Sunday, May 25, 2008

About Me

If you don't wanna read about me, then I suggest you turn your attention to the reviews or to something other than this.

I'm from this little-known third world country we call the Philippines. As a kid, I was exposed to all sorts of music, Jazz, Motown, Pop, Dance, R&B, Classical and everything else in between. Blame that on my dad.

I'm never, ever at a loss for words. I have something to say? I know exactly how to say it. I love music as well, so I guess those two factors made me start this blog. I made this to be an outlet for writing, something I intend to do, as long as I have the time. I made it as a place to put my opinions in, somewhere I can just rant and rant and worship and worship until I can't anymore.

ANYWAY. Although I was exposed to different kinds of genres as a kid, I eventually developed my own taste, which is pop! The first album I ever bought though was Charlotte Church's 'Enchantment' back in second grade but over the years, I've developed an even more unique taste in music.

My likes range from Agnes Carlsson, Westlife, Girls Aloud, the Sugababes, Atomic Kitten, NKOTB and The Saturdays to David Archuleta, Jordan Pruitt, Vanessa Hudgens, The Cheetah Girls and Raven Symone to Chris Brown, Alicia Keys, Michelle Williams, Usher and Mario Vazquez and even to Paddy Casey, Coldplay, The Ting Tings, Lady GaGa and Taylor Swift. My dislikes though are also as diverse, although I won't elaborate on them, I already got in an argument for saying that I hate Britney, so I'm keeping my mouth shut.
To read about how I ended up here, read this.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What IS Pop Reviews Now and what do I write?

Virgin music news – top blog
Pop Reviews Now is a 2009 Philippine Blog Award finalist and Virgin Top Music Blog that just happens to be ran by a 15 year-old incoming high school senior.

I started Pop Reviews Now on April 6, 2008 at the age of 13 as an extension of my then-blog, Pop Addicted!. After I left Pop Addicted! in August of 2008, I turned all my attention to PRN which boosted my love for writing, literature and music.

To say Pop Reviews Now is fun would be an understatement - it's much, much more than that. In October of this 2009, this very blog was a finalist for the Philippine Blog Awards. I'm a 15 year-old, I go to school, get grades every 3 months, have friends I like to talk to for hours at a time, slack off when I feel like it but I also have a passion for writing - PRN is proof of that. Attending the Philippine Blog Awards meant the world to me because here I was, 15, surrounded by people years older than me and I was on the same level as them.

Pop Reviews Now means everything to me. It's my portfolio - I'm building a body of works for college and to get a job, it's my sanctuary - when I'm stressed all I have to do is write about some new song I discovered and it's my life - I'm always thinking of what to write and ways to improve the blog. I do things for the blog that I'd never have done otherwise like paying an arm and a leg just to see someone live so I can review her/him/them or fail to force myself to learn XML. Pop Reviews Now is something I never want to stop - I have too much passion for it.

Every post I write is an expression of myself, my love for music and the values I was raised with. Coming from a legendary musical family here in the Philippines I always, always put the music first above image, promotion and money because it's what I believe in. The first thing I find when I'm listening to a new artist are brilliant songs, without them I move on - everything else I adore about the artist comes after I hear a beautiful song. The music industry may be an industry with business and marketing but I believe that without the music itself, the industry won't be able to function.

My specialty ever since I started this blog is UK Pop with the obligatory US Pop - that's what I spent hours and hours online researching for. I may not live in either country and I may not have been there when the actual albums were released and when the artists were at their peak but I've done my research and I know my Brit Pop history. I'm not some stupid listener who knows nothing about who he/she's listening to - I know my stuff, thank you very much.

Around April 2009, I discovered K-pop and to say I'm addicted right now would be an understatement. Over the first 5 months I devoted 85% of my internet time to scouring websites and YouTube for K-pop artists, learning how exactly the industry works and reading up on my K-pop history - I've also come know my K-pop. What I now want to do with everything I've read and watched is break a mold.

