• MTV article: P!nk - The World's Most Underrated Superstar

    Gen 9 2010, 14:38

    Article by James Montgomery, Oct. 7, 2009.
    SOURCE: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1623246/20091006/story.jhtml

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    Singer's ultra-personal songs and high-flying stage show set her apart from traditional pop stars, in Bigger Than the Sound. By James Montgomery

    A few weeks ago, as I sat in Radio City Music Hall watching Pink dangle upside down from a trapeze bar some 60 feet above my head, risking life and limb (and avoiding a wardrobe malfunction) while positively nailing the chorus of "Sober" — the smart, stunning song she co-wrote with "American Idol" judge Kara DioGuardi — I sort of realized something:

    P!nk is totally underrated.

    Think about it. She is a fabulously fearless pop artist, as comfortable taking on George W. Bush as she is hanging like a bat from the rafters of Radio City. She is clever and funny and unflinching, willing to take her (oft volatile) personal life and turn it into grist for hit singles. She is a deceptively good singer, something she is rarely given credit for (check "Just Like a Pill" or "God Is a DJ" or the chorus of "Sober" for proof). She recorded a Beck song and wrote tunes with Rancid's Tim Armstrong. She has tons of tattoos and used to wear her hair like Wendy O. Williams from the Plasmatics. She has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, landed countless Billboard hits, and her Funhouse tour is currently the ninth highest-grossing jaunt of the year.

    And yet, if you were to make a list of the biggest pop stars, Pink probably wouldn't even crack the top five. This doesn't seem right to me, though I think I understand why it tends to happen. Unlike Britney Spears or Lady Gaga or Christina Aguilera or Miley or Taylor Swift, Pink is not a pure pop star. She's multifaceted, an amalgamation of many things and many eras, not easily categorized or digested.

    To wit, Pink is kind of a rock star (remember when she was going to play Janis Joplin in a biopic?). She is kind of a party girl. She is kind of an R&B diva too (or, at least, she used to be). And she's created a particular niche in the pop universe that somehow manages to combine all those things. Her songs — particularly those on the Funhouse album (which, it should be noted, she originally wanted to call Heartbreak Is a Mother----er) — are angry, funny, pissy and rife with honesty. It isn't a perfect album, and it isn't supposed to be: It's a human one, about imperfect love and imperfect situations. At times, it's even downright depressing ("Please Don't Leave Me," "Crystal Ball"), which, considering it's supposed to be a pop album, is pretty ballsy. Not to mention impressive.

    And given that Funhouse landed Pink her first-ever Billboard Hot 100 #1 ("So What") and has sold 5 million copies worldwide, it means she's basically pulled off what many equally gifted pop singers (Kelly Clarkson, Lily Allen, etc.) have attempted but few have actually achieved: releasing a deeply personal, out-of-left-field album, without fear and with total conviction, and making it stick. So, please: Can someone give her the respect she's due?

    To put it bluntly, Pink can out-sing almost anyone out there. She can out-crazy Gaga or Lily. She's the total pop-star package, everything you'd want in a singer/entertainer/icon. And still, she remains oddly off the radar. Such is the price of busting borders, I suppose.

    And part of me thinks she'll forever remain that way — a cult superstar (or, you know, as "cult" as anyone who sells so many million albums can be), appreciated by those in the know, ignored by the mindless masses. But the other part of me — the optimistic part buried deep within — believes Pink is set up for the long haul. She's a career artist, unafraid to take risks and deal with the repercussions, and as such, she'll still be here long after her contemporaries have disappeared.

    Then again, if she keeps dangling upside down, she might not make it that long. And, really, she shouldn't have to go to such lengths (or heights) to be loved. Though, now that I think of it, she wouldn't be Pink if she didn't.

  • Fiercest, Greatest, Gayest, Sexiest Videos of All Time!

