Saturday, October 31, 2009
David begins Christmas From The Heart with several familiar tunes, but have no fear! I promise you he sings them not only in such a way that you'll forget you were ever tired of them, but with such (how do you put his voice into words again?) next-to-Godliness that I simply cannot deny the fact that it is the best I've ever heard the songs sung. First up is "Joy To The World," which has an 'oo' intro to die for & sets the mood exquisitely well. "Angels We Have Heard On High" is sung with surprising maturity (yes, even for David!) & "O Come All Ye Faithful" features that clear, beautiful tone we all know & love. Mr. Archuleta enters epic territory on "Silent Night" with those strings! You feel like you're along for David's journey on "The First Noel," which with, among everything else, that "hallelujah" a little past the halfway mark makes for a personal highlight. Then comes the heartbreakingly gorgeous "O Holy Night." Goodness, this is too much.
Despite having already reached what should be a lifetime limit of singing THAT beautifully for THAT long, David continues on with "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" with guest Charice. They sound good together--even if she makes you realize just how great he is (if I'm being honest!). Alone again, Archie keeps his cool vibe going with the extra-smooth "I'll Be Home For Christmas," but throws ya for a loop with "Pat-A-Pan." As I've seen a number of you say... oh, to hear him do this live! He sings some incredible harmonies here, though they can be found throughout the album & are no small part in the reason I find this album so special.
I can't help but feel that David must be tired from taking so many epic journeys as I listen to "What Child Is This," another gorgeous track. Boy wonder continues to put those amazing pipes to work by singing the foreign language songs "Riu Riu Chiu" & "Ave Maria," the latter of which is just incredible & holds a particularly special place in my heart. David wraps things up with the album's sole newly-written track "Melodies Of Christmas." Though an unmistakable pop Christmas song, Archie does a heck of a job keeping the focus on his wonderful voice.
Christmas From The Heart is easily one of the best Christmas albums out there. There aren't even that many--even of the ones I have--that I love, as I'm not the biggest fan of Christmas music, but you wouldn't be able to tell that if you saw me listening to this one because it's just so darn lovable (just, of course, like David himself)! So, if you don't think Christmas music could possibly be as blissful as I've described above, think again.
Rihanna will finally break her silence about her assault next week with scheduled appearances on ABC's Good Morning America & 20/20. Chances are, she will perform & tease her interview when she visits Good Morning America Thursday, November 5th, followed by some "20/20, Barbara Walters, for real, for real" on Friday, November 6th. It was obviously a smart decision to wait until her new album Rated R (November 23rd) was ready to speak, but my favorite part about it all is that she gets the last word.
Following the pre-release chart success of LeToya's "Regret," her lazy label was forced to shoot a video to capitalize on the Ludacris-assisted song. Lucky us! The track's already beaten its Lady Love predecessors, so hopefully this video is released soon before the song starts to slip (ironically) from lack of promotion.
Thanksgiving night, Beyonce will offer a helping of her "I Am... Yours" CD/DVD, which will be released three days earlier on November 23rd, as a special on ABC @ 8/7c. The intimate event, which you can preview above, will feature performances in addition to behind-the-scenes footage. Beyonce never disappoints, so this show isn't one to miss!
Exhibit A: Janet Jackson's Discipline
Actual Second Single Choice: "Rock With U"
What It Should've Been: "Luv"
Reasoning: Coming off the success of the uptempo first single "Feedback," which was Jackson's highest-charting single in seven years, Discipline was her first #1 album since 'the incident,' so the label naturally went with the hit-worthy uptempo "Luv" next, right? Of course not. Instead, they opted for the midtempo "Rock With U," which went absolutely nowhere.
Exhibit B: LeToya's Lady Love
Actual First Single Choice: "Not Anymore"
What It Should've Been: "Regret"
Reasoning: A few short years after topping the Billboard 200 album chart with her debut, LeToya was ready to unleash her unique urban flair once again with the radio-friendly, lyrically personal "Regret," right? Of course not. Instead, the label went with the weak "Not Anymore" solely based on its big-name producer (Ne-Yo).
Exhibit C: Ciara's Fantasy Ride
Actual First Single Choice: "Go Girl"
What It Should've Been: "I'm On"
Reasoning: After successfully continuing to dominate the charts with the thumping crossover hits on her sophomore album, it was only natural to choose the strong "I'm On" to kick off Ciara's third album, right? Of course not. Instead, the label abandoned Ciara's 'evolution' by releasing the recycled-sounding, T-Pain-featuring "Go Girl."
