Thursday, 24 April 2008

Madonna, Hard Candy

Madonna graciously sent me (and a few thousand other naughty people) her new music and asked me what i think, here it is:
First up i do love it. I have had it on constant repeat its that good, yet when ive been compiling my thoughts the initial euphoria of having the new Madonna has given way to some more negative comments.
First things first, there is less lovely autotuned vocals than you might find on say a britney release, and there are Madonna's often cheesey lyrics in place of some premier songwriters skills, this makes the album seems a bit weaker perhaps than itd could've been if Madonna had been willing to play gimp to some Pop svengali, that said i still love the inuendo laden rhymes and childlike hooks on opening track 'Candy Shop'. I'd been singing this one for the past few weeks anyway. From here the other standouts are the other hook laden potential singles, 'Give it 2 me' and 'Beat goes on' two Pharrel tracks with support from Kanye West. The thing is they will make good singles and with clever videos may become massive hits but beneath their catchy lines these songs are pretty madonna-lyte it has to be said.
'Give it 2 Me' however is saved as second single due to its references to Madonna herself, in a way its like her 'piece of me' answering her critics, as if there were still any doubters that shes fit enough to dance for hours in concert. Similarly 'She's not me' the best sing-along on the album, mirrors output from gwen / fergie but calmly and efficiently reminds you that Madonna is Madonna and wont be beat. This is the the general theme of the album, Madonna is still the best oh and go out and live your life be free and dance.
Pulling this poppy message into deeper realms are the beats and the blips, and most people have noticed that Pharrel gives her some of his best work, while Timbaland rehashes a lot of his recent ideas. It seems that the production is the sore point for a lot of disappointed fans, but it really promotes the best parts of lacklustre album tracks, 'heartbeat' and 'incredible' are elevated beyond the type of europop spewed forth from her peers while tracks like 'she's not me' and 'miles away' really come to life in the closing minutes to provide epic dance tracks and ever evolving beats.
For me its this production that standouts with each listen and sustains the albums lifespan, i want to make suitable album title puns, but i can only suggest that its like admiring the candy beneath the sugar. and thats when i come unstuck myself. it seems like madonna is the instant hit and the beat is the real meat of the track, and i think this is why some fans are disappointed because ultimatly it should be the cool beats leading us to Madonna's lyrical musings and appreciating her deeper edge, but these things only come tacked on in the last two tracks, again forcing me to concede the album is madonna-lite, unsure of where the sugars coming from. hence my overthinking of this the more i play it.
The backing track to each Pharrel song really nails it though, it slips and slides and conjures up some great epic / quirky / sublime moments that make me find something to love in every song, as a casual listen some of the more lenghty tracks like 'incredible' can fall flat, but to follow the beat and have it blasting in your ears makes it a perfect driving, workout or clubbing album. Some fan critiques have bemoaned the lack of standout tracks, i think its true, but is perhaps due to the patchy nature of recent albums (from both madonna and pop in general) where tracks were either single-worthy or solid album favourites, here i feel Madonna is seeking to emulate Nelly and Justin, if not sonically, then at least sales wise by pimping out most tracks on this album in some locale. (though why the spanish track explains spanish terms seems to miss the target demographic im not sure?)
Lastly, while im happy to concede that the album feels lacking in some respects: a lack of madonna vocals and lyrics to really sink your teeth into, i for one am hugely satisfied with this album. Its a change but sits well with her back catalogue, BUT, for all the good will i feel towards this project my subconcious is telling me that 'Miles Away' is above and beyond my favourite track, it would've been buried on her previous album but here sticks out as an immense, simple and uplifting song detailing her long-distance love, the final breakdown is just enough wizadry, and i hope she gives us an album of this next time.
PS ...and 4 minutes, eeek i change my mind every play, i use it as my must run to work song, ive only got three minutes to get to work arrghgh! its madonna-lyte again, its catchy, it wouldve been a better justin song, justin and anoyone song, or a madonna alone song, the depth of what were saving isnt there, the video is odd, it seems incomplete, madonna is just herslef no real image the sets look cheap the dancing is cute but lacklustre need i go on...the beat is annoying maybe if pharrel took on justins part id love it, muchos love for pharrel this means lots of love to pharrel, madonna taught me that.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Best Songs of Q1!

