Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Beyoncé Releases Her Best Album

Last month Beyoncé released her fifth album with 20 minutes notice. This surprise, self-titled record is her best. While I find her to be overrated Beyoncé does make some good music and this album is her best.
Dubbed a "visual album" each song has it's own music video and there are three bonus videos. The album explores insecurity, beauty, motherhood, relationships, female empowerment and sexuality. The music incorporates R&B, trap, hip hop, electro, soul and indie influences and shows Beyoncé experimenting with new sounds. Gone is the cookie cutter R&B singer of her first few albums and here we have a woman who is not afraid to try new sounds.
Beyoncé shows strength on songs like "Partition,"  "Blow" and "Rocket." These songs are sexual and contain a certain sexuality. First single "Drunk in Love" featuring husband Jay-Z also embody sexuality and lust.
While Beyoncé shows her strength she also shows some of her most vulnerable points on songs like "Pretty Hurts," "Blue" which features her daughter Blue Ivy, "Jealous," "Mine," and "Heaven." These songs are where Beyoncé really shines. "Pretty Hurts" deals with pageant girls and is a female empowerment anthem that has small spots of insecurity in it's lyrics.
"Just another stage/ Pageant the pain away/ This time I'm gonna take the crown/ Without falling down, down," Beyoncé sings during the first verse.
"Blue" is a song dedicated to her daughter and shows how much she loves her. "Jealous" deals with jealousy and shows Beyoncé channeling Lana Del Rey. "Mine" features Drake and is a song that deals with post partum depression. "Heaven" is a gorgeous ballad that discusses the death of a loved one. This song is perhaps the most vulnerable Beyoncé has ever been.
The album's two best songs are "Flawless" and "XO." "Flawless" is a trap influenced song that deals with female empowerment. The song features writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reciting an excerpt of her speech "We should all be feminists..."  The song exudes confidence is shows Beyoncé at her best.
"Bow down bitches," Beyoncé sings repeatedly during the first verse.
Single "XO" is a gorgeous electronic pop ballad that features influences of indie pop. It's a gorgeous love song and shows Beyoncé being vulnerable and talking about her relationship with Jay-Z.
Another album highlight is "Grown Woman." This is one of the bonus videos and was featured in her Pepsi commercials. This song is a fast paced song that should be on the actual album and could very well be a single.
All in all Beyoncé changed the game with this record. Her surprise release will definitely shift the way the music industry works and that's a good thing.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top 10 Albums of 2013