Now, that's not to say some labels don't rely too much on that old saying. Sometimes, you have to get creative (musically... imagine!) & who knows where the answer may lie:
Exhibit D: Mariah Carey's Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel
Actual Second Single Choice: "I Want To Know What Love Is"
What It Should've Been: "H.A.T.E.U."
Reasoning: When Mariah Carey released the follow-up to her mega-hit album The Emancipation Of Mimi, her label decided to try & mirror the success of having released a big ballad second the last time around, but "Bye Bye" ended up spelling the beginning of the end for that project. Naturally with Carey's next album, the label would take history into consideration when choosing the second single, right? Of course not. Instead, the label opted to go with the big ballad "I Want To Know What Love Is" rather than take a chance on something that might actually have a chance at success. Enter: "H.A.T.E.U." This slow jam has a fresh sound that would give listeners something they haven't heard before from the diva--in the same vein of Mimi, which took a fresher, more R&B turn as compared to some of Mariah's previous work at the time.
Exhibit E: Brandy's Human
Actual First Single Choice: "Right Here (Departed)"
What It Should've Been: "Locket (Locked In Love)"
Reasoning: Despite having been mega-successful a decade ago with ballads like "Have You Ever?," Brandy's new label realized that times had changed & decided to ease her back onto the radio with a song that would please both new & old fans, right? Of course not. Instead, they released the meaningful midtempo "Right Here (Departed)," which had no chance of radio airplay &, therefore, gaining Brandy any new fans. Enter: "Locket (Locked In Love)." The beat-driven jam would've fit right into radio & allowed a little talent to slip back atop the charts.
Probably the most interesting aspect of this analysis is one that I have yet to even mention. Almost every one of the single suggestions I've discussed was actually the choice of the artist who sings it as well! Labels are surrounded by unfamiliar waters when it comes to the marketing of an artist's new music these days & they tend to make the wrong decision when faced with a situation they aren't used to. Who might they go to to help them make these decisions? How about someone who has spent an immeasurably larger amount of time with the music in question? ... What is that I hear? You want an example of this working? At your service:
Exhibit F: Mario's Go Vs. D.N.A.
First Single Off Go: "How Do I Breathe" (Label's Choice)
Hot 100 Peak: #46
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Peak: #18
First Single Off D.N.A.: "Break Up" (Mario's Choice)
Hot 100 Peak: #14
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Peak: #2
And don't even make me get into how lethal it is to the buzz of an album if you wait to release it past the peak of its first single in favor of a second single release...
What this all comes down to is that in order to make an effective decision creatively in a changing market, consulting with and considering the choices of the creative party is of vital importance. In the end, the general public doesn't care how many big names you have working behind-the-scenes on the track & they certainly aren't interested in listening to stale regurgitations of the songs they heard a few years ago. They keep the radio on if they like what they hear & turn it off if they don't.
Friday, October 30, 2009
1. Music Again
2. For Your Entertainment
3. Whataya Want From Me
6. Sure Fire Winners
7. A Loaded Smile
8. If I Had You
9. Pick U Up
13. Broken Open
14. Time For Miracles (Bonus Track)
Unlike Kris Allen's tracklisting, there's a lot of familiar titles here, so that's cool. We've already learned the background of a number of these songs, but here are a couple new tidbits: "Fever" is the track from Lady Gaga & Ryan Tedder produced "Sleepwalker." Now, back to blasting "For Your Entertainment" on repeat...
UPDATE: Another track, titled "Pick U Up," was added to the tracklisting! I've slipped it into its place above @ #9.
The song's got a great vibe to it & Melanie was the perfect choice to do the hook!
Recording "Perfectly Different"
Listening To "Perfectly Different"
Watch Karina record a new song she penned called "Perfectly Different," then listen to the final product. This young'n is so talented! I have high hopes for her sophomore album, due next year.
"3" is Britney Spears' first single lifted from her forthcoming compilation album The Singles Collection (November 10th). The video had a little more promise than the final product. I mean, I like it & Britney is dancing to a degree, but as was/should've been expected, her heart's just not in it like it used to be. The girl sure can make a mean pop song though!
Adam Lambert premiered "For Your Entertainment," his first single off the album For Your Entertainment (November 23rd), this morning. I looove it! Pop brilliance. The single cover is amazing too! I can't even put into words how excited I am for his debut album. It will NOT disappoint!
"I'm flyer than a muthasucka like an aviator" ... "baby, I'm so fly--no touchin' my swagger" ... Brandy, you can have me. I'm yours for the taking.
