pleasantly shocked when I saw this played on The Box the other night, it seems Jive are going to promote David overseas. Sadly enough there weren't many highlights on David Archuleta's debut album, "Crush" (and "A Little To Not Over You") were pretty much it. I still love this song, I can't resist a good contemporary effort.

"If This Isn't Love" Jennifer Hudson (4/5) - At first I was excited about "If This Isn't Love" being the second single chosen from her debut album, but after seeing her remarkable performance of "You Pulled Me Through" at Grammy's --I'm wondering if that would be a better choice for a single. But either way "If This Isn't Love" is still a good song.

"T-Shirt" Shontelle (4.5/5) - I didn't jump on the Shontelle bandwagon straight away, I wasn't at all pleased that she's making music that Beyonce or Rihanna have already done in the past, but "T-Shirt" is a catchy urban number and I can't resist. Although it weren't a hit in the U.S. it's already adopted a top 10 peak in the UK.

"Dead and Gone" T.I. Feat. Justin Timberlake (4/5) - As T.I.'s jail time creeps up, he keeps on cramming these singles between now and then in. "Dead and Gone" is his most recent, it's a decent effort, it has nothing on "Live Your Life", but it's decent - the song doesn't stick as well as it should. I have yet to see the video played on any music channels.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

UK Singles Chart, 22/02/09

1. Lily Allen - The Fear
3. Kings of Leon - Use Somebody

Lily Allen's "The Fear" spends its 4th week at #1, beating out competition from Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" which could have easily found its way to the top spot due to having a great digital sale week, staying at the iTunes top spot for 5 days. This week it rises back into the top 5 after peaking at #2 for 10 non-consecutive weeks.

5. Alesha Dixon - Breathe Slow

Unfortunately Alesha couldn't nab the top spot with "Breathe Slow" after peaking at #3 this week it falls 2 notches to #5 this week.

6. Shontelle - T-Shirt

Shontelle's "T-Shirt" took a while to grow on me, but I love it now --its certainly got the top spot on my personal chart next week. Back to the UK singles chart, it scores her, her first top 10 single, which is a relief as it failed to make any way at home in the U.S. the single peaked at a harsh #36 on the Hot 100 and #21 on the Pop 100. I think we have a future top 3 track on our hands.

10. Pussycat Dolls Featuring Missy Elliot - Whatcha Think About That

(Along with Miley Cyrus's "Fly On The Wall") I've been hearing this EVERYWHERE, they're certainly pushing this for promotion, so its understandable that they score they're 7th top 10 with "Watcha Think About That" but can it follow in the footsteps of 2005s "Don't Cha" and "Stickwitchu" and Dominate the top spot.

15. Lady GaGa - Poker Face

This song only just began receiving airplay here. The Box, have played the video I think 5 times today. As fun and uptempo "Poker Face" is, I do question wether it will catch on as well as her #1 hit "Just Dance" (which resides at #2 for a second week, this week).

16. Miley Cyrus - Fly On The Wall

I don't care for this song anymore, I was over it way before its release here. It seems Miley's record label are really striving for a #1 --there's adverts on heavy rotation promoting the single on Sky 1, ITV 1 and almost every local channel. It's just really annoying. This week it rises 7 spots up the chart to #16.

17. T.I. Featuring Justin Timberlake - Dead and Gone

I haven't heard this on the radio or the TV yet, but I do like it a lot. This week rises 12 spots up the chart from #30 to #17. Scoring T.I. his second top 20 after "Live Your Life" with Rihanna peaked at #2. I can't believe "Whatever You Like" wasn't a hit, stalling at a dismal #47. Justin also scores his 13th top 20 (combining features).

18. Britney Spears - Circus

Poor Britney. Even with the physical release of "Circus" couldn't manage to at least crack the top 10. Her singles this time around don't seem to be doing too well --"Womanizer" peaked at #3, I was so sure that it would've rocketed to #1. She needs another "Toxic" (or "Everytime") which both topped the chart consecutively, will "If U Seek Amy" do the trick? If it doesn't it wil most likely peak in the top 20, as I've noticed every song she's released in the UK has peaked in the top 20 somewhere.

19. The Killers - Human

Could this be down the Brit Awards on Saturday? Rock band The Killers rise back into the top 20 with "Human" which peaked at #3 last year, giving them their highest charting single since 2006s "When We Were Young".

