Saturday, October 31, 2009

Album Review: Rihanna - Good Girl Gone Bad (2007, 4.5/5)

With her fourth album out mid this month, I thought I'd take a re-look at the album at the album that made pop singer, Rihanna a force to be reckoned with in today's pop music--her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad. Her first two albums showed no indication that she would eventually become among the biggest things in pop but her bland and rather generic beginning in R&B and raggae would have been enough to completely write of Rihanna as one-hit-wonder.

In summer of 2005, Rihanna emerged with her first single, the thundering reggae-orientated dancefloor filler "Pon Da Replay," which scored the Barbadian singer her first worldwide hit, notably reaching top 2 in both sides of the Atlantic. Her first album Music of the Sun, wasn't a big hit--barely pushing platinum in the US and spawning the less successful second and last single "If It's Lovin' That You Want," which I liked quite a bit. Only months later, Rihanna re-emerged with her second album A Girl Like Me, a more consistent blend of pop, dance and reggae ultimately more appealing than her first, spawning her first chart topper, the firey electronic uptempo "SOS," and almost as-successful second single, Ne-Yo penned ballad "Unfaithful," which came under criticisms regarding wether she had pipes to pull of such a dramatic ballad.

The last singles released from that album weren't as successful, which catches up to Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna's breakthrough, the album that made her credible artist and worthy to compete with Beyonce's and Amy's of the industry. Working with big-name producers such as Timbaland, Ne-Yo and Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, her fourth album saw an expansion and possibly a reinvention of her sound, delivering a dark blend of pop, dance, electro and R&B. This was definately my favorite albums of 2007.

As with most albums that end up becoming the best selling its year, there's always the single that sets the ball rolling (or if your Mariah Carey, the second single that saves your career in the process) in this case it was "Umbrella," her breakthrough single featuring Jay-Z, which quickily became biggest song of summer of 2007 and ultimately one of the classic pop songs of the decade, topping the charts across the world--notably in the US, where it spent a lengthy seven weeks atop the chart and the UK where the song spent ten weeks--during this period where parts of the UK received severe floods until the song was knocked of the top spot, in which the weather improved, weird huh?

Rightly so, the album fixed the problem her previous albums had suffered, they deteriorated too quickly, whereas Good Girl Gone Bad manages to stay solid for the whole first half. First up is the funky '80s pop influenced, "Push Up On Me" thumping with its infectious bassline, claps and drums. Taking influence from Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Something," is third single "Don't Stop the Music," a hard-hitting club anthem, pulsating with bold synths and a persistent beat, which became yet another hit for her, reaching top 5 both in the UK and US. Rihanna really comes into her own on the vengeful "Breakin' Dishes," one of those strutting chick-fit type songs with '80s influences that hook me mindlessly. Rock-influenced electronic guitar studded second single "Shut Up and Drive" is another winner.

Ne-Yo puts pen to paper as well as featuring on the guitar strung, "Hate That I Love You" whilst I still think it's a retread of Beyonce's "Irreplaceable," I think it's more fulfilling than the Rihanna's last Ne-Yo-penned track, the shreiky "Unfaithful," for the last album. Following is the lighthearted "Say It," an R&B and Caribbean tinged mid-tempo, probably a sizable down-step from the rest of the album, but I still really like it. Timbaland produces the next three tracks, which are some what of a hit and miss capitalizing on the albums weaker second half, first up is "Sell Me Candy," a slightly flat hip-hop-orientated composition, which picks up nicely on the chorus. "Lemme Get That," is one of the favorites--a firey, raunchy number which features some rapping from Rihanna, I love the sassiness in the song--especially the lyric: "Got a house but I need new furniture, why spend mine when I can spend yours."

One of the best songs on the album, especially on the last half is the last Timbaland produced track "Rehab," a darkening ballad featuring Justin Timbalake. Following is "Question Existing," which is where thing get a tad too freaky for me and although it came out a year later it reminds of Janet Jackson's "Discipline," from her album of the same name except she's not talking about S&M. Title track "Good Girl Gone Bad," is a stunning guitar and drum number.

Exactly a year later Rihanna released a re-loaded version of this album which featured four new tracks. The highlights of the bunch were the hits--the piano and bass laced ballad "Take a Bow," which gave the singer her fourth US #1 and the haunting retro stomper "Disturbia," which became the singer's fifth. The other two tracks were also good; another ballad "Cry," and the re-working of Maroon 5's "If I Never See Your Face Again."

As I mentioned before, Good Girl Gone Bad, was one of my favorite albums of 2007 and possibly among my favorites of the decade. The album delivered the singer a lengthy string of hits, I wonder if her forthcoming fourth album, Rated R can do the same. Lead single "Russian Roulette," points to a darkening album. Can't wait!

Best: Umbrella, Disturbia, Don't Stop the Music, Rehab, Breakin' Dishes, Shut Up and Drive, Hate That I Love You, Push Up On Me, Sell Me Candy

Alphabeat "The Spell"

I'm really into the new Alphabeat single "The Spell," right now. It has such a great uptempo '80s influenced sound that I just can't resist. Despite topping the singles chart in their hometown Denmark, this week it enters the UK single chart at not-so-fantastic #20.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rolling Stone on Britney's "3" video

Rolling Stone review Britney's new video for her latest single "3," which recently topped the Billboard Hot 100. The review pretty much sums up how I feel about it, It's good but not her best but It's fair to say it hasn't opened to best of receptions. I couldn't find a YouTube link, but here's a dodgy one ( direct from her site.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Album Review: John Mayer - Continuum (2006, 5/5)

In three weeks acoustic-pop singer, John Mayer will release his fourth album, Battle Studies, it's the follow up to his third album Continuum, one of the best albums of the decade and the album that made me fall in love with his music. Like his acoustic-pop contemporaries, such as Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz and Colbie Calliat his sound is mostly built around strings, drums and piano and when composed right can create something truly spectacular, and that's exactly what Continuum, managed to do so effortlessly and flawlessly--capitalizing on the winning blend of acoustic-pop and soul sound his first two albums, Room for Squares and his breakthrough, Heavier Things introduced.

The album opens strongly with lead single "Waiting On the World to Change," a rejoyceful composition with light-hearted bells ringing through, quirky electronic guitar strings and consistent drums. It carries a nice happy ambiance, whereas second track, "I Don't Trust Myself, (With Loving You)" is darker, mellow and raw, pacing with drums and strings, depicting a feeling of exclusion and emptiness.

One of my favorite tracks is "Dreaming with a Broken Heart," a beautiful piano ridden ballad--embodying an angelic feel at the beginning where piano keys runs its course as Mayer's raspy vocals emotionally indulges in nostalgic endeavors. Soon, the scene slowly gets more compelling as the piano keys evolve into cords and drums and percussion kick in for the second verse. There's a Coldplay-ish instrumental with just the piano keys for a couple seconds in preparation for the bridge in which Mayer belts: "Do I have to fall asleep, with roses in my hair," before playing out softly with the opening lines and piano keys.

