Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New songs and more thoughts

Kelly Clarkson ~ "My Life Would Suck Without You"

This song is already, in its 2nd week on the chart, a Billboard Hot 100 #1 hit and just set the record for the biggest jump to number one in one week, from #97-1. I think this song is a return to the older Kelly Clarkson songs, like "Since U Been Gone", "Walk Away" and "Behind These Hazel Eyes". I have a feeling her album is going to be a #1 hit as well and sell pretty well.

Now as for the song, it's catchy, the kind of song that grows on you. It's pop, but it has enough of a rock edge not to be too sticky and sweet. I didn't really like it that much at first, but after repeat listening, it gets into your head - and it stays there. And isn't that the mark of any true great pop song?

Flo Rida ~ "Right Round"
#102 Billboard Hot 100...
although it was just released on the 20th so wait a while, this one's going Top 10 for sure

This song is absolutely addicting. Maybe it's the Dead or Alive sample, maybe it's the fact I know I should hate it, but I already know that every time this song comes on at a club, my first instinct will be to throw my purse down and go dance. Yeah, it's just another song about a stripper, it's been done a hundred times (Akon, Snoop Dogg, T-Pain)...but this one is so much better. I'm ashamed. But at least I'm honest!

Also adding to the buzz is that it definitely features some singer named Kesha, but is rumoured to feature Katy Perry as well...who knows?

Fall Out Boy ~ "America's Suitehearts"
can't find a chart position for this one, it may not have charted?

The verses in this song are a lot weaker than those in their previous single "I Don't Care", but the chorus is typical Fall Out Boy, soaring and arrogant. And I mean that in that nicest way possible, Pete Wentz, and I don't think you'd disagree.

At first, I wrote that this song was a "good but not great" Fall Out Boy song. I have to say after repeat listening this song just gets into your head, and it has grown on me a lot. I could listen to it over and over, and that's saying something!

Kanye West ~ "Heartless"
#3 Billboard Hot 100

Let's get this straight: I am not a Kanye West fan. Yes, I listen to "Stronger" when I run on the treadmill, but it must be the most perfect workout song ever written. I even hate his new Auto-Tune phase. But yes, you knew it was coming, I love this song. Despite the computerized aspects of the song, at least there's some real emotion behind it and I love the lyrics.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Now That's What I Call Motown

The "Now That's What I Call Music" series (often abbreviated "NOW") is like the Energizer keeps going and going and going... OK, I admit I own NOW 2 - 7, those were released from 1999-2001... I think I got a little fed up with the series around Now 8. Must have been the inclusion of "Clint Eastwood" by the Gorillaz - God, I hated that song.

I believe the latest NOW is the 29th in the series (England's on Now 71, by comparison - but they started releasing them in 1984). The NOW series serve as nice compliations of the most popular music at the time, always featuring a variety of genres, from pop, rap, rock, R&B, and most recently - country. Although you have to wonder how much money changed hands to include some of these tracks - a Baha Men single called "Move It Like This"? Who knew they had any other songs besides "Who Let The Dogs Out"? - most of them are a pretty accurate representation of radio at the time.

Most recently, the NOW series has expanded into completely different sets, such as three Christmas NOW CDs, and other sets like: Now That's What I Call Party Hits, Classic Rock, Country, the 80's, the Best of Now: 10th Anniversary Edition, and my new absolute favorite:

NOW That's What I Call Motown!

I checked this CD out from the library and I ran out to Best Buy and bought it the next day. Because it is just that good. And it's on sale for $11.99 this week!

These songs are pop perfection in their purest forms. There is a reason why the Motown name is so famous, and these songs are it. Whoever put "My Guy" and "My Girl" next to each other on the CD was genius. Although this compilation is a little heavy on Marvin Gaye (4 songs), he is one of the greatest 60's era artists out there and each of his songs merits inclusion. How tragic it was to lose such a talent so early.

There is really not one bad song on this CD. Driving and listening to it in the morning puts a smile on my face, and I am sure other people on the road are amused by the huge grin on my face as I "car dance" and sing to all these awesome songs.

