Saturday, May 30, 2009

Album Review: Mandy Moore - Amanda Leigh (4 / 5)

The fall of the 90s saw the introduction to teen-pop, a genre that would only materialize for 5 years, but leave a very solid mark in its era. As the decade turnt, we saw the rise of Britney Spears, taking the world by storm with her debut single ("...Baby One More Time") then followed Christina Aguilera with her's ("Genie In A Bottle") then Jessica Simpson with ("I Wanna Love You Forever") then lastly Mandy Moore, obviously by the time Moore had burst onto the scene, there was no need for her.

In her very limited time in the spotlight she released 3 albums that failed to see their share of commercial success. The best of the three was, I Wanna Be With You which was infact a very good album that pretty much was overlooked and until now was the only album I owned of hers.

Fast forward to the beginning of the fall of the 2000s and Moore finally discovers bubble-gum pop is maybe not for her. Her last album, Wild Hope was her first departure from teen-pop exploring more folksy, rock-pop ventures. The album became yet another failure, although it did receive critical acclaim. 2 years later and Moore returns with, Amanda Leigh a complete transistion from bubble-gum pop to folsky, light-rock. No meddling with the elements.

Opening the album is a mellow ballad, "Merrimack River," which indulges in an angelic audio scenery, using nothing but an acoustic guitar. "Fern Dell," is probably the most creative I've ever seen Moore, think Lily Allen's "Not Fair," but a bit more dulcet and a more distinctive melody. Also incorporating the keyboard and drums, giving the song an acoustic edge.

The single, "I Could Break Your Heart Any Day Of The Week" explores a more folksy country nature, which essentially sets the tone for the rest of the album. Handclaps and 70s reminiscent guitars-- this is a perfect folk-orientated song. Shame it wasn't a bigger hit. "Pocket Philosopher," is a tad cartoonish. It's a very animated number, limiting its instruments to piano and drums, kinda like Sara Bareilles' "Love Song."

"Song About Home," is another acoustic, mellow number - I love the melody in this, using the flute to round out that feat. "Everblue," follows up well, pretty much going in the same direction.

The second half of the album, is pretty much the same formula used in every track, strings, drums and keyboard to produce that folksy, mellow tone on the album. "Indian Summer," is the highlight of the bottom half --a very good vocal performance.

Amanda Leigh is a very successful transition into more adult contemporary pop. Maybe is Moore had started out this way, she would've seen more success. Just a thought.

Best: Merrimack River, Fern Dell, Pocket Philosopher, I Could Break Your Heart, Song About Home

Album Review: Busta Rhymes - Back on My B.S. (4.5 / 5)

Busta Rhymes has always been an interesting figure in hip-hop. In comparison to today's biggest hip-hop acts, Rhymes' style is more comedic - His 1996 debut, The Coming was a indeed a colorful record, introducing an ominous structure of hip-hop, embedded with a malicious funk accompanied with his jocular rapping style. His follow up 1997s, When Disaster Strikes was a messy but brilliant piece of work - His greatest offering came in the form of 1999s E.L.E: Extinction Level Event, which featured the hit single, "What's It Gonna Be?!" with Janet Jackson, scoring Rhymes' first top 5 single in the U.S. His next two albums (Anarchy and Genesis) weren't anything that caught my attention.

His last 2 albums have definitely kept me a dominant fan of the rapper. 2003s It Ain't Safe No More was the start the slick contemporary feel, he would carry out further on. The album featured his second top 5 single, "I Know What You Want" with Mariah Carey. His last album, The Big Bang was a gritty but great offering, featuring potentially his best single ever, "Touch It (Remix)."

Swiftly catching us to, Back on My B.S. Upon my first listen, I was thoroughly impressed with the latter - although not distinctively different from its predecessor, it is a very productive listen, therefore securing another winner. Opening the album is the "Back On My B.S. - Intro," which essentially takes the piss out of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, replacing the violins with comedic vocal work and chanting of the albums extended title, "Back On My Bullshit". I'm generally not a fan of album introductions (despite the tons I have on my iPod) but I love this. Following up is "Wheel of Fortune," which brings in the wonderful producing skills of DJ Scratch, who manages to catch Rymes' traditional kinetic drum and horn sound -even incorporating his somewhat distorted vocal.

"Give Em What Their Askin' For," is a breezy cut - assimilating a kinetic venture, also bringing the horns. The next track, "Respect My Conglomerate," was originally featured on fellow rapper, Jadakiss' latest album, The Last Kiss and I remember not liking it at all, but it doesn't sound as bad now, I like the grittiness of the song - the vigorous handclaps and bleeps. "Shoot For The Moon," is a bit of downer, it lacks the kick most of the other tracks have, coming of a tad dry. "Hustler's Anthem '09," with T-Pain, is indeed the best of the album, featuring a tasteful lower-key piano bassline and also including is signature kinetic handclap element. This should've been a bigger hit --if anything, especially on the hip-hop charts.