"I'm Gonna Find Another You," is another favorite. It's has a distinctive old Motown ambiance--starting out with an old-school like guitar cords, before the horns and drums kick and the guitar becomes more sharp. "Gravity," acquires pretty much the same configuration, maybe a bit slower and sharper vocals, cutting from the same vein as the Heavier Things sound.

Layered vocals are used to emphasize the subtlety in "The Heart of Life," it's indeed the albums most subtle moment and the instrumental break is definitely something that wouldn't sound out of place on a Nora Jones album, particularly, Come Away with Me. The combination of strings and the angelic almost inaudible piano keys are very subdued adding to the subtlety. Melodic, "Vultures," indulges in old-school funk, as it jams with the bass guitar, pulsing with consistent drums and Mayer's soothing vocal which goes through different vocal variations, notably the sharp changes between the lower and high register. More Nora Jones influences are heard in "Stop This Train," a rapid but subdued string and drum affair, it's the albums least impressive track, although I still do like it a lot.

A more traditional acoustic-pop sound can be heard on "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room," a swooning romantic ballad with strings, drums and tambourines. The confident "Bold As Love," is probably the albums most bold track as the title implies, finding Mayer using his full register--raspy vocals intact. "In Repair," is a melodic, string and drum affair--not as compelling as some of the other tracks, although still pretty good even with the changing soundscapes.

Continuum, is a brilliant album, definitely acoustic-pop at its best and definitely among the best albums of the decade. I'm eager to find out how well Mayer's forthcoming album, Battle Studies, will fair. Lead single "Who Says," already shows signs of a new direction in music.

Best: Dreaming with a Broken Heart, Waiting On the World to Change, I'm Gonna Find Another You, Slow Dancing In a Burning Room, The Heart of Life, I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You), Bold As Love, Gravity, In Repair, Vultures

Album Review: Cheryl Cole - 3 Words (2/5)

Cheryl Cole has such a reptuable celebrity status--she's part of Britain's biggest girl band, she's a judge on Britain's talent show and we all love her. Her first album could have been something spectacular, maybe straying from the same vein as the work she's done with Girls Aloud--she doesn't have the best set of vocals but in today's pop music who needs to sound like Whitney or Mariah.

So Cheryl's first album, 3 Words, isn't terrible it's just uninspired and un-original. She switches up her pop past for a more frothy light R&B venture, which is ultimately the drive behind nearly all the songs on here, which leaves little distinction between the tracks. There's the good but could be better like the drum driven, "Parachute," which isn't bad--I like the melody, but it finds little vocal variation making it sound flat throughout. The piano key and bass laden "Happy Hour," which could have used a more forceful chorus to compliment its solid verses. Then there's the missable, such as "Don't Talk About This Love," is the albums slowest song and its most boring. "Make Me Cry," which as nice Kylie Minogue-esque sound, but the repetitve chorus isn't as effective as it could have been, but the cool retro vibe gives some diversity to the album. Electronic studded, "Boy Like You," is fun and upbeat, but maybe is more Lady GaGa than Cheryl, she sounds very akward.

I'm probably being too harsh, but I just can't get into it--the album needs a whole lot of bulking up, but there are a couple tracks I do like though. Title track, "3 Words," with Will.I.Am is pretty good. Lead single, "Fight for This Love," firey "Stand Up," and horn studded, "Rain On Me," are pretty good too, possibly the only moments where Cole shows true artistry, maybe not so much on "Fight for This Love," but definately on the others.

I'm maintaing hope that it might grow on me, but for the meantime, 3 Words, is sounding pretty lackluster. It reminds me of Victoria Beckham's first album, where she did the same thing, switching up pop or light R&B, only it didn't receive commercial success which is one of the perks of Cheryl Cole's career right now, whether anyone else thinks, 3 Words is a masterpiece or lackluster, it will sell regardless.

Best: 3 Words, Fight for This Love, Stand Up, Rain On Me

Billboard Hot 100, 7th Nov 09

1. Fireflies - Owl City

It's all firsts here at the top. Owl City score their first #1 on the Hot 100 with their first commercial single, "Fireflies," from their first album, Ocean Eyes. When I got into their album a couple months ago, I didn't think they would find themselves atop the Hot 100. Oh, how wrong I was. Their also this weeks digital gainer.

2. Watcha Say - Jason DeRulo

Jason DeRulo stays bulleted at #2, nipping at Owl City's heels. This could indeed rise to #1 next week, the main comeptition it faces is that Taylor Swift has at least 4 songs, from her, Fearless re-release debuting in the top 10, top 5 or possibly in the top 3 next week. 'Watacha say' to that Jason?

6. Paparazzi - Lady GaGa

Will this ever be a #1 for Ms. GaGa? Lady GaGa stays bulleted at #6 with "Paparazzi," for the fourth week. Next week sees the debut of her new single "Bad Romance," which I predict will at least debut inside the top 10 or at least top 5, if she's lucky.

10. Sweet Dreams - Beyonce

Airplay gainer of the week is Beyonce with her single "Sweet Dreams," which scores the singer her thirteenth #1.

16. Sexy Chick - David Guetta & Akon

David Guetta's "Sexy Chick," has already topped the Hot Club Dance Songs tally, this week it ascends into the top 20, scoring his first feat, whereas this is Akon's ninth.

20. One Time - Justin Beiber

Fifteen year old, Justin Beiber scores his second top 20 with his first single, "One Time." Wierd huh? His second single, "One Less Lonely Girl," debut at #16, two weeks ago.

22. TiK ToK - Ke$ha

Mel and I were having a conversation about what we call the 'GaGa effect' a couple days ago. It seems after Lady GaGa struck gold with her electronic/pop sound, there seems to be labels iching to get a piece of the pie (so-to-speak) and first up is Ke$ha, you may remember her from Flo Rida's "Right Round," singing the chorus. Her first single "TiK ToK," rises a solid 33 spots up the chart this week, scoring her first top 40 and landing at #22.

This reminds me of when Britney Spears came out with "...Baby One More Time," 11 years ago and after that became a smash, then followed Christina Aguilera's "Genie In A Bottle," Jessica Simpson's "I Wanna Love You Forever," and Mandy Moore's whatever she released.

31. Papers - Usher

Back in the top 40 is Usher, with his new single "Papers." I haven't heard this yet but it's suppose to be really good. It's the lead single from his forthcoming sixth studio album, Raymond vs. Raymond. His last album, Here I Stand, wasn't very good so I'm hoping this new effort will be a swift return to form.