Track listing (from Wikipedia)

  1. Barrett Strong – "Money (That's What I Want)" (2:36)
  2. The Marvelettes – "Please Mr. Postman" (2:29)
  3. The Miracles – "Shop Around" (2:49)
  4. The Contours – "Do You Love Me (2:53)
  5. Martha and the Vandellas – "Dancing in the Street (2:39)
  6. Mary Wells – "My Guy" (2:52)
  7. The Temptations – "My Girl" (2:58)
  8. The Supremes – "Stop! In the Name of Love" (2:52)
  9. Junior Walker & the All Stars – "Shotgun" (3:19)
  10. Four Tops – "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" (2:45)
  11. The Supremes – "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (2:41)
  12. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing " (2:13)
  13. Marvin Gaye – "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (3:13)
  14. The Temptations – "I Can't Get Next to You" (2:52)
  15. The Jackson 5 – "I Want You Back" (2:59)
  16. Stevie Wonder – "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" (2:39)
  17. Edwin Starr – "War" (3:22)
  18. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – "The Tears of a Clown" (3:00)
  19. Marvin Gaye – "What's Going On" (3:54)
  20. Gladys Knight & the Pips – "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)" (4:23)
  21. Marvin Gaye – "Let's Get It On" (4:52)
  22. The Miracles – "Love Machine (Part 1)" (3:00)
  23. Commodores – "Brick House" (3:28)
  24. Diana Ross – "Upside Down" (4:03)
  25. Rick James – "Super Freak" (3:24)

Now I'm going to wait for "Now That's What I Call Music: The 90's".....probably in the next year or so! Or "Now That's What I Call Music: Teen Pop" - can you only imagine who would be included on this one? Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, maybe some Menudo, Britney, Backstreet Boys, Mandy Moore, NSYNC, Miley Cyrus...I can't wait!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What I've Been Listening To Lately

Lately, I've been discovering for the first time a bunch of albums released in the past few years that I somehow missed the first time around. And they've also been albums I've never expected to like. Just don't tell my Skid Row albums I've been listening to these.

Fall Out Boy ~ Infinity On High (2007)
RIAA certified platinum

Yes, there is something a little melodramatic about Pete Wentz's extremely long song titles and the blustering, pompous crunch of his lyrics - but the appeal of this album is undeniable. "Golden" is a beautiful piano ballad that is the definition of short but sweet. "Hallelujah" borrows elements from the Jeff Buckley version of the same song - the weakest point of the song, but it is certainly interesting. A lot of the lyrics' subject matter deal with the same topics as past FOB albums - love, old girlfriends, and rejection - but this album adds a new topic - fame, and all the highs and lows that go along with it. This album is perhaps their most interesting work.

Best songs:

* "I'm Like A Lawyer With The Way I'm Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You)" -- yes I wasn't joking about long song titles
* "Thanks For The Memories"
* "G.I.N.A.S.F.S." - from the deluxe edition bonus CD (it stands for Gay is Not A Synonym For Stupid)
* "Don't You Know Who I Think I Am"

Maroon 5 ~ "Call & Response: The Remix Album" (2008)

Remix albums are a little bit superfluous, unless you're Mariah Carey and actually record new vocals for your remixes. I love Britney, but I won't be buying her "B In The Mix: The Remixes" (2005) album any time soon. But Maroon 5 broke the mold with this album. It's ambitious and it breathes new life into their already excellent music.

As one reviewer commented, this album is remixed by people who actually seem to love this music. Mark Ronson's remix of "Wake Up Call" features new vocals by Mary J. Blige, changing the meaning of the song from one jilted lover's kiss off to his cheating ex to two lovers fighting over their extracurricular activites. The Just Blaze remix of "Makes Me Wonder" turns the song into a slow ballad which enunicates all of Adam Levine's quickly delievered lyrics. Unfortunately, the remix drags on instrumentally about two minutes too long at the end. But it's still genuis.

Best songs:
* "Little Of Your Time" (Bloodshy & Avant Remix)
* "Wake Up Call" (Mark Ronson Remix f. Mary J. Blige)
* "Shiver" (DJ Quik Remix)
* "If I Never See Your Face Again" (Swizz Beatz Remix)

Justin Timberlake ~ "Future Sex/Love Sounds" (2006)
RIAA certified 4x platinum, worldwide 9x platinum

Yes, this album has been overplayed to death, but if you take the time to listen to it, really listen to it, it's a pure piece of R&B/pop heaven. Timberlake really covers all his bases on this one, from dance hits to slow ballads. The production is flawless. Timberlake really proves with this one that he was more than just a pretty face, or an ex-boy band member. It's the perfect CD for driving around with your friends.

Best songs:
* "Love Stoned/I Think She Knows"
* "Until The End of Time"
* "What Goes Around Comes Around"
* "Sexy Back"