Saturday, April 26, 2008

What are 'Flashbacks'?

Flashbacks are my thoughts on some of my favorite artists debut or early albums. It is assumed that they get a rating of 5/5, for reasons I explain in my reviews. SO, wanna see them?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Craig David - This is the Girl

Artist: Craig David
Album: Trust Me
Year: 2007

Rating: 4.7/5

I gotta admit, before I heard this song, I hated rap, I refused to listen to it because every single rap song I heard was horrible. I was raised with an open mind to music, whatever the genre, if I liked the song, I liked it, that's what my dad taught me. From an early age I was exposed to all kinds of music, my dad loved(and still does..) Swing Out Sister, Pat Metheney, Chick Corea, people like that and produced countless local OPM standards, albums by the most legendary band to ever graze the Philippine music scene, the Eraserheads so you could say that I was brought up extremely musically. One genre my dad failed to expose to me though was rap. The house was filled with melodious music but never rap. Which explains why I never really liked rap.

When Craig David's album came out last year, I was expecting perfect melodies with that unmistakable Craig David sound and I got that, with almost all the tracks. Then I reached the last track on the album, 'This is the Girl'. When I heard the start, I stopped it because I hated the rap once again and left it at that for the next month or so. Then after a month I started listening to the album again, and I encountered this track, which I loved.

At the start, I overlooked the rap part, thinking it was just an accent to the melody of the chorus. I was wrong. As I kept on listening to the song, I realized that the rap gives the song something, something that without it, the song wouldn't be a song. Ok, a bit corny but it's true. I always thought that rap sections in songs accented the song instead of being an actual part of the song but obviously, I know that now.

So yeah, this song is very, VERY rap-influenced but the chorus is pure R&B, it's fantastic how Craig David can fuze those two elements with more leaning toward the rap without compromising the melody. This song is worth a listen, it's got substance, dynamics and very good vocals.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Mariah Carey - Bye Bye

Artist: Mariah Carey
Album: E=MC2
Year: 2008

Rating: 4.8/5

(Short post today, still got the flu..)

Why oh why do I always manage to predict post- album singles? Examples? Westlife, I loved 'Something Right' back in November and now it's a single. Leona Lewis, I loved 'Better in Time' AND 'Footprints in the Sand' when her album came out and now it's a single. Blake Lewis, I loved 'How Many Words' back when 'Break Anotha' was the single and now it's a single. Finally, when I got my hands on a Mariah album, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED 'Bye Bye' and now it's been confirmed to be the second single! All these predictions are kinda freaking me out, maybe I CAN be an A&R person. Anyway..

I absolutely LOVED 'The Emancipation of Mimi', I remember back when 'It's Like That' was brand new and it was being shown on the local music channel during a time when I was just getting addicted to it, they used to play it three times a day at the exact same time(If I'm not mistaken it was 8 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon and 8 in the evening). Anyway, I loved all the singles off that album and eventually got the album itself. So, when I heard of another album this year, I immediately got my hands on one. I was not disappointed.

For me, 'Bye Bye' made the album. It's the perfect song and the melody is just amazing. I love how the song builds up and the start is just perfect. It's the perfect 'wave-hands-while-swaying' song, it can be the finale to a concert.

Want it? Buy the album when it hits stores on April 15.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Girls Aloud - The Show

Artist: Girls Aloud
Album: What Will the Neighbors Say?
Year: 2004

Rating: 4.5/5

Very few reality show-made bands make it big in the industry. Actually, Girls Aloud is the only band to actually last for more than two years.

They were formed in 2003 via Pop Stars: The Rivals, the spin-off to the show which made Hear'Say, the one-hit wonders. On the show, 'One True Voice', who were the biggest flops in the history of boybands, were also made. The style of the show was very much like X Factor, auditions then boot camp then live shows until five girls are left then they form the band and release a single in the bid for Christmas Number One.

Girls Aloud went to number one with their first single, and did it two more times. They're kinda techno/dance/pop-inspired and all their songs are so different that fans will keep wanting more. Like I said with Jesse McCartney, he slowly changed then had one drastic leap from pop/rock to R&B. Girls Aloud on the other hand, took it slower but if you compare their first album to their latest, you can hear the difference.