40. 21 Guns - Green Day

I'm still pretty much in love with his song. Green Day's "21 Guns," return into the top 40--the song peaked at #22.

Personal Airplay, 29th Oct. 09

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... 3 - Britney Spears (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... Bad Boys - Alexandra Burke ft. Flo Rida (2 wks @ #1)
3 .... 4 .... Fireflies - Owl City
4 .... 3 .... Bodies - Robbie Williams
5 ... 10 ... Fight For This Love - Cheryl Cole
6 .... 7 .... Million Dollar Bill - Whitney Houston
7 .... 5 .... Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz
8 ... 16 ... Happy - Leona Lewis
9 ... 11 ... Meet Me Halfay - Black Eyed Peas
10 .. 6 ... Down - Jay Sean ft. Lil' Wayne

Britney scores her seventeenth #1 on my chart extending her lead with the most #1s. Following Britney here's who's nipping at her heels for the title--tracking from 1997:

Mariah Carey (13)
Janet Jackson (13)
Madonna (12)
Usher (10)
Christina Aguilera (10)
P!nk (7)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Taylor Swift "Jump Then Fall"

Currently atop the iTunes chart is Taylor Swift's "Jump Then Fall," apparently the most popular cut from her re-release of her mega-successful second album, Fearless, I like this song a lot a lot; guitar, drums, georgeous melody and sweet lyrics, it's really nice.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Album Review: The Twilight Saga: New Moon Soundtrack (4/5)

As a fan of the whole Twilight epidemic, I should really have saw the movie first before reviewing its accompanying soundtrack--but at such an affordable price on iTunes, I couldn't resist and with the release date being more than a month away, waiting isn't a logical decision for me. It's such a rare case (well, for me anyway) to love a movie's soundtrack more than the movie itself (the only other case we're its happened is Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard).

I absolutely loved the first Twilight soundtrack and even though not every single song was an instant winner, I eventually drew to them. Haunting, mysterious and refreshing would be just a few of the bunch of words I would use to describe the album featuring knockouts such as Muse's electronic studded oepener, "Supermassive Black Hole," and Paramore's restrained rock influenced, tension builder "Decode." More winners included closing track "Bella's Lullaby," which featured the most beautiful and atmospheric orchestration, incorporating angelic piano keys, soaring violins, flutes and harps and Robert Pattison (who plays love interest and vampire Edward Cullen) delivered two nice acoustic numbers, "Never Think" and "Let Me Sign."

Now onto its follow up, the New Moon soundtrack. As expected, it seems they've used the classic 'If it's not broken, don't fix it' technique--the album is pretty much compromises the same formula as the first, a winning blend of dark rock and alternative--which should ultimately conjure up the paramount emotion found in the movie. The album overall isn't as consistent as the first, nor is it as cohesive but still delivers a handful of highlights, which are scattered around through the album. Firstly, the Killers' "A White Demon Love Song," was an instant knockout. A darkening aligned piano, string and drum affair, fairly more upbeat is Muse's "I Belong to You," which can be found on their latest album, The Resistance, only its been remixed for this album--it sounds even more poppier than it did on their album. I still love the haunting vocal work in some parts a nice contrast to the jaunty chorus and verses.

I love the static, slightly dreary, acoustic sound in Grizzly Bear's "Slow Life," featuring Victoria Legrand. The Editors deliver a fantastic, dark operatic slow burner "No Sound But the Wind." More good ones are Death Cab for Cutie's slightly Coldplay-ish "Meet Me On the Equinx," another favorite is Band of Skulls' electronically cheerful, "Friends," and Anya Marine's acoustically subtle, "Satellite Heart." There's a couple other ones I quite liked, but there's only so much you can take in from a lengthy 15 track set. Closing track, "New Moon (The Meadhow)" composed by Alexandre Desplat, I guess its a follow up to "Bella's Lullaby," its not as compelling, but it's not bad. In a nutshell: The New Moon soundtrack definitely followed up well, maybe not as strongly as I was hoping but still very good. I can't wait to see the movie and how each song evokes emotion within each scene.

Best: A White Demon Love Song, I Belong to You, Slow Life, No Sound But the Wind, Satellite Heart, Shooting the Moon, New Moon (The Meadow)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Billboard Hot 100, 31st Oct. 09

1. Down - Jay Sean Feat. Lil' Wayne
2. Whatcha Say - Jason DeRulo

Jay Sean rebounds 2-1 with "Down," interrupting Britney's 1 week stay with "3," which gets knocked down to #5 this week. Jason DeRulo's "Watcha Say," climbs up two notches, reaching a new peak and could well dethrown Jay Sean next week.

9. Meet Me Halfway - Black Eyed Peas
17. Who Says - John Mayer

Black Eyed Peas continue to ride high as they score their 6th top 10 with "Meet Me Halfway," I'm so into this song right now--it's so cool. They're also this weeks digital gainer. Lower down the chart John Mayer scores his 8th top 40 this week with his new single, "Who Says" which debuts at #17.

20. Already Gone - Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson is slowly inching out of the top 20 with her single, "Already Gone," it's a shame too, it's such a good song--I'm kind of surprised at it not being a top 10 hit.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mariah Carey "H.A.T.E.U."

"Obsessed," failed to become a 19th #1 for Mariah and second single, "I Want to Know What Love Is," failed to generate any substantial interest, so what to do next? Well, in the hopes of solidfying a hit for the singer, the third single from her latest album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, will be "H.A.T.E.U." an angelic harp strung ballad. As much as I'm into the song, I don't see it being a hit--this week it debuts at #76 on the US Hip-Hop/R&B songs chart.

Personal Airplay, 22th Oct. 09

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Bad Boys - Alexandra Burke ft. Flo Rida (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 2 .... 3 - Britney Spears
3 .... 5 .... Bodies - Robbie Williams
4 ... 13 ... Fireflies - Owl City
5 .... 3 .... Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz
6 .... 4 .... Down - Jay Sean ft. Lil' Wayne (3 wks @ #1)
7 ... 10 ... Million Dollar Bill - Whitney Houston
8 .... 6 .... Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus
9 .... 7 .... Celebration - Madonna
10 .. 29 .. Fight For This Love - Cheryl Cole

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rihanna "Russian Roulette"

The new Rihanna song is out and it's not bad. "Russian Roulette," is the first off her forthcoming fourth album, Rated R. It's a dark and disheartening ballad--conveying a haunting theme up until that harsh gun-shot at the end. Check it out below:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rihanna Tidbits

After being off the radar for a good while, Rihanna is set to return this fall with her fourth album titled, Rated R, and her new single, "Russian Roulette," which is set to premier today.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Album Review: Alexandra Burke - Overcome (3.5/5)

Last years' X-Factor winner, Alexandra Burke was in danger of being dubbed a Leona Lewis wannabe or to look at it in a positive light, the next Leona, and at a glance why wouldn't she? Her victory single, "Hallelujah," sold by the bucket loads as did Lewis', "A Moment Like This." The single obviously wasn't a clear indication to the sound Burke would pursue on her first album and neither was Lewis'. A year later (around this time) Lewis discovered her sound, contemporary adult-pop that's still appealing to the teens, for her first album, Spirit, so presumably it's expected that Burke would trail the same route, as it's a foolproof formula.

