Midnight Memories, the band's third album in four years was just leaked a few days ago and I've finally gotten the chance to be able to sink into it, and also perhaps gotten a respectable review on it. Though, will this new album prove doubters wrong that One Direction aren't just a typical boy band trying to imitate the likes of past legends such as the Backstreet Boys or even 'N Sync? Also, can they pull ahead of the race alongside tough competitors The Wanted?
First and foremost, I am no big fan of One Direction nor hated on them throughout their successful career so far, with a universal fan-base and even a documentary movie on the boys. Still, I've yet to forget their first major hit that brought them to stardom (What Makes You Beautiful), before going on successful runs with One Thing, Live While We're Young and now, the album's first two singles, Best Song Ever and Story Of My Life. To say that One Direction has an edge over other pop artists such as Katy Perry, Lady Gaga or even Miley Cyrus, of which all of their albums sold well under the 300,000 units mark in the States, could see One Direction hopefully taking fourth spot right behind Drake's big opening with Nothing Was The Same competing on first week sales. That's not to say of anything though, but the bias context of which I'm expressing is all thrown out the window.
So the first two singles did sink in after awhile, with Story Of My Life coming out on top of Best Song Ever. The second single did make more of an impact for me, while Best Song Ever did see the band get sipped off of creativity, with the single not their best but mediocre. And so, going into the album, I had no idea what to expect. Was it going to be pop? They band themselves has had intentions of delving deep into a rock shift, which could turn off some fans or even lead to a disaster record since the first two singles don't really sound all that chunky with electric guitars blaring nor pounding beats slamming into our ears (probably the lead single did). But I did expect a rock tone and I got it. The problem is, not all was impressive and some of the tracks are very disappointing.
Midnight Memories does have a real concept and a very good attitude of direction, striving to connect the pop melodies with the rock resemblance and lunge it together with great songwriters in the form of OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder and Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol. The good thing that they really achieved was the instrumentals and the production, which was a hit and miss at the same time, but was probably the one that boosted some of the tracks which the vocals had left behind. However that is never enough. We all know while each member does have the strengths and is integral to a specific part of the song such as Harry usually taking the lead, non of the members are really, extremely powerful singers and does fall flat just before they reach the peak of a specific note. I am certainly not nitpicking, but it does damage and disrupt the album. That's when the production kicks in, helping with some EDM cores or some bass-lines, or perhaps even just some guitar chords to set them on their way without having to rely excessively on their tones, even though it's their strength at the same time. While some people could see it as not really a bad thing, you'll notice it on certain songs on the album.
So the album does have great opening tracks with the first two singles leading the way. Best Song Ever was a great starter, though it's melody doesn't really become memorable and Story Of My Life does help to heighten the emotional scale of the album. It's probably my favourite song off the album, but so is Diana, the next song which Justin Bieber himself has claimed great. It accompanies the title track Midnight Memories, which has a hook similar to Deff Leppard's Pour Some Sugar On Me. When I say similar, I say really really clear that it is almost the same thing. Diana does have a very well-written structure and does provide one of the best chorus on the album and Midnight Memories also evokes the rock vibe which the band has stated the album to have, and so hard it rocks that impresses with each listen. However, that's when the album starts to go downhill very quickly.
I know that boy bands aren't considered notable songwriters, nor even potent ones to craft very well, organised and suitable songs that prove to help the album rather than force repetitive choruses and non-interesting lines down our throats. It's not just hurtful, but rather annoying and at times do come to a point where such effects wane and they become irrelevant. I'm not saying One Direction members can't write, despite each member did contribute to most of the songs on the album, the songs individually lyrically don't even lack frontal approach, nor even come close good. That's when the tracks feel very shallow, lacking and at times sapped of creativity that counts on the production and the vocals to help it up. Though this problem has persisted in most boy bands in the past few decades, it's still essential to point it out when a new generation has come into the view.
That problem quickly takes on the form of the rest of the songs, or majority of them. You And I is a perfect example. The song is unique, but very disparate from the first four songs as well. It doesn't carry the vibe of a rock record from the previous track Midnight Memories, and it's essence wanes away far too easily. This can also be said for Don't Forget Where You Belong, Right Now, Something Great, Through The Dark and Happily. The tracks are spontaneous to change, but the weight it carries and the effort that it takes to force it through can't really be noticed, and most of it just feels out of place and consistent only on the choruses, and that is the only thing that shines. Lyricism is at a low, and the production, even on ballads, contains a pounding drum that feels almost like Queen's We Will Rock You. To add on, most of the track's memorable quality is at it's worse, and that's very important for a boy band that thrives on immediate capture rather than a second-shot (take a look at One Thing). However, this may be a positive, but what it lacks for in the catchy category doesn't all that make up for it in it's lyrical expertise and production-wise, also feels lacking. I know it feels hinged that this problems feels packed, but the whole album suffers from it and there's not much to control this weakness and ground it down.
