Sunday, February 28, 2010

Album Review: Ellie Goulding - Lights (3.5/5)

Since topping the BBC's Sounds of 2009 poll, there's been masses of hype surrounding the debut release from English singer Ellie Goulding. After all those who top (or in some cases land in the top 3) the BBC's prestegious list are often destined for great things, for instance: last year, Little Boots won critical acclaim for her debut album Hands, and the year prior Duffy, who missed out on the top spot (landing behind other favorite Adele) had one of the years biggest selling albums with Rockferry. So it's only safe to assume Goulding would be destined for the same shade of success.

Whilst there is still some time to wait to determine the levels of Goulding commercial success--the question for now is weather Lights is worth the hype? From it's lush modern electronic-dance production to Goulding's fresh vocal talent, it lacks any notable variation to compete with a masterpiece like Rockferry.

Setting the mood is "Guns and Horses," beginning with a cool guitar and drums arrangement before ascending to an ambrosial breezy electronic dance production upon the chorus' arrival. Not the albums highlight but a pleasing opener, however way more pleasing is follow-up, "Starry Eyed," the official introduction to Goulding ("Under the Sheets" wasn't a big enough of an introduction) and potentially the albums biggest hit so far. Shimmering with an eccentric electro-pop bearing, layering synths with soft electronic undertones. It's rightfully the albums biggest highlight.

"This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)" ponders with synths also shadowing sleek electronic undertones, still doesn't really strike as a noteworthy highlight. Lead single "Under the Sheets," has a rugged drum bass line behind the sparkling production--which is about as rugged or hard-hitting as it gets. Whilst Goulding voice sounds very limited, it sounds like it can be stretched just enough so spawn a good ballad like "The Writer."

My favorite track besides "Starry Eyed" is "Every Time You Go," admittedly not that different to everything else on here, but its whimsical and warming production is awesome. It also has some very nice harmonies. Next is "Wish I Stayed" which adopts the shimmering eccentricity of "Starry Eyed" however in fact use to be a warm guitar ballad when I received as a free download on iTunes but it still sounds good.

The last three tracks are decent but aren't standouts. "Your Biggest Mistake" begins with cooling guitars and strings before bursting into an upbeat retro groove on the chorus. "I'll Hold My Breath" is nothing especially different and closing track "Salt Skin," has a eerie vibe which I like. Lights is a decent album, I don't love it but it does have some good moments--it suffers from little differentiation, although the idea behind the electro-pop theme is pretty cool and in all makes for a decent debut.

Best: Starry Eyed, Every Time You Go, Wish I Stayed, Guns and Horses, The Writer

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Billboard Hot 100, 6th March 2010

1. Imma Be - Black Eyed Peas
2. TiK ToK - Ke$ha

The Black Eyed Peas score their third #1 with "Imma Be" this week, moving 2 spots up to the top spot, ending Ke$ha's 9 week streak at the top with "TiK ToK," which leaves her only one week off tying Debby Boone's 1977 hit "You Light Up My Life" for the most weeks at #1 for a female debut single. The Peas' third #1 makes them the first group or duo in 19 years to score three #1s from one album, the last group to achieve this was female vocal group Wilson Phillips, who topped the Hot 100 in 1990 with "Hold On," "Release Me" and "You're in Love" from their self-titled debut album, unfortunately the girls haven't had a hit since.

3. BedRock - Young Money featuring Lloyd

Young Money and Lloyd's "BedRock" is currently the most song on urban radio, with over 7k spins this week--this probably helped it stay bulleted at #3 this week.

4. Bad Romance - Lady Gaga

Whilst probably out of the race for #1, Lady Gaga still manages to rise up a notch this week with "Bad Romance" after falling to #5 last week. This is the song's 17th week in the top ten. Pretty impressive.

11. Blah Blah Blah - Ke$ha featuring 30H!3

Ke$ha's "Blah Blah Blah" stays bulleted at #11 this week.

13. Baby - Justin Bieber featuring Ludacris

Justin Bieber's "Baby" see's a large digital boost this week, driving the single back up to the better end of the top 20, rising up 6 spots to #13.