"Kill Dem," seems to draw some Chinese and Indian influences in the vocal department --very hard to explain-- but his method or rap here is pretty hilarious. It's definitely one of my favorite cuts on here. "Arab Money," --another cut that seems to draw Indian influences, It was one of the original singles that failed to connect. I assume the song has a more deeper meaning than I'm willing to look into. "I'm a Go And Get My...", begins with an A'capella before breaking into its kinetic glory, it kinda reminds me of, "I Love My Bitch" from, The Big Bang. I assume what he wants to go and get is a gun.

I love the drums and vocoder in, "We Want It" --some very aggressive rapping-- maybe lacking some substance, but taking it for what is, a pretty decent track. "We Miss You," is a tad more melodic, but pretty much has the same structure as, "Want." Is it not funny that Flo Rida has a song called "Sugar," on his, R.O.O.T.S. album, and now so does Rhymes, whilst I prefer Flo Rida's better, this is a good 'Bump 'n' Grind' number, something you rarely here from the rapper.

Akon and T.I. both appear on, "Don't Believe Em," which is one of the best tracks on here, once again incorporating horns and Eight-O-Eight drums. Adding a soul edge to the album is the love ballad, "Decision," which spawns an angelic piano --kinda sounds like 50 Cent's, "Follow Me" with Robin Thicke. British sensation, Estelle makes an appearance on the electronic, "World Go Round", which closes the album. As much I like this cut, it does seem a tad out of place, when compared with everything else on the album, it's the only song on here that has a strong pop contemporary presence, backing itself with layers of syth.

Back on My B.S. shouldn't be a surprise that it's such a good album. Luckily not as many clunkers or fillers as I expected. Busta Rhymes' churns out yet another winner.

Best: Don't Believe Em, Hustler's Anthem '09, World Go Round, We Miss You, Follow Me, We Want It, Kill Dem

Biggest selling artist of the 2000s

Yahoo! just released a report on this decades biggest selling artists. Eminem easily tops the list with sales of 31 million, with his biggest seller being 2000s, The Marshal Mathers LP which saw sales of 10 million. The rapper just beats The Beatles, who comes in at #2 with sales of 27.5 million, with their greatest hits compilation, 1, being their biggest seller --moving 11.4 million.

The biggest highlight on the list (for me) is Britney Spears, who comes in at #5 with combined sales of 22.9 million, making Spears the biggest selling female artist of the decade (she's also the only female in the top 10). Her biggest seller is 2000s, Oops!...I Did It Again which moved a little over 9 million units. Check out the whole list, here

Friday, May 29, 2009

What's on heavy rotation on my iPod...

Keri Hilson Featuring Kanye West and Ne-Yo - Knock You Down (5/5) - I'm completely in love with this. Pounding with horns, Eight-O-Eight drums and a clicking bassline, this possibly the best cut from, In A Perfect World...

Katy Perry - Waking Up In Vegas (5/5) - Unknowingly I overlooked this song when I first listened to Katy Perry's, One of the Boys album. It's your archetypal rock-pop venture, consisting of the electronic guitar, percussion and drums --tying everything together with a killer chorus. Perry never fails to impress me, even with my doubts-- I believe this could be another hit for the singer.

Lady GaGa - Paparazzi (5/5) - This was one of the instant favorites from, The Fame. I really love this, a tad slower than GaGa's previous releases --pacing with synth, clicks and other random noises in the background. This song almost mimics Britney's "Unusual You," from her Circus album, just something I noticed.

Jordin Sparks - Battlefield (4.5/5) - Absolutely beautiful. Jordin Sparks returns with "Battlefield," It's an absolutely amazing song --think of Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love," and a more upbeat version of Beyonce's "Halo," blended together.

Britney Spears - Radar (4.5/5) - I've been listening to this song for way to long now (2 years and counting) and now that it's become an official single, it's my duty to continue listening. I heard Britney's finished filming the video for the single, if-anything hopefully it's better than the video for "Amy," and performs better commercially.

Jeremih - Birthday Sex (4/5) - This isn't on my iPod yet, but I've listened to the top 10 hit on YouTube many times this week. I've missed songs like this --oozing with sensuality and R&B goodness. Whilst I really like this, Jeremih has a long way to go to make 'bump 'n' grind' music than can rival R. Kelly's.

Soulja Boy - Kiss Me Thru The Phone (4/5) - This song's been out for awhile now and has taken a very long while to grow on me and now I'm ashamed to say I do actually love it. It's the chorus. Soulja Boy's rap-verses are essentially weak, almost like an imitation of T.I.

Billboard Hot 100, 03/05/09

1. Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas

Black Eyed Peas manage to annex a 8th week at #1 with "Boom Boom Pow," currently having the longest run at #1 so far this year, beating out FloRida's "Right Round," which spent 6 weeks at #1. It also manages to attain the 'sales gainer' award. "Pow," has now moved over 2 million units in the U.S. - the first single to accomplish this feat since 2005s "My Humps," (but took 2 years in the process and failed to reach #1, settling for a #3 peak).