Alicia Keys helped Jay-Z encourage the Yankees after their loss with a performance of the pair's hit "Empire State Of Mind" off The Blueprint 2 during the second game of the World Series. I ain't even from New York, but Alicia always gets me actin' all Lil' Mama-like on my couch when she belts that hook! Derek Jeter seemed to be enjoying it too... & it must've worked because the Yankees went on to win!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Even though it's his song, Mario seemingly assisted Gucci Mane in a performance of "Break Up" earlier this week at the 2009 BET Hip Hop Awards. As the performance continues, Gucci gets into one of his own songs (though it might be worth sitting through to watch Plies' chain snap!) This particular one was alright (the first half anyway), but how long was this show--2 hours? Oh, the migraine it would've given me. On the contrary, be sure to pick up Mario's fourth album D.N.A. soon!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Here's a 30-second sneak peek at the video for Jay-Z's new single "Empire State Of Mind" with Alicia Keys off The Blueprint 3. The black-&-white doesn't 'inspire' me, but the video looks promising nonetheless. Definitely epic-y. See Alicia? THIS is how people wanna hear you sing!
So, I actually like Usher on the chorus & even more during his part towards the end. The main problem I have with this song is that I kept thinking "Why are you yelling at me?!" the whole time...
[Source, Source, Source]
Melanie Fiona has put together a pair of really cool clips from both Canada & NYC where she sang some of the songs off her debut album The Bridge (which hits stores November 10th) with talented musicians she found on the street. In the Canada video above, Melanie sings "You Stop My Heart" & "It Kills Me," while she performs "Sad Songs," "Bang Bang," & "Please Don't Go (Cry Baby)" in the below NYC video. Ms. Fiona never ceases to amaze me with her outstanding talent & her ability to sound exactly like, or better than, her recordings. I also wanna mention that I think the instrument the guy plays during "Sad Songs" is freaking awesome. Once again, if you like what you hear, Melanie's album The Bridge is available on iTunes now.
Mya amazed with the Jitterbug during her sixth week on Dancing With The Stars & survived a double elimination, but with no help from two of the three judges. Aside from Bruno, the judging panel has lost their minds! Seriously, guys, if you've never watched one of these videos, now is the time. Vote Team D-Mya! I've also included Mya & her partner's recent visit to The Ellen DeGeneres Show below as a bonus. Mya's mixtape Beauty & The Streets: Vol. 1 is out now.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Pts. 1 & 2
On a recent episode of Project Runway, the designers had to create a dress that would be appropriate for Christina Aguilera to wear on stage. Christina made an appearance on the show as a guest judge. Above, I've included the entire episode, but since Christina doesn't appear until the end of the third part, you won't really miss anything if you simply start there. Now, I've never seen the show before, but I got into this! I'm no fashion expert, but after watching this, it appears to me that no one REALLY is... it's all just a matter of opinion. For example, I thought the worst outfit of the bunch was that sleeping gown-looking thing Irina made. I also thought the dress that was designed by the eliminated contestant was good! Ah well.
On November 6th, Dondria will FINALLY release SOMETHING! She'll be presenting to us her mixtape titled "Dondria's Duets." Above, you can check out a sneak peek at what's to come. If you're hungry for more though, you might wanna check out the blog's Twitter. You may, however, want to skip from 2:22 to 5:00; I'm only being honest because 1) it has nothing to do with Dondria & 2) I wish I hadn't sat through it.
UPDATE: JD posted a second video featuring clips of songs from Dondria's upcoming mixtape. It's nice while it lasts, but once again, be warned: The last two minutes have nothing to do with Dondria:
UPDATE #2: You know the drill (plus you might wanna drop by the blog's Twitter one more time...):
Jordin Sparks' episode of The Suite Life On Deck aired this past weekend & here are all her scenes from it. It sure is too bad that song didn't make her album..! Speaking of which, Battlefield is available now.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Everybody is doing things today involving foreign countries & words that aren't in English! Anyway, Leona Lewis performed the first single "Happy" off her upcoming sophomore album Echo (November 17th) again recently on something in Switzerland. Hey, the song's no "I Got You," but it's alright. Alongside the new albums from Adam Lambert & Monica, Echo is one of my most anticipated releases before the year's end.