22. Taylor Swift - Love Story

"Love Story" is also being played a lot across music channels and radio. This week it makes a top 30 debut at #22, becoming her first ever song to chart on the UK singles chart. Hopefully it will be kind and give her first #1 hit. I think the last country act to #1 on the UK singles chart with Kid Rock's "All Summer Long" last year.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Preview Kelly Clarkson's All I Ever Wanted

After the dark and angry, My December, Kelly Clarkson lightens thing up on her fourth album, All I Ever Wanted. There are some depressing ballads such as my current favorite, the P!nk rock/pop styled ballad "Cry" and "Already Gone" but on the whole the album is pretty lighthearted. It's pretty much as light as the lead hit single "My Life Would Suck Without You" employs.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Songs on heavy rotation

Here some music that are currently receiving heavy rotation on my iPod...

"If U Seek Amy" Britney Spears

Will I ever tire of this song? Probably soon, I've been in love with for 2 months now - I won't be able to hide my embarrassment when it reaches its 1000th play. Her fansite says the video for this song will premier sometime in March, just a day before her upcoming tour kicks off, really looking forward to it.

"Heartless" Kanye West

I weren't too big on this song at its time of release, but I absolutely love it, I'm even beginning to find new love for his latest album 808s & Heartbreak.

"Walking on a Dream" Empire of the Sun

I got my credit card to day. Yay!!! So I decided to browse the UK iTunes since I'm unable to use the U.S. anymore and I saw the album Walking on a Dream sitting at #5 on the top 100 albums, remembering that ww_adh had reviewed it. The title track "Walking on a Dream" was just sitting with "free" written next to it, so I thought why not? And the songs not that bad, I've listened to it 12 times since I bought it. It's a strange type of pop, but pop either way - the album based on previews seems pretty good too.

"Just Like Me" Jamie Foxx

I LOVE this song, admittedly the verses are very dry but the chorus is remarkably catchy throwing a Mariah Carey "Touch My Body" reminiscent.

"It's All Your Fault" Pink

I've been listening to this song since I bought I bought Pink's latest album Funhouse last year, but I'm only really getting into it now. It's a very breezy, contemporary effort from her. I've also got "Mean" on regular play too, I love the ballad-country vibe.

"Broken-Hearted Girl" Beyonce

I haven't heard anything from "Halo" and "Diva" here in the UK. Patience is out of the question. I think "Broken-Hearted Girl" is a single in the waiting, a brilliant ballad from Beyonce and one of the standouts from Sasha Fierce.

If U See(k) Amy?

My friends overseas in the U.S. have been telling me they've heard Britney's new single "If U Seek Amy" on U.S. radio, but it's been edited to "If U See Amy" due to concerns raised by parents, claiming the song is too suggestive for radio, bullcrap, why weren't they so concerned when "Lollipop" and "I Kissed A Girl" received heavy rotation on radio last year. I'd previously read reports that they were planning on censoring the song but I didn't think they'd actually do it. Fortunately when the single is released in European markets it will be "If U Seek Amy". 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

40 Best R&B Albums of the decade (so far)

It's almost the end of the decade, here is a quick rundown of my favorite R&B albums of this decade. A more in depth look will come later this year. 

1. Luther Vandross – Dance With My Father
2. Jagged Edge – J.E. Heartbreak
3. Lyf Jennings – Phoenix
4. Mary J. Blige – The Breakthrough
5. India.Arie – Voyage to India
6. Destiny's Child – Survivor
7. Usher – Confessions
8. Brian McKnight – Superhero
9. Kandi Burruss – Hey Kandi... 
10. Ashanti – Concrete Rose
11. Alicia Keys – Songs In A Minor
12. Joe – Ain't Nothin' Like Me
13. Mya – Fear of Flying
14. Janet Jackson – All for You
15. Toni Braxton – Libra
16. R. Kelly – Chocolate Factory
17. Aaliyah – Aaliyah
18. India.Arie – Acoustic Soul
19. Keyshia Cole – Just Like You
20. Mariah Carey – The Emancipation of Mimi
21. Mya – Moodring
22. Boyz II Men – Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya
23. Mary J. Blige – No More Drama
24. Brian McKnight – Back At One
25. Monica – After The Storm
26. Maxwell – Now
27. Dru Hill – Dru World Order
28. Omarion – Twenty-One
29. Avant – Director
30. Ginuwine – The Life
31. Alicia Keys – The Diary Of
32. Lil' Mo – Pain & Paper
33. Beyonce – Dangerously In Love
34. Ne-Yo – Year of the Gentleman
35. Musiq Soulchild – Luvanmusiq
36. Usher – 1821
37. Tamia – A Nu Day
38. Brandy – Full Moon
39. Craig David – Born To Do It
40. Mis-Teeq – Lickin' on Both Sides

Billboard Hot 100, 21/02/09

1. Flo Rida - Right Round

Flo Rida scores his second U.S. #1 with "Right Round" the lead single from his upcoming sophomore album R.O.O.T.S. Following his previous chart topper, the monster hit "Low" with T-Pain, that occupied the #1 spot for 10 weeks last year. Funny enough, "Right Round" breaks the record for the biggest first week digital sales, selling over 630,000 - Flo Rida also broke this record with "Low" last year, selling over 400,000. I feel records are being broken too quickly these days, this record was only broken last week by Eminems "Crack A Bottle", but anyway it's nice to see Flo Rida nab another chart topper after the follow up singles to "Low" didn't receive that much success ("Elevator" managed to crack the top 20 and "In The Ayer" scored his second top 10).

