A year ago, Ariana Grande, whom many have compared with the elevated Mariah Carey, would say that they were similar. I could care to disagree about that comparison, probably ranking Grande severely slots lower than the diva herself. However, I will say that Yours Truly was a niche album that truly worked well for Grande's vocal range and her choices regarding the songwriting on the album itself. However, after listening to Problem and Break Free, my doubts started to crash through very blatantly, thinking of how the album was going to go from the get-go. Did she deliver on My Everything though?
The reason my doubts crashed in after Problem and Break Free, the two lead singles from the album, is very clear; both tracks don't seem to work well in Grande's favor. If you listened to her predecessor record, you would understand most of the RnB tones on that record itself, translated to effective musicals that threw boulders. Problem and Break Free, threw pebbles, expecting the average audience to dance to a jam that had worked around the bush beating it, then getting straight to the point. I'm not saying it's bad music, but Iggy Azalea and Zedd's appearances on the respective singles proved redundant. I get the selling point (Fancy by Iggy topped the charts, even though I believe Charlie XCX owned that song; Zedd is a no-brainer EDM artist) and I probably would've one-upped it and said it was actually not bad. However, on paper, they should work. But the problems seemed to stemmed outside of the circle Grande was drawing herself around.
I will say this upfront: the album will please fans in easy fashion. The reason I say this, is not because of the similarity to Yours Truly (actually, that is quite the difference), but mainly because everything about this album is just served to fans as per what they want to hear. There is Grande's vocals, there are guest spots, there are lyrics about love, there is some EDM, there is some tracks with instrumentals, and there is ultimately an album that fans can get behind of. However, among what I have just said above, in between each track, there really is nothing to support the field.
First and foremost, people are going to compare this to Yours Truly. And to those who say it is similar, let me give you the answer: it's not. The only thing that is similar is style and Ariana Grande. Nothing else. For the producers to remove the RnB section of what made Yours Truly a refreshing take on pop culture, epitomizes why sophomore albums are in fact, really hard to do. This album is going to be a mainstream success, but not all of them are going to love what is put through their speakers and headphones.
Now, you've already seen that I disagreed with the removal of the RnB portion of this new album. Why? Honeymoon Avenue, Lovin' It and Piano encapsulates that these tracks, albeit not a top-tier songs that are infinitely great, but it does show that with the RnB section genre attached to the tracks, they provide a little bit more enthusiasm, and Grande's vocals shines when it needs to. In fact, in my opinion, these are probably the best tracks she's ever done. All three tracks are from her previous album, Yours Truly. Yes, you can ultimately say tracks like Right There and The Way aren't RnB side of things, but that's before the album dropped, and I agreed: The Way was a terrible track and had the same problems I had with Problem and Break Free (Mac Miller was fine if you're thinking the problem lies with him), and Right There was also suffocated with Big Sean's feature.
Next, Grande's vocals soar as ever. Tracks like One Last Time, My Everything and Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart shows that with her vocals eventually peaking to a higher spectrum. I will go one step further and claim that One Last Time is probably the best song on the entire album. This is because Grande's solo tracks on the album provide that peaceful thought and lays on with energy. The rest of the tracks slumber through as if you just opened a door to a party already half drunk; that's how bad it is.
The features are what I have the most problems with. Every feature is a problem. Yours Truly came out with four features (Nathan Sykes and Mika owned it although Popular Song wasn't exactly Grande's, thing is 2 out of 4 ain't bad) and I'll agree, not all were likable. But when you put 7 features on an album, you expect them to contribute to the quality. And they screw it up. Half of these features could've been removed and the album wouldn't even be as bad. Zedd and Cashmere Cat; not fantastic, not bad, could've been removed. Iggy Azalea, Big Sean, Childish Gambino, A$AP Ferg; totally not needed. On one hand, I would like to say Childish Gambino was probably the best out of the lot, but all of them could've been removed and the album would have been better in my opinion. The only one that deserved to stay was The Weeknd, and that felt like a big ask! This album felt more like a risky venture because every step of the way felt like experimentation, except on a much bigger scale.