Obviously apart from the first four songs, other tracks that are decent and also packs that punch would be Little Black Dress, Little White Lies and Better Than Words. Strong is a contender, though apart from the chorus, nothing else seems to fit perfectly. The other three are different. Little White Lies feels like a One Direction song with an upbeat, high-tempo groove that really showcases diversity. Little Black Dress is also a great song, almost in the same veins with Midnight Memories and does have that edge in production that pushes the song forward. Better Than Words is also one of my favourites off of the album, and showcases the band's vocal talent in ways never seen before. It does feel like Best Song Ever's reincarnation, but probably a tier-lower.
5.5/10: Midnight Memories doesn't address the issues which have been camped in the band's catalog for years. While they are certainly no doubt going to outsell their female peers, the band should also take note that the direction they are going aren't all that exceptional as well. To call an album 'rock', while only four out of fourteen tracks do have that grittier edge, is really incomprehensible. With that said, it is a decent album but suffers altogether lyrically. It's not their best album to date, though it does contain some of the best tracks the band has made, that's for sure. In a nutshell, Midnight Memories by One Direction is pleasantly mediocre, and you wouldn't be missing out much if you bought the first four songs and the last two songs on the album. Because, well, the album's really not that great.
So Baptized got streamed yesterday and I've got my review packed up on this blog right now. Ever since the highly successful debut album the frontman Chris Daughtry formed the band Daughtry, things have been looking up. From their self-titled debut album to their 2011 release Break The Spell, it might seem that Daughtry's success have waned over the years. Can their fourth effort, albeit a resurrection or a new chapter for the band, continue or even peak higher than their previous album?
With this new album, Daughtry hasn't been making larger scale hits since their sophomore album Leave This Town, debuting at number one albeit selling over a million units in the US. To round it off, their most recent successful hit was Crawling Back To You, peaking under the 50 mark of the Billboard Hot 100. However, Daughtry's fan base is a different thing altogether, with probably one of the more passionate and lovable fan base of any band. Without a doubt, while they are still relevant in today's music when other rock bands may still be more competitively stronger or selling more units than what Daughtry is putting out.
So with this album, the band has adopted an electropop sound, which can be heard clearly and distinctly from their lead single, Waiting For Superman. While the song may not be that powerful than their lead singles before (It's Not Over; No Surprise; Renegade/Crawling Back To You), it's a really great shift in tone for the band, and really is the first step for the audience to witness the birth of a new chapter. Then comes the album's second single, Long Live Rock And Roll, in which the band goes back to their roots and digs deep with references to Elton John, Billie Joel, The Beatles, Rolling Stones and many others which have made the rock genre such a starter. It's a stadium rocker song, and does remind us of the style that represented the previous albums. While I personally like it, I wished the song was much longer with a more unmistakable hook that really significantly stood out from the rest. However, it is one of my favourites off of this album along with it's lead single. With that said, I expected a very low-quality Daughtry album that couldn't really hold itself up, but rather, it has managed to surprise and impress.
To say that this new direction has paid off doesn't really mean anything since it's the first time Daughtry has shifted. Despite being endowed with a pop vision, this album still does contain some of the rock attributes that have made Daughtry such a rock-luster band that everyone loves. With powering vocals in Chris Daughtry and catchy hooks that pumps up each song with such character that it explodes like a behemoth. That can be said for the first half of the album, with I'll Fight and Wild Heart impressing me the most, with presentation that really took me back to Break The Spell and Leave This Town. It is also certainly one of the more vocally expressive albums in Daughtry's catalog as Chris himself does show off some impressive falsettos accompanied with soaring vocals. The album title track Baptized also does amazes, highlighting the great guitar play and creative lyrics while Battleships is also great, though not really having that edge nor that memorable essence which was imbued in the other first six tracks. In other words, it's more or less a Daughtry tradition.
Things do slow down in the form of the next three songs: The World We Knew, High Above The Ground and Broken Arrows. The first two songs that comes directly after Long Live Rock And Roll don't come as memorable nor hooks with a high impact, often times falling flat just before it hits the final lap. However, Broken Arrows is a contender for the best song on the album with such an emotional output from Chris Daughtry. A ballad that surprisingly, doesn't shadow Chris's presence due to the piano chords, but rather aids him and provides a superb tone that showcases his vocal powers in another fashion that hasn't been seen in a long time. It's a great stripped down version, and does slow down the album, but it was really heartwarming to see different sides to the album rather than a straight out rock album that everyone wants.
The final three tracks then sparks fire with Witness not really picking it up, but Traitor kicking the door open with a ferocious hook with the heavy drums pounding harder than ever. Witness does belong in the category with The World We Knew and High Above The Ground, though it does show some attributes that it breaks out from it's shell from the other two tracks. To top it all off, 18 Years is spectacularly good. It is almost a reflection of the entire album and a round-off for Daughtry's new shift in direction. That said, the second half of the album doesn't outshine the first half, which definitely carried more weight despite emotional powerhouses in 18 Years and Broken Arrows.
8/10: Baptized clearly doesn't disappoint, while I'm not sure if it could be nominated for the band's best album yet considering I still have my heart hinged on their debut self-titled album. However, the shift in direction doesn't really show much considering most of the elements on this album do point back to their previous album Break The Spell. Still, it does impress me with very vocal hits and once again shines in the lyrical department. Not the best album of the year, nor a contender, but it's nonetheless a very solid album that should keep you on your ears for quite awhile. I highly recommend it.