2. Poker Face - Lady GaGa
3. Blame It - Jamie Foxx
4. Don't Stop Believin' - Glee Cast

Whilst Lady GaGa's "Poker Face," and Jamie Foxx's "Blame It," stay in the same positions as last week, they manage to hold off --what I thought was-- the biggest contender for #1 this week, the cast from the U.S. music comedy, Glee, who cover Journey's 1981's top 10 hit, "Don't Stop Believin'," the single scores this week's highest debut, coming in at #4 -moving over 177,000 downloads- actually outdoing Journey's peak, at #9.

6. New Divide - Linkin' Park

American rock band, Linkin' Park score the second biggest debut of the week, coming in at #6 with, "New Divide," taken from the, Transformers soundtrack. This is the bands highest debut and their third top 10 (following "In The End," (#2) and "What I've Done (#7). I've yet to check out the song, but the people that have, have given me good reviews about it.

10. Waking Up In Vegas - Katy Perry

Katy Perry ascends into the top 10 with "Waking Up In Vegas," scoring her third feat. I'm hoping this will be another top 3 or #1 hit for the singer, making up for the under performance of "Thinkin' Of You," which peaked at a dismal #29 (Top 40 radio haven't been too acceptive of ballads lately). I'm still wondering how "Hot 'N' Cold," didn't eventually ascend to #1.

12. Fire Burning - Sean Kingston

Sean Kingston makes a dramatic 6 spot rise to #12, this week with his new single, "Fire Burning." Could this be the single that proves Kingston is in fact not a one-hit-wonder, but a strong force in today's contemporary-pop. "Burning," is a good song, but doesn't hold a candle to, "Beautiful Girls," which I thought was amazing. But it does seem like a definite grower.

13. Knock You Down - Keri Hilson

Today, I took a trip to the City of London and I listened to Keri Hilson's In A Perfect World... all the way and I found myself listening to her latest single, "Knock You Down," featuring Ne-Yo and Kanye West the most. I absolutely love it. This week it only rises 1 notch, up to #13 but still earns the 'airplay gainer' award. I hope this becomes Hilson's first top 10, this unachieved feat is long overdue --her 2 previous singles (released in the U.S.) both failed to crack it ("Turnin' Me On," peaked at #15 and "Energy," was quite the failure, peaking at #78). The single currently on rotation in the UK, "Return The Favor," with Timbaland, should definitely be a single in the U.S. --sounds like it would be a hit.

20. Kiss A Girl - Keith Urban

Keith Urban's collaboration with American Idol winner, Kris Allen on his single, "Kiss A Girl," on the show propels the single into the top 20 after 11 weeks, this week it rises 31 spots up to #20, becoming the singer's highest chart single in the U.S. I prected a big drop next week.

17. Sugar - FloRida
21. Right Round - FloRida
23. Kiss Me Thru The Phone - Soulja Boy

FloRida and Soulja Boy suffer fatal drops this week. FloRida's "Right Round," drops 9 spots to #21 --this is the song's 17th week on the chart. Additionally the rapper also suffers another drop with "Sugar," (8 - 17) which failed to become as much of a success as "Round," peaking at #5. Soulja Boy's "Kiss Me Thru The Phone," (which I've shamelessly grown fond of) drops 13 spots down to #23.

27. I'm Yours - Jason Mraz

Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours," rises back into the top 30, thanks to his perfoamance on American Idol, last week.

50. Imma Be - Black Eyed Peas

BEP's new digital single, "Imma Be," makes it debut at #50. I checked out the song on iTunes and I wasn't that impressed.

In more American Idol news...

11. No Boundaries - Kris Allen

Winner, Kris Allen makes his chart debut at #11 with his single, "No Boundaries," narrowly missing the top 10, becoming the second winner to do so, following Jordin Spark's peaked at #15 in 2007 with "This Is My Now." Kris also scores 2 other enteries in the top 50 --his rendition of Kanye West's, "Heartless," (#16) and the less successful rendition of Tears for Fears' 1982 hit "Mad World."Runner-up.

19. Mad World - Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert joins in the success, his version of "Mad World," comes in at #19. Unfortunately he has no other single inside the top 50.

37. Permanent - David Cook

I'm unsure whether last years' winner, David Cook appeared on the show last week, but his new single, "Permanent," debuts at #37.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Personal Airplay, 28/05/09

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 ..... Day 'n' Nite - Kid Cudi (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 4 .... In For The Kill - La Roux
3 .... 2 .... Love Sex Magic - Ciara Featuring Justin Timberlake
4 .... 5 .... If U Seek Amy - Britney Spears
5 .... 3 .... Halo - Beyonce (2 wks @ #1)
6 .... 7 .... Please Don't Leave Me - Pink
7 ... 10 ... Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas
8 .... 8 .... We Made You - Eminem
9 .... 6 .... Beautiful - Akon Featuring Colby O'Doinis & Kardinal Official
10 .. 14 .. I'm Not Alone - Calvin Harris

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Album review lineup

Here are the upcoming albums I'm planning on reviewers in these forthcoming weeks:

Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown - Brilliant punk-rock album, a possible 5/5 - check out ww_adh's eye-openingly in-depth review (here)

Busta Rhymes - Back On My B.S.