The instrumentals were also damn near shallow. I understand the emotional concepts behind tracks like My Everything with the piano ballads, but throwing in Diana Ross' I'm Coming Out on a chorus that felt messy and complicated to the song (the song was Break Your Heart Right Back) felt extremely unneeded, what was the point of putting the track in it anyway if it's not really jumping off it. Even with the piano strings attached, such as Best Mistake, the song itself was devastating to listen to. Grande's vocals were even less than sub-par on that track, and even on others like Hands on Me and Love Me Harder. I don't know if the point was to do falsettos, but that just felt like lazy vocals right there. The lyrics don't even need to be said. They are disappointing in fashion, and to think that the potential was not just dashed but erased, felt like everything could've gone out so well.
Favourite Tracks: One Last Time, Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart, My Everything
Least Favourite Tracks: Hands On Me, Best Mistake, Break Your Heart Right Back
I wanted to like this album, I really do. But going from loving Yours Truly to being 'okay' with My Everything felt almost as if wrong choices dipped Grande off the scale. Don't get me wrong, Grande is still a pop powerhouse in most cases, but if she's to return and to be taken as seriously with potential that doesn't seem to be wasted, then she should find new producers and new writers. Because these mistakes are blatant, glaring and needs to be corrected. My Everything could've flown off the hinges. But now, it's stuck because of things that shouldn't even have been there in the first place. It's a disappointing record overall.
So T. Swizzle released her new single off of her upcoming fifth studio album titled 1989, which is the year she was born. The album drops on October 27th, 2014. With that, I give you my thoughts on the song and disregard the music video entirely.
I'll admit, I'm not the biggest Taylor Swift fan in the world. But there's something that kind of feels frustrating to me, when fans reiterate their desires and Taylor's ambitions that she's more of a pop star than a country star. I get that, she's evolving with her music and as a person, and this new album would also mean that she ditches the country feel off of the album. I have a little problem with the country aspect of the song.
When I Knew You Were Trouble was released as a single, and even before that was We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, the reception was near appalling to very tense polarizing by fans and critics/reviewers alike. I am feeling the same with Shake it Off, the lead single off of 1989. The reason I compare this track to the previous ones are how similar in tone they are. If I'm going to match it, I'd go with 22, and I'm not a big fan of that song. However, this track might just be the one thing that makes or breaks Taylor's transition from country and pop, to solely pop.
Don't be mistaken; Shake it Off does have some sort of semblance to Red (the album), but the way that this track goes about issuing the responses to the 'haters', her social aspect and the media, felt very ordinary. The lyrics don't stand out, the signature trumpets and beats fall flat. Even her vocals and the break down after the second chorus felt messy. But, there's something that this track kind of separates from the other singles, and this is from my perspective.
Red was a commercial success; I'm not going to say it's a bad album because there are main elements in the album that was emotional and she kills it. But, some of the aspects of her songwriting evolve around solo songwriting aspects, rather than getting in outside, rather just-before-hitting-their-peak songwriters to help craft the song. And this grinds out to a very, insanely mundane, generic pop track that is, to me, very forgettable.
Yes, she does shake things up and guitars don't necessarily fall in line with the track (they're almost removed, and guitars are signature for a Swift track), and it does show that she does kind of have the grit to take these things off and wander in a new direction. It's not bad, but the execution is.
I don't feel the hate that's coming her way in the same veins when she parties hard with 22. People say Red didn't have good lyrics, and that wasn't true. Maybe Taylor can do something out of the ordinary with her work, but at the moment, I'm worried that this new album not only strays too far from her roots, but also becomes an inter-scope of the music industry on a whole. Experimenting isn't a bad thing, but you don't make a big leap with a new album. Change dissolves slowly because Shake it Off, on first listen, left a bad taste on my mouth.