But that's where the comparisons halt. First single and album opener, "Bad Boys," (with Flo Rida) a jaunty, uptempo R&B and pop number, couldn't be a more different sound to Leona's first single, "Bleeding Love." Fixed with solid verses and a big chorus that sticks. So, Burke's first album, Overcome, is a mix of power ballads and up-tempos, although not everything works and some songs, however fall quite short.

The album opens quite strongly with "Bad Boys," before moving swiftly into "Good Night Good Morning," with Ne-Yo, establishing a great downbeat, drum and bass sound, backed with moments of synth and a vocally harsh chorus, that essentially drives the song towards the end with the repetition of the opening lyrics: "This beat is crazy," as the bassline thumps intricately behind each syllable. Surprisingly Ne-Yo's feature doesn't overshadow Burke, it is almost like he's not even there. I've heard it's being considered for a second single and as it should it's a great song. Third track "The Silence" is the albums biggest belter. A haunting ballad that emphasizes both on beautiful orchestration and Burke's wide vocal range.

Other good tracks include "All Night Long," which endows a nice blend of club and spacey, dance-pop--think the female version of Chris Brown's "Forever." Taking on the sound of Alesha Dixon's single, "Boy Does Nothing," is "Broken Heels," which carries the same jaunty essence. It's pretty good, probably the most unstricken fun on here.

The Pixie Lott written "You Broke My Heart" is my favorite track on here, it's the albums other biggest belter. It's classic British pop, backed with live sounding drums, hand claps, tambourines and horns. Burke's vocal performance on here is immaculate also. Another favorite is the retro and slightly 90's disco reminiscent, "Nothing But the Girl," backed with crashing synth lines and a heavy, pondering bassline--It also a pretty neat melody It sounds like something Whitney Houston would sing, maybe if it was stripped down a little.

Whilst I do like a good amount of the album there is quite a large amount I don't like or have yet to grow to. First up is, "Bury Me (Six Feet Under)," which carries a nice '60s sound, but irritates quickly--so does the bleepy and quite annoying, "Dumb." Mid-tempo, "Gotta Go," is better but it's greatly forgettable. Title track, "Overcome," the only part of the album where she sounds like an X-Factor contestant, sounds like an updated retread of Mariah Carey's "Anytime You Need A Friend."

Without the bonus tracks, the album closes with the likable piano ballad "They Don't Know," It's not bad, it's more lyrically compelling than anything else. In all, a very decent debut--It's varied not concetrating on style of music, which is always very good and despite the flaws mentioned above the album does have some good highlights.

Best: You Broke My Heart, The Silence, Bad Boys, All Night Long, Good Night Good Morning, Broken Heels, Nothing But the Girl, They Don't Know

New Lady GaGa Single

The new Lady GaGa single, the first to be released from her forthcoming re-release of her debut album, The Fame, re-titled, The Fame Monster, has surfaced. "Bad Romance," is the name and it's definitely a grower as for now I really just like the chorus, which sounds as if its cut from the same vein as the chorus in "Poker Face."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Album Review: Shakira - She Wolf (3.5 / 5)

After school yesterday I picked up the new Shakira album, She Wolf, her third English album. Being a fan of her first two albums, especially her breakthrough masterpiece, Laundry Service, I have to say I'm not disappointed with this one, but I'm not that impressed either. It's definitely her least cohesive album yet, the misstep is probably down to the overwhelming shake up in her music, it seems to want to acquire the coolness of Gwen Stefani's Love.Angel.Music.Baby. and the retro of Fergie's The Dutchess, whilst disregarding all the seriousness of her last album, Oral Fixation, Vol. 2. and indulging a more electro-pop, urban feel.

The results are somewhat lacking in comparison to those albums but that goes without saying there are a handful of pretty decent songs on here, such as lead single, opening track and title track, "She Wolf" a fun, clubby number--probably more lighthearted than her smash hit "Hips Don't Lie," with Wyclef Jon. Follow up, "Did It Again," isn't bad either, it has a nice down-tempo feel, fixed with rapid instruments, I especially like the live sounding drums that soar behind Shakira's awkward alibiing. Urban and slighly spanish sounding "Long Time," is good too, pounding with a Sean Paul-esque composition--it kind of sounds like a heavily subdued and slower version of her single "Objection (Tango)" from Laundry Service.

Unfortunately after "Long Time," the albums begins to dabble in a brief trail of filler--it could be possible down to her heavy reliance on hip-hop producers, Pharrell Williams from The Neptunes. "Why Wait," rocks a slick urban-ashed rhythm, but for the most part sounds pretty wasteful and apart from the chorus instantly changing into a fresh, synth soaked construction and the appealing slight Indian ambiance, the song doesn't really go anywhere. Perhaps it's a grower, I probably seem more on the fence rather having distaste for it. It would be nice to see her belly dancing to this if should become a single.

The spicy, "Good Stuff," isn't terrible, but isn't great either--I like the chorus, which seems to be the only bit of the song that wants to have a sence of melody, I also like the Spanish vibe and the incorporation of the Xylophone on some parts but that's about it. I really like the acoustic ballad, "Gypsy," the albums quietest moment, incorporating a soothing folkish atmosphere. Wyclef Jon appears once again the retro pondering, "Spy," supporting a skittering, almost Michael Jackson "Billie Jean" styled bassline, with a bit more synth and an old school feel. It sounds more R&B than I'm use to hearing from Shakira but it's all good.

The acoustic guitar in "Man in This House," is nice and when the synth and bass kick in it's fantastic. Possibly the best song on the album. She Wolf, is a decent album but far less impressive than Oral Fixation and no where near as good as Laundry Service, but the one thing they do have in common--is what I detested about both albums--the re-recording of the songs in Spanish, if this is an English album and you have recorded them in English, why would you want to record it again in another language and include it in the original track listing? Cutting the album off very short.

Best: She Wolf, Man in This House, Long Time, Spy

Michale Bublé "Haven't Met You Yet"

I have been listening to the new Michael Bublé single for the last couple days and I have really grown attached to it. It's the first to be released from his newly released fourth album, Crazy Love. I love the shake up in the sound, it's more pop than anything he's released before. I love it.