10. The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1-Five Finger Death Punch
The metal titan's fourth album is their best by far. With guest appearances by Maria Brink of In This Moment, Rob Halford from Judas Priest, Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed, Max Cavalera from Soulfly and Tech N9ne, the band experimented and released some of their most aggressive music to date. The album's sequel which came out later in the year is also phenomenal. The album's best song is "Anywhere but Here" the duet version with Maria Brink.
Key Tracks: "Lift Me Up" freaturing Rob Halford, "Watch You Bleed," "You," "Wrong Side of Heaven," Burn MF," I.M. Sin," "Anywhere but Here," duet with Maria Brink, "Dot Your Eyes," and "Mama Said Knock You Out" featuring Tech N9ne.
9. The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2- Justin Timberlake
The pop star shocked us with his come back this year with not one, but two amazing albums. The second part of his opus was better though, however check out part 1 as well. This album had a more urban sound than part 1's neo soul vibes. The songs dealt with breakups or love and sex. Timberlake showed us that he can still be a viable musical force after all these years. The best song is the opening track "Gimmie What I Don't Know (I Want)."
Key Tracks: "Gimmie What I Don't Know (I Want)," "TKO," "Murder" featuring Jay-Z, "Drink You Away," "Amnesia," "Only When I Walk Away," "Not a Bad Thing" the bonus track "Pair of Wings.
8. Side Effects of You-Fantasia
Fantasia really outdid herself on her fourth record. The soul singer incorporated rock elements into her music and discovered explicit language. The singer also wrote a lot of the songs where she didn't do that so much in the past. The album's best songs are "Without Me" featuring Missy Elliott and Kelly Rowland and the title track.
Key Tracks: "Supernatural Love" featuring Big K.R.I.T., "Without Me" featuring Missy Elliott and Kelly Rowland, "Side Effects of You," Get it Right," "So Much to Prove," "Change Your Mind," "Lighthouse," "Lose to Win," "End of Me," "In Deep" and the bonus track "To the Heavens."
7. Gravel & Wine-Gin Wigmore
Gin Wigmore's sophomore album was released in 2011 but it was only released in the United States in 2013. Wigmore's music mixes pop, rock, blues and folk to make a soulful, sassy blend of music. The best song is the second American single "Black Sheep."
Key Tracks: "Black Sheep," "Man Like That," "Poison," "Kill of the Night," " Devil in Me," "If Only," "Dirty Love," "Happy Ever After," "Saturday Smile," "Sweet Hell" featuring Butch Walker and the bonus tracks "Don't Stop" and "Kick This Love."
6. Save Rock and Roll-Fall Out Boy
Pop punk kings Fall Out Boy returned this year with an album that is more pop than rock. The album was a loud return for the band who hadn't released an album since 2008. The album mixes elements of dance, hip hop and punk into the tunes. The best songs are "The Phoenix" and "Just One Yesterday" featuring Foxes.
Key Tracks: "The Phoenix," My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)," "Alone Together," "Where Did the Party Go," "Just One Yesterday" featuring Foxes, "Miss Missing You," "Death Valley," "Rat a Tat" featuring Courtney Love, and "Save Rock and Roll" featuring Elton John.
5. True Romance-Charli XCX
The singer behind Icona Pop's epic single "I Love It" released her own debut album this year and it's very unique. The album mixes in synthpop with indie, new wave, R&B and house music. The lyrics are all about different sides of love. The best songs are "You (Ha Ha Ha)," "Stay Away" and "Black Roses."
Key Tracks: All of them.
4. Mosquito-Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The art rock band went indie rock on their fourth album which isn't as phenomenal as their debut but is better than their third album and that improvement is aplenty on this record. The album's best songs are "Sacrilege," "Mosquito" and 'Under the Earth," "Despair" and Wedding Song."
Key Tracks: "Sacrilege," Mosquito," "Under the Earth," "These Paths," Area 52," "Buried Alive" featuring Dr. Octagon, "Despair" and "Wedding Song."
3. Trouble-Natalia Kills
Pop singer Natalia Kills doesn't get the credit she's due. The singer who's sophomore album is like Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey somehow had a baby who made pop music with guitars, it'd be Natalia Kills. On this album, Kills tackles personal issues like her family life, childhood and relationships gone wrong. The album's best tracks are "Television," "Devils Don't Fly" and "Marlboro Lights."
Key Tracks: "Television," "Problem," "Boys Don't Cry," "Daddy's Girl," "Saturday Night," "Devils Don't Fly," "Controversy," "Rabbit Hole," and "Marlboro Lights."
2. Artpop-Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga needs no introduction. While this album isn't her best, it also isn't her worst either. It shows a lot of experimentation. The album mixes in EDM, rock, R&B and hip hop elements into her music. The album's best song is "Dope."
Key Tracks: "Aura," Venus," "Jewels n Drugs" featuring T.I., Too Short and Twista, "MANiCURE," "Do What You Want" featuring R. Kelly, "Swine" "Mary Jane Holland," "Dope," Gypsy," "Applause."
1. Paramore-Paramore
The band prove on this album that they can do fine without what's their names? The lyrics talk about looking forward and just wanting to have fun and dealing with inner demons, as well as usual love songs. The album's best songs are "Fast in My Car," "Grow Up," "Part II," "Ain't It Fun," and "Still Into You."
Key Tracks: "Fast in My Car, "Now," "Grow Up," "Interlude: Moving On," "Ain't it Fun," "Part II," "Still Into You," "Anklebiters," "Interlude: Holiday," "Proof," "Hate to See Your Heart Break," "Interlude: I'm Not Angry Anymore," and "Be Alone."

B.o.B Gets Hip Hop On New Album

B.o.B has always been a rapper with more pop sensibilities than most. Only he can work with such mainstream artists such as Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift and Hayley Williams of Paramore and still keep the respect of the streets.
On Underground Luxury, B.o.B's third album he stays away from mainstream guest appearances. Aside from Chris Brown, T.I. and Priscilla Renea the guests are far more, well, underground. While  this is definitely his worst album, it's still a good record. Some of his solo songs blend together, but most of the songs are memorable.
The two best songs are the singles "John Doe" which features Priscilla Renea and "Headband" which features 2 Chainz. "John Doe" is by far the best song though. It features Renea singing a chorus of sadness playing John Doe's love interest While B.o.B  plays the addict.
"John Doe, I just want the John I know/ Once you put the drinks on hold/ Maybe you could come back home/ John Doe," Renea sings sadly during the chorus.
This is the best song and with a song this good it makes the other songs sound like filler. Most of the songs blend together and are broken up by the memorable songs like "Ready" which features Future, "Coastline," "Wide Open" which features Esther Dean and  "We Still In This Bitch" which features T.I. and Juicy J.
Without these songs the record would be nothing more than filler and background music. The problem is that B.o.B is that he works better with a guest appearance on the song. He works better with a Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj or Rivers Cuomo like on is first two albums. For his next record he would do good to have more guest appearances to help him hold his own.