    Dic 12 2009, 19:22

    Diana Ross – Muscles

    Will Young - Switch It On

    Britney Spears – I’m Slave 4 U

    Janet Jackson - All Nite (Don't Stop)

    Robbie Williams - Feel

    Beyoncé – Baby Boy

    Madonna - Vogue

    Janet Jackson - That's the Way Love Goes

    Christina Aguilera – Dirty

    Cher - Hell on Wheels

    Kelis - Blindfold Me

    Madonna - Human Nature

    Britney Spears- Toxic

    Robbie Williams - Come Undone

    Justin Timberlake - Like I Love You

    Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams

    Beyoncé - Diva

    Kylie Minogue – Slow

    Lady Gaga – Bad Romance

    Fiona Apple - Criminal

    P!nk - U + Ur Hand

    Kylie Minogue - 2 Hearts

    Girls Aloud - Long Hot Summer

    Chris Isaak - Wicked Game

    The White Stripes
    - I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself
  • Top 20 Albums of 2009

    Dic 10 2009, 2:55

    #20 Little BootsHands

    Whether singing about power struggles within a relationship ('Earthquakes'), being ignored by the one you've got your eye on ('Ghosts'), or getting over an ex ('Remedy'), there's a fundamental warmth and optimism to Hesketh's songs. "Nothing can divide a heart plus a heart," she sings on 'Mathematics', and it's hard not to be charmed by her attitude. This is a magnificent pop record that satisfies the heart, the feet and - most notably when she references Fibonacci and Pythagoras in 'Mathematics' - the head.

    #19 Ciara - Fantasy Ride

    She may not have the voice of Beyoncé or the tunes of Rihanna, but she tops them both when it comes to cheesy double-entendres. "I appreciate your recovery time," she purrs on the self-explanatory 'Like A Surgeon'. "But you need a physical one more time." For keeping a straight face through that one alone, Ciara's Fantasy Ride deserves the benefit of the doubt.

    #18 Paramore- Brand New Eyes

    Listeners past their teens (and especially those blessed with Y chromosomes) will be less likely to join the ranks who've catapulted Brand New Eyes to the top of the charts ahead of Madonna's 25 years of perfect pop. But that's as pointless and redundant an observation as commenting on the demographic of the people turning up to the Waltham Abbey vs. Hastings United match later this week. If you like your guitars loud and your popstars bursting with authentic - if somewhat overwrought - emotion, you won't find it done better than here.

    #17 Cheryl Cole3 Words

    When I heard the 30 second song snippets on the album sampler I thought, hmm these all sound repetitive and kind of boring. Having heard the whole thing now, I can safely say I was very very wrong.
    Revered and popularised to the point of over-saturation thanks to the X Factor, the backlash against Cheryl Cole has begun in earnest as before anyone had even heard a note of this album the accusations of "she can't sing" and "auto-tuned to oblivion" flooded the internet.
    First off, this is not really an RnB album as had been hyped. I mean, there's definitely some RnB flavour going on, but it's mixed in with dancey-pop and is no worse off for it.
    The auto-tune argument is a bit pointless, given how prevalent it is nowadays- see Madonna, Kanye West, Britney Spears, and Lady GaGa. Cheryl Cole is never going to be a big-note diva a la Leona Lewis, Beyonce etc. But to criticise her for this would be missing the point. She definitely sounds like a human being throughout though, no overdone Cher-style robot vocals to be found.
    As an album, 3 Words is about beats, grooves and catchy tunes. And there's loads of them (9 great ones out of 11) in an album that packs a nice punch at 44 minutes and never outstays its welcome.

    #16 ShakiraShe Wolf

    Shakira really masters electropop on this album, even though she is a Rock/Pop singer! The best songs on the album, in my opinion, is Men In This Town, Mon Amour, Gypsy, Good Stuff and Why Wait, all very different. The album takes a lot of influence from cultural music, which makes it break boundaries in a seductive way. She Wolf is not Shakira's best album, but definetely a Shakira album!

