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Friday, July 02, 2010

Pop Blitz 7/2/10

Travie McCoy (ft. Bruno Mars) - Billionaire Irritating. From the "cute/funny" Jason Mraz-ish chorus to the ho-hum rapping, this is exactly the kind of novelty summer tune that gets me switching the radio. C-

Selena Gomez - Round & Round
A natural progression from her last single, they've finally discovered how to match her airy vocals to an equally light-weight pop song. Surprisingly, this is a good thing. A-

Enrique Iglesias (ft. Pitbull) - I Like It
I'm actually surprised at how much I like this, since I'm not a fan. It's very "male Lady Gaga," but the melody's strong and fits his voice well. I could've done without the Pitbull parts, though. Shame about the album, which borders on unlistenable. B+

Maroon 5 - Misery
What a limp comeback single. They've done so much better in the past, which makes this forgettable track a big surprise. I trust there's better on the album. I have a feeling they'll need a strong single next because this sounds like a bomb. C

Taio Cruz - Dynamite
Yes, it's pretty much a carbon copy of his other songs, but his sound remains a welcome addition to the radio. This isn't quite as good as his last one, but it's very addictive (especially, the ravey bridge). A-

3OH!3 (ft. Ke$ha) - First KissJeez, is there enough misplaced punctuation in this title? I think both of these artists are about as abominable as you can get and I wish they'd scurry back under the rocks they came from. That being said, this isn't as terrible as I expected it to be. It's still nothing that we'll remember in a couple of years. C

Neon Trees - Animal
One of the only rock hits on the radio right now, it benefits from sounding different. Good thing it's a deserving entry in the indie-rock summer hit playlist. That chorus is just great. A

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Alexander Rybak - Why Not Me

"Kathy, why not me?"

Unless you're willing to wade through some serious schmaltz (and some very... interesting lyrics), I don't recommend Alexander Rybak's new album. There's certainly nothing as strong as Fairytale, nor is the overall quality up to that of his debut. But, there is one standout worth noting. Why Not Me is an interesting rock/pop song, partly because it's so straight forward. There's no mention of magic dolphins or drowning horses or any of the other odd stuff he usually sings about. Instead, we get a slightly 80's sounding rocker with (gasp!) a synthy violin riff following the chorus. It stands out from the rest of the album's tracks like crazy, and I think it's the direction he needs to keep heading if he hopes to continue finding success. Less of the awkward tributes to fan mail (5000 Letters) and comeback singles that sound like they're about pedophilia (Oah), please!

Alexander Rybak - Why Not Me by alienhits

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Track-by-Track: Kylie Minogue - Aphrodite

In some ways, Kylie Minogue has had the quintessential pop career. She's gone from cheesy pop to indie artiness and back again. Aphrodite winks knowingly at her 80's past while at the same time moving things forward. It's very much the "carefree pop album" we've been promised. It's not perfect, but there are certainly glimpses of pop perfection throughout.

1. All The Lovers - The best-possible Kylie comeback single I could've hoped for. It's exactly the type of music I love from her. Shimmering and otherworldly, this is pure euphoria. Gorgeous. 10/10

2. Get Outta My Way - An obvious second single, and more uptempo and commercial than the opening track. Still, the melody is one of the strongest on the album (especially the chorus) and the production is suitably huge. 10/10

3. Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love) - Another highly commercial dance track, but not quite as strong as the last one. The chorus is catchy, for sure, but lacks the staying power of the last two tracks. Still, it sounds great played loud. 9/10

4. Closer - I didn't love this on first listen, but it's grown on me immensely. It's an odd little powder keg of a song, more a sonic vignette than a proper pop track. The hypnotic production is quite something. There's a great tension throughout. 9/10

5. Everything Is Beautiful - About as pop as pop gets, this is all about the melody -- and it's a good one. I wouldn't be surprised if this is a (very successful) single. It's got that polished sound to it. 9/10

6. Aphrodite - Completely different than anything else on the album, this hard, 90's-influenced dance track is pretty spectacular. The hook alone packs more of a punch than any of the other tracks. I can't help but think that this is the comeback single she should have released several years ago. 10/10

7. Illusion - One of the weaker tracks. The best part of it is the catchy synth hook that plays at the beginning and repeats throughout. The rest of it is pleasant, but slightly forgettable. 8/10

8. Better Than Today - A midtempo, new-wavey stomper that relies on a strong melody and a huge 80's influence. It's one of the best songs on the album and would make a terrific single choice. 10/10

9. Too Much - The last perfect song on here, it's a synth-heavy, aggressive track with shades of Calvin Harris (who worked on this) and several different melodies throughout. The chorus is slightly bonkers, but in the best way possible. Probably the most current-sounding song on here. 10/10

10. Cupid Boy - A hypnotic, high-pitched electro track. It's pretty throughout, but gets a little lost in the shuffle. I love how the chorus builds into a wall of synths, though. 8/10

11. Looking For An Angel - Opens with a string section, which carries on throughout the track. It's a very wistful, lush sound with vocals that hearken back to some of Minogue's 90's work. It's another song I didn't like so much at first, but I've really come around to. 9/10

12. Can't Beat This Feeling - Old-school, cheesy dancepop. It's certainly a reminder of where she started, though compared to the rest of the album it's slightly underwhelming as a closing track. I like the retro synths, but it's all a bit frantic. 7/10

Album Grade: 9.1/10

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kylie Minogue - Aphrodite

"Can you feel me in stereo?"

As a prelude to my track-by-track review of Kylie's new album tomorrow, I'm going to highlight one of my favorite songs from Aphrodite. It just so happens to be the title track, a self-power anthem with one hell of a chest-beating chorus. It was my instant favorite when I first heard the album megamix, and really sounds like nothing else on Aphrodite. I wanna be able to say I know exactly what works here, but it's really everything combined that makes this a standout. The production is flawless -- a true Stuart Price masterpiece. From the staccato, Rhythm Nation-esque drums to the layers of synth that bubble up unexpectedly throughout, the instrumental would be impressive on its own. Add to that a melody to die for and an aggressive, playful vocal from Minogue, and you've got one of 2010's best pop songs. It's always a letdown when it ends.

Kylie Minogue - Aphrodite by alienhits

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


Monday, June 28, 2010

Ollie Wride - HeadRush

"I need you forever and ever"

A huge thanks to PPG for introducing me to Ollie Wride. Like her, I found it very difficult to select a song to feature today, as all of his are quite good (go to his soundcloud page to listen to all seven songs). I settled on HeadRush because it's the most polished-sounding of the demos. Not only that, but it's a staggering piece of 80's dance pop. Ollie Wride has one of those octave shattering voices like Mika and Eric Nally of Foxy Shazam. It's an instrument perfect for the genre (a mix of glam, pop and dance) that he sings. This is, quite simply, my favorite kind of music. And to be able to perform it competently, you need personality. From what I've gathered so far, it seems that Wilde's got the energy, style and ideas to craft very interesting pop music. His influences (Queen, the Buggles, Scissor Sisters) are among my all-time favorite artists and I am beyond excited to hear what he comes up with when he's ready to produce an album. There is a ridiculous amount of potential here. To be this good when you're just starting out is kind of mind-blowing.

HeadRush by Ollie Wride

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Listen to more here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Scissor Sisters & Kylie Minogue - Any Which Way (Live at Glastonbury)

I'm not the only blogger posting this, but I thought it merited a mention anyway, as it's really a slice of pop heaven. I can't imagine any other two artists complementing each other as well as these guys do. They truly put on a show, elevating the song in the process. It always amazes me -- even after all of these years -- what a dynamic live performer Kylie is.

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