Average User Score: 8.7May 29, 2012Regina Spektor is one of those artists hardly anyone likes at first. Like liquor. She's a lyrically puzzling, piano thumping storytelling withRegina Spektor is one of those artists hardly anyone likes at first. Like liquor. She's a lyrically puzzling, piano thumping storytelling with vocal arrangements as dramatic as a theater major... but also much like liquor, once you really get into the music, it becomes an uncontrollable addiction. What We Saw From the Cheap Seats is like a delicious fruity drink with deadly amounts of mixed vodkas and gins. It will knock you on your ass when you're done with it. It's definitely Spektor's most down-to-Earth, calm album yet, with productions quality at an all-time high, but her identity as a humbly strange anti-folk legend remains.
Spektor seems to be more aware of herself and her talents on this album, using more accents ("Oh Marcello"), beat boxing ("All The Rowboats") and hand-and-feet instrumentation ("Small Town Moon") than seen on any of her previous albums. She even steps out from behind the piano to play the trumpet in "The Party," with only her mouth and no trumpet of course.
Before the album is even halfway over she gives us one of her most beautifully depressing ballads in years with "Firewood," which rivals Begin to Hope track "Samson" both musically and vocally. A couple tracks later and again she ups the ante with "How," a song about heartbreak so jarring that it could make even Duffy or Adele seem as cheerful as Ke$ha. Still, Spektor isn't all about depressing hidden meanings and quirky, cutesy air instruments. She has, over the years, been uncovering a more pop side of herself that seems to shine on each album like "Folding Chair" from Far or "Better" from Begin to Hope. This album offers up "The Party" which compares a swain to a lively parade that leaves you messily frazzled and smiling. "Ballad of a Politician" is the most nostalgic record, reminiscent of tracks like "Chemo Limo" that chronicle corruption, a favorite topic of mine. It's hard to put Spektor is to one category or another. Her music bounces from between different genres and themes. She's an explorer. An acquired taste, yes, but she definitely knows exactly who she is and what she wants her music to sound like. Now that she has a bigger budget and production team behind her, moreso than her first 5 albums, she can bring that huge imagination out of her head and into our ears.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.5May 3, 2012Only Madonna can cause a festival of meltdowns on Twitter. Never have my mentions moved so rapidly. I almost vomited from motion sickness.Only Madonna can cause a festival of meltdowns on Twitter. Never have my mentions moved so rapidly. I almost vomited from motion sickness. It's crazy how intensely anticipated this woman is. I guess it comes with the territory of being the Queen of Pop.
Like the rest of the world, as soon as the album leaked I just had to get my hands on it, despite the fact that the quality was horrid, as usual with those **** web-rips. Still, I caught ever ounce of my life.
As someone who's never been a huge Madonna fan, I was overall pleased with the turn out. I'd say I was about 50/50 on songs I loved and songs that I thought were mediocre. I don't there is a single bad song, but I find a handful of them generic.
"I **** Up" was instantly my favorite. I figured it would be when Guy O'seary posted a link to it on Twitter a couple of days ago. I love the urban style drummer boy backing under the fluid string section. It stands out from the other tracks because it doesn't sound electric. It's almost acoustic, of course if you strip away the fleshy production, aside from the guitar and Madonna's feather-weight vocals. I really think this song could serve as a high-charting singled, especially if they censor it as "I Effed Up." Oh, the controversy.
The best uptempo song on the album is undoubtedly "I'm Addicted." It's one of those songs you hear at the club and pause right before the chorus, only to jump around like an ADHD kid when the beat drops. Oh, then there's the chant, which is almost essential in pop music today! "MDNA! MDNA!" It's a play on words, also, if you didn't catch that. The song is actually full of them. She describes a lot of symptoms of someone on ecstasy as her "feelings" in the song. That gives me a little more appreciation for the song, since it has a bit of thought behind the lyrics.
Not far behind is "I Don't Give A" which is Madonna's big **** you" to the negativity in her life. (Sidenote: does her rap style remind anyone of Michael Jackson's "They Don't Really Care About Us?") It's really corny, but just corny enough to be considered "cute." Oh yeah, Nicki Minaj also takes a few minutes out of her hectic life to go the **** off about how less-than you bum **** are compared to her. The icing on top was the sweet line hailing Madonna as the "one queen," then gnarly off a psychotic **** in typical Minaj fashion.
Oooh, and let me gush about how much I live for "Gang Bang." I don't know who she is talking about, but she is reading them for filth. I mean, if you're willing to follow someone to hell (after you murder them) just so you can kill then "over and over and over and over and over and over and over again" then it's logical to say you're bitter. She ends the songs with a grimy dubstep piece that sent shivers up my spine. This, more than any other song, gives me a glimpse of the old Madonna.