So The Wanted's Word Of Mouth was released on 4th of November, and what a week to be sold. Competing with high-profile artists such as Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP 2 and Lady Gaga's Artpop, Word Of Mouth definitely is going to get some cutback. However, that's not only it. This album is band's third full-length studio album that took almost 2 years to produce and finalize, with it's first single dating back to almost a year and a half ago. Still, can this album, despite being delayed so long, bring home at least some awards for the faithful?
It's really tough to say, considering the band releasing five singles from this album, all of which hardly made an impact on US and UK radio charts at all. Their best was probably the lead single, Chasing the Sun, peaking at 50 and 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart respectively. Especially since coming from a more breakthrough album of Battleground, which spawned commercial hits like Glad You Came and Lightning, people had expected more from this English-Irish boy band to do at least a tad better. However when there's One Direction around the corner, lurking with award-breaking music videos and a larger and more dynamic fan base, it can really be seen why The Wanted's fame has waned so much since the past couple of years. But has the music deteriorated?
I wouldn't say so, considering when I match the singles head-to-head. Yes, people will talk about the very degraded lyricism when it comes to boy bands, but apart from the five, my only problem lied in Walks Like Rihanna: cheap, cringe-worthy lyrics that feels moderate and nothing special when compared to We Own The Night with a soulful chorus that will surely get your lips singing to the lyrics when you hear it. This can be said for Show Me Love, I Found You and Chasing the Sun, all of which packs impeccable choruses and special dazzles to it such as falsettos (I Found You), garnered lyricism (Show Me Love) and an experimental pop track that actually worked (Chasing the Sun). However the album does take a rather different approach from the second track on.
Let's take out the problems of the album first. It is rather strange to say that a band with such dynamic lyrics could fall victim to the very daunting, outdated and rather off-track production that really feels like 2011 material rather than 2013. In The Middle, Glow In The Dark and Summer Alive are very harmonious, but I'm skeptical about the production. It feels sideways; while the vocals may be powered, but the production could not be all that high and mighty, exactly if falling before reaching the finish line. Thus, they feel almost as if they were filled in and don't exactly feel nor carry on the vibe the album has throughout. Also, the songs also just feel like they are trying to replicate the success of Battleground's Glad You Came, with a strung-out chorus but choppy beats to make you dance. While Glad You Came first hit us with it, when you hear it again, it doesn't feel all that moving anymore. Thus, it lacks the appeal which the former had given.
However, with that in mind, some other tracks without the epic production, but rather accompanied by calming piano or guitar chords, are the ones that give the album the punch that it needed. Songs like Running Out Of Reasons, Love Sewn, Demons, Everybody Knows and Heartbreak Story not only have magical vocals by the five members, but rather, showcases the band's strengths by being vocally triumphant rather than being followed by the production. Not only that, but the songwriting is also sufficiently great, while not being all that amazing, but it is adequate and for The Wanted, it is a goal met. I was a big fan of their debut album, and all of these tracks also are reminiscent of that vibe and that tone, so it was more than a big thumbs up.
7/10: I can see replay value, though it may not be all that impressive, The Wanted has put out a good album. It's great, but it doesn't really matches up to other bigger records that are coming out. However, with almost 1 year delay and to finally have The Wanted back again, I'll take it. It's also going to be better than any other pop record this year as I'm concerned, but otherwise The Wanted still has some improvements to finally perfect their next album.
So Artpop, Lady Gaga's third full-length studio album was just streaming yesterday, and I got to listen to it. With The Fame, Gaga broke mainstream radio with a huge jab to other pioneers of the same genre, before establishing herself with Born This Way, which albeit inconsistent and rather streamlined, was still a pretty impressive album with the likes of the title track, The Edge of Glory and You And I. Can Artpop dazzle, impress and showcase Gaga's direction and prove to be a return to form?
So Applause was the first taste of this album, and to my disbelief, I did not like the single one bit. It produced too much noise, too much loud vocals that really overcame each other to a bad regime that really came up with nothing but just an over-bated song. While I may have grown into it since the album's stream, it may not be that bad a song but it'll always be skipped if possible when it's on shuffle on my songs list. Then comes second single Do What U Want featuring R. Kelly, a smash pop single that features powerful Gaga and R. Kelly vocals that will have you swooning on your feet, with big epic production just stacked behind the duo's vocal performance. It's one of the best singles Gaga has released so far, and to even have R. Kelly on it is pretty much amazing, especially an artist who has been long forgotten - almost.
The whole album possesses big, huge-sounding production that features the likes of Zedd, Rick Rubin and Will.I.Am, which surprisingly doesn't really revel in what they do best. For Rubin's produced Dope track, there wasn't any big electronic guitar riffs but rather a piano ballad that brings up the emotional scale to a whole new level. Zedd's production on Venus also doesn't feel like what he does best, though the track overall just maximizes the duo's potential. Fashion!, produced by Will.I.Am has the veins of a 70's and 80's song, especially the start but Gaga once again owns the music with spectacular energy.