Their sophomore album was when they were facing what I stated in the previous post, whether to change or stay the same. They went with a very slow change that took three studio albums and a greatest hits compilation to clearly hear. Like a big leap, it's hard as well to make slow changes and I commend them for that as well.

This song is extremely techno-driven to the point that the song can do without vocals. It's also very memorable for me because it's the first Girls Aloud song I ever heard in which I knew that they were the ones singing it.

You could imagine this playing in the hottest clubs all over the world, it's so catchy and sounds so American that I wonder why they never even tried to break into the US. Sad.

Jesse McCartney - How Do You Sleep?

Artist: Jesse McCartney
Album: Departure
Year: 2008

Rating: 5/5

Oh yes, Jesse McCartney. I loved him ever since 'Beautiful Soul' although at the very very beginning, back when his video was only a minute long, I thought he looked too much like Aaron Carter(the same way I thought JoJo looked too much like Lindsay Lohan and that she had a 'boys' name, to which I was wrong.. forgive me, I was seven then..) which is why I didn't pay too much attention to him. When his videos started appearing on the countdowns of the music channel, which I was addicted to back then, I started taking notice of him.

His music back then was Disney pop, so much that you could imagine every single song on his debut album on a DCOM, seriously. Then his next album grew up a bit but the pop from his first album was still there, not a very exciting or drastic growth which was what I wanted to see.

Little did I know that I had to wait 2 years before the drastic change I was waiting for came. This year, Jesse has changed his style so much that people who don't look at who's singing or don't know his voice won't know who's singing the new songs. I must say, I commend Jesse for having the courage to change his music style. 

My dad told me a few weeks back that there are two things artists can and will usually do. One, it's not change their style for their whole careers and keep on giving their fans what they want until they get sick of them. The pro to this, most of the time, artists don't loose too many fans because they get what they liked with the artist in the first place. The con? Other people, haters or people who just listen to the music will get sick after the second or third album and critics will say really horrible things about the fact that he/she has no creativity to think of anything new, bla, bla, bla.

The second one is the opposite. Artists for example, come out with an R&B album one year and suddenly their Pop a year later. This can lead to loss of a lot of fans but glowing reviews from critics because of drastic changes.

Where does Jesse fall? Into both, which is why I like him. He took it slow, built up a huge fan base who by now will stick to him whatever he does while pleasing the critics. Genius.

This song is not like any song on his previous albums, it's so R&B infused that you could imagine Usher singing it, it's fantastic. Of course, he's going to join everyone else by going R&B but at least he has the guts to change and the creativity to pull it off, which is something most artists lack these days.

Ashley Tisdale - Love Me For Me

Artist: Ashley Tisdale
Album: Headstrong
Year: 2007

Rating: 4.1/5

Ashley Tisdale probably shot to fame thru High School Musical and the Suite Life, prior to that, I had no idea who she was. After HSM, she signed a record deal with Warner music, who gave her very mature songs, even more mature than what Vanessa was doing, which was under Disney.

This song could've been on her album if she was with Disney but her singles, maybe the execs would think about them. I've got to admit, this song is actually good. Her voice isn't that nasal in this song, maybe because of the range or whatever but generally, it's a great song.

It also shows that she's not a one trick pony, she can sing a lot of different stuff. Ok, I may be a bit biassed because I loved HSM two years ago but still, you gotta admit, she is kinda talented.

Brie Larson - Hope Has Wings

Artist: Brie Larson
Album: Finally Out Of P.E.
Year: 2005

Rating: 4.5/5

Brie Larson. She's one of those neglected yet fantastic artists, like a lot of other people who want to break the industry but don't have this and that. A few weeks ago, I noticed something in my classmates' taste in music. I noticed that they only listen to what's number one on the local music channel, what's charting or what had charted previously, they never bother to look for other tracks that are fantastic and I think this is what happens with people like Brie Larson.

The song is pure pop, you can imagine this in a Disney movie. The melody matches her song like a glove, unlike a few others in her album. I really love this song, I first imagined it to be slow, a ballad to to precise but when I heard it for the first time, I was amazed and impressed, I never thought she'd be able to do something like this.