14. Telephone - Lady Gaga featuring Beyonce

Lady Gaga & Beyonce's "Telephone" rises up one notch up to #14. It's high-awaited accompanying video is set to debut this weekend.

23. Rude Boy - Rihanna

Already a hit in the UK, Rihanna's latest single "Rude Boy" is set to do the same stateside, as it rises a hefty 24 spots up this week to #23, scoring her 19th top forty single and earning greatest gainer of the week.

100. Up Out My Face - Mariah Carey featuring Nicki Minaj

I normally don't venture past the top 50, but I like Mariah so I thought she deserved a mention. Her latest single "Up Out My Face" debuts at a less than impressive #100 upon it's digital release. This will most likely fall out of the chart next week. Maybe "Angels Cry" with Ne-Yo will fare better.

Personal Airplay, 25th Februrary 2010

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Telephone - Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce (3 wks @ #1)
2 .... 3 .... If We Ever Meet Again - Timbland feat. Katy Perry
3 .... 2 .... Do You Remember - Jay Sean feat. Lil' Jon & Sean Paul
4 .... 8 .... Starry Eyed - Ellie Goulding
5 .... 4 .... Fireflies - Owl City (2 wks @ #1)
6 .... 6 .... One Shot - JLS
7 .... 5 .... Doubt - Delphic
8 ... 15 ... I Got You - Leona Lewis
9 .... 9 .... Bad Romance - Lady Gaga (2 wks @ #1)
10 .. 18 .. Hollywoold - Marina & the Diamonds

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Kelly Clarkson "All I Ever Wanted"

Chosen as the fourth single from her fourth album is title track "All I Ever Wanted." I liked the song initially, however not so much anymore (it's not even on my iPod). I would have preferred "Don't Let Me Stop You" or "Cry." The song hits US Mainstream radio March 9.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Blogosphere Tidbits

Billboard Hot 100, 27th February 2010

I've been abandoning the Hot 100 for the last few weeks for the simple fact that... I felt like it. I'm continuing this week and I want to start by mentioning Sade's latest album, Soldier of Love, debuting at #1 this week with an astonishing 502k haul, her highest first week sales ever and her second #1 album since their second album, Promise which arrived at #1 almost 24 years ago. A comeback well done! Now onto the chart:

1. TiK ToK - Ke$ha
2. We Are the World 25 - Artists for Haiti

Ke$ha holds off charity single "We Are the World 25," which still makes an impressive debut at #2, landing solidly behind "TiK ToK," which is amazingly is in its ninth consecutive week at the summit of the chart. The party don't stop indeed. I would really like to find out how much "We Are the World" sold this week, any help?

3. Imma Be - Black Eyed Peas

Last week, the Black Eyed Peas hit #2 with "Imma Be" as digital gainers of the week. This week, upong the arrival of Artist for Haiti, it gets pushed down to #3 losing its bullet, however still holding strong on iTunes.

9. In My Head - Jason DeRulo

Jason DeRulo scores his second top ten with "In My Head," following his debut chart topper, "Whatcha Say," somehow I don't think this week achieve the same kinda of success--probably it will fare the same way Chris Brown's second single did; "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)" only reached #7 following "Run It!," which became his first #1 back in 2005.

11. Blah Blah Blah - Ke$ha feat. 30H!3

Ke$ha's second single "Blah Blah Blah," receives its second digital boost as it rises 11 spots up to #11. It's currently peaked at #7, her second solo top ten single.

12. Say Aah - Trey Sonz feat. Fabolous

Trey Songz looks to be scoring his first 'big' hit since 2007's "Can't Help But Wait," which peaked at #14. His latest single, "Say Aah," with Fabolous rises three spots up to #12 making it his highest charting single ever.

15. Telephone - Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce

Slowly but surely, Lady Gaga and Beyonce's "Telephone" rises, soon to be a top monster-hit for sure. I predict this will be one of the biggest hits of the year, a big prediction, I know--but the conditions are perfect.