The same can be said for the other songs like the track's opener, with funky guitars that reminisces of Nile Rodgers. The production on this track fills almost too much that it overshadows Gaga's vocals almost slightly too much. Still, the choruses on Artpop brims with confidence and smites the album with bright opulent sounds. G.U.Y., which stands for Guy Under You, also features a rather intricate performance by Gaga, and also reminds me of Alejandro, Paparazzi from Born This Way and The Fame respectively, with the former more so. Then the next duo of songs aren't really spectacular for me: Sexxx Dreams and Jewels n' Drugs which features rappers T.I., Twista and Too Short. The former track doesn't really carry on the tradition of the past few songs and lack the vocal prowess Gaga delivers, while the hip-hop collaboration inspired track for the latter doesn't seem all the well amazing nor even with the rappers just moderate and the instrumentals or production doesn't seem to live up to the hype. With that so, until Artpop, the album is really solid, with my favourite track Manicure the powerhouse pop track that explodes upon impact. Then the second half of the song just feels uninteresting, exhausting and rather, feel heard of before.
Swine's lyrics are too much drastic that I don't know what to feel. Donatella has a flat-out streamlined chorus, while the track suffers from the over-produced beats that holds it down. Mary Jane Holland is also the same with Donatella, and feels bled with passion, uninspiring and doesn't have the punch that the rest of the album has. It sort of just feels like a worn-out track.
Then, the album picks up with Dope and Gypsy, two of the album's best tracks that brings out Gaga's vocal powers with such intensity that feels unmatched on her previous albums (maybe You And I). Dope is just fantastically written, while Gypsy is the whole package. With that said, the previous four tracks except for Fashion!, feels worn-out and their strength don't exactly help them all with sometimes blurry production and not lifting vocals. Otherwise, the album is probably the best Gaga has in her career so far.
The only problem that really injures and wounds the album is the production. Overrated, overheard and ridiculously loud, it not only wears down the album but it wears down the listener. Gaga's perpetual sound may seem divinity but with tracks that bleed insane dance pounds, is not as good as any other pop sound on the radio. It is probably the only major flaw I see in the album.
8.5/10: Artpop is a smash hit with beautiful, uplifting, memorable and sometimes powerful vocals that will restore pride in the little monster's hearts. With that said, the album suffers terribly due to the over-use of production, which makes the tracks worn out, sometimes bleak, sometimes exhausting and also insufficient. That said, Artpop is a great album albeit flaws in production value. If you're counting on a good pop album, this one will not just grab you by the ear, but the sound it makes is as loud as a siren blaring out on your headphones. Grab Artpop; you won't miss a thing with this album.
So this time I will be reviewing the debut album from Selena Gomez by a form entry and a recap review. The Disney star has had a lot to prove since departing from the band with The Scene, which had a part to play in her past two breakthrough albums. So does this new album, which adopts the change of creating a dance-slash-exotic record, will surely get you pumped up to rock from your seat?
Stars Dance is what Selena wants you to feel, with the latter word more so. 'Dance' is largely a main component of this entire album, and you can hear it from the first two singles: Come And Get It and Slow Down. To be honest, the album never really hit that promotional vein that could really triumph it above the moderate range. When I heard Come And Get It, I knew it wasn't what Selena Gomez was capable of doing. A Year Without Rain and Naturally are full packages that rocks extremes, while Come And Get It feels like an exotic, toned-down and really subversive song that showcases nothing. When you compare the first singles of each album, Stars Dance's was probably the weakest. Not just vocally, but lyrically and the song overall feels unpolished and not even really trying to pick itself up. I'm disappointed that it could even chart in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100. There were other better songs on the record that would have redeemed that spot but we will get to that soon.
On the second single, Slow Down, it's more of a synth action, club-banger that will surely get you on your feet, but really, the thing that holds itself down except for a lifeless repetitive chorus that tries either too much or too little, showcases once again Gomez's lack of invention and innovation for this album. All of it had been tried before on her albums with The Scene, and all of them are moderately acclaimed. This proves that you could have a perfect single yet the song could be a transcendence to what the album really is. In other words, the single just overshadows the weakness and the haphazard consistency of the album.
Yes, Stars Dance proves to be an inconsistent album that fans consider highly to be great. It lacks potent hits, innovation, interest nor even passion; sadly, all of that is missing on this album and this deteriorates it all the more. On the opening track, Birthday, just feels like a B-grade rendition of a Calvin Harris track (not saying he was a bad disc jockey), and just revels in Selena's sexy image of becoming a mature woman. There is nothing likable on this song, unless you count Selena's moan in parts of 'jazz it up'. Otherwise, the song feels mediocre and it's really embarrassing to say that on a Selena Gomez record. Not only that, but Like A Champion just feels like a B-grade rendition of Rihanna. Part reggae, part funk. Together with Come And Get It, either Selena is trying to make an Exotic Dance album, otherwise it's not really appealing. It's a big shift, and I'm not sure if people can take that. The trio of songs that follow of B.E.A.T., Write Your Name and Undercover are not outstanding nor even uplifting. Undercover does have a fitting dance vibe, and does show some decent lyricism, but you cannot see it as good as any other song on the radio. B.E.A.T. is empty, nothing soulful, nothing harrowing. Britney Spears does seems to be of influence to this track, but this all makes Selena Gomez's songs almost feel not so inventive and innovative. Write Your Name then tries to feel emotional, and relatable, but fails with the chorus miserably. None of these tracks are at the least memorable, and to even resort to auto-tune and uninteresting, sometimes downright very ridiculous choruses don't improve anything at all. You can claim that the falsettos were good, but if we had to count on that then the album would have nothing left.