All over the internet, a lot and I mean A LOT of the comments from Philippine fans that I see are badly written, in annoying sticky caps and obviously came from people who didn't know what the crap they were talking about. Music channels here play music videos months and months late - singles from albums that aren't being promoted anymore are charting. I want to break that mold and show the people who really know their K-pop that I'm not like them and I've done my research. I may not know as much as they do and I may not be able to read, write or speak in Korean but what's given to me, I take and make sure to know all the facts.

I want to establish Pop Reviews Now as one of the leading blogs for critical Kpop reviews, as no one really analyzes the music in kpop. PRN is already an established Western review blog but I want more - being a respected, critical Kpop review blog is something I really, really want PRN to be. I want PRN to be better than every other run-of-the-mill "review" blog, and so far so good - numerous pages are on top of various Google search results and I now have a loyal following of not only Western readers but kpop-based readers.

I'm currently at a point where I have to make up my mind about a lot of different things, and they all have to do with my future. What university I'm going to, what course I'm gonna take up and what I'm gonna do with my life. PRN is in that decision - I expect to do this for years to come.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sugababes - About You Now

Artist: Sugababes
Album: Change
Year: 2007

Rating: 5/5

I absolutely ADORE this album! Seriously, these girls know how to make great pop music. I actually kind of ignored the album as a whole and just listened to this song for like a month maybe, but this review made me listen to the whole thing again, it's pure genius! This song is probably the best song on the album, along with 'Change' and 'Never Gonna Dance Again'.

Recently, mainstream pop has kind of branched off to other genres, most artists are doing R&B, Dance, Country or whatever else genre and the pop music of the 90's and early 2000's kinda fizzled away. 

This is the pop I've been looking for. After all the R&B and dance stuff coming from the US, I was craving for some new pop, music that would remind me of the height of pop in the UK, a time when Westlife, Blue, Girls Aloud, Atomic Kitten, D-Side, Zoo, V, The Sugababes, S Club and countless other bands ruled the charts. I got that with this song.

It's not exactly like pop back then, that would be strange to hear, but it's an updated sound, a sound that makes me really nostalgic. THIS is what I want from the UK music scene, great, steady verses, catchy choruses and great vocals. This is the stuff they should be releasing because they're actually pretty darn good at making it! 

I love verses of this song, I can imagine the song still being nice without the chorus, but apparently, I hadn't heard enough. The chorus of this song is mind-blowing(for a pop track nowadays..), it's so freakin' catchy that even I can't stop humming it!

People can criticize pop music as being manufactured, fake and whatever all they want but at the end of the day, we, the consumers like it(this song went to number one in the UK singles chart AND download charts simultaneously, plus five other charts worldwide) and we're the ones buying the music.

A side note..

OK, this might turn into another review but what the heck. To 'Oliver', guess what? I listened to 'Blackout' and it was the worst 50 minutes of my life. It's just as bad as I thought it would be, songs that sound the same and compressed vocals that defeat the purpose of singing. Don't you dare tell me that I lack taste. I respect your taste, you like Blackout, I don't. I'm not telling you that you have bad taste because you like the album, you like it and I have my opinions. SO, if you don't like what I'm saying, don't visit, is that so hard? Oh, and didn't I say that if you like Britney, not to read it because I hate her?


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Westlife - You Raise Me Up

Artist: Westlife
Album: Face to Face
Year: 2005

Rating: 2.4/5

OK, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I adore Westlife. So why did I have this a 2+ rating? Well, I absolutely hate just the idea of them singing it(although it was the very first Westlife song I heard that I knew it was them). OK, it's a nice song, it's a guaranteed hit but I want more than a cover.

I never knew Westlife could stoop as low as two out of thee singles, covers but apparently, they did. Do 'The Love Album' or 'Allow Us To Be Frank' ring a bell for you guys in the UK and Asia or fans? Yeah. They were FULL COVER albums. It's not entirely Simon(Cowell) and Louis(Walsh)'s fault, Westlife agreed to do them.

Covers. I hate them, as you can see. They don't show any creativity or originality from the artist, let alone credibility. Yes, it earns money, a lot of it but gosh, it's so, so, un-musical. These guys are talented, they can write songs, play instruments and sing but I don't think the record company realizes that. What a waste. Of course, I adored their 2007 release('Back Home', which had nine original tracks..) but I still can't forgive them for doing the covers after Brian left.