Don't mind me, because this song is going to be a hit within days. This is going to be the new pop anthem for weeks and maybe months, but let's take a step back and assess what Taylor can offer. Teardrops on My Guitar, Enchanted and even to a certain extent, Red, were tracks that Taylor feeds off of with manic relieve. And this helps not only her to create songs that are very creatively sounded and feels authentic and raw, but to the audience and the fans, it feels genuine. And some of the tracks of such caliber has the genre 'country' subbed in it.
So for me, Shake it Off isn't revolutionary to Taylor's change because she's done it before. And to an extent, shows strength of what she's capable of. Maybe I'm missing the mark of my review, because I don't feel it is one? I would say this is more of a discussion than anything else. Do I expect something big from Taylor in 1989? Definitely not. Do I think she will deliver? Yes. But is she going to hit a home-run? That is the big question.
For my single reviews, I will revert to sentence reviews now. I'd say that this track is fun and enjoyable, and I've added it to my playlist. But to be honest, it's not that great.
Man, after long weeks of some work, I get back to looking at the Billboard charts, and guess who's at the top? Magic! I mean, Magic? Okay...? Ever since getting free from my work and really getting back to the musical enthusiast side, I felt that since new albums are coming up (Ariana Grande's My Everything is dropping in a few weeks from now), let's talk about this one.
So the debut album from the Canadian reggae fusion band, titled Don't Kill The Magic, was officially released a month ago. To my surprise, I found their hit-song, Rude, on the top of the Billboard Hot 100 this week and man, was I confused.
Now, not many reggae acts with decent quality and viability have been able to sustain in the English, US, UK mainstream scene, let alone even touch it. With a pop, Magic!'s Rude instantly became popular (I have no idea how, so let me give you a simplistic review of their single).
Rude is mediocre, makes no sense lyrically and reeks of absence of decent expression. I don't detest the song personally, but I don't get the song's popularity. Considering it knocked Fancy off it's perch on the Hot 100, it should be a good song, right? Rude does not deliver on all cylinders and merely leaves some un-turned. Yes the problem does lie in the lyrics, but the vocals don't do itself justice as well. The line 'why you gotta' be so rude' makes no sense to the father saying no to a marriage. I mean, I would call somebody rude when they start spewing insults to me, not decline an invitation or blessing. The only thing that was decently adequate was the instrumentals. The percussion and drums are all pound-in, very synonymous alongside each other. Unfortunately, pulled down by an abomination ringing around it's rose.
And... that's really the entire album. There was potential. Not squandered, but rather disinterested with their own appeal. The mainstream audience may love the melodies on the record, but nothing jumps out to me as creative nor inspiring. Thus, in my opinion, the only thing coming close to being truly decently above average, is Mama Didn't Raise No Fool. That is probably the best song on the record.
Now, I know the band wants to imitate the likes of The Police, who were very popular and was a very important band during the late 80's, but I just don't see Magic! being able to hit that stride. Let Your Hair Down, No Evil and Stupid Me have weak vocals, unmotivated lyrics, and the fact that they peach nearer to the reggae side, they might as well have been a pop rock band.
At this point, I understand somewhat the direction and it's appeal. Okay, they aren't the best band in the world but they aren't flat out terrible. To go from a great start in Rude, to an abomination by the end of the single left me wondering if the band truly had any idea of the direction they were heading for. The drums on Little Girl Big World and guitars stick out on the podium, but the vocals are just on a different opposite pole. The lyrics are just picking up with what is just leftover.
Their next single, which is the album title, really lends to the fact that the band definitely have no clue in their expertise. As such, Magic! is just a hit and run, smash and grab musical artist. I will see them when they release a new album, but I expect it to be better than this. If, they truly are better than this.
Favourite Tracks: Mama Didn't Raise No Fool
Least Favourite Tracks: Almost everything else
Good percussion, drums and instrumentals, weak tone, weak lyrics, weak presentation and absolutely sluggish finish. To even see them hit the Hot 100 chart baffles me. Magic! has to improve or they will master the act of disappearing.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.