Black Eyed Peas "Meet Me Halfway"

Check out the whimsical new Black Eyed Peas video for "Meet Me Halfway." Third single from The E.N.D.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Billboard Hot 100, 24th Oct. 09

1. 3 - Britney Spears

YAY!!! This week Britney Spears makes a stunning debut at #1 with her new single aptly titled "3," (lead single from her forthcoming second hits collection, The Singles Collection) which is also her third #1 single, shifting 255,000 downloads this week, abruptly ending Jay Sean & Lil' Wayne's 1 week stay at #1 with "Down." Exactly a year ago Spears appeared at this very spot with her comeback single "Womanizer." It's been three years since the Hot 100 has seen a debut at #1, American Idol winner, Taylor Hicks was the last to achieve this feat opening at #1 with his single "Do I Make You Proud," Billboard also note, the last four songs to debut at #1 have all been American Idol winners. They also note the last non-American Idol winner to score a #1 debut on the chart was Lauryn Hill back in 1998 with her single "Doo Wop (That Thing)" but I'm pretty sure the last non-American single to score a #1 debut was Celine Dion & R. Kelly's debut on "I'm Your Angel." It's a great day to be a hardcore Britney-fan, a full congrats is in order.

Thinking about it, it's weird for a career spanning 11 years, Spears has only acquired the top spot for only 4 weeks (Her first #1 was her first single "...Baby One More Time," which surprisingly only topped the chart for only 2 weeks and "Womanizer," which only topped the chart for 1 week) with that said it's pretty understandable as throughout her career, her singles have mostly been either limited released, delayed or canceled physical singles releases or just airplay singles--all presumably in accordance to her record label, Jive's chart tactics. Her popular 2000 single "Oops!... I Did It Again," only managed to break the top 10, reaching #9 based on mainly airplay (becoming the most added song of the week) as there was no physical release to boost sales, a sly tactic to boost sales for the album--which in fact worked, it's parent album of the same name sold 1.3 million copies in its first week (eventually selling 10 million in the US alone), becoming the biggest first week sales for a female artist.

Throughout the decade Spears has released a series of singles that arguably should have seen a place at the top of the chart--especially the singles from her fourth (and best) album, In the Zone. Both "Toxic" and ballad "Everytime" became top 10 and 20 hits, but probably would have charted higher if at the time (2002 - 2004) R&B and Hip-Hop hadn't been dominating radio and digital sales had been popular and incorporated into the chart. Whilst it does make sense, for someone who was once the biggest thing in pop music (although she's not exactly fading now), it's still really mind boggling she only has 3 #1s. Just like most pop artists who seem to be unable to get airplay from crossover radio stations and have to rely greatly on Top 40/CHR, digital sales has been the driving force behind most of her last few singles. Her 2007 single "Gimme More" became her first top 5 single in 9 years as it rose to #3 shifting just under 180,000 in downloads. "Womanizer," moved a total of 286,000 in its first week out, leading to its record-breaking jump to #1.

Here are some interesting facts I found about "3's" debut at #1: It now owns the title for shortest title to top the Hot 100--a feat previously jointly held by Frankie Avalon’s "Why," the Jackson 5’s "ABC," Edwin Starr’s "War," and Michael Jackson’s "Ben" and "Bad." "3" is also among the handful of numerically titled song to be bested on their chart appearence--confused? Prince's "7" peaked at #7 back in 1992 and Barenaked Ladies’ "One Week," peaked at #1 for one week.

In conclusion, It's really nice to see my favorite entertainer at the top once more--I wonder if she can maintain her position for next week. Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA," Owl City's "Fireflies," and Jason DeRulo's "Watcha Say" are her competition. This was really the only thing that interested me on this weeks chart, but I'm sure it's enough writing for one chart.

Personal Airplay, 15th Oct. 09

TW LW Title - Atist
1 .. 39 .. Bad Boys - Alexandra Burke - Bad Boys ft. Flo Rida (1 week @ #1)
2 ... 35 ... 3 - Britney Spears
3 .... 4 .... Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz
4 .... 1 .... Down - Jay Sean ft. Lil' Wayne (3 wks @ #1)
5 ... 13 ... Bodies - Robbie Williams
6 .... 3 .... Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus
7 .... 6 .... Celebration - Madonna
8 .... 2 .... Sexy Bitch - David Guetta & Akon
9 .... 9 .... Empire State of Mind - Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys
10 .. 15 .. Million Dollar Bill - Whitney Houston

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Album Review: The Saturdays - Wordshaker (4.5 / 5)

Whilst the Girls Aloud continue to reign as Britain's biggest girl group, The Saturdays prove they are not that far behind. Their first album, Chasing Lights, was an fair debut, it wasn't great but wasn't terrible either, the singles ("If This Isn't Love," "Up," "Work" and favorite "Issues") were definitely the albums highlights and weather I thought the album was up to par or not, it definitely put the girls on the map and those critical Girls Aloud comparisons seems to have faded a.

The Saturdays' second album, Wordshaker, is a nice follow up to the first, probably an even better album. It's definitely more consistent and cohesive. The formula hasn't changed much, it's still the classic electronic pop matched with fillings of traditional ballads. The opening track and lead single "Forever Is Over," ensures the album a fabulous start, blemishing with a stomping electro/pop sound, backed with synth and drums. I love the incorporation of the electronic guitar in the bridge and that awesome belter of a chorus.

Following swiftly is the dramatic, piano laced, "Here Standing," fixed with pacing drums and the girls combined angelic vocals. It's one that I don't love, but is still discernibly good. Next up is "Ego" among the best tracks on the album. The girls gain a blatant sense of confidence which inevitably drives the song giving it that cool and fresh appeal as they exclaim ("You need to knock some sense into your ego.") pondering with subdued synth lines and obtaining that gleaming pop marvel as it approaches the chorus also the melody is brilliant.

"No One," is more calm and warming--at first it sounds like a retread of "Here Standing," but you can spot its distinctiveness after a couple listens. Next is the title track, "Wordshaker," a retro electronic stomper, which builds up orgasmically (did I just say that) to that fantastic aggressive chorus--pounding with bold synths. It's a fantastic song, probably the best upbeat song on here.

Another thing I notice is that the ballads are definitely better than the ones on the first album ("Fall" from the first was actually a favorite for awhile) but the most of the ballads on here are pretty good. "Denial," haunting number, supported with strings, drums, piano keys and harps. It gets more heavier and progressively haunting as it reaches the chorus, which works wonders for the song. Another ballad I really like is "Deeper," which is in fact the track I've played most off the album, it's been unfairly noted down as a filler by most reviews I've read, which I think is absurd, probably just because of the fact that I just really like it and have no strong reasons to back it up with. As Mel noted in her review, Molly's vocals definitely sound very improved on here.