The vocals are typical Westlife. Shane with the clean, almost too clean vocals and Mark with the vocals that are all over the place(and the possible shouting..) and Nicky and Kian who just lay low and sing the choruses. 

The song is, the song. It's a cover, but the original one was nice. It's a pretty song, there's no denying it. A lot of people have covered it, I remember reading that Westlife were the 100th artist to record it so yeah. 99 unoriginal people.

All in all, I want more original Westlife songs, I don't want covers that they release for the money. I want them to write their own songs, because they can('World Of Our Own' the album is proof.). It's the company that's stopping them. Although, you can't hide the fact that they've had 45+ million records sold.

Britney Spears - Radar

Artist: Britney Spears
Album: Blackout
Year: 2007

Rating: 1.7/5

Warning: If you like Britney, DON'T READ THIS REVIEW. I hate her.

Oh yes, it's Britney Bitch! Haha, NO. I just don't get why everybody loves this album to death. Britney can't sing, her songs sound the same and the only reason why she's still around is because she gets involved in car crashes, gets arrested and has a sister who stars in a nick series which is crap.

I've heard the lead single, the worthless song 'Gimme More' and then was it 'Piece of Me'? Yeah. So now we have 'Radar', which isn't as bad as the other tracks but it's still a lame excuse for a song. Seriously, who likes this stuff? Oh, right.

Well, I hate it. Britney's voice goes into extremely annoying mode in this song, as if it wasn't already annoying to start with. Who the hell gave her a record deal in the first place? She doesn't have the voice, she doesn't have the songs, she's just 'pretty'. 

It's always been Britney vs. Christina but it's clear who wins there, Christina. Britney's no match for Christina's powerhouse vocals and not bad songs. Christina's vocals are amazing, mind-blowing, Britney's are nasal and annoying. There's no competition. Done deal.

This song is the best of the worst(if you make me review 'Gimme More', I'll die first, or give it a 0..). OK, maybe a little better but still, it's horrible. I mean, the annoying sound at the start just puts me off, big time. Then the vocals are so compressed, not that I actually enjoy Britney's vocals at all but still, the compression has got to stop. Then the lyrics. I mean, COME ON. The title is bad enough but gosh, I didn't know she could stoop this low.

I've heard four songs, I don't want to hear the rest. I don't want to suffer listening to songs that sound like this and her annoying voice. *throws up*

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Taylor Swift - Our Song

Artist: Taylor Swift
Album: Taylor Swift
Year: 2007
Rating: 5/5

This girl will go a long way, I'm not kidding. If she can continue write songs as good as this, then she''ll be even bigger than she already is. With one number one single, a Grammy nomination and a world record(youngest sole-writer of a number one single) under her belt with just one album out, I have no doubt that she is rightfully the big thing right now.

I've always had a soft spot for country/pop artists like Carrie Underwood so naturally, Taylor Swift is in my list of favorites. OK, there are times when her voice gets too whine-y, but the fact that she writes her own stuff at such a young age forgives her less than amazing vocals.

When I first heard this song, I loved it, but when I heard that she wrote this by herself, I was blown away. Not every sixteen year-old can write a number one song by herself, sure some of them co-write with big songwriters but my bet is that the professionals do most of the work and the singers just add a bit here and there. Which is why this song gets a perfect score, because it's amazing and not something an average sixteen year old would do.

Why will she survive in the industry if I clearly said that her vocals weren't the best? Well because she writes her own songs. When an artist writes his/her own songs, he/she becomes irreplaceable. Why? Because if the songs are written by another person, the record company can easily put another person in the artists place and it'll still be a hit, no matter who you ask to sing it. If you write your own songs, they're yours and if you put another person in your place, you can't guarantee success because the songs aren't with that person, they're with you.

I just want to see how far she goes, but I have no doubt that she'll go further in the coming years.

NLT - Karma

Artist: NLT
Album: Not Like Them
Year: 2008
Rating: 4.2/5

These guys are supposed to bring teen pop back into the charts in a big way, but why did I only give them a 4.2? Here's why.