Out of the rest, I have only three favourites left. Save The Day, Forget Forever and Love Will Remember are emotional, star-studded records that should have been placed into a different album than this album with higher quality. On the latter track, it features Selena Gomez's passionate vocals in recent tracks (I don't think there is any), and albeit slow and not getting you hip up to dance, I suppose the tracks I discussed above have already at least tried once or twice to get you up. Forget Forever is my overall favourite. It's probably one of the reasons why I loved Naturally and A Year Without Rain so much. Everything about this song works so well, yet the surrounding sounds on the album, be it experimental, proved detrimental and they did not help the album at all. Save The Day does what Birthday, Write Your Name, Undercover and Come and Get It couldn't do: put the nail in the dance coffin. It's catchy (though there are measures which the song could go to), while altogether presenting a direct approach rather than hide the song with layers of synths or low quality vocal prowess that suffers with each minute.
5/10: All in all, Stars Dance did make me wiggle my feet, but that's really all. Some standout tracks really did hit hard, while the rest fall flat quickly and hard at the same time. Not memorable nor even exciting, the album just is an inconsistent mess and shouldn't have been named a dance record with little to nothing to prove. We've known Gomez for quite a long time, and it's time to change. You are better than this, with triumphant hit singles rather than dismal, half-hearted attacks and lunges on the pop market. The overall consensus is if you are a hardcore Selena Gomez fan, you will love the album, but be sure to notice the cracks that smear along the windshield of the tracks: they are clearly visible.
When Eminem released Relapse in late 2009, it was touted as a major comeback since his drug rehabilitation after 2005's Encore. However, Recovery takes the cake, despite the multiple flaws in the album, it was the real comeback for Eminem, not Slim Shady. Then in August this year, Em teased fans with snippets of what would be his first single, Berzerk, and announcing that his next album would be "The Marshall Mathers LP 2". If I make it so, then this album would mark the return of both Eminem, Marshall Mathers and Slim Shady. It was my most anticipated album this fall, and how does it fare?
Yeezus and Magna Carta Holy Grail have all splashed headlines as the year's best rap albums by Kanye West and Jay-Z respectively, though Jay-Z's rap record may not have a better critical score compared to Yeezus, with the volatile, occasional furious rap lyrics that Kanye writes. Then there is Drake's Nothing Was The Same. It seemed rap competition was going to be tense for this year. However, Eminem seems to once again grab main attention, and with such darity to name his next album a sequel to the classic The Marshall Mathers LP, expectations are lofty and it is no mean feat to accomplish. Ever since 2005's Encore, Eminem has not sold a million records with 600,000 and 700,000 sales for Relapse and Recovery respectively. I guess I'll go in depth and in detail for this album.
With executive producers Rick Rubin, the great, and Eminem's longtime mentor Dr. Dre, it seemed this album was going back to its roots. We still got a sneak peek with Rubin's signature guitar riffs on the first single Berzerk, and that single has already sold a million copies in the US alone. While it's because of Rubin that the production may seem flawless, the other singles may not share the same therapy with Berzerk. Rap God feels out of place, while Survival and The Monster are almost similar. Still, Rubin's touches can be heard clearly along with Dre's, who has been producing Em's albums except for Recovery. So Far... and Love Game are prime examples that contains amazing production for the beats. That makes the category more or less placed in safe hands.
I haven't talked much about the singles though. Rap God contains undeniable flow that could place Eminem as one of the all time greats, or maybe he already is with 95 words in 16 seconds and the lyricism evoking competition, anger and slaughter of other rappers. Survival is also another hotshot, radio single while being on Call of Duty: Ghosts and managing to peak in the top 20. The Monster featuring Rihanna marks the fourth time that the duo have collaborated, with rather decent pop vocals and a whistle at the end of the chorus. Eminem slams it home once again with well thought verses, though it may not be all that great as well. If Berzerk and the above-mentioned other three singles didn't awe you nor captured your attention, I could understand.
Most people bang on the fact that it's an Eminem brand, thus it's always going to be great or it is great. That is true for the singles, however certainly not so for the rest of the album. Em has always adopted a safe approach for his albums, releasing radio singles. Berzerk, Survival and The Monster fit the bill, while So Much Better, Evil Twin and Legacy don't. That makes promotion much easier, and not to forget naming it a sequel to an album that is labeled as one of the all time great rap albums.