Personal Airplay, 18th Februrary 2009

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Telephone - Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce (2 wks @ #1)
2 .... 3 .... Do You Remember - Jay Sean feat. Lil John and Sean Paul
3 .... 7 .... If We Ever Meet Again - Timbaland feat. Katy Perry
4 .... 2 .... Fireflies - Owl City (2 wks @ #1)
5 .... 4 .... Doubt - Delphic
6 .... 6 .... One Shot - JLS
7 .... 5 .... Replay - Iyaz
8 ... 10 ... Starry Eyed - Ellie Goulding
9 .... 8 .... Bad Romance - Lady Gaga
10 .. 9 .... Empire State of Mind - Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys (1 wk @ #1)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Leona Lewis "I Got You"

I'm absolutely loving Leona Lewis second single "I Got You," from Echo. I hope it performs better than "Happy" did, I definately like it more. The video's cool too.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Album Review: Jason Derülo - Jason Derülo (2/5)

With Chris Brown's career in decline, it's no surprise Jason DeRulo is here to resurrect it in the form of his own. I mean they both even look alike and whilst DeRulo's first single "Whatcha Say" is no "Run It," his second, "In My Head" is ultimately "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)" with an '10 twist, the video's are even similar. So is Jason DeRulo the new Chris Brown? Probably not, although he does have the hits to argue that.

I haven't heard a solid R&B album in awhile (save for releases from Rihanna and Alicia Keys) recent releases from R. Kelly, Jaheim and Trey Songz have been hit and misses. Jason DeRulo's self-titled debut is no exeption as ultimately it's rather poor, a short ten-track set of glossy mix of R&B and pop with a couple of good tracks however even with my distaste for him, the album isn't nearly as good as Chris Brown's self-titled debut, which is a shame. "Ridin' Solo," is nice. It's pretty much the sound of young R&B at the moment--a simple pop ditty with a catchy chorus (ala "Replay" and "Face Drop") It will probably be a third a single. "The Sky's the Limit" is the same thing but slower however still sounds good, very JLS meets Corbin Bleu. The albums first ballad "What If," driven by sharp piano-chords and a stationary drum and guitar composition, is lovely.

There's nothing more I like about the album. "Love Hangover" is "Sky's the Limit" again, with a slightly faster pace. "Encore" is a retread of "Whatcha Say." "Fallen" is DeRulo's attempt at a "With You." "Blind" is "What If" with no attempt at differentiation and closing track "Queen of Hearts," is a rather unimpressive ballad. So maybe DeRulo lacks the artistry Brown used to have, the albums isn't really built on any solid foundations conjuring up a pretty weak debut, however I'm convinced given the right material he could grow. This decade hasn't gotten off to a very good start, I still haven't found an album worthy of a 4.5 yet.

Best: Whatcha Say, In My Head, Ridin Solo, What If

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Personal Airplay, 11th Februrary 2009

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... Telephone - Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce
2 .... 1 .... Fireflies - Owl City (2 wks @ #1)
3 .... 4 .... Do You Remember - Jay Sean feat. Lil Jon and Sean Paul
4 .... 6 .... Doubt - Delphic
5 .... 3 .... Replay - Iyaz
6 .... 9 .... One Shot - JLS
7 ... 13 ... If We Ever Meet Again - Timbaland feat. Katy Perry
8 ... 10 ... Bad Romance - Lady Gaga (2 wks @ #1)
9 .... 8 .... Empire State of Mind - Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys (1 wk @ #1)
10 .. 19 .. Starry Eyed - Ellie Goulding

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Album Review: Lady Antebellum - Need You Now (3.5/5)

Lady Antebellum; the next biggest act in country music sure have been going strength to strength during these last couple weeks. Their sophomore album Need You Now; an instant success with a debut at number-one shifting nearly half a million copies in its first week and is set to remain there this week. Their a cool country band, lead singer Hillary Scott has a nice voice and the harmonies with the rest of the band are really pleasing to the ear, however with some good hooks and melodies, nothing on Need You Now sets them apart from the hundreds of other country acts out there, however more than enough of the album works to overlook it.