Other highlights include the orchestrated, "Not Good Enough" fixed smoothly with strings, keys and light synths. The tastefully poppy "Open Up," about a fun night out is another winner. I guess the only track I'm not that keen on is the kiddishly composed, "2.a.m." The Saturdays definitely delivered one of this years best pop albums, it's undoubtedly good, packed with a handful of highlights more than, Chasing Lights. Wordshaker, is definitely one for the books.

Best: Wordshaker, Forever Is Over, Ego, Wordshaker, Denial, Open Up, Not Good Enough, Deeper

Monday, October 12, 2009

Michael Jackson "This is It"

The new Michael Jackson song, "This is It" debut this morning. Considering it's apparently a left over from 1991's Dangerous album, It sounds pretty good. It's a jazzy ballad, with old school horns running through with some swaggering clicks. It's been confirmed the song won't be released digitally but as a part of the, This is It, Soundtrack. Check out the song below:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Alexandra vs. Robbie

Who's it going to be? Next week on the UK singles chart Alexandra Burke's debut single "Bad Boys" and Robbie Williams' comeback single "Bodies" are expected to debut, of course one of which will be #1, but who's it going to be? Both artists performed on tonight's X-Factor show, which were both brilliant. Burke has previously scored one UK #1 with "Hallelujah," whereas Williams has notched 6 under his belt. My guess it that "Bad Boys" is a shoo in, although seeing Robbie at the top once again will be nice too.

Preview The Saturdays' Wordshaker

In a nutshell: The new Saturdays album, Wordshaker, is definately sounding more mature and consistent than their first. So far I've really gotten into the dramatic, classic British pop sonding "Here Standing," melodic "Ego," synth laden "One Shot" and raunchy "Lose Control." Wordshaker is out tommorow, you can check out previews on Amazon.

Whitney Comes to the UK

Just finished watching the X-Factor and it was accounced next week, Whitney Houston will be performing I'm assuming her single "Million Dollar Bill." I'm just as excited as when they accounced Britney week last year. Can't wait!

Music I'm listening to...

This week I had the lengthy but enjoyable task of loading my songs on to my new iPod touch and here's what I've been listening to most this week:

"Bad Boys" Alexandra Burke - X-Factor winner, Alexandra Burke's debut single "Bad Boys" finds its digital release today and surprise surprise it's #1 on the iTunes top 100 downloads. I've been listening to it for weeks now and I'm still yet to tire from it. That chorus is inescapable.

"Bodies" Robbie Williams - I seem to have grown to this more over the last couple weeks. I really like the orchestration in the chorus, it just screams classic pop.

"Watch the Sun Come Up" Example - The radio have been all over this one. Piano keys, live drums, synth lines, infectious bassline--It's a fantastic dance anthem.

"3" Britney Spears - I've only just realized how important the synthesizer is to Britney's music. Her new single "3" is great; catchy and a solid pop song overall. As it resides atop the US iTunes, this week it could debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100--could.

"Broken-Hearted Girl" Beyonce - I've been waiting for this to become a single ever since purchasing, I Am... Sasha Fierce, because it's the best ballad on the album--and if they were going to choose a ballad for a single, hands down it's this. I see they've remixed a little bit for the release, which isn't all that bad.

"Fight For This Love" Cheryl Cole - Girls Aloud's own Cheryl Cole releases her debut single--which admittedly takes awhile click. For me, it's if it wasn't Cole singing it I probably won't be that interested.

"Forever is Over" The Saturdays - The new Saturday's single is great, classic British pop, definitely making the band's second album, Wordshaker, look more and more promising.

"Oopsy Daisy" Chipmunk - I tend to ignore anything that Chipmunk does--I don't like him that much, but his new single "Oopsy Daisy" is undeniably really good, it's more the unknown vocal that sings the chorus that I really like.

"S.O.S. (Let the Music Play)" Jordin Sparks - Jordin Spark's new single convey's a more grittier disco admbiance than most (or all) of her previous singles. It's a nice change, now hopefully this can deliver the songstress a solid hit.

"What About Now" Daughtry - Trust the UK to fall in love with a 4 year old song. I remember loving this back then, I thought it was brilliant and still pretty much do.

"4Ever" Veronicas - I love the Veronicas, I've been listening to their album, Hook Me Up, excessively. "4Ever" isn't as good as some of the stuff on there but it's still decent.

"I'm Not Your Toy" La Roux - I think I actually prefer the new La Roux single "I'm Not Your Toy" to the previous two.

"Water And the Flame" David Merriweather - Merriweather is a true balladeer--first we had the fantastic "Red," now there's sutry duet with Adele on "Water & the Flame" which is just as good.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Album Review: Backstreet Boys

Following their last successful album, Black and Blue, the Backstreet Boys released a string of rather unsuccessful albums, here's to their seventh release will be a turnaround. Here's a look at their last three albums:

Never Gone, 2005 (2/5)
Over the last couple years, Boybands haven't been as popular as they were--like when the Backstreet Boys were dominating the charts back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In the wake of a new teen-era, the Backstreet Boys were probably the first to capitalize on the movement from grunge-rock, hip-hop and R&B that dominated the mid '90s. Their first two albums, Backstreet Boys and Backstreet's Back, collectively spawned the eight worldwide number-one hits, "We've Got it Goin' On," "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)," "Anywhere for You," "As Long as You Love Me," "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)," "I'll Never Break Your Heart" and "All I Have to Give," solidifying their status' as teenage heart-throbs.

But the boys didn't succumbed to international success and recognition until the release of their pop masterpiece, third album, Millennium, which sold a staggering 40 million copies worldwide (moving 2.2 million units in its first week internationally) and spawning the monster smash "I Want it That Way," which broke the record for most radio additions within a week, nabbing 165 and reaching #1 in 11 countries, follow up single "Larger Than Life" was also a smash (the video was awesome). Their follow up album, Back & Blue, didn't spawn as many hits as Millennium--"Shape of My Heart" became a top 10 hit in the UK & US--but it did sell just as well, making the band the first to score back to back first week million sellers, eventually moving up to 24 million worldwide.

With mainstream music taking yet another turn, the Backstreet Boys hasn't managed to stabilize throughout this decade. Their first release since Black & Blue was 2005s, Never Gone, a seamless attempt to return current, that didn't quite work. It's definitely my least favorite of the band's work. Unlike their first four albums, it was largely uninteresting, mostly running on the weak combination of light pop, rock & gushes of urban-pop and the lack of originality. The opening Coldplay-ish track "Incomplete" isn't bad. It's a dramatic--mostly piano and string induced number, I remember singing this a lot. It became a top 10 hit in the UK.