Mariah Carey - "Touch My Body" & "Obsessed"
Mariah Carey "Fantasy (Remix)"
Ciara "Love Sex Magic"
Ciara - "1, 2 Step" & "Work"
Estelle "American Boy"
Dirty Money "I'll Be Missing You"
Mariah Carey, Ciara, Estelle, & Dirty Money were all in Brazil to perform at the Oi Fashion Rocks event. I love that Mariah brought out that "Fantasy" remix, even if I'm not too sure of the point if she wasn't gonna sing it. Ciara's set was nothing short of scorching! Happy Birthday to one of today's best performers! Dirty Money also performed "Mo Money Mo Problems," but 1) the only video online, well, sucks & 2) the girls didn't sing. As for Estelle, I can hardly wait for her next album!
UPDATE: Turns out, Estelle read my mind & decided to perform a new song titled "Back To Love Again" as well! I love how she's able to find the perfect medium between staying fresh & using old school influences:
Keri Hilson has a fresh song called "I Like" on the soundtrack for some new German movie. I do actually quite like the song, especially the chorus. My only problem with it is that is doesn't really feel like a Keri song, being that there's no urban influence to it whatsoever (...which is also the case with today's Usher leak--I'm pretty sure they were separated at birth, actually.) I'm a pop fan too though, so I can appreciate it for what it is.
I Want To Know What Love Is
Mariah Carey recently visited Korea & performed a pair of songs lifted from her new album Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel on a TV show called Sketchbook-something-or-other. There was also an interview in Korean, which I will not be posting for obvious reasons, but you can check the blog's Twitter for more about that. I don't care if it's lipsynched--that live ending of "H.A.T.E.U." is LIFE! Her label is really pissing me off at the moment, completely allowing all of the buzz from "Obsessed" die away before they make another move. Mr. Reid, here's what you're going to do: release "H.A.T.E.U.," shoot the video for it, & promote the song until the wheels fall off. Any questions? Didn't think so.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Mario has finally, at the end of the week after his new album's release, performed in support of D.N.A. He sang "Thinkin' About You," followed by "Break Up" with Sean Garrett on It's On With Alexa Chung. It's good to finally see him doing some promo. Don't sleep on D.N.A. now!
UPDATE: It turns out the album WILL be pushed back to December 15th, according to Alicia herself, who tweeted that the delay is to allow for the recording of additional material. Sure, Alicia, whatever you say.
Check out this brand new clip of Karina in the studio listening to her just-recorded song "When You're In Love." The ballad was produced by Gordon Chambers & Barry Eastmond, the duo behind Karina's own "Slow Motion." I think the song is absolutely gorgeous & just might be better than their previous collaboration. I'm really, really anticipating Karina's next album.
UPDATE: Here's some actual footage of Karina recording "When You're In Love." Wow! I also replaced the above video (the original one was deleted) with a shorter one that still plays the song. I have to say that the glare she gives the camera (above) is adorable.
"Had It All"
Katharine McPhee performed "Had It All," the first single lifted from her upcoming sophomore album Unbroken (January 5th), & sat down for an interview on FOX 5 a little while back. It's no surprise that she sounded great live & that undeniable talent is the main reason I'm looking forward to her new album!
Friday, October 23, 2009
1. Live Like We're Dying (Andrew Frampton & Steve Kipner)
2. Before We Come Undone* (Greg Kurstin)
3. Can't Stay Away* (Mike Elizondo)
4. The Truth (Toby Gad)
5. Written All Over My Face (Andrew Frampton & Steve Kipner)
6. Bring It Back* (Eg White)
7. Red Guitar* (Mike Flynn & Warren Huart)
8. Is It Over* (Mike Elizondo)
9. Let It Rain* (Tobias Karlsson)
10. Alright With Me* (Mike Flynn & Joe King)
11. Lifetime* (Mike Elizondo)
12. I Need To Know* (Toby Gad)
13. Heartless (Bonus Track)
A * indicates that Kris helped write the song, so as you can see, Kris had a large part in contributing to the writing duties of the album, including "Red Guitar," which he wrote all by himself a year-&-a-half ago. Also evident is the absence of several names Kris was confirmed to have worked with (Claude Kelly, David Hodges, Alex Band, Kevin Rudolf, Salaam Remi), so that's a bit disappointing, but 1) I won't knock it till I try it, 2) maybe the tracks they came up with didn't gel with the overall sound of the album, & 3) that just means the bonus tracks that are always abundant from these post-Idol releases will probably be great. With all that said, my interest in his album has increased with his recent promo, as I was mainly just concentrated on Adam Lambert's goings-on (which are still a higher priority for me).
P.S. Am I the only one that finds it funny, yet appropriate, that "Heartless," rather than "No Boundaries," is being included on the album?
Good Love (Do It Again)
[Source, Source, Source]
Thursday, October 22, 2009