Agnes - Dance Love Pop - Should have listened to Nikki.

Agnes "Rlease Me"

Admittedly I was a tad skeptical about new Swedish singer, Agnes' debut single "Release Me," mostly due to her strong resemblance to Leona Lewis that only the minority seem to notice. But the song has grown me incredibly - and since my purchase from iTunes this morning, it's been on repeat. I've always been a sucker for catchy dance-pop.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

iPod Classic

Not my typical post, but it is something about music. I upgraded my iPod Nano, which I got last year October, to an iPod Classic 80GB - I received the product this morning much to my excitement and just stored my entire iTunes Library on the device (all 6700 songs), plus a couple of videos. I aboslutely love the thing - Great interface, masses of room, very pleased.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Muisc Tidbits

Kris Allen - No Bounderies. Kris Allen, the new winner of American Idol 2009, releases his debut single "No Boundaries," surprisingly I saw this on the UK iTunes. I'm pretty sure he is the first winner to have his debut single released in any other country apart from the U.S. After purchasing, I am really liking this alot, essentially your typical pop - rock offering, but I really do like this.

Black Eyed Peas - Boom Boom Pow. I've humming this song for ages now, I finally purchased the track on iTunes this afternoon --my liking for this kinetic offering has grown over the last week. I feel I'm going to be humming the chorus for many weeks to come.

Daniel Merriweather - Red/You Don't Know What Love Is. Just shelled out £1.58 on another single, Daniel Merriweather's "Red," which I instantly loved when I heard it on the radio a couple weeks back. The single comes with a another track "You Don't Know What Love Is," which carries some distincitve 70s influences, backed with drums and a twangy guitar.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Billboard Hot 100, 23/05/09

1. Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas

Black Eyed Peas just manage to cram in another week at #1 with "Boom Boom Pow," this will probably their last week atop the chart as new releases from Glee Cast and Linkin Part begin to dominate the digital charts.

4. I Know You Want Me - Pitbull

Rapper, Pitbull scores his first top 5 single with "I Know You Want Me," the second single from his 5th album Rebelution. I haven't heard of him before, but prior to this his highest charting single on the chart was 2008s "Krazy," which managed to score his third top 40 single, peaking at #30, following ("Culo" and "The Anthem").

9. Birthday Sex - Jeremih

Despite how much I like this song, I'm wondering why it's receiving so much interest, therefore forcing its way into the top 10, scoring the singers' first feat.

13. Waking Up In Vegas - Katy Perry

Katy Perry could have another hit on hands. "Waking Up In Vegas," rises into the top 20, earning the sales gainer award, giving the singer her 3rd top 20, making up for the underperformance of the previos single "Thinkin' Of You," which stalled outside the top 20, peaking at #9. I'm sure "Vegas," will land in the top 10 next week.

14. Knock You Down - Keri Hilson Featuring Kanye West & Ne-Yo

Another song that could land in the top 10 is Keri Hilson's latest, "Knock You Down" which brings in the vocal skills of Kanye West and Ne-Yo. If this should occur it would be the singers' first feat.

17. Beautiful - Eminem

After praising this single in my review of Eminems new album Relapse, this week "Beutiful," --the best song on the album-- makes a debut inside the top 20, at #17, giving the rapper his 14th top 20.

18. Fire Burning - Sean Kingston

I've yet to hear this. Sean Kingston scores his 4th top 20 with his new single, "Fire Burning" the lead single from his upcoming sophomore album titled Tomorrow. After the success of his debut, "Beautiful Girls," I've always thought Kingston was a bit of a one-hit-wonder, but this could be the single that proves me wrong.

23. I Do Not Hook Up - Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson's second release from her latest album All I Ever Wanted, "I Do Not Hook Up," continues to take baby-steps up the chart, rising a good 3 notches up this week.

27. LoveGame - Lady GaGa
28. Know Your Enemy - Green Day

Lady GaGa scores her 3rd top 40 with "LoveGame," rising a solid 34 spots, up to #27 this week. Green Day also achieve the same feat with "Know Your Enemy," which rises 13 notches to #28, scoring the bands 3rd top 30 single, following ("Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and "When September Ends," which peaked at #2 and #6 respectively"). The rise of the single is probably fueled by the release of their eighth studio album, 21st Century Breakdown which tops the Billboard 200 this week.

32. Battlefield - Jordin Sparks

I've also yet to here this. Jordin Sparks' "Battlefield," is supposedly taking as the lead single from her forthcoming sohpomore effort. It's debut inside the top 40 is probably supported by her performance of the song on American Idol this week. This is her 5th top 40.

40. Please Don't Leave Me - Pink

Pink scores her 13th top 40 with, "Please Don't Leave Me." This is indeed a slow riser.

Mariah Carey working on new album

MariahDaily confirm that singer, Mariah Carey is currently working on her 12th studio album, reportedly titled, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, a nice step up from her generic one-word titles (excluding Emaciation of Mimi). It's also confirmed that the wonderful producing skills of Timbaland is set to feature on the album. Last years' E=MC2 was a sales failure but essentially a good album, which leads me to have high hopes for this forthcoming effort.

Personal Airplay, 21/05/09

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... Day 'n' Nite - Kid Cudi (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 3 .... Love Sex Magic - Ciara Featuring Justin Timberlake
3 .... 1 .... Halo - Beyonce (2 wks @ #1)
4 .... 7 .... In For The Kill - La Roux
5 .... 6 .... If U Seek Amy - Britney Spears
6 .... 4 .... Beautiful - Akon Featuring Colby O'Donis & Kardinal Official
7 .... 9 .... Please Don't Leave Me - Pink
8 ... 10 ... We Made You - Eminiem
9 .... 7 .... Not Fair - Lily Allen
10 .. 13 .. Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas

If my chart looks a little weird this week, it's because I've revamped all my past publishing's of my chart. So now there's new #1s, new peaks and "Amy" gets another shot at #1. Feel free to browse.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Album Review: Eminem - Relapse (3/5)

After a an almost 5 year break from the spotlight --a break replete with fights against drug addition and various stints in rehab, Eminem returns with his latest offering, Relapse which follows up to 2004s Encore, which essentially joined a string of brilliant offering's from the rapper. Whilst this is being looked at as a 'comeback' album, indispensably this is nothing new, Relapse is 20 tracks long, with some skits here and there, brimming with moments of derogatory and (give or take) offensive humor, austere moments and just plain ridiculous moments, this has been fundamentally the winning formula for all the rappers past work.

In some instance the formula seems a tad played out when it comes to, Relapse. "We Made You," the albums lead single is inherently a fun, uptempo number --backed with horns, piano, drums, a captivated jingle and an exceptionally catchy chorus-- the downside is the obvious shot-takes at today's most faddish celebrities. The song takes shots as the likes of Jessica Simpson and Sarah Palin, the lyrics actually aren't that funny, so really I'm not entirely won over by this, It's the addictive chorus that makes me give it a chance.

Relapse is essentially a safe follow up to Encore. It spawns a shielded balance between its good, not-good-enough and bad tracks (hence its mediocre rating). The album opens with "Dr. West" a haunting skit that finds Eminem confronting his drug addition, admittedly it is actually quite amusing, following swiftly is "3am," the albums current single, this is among the best on the album, pacing with drums and soaring persistent vocals in the background. Another highlight is "Stay Wide Awake," which issues a nice eerie vibe --similarly to T.I.'s "Dead and Gone," except more haunting but not nearly as compelling as his earlier, more haunting songs like "Cleain' Out My Closet" or "Mosh."

"Old Time Sake," thumps a charming piano and handclap bass --although Eminem's weird rap style on here is a tad awkward and the references to his foreskin isn't in the slightest appealing, but it's one of my favorites on here. "Deja Vu" is another favorite, its preceding skit "Mr. Mathers," takes a CSI approach before bursting into "Deja Vu" which fashions a cordial kinetic handclap bassline --also supporting that key haunting element.

"Beautiful," is the best song on the album. It's the only number that can hold (a dim) candle to his masterpiece's like "Stan," with Dido, although obviously it's not as good. The song starts out with some vocals and faint electronic guitar strings, before bursting into all its drum and string glory. It's another daunting number, which should give you an idea of how good Eminem can be at his most serious moments.

On the flip side the album also holds up its end on the clunkers. The horns in "My Mom," are very nice, but does come under the worst on the album. "Insane," is way too pornographic to go into detail --the lyrical nature is way too specific to be considered funny. I like the beat in "Same Song & Dance," but that's as far as it goes. The closing track "Underground," is just a failure all round.

A bit disappointed, but not entirely, Relapse could have been worse, it could have chosen the 100% funny route and ended being an entire disaster. Thank God for the more serious moments planted with the album.

Best: Beautiful, We Made You, 3am, Stay Wide Awake, Old Time Sake, Deja Vu

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Billboard Hot 100, 16/05/09

1. Black Eyed Peas - Boom Boom Pow

Black Eyed Peas nab another week at #1 with "Boom Boom Pow" aggrandizing their run to 6 weeks. I hope the success their having in the U.S. transfers swiftly into the UK.

2. Lady GaGa - Poker Face

After 21 weeks on the chart, Lady GaGa's "Poker Face" still remains inside the top 3, only have 1 week stint at #1 -- honestly I expected its #1 run to be dramatically longer.