"Girl Gone Wild," the second single, is a top notch club banger. It's one of those insanely catchy, but generic songs I mentioned before, but what makes it a really good song is the beat. I'll admit that I love "Give Me All Your Lovin'" because I like to cheer. It served it's purpose as Superbowl hype single and put her back on everyone's mind. Like I said before, there are no bad songs on the album, but the rest of the album will have to grow on me. I'll revisit this review in a week when we have a higher quality version. Until then, I'll rate this album a solid 7.5/10. Madonna has already proven her worth, yet she still makes music like she's got more to prove. It makes for consistent solid albums.… Expand
Average User Score: 5.4May 3, 2012Quick question, though... Where is Roman? It seems like we've once again been stood up with false promise of a harder Nicki Minaj, but itQuick question, though... Where is Roman? It seems like we've once again been stood up with false promise of a harder Nicki Minaj, but it seems the album was transformed into something more commercially acceptable. Rumor has it the label had some issues with the turn out and asked Nicki to hit the studio again to give more radio hits. That's just a rumor.Truth or not, it does make sense.
Gossip aside, Nicki Minaj just served up some of the best pop tracks of 2012, so far. She pretty much hit the nail on the head with the entire pop side of the album. Each of the pop tracks is a ecstasy riddled, pelvic thrusting night at a dance bar with strobe lights blinking so bright you can see them when you close your eyes. "Starships" was the first fully treated single from the album. This song proves that Nicki isn't going to just settle for snatching the gold encrusted crown worn by rap's queen. She wants to be a pop princess as well. Billboard is backing her up, as Starships has served as a stronger radio song than the most recent songs from Rihanna, Britney & Gaga. To be honest, the song is pretty generic up until we get past the chorus. Then the beat drops like a ton of bricks and we're instantly drowned in a flood of bass thudding dubstep and a chanting chorus of vocoder "Oohs." In the club, you can't help but hop around like a foolish child and in the car you'll get so lost in the electric beat that you'll look up to see the people in the car besides you pointing and laughing. Easily the best choice on the album to make pop fans aware that Nicki is tackling more than just the urban charts.
"Pound the Alarm" was the fan-favorite snippet when NickiDaily.com posted them. It follows the same formula as "Starships" but has an even more hardcore club feel. It's like Nicki's answer to Rihanna's "Where Have You Been." Ironically, those are both my favorite tracks on each of their albums. The only difference is that Nicki actually has verses instead of just a chorus and a bridge. I dare you to try and not dance to this tune. You have to be a bitter old **** to not fall in love with this track.
"Whip It" is a lot more toned down than the first two pop tracks on the album. It still plays heavily on the top 40's current most popular sound, but it is accompanied by catch, imitate-able lyrics that drops into a sexy drum section during the verses. The hard-cracking bullwhip that accompanies the transitions each part of the song is the cherry on top and of course the way that the song ends is flawless. It's really how every song should end.
Jumping down a few tracks to "Va Va Voom," I think she made a mistake not adding it right after "Beautiful Sinner." It's help keep the tempo of the album before dipping a bit in "Marilyn Monroe." Nicki keeps her vocals smooth which meshes really well with Dr. Luke's beat... and can we have a round of applause for Dr. Luke, who finally did something different than what he pretty much handed to ever artist he's work with since 2010.
On to the rap side of the album...
"Roman Holiday" was one of the main reasons I pre-ordered the album. I absolutely loved the Grammy performance and have been listening to the audio since the day it aired. That said, the delivery is completely different and a bit disappointed. She hit that point were she was a little too animated and corny. Still, it's a good track and serves as a great introduction, not only to the album, but to the world of Roman Zolanski.
I think she found a better balance during "I Am Your Leader." My one beef with this song is that it sounds too much like Lil Wayne wrote it. She's just rapping anything that rhymes. She's a good storyteller. She shouldn't be shelling out any clichÃ© that comes to mind. Rick Ross picks up the lyrical slack. He's really been stepping up in the rap world. Why Cam'ron though? Is he making a comeback?
"Beez In The Trap" is an absolutely trashy mess... so why do I live for it? I caught myself in the shower rapping this whole song to me shampoo and conditioner bottles like they were battling me. The beat just really goes extra hard. I just wish it wasn't 2Chainz. Saw them in concert at a club a few weekends ago and it was a horrid, **** mess.
In the end, Nicki did a great job of topping the original Pink Friday album. I think she did a lovely job of fully crossing over. It's going to create a nice, explosive year for her. With the right promotion, she can probably land her first #1 on the Hot 100 and maybe even get her hands on one of those shiny Grammys. She just has to pray that BeyoncÃ© can't find a babysitter for Baby Blue long enough to hit the studio, though we know that's not happening.
I'll give this album a 7/10. I'd like to see Nicki focus more on her lyrical growth rather than just making songs that will be hits. I know it's kind of give and take, but you have to find the balance. Just ask Jay-Z.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.5May 3, 2012I am so extremely against boy bands. They usually don't harmonize well, personalities don't seem to mix well and the image as a whole ends upI am so extremely against boy bands. They usually don't harmonize well, personalities don't seem to mix well and the image as a whole ends up tacky. Still, I gave them a chance.
"Glad You Came" already has Billboard in a choke hold, only being outdone by the massive Fun. & Janelle Monae single "We Are Young." It was the perfect lead single because it really showcases their use of electro-pop to elevate what would be boring and typical boy band music to a level that keeps them from being annoying.
