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Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

(And this certainly makes me happy!)

"Can you handle what I'm about to do?"

Well the day that I've been waiting for since May has finally come... the debut of Adam Lambert's first proper single. I'm only just listening to it now, so you're getting total first impressions here. While it's not as audacious or radical as I might have liked, For Your Entertainment is a VERY catchy, successful pop song. It's quite the modern post-Gaga exercise in synthesized dance-pop. Some might be upset that Adam's trademark wails are (mostly) absent, but the delivery and phrasing are still excellent without the overkill. I have a feeling that there will be some more interesting tracks on the album (including his cover of Gaga's Fever, one of my favorite Gaga demos), and I am thoroughly excited for it. This track will be played many times until the album makes its way into my hands. One gripe, though: the lyrics are pretty lame and overdone.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Preorder the album here. Follow me on twitter at nickajames)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Ark: "We want to make a really grand stadium rock album. That is what we do best."

Could I be more excited? Nope. The new album's out in early April. You can follow their progress here.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pop Blitz

Ke$ha - Tik Tok
Previously known as the vocalist on Flo-Rida's obnoxious Right Round, Ke$ha is being compared (unjustly) to Lady Gaga. I'd take Bad Romance over this any day. Everything's pretty derivative here. It's not horrible, but it wouldn't be a hit if Gaga wasn't big. Oh, and the lyrics are annoying. C

David Guetta ft. Akon - Sexy Bitch
The lyrics here are so ridiculous that you'd gotta just laugh at them. Luckily, the melody and beat are some of Guetta's strongest, and Akon, who I'm usually not a fan of, fits this type of pop sleaze perfectly. B+

Black Eyed Peas - Meet Me Halfway
After their previous two singles got overplayed to death on the radio, no one should be excited about another BEP single. Thankfully, it's one of the better cuts from the album, with a catchy pop chorus that undoubtedly will become, you guessed it, overplayed to death. B-

Lady Gaga - Bad Romance
Gaga's gutsiest single yet, this sounds like Poker Face on speed. There are about a thousand hooks buried inside of this, each one complimenting the others. More importantly, I get the feeling of Lady Gaga as an artist in this song, which is hard to accomplish in radio pop music. A

Michael Jackson - This Is It
Far more underwhelming than I'd anticipated, this gentle ballad took a few spins to really hook me. Compared to most of his back catalog, it's pretty slight, but compared to most of the stuff out there now, it's an A-

Rihanna - Russian Roulette
A bizarre single choice, for sure, this dark ballad opens with a processed guitar and ends with a gunshot. Not what anyone was expecting, right? One listen doesn't do it justice, because I didn't like it the first time. Though not her best single, it's a statement of intent that I can appreciate and I'm enjoying it more each listen. B+

Westlife - What About Now
I can't imagine anything worse. I hated this song the first time. I didn't think I could dislike it more, but then Westlife trotted on up and did the impossible. F

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"I hear Jerusalem bells ringing"

So I thought that I was well and truly forever sick of this invincible Coldplay song (invincible in the way that radio cannot force it away from its playlists). And Darin, who I've enjoyed sporadically in the past, is certainly not the most likely of pop singers to bring out anything new or interesting in the track. Yet, his cover of Viva La Vida does the impossible. It makes me like the song again. Sure, Coldplay fans are probably gonna hate the europop song it's been turned into, but the vocal phrasing and slight changes to melody and pacing really do breathe life into this overplayed hit. I'm surprised how much I like it. On a related note, Darin's Swedish hit Breathing Your Love is finally set to be released in the UK on the 29th of November. I see no reason why it wouldn't be a hit over there. It's a hundred times better than the likes of JLS and Jay Sean, right?

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy Darin's latest album here. Follow me on twitter at nickajames)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Track-by-Track: Alphabeat - The Spell

Alphabeat's second album is an interesting beast. In one regard, it sounds like a natural follow-up for them. On the other hand, much of the debut's "let's grab a tambourine and put on a show" charm is absent. It's probably a smart move, since that kind of energy is more fitting to a brand new band than an established one. So, how does the new album stack up?

1. The Spell - When this was initially released a few months ago, I was underwhelmed. I liked the beat, but that was about it. Now it's grown on me quite a bit, though it's still not their best single. Very catchy, though. 9/10

2. DJ - My favorite track on the album, this finds the male/female vocals on full display, steering us through a melody that screams "#1 single" far more obviously than the previous track. 10/10

3. Hole In My Heart - Another uptempo dance track continuing the obvious 90's influence, this one has a catchy, if somewhat repetitive, chorus. Suffers from being placed after DJ, but it's still a great track. 9/10

4. The Beat Is - This has a strong, hard chorus with some dramatic synths. Though still uptempo, it's got a funkier beat that sets it apart from some of the other dance tracks. Easily continues the album's winning streak. 9/10

5. Heat Wave - A totally Stine-centric track, this is a loud, frantic dance track and will certainly rub some listeners the wrong way, but I love it. The instrumentation is sped up to the point of bursting, and Stine's vocals are suitably frantic. 10/10

6. Chess - A midtempo, synth-driven track, this gives the album some well-deserved breathing room and features some interesting vocal production. Anders' bridges are especially nice. One of the band's strongest midtempos, I'd say. 9/10

7. Heart Failure - I like everything about this track except the chorus. It's alright, but too repetitive. Anders is used very effectively in the bridges again. I'm a sucker for tracks where the two vocalists actually sing to each other, rather than detached. 8/10

8. Always Up With You - Back to the hyper-dance 90's sound, this is an Anders track primarily, and one of the best on the album. Great beat, great melody and some catchy background bits from Stine. Love this one. 10/10

9. Q&A - The other midtempo on the album, this isn't as strong as Chess. Again, the chorus is just a bit too repetitive. Certainly not bad by any standard, but not overly amazing. I wish they were singing "T&A" instead. It'd be more interesting. 8/10

10. The Right Thing - The perfect closing track, this one sees Stine and Anders tag-teaming it for another hugely uptempo dance track with a very catchy, dramatic melody. It may not sound so much like their last record, but this is a very nice progression. 10/10

Album Grade: 9.2/10