Monday, September 24, 2012

Lana Del Rey Releases Information on Born To Die: The Paradise Edition

I first discovered Lana Del Rey earlier this year, when I stumbled across "Born To Die" and "Video Games." Ever since then, I've been a major fan of her. This being said, I've obviously been extremely excited for the arrival of her upcoming re-release of her debut album as Born To Die: The Paradise Edition, and today, news on the album totally exploded.

Del Rey released a video on YouTube, with samples of eight songs, titled "Ride," "Pussy," "American," "Gods & Monsters," "Body Electric," "Blue Velvet," "Bel Air," and "Yayo." A song called "Burning Desire" also leaked today, and the full version of "Blue Velvet" has been out for a while.

She also released the cover of the album, which I would like to focus on for a minute. I think the concept is absolutely amazing. The cover, which dons the same font as the original album, but it is highlighted in gold, features Del Rey in a low-cut top or swimsuit in front of palm trees and a pool. In my mind, it is supposed to be a ying and yang concept with the original cover. In the original Born To Die cover, she is wearing a collared, buttoned-up white shirt, and looks very conservative and serious. In this cover, Del Rey is more provocative and less serious.

After all of these samples and cover were released, the complete version of "Ride" was a released. From that song, along with "Blue Velvet" and samples of the rest of the songs, I can tell that Born To Die: The Paradise Edition is definitely going to meet my expectations. The song I'm most eager to hear is "Body Electric," which I loved the live version of, and I have been begging for a studio version for a while now.

On the downside, I have read that Lana Del Rey has considered quitting her music career after this next release to peruse a career in the movie industry. Yet, I did read that someone very near to her has said that she is in fact working on a second full LP. I'm hoping that the latter is true, because if she stopped singing, I would be devastated.

Monday, September 17, 2012

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together | Taylor Swift

Rating:  ★★★★★

I'm not afraid to admit it: I have a major soft-spot for Taylor Swift. When she was just starting her career with Taylor Swift and Fearless, I really tried to hide the fact that I really do adore Swift because of her gushy love songs, but by the time that Speak Now rolled around, I couldn't hide my admiration any longer. So when I heard she dropped a new single a few weeks ago, I couldn't wait to hear it. After looking for the song on YouTube, and finally finding a video that wasn't blocked for copyright reasons, I finally got my first listen of "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together."

So, I really don't know why so many people hate this song, especially people who are giants fans of Swift. Many have argued that the song signifies that Swift is "selling out" and becoming a pop artist. However, Taylor Swift hasn't been a country artist since her debut self-entitled album, and even then she was really pushing the definition of a country singer.

Fearless was a small move away from country and was just the beginning of Swift's transition to pop music. I always like to compare Fearless to Shania Twain's Come on Over, which was Twain's crossover album from country to both country and pop music. In fact, Taylor Swift has cited Shania Twain as one of her musical inspirations, according to the Wikipedia page about Swift. 

Getting back on track, Speak Now was an interesting album. Most of the songs had country-style instrumental tracks, but easily worked as pop songs, with most of the album's singles ("Mine," "Back to December," "The Story of Us," "Sparks Fly," and "Ours,") being very successful with pop music audiences. 

Looking back on Swift's move towards pop music, a song like "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" was not surprising to me. The nearly-complete absence of any country music elements is what I think shocked people the most. The fact that "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" was penned by Swift with Max Martin and Shellback (who have both worked with pop artists such as P!nk, Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, and the Backstreet Boys,) could also contribute to the the drastic change in sound.

Now, onto the actual song. The lyrics and the meaning were what surprised me, not the song's style. For once, we see a Swift that isn't playing the heartbroken victim or love-struck teenage girl in high school. In the song, Swift is actually the one who is doing the heartbreaking, which is why I think I like the song so much. I must also mention that the hook of the song is hypnotizing. I could listen to the chorus of the song on a loop for hours on end, and would sing along the whole time.

The one complaint I do have about the song is the small portion of bridge where the lyrics are spoken. Britney Spears is also famous for randomly talking in the bridges of her songs, and it sounds tacky and unprofessional. I really hope Swift doesn't resort to doing this random little chats in the middle of her songs on a regular basis.

Minus the bridge problem, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is one of the best songs to be released by Swift. Commercially, it could easily be considered the strongest Taylor Swift single to date due to the amount of records it shattered, including one for the fastest-selling digital single.