The breezy country-pop of title track "Need You Now," sets the tone with a light blusterous chorus, nicely blending harmonies behind the drums, guitars and strings. It could be their first crossover hit as it continues to rise at top forty radio--set to be the albums biggest hit so far, it's definitely not the albums best track. Following is "Our Kind of Love" which embodies a jaunty arrangement of bold piano chords and drums and a constraining hook, the mid-section is awesome as the electronic guitars stutter behind a cute harmonisation. It's one of the best songs on here. Very invigorating.

"American Honey" is your typical country ballad, with swooning violins, banjos and drums however more about the story than the sound, talking about growth and returing back childhood. Charles Kelley takes the lead on ballad "Hello World," starting very subtle with angelic piano keys and soft and pacing guitar line but soon picks up towards the middle as the piano and drums gradualy become more bold. It's beautifully composed as it arrives to its climax with all the orchestration intact. It's another one of my favorites.

"Perfect Day" embraces a cool summery vibe as I guess the title would imply, expressed a very jaunty composition and some quirky lyrics ("I hopped into the back of a jacked up jeep, with the wind on my face"). It's not a personal favorite however it's one of those songs I'd like listen to while driving down the A2 on a summers day. "Love This Pain" isn't as musically arresting as some of previous tracks. Very uninteresting and bland, follow-up "When You Got a Good Thing," is a pretty lovely ballad.

I like the Rock 'n' Roll meets country vibe on "Stars Tonight," it's chorus is very anthem-styled, like a more uptempo version of Shania Twain's "Nah." "If I Knew Then," is another ballad more along the lines of "When You Got a Good Thing," it sounds good but probably a case of too much on here. "Something 'Bout a Woman," is very boldly country with quirky banjos, violins and a fast-paced drum line. I like the added piano keys, it works really well. Harmonies are awesome too.

Closing the album is piano-driven "Ready to Love Again," which builds up to a pretty dramatic climax. I really like this. I have nothing bad to say about the album, almost every track is enjoyable. It's definately more consitent than their self-titled debut, my only problem is whilst they make quite good music, I still don't see anything different to the other country acts out there, I'm sure Dixie Chicks or Rascal Flatts could turn out an album like this or better, but in all it's a decent album.

Best: Our Kind of Love, Hello World, Need You Now, Ready to Love Again, Stars Tonight, Perfect Day

Scouting for Girls "This Ain't a Love Song"

Radio One's Scott Mill's song of the week is indie-pop band Scouting for Girls' new single "This Ain't a Love Song" a cool ballad-styled number with piano keys, strings and drums. It's the first single from their forthcoming sophomore album Everybody Wants to Be On TV. I really like it because parts of it remind me of Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know."

Friday, February 05, 2010

Album Review: Sade - Soldier of Love (4/5)

Much hasn't changed on Sade's sixth album Soldier of Love, still as subtle as ever, Adu's voice is still heart-warningly cooling, the harmonies and melodies still as captivating, the message; still a delicate voyage of discovery of that inconceivable love. So what sets this apart from their last release Lovers Rock ten years ago? Well, nothing. It's almost as if they have taken everything that was good about that album and perfected it for this.

Setting the mood is the brewing "The Moon And the Sky," a romantic tale about deception between lovers. Calming bass lines under a sweeping string and guitar arrangement embracing that warm urban-feel through Adu's smoky vocal and soft cascades of orchestration. Scattering military-styled drums, rugged riffs and burst of electronic guitar build the foundations for title track and lead single "Soldier of Love," probably the albums most slightly experimental track.

Beautifully composed "Morning Bird,"embracing a haunting feel through poingangt piano keys and pacing tamborines. It's really sweet, as is follow-up and more bass line fronted "Babyfather" a subtle Jamaican-trimmed number, thumping a silky groove with a soft enchanting touch. I also like the trumpets towards the end. "Long Hard Road," similarly to "Morning Bird," is another haunting number with tamborines however switching up the piano keys for an acoustic guitar and orchestration.