    #15 Will YoungThe Hits

    The only British male artist of the 2000’s to have four consecutive platinum albums, Will Young’s first compilation ‘The Hits’ is a celebration of his extraordinary career so far.
    The 14 tracks that make this collection may represent Will's singles, and commercial work, showcasing his one of a kind voice. While it is the obligatory hits collection for the artist, to truly have a taste of Will's best work however, I recommend picking up his 2nd and 4th albums - 'Friday's Child' and 'Let It Go' where his full artistry and sentiments are fully explored. But the collection is always a nice addition to anyone's music box.

    #14 Paloma Faith - Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful

    Let's ignore all Amy Winehouse references from the start because though the voice is similar that is where the comparison should end. Paloma Faith deserves to be considered on her own merits. With a background in dance and theatre Miss Faith is clearly a woman very aware of performance and composition in her music. At 25 years old she steps into a music scene which is primed for original female performers like her.
    Paloma Faith is a very talented woman and this has translated brilliantly into her debut album which is varied and intriguing with a good spread of pop songs that don't stick to conventions. Rather they are filled with her own soulful personality. This is a phenomenal debut.

    #13 Stereophonics - Keep Calm and Carry On

    This album contains a welcomed, warm and upbeat mix of rock, hints of electronica, and a collection of song ideas which - whilst at times seem frightened to fully expand into what they could be - are bristling with some 'good old' Stereophonics flare. It's an album that builds in quality - much like their second album 'Performance and Cocktails', with some of its most interesting and intriguing moments coming over half way through. Stand out songs are '100mph', the single 'Innocent', 'Trouble' and the last track 'Show Me How' is possibly Jones most honest piece of songwriting to date. Bassist Richard Jones' performance is also noticeably more melodic than previous work, which gives a deep undercurrent of ebb and flow to the work. This album almost feels like a culmination of what-could-have-been after 2001's JEEP. Sharp, swift moving, and rarely laboured - the sonic feel of this record is 'Nu-Phonics'. And a very nice change it makes too.

    #12 Michael Bublé - Crazy Love

    Micheal Buble has proberbly recorded his best album yet and in doing so has embraced all sections of the record buying public. The voice is perfect whether scaling the heights or singing in his boots and each track is a gold star performance. I could not fault a track because each track has a magic about it that only Buble and the excellant orchestrations encompass. The changes from swinging band and sometimes swinging voices to smooth strings with full orchestra on other tracks. Listen to 'cry me a river' with pounding orchestral opening giving the standard a different dimension. Listen to 'Some king of Wonderful' ( an old Drifter's hit) smooth pop at it's best. I could go on. Do we have to wait another year for another album ?

    #11 Robbie Williams - Reality Killed the Video Star

    Britain's leading pop entertainer Robbie Williams goes back to pop basics with his eighth studio album.
    This album is brilliant, Robbie back to his best!
    This isn't as much of a comeback record as it is just a really great album by an artist finding his footing after a near-fatal career-killing record. The songs sound fresh, and lyrically they're for the most part excellent and insightful views on life and love and happiness.

    #10 Norah JonesThe Fall

    She has radically changed the languid jazz tinged style that brought her the huge album sales of her first three Blue Note albums. The Fall is a revelation. Her trade mark piano playing is hardly heard and when it does make an appearance its actually a distraction. The songs are all about the disintergration of a love affair. A lot of the tracks are very raw and emotional."December" is heart rendering "Chasing Pirates" is quite striking and "You've Ruined Me" tells it as it is. The last track "Man Of The Hour" is a paen to her dog (the St. Bernard on the cover)but though playful still carries a sad undertone. She now appears to be writing from the strengh of her own experiences and the result is fabulous.