I applaud Swift for her growth as an artist, and I really look forward to listening to and reviewing her next studio record, Red, when it is released next month.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Truth About Love | P!nk

Rating: ★★★★☆

It's been a while since we've heard from P!nk (whose birth name is Alecia Moore.) She's been off the scene for a year or so, due to a pregnancy, and now she's back with The Truth About Love.

P!nk's previous studio album, Funhouse, completely blew me away: it was, and still is, a completely flawless album.  Although two new singles were released with her 2010 compilation album Greatest Hits... So Far!!!, I have still been craving for an entire new album from P!nk since Funhouse was released.

The Truth About Love does show that P!nk's musical style is now starting to vary. From heavier rock, to more urban-style music, to her native pop music, this album has a little bit of everything.

The lead single lifted from the album, "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)," is a very cliché P!nk song; a pop break-up song. P!nk is like a kick-ass version of Taylor Swift in the sense that they both write songs about break-ups over and over again, yet all of the songs sound different and unique. Anyway, "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" was released back in July, and I fell in love with the song immediately, and had me pumped up for the release of The Truth About Love. 

However, "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" doesn't represent the album very well. In fact, when I first listened to the album, which was in my car, on the way home from the music store today, the opening song shocked me.  Titled "Are We All We Are," the first track on the album is very rock-influenced. Its backing track contains plenty of drums and guitars, and sounds like a song that people would "head-bang" to. (If you don't know, "head-banging" is a seizure-like movement that fans of heavy rock music do often, in which you just fling your head up and down to the music.) I've been wanting to hear P!nk's voice in a heavier rock song for a while, and I finally got my wish. It was well worth the wait, because she sounds great in "Are We All We Are." The rock sound is not exclusive to "Are We All We Are," and reappears in "Walk of Shame." That song, although not as strong as the former, is still quite a catchy song, and is a good example of how well P!nk's voice sounds in a rock song.

The third track of the album, and the second single from the album, "Try," is a beautiful rock ballad about self-empowerment. It sounds amazing, and is a great contrast to all of the faster dance songs on the album. The successful history of "Glitter in the Air" could easily be repeated with "Try." The song is a great highlight from the album.

One of the best songs on the album is titled "True Love," and features Lily Allen (now known as Lily Rose Cooper after her marriage.) The chorus is probably one of the best from P!nk, and lyrics describe the ups and downs of a relationship but accepts that those ups and downs really do signify a strong relationship. It is also notable that the melody of the song in the chorus is amazing; it's very catchy, noticeable, and is easy to sing right along with. Personally, I think the song would do well as a single, and could be in the same position as "Get This Party Started" and "So What" are in now in terms of memorable P!nk songs.

Opening with the line "I'm not a slut, I just love love," "Slut Like You" is another song from the album that would be a massive hit as a single. Although the lyrical content is of what I would expect from someone like Ke$ha, it's still a great dance song. It's a shame that The Truth About Love wasn't released a few months back, because "Slut Like You" is definitely worth of a "summer smash-hit" title.

The title track of the album is also quite catchy. I'm taking an assumption that "The Truth About Love" is a song about what people try to hide about love and sex. However, the fact that the line "...the smelling of armpits" was included in the song is completely disgusting.

Although there are many songs that shine on the album, one song in particular really should have ended up as scrapped material. "Here Comes the Weekend" features rapper Eminem, but it sounds like a hot mess. It's a very immature song, with not much meaning. I do like that the song has more of an urban feel, as that is another genre that I wanted to hear P!nk in, but the song is just terrible.

Another problem I had with The Truth About Love was that P!nk was very desperate to add as many curse words that she could into the album. I do know that curse words are very common is P!nk's vocabulary, considering that she was originally planning on using the title Heartbreak is a Motherfucker for her 2008 album, Funhouse, but she pretty much just sprinkled curse words all over the album. For what purpose, I have no idea. All of the cursing in the album will also plague all of the songs with censors when it comes to radio and public airplay.

Overall, The Truth About Love was another great release from P!nk. Did it live up to her previous record, Funhouse? To my standards, no. However, the album opened so many new doors for P!nk. It toys with different genres and styles of music, and although it isn't a huge change in style, there is a lot of variety in the album. It may not as good as Funhouse, but it definitely the second-strongest P!nk record to date.