"Be that Easy" has a cool sultry country vibe with flourishes of light alternative rock, finding Adu harmonizing over a mournful string, drum and guitar composition, duped with some hearty harmonies. My favorite track on here is "In Another Time" a heart-felt ballad that throws back to a sultry '70s motown sound. Pact with orchestration, drums, keyboards and violins towards the end.

I thought this album could have been my first five-star of the year and decade, however the last couple tracks towards the end aren't as good as the previous tracks. I'm not really feeling "Bring Me Home," "Skin," is underwhelmingly boring and I'm not sure what closing track '"The Safest Place" is trying to do, a very dull ballad with no melody.

Soldier of Love is a great follow-up to Lovers Rock, It definately has its moments. I think it's amazing how Sade can embark on a ten-year break return and still have fan awaiting their work, I'm sure it doesn't happen often for most bands.

Best: In Another Time, The Moon And the Sky, Morning Bird, Solider of Love, Be that Easy

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Personal Airplay, 4th Februrary 2010

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... TiK ToK - Ke$ha (6 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 4 .... Telephone - Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce
3 .... 2 .... Replay - Iyaz
4 .... 9 .... Do You Remember - Jay Sean feat. Lil' John & Sean Paul
5 .... 3 .... Fireflies - Owl City (1 wk @ #1)
6 ... 13 ... Doubt - Delphic
7 .... 5 .... Hard - Rihanna feat. Young Jeezy
8 .... 7 .... Empire State of Mind - Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys (1 wk @ #1)
9 ... 14 ... One Shot - JLS
10 .. 10 .. Bad Romance - Lady Gaga

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Album Review: Lil Wayne - Rebirth (2/5)

Lil Wayne venturing into rock-styled music is really nothing new, Jay-Z, Nas and Lupe Fiaso have all had a couple songs on some of their albums of which have exuded a rock-feel--the only difference is that until now no-one has yet to make a full-fledged album built around rock. The shift in direction for Wayne's seventh album Rebirth could have something legendary, maybe even beginning a new mainstream hip-hop rock era however unfortunately the results fall short, way short.

Whilst the some of the songs individually aren't terrible (I suppose at times it comes down to taste or what you want to hear when you listen to rap) what makes this record an underwhelming project is that it's obvious Wayne didn't do his homework when it comes to the rock-genre. What bothers me most is that he thinks a rough collision of drums and heavy electronic guitars and some screechy auto-tuned vocals mixed together can be called rock--which goes to show not just anyone can do a rock record. I spent some finding some comparisons to show prove or show how tasteless this album is; Linkin' Park's debut album Hybrid Theory one of the best rock albums of all time is essentially a rap-rock album however it's not just a messy blur of typical instruments everything on that album was intricate from the beats, ryhthms, bass lines, insutrments to the vocals, what Wayne is missing is any knowledge on how to produce a successful rock album and what sinks the album even lower is his lack of intersting lyrics (which is ultimately what his career rides on and why Tha Carter III was so successful).

There are some good tracks on here, the best track is "Knockout" with Nicki Minaj, a breezy mash of electronic guitars and drums, drawing in some cool alternative rock/pop influences. It's no surprise it's currently the most popular track from the album. "Drop the World" with Eminem is an awesome song, unfortunately Eminem steals the show, possibly one of the few tracks that they bothered to compose as a proper ode to rock. "Runnin" is a Daughtry-styled rock ballad with a big chorus, which is really the only highlight of the song. Current single "On Fire," has a cool '80s influences, however not a favorite though.

There's nothing else I like on here, nothing else really that credible that maybe would appeal to a hardcore fan rather than the general music listener. Whilst some of the tracks are over-the-top ("Get a Life," "One Way Trip," "The Price is Wrong") it's more tame, such as "Paradice" and "Da Da Da" which has awful lyrics about "funky monkies") are boring.

It's a shame Wayne couldn't make this work. I feel he could have accomplished so much with the idea and with current status in hip-hop right now. But on happier trials he returns to what he knows best normal hip-hop/rap for the fourth installment in Tha Carter series later this year.

Best: Knockout, Drop the World, Runnin'