    #9 Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3

    No one can stress enough the fact that Jay-Z is no longer the same man who hit the streets with Reasonable Doubt. If you are looking for that from Jay then you need to ask yourself two questions. 1. Why would you think he hasn't grown up? 2. Why haven't you?
    Back in 1995 he was creating his music from his perspective in Marcy Projects, from the perspective of a hustler and man of the streets. He has since had 10 #1 albums and has become CEO of Def Jam, co-owner of the Nets, co-owner of the 40/40 club franchise, and husband to Beyonce Knowles. The man is a media mogul and multi-millionaire. He has friends like Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. He has aged fourteen years. He has appeared on various Forbes lists. There is no way he can have the same perspective or outlook on life as he did in 1995 and his music reflects that.

    If you can appreciate mature hip-hop with quality beats, a sophisticated sound, and inventive lyrics, then you need this album in your life. I sincerely appreciate this album because I love the depth and growth that this man is showing. At the end of the day he is the greatest rapper alive and nothing can take that away from him so it makes sense for him to be a trailblazer and take the game to greater heights. No one but him can do it and he does it well. I applaud him for that.
    What Jay-Z is doing right now reminds me of Beyonce's I Am... album, which many people also criticized, and while I am no fan of B I had to admit that she showed tremendous growth and range with the ballad side of the release. Musicians have to take risks in order to advance the art which means so much to them. And, at the end of the day, they are people who have to grow up. Jay-Z is an adult. His rhymes are adult, his collaborations are adult, his beats are adult, his track selection is adult. And I love it.

    #8 Adam Lambert - For Your Entertainment

    This man's mere existence invalidates everything I hate about American Idol. He's like the glittery lovechild of Velvet Goldmine and Edward Scissorhands, ridiculous, offensive, and intelligent all at once, and he has somehow landed in the hands of mainstream America. Oh, and he can sing his face off, as evidenced by this record.

    #7 RihannaRated R

    Wow! I bought this CD on a whim after reading a review by Mike Ragogna on the Huffington Post. He said this was the album Rihanna needed to make, not an album the record label would have necessarily chosen for her to make. It almost sounds like it could have been recorded in 1980's Eastern Europe with so many heavy techno beats and crunchy synths and simmering industrial arrangements. Apparently Rihanna's Caribbean accent is more present on this album than her previous work. I'd never been drawn to Rihanna's earlier work so I can't qualify that assertion, but I think her accent works for her and I hope she continues to brandish it in her future work. If you are a fan of blended musical genres and artist experimentation and still enjoy popular music, this CD is a goldmine. Not a single dud track and it flows nicely. It may take a while for people to realize it, but this is going to end up being a landmark CD for Rihanna. It's an amazing piece of work by a young person so early in her career. I can't wait to see where she goes next in her sound. This is a young woman firmly in control of her music and her life.
    Rated R should primarily be perceived as Rihanna's most significant career progression yet. If 'Pon De Replay' and 'SOS' showed she could sell a pop single, and 2007's Good Girl Gone Bad proved she could carry an entire album, this is the record – startling in vision, startlingly good in execution – that elevates her from popstar to pop artist. Rihanna, in case you were wondering, is still only 21 years old.

    #6 Peaches -I Feel Cream

    "Some call me trash, some call me nasty, call me crass, but you can't match me," Peaches raps on 'Serpentine', the opening track of I Feel Cream.
    Compared to her previous albums, both the production and singing are becoming more polished and refined. The production on this album is shared by a host of electronic masters. This is not necessarily better or worse since I love the rawness of her previous releases like "Diddle My Skittle" on Teaches of Peaches (Bonus CD), and the simpler arrangements of songs like "Operate" on her "Fatherf-cker" album.

    #5 Eminem - Relapse

    As soon as Eminem stops trying to live up to his own controversial reputation and lets the mask slip, Relapse can be thrilling. When he ditches the "ironic" sick fantasies (On '3AM' he masturbates over Hannah Montana before going on a killing spree in McDonalds) and exposes his inner demons, we're reminded of the rapper's energy and lyrical sharpness. Whether it's contemplating his future as a musician on 'Beautiful' ("I just can't admit... that I may be done with rap"), ditching the drink on 'Deja Vu' ("That's the devil in my ear, I been sober a f***in' year") or discussing in excruciating detail his sexual abuse at the hands of his stepfather on 'Insane', Eminem proves he's still got the power to stun his listeners. For that alone, We should be grateful that Slim Shady is back again.

