Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull—“Dance Again”
The music on the chorus is too garish, and Pitbull is wasted, but the verses are great, and this record officially establishes Lopez’s comeback as more successful than Madonna’s. Of course, Lopez achieved this by ripping off the more easily copied bits of Madonna’s style, but she still has the advantage. Does MDNA have any tracks produced by RedOne? Sounds like it should have.
Kanye West featuring Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz—“Mercy”
In just about every way, West’s rap doesn’t fit this song: it breaks the flow, simplifies the beat while complicating the record as a whole, and shows up everyone else’s ignorance by promoting his own intelligence. It’s as if he expects the whole world to come to a halt every time he opens his mouth. Gee, I wonder what that could be a metaphor for? But aside from the exotic main beat, his rap is the only thing that makes this record interesting. West is right: those other guys should shut up and go home.
Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw—“Feel Like A Rock Star”
My problem with this, besides how dull and cliched it is, is that I can’t get the image of Cheney and McGraw performing it on the ACM Awards out of my head. With Chesney in his sleeveless, fuchsia t-shirt and white cowboy hat, and McGraw in his black v-neck, leather pants, and black leather cowboy hat, they looked like country’s most prominent ambiguously gay couple. The lyrics, with turns of phrase that could easily be taken for gay slang, don’t help matters. Are they trying to tell us something? If they are, that would be the only interesting thing about this record.
“Right By My Side” (featuring Chris Brown), #51
“Beez In the Trap” (featuring 2 Chainz), #78
“Va Va Voom”, #79
“Beez In the Trap” is a classic, “Va Va Voom” likable but nothing special, “Right By My Side” another of Minaj’s unfortunate forays into generic pop (on which, once again, she does an expert Rihanna impersonation). So goes another week in the life of the most promising and frustrating rapper of the last two years. And now she’s cut herself off from Twitter and is complaining about lackluster sales. I suspect if she had only released “Starships” and “Beez In the Trap” before the album came out, instead of all the Roman stuff, that wouldn’t have been a problem (just because you’re the female Weezy doesn’t mean you have to match his release schedule). Whatever the case, it sounds like she could use a vacation.
DJ Khaled feturing Chris Brown, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Lil Wayne—“Take It To the Head”
Sub-par performances all around on the latest, less boomy than usual, Khaled extravaganza. Only Brown sounds like he’s interested. Bet he ends up wishing he hadn’t wasted that hook.
Demi Lovato—“Give Your Heart A Break”
Interesting. This is from Lovato’s LP Unbroken, which came out last September. It’s only the second official single from the album, and releasing something bright and bouncy after the ballad, “Skyscraper”, makes perfect sense, but it’s impossible not to wonder if its release doesn’t have something to do with the success of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. Aside from the lyrics, the first few bars are almost identical. So is this a cash-in? Lovato establishing a prior claim? It’s easy to imagine that Jepsen and her producers drew on this for inspiration, so is this release Lovato’s way of calling them on it? Whatever the case, it’s a great record, if not as great as Jepsen’s. It’s good to hear Lovato doing something upbeat that doesn’t focus on vulnerability or depend on her usual vocal tics.
T.I.—“Love This Life”
It’s an interesting stylistic change-up, but the lyrics are the same-old “the way to a woman’s heart is through your credit card” nonsense. Even when he gets around to mentioning love and affection in the second verse he still ends up talking about all the stuff he’s bought her. Which finally makes me realize why I’ve always had a problem with T.I.: under all the beats and the great flow, he’s as shallow as they come.
Fat Joe featuring Chris Brown—“Another Round”
I congratulate Joe on his weight loss. It’s a hard thing to do. But all I can say about this record is that the adjective in his name still applies to his head. And that goes double for Chris Brown.
Andy Grammer—“Fine By Me”
Not by me, you smarmy twit.
Of Monsters and Men—“Little Talks”
I knew there would be Mumford and Son imitators, and I knew they would be terrible, but I didn’t know they’d be quite as bad as this. I’m reminded of the ghastly folk-pop groups of the mid-sixties, The We Five, maybe, or even The Seekers. This is faster and rougher, because that’s the style, but the result is pretty much the same: pseudo-folk for pseudo-folkies, only this time with blaring, witless horn charts. Some things just never die.
Gloriana—“(Kissed You) Good Night”
As followers in the footsteps of Lady Antebellum, these guys are almost as good, which means they’re almost as bad, too. I appreciate the romanticism, but there’s something unsettling about the line “I should have pushed you up against the wall”, especially when the woman sings it. I’m sure it’s meant in all innocence, but the possessive, domineering tone of it (after he’s admitted to being scared to kiss her in the first place), followed by the woman’s submissive tone when she repeats it, grates and sets off alarms. It’s kind of creepy. Takes all the romanticism right out of it, at least for me.
K’Naan featuring Nelly Furtado—“Is Anybody Out There?”
Two years ago K’Naan was making great records about racism and the horrors of living in Somalia; now he’s singing It Gets Better songs over Smeezingtons-wannabe beats. Furtado sounds so anonymous that every time I hear this I need to strain to remember who it is. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
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