5. Beyonce - Halo

Beyonce's current single "Halo" gives the singer her 11th top 5 single this week, soaring 8-5. Essentially this is the perfect storm that could conjur up another #1 single for her --the single is currently selling by the bucket loads, digitally and is doing well at top 40 radio.

8. 30H!3 - Don't Trust Me
13. Jeremih - Birthday Sex

Haven't heard this single yet, but will definately look into doing so. There was a lot of hype surrounding the latter last week, about its rise into the top 10, this week it continues to rise by the minority. Jeremih's "Birthday Sex" is another I have yet to hear, I hear it's one of those bump 'n' grind songs --my friend described it to me as a 90s inspired R. Kelly-oriented offering, this week it rises a hefty 10 notches, scoring the newcomer's first top 20 single.

15. Dauhgtry - No Surprise

American rock band, Daughtry debut at #15 with their new single "No Surprise" fueled by heavy digital sales, essentially becoming the bands highest debut on the chart.

17. Keri Hilson Featuring Kanye West - Knock You Down

After 7 weeks on the chart, Keri Hilson's "Knock You Down" enters the top 20 at #17, becoming the singers second highest charting single --behind "Turnin' Me On" (with Lil' Wayne) which peaked at #15 fall of last year.

20. Soulja Boy - Turn My Swag On

Soulja Boy enters the top 20 with is... latest 'effort'... "Turn My Swag On." His debut "Crank That" was good, but since then he hasn't been able to follow it up with anything decent.

Personal Airplay, 14/05/09

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Halo - Beyonce (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 3 .... Day 'n' Nite - Kid Cudi
3 .... 5 .... Love Sex Magic - Ciara Featuring Justin Timberlake
4 .... 2 .... Beautiful - Akon Featuring Colby O'Donis & Kardinal Official
5 .... 7 .... In For The Kill - La Roux
6 .... 8 .... If U Seek Amy - Britney Spears
7 .... 6 .... Not Fair - Lily Allen
8 .... 4 .... Poker Face - Lady GaGa (7 wks @ #1)
9 ... 12 ... Please Don't Leave Me - Pink
10 .. 16 .. We Made You - Eminem

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Album Review: Chrisette Michele - Epiphany (4.5 / 5)

With the recent death of my Laptop, I haven't been able to continue my 100 Greatest albums of the decade list (which should resume sometime next week) and with the nervousness due to a head-boy candidate speech I have to deliver Monday morning, I've had a lot of free time on my hands. In that free time, I discovered soul singer's Chrisette Michele's sophomore effort, Epiphany which is currently on sale in the U.S. for a low $2.99 and is currently a main contender for #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart next week, going head-to-head with Ciara's Fantasy Ride.

Michele made her debut in 2007 with I Am, I didn't pay the album any attention, but I did hear some stuff from it as a result from her appearance on the former U.S. sitcom, Girlfriends. I listened to both I Am and her latest Epiphany this morning and the latter doesn't differ that much from the preceding, except it's more mainstream, but both indulging in a lustrous state of R&B, like a diminutive Jill Scott from her more earlier work.

Epiphany brings in the help of R&B megastar Ne-Yo, who puts his magic touch on nearly every track on here. The first of his magic arises on the opening number and title track "Epiphany," which thumps a slick rhythm, backing a sweet melody and lenient piano keys. Next up is "Notebook" which really hits its hardest when the chorus commences, displaying a Beyonce ("Single Ladies") like chant of: "Oh-oh-oh," also featuring a surprisingly appealing distorted piano.

"What You Do" which actually features Ne-Yo, supports a heart-churning melody - bolstered by a kinetic handclap and click venture and it's pretty big on the synthesizer. "Blame It On Me," is the albums first ballad - which is essentially built up of an enchanting orchestral construction (mainly violins) during the chorus, backed by a tight combo of tambourines and handclaps. Following it up is another ballad "All I Ever Think About" which throws a acrid Jennifer Hudson ballad moment reminiscent.

"Playin' Our Song" is the biggest surprise on the album as it's surprisingly more contemporary pop than R&B, bringing the help of Rodney Jerkins - who's mostly known for his work on the urban scene. It sounds like something that belongs on the first half of Beyonce's Sasha Fierce disc.

Among my favorites on here is "Another One" which flaunts a nice acoustic intonation during its verses before bursting into string and drum affair on the chorus. "On My Own" is fundamentally my least favorite cut on the album, it could do with a bit more grip than the rhythmic crashes of drums and hi-hats. "Fragile" and "Mr. Right" are upbeat, faintly bluesy cuts, very big on the piano keys.

"Porcelain Doll" is an interesting number, pounding a forceful tambourine and thrust bassline, backed a lovely piano, also furthered by a wonderful melody. Closing the album is the traditional piano-ballad "I'm Okay." I'm amply impressed with Epiphany, the album had the benefit of not receiving any expectations from me as I wasn't planning on giving it a chance, but I'm awfully glad I did. The album definitely rivals The-Dream's Love vs. Money for best R&B album of the year, so far.

Best: Another One, Epiphany, Playin' Our Song, Notebook, Blame It On Me, All I Ever Think About, Porcelain Doll

Friday, May 08, 2009

Daughtry "No Surprise"

American rock band, Daughtry return to the scene with "No Suprise," the lead single from their forthcoming second album titled Leave this Town. I enjoyed their debut album extensively ("What About Now," "Feels Like Tonight" and "Home" were my favorites.) Whilst "No Surprise," doesn't differ from the general sound on the first album, it does however set a promising tone for the second. Check out the song below.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Britney Spears "Radar"

"Radar" will be the fourth single taken from Britney Spears' latest, Circus, album. Initially the single was included on 2007s, Blackout, and was added to Circus as a worldwide bonus track... now we know why. With cuts like "Shattered Glass," "Out From Under" and "Unusual You" on the album, why go for a bonus track? but nonetheless "Radar" is a good song.

Janet Jackson making a comeback?

That Grape Juice report that Janet Jackson may be making a (another) comeback and is supposedly working with long time producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who were surprisingly absent on the last album. Hopefully more details soon... 

Billboard Hot 100, 09/06/09

1. Black Eyed Peas - Boom Boom Pow
2. Jamie Foxx - Blame It

As the digital age proves times and time again that its the cardinal key to success, Black Eyed Peas still manage to hang on to the top spot driven by heavy digital sales. Jame Foxx's recent appearance on U.S. talent show, American Idol, as mentor and performer, probably fueled this weeks jump into the top 3 with "Blame It" --becoming his highest charting single ever. Prior to this his highest was "Unpredictable" in 2005, peaking at #8, scoring the singer's first top 10.

5. FloRida Featuring Wynter - Sugar

My obsession for FloRida's latest single "Sugar" has died down a bit now, I'm waiting for the video now and its UK release. This week it rises into the top 5, scoring the rappers 3rd top 5, following "Low" and "Right Round" which both where #1s, but can "Sugar" follow in their footsteps?

8. Beyonce - Halo

Beyonce dives further into the top 10 with "Halo" -- I wonder if this can follow the path of "Single Ladies" and become another #1 hit for the singer.

32. 3am - Eminem

Eminem unleashes the second single "3am" from his forthcoming sixth studio set Relapse which arrives in stores next week, May 15. "3am" is fairly more darker and serious than the previous single "We Made You," which I adore as I've always preferred Eminem at his most aphotic.

Personal Airplay, 07/05/09

TWLW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... Halo - Beyonce (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 4 .... Beautiful - Akon Featuring Colby O'Donis & Kardinal Official
3 .... 3 .... Day 'n' Nite - Kid Cudi
4 .... 1 .... Poker Face - Lady GaGa (7 wks @ #1)
5 ... 13 ... Love Sex Magic - Ciara Featuring Justin Timberlake
6 .... 5 .... Not Fair - Lily Allen
7 .... 9 .... In For The Kill - La Roux
8 ... 11 ... If U Seek Amy - Britney Spears
9 .... 6 .... Dead and Gone - T.I. Featuring Justin Timberlake
10 .. 7 .... Jai Ho - A.R. Rahaman Featuring The Pussycat Dolls

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Album Review: Ciara - Fantasy Ride (4/5)

I've been a conventional fan of Ciara ever since her debut back in 2004 with her smash hit single "Goodies," its accompanying album was mediocre at best, not really separating the singer from her R&B peers, her sophomore effort The Evolution turned me into a customary fan, finding the singer ditching the light urban sound and embracing songs with a bit more grip, sounding like a top-notch Janet. Her latest Fantasy Ride falls a tad short of its predecessor, but still makes for a good R&B album, using the archetypical blueprint for today's R&B album, upbeat, kinetic cuts blended with mellow ballads.

The opens with the sultry, "Ciara To The Stage" which pulses with its synthesized glory and Ciara's broiling vocal work. A very unusual start to an album with such an epic title, maybe because a 'Fantasy ride' starts off slow and then accelerates-- I don't know, but I was expecting something upbeat. Next up is the single we all know and love "Love Sex Magic" with Justin Timberlake, which I loved way before it became a hit single, and that love still goes strong.

Unlike Evolution, Fantasy Ride is pretty heavy on its features. "Turntables" with Chris Brown is a pretty good cut, thumping a catchy bassline, also incorporating a futuristic element to it. "Work" with Missy Elliot, features a fetching kinetic beat, Ciara's rap off on the verses are pretty entertaining. "Lover's Thing" with The-Dream, is more slow... well very slow, indulging in a lighthearted sensual vibe, "Never Ever" with Young Jeezy, which was one of the albums failed fist singles, is another slow cut, supporting an amiable melody --one of my personal favorites.

"High Price" with Ludacris has proved a winner amongst other fans, but I have yet to get into it, it reminds me of "Oh" from the Goodies album, which also featured Ludacris, but was million times better. "Keep Dancin' On Me" seems like a grower, but for the moment does nothing for me, a bland handclap and click with bits of synth.

The best track on the album is "Like A Surgeon", which has to be among the best single R&B tracks I've heard all year. Rocking a melodic, amalgamated structure, powered solely by Ciara's strong vocal. "Pucker Up" is another winner, employing a bleached electronic sound, advocated by acres of synth and camera-flash effects. The album closes with the very mellifluent "I Don't Remember," which I think should be a ballad, instead of a mid-packed handclap and click number.

Fantasy Ride is nowhere as innovative as Evolution but it makes for a good R&B album, despite a couple duds, it holds up well when you only take into consideration it's killer tracks.

Best: Love Sex Magic, Like A Surgeon, Turntables, Never Ever

Monday, May 04, 2009

UK singles Chart, 03/05/09

Quick highlights from this weeks UK singles chart:

  • Tinchy Stryder manages another week at #1 with "Number 1." Ironik's "Tiny Dancer" featuring Stryder's rival rapper Chipmunk and Elton John makes a debut at #3, giving Ironik his highest charting single on the chart --previously his highest was "Stay With Me" which peaked at #5.
  • Ciara rises another notch with "Love Sex Magic."
  • Girls Aloud's latest single "Untouchable" is the biggest personal shocker this week rises a staggering 15 notches, after I deemed it a flop a couple weeks ago, but this week it scores their 21st top 20.
  • Britney Spears's "If U Seek Amy" rises another notch higher, the single see's it physiscal single release today, but will it affect its movement on the chart next week?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Indtroducing... Fe-Nix

New girl group Fe-Nix are the latest from the UK R&B Garage scene. Check out their debut single "Lady Baby" below. I've been missing music like this, they remind me of Mis-Teeq in their early days.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Album Review: Rascal Flatts - Unstoppable (4.5/5)

What is it about Rascal Flatts' music that I find so alluring? At a glance, their sound could be described as typical country music, blurring the cackle of drums, electronic guitar and twangy banjos, I'm not one to travel outside my comfort zone when it comes to music --It's the beautiful blend of adult contemporary pop and country that I find so irresistible-- and as I like their fellow country singers Keith Urban, Zac Brown and Alan Jackson-- I'm not so inclined to listen to them on a regular bases.

Whilst Unstoppable isn't widely superior to Rascal Flatt's last album Still Feels Good, it is notably more ballad heavy, offering more sentential moments, than fun --showing off their much underrated vocal power. Getting the album off to a tempestuous start is "Love Who You Love," setting a very perpetual tone for the rest of the album, consisting of the typical instruments that make a archetypical country song, strings, drums, acoustic guitar and piano. Following up well is one of the highlights "Here Comes Goodbye," which nicely paces with violins, beautiful piano work and a amazing vocal performance. Limited to an acrid 11 tracks, there doesn't seem to be much room for diversity, a rare upbeat (opinionatedly sensual) moment comes from "Summer Nights" which reside towards the end of the album --sounding a bit like their cover of Tom Cochrane's "Life Is A Highway," taken from 2005s Me and My Gang notably the electronic guitar embedded in the track. The lyric: "Everybody's feeling sexy", sounds just a tad awkward but it's something to chuckle at. Another more upbeat moment comes from "She'd Be In California" which takes a more breezy route, not necessarily a favorite but it's a decent song.

"Close" and "Forever" which run consecutively, are my favorite mid tempo's --very buoyant orientated tracks-- The title track "Unstoppable" isn't as epic I expected it to be, but it does a very nice melody, it's mostly made up of violins, strings and drums. "Things That Matter" is another killer ballad, consisting of delicate strums of strings and pacing drums. "Holdin' On," "Once," and the closing track "Why" are just classic string and drum country, which leaves me with nothing else to say about the album. Collectively Unstoppable is a brilliant country album, definately not as good as Me and My Gang but definitely rivaling Still Feels Good.

Best: Love Who You Love, Here Comes Goodbye, Forever, Close, Summer Nights, Why

Ciara, Fantasy Ride preview

Amazon recently put up 30 second previews of Ciara's upcoming third studio album Fantasy Ride. Already noticed some instant knockouts ("Like A Surgeon" and "Turntables" with Chris Brown) and the obvious one we all know and love "Love Sex Magic" with Justin Timberlake. The album seems to carry a very distinctive 80s R&B - Prince reminiscent theme, although I don't the latter is as dramatic as the album title insist, but I can't wait to hear it in full. The album drops in 3 days time (May 5).

Lily Allen's third single

Lily Allen's "Fuck You" taken from her sophomore album It's Not Me, It's You has been chosen as its third single, probably due to major public interest during the release of the album. The single currently has risen to #68 on the U.S. hot 100, an early #158 on the UK singles chart and mostly top 20s in notable European markets, giving the song a #129 peak on the European singles chart.

Although I think there are better choices on the album for singles (preferably "Twenty-Two" and "Everyone's At It") "Fuck You" seems like a certified hit and due to its explicit nature and high interest, that could well be the case.