    #4 The Gossip - Music For Men

    My God, The album’s FULL OF WIN!!
    With their first mainstream release, Gossip still holds true to their underground punk sound. The guitar is raw and the drums are punchy, but lack the in your face kick and snare of most modern releases. The real clarity is given to Beth Ditto's vocals that may not be as refined as Ann Wilson or Pat Benetar, but share a similar power and energy. For a band looking to perfect their sound without losing the edge that got them to where they are, producer Rick Rubin was the perfect choice.

    #3 Lily Allen- It's Not Me, It's You

    I loved Alright Still and really wondered if Lily Allen could produce another album of equal quality and appeal. The answer is a big YES - this has all the quirky appeal of the first album with poetic lyrics and tunes that hook and stay with you (I've lost track of the number of times I keep singing 'you're so mean' to myself). The tone throughout is once again modern girl with attitude and wrapped up perfectly with the music.

    #2 Lady GagaThe Fame Monster

    She may have couched her reasoning in typically preposterous and pretentious terms, but there's no quibbling with GaGa's conclusion. The Fame Monster does work as a standalone album and, what's more, it's a far more enjoyable listen than the disc with which it shares its 2CD slipcase. At just eight tracks and 35 minutes, there's no fat, no chance for GaGa's schtick to grate and, crucially, just the one ballad.
    Best of all, there's a certain fearlessness to GaGa here - specifically, an I-don't-give-a-s**t-if-look-ridiculous sort of fearlessness. Her vocal performances, as anyone who's heard 'Bad Romance' will know, can err towards the deranged. When she tries to sound Spanish on 'Alejandro's spoken word intro, the result is more Dolmio ad than Almodovar. Oh, and barely a year since she scored her first hit, she's already self-referencing ("I wanna Just Dance / But he took me home instead"). Getting to the bottom of the GaGa phenomenon is going to take a hell of a lot longer than 12 months, but she offers a temporary fix here with her latest catchy motto: "I'm a free bitch baby." We wouldn't have her any other way.
    GaGaLOO CAN SING!! Her voice is a rich and powerful instrument.
    The cut-and-paste way with both words and melody keeps
    us both guessing and entertained at every turn. The ecstatic hook of 'Alejandro' errupts out of the swirling, raw-edged, synth and big-beat backdrop like a ray of sunshine bursting through a black cloud.
    When Lady GG tells us that "...he ate my heart and then he ate my brain" on a subway train, we know that we are not in the company of an ordinary or restrained musical imagination. A song like 'Monster' confirms both her eccentricity and her genius. 'Speechless' delivers one of the finest vocal performances she
    has so-far given us. Soulful, sincere and totally believable. Back to the dancefloor with 'Dance in the Dark' (begging for a more uptempo remix!). The thundering percussion and deleriously infectious chorus are magnificently uplifting.
    So too the electric collaboration with Ms Knowles on 'Telephone'. The chemistry generated by these two not inconsiderably large egos could have burst the song at the seams. Full credit to the production team for keeping the train on the rails.
    Both Divas would appear to have survived with their dignity intact. 'So Happy I Could Die' layers instrumental and vocal harmonies to splendid effect. One of the album's strongest tunes. The stripped-down minimalist stomp of 'Teeth' is a total BLAST !
    The Lady can sing the blues too! She can sing anything well in fact. It has been quite a year for this extraordinary woman. The exotically shiny plastic persona belies the fiercely inventive and original creative creature within. I remain besotted and totally convinced by her wild and unbridled talent.

    #1 Florence + the MachineLungs

    When I first heard Florence and the Machine on Steve Lamacq's show I didn't get it. Here was an artist who was being hyped as a live sensation and one of the tips for 2009 and it didn't impress me. I didn't see anything special in the music, the voice or the delivery. It just didn't add up for me. But then I heard `Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)' whilst driving on a sunny day with the windows down and the radio up. Then it clicked.

    Florence and the Machine for me is the glorious sound of someone who has sat down with a piano and a drum kit having just listened to too much Tori Amos and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Florence has a strangely ethereal voice helped along by the slight echo in quieter moments of the songs and the layered choral like backing vocals. The sound is deceptive. It is simultaneously demanding and seductive. The drums are relatively simple designed for no other reason than to drive the songs. The piano adds melody in support of Florence's voice and if you listen carefully there are subtle layers an nuances in it that will slowly be uncovered as you listen more.
    To follow all this Florence + the Machine could not hope for a better debut. It is simply a joy to listen to. The tracks fly by but you remember every beat of them. `Dog Days Are Over' is a brilliant start and following this with the most recent single adds a nice bit familiarity. Tracks like `Howl' and `Kiss with a Fist' are then great additions before the rhythmic genius of `Drumming Song'. It then gets a little more widescreen and epic in its sound with the combination of `Between Two Lungs' and `Cosmic Love'. It then relaxes down to a more intimate and personal sound for the final three tracks which round off the whole album nicely.
    It is a well crafted album that exhibits the quality and diversity of this band and especially Florence's wonderful voice. I feel like I have found Florence and I don't want to go back.
  • Sugababes – Get Sexy (Review)

    Ago 27 2009, 17:04

    The London/Liverpool trio has outlived virtually all its pop rivals of the last decade (save Girls Aloud, with whom relations seem to be distant but mutually respectful) – yet they are too young to remember life before mobile phones, just like me ;-)

    Last album, 2008's Catfights and Spotlights, made them doubt themselves for the first time. Long accustomed to praise for their ultra-sharp urban pop, they were shocked by the lukewarm reviews and sales. The Guardian called it "a general transition from crisp modernity to self-consciously grown-up, Duffyesque soul", and even the usually adulatory Popjustice.com complained that there were "no decent" up-tempo numbers – this from a band renowned for the brilliance of hits such as Freak Like Me and Hole in the Head.

    They are back and the first single of the new album is the grinding, fiercely catchy R&B number Get Sexy. It incorporates the chorus of Right Said Fred's I'm Too Sexy, and, in case anyone missed the blatant let's-get-physical message, promotional copies of the single come packaged as giant condoms. Ladies, really…

    It may not be massively original, nor an instant classic to rival 'About You Now' or 'Push The Button', but with a Right Said Fred-sampling hook, a thundering chorus and plenty of attitude - most noticeably from Amelle - it returns Sugababes right to the forefront of the pop landscape.

    Sweet 7 is the name of the new album by the way...
    The album and single will both flop.

  • Alexandra Burke - 'Bad Boys' (Review)

    Ago 27 2009, 16:55

    Alexandra Burke's single is called 'Bad Boys' and it's a bit of a banger. That's putting it mildly. To put it more precisely, it's a stomping electro-R&B tune with a chorus that grabs you on first listen, beats fat enough to rattle windows, a generous smattering of siren effects, some catchy "ooh-way, ooh-wah" backing vocals and the best outro of any pop single this year imo.

    But I'm actually surprised no-one's compared it to Rihanna’s 'S.O.S.' Britney Spears's 'Womanizer' and Girls Aloud’s 'Biology' because those were the songs that jumped to my head, and I have seen a lot of hate for this song, the funny thing is nearly everyone who is dissing the song seem to mention Leona Lewis in the next breath. Why are her fans so threatened? There is room for two great female singers in 2009 since Mariah Carey lost her voice, and both Alex and Leona are catering for a different audience…

    The thing it’s that it will be number one because she’s an X factor winner, and for that reason alone. The quality of the song doesn’t come into question tbh, she’ll be big just for that reason. Shame reason, when you have a lot of singers like Lady Gaga who have to work their way to the top themselves…
  • The Saturdays – Forever Is Over (Review)

    Ago 27 2009, 16:44

    Wow The Saturdays, they are certainly not slipping off the radar, are they? Only like two months ago they were promoting their first album with 'Work' and now they are ALREADY releasing a single from their new album!!!

