Saturday, May 12, 2012

Album Review: Monica "New Life"

Monica follows up her comeback album Still Standing with New Life, an album that, based on the picture painted by the label prior to its release, was supposed to be a rich, soulful effort filled with Missy Elliott-produced, Jazmine Sullivan-penned brilliance. Instead, New Life features tracks that vary both in substance & quality, due in part to her mismatch with writer/producer Rico Love.

After an unnecessary intro that features Mary J. Blige in a speaking-only role, Mo rejoins Brandy, whose voice complements hers perfectly, on the incredible "It All Belongs To Me", a highly underrated collaboration that was well worth the wait. However, without dual diva power to hide his mediocre lyrics, Rico Love's composition "Daddy's Good Girl" (that title...) falls flat, despite Mo's valiant efforts. The album makes up ground a bit with the reggae-tinged "Man Who Has Everything" before heading into "Big Mistake", a signature Monica ballad in vocal styling, though not particularly well-written by Lamb.

Substance is lacking from "Take A Chance", which includes an outstandingly lazy verse from Wale & notes that sounds almost off-key, if not terrible, from Monica. On the contrary, one of the album's highlights is found in the Polow Da Don-produced "Without You" & its intriguing structure, which leads nicely into one of Monica's career-standout songs "Until It's Gone". With the one-two-three-punch of Monica, Missy Elliott, & Jazmine Sullivan to back it up, the heartbreakingly gorgeous ballad features vocals for days!

From Jermaine Dupri, who brought us "Love All Over Me", comes the disappointing "Amazing", which precedes "Cry", another gem from Jazmine Sullivan. Lastly, Polow brings us "Time To Move On", whose subject matter bothers me as a closer to New Life... but more so because, while solid, the track is no way to follow the sweeping brilliance that has come before it (see: "Until It's Gone", "Cry"). And for sanity's sake, we're just going to ignore that ridiculous outro.

Now, my problem with New Life is certainly not Monica's vocals, because she certainly brings those. My issue lies in the fact that not only is there not enough Missy/Jazmine, but Polow doesn't bring his absolute best, JD doesn't bring his best, & Rico, who also has better material, & Monica just don't mix very well. The label may have skimped down on material similar to "Anything (To Find You)" & "Until It's Gone" after they failed to make a splash on the charts, but 1) the dissolution of J Records & Monica's move to RCA prevented proper promotion for "Until It's Gone" to occur & 2) even with the addition of her "The Boy Is Mine" collaborator, Rico's work for Monica didn't perform any better. I say all of this from a place of love because I believe Monica's voice is so strong that it deserves the best material, like bonus track "Catch Me" & the aforementioned "Anything", & despite label politics, in R&B today, when you find your musical soulmates, there's no reason to stray too far from them ("Everything To Me", anyone?!).

New Life: B-

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bring Da Beat Back's 4th Anniversary!

As Bring Da Beat Back celebrates four years online, a new era is about to unfold. Having graduated college & moved on to the real world, life is calling & I will no longer be updating the blog on a day-to-day basis. While there are other outlets out there that provide daily news, I will continue to use BDBB to post album reviews, commentary, & whatever else I feel like when I feel the need. I truly thank each & every one of you that has visited & enjoyed my blog over the last four years, & I hope you will keep Bring Da Beat Back tucked away in your favorites to check up on every now & again!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Dawn Richard "SMFU" Video Preview

Dawn Richard has unleashed a trailer for her first solo video "SMFU (Save Me From U)" off her upcoming debut album GoldenHeart. I really hope the new year inspires people like her, Brandy, Cassie, Monica, Melanie Fiona... (need I go on?) to start making some real moves toward getting some music out!

New Jennifer Lopez "American Idol" Promo Pic

Jennifer Lopez will return to judge a second season of American Idol, the first time in four years the show's judging panel has not seen a change. As long as the crew isn't looking to completely turn the show into Nashville Star, I'm excited for the new season!


Kelly Clarkson Performs On Z100 Jingle Ball 2011

Since U Been Gone

Mr. Know It All

What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) & My Life Would Suck Without You

Kelly Clarkson also performed last month at the 2011 Z100 Jingle Ball. Her latest album Stronger is out now!

OneRepublic "Good Life (Disney Version)" Video Premiere

OneRepublic has recreated their music video for "Good Life" off the album Waking Up with footage from Disney Parks, which has appropriately been using the band's song in their recent promotional material.

Kelly Clarkson "Live From The Troubadour"

Shortly before the release of her new album Stronger, Kelly Clarkson performed a short concert at the Troubadour that was unceremoniously uploaded to VEVO. She sounded great! Here's the setlist:

Dark Side
Mr. Know It All
Already Gone
My Life Would Suck Without You

A Night With Beyonce

Early last month, a special entitled A Night With Beyonce aired in the UK. I thought it was a rehashing of her Live At Roseland DVD like her Thanksgiving specials the last couple of years, but it turns out that it was entirely new footage! (The "I Was Here" performance from last night was from this taping.) Beyonce was having an especially good night vocally, so make sure you check it out, especially the "Countdown" performance! Hosted by everybody favorite on-air personality, The X Factor's Steve Jones, the special features Beyonce answering questions from the audience in between the following performances:

Crazy In Love
At Last
End Of Time
If I Were A Boy/You Oughta Know
Best Thing I Never Had
Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve '12 Performance Highlights

Nicki Minaj - Medley

Nicki Minaj "Super Bass"

Beyonce "I Was Here"

Nicki Minaj shut it down at Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve '12 with performances of her David Guetta collabo "Turn Me On", new single "Roman In Moscow", & biggest hit yet. Beyonce also provided the special with a pre-recorded performance from London (more on that later).