You could say that she can use this song to break even the Disney market because the next step after Disney is usually charting in the US top 25, which can be big for her and her music, I really hope she gets far in the future.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Leona Lewis - Misses Glass

Artist: Leona Lewis
Album: Spirit - US Release

Rating: 4.1/5

So, Leona Lewis, the new Mariah/Whitney or whoever, as everyone's saying. She has the people and the songs to lead a generation but her voice is not quite Whitney. Give her some time, maybe two or three years and we might see small changes and by 2013 maybe, she might just follow in their footsteps.

Leona Lewis is only the sixth female UK artist to top the Billboard charts, a feat in itself. 'Bleeding Love' was number one in the UK for seven weeks, making it the longest running number one single by a female artist in the UK. Obviously, it was the biggest-selling single of 2007.

Ok, we have all these records for just one single. 'Better in Time/Footprints in the Sand', her second single from 'Spirit' wasn't as good as 'Bleeding Love', only reaching number two on the UK charts. Which makes me wonder, can she really be the next big thing? Can she sustain her success? Well, based on 'Misses Glass', she may just be able to salvage her career if it goes all wrong.

'Misses Glass' is a mid tempo on the verge of an up tempo song which screams R&B. Everything about this song is R&B and clearly, it's aimed at the US market, one of the two songs which will be added to her US release. 

The song is kinda like 'Bleeding Love', the anxious and/or 'tight' verses that seem like she's rushing to the chorus and short high notes which can get a bit annoying at times. Then the chorus is jam packed with background vocals and compression like any R&B song and I get annoyed at times.

She should be thankful that the melody of the song is above average, which is why I will actually listen to the song. Over-all, the song is fine, there are the 'required' high notes from her, just to boast about her range and the compression mixed with rap and a few lines. 

Want it? Buy the album in the US when it hit shelves on April 8.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Westlife - Everybody Knows

Artist: Westlife
Album: Flying Without Wings CD1
Year: 1999

Rating: 5/5

Westlife, the record-breaking and ever-legendary boyband. They've stuck around for ten years now and have NOT split up OR reformed after splitting up. Which means that they were around when everyone else were concentrating on solo careers and families and this and that, a feat in itself. Fourteen number one singles, over 40 million records sold worldwide, a couple of world records such as seven consecutive number one singles, the first boyband ever to debut at number one on any chart and the fifth biggest-selling artist in the UK. There's no question that their careers have been great.

This song dates back to 1999 and was the b-side to probably one of their biggest songs of all time, 'Flying Without Wings', which was covered by Ruben Studdard in 2003. Let me give you a quick recap of 'Flying Without Wings' first, alright? 'Flying Without Wings' was their second number one single and it was originally meant to be a Boyzone song. Simon Cowell, their A&R guy, locked Steve Mac and Wayne Hector (the people who wrote the song) in a room and wouldn't let them leave until her got the song for Westlife. You could say that this song was the one that separated them from other boybands and sustained their career, it was huge. It was also their highest US charting single, coming in at number ten.

OK, now for the song itself. 'Everybody Knows' is a mid-tempo song and it's quite R&B-ish. The song starts out with strings and an 'orchestra' feel but then once the verses start, it progresses into an R&B masterpiece. You could feel there and then that Westlife could really sing anything, whether it be dance, up tempo, mid-tempo, R&B, soul and probably what they're most known for, ballads.

The chorus is kinda low and compressed but it gives the song a certain feel to it. I don't know if it's because my copy of the song is crappy or what but whatever. What's essential in a boyband song is that it's catchy, and this is just that. If you think about it, you could imagine people singing this on the street or anywhere, which is why I wonder why it was 'just' a b-side.

Then of course, the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge/key change- chorus-repeat to fade format, and this song is an ode to that. Unlike 'Flying Without Wings', which is verse-verse-verse-verse-key change-verse, I think, this song is the complete opposite, which I think makes the single more interesting, almost like a mini-album because the songs aren't all alike.

So, Westlife CAN sing more than ballads, this song is just the first. Watch out for more, alright?(Oh, and sorry about the small picture..)


So since this is the first day of my new blog, let me brief you on what I post here.

This blog is strictly for my music reviews, long and exact reviews on all sorts of songs. You CANNOT download anything here. If you'd like to download any of the songs I've reviewed here, check out my other blog, Pop Addicted! and look for it or request for it there.

My reviews will include the following. The release year, artist, album(if it's just a song), my review and a rating on a scale of one to five.

So, let's start, shall we?