    My first impression? Well, there's no doubt that the big, belty chorus hits the bullseye, and Una's attitude middle 8 is pretty ace, but for my money this is a good Sats single rather than a great one. Truth be told, I was more excited by 'Wordshaker' and 'One Shot', the new tunes that the girls debuted on their recent tour.

    And it does sounds like a Kelly Clarkson b-side…Vanessa sounds terrible... She just shouts, AND she looks bored as hell in the video!

    I hope the remixes are gonna be great tho.
    I still think it is a crime against pop music that Una is not a solo act.
  • Paolo Nutini - 'Sunny Side Up' Review

    Lug 6 2009, 23:23

    'Sunny Side Up' is Scottish/Italian songsmith Paolo Nutini's second album, following the critically aclaimed 'These Streets'. It's a different affair altogether to it's predesessor. Here, he introduces the fun of reggae in the infectious '10 out of 10', stomping of rockabilly in 'Pencil Full of Lead', pining of country in 'Simple Things' and the heart-rendering pop-infused r&b in 'Candy'. There is something for everyone here. He still sings with that raw wrasping voice of his and shows a talent fulfulling it's potential that I am sure will be here for years to come. Well done Paolo, this really restores my faith in the new breed of songwriters.
  • La Roux: Album Review

    Lug 6 2009, 23:11

    After bursting onto the scene in late 2008 with their debut single 'Quicksand', La Roux, an electropop ensemble comprising Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid have made an important dent in 2009's music scene. 'In for the Kill', the duo's second single reached number two and is the third best-selling single of the year, following Lady Gaga's 'Just Dance' and 'Poker Face'. And now with their third single 'Bulletproof' having reached number 1, it is no longer their singles that must come under scrutiny but their album.

    Described as 'The Final Word in the Synth-Pop Generation' by NME, expectations are unsurprisingly high for the duo's self-titled debut, and in many ways it does not disappoint. The refreshing vocals provided by Jackson create a sound which whilst not entirely unique is memorable. The strength of Jackson's voice also adds to this, as the album provides a mix of rhythms ranging from the beeps of 'Bulletproof' to the subtleties of 'Cover my Eyes' and the moreish chorus of 'Colourless Colour'. The album is essentially rhythmically effective- there are no 'duds' so to say, however that doesn't necessarily guarantee success for an album. Instead this is dictated by the overall experience for the listener, an experience which is aided further by the fluidity achieved by balancing quicker and slower tracks.

    However, this is not to say that the album is 'bulletproof', in fact it's weaknesses can be said to outweigh it's strengths. There is a clear lack of depth and emotion here, and when Jackson does let her guard down in 'Cover my Eyes', it is only momentarily and is following by the eclectic 'As if by Magic', the only track which fails to have a distinguishable theme. This gap between the lyrics and the singer is further demonstrated in 'Tigerlily', a rather pointless and bland ballad.

    And so the question remains, whilst artists such as Lady Gaga and Little Boots continue to push the boat out, could La Roux have done more? It seems the answer is yes- the album is lacking the immediacy of 'The Fame' and the quirkiness of 'Hands'

    So, how to rate such a mixed album? Considering all it's strengths and weaknesses, 'La Roux' remains an accomplished album, however there is still the sense of missed opportunity throughout.