"I Still..." is pretty good too, and so is the urban-pop dosed sounding "Poster Girl" which has a nice bounce to it, with the bass and the strings, it really works well and the last of the good is the stripped down acoustic ballad, "Siberia." The rest is just bland pop music that could've had the potential to be reworked into something more different and interesting, rather than the same retreads that mostly take up the bulk of the album, for example, I can't find much distinguishing between, "Crawling Back to You," "Weird World," "Lose it All," and "Climbing the Wall," all mostly light pop/rock, string and drum endeavors with the same sounding chorus.

Best tracks: Incomplete, I Still, Poster Girl, Siberia.

Unbreakable, 2007 (3/5)
The band's follow up album, Unbreakable, was an improvement, but still not a knockout--but I still do enjoy listening to it extensively. The opening track, "Everything But Mine" is a fantastic, electronically intertwined pop groove, that found the band at their best in a very long while. The chorus is brilliant, fresh and memorable--something that the tracks from Never Gone lacked greatly. Next up is the single, "Inconsolable" a string and drum affair, that still has a soulful kick in it, dismissing all signs of blandness.

Unbreakable was one of those albums that when its on point it can be wonderful and the points where it doesn't quite click and bring the whole thing down considerable and with a 16 track set--this was probably unavoidable. "One in a Million" is the albums best track. Backed with a trimming recurring hand-clap and funky guitar. It should've been the sound Never Gone had gone for. The fresh electronic beats in "Any Other Way" make it a notable moment. I also love the orchestration behind too--mostly fueled with violins. Piano laced ballad "Unsuspecting Sunday Afternoon" is another knockout.

Unbreakable definitely managed to recuperate some of the classic Backstreet Boys mojo, delivering a handful of great tracks, but still wasn't perfect. Now we have the band's seventh album, This is Us, and giving it a close and fair listen-through I can say it's their sharpest album since, Black & Blue. Obviously teaming back up with pop genius, Max Martin--who struck gold with their earlier hits, was exactly what they needed.

Best tracks: Inconsolable, One in a Million, Any Other Way, Unsuspecting Sunday Afternoon

This is Us, 2009 (4/5)
The group's seventh album, This is Us, is more interesting and consistent than Never Gone and more charismatic than Unbreakable, easily making it their best effort in a while. Opening the album is the fantastic RedOne produced lead single "Straight Through My Heart," who's also responsible for producing Lady GaGa's hits "Just Dance" & "Poker Face." It's catchy, uptempo, melodic and crisp. What more can you ask for? Following rather swiftly is "Bigger," which supports a more pondering subdued beat.

"Bye Bye Love," channels Chris Brown's "Forever," without completely cloning its pop glory, it's slightly more dancey. "All of Your Life (You Need Love)," keeps the consistency going--It's a brilliant dance-pop saturated number. A glorious dancefloor filler. You can spot some urban influences on the next three tracks. The synth lines and 808 machine backed "If I Knew Then" the title track "This is Us," begins to slow down the album, in a good way. I like the piano that angelically laces the song together and gleaming urban beat and the stomping retro bassline of "PDA."

The last couple tracks aren't as good as the ones before, but still very enjoyable. "Masquerade," has a glistening ambiance to it, especially in the chorus. The verses depicts some harsh vocal work, which surprisingly sound really good. "She's A Dream," is a cute, R&B number, backed with recurring clicks (like Mariah Carey's "Candy Bling"). Last two tracks, "Shattered" and "Undone" are my least favorite of the album, their pretty missable but after such a fulfilling ride, does it really matter.

The Backstreet Boys have come a long way, their not as cool as they use to be and they most likely will never have another, Millennium, (the sales for This is Us aren't looking too good) but after more than 10 years into their career, it's evident to see when they want to they can churn out a thrilling pop album. Never Gone indeed.

Best tracks: Straight Through My Heart, Bigger, Bye Bye Love, All of Your Love (You Need Love), PDA, She's A Dream, If I Knew Then

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Personal Airplay, 8th Oct. 2009

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Down - Jay Sean Featuring Lil' Wayne (3 weeks)
2 .... 2 .... Sexy Bitch - David Guetts & Akon
3 ... 12 ... Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus
4 ... 10 ... Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz
5 .... 3 .... Use Somebody - Kings of Leon (2 weeks @ #1)
6 ... 11 ... Celebration - Madonna
7 .... 4 .... I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas (5 weeks @ #1)
8 .... 5 .... She Wolf - Shakira
9 ... 14 ... Empire State of Mind - Jay-Z
10 .. 6 .... Boys and Girls - Pixie Lott

Billboard Hot 100, 17th Oct. 2009

1. Down - Jay Sean Featuring Lil' Wayne

Ending the Black Eyed Peas' combined 26-week reign with their singles "Boom Boom Pow" (12) and "I Gotta Feeling" (14) is British singer, Jay Sean with his US debut single "Down" making him the first British male urban act to top the Hot 100. This is "Down's" fourteenth week on the chart after debuting at #72 back in August. A major congrats is in order. This is also Lil' Wayne's second chart topper following "Lollipop" from last year which netted the rapper a non-consecutive 5 week run.

Over on the Pop Songs (revised Top 40 Mainstream chart) Sean becomes the ninth male artist to top the chart with their debut effort as "Down" rises 2 - 1 this week. Last artist to acheive this feat was Flo Rida with last years' "Low" which eventually became the charts biggest song of 2008. Additionally this is also Lil' Wayne's first #1 over there.

2. Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus

After stiff competition from Jay Sean, Miley Cyrus managed to rebound 3-2 this week with "Party in the USA," in its eighth week on the chart. It's still selling strongly on iTunes (and other digital formats, I'm sure) and gaining airplay quickly so a shot a #1 isn't quite out of the question. Just note: I'm really loving this song right now -- I wasn't too keen on it before.

3. Run This Town - Jay-Z Featuring Rihanna & Kanye West
4. Watcha Say - Jason DeRulo

Both Jay-Z and newcomer Jason DeRulo remain bulleted, one spot up from where they were last week with their singles "Run This Town" and "Watcha Say."

6. Paparazzi - Lady GaGa

Lady GaGa is this weeks airplay gainer with her single "Paparazzi," is anyone else surprised this hasn't become a top 5 hit (or a potential #1) yet? Espeically after that grabbing performance at the VMA's.

8. Obsessed - Mariah Carey

As much as I'm behind her, I'll admit this hasn't been Mariah Carey's year. "Obsessed" became top 10 hit for her weeks back but since then its performance has been somewhat lagging. This week it re-enters the top 10 one spot short of its #7 peak, due to the release of her twelfth album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, which also underperforms this week as it debuts at #3 with weak sales of 168,000 (way off the career-high 463,000 that last years' E=MC2 pushed) behind both Babara Streistand and Paramore. The albums second single "I Want to Know What Love Is" just doesn't want to become a hit--this week it enters the top 70. I hope things pick up for her soon, as things aren't looking too good from here.