Eminem also holds no boundaries on this album, and this takes his lyricism to new heights and allows him to have more space and freedom. Fans don't want a Recovery 2.0, and so does Em himself. The guest spots have also a different view with Fun. frontman Nate Ruess, longtime collaborator Skylar Grey, the now trending Kendrick Lamar and of course, Rihanna. And truth is none of these features damages the album. Kendrick provides smooth raps on Love Game and also suits Eminem pretty well, going along for the ride that makes their interplay seem exciting and appealing. Skylar Grey povides vocals on Asshole, and she seems to be having fun at the same time as she labels Em and herself as assholes. Nate Ruess is the one that surprised me most, providing an emotional undertone to Headlights in which Em raps about him still loving his mother all this while. It's true that the features may seem weak, but compare it to 2010's Recovery which boasted P!nk, Kobe, Lil' Wayne and also Rihanna and this album's Nate Ruess, Skylar Grey and Kendrick Lamar. All of them makes use of the guest spots so comfortably, you'd think Em single-handedly chose the right people for the tracks.
Then we reach the rest. Top to bottom, the tracks are far greater than when you put them on paper and read the lyrics. Bad Guy was written from the perspective from Matthew Mitchell, Stan's younger brother, who also has the initials M and M. The figurative thought of the song Em wrote a decade more ago seemed to come flowing back (Stan). A 7 minute opener could hardly keep me off guard. Rhyme or Reason is just what Em does best: spitting lyrical venom at every direction for 'no rhyme or reason'. Then comes So Much Better, the aggressive, sometimes crazy and sometimes hazardous lyrics becoming the pinnacle of this track. He ends off with 'I'm only kidding, you know I love you,' which recalls of Kill You and White America's ending, seemingly getting away with it. Legacy also from the perspective of Eminem's childhood. So Far... talks about Eminem's fame, his Facebook profile and many others that accompanies the well created beats. And Evil Twin, which 'Slim Shady is still inside', and even a skit, something that Recovery didn't have.
The best song on the record though has to be Stronger Than I Was, as Eminem pulls out at heartstrings and emotionally stabilizes himself that is just jarringly good, reminding me of Hailie's Song from The Eminem Show, not so a Marshall Mathers LP song though. If you still have doubts about Eminem truly, then you might want to reconsider this album because, whatever the cost, it's definitely worth it.
10/10: The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is a splendid masterpiece - easily. Encompassing a wide range of tones throughout the album, despicable and at times comedic-slash-sarcastic humour just crashes in. The beats are slightly pop, but Em makes it so that it doesn't matter, as his lyrics not only kill the pressure, but he raises the bar as well. This is his best album since The Eminem Show for sure. Yes, I said it. Be it competition in the hip-hop genre, Eminem has surely killed it once again. Quoting Eminem, 'why be a king when you can be a God?'
Let's talk about Bangerz by Miley Cyrus, a.k.a the twerker, the performer and also the nude. For those not catching up with the industry, then you might not have known about Miss Cyrus, who has been in an agglomeration of events since her release of We Can't Stop. People who aren't aware of the ploy yet might think Miley is dumb, disrespectful or even unsure of her future. But really, all this hypes up for a commercially successful album that actually debuted at number one ahead of Panic! At The Disco, with a fair amount of competition that is. However, then again, is Miley bringing up a great album or just moderate?
From the singles, it's safe to say the hope of this album was saved by Wrecking Ball, while We Can't Stop certainly does offer nothing. There is the atmospherically lax vibe that it warrants, but it feels lacking and doesn't seem to improve as often. Wrecking Ball though is another story. The song is not only emotional, but it was also reminiscent of her past work, and Miley was that person before, so there was no excuse that she's fallen of the beaten track in recent albums nor anything else. That was judged however before the music video which eventually broke the records for the most views in 24 hours, but let's talk about music.
Adore You kicks off the album to a pretty monotone presentation. I didn't like it, and certainly didn't hate it. It was plain, and while Miley did try to impress on an opener, it just wasn't enough. We Can't Stop is next, and while I have gotten over it for quite some time, it just isn't good enough for me. It just needs a little push... just one slight push. SMS (Bangerz) featuring Britney Spears is vocally oppressive, but the rest of the track is dismal and erratic. Half the time I'm wondering about their verses and what they are really talking about. 4x4 featuring Nelly picks up the album, and it was a much needed song. It feels like a country song, and Miley's lyrics are just fun and weird. The song is repetitive in nature, and gets bored after a while. Nelly does help the song to a not-so-large extent, but the track is what it is: Miley at work and just having fun. That's really all it is. Auto tuned feature Future raps in My Darlin', and this song is just draggy. Future sounds pathetically awful, with Miley spearheading the track, the song is kind of salvaged by it. Either way, not a fan.