2. T.I. Featuring Justin Timberlake - Dead and Gone

Could this see the top spot next week? T.I.'s seventh commercial release from his latest studio offering Paper Trail, "Dead and Gone" (which seems to have grown on me over the past few days) rises 8 spots up the chart giving T.I. his fourth top 3 (after 2006s "What You Know" became his first, peaking at #3 then "Whatever You Like" and "Live Your Life" both topped the chart).

10. Lady GaGa - Poker Face

Lady GaGa's "Poker Face" gives the singer her second top 10 single following her smash hit "Just Dance". I'm really glad that "Poker Face" has begun receiving airplay in the UK, but what's makes me laugh is that the line where she says: "cause I'm bluffin, with my muffin", is completely filtered out.

17. Soulja Boy - Kiss Me Thru The Phone

Soulja Boy scores his second top 20 with "Kiss Me Thru The Phone" following his smash hit "Crank That" back in 2005.

Personal Airplay, 19/02/09

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... Single Ladies - Beyonce (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... Circus - Britney Spears (2 wks @ #1)
3 .... 6 .... Let It Rock - Kevin Rudolf Featuring Lil' Wayne
4 .... 8 .... Breathe Slow - Alesha Dixon
5 .... 3 .... Issues - The Saturdays
6 .... 4 .... Sober - Pink
7 .... 9 .... I'm Yours - Jason Mraz
8 ... 10 .. Day 'n' Nite - Kid Cudi
9 .... 5 .... Just Dance - Lady GaGa Featuring Colby O'Donis (3 wks @ #1)
10 .. 14 .. The Fear - Lily Allen

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

FloRida breaks digital record

Billboard are reporting that the new FloRida single "Right Round" sold over 600,000 copies this week, giving the rapper the biggest first week sales for a digital single. The record was shortly held by Eminem's "Crack A Bottle" broken only last week. Check out "Right Round" below:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mariah working on new album

Mariah Daily confirm Mariah is currently working on the eleventh studio album, supposedly titled MC³. I'm thinking the reason for this quick return to the studio was the poor sales of her last release E=MC², hopefully this album will fare better and the unoriginal title will change.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

February Hip-Hop releases

Looking at the speculated dates releases for Hip-Hop albums this year, 2009 could be a very good year for the genre. Here's an chronological in depth look at the Hip-Hop releases for the rest of this month, albums I'm looking forward most will be in bold.

J Kwon - Hood Hop 2. J Kwon burst onto the scene back in 2004 with his fiery U.S. smash "Tipsy" peaking at #2 on the Hot 100. Unfortunately its accompanying album Hood Hop failed to connect with its success and opening to poor reviews from critics. Admittedly apart from a few cool cuts like "They Ask Me" and "Morning Light", "Tipsy" was the albums only standout. Hood Hop 2 is currently slated to be a digital only album, preferably looking to an iTunes only release.

Joe Budden - Padded Room. It's been 5 years since Joe Budden's self title debut back in 2003. Surprisingly, despite lack of promotion in the UK, I did manage to get my hands on a copy of the album through my friend who specializes in U.S. hip-hop. the album was a pretty decent introduction, spawning 2 commercial singles "Pump It Up", which became a top 40 hit and "Fire" with Busta Rhymes which managed to crack the 50 on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. So far the only material I've heard from Padded Room is the lead single "The Future" with The Game and Dominic, which prior to its commercial release was treated as a buzz single, the song is brilliant, a bit over the top with the synth but great nevertheless. Although Padded Room doesn't have to allot to follow up to its predecessor, my expectations are pretty high.

B Real - Smoke n Mirrors. After a series of mixtapes, the Gunslinger trilogy, B Rreal drops his debut album early February. The album will feature appearances from Damien Marley (who is also working with rapper Nas on his forthcoming 6th studio album) and Snoop Dogg, who previous teamed up with B Real on a song called "Vato" for 2006s The Blue Carpet Treatment. Aside from his success in the mixtape market, he is also known for his relationship with model and television personality Carmon Electra during the 90s.