11. Fireflies - Owl City

Owl City score their/his first top 20 with their/his first commercial single "Fireflies." This week is rises 24 - 11. I can't believe I didn't choose this as Best track when I reviewed the album, Ocean Eyes, months ago.

12. Sweet Dreams - Beyonce

Another single I'm surprised hasn't become a top 5 hit yet. This week Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams" rises a solid 3 spots up to #12. Will it be a top 10 hit next week?

16. Break Up - Mario

I wonder what Mario owes this hefty 4 spot rise of his single "Break Up." I still don't think it's that but if the people love it then, hey!

20. Be On You - Flo Rida Featuring Ne-Yo

"Jump" might not have set the chart on fire, but Flo Rida scores his sixth top 20 this week with "Be On You." This is also Ne-Yo's thirtheenth top 20 (including guest appearences).

23. Already Gone - Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson rebounds 27 -23 with "Already Gone." Still not a top 20 hit yet, strange.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Music I'm listening to...

There's not a lot this week as most of the new music I've been listening to have been from YouTube as I sold my iPod Classic for an iPod Touch 32gb and have yet to receive it. Here's this weeks set:

JLS "Everybody in Love" The new JLS single has been stuck in my head for awhile now, it has just a great lighthearted melody to it--I actually prefer it to "Beat Again."

Jay-Z Feat. Alicia Keys "Empire State of Mind" I'm really happy at how well this song is catching on. For what I think is the first time, Jay-Z's verses aren't that memorable as Alicia Keys steals the most part of the song with that wonderful chorus.

Owl City "Fireflies" Speaking of catching on, one-man-band Owl City's "Fireflies" is currently on its way to becoming a hit for him. This was being offered for free on iTunes a couple months ago, which were I also found his debut album, Ocean Eyes (click for my review).

Taio Cruz "Break Your Heart" First Taio Cruz I've undoubtedly liked. "Like a Star" was okay, but "Break You Heart" is just fantastic--especially the infectious chorus.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Album Review: Mariah Carey - Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (4/5)

The winning old school R&B and modern retro pop combination that made up the most part of Mariah Carey's stunning comeback album, The Emancipation of Mimi and follow up, E=MC2 sure did work wonders for her but from the opening notes of the bitter mid-tempo opener "Betcha Gon' Know" it's blatant to see Carey's 11th album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, has taken a switch up in the formula.

"Bectha Gon' Know" is very up close and personal as Carey lashes out more rawley than ever. It's a disheartening story about an unfaithful companion as Carey addresses in the choleric lyrics: ("Somewhere down the line you'll get what you deserve, you fucking jerk") and also addresses the 'realness' of the situation as she brings the names of Oprah and Barbra Walters in the songs mid section. Fixed with lenient piano keys and a skittering bassline--it's probably Carey's most darkening hard-faced start to an album ever. The bitterness continues on the albums lead single "Obsessed" a Tricky and The-Dream produced number, hovering with consistent hand-claps and a hovering, light R&B stomp. Whether the song is indeed about rapper, Eminem will still remain a mystery as Carey continues to deny the accusations but dodgy back story aside, I've been enjoying this song for awhile now and now it's become one of my favorites on here.

After two fairly solid tracks, the album beings to slow down the pace--for the next 9 tracks to be specific, which I've noticed people who have listened to the album already haven't drawn too; accusing the next couple tracks of blandness and feeling samey, which I disagree with majorly. First up of the 9 is "H.A.T.E.U." a melodic mellowing number, finding Carey cooing softly behind an intricately produced slow jam composition. It reminds me a lot of some of her past work, notably "Bliss" from 1999s, Rainbow, with a bit more structure and solidarity--I think it also draws similarities from "Fourth of July" from 1997s, Butterfly--the album of comparison and the sparkling "Yours" from 2002s, Charmbracelet.

Following swiftly is the subdued "Candy Bling" which samples rapper, Ahmed's 1994 top 40 hit "Back in the Day." It's backed sweetly with recurring clicks, whimsical harps and Carey's softening vocal--admittedly the song doesn't amount to much as it remains remains rather flat throughout (although that didn't stop "Shake it Off" from becoming a hit). "Ribbon" is the albums first modern R&B moment, although is somewhat constrained due to Carey's habit of singing through her nose when it's not needed (that's exactly what brought down both, Rainbow and Charmbracelet).

Lenient piano keys and a pretty bassline fuel the glassy "Inseparable," "It's A Wrap" and the contemporary "Standing O" which don't really sound the album but I'll admit sound like they've been cut from the same vein. As a reviewer there should be criticisms for having three consistent tracks that sound like they've given birth to each other--but I really like these tracks a lot, "It's A Wrap" in particular, for its witty and angry lyrics: ("I know you see me calling and calling, I should crack you right in your forehead.") "Up Out My Face" is a favorite, strutting with perky piano keys and a skittering beat--sounds like it would make a great single. The song leads into "Up Out My Face (The Reprise)" which includes a band of clanging trumpets, drums and whistles and chanting of the lyric: ("Up out my face boy").

The only tracks I don't like on here are "More Than Just Friends" which just sounds like wasteful R&B and the banausic "The Impossible." The last couple tracks are great. "Angels Cry" a warming mid-90s reminiscent slow jam, finding Carey pursuing the best of her range. The interlude "Languishing" should've been made into a full song, it's really good. A stripped down vocal, clicks and piano venture. It reminds me of "Twister" from the, Glitter soundtrack and the personal, "Petals" from Rainbow.

The album closes with her cover of Foreigners "I Want to Know What Love Is," in which she incorporates the power of the choir, starting off pretty subdued as she ascends to higher heights and soars at the end where she belts and uses her whistle register, it works really nicely. I initially thought (upon the previews) Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, would be as good as, Butterfly--It's not quite as good but it's still decent and the only reason I would say I prefer it to last years E=MC2 would be because it's more my type of music.

Best: H.A.T.E.U., Obsessed, Bectcha Gon' Know, Up Out My Face, I Want to Know What Love Is, Candy Bling, Angels Cry, It's A Wrap

Personal airplay, 1/10/09

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Down - Jay Sean Featuring Lil' Wayne (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 7 .... Sexy Bitch - David Guetta & Akon
3 .... 3 .... Use Somebody - Kings of Leon (2 wks @ #1)
4 .... 2 .... I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas (5 wks @ #1)
5 .... 9 .... She Wolf - Shakira
6 .... 4 .... Boys and Girls - Pixie Lott
7 ... 10 ... Obsessed - Mariah Carey
8 .... 5 .... Run This Town - Jay-Z Featuring Rihanna & Kanye West
9 .... 6 .... Holiday - Dizzee Rascal
10 .. 12 .. Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz