R. Kelly sounds exceptionally vocally on Black Panties, goes overboard sensually
R. Kelly • Black Panties • RCA • US Release Date: December 10, 2013
R. Kelly has a compelling argument for the title of the “King of R&B”, easily. For years and years, the sensually driven R&B singer has captivated audiences with his R- (and sometimes X-) rated brand of contemporary soul, ultimately epitomizing the urban sound.
So some things went down in music this past weekend, as they always do. But being December, it’s naturally busier within the holiday season, with more ‘hustle and bustling’ happening. Some of the hustling and bustling was just too colorful not to mention, so watch me ‘go to work’ folks!
Selena Gomez’s Bad Night
Friday, December 6, 2013
Apparently, Selena Gomez got incredibly frustrated on stage at the Jingle Ball 2013 and left her set early after microphone issues. According the Us Weekly, this involved a colorful f-word many frequent during those rebellious teen and collegiate years. Ultimately, from what I gather, didn’t seem like the greatest moment for the young star… I wouldn’t have wanted to “Come & Get It” anyways – remember my review of Stars Dance? Just saying!
Does Carrie Underwood Have an Even Worse One?
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Carrie Underwood apparently didn’t do The Sound of Music justice, or at least the critics give it the big thumbs down. Actually, no only was it the critics, but also one of the original cast members, Kym Karath. I mean, all I have to do is do a Google search of “Carrie Underwood Sound of Music” and the links of reviews and buzz are infinite. USA Today features an article entitled Carrie Underwood ‘proud’ of ‘Sound of Music’, certainly a defense from the country superstar to the critical panning. An obvious sign of frustration from the usually cool, collected singer? Killing ‘em with Jesus via tweet:
Plain and simple: Mean people need Jesus. They will be in my prayers tonight… 1 Peter 2:1-25—
Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) December 07, 2013
Personally, I enjoy Carrie Underwood, but one of her shortcomings for me is how her personality translates artistically. She definitely has a voice on her, but few could also be a credible replacement for Julie Andrews. Classics are difficult to remake for a reason –their classics. I was not privy to the NBC performance, however it didn’t sound like a good idea when I heard it was going to occur.
The Grammy Nominations Are In…
Friday, December 6, 2013
On Friday night, the Grammy nominations were announced at the annual Grammy Nomination Concert. This was the first concert I missed and for two reasons – (1) I forgot and (2) I was more focused on watching my Kentucky Wildcats play a basketball game versus Baylor, which they dropped 67-62. Oh well, at least the nominations were much more up my alley than they have been in previous years, which is shocking. Among the nods that most pleased me were big time nominations for Kendrick Lamar (Good Kid M.A.A.D. City), Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (Thrift Shop), Daft Punk (Random Access Memories), and Lorde (“Royals”). Among puzzlements were an album of the year nomination for Sara Bareilles’ The Blessed Unrest and Justin Timberlake’s snubs in the biggest categories of record, album, and song of the year. Sigh, you win some, you lose some I guess. By the way, Billboard has an interesting read on Grammy Nominations Concert: Things You Didn’t See on TV.
Robin Thicke Gets Support from Soul Vet in Defense of “Blurred Lines”
Saturday, December 7, 2003
There’s been a ton of controversy surrounding “Blurred Lines” despite its monstrous popularity. Before the cool “Royals” came along and dominated the single headlines, there was “Blurred Lines” which just kept on going and going and going – yeah sorta like the Energizer Bunny. Anyways, with a lawsuit pending over whether Thicke ‘lifted’ “Blurred Lines” from Marvin Gaye’s classic “Got to Give It Up”, Earth Wind & Fire’s Verdine White provided his two cents, defending the same point that I made that Thicke did not ‘cop’ “Blurred Lines”. I’ve always said the inspiration was there, but there are differences where the music theory is concerned between both songs.
Disappointing Pending Album Sales for Britney Spears?
Friday, December 6, 2013
Britney Spears’ new effort Britney Jean hasn’t exactly been a critical smash (see Metacritic), but does that always matter if you can offset the bashing with album sales? Why Of course not as money is money! The problem is, Britney Jean’s pending numbers are looking pretty skinny. And we thought that Lady Gaga had a bad week contextually with ARTPOP. According to billboard.com, Spears is expected to sell between 115,000 and 120,000 copies of her latest. While there are artists who’d kill for those numbers, they don’t match the singers past triumphs and may hold her from no. 1. Going back to the critical thing, well, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with Britney Jean, but it had its moments. Single “Work B**ch” was among ‘em.
Joe Jonas’ Confessions
December 1, 2013
So Joe Jonas has revealed he is “not that innocent” this past week via a New York Magazine article, Joe Jonas: My Life As a Jonas Brother. Someone get Usher’s 2004 Confessions album cued up, will ya? What is more surprising is just how rebellious the former Disney star has been considering the façade being ‘put on’. Sure, if any other 20 year old discussed losing his virginity it wouldn’t be shocking (probably just another notch on the belt as they say), but it becomes sensational news with a Jo Bro. I mean, did were we ready for such a brash tone from Joe throughout the article? While Jonas’ sexual history is ultimately his business, perhaps it was his Miley Cyrus / Demi Lovato marijuana dare that is more troubling, considering they are couple of years younger than Jonas and at the time of the great ‘lighting up’, they would’ve been like 14… Hmm. The Hollywood Reporter did a fine job of summing up the confessions.