"Chasing The Sun" starts of similarly, somewhat gentle, but by the time the song climaxes, you're going to be dancing so hard you might lose a shoe. I did. I'd never imagine a boy band successfully latching onto the dance craze, especially since we haven't had a good one in almost a decade, but this song really could potentially be a summer smash. It is the next single, after all. The highlight definitely has to be the adrenaline pumping 808. "All Time Low" is the more typical boy band track. It doesn't really have a particular stand out moment. It almost feels like "Chasing the Sun" never really ended, but the melody was slightly altered and pushed on.
"Satellite" makes up for the dip "All Time Low" made, but is still consistent in style from the previous three tracks. Slower verses, killer dance chorus. This song is a bit catchier and you actually hear a slight sliver of personality coming out.
"Lightning" is where the EP starts to falter. Even though it's a nice tune, at this point it's monotonous. Same build. Same underlying beat. Same harmonies. They are in desperate need of a BeyoncÃ© to take the lead.
Then, all of a sudden the dance party ends. I didn't really know what to think of "Heart Vacancy" because I was so caught of guard by the sudden disruption of electro-synths with a acoustic guitar. Did Taylor Swift walk in the room? I'll say it again, none of these boys really stand out from one another. Every good band has a leader. I can't even tell who's singing what. Their vocals are actually kind of weak.
Sorry, "Gold Forever." I already stopped having fun. Don't trying restarting the party.
Ok, I'm being dramatic. The EP isn't bad by any means. It's just lacking a few key items, like a lead singer, varying beats and maybe one of them can rap or something. I don't know. Liven it up! They came swinging, but they missed quite a few punches. This could have been epic, but it falls just short of "pretty cool."
I'd slap a 5 out of 10 on this one. Am I being to generous? Too harsh? Let me know in the comments!… Expand
Average User Score: 8.3May 3, 2012This is Carrie's 4th album. If we look back at history, most singers really give their most artistically creative and personal albums at thisThis is Carrie's 4th album. If we look back at history, most singers really give their most artistically creative and personal albums at this point. Britney Spears gave us In The Zone which saw her really getting down and dirty and completely shedding her good girl image. Same can be said about Rihanna's Rated R. BeyoncÃ©'s 4 was an incredible adventure into her beautiful loving soul and took us back to the golden days of R&B. Miranda Lambert's Four The Record swept award season because she was finally able to shed her "woman scorned" image and show that she was still a loving lady. Now I'm sitting here writing a review for one of the industries strongest vocals, beaming in exciting because I can say the same thing for her. Carrie Underwood's Blown Away album is her most brooding and chilling in some places, while in others she is as goofy and country as ever. I guess she really took note of critics mixed reviews for Play On because she didn't hold back a damn thing. Here are some highlights.
Per usual the album starts with the lead single "Good Girl" which was her official "I'm back, bitches" statement to the country charts, which she has slowly been cracking, showing longevity while others make short stints at the top spots. Think "Cowboy Casanova" being retold to some poor foolishly in love little girl who's about to run of with the absolute worst guy she could end up with. If Carrie Underwood was belting at me like that, I definitely wouldn't go with him. By the end of the song, Carrie's already got you in a dark mood, thinking about some man that pissed you off. The next two songs really took me by surprise. "Blown Away" is easily the greatest story in her discography. It tells the tale of a **** father who meets his maker at the mercy of mother nature, in a vengeful feat by his daughter. Lyrically, the song is a metaphorical powerhouse, "There's not enough rain in Oklahoma to wash the sins out of this house." Whatever went down in that house, she is ready to let it go, including the man who caused it all. If I don't convince you to buy this album by the end of this review, do yourself a favor and buy this track on iTunes.
Underwood stays in Lifetime movie mode with "Two Black Cadillacs" which is another tear-jerking tale, this time about a wife and a mistress who finally meet at the funeral of their mischievous man-whore. Yes, interesting story, but Underwood's delivery in this song makes it all the more chilling. "Forever Changed" is this album's "Temporary Home" or "Just A Dream" and most classically country. The story is really just unnecessarily sad. Having dealt with family or friends that suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's may make this song touchy for some, but every will feel the emotional outpouring from Underwood's subdued deliver.
"One Way Ticket" is pretty much Underwood's own little "Margaritaville." Fun country tune fused with a tropical beat that sounds like a fun time on the beach with a Corona.
I'm hoping "Leave Love Alone" becomes a single. It's the album's most catchy and fun song. I almost, and I hate saying this, chop it up to Sugarland. The tune is just incredible addictive.
Brad Paisley joins the mix on "Cupid's Got A Shotgun" which follows the previous track in being extremely fun and radio ready. I'd love a video for this song more than any other.
Overall, Blown Away just really blows Play On out of the water. Carrie takes everything that's worked well for in the past, critically, and kicks it up a notch. This is only the second album released this year that I feel is worthy of a "Album of the Year" Grammy nomination. (The other honor goes to Lana Del Rey for the cohesive Born to Die LP)
Rating this album isn't hard at all. 3 listens in and I'm actually going to upgrade it one point that I'd originally prepared and give Carrie a 9 out of 10.
Buy this album! Buy this album! Buy this album!… Expand