Now, the second half drips in with Wrecking Ball, which to be honest, I personally enjoy and like. It is one of the more enjoyable tracks though my advice is to stay away from the music video, and all will be fine. Love Money Party is... just, eccentric and awkward. Not good nor bad, and if there was one to sum it up, it could be 'meh'. Big Sean's feature is cool though, but sometimes forgettable. Are you counting how many rap features there are? The next three songs are just ecstatic. #GETITRIGHT is the one that is just fantastic. The drums, guitars, vocals all are smoothly tense. It's probably one of my favourite tracks off the album, making you wanna get up and dance. Oh yeah there is a reference to the tongue too. Drive is powerfully vocal, and Miley nails this one on the head. The synths do sound annoying, but otherwise, it's a good song - emotional, gritty and longing - just kudos to Miley. FU featuring French Montana is a cracking song, sharing the same veins as Drive. The topics are similar, and I was glad French only had a little part to play in the song. Do My Thang is okay, though Miley's vocals are really all there is to this track. It tries too hard to go EDM, stay pop and hip hop. It's just a sloppy mess. Maybe You're Right is also great, and the track is also full of emotions, the similar style of Wrecking Ball and Drive, which is great. Then we reach Someone Else, which is also a good song but sometimes doesn't really pick up. Miley also says 'if you're looking for pretty; look somewhere else.'
The track is full of life and depth, though it suffers from the same repetition that killed SMS, My Darlin' and Do My Thang. Overall, the album is pretty solid, but sometimes being a little too poppy or even just too much fun causes the album to lack appeal and with the considerable amount of the same topic (check Drive to Someone Else), and for those saying it's Liam Hemsworth, the album was written before the breakup, so there you go.
6.5/10: Not impressive, but certainly holding her own and the album is strictly moderate if I could say so. Miley did impress this time, and maybe her antics pre-release had done it's justification, but one cannot wonder if our next generation will do the same to promote a video. Bangerz is alright, just don't take it too hard nor too serious. Just have fun and you will enjoy it. Maybe.
Avril's new album has certainly been released before it's November 5th debut in a battle for top spot against Eminem, but does it really make the cut?
So Avril Lavigne's self-titled album is her fifth studio record, and many wonder if she could carry on the tradition of her fourth album, Goodbye Lullaby. Truth be told, her fourth wasn't her strongest despite powering with huge pieces of ballads (Wish You Were Here) and an explosive first single (What The Hell), but it wasn't the worst. None of Lavigne's albums are hugely disappointing, but I had problems with the trend of the previous album. Does her new album really makes the Lavigne brand promising and hugely acclaimed again?
I was impressed, in fact, rather head-on loved the first two singles she brought out with Rock N Roll and Here's To Never Growing Up, two high-flying singles that have not only surprised, but really brought the old-style Lavigne cut back to the forefront of what she really is. The cut-throat singles serves as a great way to refresh fans, with the former an amazing tribute that I still cannot get over yet. The album contains two features, something that has not happened in all of her albums so far. I can see Chad Kroeger somewhere there (in fact releasing Let Me Go as the third official single), but Marilyn Manson? Really? Still, it had to be listened to be believed, and so far, the album is solid and really great for the first half and not so similar for the second.
Rock N Roll and Here's To Never Growing Up kick-off the album, and nonetheless are the two songs that hyped up the album for me. 17 is next, the pop, fun and exciting jam, recalling the year when she was 17 with a guy she'd run off with and have fun, accompanied by a sing-along chorus that drowns you in. Bitchin' Summer is a smash from the first second. Acoustic guitars lurking in the background and Lavigne's vocals clear and crisp, once again evoking that sing-along rhythm that follows suit of the first three songs so far, especially Here's To Never Growing Up. A rap? Not exactly but Lavigne does it comfortably, saying 'motherfucking cops'. Yeah, that was nice. And comes one of the more emotional jabs of the album in the form of the third single, Let Me Go featuring husband Chad Kroeger. This emotional piece was the only single I didn't review before the album's stream, and to be honest Chad works in this song. The two's interplay in the chorus makes for a wonderful chorus, and it really slows down the pace of the album. That's not a bad thing though, as the album has been really rock-heavy and just all sing-along anthems that really have nothing uncommon from each other. It was a welcome breakdown, I'd say.
And here comes the second-half of the album with tight reminiscence of Goodbye Lullaby, and I meant Give You What You Like. The acoustic guitar is what drives this song, once again a welcome addition to the album. It's definitely vocally driven, but it really showcases the falsettos of Lavigne. I wish there was something more from this song, maybe a little tad of touch to the chorus might've worked brilliantly. Still, it is a great song even though it doesn't really pick up the album. And Marilyn's featurette on Bad Girl probably was a little disturbing when he cuts in on the first second. Otherwise, the song really is just what it needed, a rock-infused pop anthem that really feels like a drive-by. The chorus does suffer a little, almost feeling out of place. However, in some parts, Marilyn's vocals do hamper the track but otherwise, it is just decent and I felt had the song gone above 3 minutes, it might not be all that great as well. Hello Kitty is... so different from the album. The Best Damn Thing reference? Definitely. But the EDM parts of the track are probably one of my dislikes, and definitely is not one of my favourite tracks on the album. The song just doesn't feel a part of the album and is just explosively dubstep. Is this even Lavigne's style? You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet once again picks up, but how many drops have we had so far? The song does return back to the first three vibes that we've had so far but offers nothing new in exchange.