K'Naan - Troubadour. Canadian rapper K'Naan isn't a genric hip-hop rapper but a more of a mix of genres such as alternative, folk to form his own mellow version of the genre. His style is more poetic. Troubadour is his sophomore album, it follows up to The Dusty Floor Philosopher, which I have yet to hear but from people have told me it's supose to be really good.

Project Pat - Real Recognize Real. Another artist who's well known on the mixtape market and one I haven't hard of until now. Real Recognize Real is the rappers 7th studio album and his 14th album overall, including the separate mixtapes.

Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3. Jay-Z is among the greats in Hip-Hop so every time it's time for a release by the rapper, I'm always excited, his consistency never seises to amaze me. The Blueprint 3 is Jay-Z 11th studio album, it's also the installment in the Blueprint trilogy, following up to 2001s The Blueprint and 2002s The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse. His last release 2007s American Gangster, until the release of that album The Black Album had always been my favorite piece from Jay-Z, but American Gangster was phenomenal by any standards. The release date for The Blueprint 3 has been pushed back a number of times, but it's been confirmed it will be released sometimes this month, but the date is still tentative. The album 1 commercial single "Swagger Like Us" which became Jay-Z's biggest it in years, peaking at #5 on the Hot 100, his highest peaking since "03 Bonnie & Clyde" with Beyonce peaked at #4 back in 2003. Along with a handful of other rappers, I'm really looking forward to this album, Jay-Z never disappoints me.

Mandy Moore can break your heart

Pop Reviews Now report on the single "I Can Break Your Heart Any Day Of The Week" by Mandy Moore, who is currently working on her 5th studio album titled Amanda Leigh. The single is very upbeat and vaguely country-orientated. I like it.

Britney Single: Oops!... I Did It Again (2000)

Britney Spears "Oops!... I Did It Again"

Release: March 27, 2000

1. Oops!... I Did It Again
2. Deep In My Heart
3. From the Bottom of My Broken Heart (Ospina's Millennium Funk Mix)

Producer: Max Martin, Rami Yacoub
Writer: Max Martin, Rami Yacoub

Billboard Hot 100: #9
UK Singles Chart: #1 (1 week)

With the overwhelming success of "...Baby One More Time" plans for Spears' second album were adamant. Teaming up with pop hit maker, Max Martin again; producing the bulk of the second album, which featured its lead single and title track "Oops!... I Did It Again." Despite a scandalous photoshoot spread in Rolling Stone Magazine early 2000, which caused an apparent temporary blacklist of her music, Spears still maintained her teen audience. The plan was to use the same innocent bubblegum pop blueprint they used for "...Baby" --a "don't fix it, it's not broken" thing.

Around the time "Oops" was released, was the time I really started to concentrate on popular music. It was one of the first songs I really liked and really got into a great amount. Similarly to "...Baby" it thumps slick, but hard going, catchy bassline, fronting a "(You Drive Me) Crazy (The Stop! Remix)" reminiscent. Whilst this is indeed a great pop song, possibly among the best of the decade, I've never liked the cheesy skit in the middle where Spears and her love interest have their little moment, making references to titanic and whatnot. The skit is included in the songs video, which is bearable, but it's also on the album version and the physical and digital version, which isn't really needed. Why wasn't a radio edit published?

As expected "Oops" became a critical and commercial success, receiving praise from credible magazines such as Billboard and Rolling Stone. In the US, the song reached #9 becoming Spears' third top 10 single--a slight disappointment considering the success of "...Baby" but on US radio, the song became a smash, topping the top 40 charts and ascending into the top tens on the Rhythmic and Mainstream charts. The song earned the accolade of most additions to US radio in the space of 24 hours. In the UK, the song was somewhat more successful, becoming Spears' third #1, topping the UK chart for only one week, but shifting a mass of 420,000 copies. In a nutshell, "Oops!" topped charts in 11 countries and entered the top 10 in 8, pretty much solidifying its 'smash' status.

The video for "Oops!... I Did It Again" was set in a replica for Planet Mars. I learned, the concept was oringally planned for the video for "...Baby One More Time" but was pulled and replaced with Spears' idea of a more 'down to earth' school venture. Whilst not relating to the song, I still though the video for "Oops" was quite cool. Finding Spears supporting a tight, red catsuit, performing numerous dance routines with her dancers. There wasn't much to the video, but I still thought it was pretty compelling.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

No love for Chris Brown

On Saturday's I generally relax and watch music videos on the main UK 24/7 music video channels "The Box" and "Kiss", I haven't seen a Chris Brown video all day today, normally his hit single "Forever" is on regular play, especially in the mornings, however Rihanna's "Umbrella" is receiving more airplay than usual, obviously due to the situation I would rather not blog about. It seems Chris's being blacklisted, shame really.  

Jennifer Hudson "If This Isn't Love" video

Happy Valentines Day!

Check out the Jennifer Hudson's "If This Isn't Love" the second single released from her eponymous first album.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Album Review: India.Arie - Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics (5/5)

India.Arie has had a string of enjoyable and inspiring first 3 albums, she's stayed consistent throughout her music since her debut back in 2001 with Acoustic Soul which found a confident India churning out silky R&B grooves on track songs like "Video", her debut single, which was a modern combination of modern R&B with a late 90s throwback. "Brown Skin" which oozed of an sultry urban groove, the album was brilliantly put together, upstaging her only worthy rival, soul singer Erykah Badu who put out Mama's Gun the previous year, which wasn't as contemporary as it should've been.

India's 2nd album Voyage To India released only a year after its predecessor, it's a true masterpiece, one of the few early millennium albums I still listen to allot today, unfortunately the album didn't have any singles that caught on at mainstream U.S. radio. but in this instance it didn't matter, the guitar backed "Talk To Her" and the smooth, horn influenced "Slow Down" were just some of the many highlights on the album.

Almost 4 years later India released the first of the Testimony trilogy, admittedly Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship was a weak follow up to Voyage To India, but it did manage to update her image and modern-up her sound the biggest hit from the album, the piano backed "I Am Not My Hair" with Akon is a brilliant example and it still did a good job at keeping up consistency.

Which bring us up to Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics - the second entry in the Testimony trilogy. In comparison to Vol. 1 this album isn't widely better as it uses the same urban-contemporary formula - but the album does have a more richer feel and it consists of more standouts than its predecessor, this is the first 5 star rating I've given an album since starting my blog which is a pretty good indication to how brilliant I think this album is.

The album gets off to a nostalgic start with the opening interlude "Grains" (their are 3 more interludes of the same name) a very sensual start to the album consisting of soaring vocal work and mellow chanting of: "I'm grateful that you created me from the same grains". It sets a mellow tone of the album. The opening song "Therapy" which was one of the few songs uploaded onto her official Myspace a couple weeks ago, so I've heard it many times. It's a very urban (and/or) pop contemporary fast paced, guitar backed track, it sounds very single worthy, brilliant song.

Making use of the guitar and incorporating a bit of spanish is "Ghetto" indulging in a mid-paced offering tied in with a very enticing chorus. Next up is "Chocolate High" with Muisiq SoulChild which serves as the lead single, another song I've been hearing for some time now. I love the melodic 70s vibe, a true standout, using typical a faint piano, chord changes and drums to make up the bulk of the song. "He Heals Me" is the first ballad that appears on the album, it's a beautiful guitar backed ballad with a beautiful tear worthy vocal performance from India.

The second interlude "Grains" is more lyrically powered than the first but still keeping the nostalgic, mellow feeling. "Pearls" is something new from India, it finds her using more of a higher vocal rather than her typical mid-range vocal. The song is another mellow guitar backed number, it smoothes out from the "Grains" interlude. Among my favorites on here is "River Rise" is a beautiful melodic piano based number almost gospel influenced but managing to keep up the contemporary side of things. The more cheery "Yellow" is breezy pop orientated track, it's one of my favorites but unfortunately it's the shortest song on the album. "Better Way" is the ultimate highlight on the album, I was very excited to listen to this in full after hearing the preview. The song is made up of a rhythmic handclap running through the song and backed with a sultry electronic guitar, it's a brilliant experiment.

After the third entry in the "Grains" interlude series, the album then moves into "Long Goodbye" is another experimental number, very Coldplay-esque, but more contemporary and melodic. Taking an extract from the Bible is "Plasms 23" which has a bouncy R&B feel. The same chapter from the Bible was used in Mariah Carey's closing track "I Wish You Well" in her most recent album E=MC2.

"The Cure" is a breezy, guitar backed number, not as strong as the previous tracks, but nevertheless a nice round up of the album. The last of the "Grains" interlude's mellows out to end the album. Love & Politics gets a 5 star rating because I love every single song on here and a 4.5 just doesn't sit right.

Best Tracks: Therapy, Chocolate High, River Rise, Yellow, Better Way

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Billboard Hot 100, 14/07/09

1. Eminiem featuring 50 Cent and Dr. Dre - Crack A Bottle

An exciting week on the Hot 100 for Eminem. "Crack A Bottle" the lead single from his upcoming 6th studio album Relapse jumps 73-1 this week giving Eminem his 2nd #1 on the Hot 100, his last being "Loose Yourself" back in 2002 taken of the 8 Mile soundtrack - If the song hadn't experienced early spins on U.S. radio this week would be its debut week. The song breaks the record for biggest first week digital sales gangrening sales up to 418,000, this record was previously held by FloRida's hit "Low" with T-Pain. This week "Crack A Bottle" also tops the Pop 100 chart, which detects single and digital sales and mainstream radio. The song also rises into the top 70 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, why do I get the feeling this chart doesn't deal with digital sales?

2. Kanye West - Heartless

Rising to a new peak is Kanye West's "Heartless" which previously peaked at #3 last year. Ultimately the song could ascend to #1 next week as "Crack A Bottle" has yet to receive any major airplay. This is something I'm definitely excited to see "Heartless" is currently my favorite single of the moment (after Britney's "Circus").

9. T.I. featuring Justin Timberlake - Dead and Gone

Nice performance at the Grammy's but the song has yet to win me over and the fact that my enemy Justin appears on the song makes it worse. T.I.'s pulled out many surprises last year scoring 2 major hits "Live Your Life" with Rihanna and "Whatever You Like" which both broke the record for biggest jump to #1. "Dead and Gone" gives T.I. his 7th top 10.

12. Lady GaGa - Poker Face

Lady of the moment. Lady GaGa scores her 2nd top 20 hit with "Poker Face" the 2nd single released from the debut album The Fame. Nice to see she's following up her massive mainstream hit "Just Dance" really well, as it begins to loose momentum.

20. Beyonce - Diva

Is it me or does this song get less annoying after every listen. Beyonce's "Diva" emerges as her 15th top 20 single, I predict it should be closer to the top 10 by next week - where is "Halo" at... at #44 this week.

Britney Single: From the Bottom of My Broken Heart (2000)

Britney Spears "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart"

Release: February 1, 2000

1. From the Bottom of My Broken Heart
2. (You Drive Me) Crazy

Producer: Eric Foster White
Writer: Eric Foster White

Billboard Hot 100: #14

"From the Bottom of My Broken Heart" was the third US and final single released from, ...Baby One More Time. The release of the single was the result of "Born to Make You Happy" being released in Europe around the same time. The song was among the first recorded for Spears' first album, which started recording in 1997, it was the first time she collaborated with Pornographic director and writer, Eric Foster White, who also directed its accompanying video, which saw caused minimal controversy.

"From the Bottom of My Broken Heart" is probably my least favorite Britney ballad. Whilst acquiring a nice melody, I find quite bland, the chorus is so so, nothing special, "Sometimes" outshines it by far. Although I'm not a fan of the song, the video is among Spears' best work, probably the most least remembered, but I really like it, It has a really good storyline and of course she looks fantastic in every scene.

Personal Airplay, 12/02/09

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Circus - Britney Spears (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 2 .... Single Ladies - Beyonce
3 .... 4 .... Issues - The Saturdays
4 .... 5 .... Sober - Pink
5 .... 3 .... Just Dance - Lady GaGa Featuring Colby O'Donis (3 wks @ #1)
6 .... 7 .... Let It Rock - Kevin Rudolf Featuring Lil' Wayne
7 .... 6 .... The Loving Kind - Girls Aloud
8 .... 9 .... Breathe Slow - Alesha Dixon
9 ... 10 ... I'm Yours - Jason Mraz
10 .. 15 .. Day 'n' Night - Kid Cudi

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Billboard reporting upcoming hip-hop albums

Billboard are reporting rapper Snoop Dogg and Nas will be releasing their upcoming 10th albums later on this year. Snoop Dogg who released his 9th album last year Ego Trippin' which saw really grim sales, has not yet set a release date for the album which is currently under the working title Malice In Wonderland - so far Dr. Dre is the only confirmed addition to the album.

Nas is reportedly recording an album with raggae star Damien Marley, the rapper also released his 9th album last year and despite a debut at #1 on the Billboard 200, unfortunately sales rapidly declined. Untitled was a good album but didn't follow up as well as it should've to 2006s Hip-Hop Is Dead.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Billboard Hot 100, 09/02/09

1. Kelly Clarkson - My Life Would Suck Without You

After scoring her first chart topper since her debut with ("A Moment Like This") Kelly Clarkson remains at #1 a second consecutive week with "My Life Would Suck Without You". It's unfortunate that some of her most well known hits were released at a time where more rhythmic songs dominated the charts, more notably ("Since U Been Gone") became a massive airplay hit, but managed to stall at #2. ("Because Of You") was another huge airplay hit, but only managed to stall outside the top 5 on the Hot 100, peaking at #7.

2. Lady GaGa featuring Colbie O'Donis - Just Dance

Could the life of "Just Dance" be over already, after topping the chart for 3 consecutive weeks, it begins to pace down the chart. Additionally "Poker Face" the second single released from her debut album The Fame rises a steady 9 spots up the chart to #23.

12. Pussycat Dolls - I Hate This Part

The Pussycat Dolls just miss out on a top 10 with "I Hate This Part" peaking at #11 last week and sliding down a notch to #12 this week.

17. Lil' Wayne - Prom Queen

It hasn't even been a year yet, yet Lil' Wayne is back -2008 was a great year for the rapper, scoring multi platinum success with his breakthrough album Tha Carter III and scoring his first Hot 100 #1 with the controversial ("Lollipop"). "Prom Queen" is the lead single from his upcoming album Rebirth which promises to take Lil' Wayne's music in a more rock orientated direction.

21. Beyonce - Diva

Beyonce's "Diva" continues to rise, up 7 spots from last week to #21. It's probably certain this will enter the top 20 next week, which would be her 15th. It could also ascend into the top 10, if its airplay begins to pick up.

24. Keri Hilson featuring Lil' Wayne - Turnin' Me On

Keri's last appearence on the Hot 100 was last year with ("Energy") the debut single from her debut album In A Perfect Word... which is now looking towards a mid 2009 release. "Turnin' Me On" is the second commercial release from the album, although I have yet to hear it.

32. Soulja Boy featuring Sammie - Kiss Me Thru The Phone

Soulja Boy scores his third top 40 with "Kiss Me Thru The Phone" - really doubting it will ascend any higher, his previous 2 top 40s were ("Soulja Girl") and his debut, the monster hit ("Crank That").

35. Katy Perry - Thinkin' Of You

Another third top 40 scorer is Katy Perry with "Thinkin' Of You" the third commercial release from her debut album One of the Boys notably the song is more slower than the previous upbeat single ("Hot N Cold") and ("I Kissed A Girl") which both became to 3 hits - ("I Kissed A Girl" peaking at #1 for 4 weeks).

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Personal Airplay, 05/02/09

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... Circus - Britney Spears (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 3 .... Single Ladies - Beyonce
3 .... 1 .... Just Dance - Lady GaGa Featuring Colby O'Donis (3 wks @ #1)
4 .... 4 .... Issues - The Saturdays
5 .... 6 .... Sober - Pink
6 .... 7 .... The Loving Kind - Girls Aloud
7 ... 10 ... Let It Rock - Kevin Rudolf Featuring Lil' Wayne
8 .... 5 .... Broken Strings - Kevin Rudolf Featuring Nelly Furtado
9 ... 16 ... Breathe Slow - Alesha Dixon
10 .. 18 .. I'm Yours - Jason Mraz

Monday, February 02, 2009

Britney Single: Born to Make You Happy (1999)

Britney Spears "Born to Make You Happy"

Release: November 27, 1999

1. Born to Make You Happy (Radio Edit)
2. (You Drive Me) Crazy (Jazzy Jim's Hip-Hop Remix)

Producer: Kristian Lundin
Writer: Andreas Carlsson, Kristian Lundin

UK Singles Chart: #1 (2 weeks)

"Born to Make You Happy" was Spears' first European only single, It was also the first second single from, ...Baby One More Time, not be produced by Max Martin. Written by writers Andreas Carlsson and Kristian, the original take of the song was high sexual, making Spears feel uncomfortable singing -- the commercial version of the song was edited heavily to suit Spears and her targeted audience. I've always wanted to know how sexual the initial lyrics were because the lyrics we all know show no signs of alleged indecency.

"Born to Make You Happy" was released into selected European territories, It's never been disclosed why it wasn't released in America, I've always thought it was because the song sounded very European, however it still secured a hit for Spears. The song topped the UK Singles Chart for 2 weeks, giving Spears her second #1 in the country, selling 305,000 copies. It also made it into mostly every top 10 in Europe. At the end of 2000, the song was 32nd best selling song in the UK.

With it's slick piano chord bassline and synth soaked beat, "Born to Make You Happy" has always been one my favorite Britney songs, probably at this point in time, her best song since "...Baby." The song's accompanying video was futuristic, featuring a daydreaming Spears, contemplating on her lover, just like the majority of her videos, this also featured a dance segment, a very robotic one on a Titanic styled ship with back up dancers.

Jennifer Huson returns

With the recent death of her Mother and Brother, last night's Superbowl saw the return of Jennifer Hudson, powerfully belting the Star Spangled Banner, proving she is indeed a trooper.

Paula DeAnda "Roll The Credits"

"Roll the Credits" is the latest from pop singer, Paula DeAnda. I'm not sure if i'm into it yet, I really loved the stuff off her first album, I'm hoping her second will be just as good.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

UK Singles Chart, 01/02/09

1. Lily Allen - The Fear

After debuting at #168 last week, Lily Allen scored her second #1 with "The Fear", the lead single from her sophomore album It's Not Me, It's You, it's her first #1 since her debut single ("Smile") back in 2006. Stopping Lady GaGa from continuing her 2 week run at #2 with "Just Dance". It's a shame her follow up singles to ("Smile") failed to catch on --The brilliant ("LDN") only managed a peak at #6, ("Littlest Things") became her lowest peaking single to date, only managing to peak outside the top 20. 2007s double-a-side single ("Alfie"/"Shame For You") managed to score her third top 20, peaking at #15, still a shame because I think ("Alfie") would have done so well, if it was released on its own, it received so much airplay. ("Shame For You") was virtually unheard. Now the "The Fear" has achieved success at home, additionally peaking at #8 in Ireland, scoring her third top 10, she's also making way on charts across the world. It's currently captured a top 20 peak at #18 on the Australian singles chart. The single gives Lily her second appearance on the Belgium singles chart after ("Smile") peaked at #27, the single gives her, her highest peaking at #12. Surprisingly the single is also catching on in Canada rising to #57 this week, this is her third appearance on the chart, ("Smile") and ("LDN") peaked at #39 and #9 respectively. The single also managed to crack the top 40 in Denmark, Turkey and Sweden. Now all that's left is the U.S. --Lily has yet to have a song chart on the Hot 100 since ("Smile") peaked at #49 back in 2006, even managing to gain some success on its sub-charts, peaking at #25 on the Pop 100 and #8 on the Hot Adult top 40 tracks. Not bad for a debut. Back to the UK chart, I think if airplay holds strong it could see a couple more weeks at #1, aside from Lady GaGas "Just Dance", there really isn't any songs threatening its run at the top spot, additionally, "The Fear" spends a second week atop the UK airplay chart.

6. Alesha Dixon - Breathe Slow

Alesha scores her second top 10 as "Breathe Slow" the second release from the sophomore album The Alesha Show rises to a new peak at #6. I'm really proud of Alesha "Breathe Slow" is an amazing pop ballad. I'm glad it's starting to receive the success it deserves. The previous single ("The Boy Does Nothing") was an amazing minor comeback single, giving her first top 10 peaking at #5.

11. Jason Mraz - I'm Yours

I'm not gay but I think I'm in love with Jason Mraz, after purchasing his album We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. last year I've quickly became a fan of his. "I'm Yours" has been out for a while now, but it's only managing to catch on withe UK public now. This week it rises to a new peak at #11 after 8 weeks on the chart, giving him his first top 20. Although I hadn't heard of him until last year, he's made previous appearances on the UK chart before. In 2003 his debut single ("The Remedy") managed a peak at #79, obviously going unnoticed and in 2005 ("Geek In The Pink") peaked at #128, probably due to digital sales.

13. Britney Spears - Circus

As ("Womanizer") continues to slip down the chart, I was certain Britneys "Circus" was going to be a flop here, but obviously I was wrong, with only 2 weeks away from the physical single released "Circus" rises to a new peak at #13 this week, so It's probably we can expect a top 5 pretty soon. It's kinda weird how Britney gets the shortest commentary this week, Normally I could write for Britain when it comes to Britney.

16. Jordin Sparks - One Step At A Time

I've been hearing "One Step At A Time" allot on the radio lately, so the dramatic rise this week, its pretty understandable. Jordin scored some success with her previous singles, the smash hit duet with Chris Brown ("No Air") managed a peak at #3, scoring her first top 5 single. ("Tattoo") managed a peak at #24. Unfortunately I doubt "One Step At A Time" will break into the top 10, that's my prediction, but there's always the R&B chart.

25. Shontelle - T-Shirt

I've never hated this song, I like it, but I've always thought it was unoriginal. "T-Shirt" begins to make way on the UK rising from 43 - 25 this week. I've also been hearing this allot on the radio lately.

36. Pussycat Dolls featuring Missy Elliot - Whatcha Think About That

I absolutely love this song, I thought they scrapped it. I can't help but dance every time it gets played on "The Box" --it's an amazing mid-paced hip-hop orientated dance track. Taking into consideration that it only started receiving airplay only a couple weeks ago, a debut at #36 isn't so bad --it's their 8th top 40. The previous single ("I Hate This Part") which falls out of the top 40 this week, peaked at #12, giving the Dolls their 7th top 20. We just love them.

J.Lo to Release Greatest Hits confirm pop singer and actress, Jennifer Lopez is going to release her first greatest hits album sometime this year. It's about time.