Lovato has one great and dangerous gift: a voice that can make even the most sentimental, over-reaching metaphors sound like felt emotion. It’s not something that can be learned—it either comes naturally or it doesn’t—but it can be developed, which is where the danger lies. Put too much emphasis on that quality, rely on it too much, and Lovato could end up the Connie Francis of her era, pumping out one godawful piece of dreck after another. So it’s good to see that she’s moving away from the affectations that filled her first few singles. This may be hard to believe if you’re not familiar with her earlier material, but trust me, compared to “Don’t Forget” this is a model of vocal restraint. “Skyscraper” doesn’t have much of a melody, and I have my doubts about the extended metaphor, if only because it conjures up images of 9/11, but it’s still a good record.
T-Pain featuring Joey Galaxy—”Booty Wurk (One Cheek At a Time)”
Forget about The Lonely Island, T-Pain is the best musical comedian around, and he’s even funnier when people, most famously Jay-Z, don’t get the joke. This is one of his best, a ridiculous grind that reminds me of Bo Diddley in it’s refusal to take itself seriously even while being striking musically. As always, the joke revolves around sex, and I wish the guy would go someplace besides strip clubs for his inspiration, but this is great all the same.
Blake Shelton—”God Gave Me You”
This is Shelton at his worst, a shovelful of sentimental horseshit that may or may not have been released to capitalize on his recent marriage to Miranda Lambert. Lambert, meanwhile, has two new singles out, one with Pistol Annies and the other solo. The first is about women who prey on rich, gullible men; the second dumping the excess baggage of a failed relationship. If I were Shelton, I’d consider myself on notice. All the lovey-dovey glop in the world won’t make any difference if he screws up.
Cobra Starship featuring Sabi—”You Make Me Feel…”
Reviewed in Bubbling Under, 5/28/11
Colbie Caillat—”What If”
Caillat is starting to show off. Her songs are getting longer and more complicated, while the sentiments remain as simple, if not simpler, as before. She’s also trying to stretch herself musically, which only takes her, unsurprisingly, deeper into Fleetwood Mac territory. This even ends with a Lindsey Buckingham-style guitar solo. Wake me up when she makes her Tusk.
Blink-182—”Up All Night”
Not as horrible as you might expect, but nothing special, either, and you can still hear the elements that would make this band insufferable if they were emphasized. Maybe age has taught them something, though they seem to deny it (aging, that is; they’ve always thought they were geniuses).
Keith Urban—”Long Hot Summer”
Urban is capable of making decent music, but this isn’t it. The song jumps around all over the place, its only reason for existing to show off as many sides of Urban’s talent as possible. Not that there are all that many.
Alexandra Stan—”Mr. Saxobeat”
Reviewed in Bubbling Under, 7/2/11