However, Sippin' On Sunshine works in every direction, almost a combination of the first two singles with gang vocals. I'm thinking this could even be joint-top with Rock N Roll as the best song on the album. The song throws you onto a dance ride and really the best song since Let Me Go. Hello Heartache once again revisits Let Go, and to me the album just fills to be a mesh of her past albums combined, sharing different vibes and different pairs of genres altogether. The chorus on this song speaks for itself, and really, one of the more better songs on the album. Hell, the bridge is probably the best on the entire album. Falling Fast is another emotional piece that is jarringly amazing, and the words speaks for itself. It's in the same veins as Let Me Go for sure, and feels like another combination of Goodbye Lullaby and probably Let Go, though I could be wrong. Lavigne's vocals shine on this song, while the guitars once again very precise and magnificent. Then we come to Hush Hush, and expecting another emotional piece that could be the same as Falling Fast, and that was what I got. The song could be talking about Chad Kroeger, Lavigne's husband, but once again is intense and could easily be the icing on the cake for the album. Meanings full of depth, the track probably only suffers from poor songwriting, but it doesn't really break it apart too much.
Overall the album does suffer from one problem, and that is repetition. While most tracks work, it is truly because of the style in which Lavigne and her co-writers work to develop. Some songs are really unnecessary and feels out of place, especially the middle pack of the songs. While the album is good, it's not that great either. You may love a song while journeying through, but you will undoubtedly stumble over a not-so-likeable one.
7/10: The album is a piece that feels recalling of her past albums, and really brings back great memories from Let Go, The Best Damn Thing and Goodbye Lullaby. The tracks are decent except for a couple, and while you may argue this is the best album Lavigne has ever done, probably in the production view I'd agree, but the overall conception is one of the drawbacks of this album that I have been looking forward to ever since her first single dropped. I'd recommend it though, and that's a big plus to Lavigne, whom I've respected ever since her first album.
Taking the world by storm and achieving universal success with Royals, this sixteen-year-old Kiwi is not to be underestimated. No.
Lorde's Pure Heroine has been critically acclaimed, and undoubtedly so, with pop-alternative fused tracks that seamlessly blends with the theme of the album, and something that not all grounded sixteeen-year-old musicians will do. To see your first debut single achieve chart success around the world and to be appreciated by fans and other artists alike, Lorde could be on the way to almost undeniable stardom. Maybe, she already has.
Let's talk a little about the singles that made this album so unique, sophisticating and intriguing. Royals, the first single and one of the few amazing songs to be released this year, tells a lot about the album in general and the artist-in-making of which is Lorde. Such subtle, yet unhurried lyrics that evokes thoughts puts other artists of the same age to shame. In fact, all of the songs on the album except for the album's opening track Tennis Court, was single-handedly written by Lorde herself. Now that is something truly immaculate and really outstanding, and that is solely due to the fact Lorde had the time and space to work on the album to really reach the apex and prime that it is now.
The songs on the album really have a diverse range of topics to talk about, at the same time with a powerful vocal range and the harmonizing melodies that revolves around each song brings about something that hasn't really been talked about in a few years. Each song is so special and unique, yet oppressively vibrant and very focused. This makes Lorde's tracks seemingly understanding and at the same time captures you in ways unimaginable.
Tennis Court boasts a hugely redeeming chorus, sprung into a lyrical expertise brought by Lorde, with the 'yeahs' able to lead it without falling off the wheel. 400 Lux and Royals features great drums albeit technologically improvised, but the impression that she has given so far has not waned, and Royals definitely is the apex of the entire album. 400 Lux feels relaxed and not frantic, something that the album also has been clinging onto and so wonderfully she has done that you don't feel all out of position, but rather immersed into the attention. Royals is beautiful, and that is all that it really is to say. Straight after the single comes Ribs and Buzzcut Season, which is well-received by fans alike. The songs takes you back to the 400 Lux sensation, the calming mood steps in and seems to reinvigorate rather than dissipate. Team, once again marking another lyrical diverse track bursts well and effortlessly. Lorde's vocals on this track is one of the highlights of the album for sure.
And comes the last four tracks. Glory And Gore is self-aware, with the chorus 'glory and gore go hand-in-hand; that's why we're making headlines' doesn't necessarily make Grand Theft Auto headlines, even though a billion dollar in 3 days does. Still Sane features once again prowess in songwriting, and feels very sing-along like. White Teeth Teens is just impeccable. Everything about this song stands out and above shoulders than most of the tracks entirely on the album. Then comes the closer, A World Alone, which is almost 5 minutes long. To say this album is the best is really true, but whatever works on the album, certainly has been carried as far as we have for the tenth song on the album.
All in all, Pure Heroine is a fantastic craft, working in all directions and crushes other competitors in the alternative genre. Yes, there is Lana Del Ray, but are we kidding ourselves when we say Lorde is not a true artist? Nope. Alternative is here to stay and this album shows that even if you're a sixteen year old, you can still do what most artists in their 20's could do. And do it better.
9.5/10: This album is just a huge ton of amazing mess stacked upon each other. What a breakthrough album for the New Zealand star, and expect more in the future. Check back at the end of the year to see if this album will be included in the top 10 albums of 2013. I suppose so.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.