Boybands. Always manufactured, often times cute and seldom talented*sigh*. OK, there are only a few boybands why have caught my eye, or ear and NLT is beginning to be one of them. Although, no boyband will ever compare to Westlife for me, NLT is not that bad. Over the years, I've preferred British boybands over American ones, mainly because there weren't any current American boybands worth listening to back then.

I adore R&B and I adore boybands, but why don't I adore NLT as much as the first two? Simple, they haven't blown me away, I haven't heard a song that made me go "wow" and buy their album at that very moment yet(for Westlife it was 'Amazing'). Yes, their songs are nice, they're catchy and the melodies are nice but it's not different than Day 26 or other boy bands right now.

'Karma' is probably the best song they've released, and it's still not up to boyband standards for me, close but not quite. I'll give them another album maybe and if they're still like this, I'll stop listening. The song itself reminds me of 'Got Me Going' by Day 26. Not good, right? Right.

These guys have got to stop copying and start looking for their own sound. Westlife(I'm sorry, I compare all the newer boy bands to Westlife, get used to it.) may be criticized for singing ballads all the time but that's their niche, that's their sound and they've sold 45+ Million records, had 14 number one singles and 7 number one albums with it so as you can see, it just works. If these guys don't start sounding any different from everybody else or establishing themselves as the one and only, they're not going anywhere, at least in my books they aren't.

NLT are an OK boyband, but they've got a long way to go and a lot of hard work to do before they can achieve the success that BSB, Take That and Westlife have.

Blake Lewis - End of the World

Artist: Blake Lewis
Album: Audio Daydream
Year: 2007
Rating: 4/5

When Blake didn't win American Idol last season, I went crazy. I always thought it would be a Melinda vs. Blake final, without Jordin. OK, Jordin is a nice girl, she's got a voice but she isn't any different from everybody else. Melinda and Blake are two other stories. Melinda is well, Melinda. She seems so shy but once she gets on that stage, she can blow everyone away, and I mean everyone. Blake is cool, he's contemporary, he beat boxes. Although I still think that no one has rivaled Bo's a capella performance for the final, Blake's performances are creative and he fuses new with old. After a while, I realized that not winning may be better for Blake, like it was for Bo because he can do things his way. Boy was I wrong.

When his album came out, I was disappointed. Where was the Blake we've all come to know and love and WHY are they making him sing all these ballads and/or crappy songs when he's better than those? Sometimes I just don't understand record companies.

I have three favorite songs on this album, but they're all ballads. OK, the melodies are to die for, but this is not the Blake we know. The Blake we know would sing something like 'You Give Love A Bad Name', put beat boxing in it and it would be amazing.

This song is slow, it's kinda cliche-ish but the melody will kill you, it's drop-dead amazing. I don't really have that much to say about this song but buy the album if you want to hear it alright?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Natasha Bedingfield - Freckles

Artist: Natasha Bedingfield
Album: Pocketful of Sunshine
Year: 2007

Rating: 5/5

Only my third perfect review! So anyway, Natasha Bedingfield is a force to be reckoned with, seriously. I recently put the album that this is on in the car and had my dad listen to it(I've said before that whatever my dad says is probably 100% true but 40% of the time I refuse to believe him) and he liked the album! He said it's rare that he hears a well-produced mainstream album at the moment, and this is well-produced(although he thinks it's a bit inconsistent...) and he also said that his favorite track is 'Piece of Your Heart' because it uses actual drums. Anyway, let's go on with my review.

Let me tell you why this girl is a force to be reckoned with. There are quite a few reasons why and some of these were stated by my dad as well(over the years, I've learned a bit from him). Number one, she knows who she is as an artist, she knows what her music sounds like and what she wants it to sound like. Two, she has a voice, and a pretty good one at that. Three, I don't know if this is entirely true but I have a very good feeling that she can write her own songs, which means you can't replace her because she's behind the songs.

My favorite track on her album is actually 'Angel', but this is at a very close second. It's very hard nowadays to make a sort of 'inspirational/self-esteem raising' song, very hard. I don't think I've ever even liked songs in this particular category but if you guys know a good one, let me know.