Cool Beats flying under the radar:
Frankmusik, 3 Little Words
Kash, Alright Fine
Hot Chip, Ready for the Floor
Bit Shifter, March of the Nucleotides
MGMT, Time To Pretend
Santogold, LES Artistes

Long Blondes, Century
Sam Sparro, Black and Gold
Kristina Harvey, Get it Together

Pop Stompers:
Roishin Murphy, Movie Star

Taio Cruz, Come on Girl

Robyn, Sexual Eruption
Annie, (I Know Your) Girlfriend (Hates Me)
Jesse McCartney, Leavin'
Kylie Minogue, Cherry Bomb
Janet Jackson, LUV
Madonna, 4 Minutes to Save the World

And the Rest...
Rihanna, Take a Bow

Vanessa Cartlon, Hands on Me
Panic At The Disco, Nine in the Afternoon

the Long Blondes: "Couples"

This album is my early contender for album of the year; lead single 'century' kicks off in grandiose style an album full of lyrical quirks and anthemic chants.

"you were driving off in a taxi,
leaning out the window,
and shouting your number back at me"
I even love the classic brit quotes that kickstart the later tracks, theres a real wit in this band thats is so clearly lacking in all the indie bands out there. Kate Jacksons delivery shows how performative her rock persona is, she lives it on stage for that track, not necessarily living the role herself in order to prove the realness of this creation, a la whinehouse and doherty, instead giving different voices amongst the guilt-ridden, lonely and jelaous characters within the stories on "couples".

"your friends a genius,
she even made up the spare room bed for us"

Each song tells of a couple of sorts, but the long blondes clearly view any cosy romance with an ironicly squinted eye:
"we moved to the country,
my husband and i,
he drives,
it works out cheaper"

"I liked the Boys" is an amazingly punchy short track, making next track "Here comes the serious bit" the most raucous shout along, with a hook that screams out almost as a warning, as right around the bend is the centrepiece of the album, track 6 "Round the Hairpin". This track beats out a tatto that fits with Dorians lyrics but becomes spun in a whole new direction.

The next three tracks are perhaps my favourites on the album, while "round the hairpin" is the masterpiece here it isnt what im mostly in the mood for, that being namechecking models, scathing put downs and the sound of high heels walking off over the littered bodies of these fickle couples. I'l leave you to discover these tracks yourself.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Bit Shiftershould so produce <>'s next album:

Friday, 21 March 2008

The Long Blondes, finally got some dorian action and some 'century' quotes and also got my hands on the album "couples", its not all as trancey as 'century' and three tracks in feels like an homage to somone to drive you home, ill keep going before i form an opinion.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Last year i made a band out of the 5 hottest male solo stars i coud find: this year things start getting a little closer to becoming a reality.

Calvin Goldspink
's acting career took a hit after life is wild got cancelled, and now he's holding a guitar. His new album is out later this year, it is of course much more mature than his work with s club juniors, how could it not be hes holding a guitar.
Zac Efron continues to pretend he's an actor at heart when we all now he'd be a perfect lead in the band, he has three new movies in production and continues to look pretty. maybe we'll try to recruit the others first, then telephone in his vocals and make sure he's available for the first video shoot.

The same goes for Thomas Dekker, ive given up on his tv show, if only i could send a terminator back a year and encourage a record company to release his two albums. yes hes made two albums worth of material. we'll probably use his tracks as album fillers.

Jesse McCartney is about to drop departure his new album that popjustice tells us is amazing, he could do with going blonde again though

And lastly the most anticipated album release ever monsier Simon Curtis needs to get famous and relagate the need for this band by becoming a one man definition of pop.
Girl's Aloud: 'Hoxton Heroes', clips of this have been flying around for what seems like months but the whole thing is surprisingly fresh, and uber relavent in this new era where people my age still refer to music as indie or pop when these words have no relavence and probably never did.
Making pop in an indie way, and indie with pop melodies forms the basis of some of our favourites groups of the moment: dragonette, the ting tings, hadouken, the klaxons, alphabeat. indie used to be an alternative to the mainstream of pop, and pop even when it was good served as a money maker criticised by the indies. now things seem much nicer. people who like pop are making pop, and people who like music arent afraid of pop...and people who still wanna be indie get pop punk'd by the reigning queens of pop... i present this thusly:

Sunday, 16 March 2008

The Long Blondes, with a better hype campaign than Madonna:

wheres dorian? oh to be his plus one
Janet Jackson, Discipline
If Blue Peter were making a Janet album, they'd put lots of good hooks glue it together with some sparkly bits, then cut away the excess, fold it in half and come up with a much better tracklist...
  1. Feedback
  2. LUV
  3. Rollercoaster
  4. Rock With U
  5. 2Nite
  6. So Much Betta
  7. The One ft Missy Elliot

Alphabeat, are finally top ten, and the amount of times i play it at work must have the whole of the northwest humming along to its infectiousness. Alphabeat woke me up most days in japan, as i tend ot oversleep my alarm, and cycle hurriedly to work in the humidity, they kept me going with their bouncyness. The fact ive had the album a year and theyre only jut getting big makes me forget about them so consider this post a well deserved bump, and a preview of the singles of the summer.