    'In for the Kill', 'Bulletproof', 'Colourless Colour','Cover my Eyes', 'As if by Magic', 'Fascination'
  • Little Boots: 'Hands' Album Review

    Lug 6 2009, 23:00

    Hands is a very good synth pop album that justifies a lot of the hype surrounding Little Boots at the moment. Whereas the album's lyrics, melodies and synth sound are very much in vogue at the moment, the quality of songs are such that you can imagine she will outlast the current fad of female singer-songwriter synth loving 80's-embracer.

    Little Boots' influences are obvious, with elements of Goldfrapp, Blondie, Moloko, Kate Bush and even Kylie Minogue seeping through. Despite this, she adopts a fresh approach to her songwriting and melodies and this is what sets her aside from a number of the identikit synth-pop wannabes you'll have no doubt seen and heard of late. Check out her performance of Meddle on Jools Holland through YouTube to get a better idea of what she's all about.

    Whilst listening to the album, I had to blank out the story that she once auditioned for Pop Idol and focus on the quality of the songs and production. I'm glad Simon Cowell didn't spot her undeniable talent back then as he certainly wouldn't have allowed her to produce such an album.

    The standout track for me (one of many) is Mathematics; clever lyrics matched with a melody that showcases her vocal ability and set against an infectious synth backing and reverb drenched drum beat marks this out as a future pop classic.

    I recommend this album if you're a fan of classic, well written pop and are enjoying the recent 80's revival, which seems to be led by a gang of glam females.

    By the way, if you buy Hands, make sure you listen through to the hidden track at the end of the album as it's a very different, almost ballad like piano based song and is very good.
  • Kelly Clarkson - All I Ever Wanted (Review)

    Mar 27 2009, 15:55

    One question trumps all others when discussing the new Kelly Clarkson album, so it makes sense to tackle it at the start. Is All I Ever Wanted a return to the sound of her 2005 blockbuster Breakaway? Well, the not terribly snappy answer is yes, for the most part, and especially at the start. In fact, three of All I Ever Wanted's first four tracks feel like close relations to Breakaway's signature hits. Lead single 'My Life Would Suck Without You' apes 'Since U Been Gone' fairly shamelessly, 'Cry' is a teary-eyed power ballad in the 'Because of You' mould and, well, the intros to 'Don't Let It Stop You' and 'Behind These Hazel Eyes' are almost comically similar.

    Elsewhere, the three pillars of the Breakaway sound - heavy guitars, radio-ready production, gloriously unsubtle pop hooks - are all present and correct. Of course, this makes All I Ever Wanted feel like a bit of a retread, especially after Clarkson tried to branch out on 2007's ballsy but commercially unsuccessful My December, but as retreads go this album is remarkably satisfying.

    Over 20 writers and 7 producers had a hand in crafting these super-catchy, highly-polished, very 'sellable' tracks...the key word being sellable. It's no secret that Clive Davis, the legendary chief of Kelly's record label, RCA, wasn't too happy that his superstar's My December album sold ONLY a little over 2 million copies, so it comes as no surprise All I Ever Wanted was produced the way it was...to mirror what the Katy Perry's, P!nk's, and even Britney Spears of today's music scene are doing, and one listen is enough to say that mission has been achieved. The Ryan Tedder-produced and co-penned "If I Can't Have You" which could be confused with a Miley Cyrus song thanks to juvenile lyrics if it weren't for Clarkson's distinct vocals, while another Tedder track, "Impossible," is stylized and produced to soda pop perfection complete with synths and a big classic Clarkson bridge.

    So, how to view Clarkson's motives here? Well, it's easy to portray All I Ever Wanted as a bit of a sell-out - a return to a tried and tested formula after an album that cost Clarkson her multi-platinum sales figures, her status as an arena-filling live act and even her manager. Then again, playing devil's advocate for a second, could it not be that Clarkson is merely returning to what she does best after working through a few artistic difficulties on My December? Either way, there's no denying the brutal effectiveness of most of these songs and, whatever she may really be thinking, the brilliant way that Kelly Clarkson sings them.