Natasha manages to write lyrics that possibly boost self-esteem and carry a melody and arrangement that are contemporary yet her. The more I listen to this song, the more it grows on me, in a few days it might be my favorite song on the album along with 'Angel'!

I've got nothing more to say but the whole album is worth buying, seriously!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Duffy - Mercy

Artist: Duffy
Album: Rockferry
Year: 2008
Rating: 4.4/5

Duffy. Well I first heard of her when Mark(Feehily, Westlife) said it was his favorite song at that time so I was curious and I looked for the song. At first, I hated it so I neglected it for maybe a few weeks but then I don't know how I got to listen to it again but I did, and I loved it. The whole 60's thing is cool, and I love 60's music(Mowtown, stuff like that) so duh.

It's kinda modern 60's-ish. The video screams 60's but the song isn't THAT 60's. Still the song is great. The melody is great, and she's trying to break the US.

On the subject of trying to break the US, why do so many UK artists long to break the US? I think it's this thing that breaking the US guarantees you worldwide success, which isn't necessarily true. Look at Westlife, they're huge all over the world except the US. They're big in Asia, Europe and everywhere else. Breaking the US makes you a star overnight so I guess that's why.

Then of course, there's the glamour and the chance to work with the supposed 'great producers' and living in LA and all that stuff. In short, the lifestyle. I sort of understand why they want it but seriously, do you have to go through all that just to break the US when you're already gigantic in the UK? I mean, Westlife tried two times and then their record company gave up, even though they did have the top ten single and another top 25 one.

My other favorite Duffy track is 'Warwick Avenue' but I'll get to that next time.

Brian McFadden - Twisted

Artist: Brian McFadden
Album: Set In Stone
Year: 2008
Rating: 4.5/5

It's hard to believe that this guy used to be in Westlife judging by this song. I mean, this is NOTHING like Westlife, it's a completely different sound, it's more adult contemporary than pop/ballad. Let's get into Brian.

Brian McFadden was 'the funny one' in Westlife and one of the lead singers for the first six years of the band. In 2000, he started dating Kerry Katona, of Atomic Kitten and then she got pregnant so she left. Then in 2001 I believe, they got married and then had another baby.

Then in 2004, Brian left Westlife. People were saying that it was like when Robbie left Take That. The only difference was that Westlife didn't split up because of it. Then a few months later, he divorced Kerry and started dating Delta Goodrem.

I've never heard his first album, just the single, which I don't really like so I wasn't planning on getting this new album but by some twist of fate or whatever, I still got it. I was impressed when I heard it, and 'Twisted' is one of my favorites on the album. 

The start is kinda cool, and I love the catchy chorus. I mean, who can resist a catchy chorus? The melody is great, it's really hard to believe that a guy who used to be in Westlife wrote this, it's nuts.

Still, I love this song, I love the album and people in the UK, watch out for it!

Lindsay Lohan - Bossy

Sorry for not posting in a million years!

Artist: Lindsay Lohan
Album: TBA
Year: 2008

Rating: 3.5/5

So she's back! OK, I'm not THAT happy that she's back, but at least you can hear me rant some more.

I've always thought that Lindsay wasted her career and I still do. Back then, she had everything, she was a triple threat. Her acting was not bad, she had a voice and not bad songs but then she got into all the drugs and the partying. What a waste. 

She could've had the success Hilary Duff has, but noooooo, she just had to waste it. Seriously, I liked her first album, there were tracks in there that were great. Her second album wasn't as good as her first for me, although the single was OK.

And now she's going into Dance? What happened to the pop/rock girl we used to hear? I mean come on, she has got to be kidding me. Bossy is an OK song, but not for her.

Her voice is too, vocal. You know, it's too rough, and voices for this type of music are mostly compressed or super smooth. Strike one. The middle of the song(about 1:30) is hideous. That thing where she just says 'Let me shine for you', come on. She has got to stop doing that. Strike two. This song is not a dance remix, so she has no right to do what she did during the bridge or before the last chorus set(around 3:15). Strike three.

My review's kinda short today, mainly because I don't really see the point of this song.