Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Single Serving

*Adele - Rumour Has It. For her fourth 21 single, Adele has chosen another surefire hit--the album's most stomping, upbeat track. Love the rhythm and bass on this.

*Coldplay (feat. Rihanna) - Princess of China. My initial reaction to this song when I reviewed Mylo Xyloto was that it didn't fit on the album. As a single though, it's starting to grow on me, especially if you consider it a Rihanna song with an amazing backing band instead of a Coldplay song.

Drake - Headlines. This strikes me as pretty typical from Drake: skittering beats, staccato keyboards.

Example - Midnight Run. Hip-hop/dance pop artist Example churns out another decent tune as his fall release, although it's not quite as delicious as "Stay Awake."

Foo Fighters - These Days. This third or fourth (depending on where you are) single from Wasting Light is one of the album's highlights, with an uplifting rock melody.

Foster the People - Call It What You Want. This third single from Foster the People keeps their party going with an upbeat, piano-backed melody. Not quite up there with "Pumped Up Kicks" and "Helena Beat," but still fun.

Fray - Heartbeat. Remember The Fray? Five years after "How to Save a Life" became a massive hit, they are still trying to find another. Not going to do it with this. Sounds like top 40 radio filler.

Cee Lo Green - Anyway. New track from the re-release of Green's album The Lady Killer sounds more modern and upbeat than the album's generally retro sound.

Michael Jackson - Immortal Megamix. MJ gets the Vegas treatment..a la The Beatles' The Love Album, with this megamix of "Can You Feel It," "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," "Billie Jean" and "Black or White."

*Jessie J - Who You Are. This song has really gotten under my skin lately. I love the lean guitar arrangement and Jessie J sounds really great here. I just wish they'd have made her vocal even more bare, as she's turned in a pretty great vocal performance for this one. Way better than US single "Domino."

Jo Jo - Disaster. The girl who had massive hits in the '00s with "Leave (Get You)" and "Too Little, Too Late" is grown up now. In pop music parlance, strings=maturity, so you can expect quite a few here. It's merely fine--nothing original on display here.

*Lady Gaga - Marry the Night. Born This Way's opening track and stand out cut finally gets its turn in the sun. Another winning dance pop "anthem" from one of pop music's most interesting voices. Can't wait to see what she does for the video.

Avril Lavigne - Wish You Were Here. Although Lavigne seems best known for her perky brand of pop "punk," I think her slower songs are generally her best work. This guitar-driven ballad might be my favorite release from Goodbye Lullaby.

Nicki Minaj - I'm the Best. This is about the 10th single released from Pink Friday, depending on whether "promotional" releases can be counted as "singles" (who knows these days). Anyway, it's a pretty fun song--not a standout on the album, but not bad either. It's upbeat, bright and boastful, a perfect fit for Minaj's personality.

Moby (feat. Inyang Bassey) - The Right Thing. Moby's underwhelming album from earlier this year, Destroyed, is somehow managing to continue generating singles. The song, like the album, isn't particularly notable, although vocalist Inyang Bassey (no apparent relation to Shirley) gives a nice performance.

One Direction - Gotta Be You. The newest kids on the block deliver their follow-up to UK #1 "What Makes You Beautiful." In typical fall boyband fashion, this one is a ballad, drenched in strings. I'm sure it will sell bucket-loads, but it's missing the spark that made their first single something special.

*Rihanna - You Da One. Just like frothy "Only Girl" was followed by the more laid back "What's My Name," so now does Rihanna follow clubby "We Found Love" with this breezy Dr. Luke production as the second Talk That Talk single.

Alyssa Reid (feat. Jump Smokers) - Alone Again. Heart's "Alone" is a great song because 1) it's just a great heartbroken love song and 2) it sounds awesome when a singer really lets loose on the chorus, as in the Heart original, and to some extent the recent Celine Dion and Glee versions. Alyssa Reid, whoever she is, lacks the vocal chops to do this song justice.

*Emeli Sande (feat. Naughty Boy) - Daddy. Emeli Sande turns in another trip-hop kissed pop tune, slinkier than "Heaven," so not as showy, but still a very decent track. Her album, when it appears, will be a must-have.

*The Saturdays - My Heart Takes Over. Steve Mac produced this ballad, the third On Your Radar single. It's about as good a ballad as The Saturdays have executed, with a production sound big enough to make Leona Lewis jealous. Some good remixes of this out there too.

The Wanted - War Zone. After two dance pop tracks, it's ballad time for The Wanted. I've never been a fan of war metaphors for pop songs, but this does have a nicely varied production though, pushing up the tempo a bit on the second verse, with piano throughout. Capital FM is already playing this to death, despite its January release date.

Westlife - Lighthouse. Although co-written by Gary Barlow (with producer John Shanks), this bears no resemblance to the gritty electro-pop from Take That's last album. It's classic Westlife all the way...a typical pop ballad with piano, strings and a big middle section. I think after this Greatest Hits set, they are done.

*Amy Winehouse - Our Day Will Come. I'm glad that we're getting some Amy Winehouse extras with the upcoming posthumous release. But I think it's going to be clear that when you get "extras," there's a reason they were left off the album. Thus, this sounds an awful lot like Back to Black's closing track "Addicted," but not as hard-hitting. Still, a nice song though and very welcome on the radio.

*Will Young - Come On. Second Echoes single is another winner, a mid-tempo, downbeat, lovelorn track that finds Young once again baring some fragile emotions over a mature electronic melody. Hope it's another hit for him.

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