As far as the reactions, well they range as to be expeced. Dylan Sprouse and Zendaya, both of Disney fame had reactions (Former Disney Stars Respond To Joe Jonas’ Confessional). Personally, I’m both interested yet apathetic. It is interesting to find out that Joe Jonas was more like your normal young adult than Disney wanted to present, but the other side of that is, so what?
- NBC’s “The Sound Of Music” – Starring Carrie Underwood – Is a Massive Rating Success (roughstock.com)
- Carrie Underwood ‘Proud’ Of ‘Sound Of Music Live!’ Performance After Original Star Blasts Her (contactmusic.com)
- Who the Von Trapps Wish Could Replace Carrie Underwood in ‘The Sound of Music Live’ (abcnews.go.com)
- In Defense of Carrie Underwood (entertainment.time.com)
- ‘Sound of Music’ — and Underwood — largely a success (newsday.com)
Call Me Crazy, But… is a good start for Sevyn, but not without flaws
Sevyn Streeter • Call Me Crazy, But… • Atlantic • US Release Date: December 3, 2013
Getting into the R&B game as a solo artist these days is tricky. It seems so many newbies have nothing short of an uphill battle just to earn some notoriety, which doesn’t even necessarily include or translate into commercial success. Singer/songwriter Amber “Sevyn” Streeter seems hungry to be R&B’s next star, but despite her impressive resumé, she’s not necessarily in advantageous position to do so. Barriers aside (given a cooling genre), Streeter sports a superb voice and has some skill with her pen. Call Me Crazy, But… is a good start for Sevyn, but isn’t absent of flaws.
“Come On Over” matches up well with today’s current generation, which appreciates a sizable amount of suggestiveness. Sevyn takes numerous lyrical opportunities to convey both his and her sensual endeavors. Among the most notable hails from verse two as Streeter sings “Sent me a message / you don’t usually text me / say you want me for breakfast…” Innocent it may sound out of context, but the chorus confirms Streeter is playing up double meanings with one meaning likely being her aim: “I’ve been thinking ‘bout you / can’t get you off my mind / and if I gave it to you / why didn’t you love me right? / But I won’t have to wonder / if you’ll just come all over…” The opener is all about doing the do.
“It Won’t Stop” follows up “Come On Over” in a chill, cool fashion. Where “Come On Over” embraced overtness, “It Won’t Stop” may not percolate enough. That is surprising considering Chris Brown guests here and usually provides an energetic lift collaboratively. Sure Streeter and Brown mesh well on this duet, but instead of being a dynamic collaboration, its more mellow. Overall, it’s pleasant and enjoyable, though not the ‘second coming’. “Sex on the Ceiling” atones, finding Streeter once more relying on sex as fuel for the fire. It works, even if Streeter exaggerates just how good it is. Still, she’s really into it and into him: “Take me hard yeah…switch it up one time / want you to drive me crazy / baby we gon’ have sex on the ceiling / I don’t ever want to come down boy / and I have you stand up when I’m around boy… we gon’ have sex on the ceiling.”
Title track “Call Me Crazy” follows up “Sex on the Ceiling” exceptionally, characterized by sound production work, some memorable lyrics, and a solid performance by Streeter. Basically, Streeter is really, REALLY high on her man, period. On verse two, an infatuated Streeter asks her man to “Lock me up in your arms forever / and never set me free, no free, throw away the key / damn right I be on that obsessive sh*t.” Obsessive indeed, Streeter vows on the chorus “I ain’t going nowhere, you’re my life apart / call me crazy…” Following that dedication, Streeter then delivers “B.A.N.S.”, which stands for b**ch @$$ n***as. O.M.G.! Streeter regrets giving herself to ‘him’, and spends the whole song venting: “I should’ve never offered it / but he made me feel like this could be forever / never thought he gon’ run off with it / but that don’t make it no better…” She comes to the conclusion that “N***as be on that bullsh*t / acting like they don’t do sh*t…” As the soul classic goes, “It’s the same old song…”
“Shattered” is more subtle than the angry “B.A.N.S.”, but doesn’t quite reach the levels of the best tracks of the EP. Still, the lyrics are nice, particularly the tail-end of the chorus: “It’s like we’re throwing stones at a glass house / and it shatters.” Closer “nEXT” is arguably the set’s strongest track for several reasons. The theme is traditional, as is the overall songwriting approach. The production embodies the cool, modern R&B sound, which is tasteful and not overproduced by any means. Essentially, Streeter wants her ex back, without the rifts within the relationship (“How can my ex boyfriend be my next boyfriend…”). She cites the issues within the ailing relationship throughout the song, including “Together, forever / I would never, never let you go / see now soon as we say that, we at war…” (verse one) or “Every time we break up / we turn around and we make up / momma wonder when I’m goin’ wake up…” (verse two). I’m sorry Streeter is having relationship issues, but “nEXT” is certainly the gem of Call Me Crazy, But….
How does Call Me Crazy, But… stack up? Overall, it is a good start for Streeter. It’s not the most memorable collection of seven songs I’ve ever heard, but it has some notable songs and specific moments. My hope for Streeter is that her full-length album has more memorability and distinction. I also hope Streeter has another “nEXT” in her arsenal.
“Come on Over”; “Sex on the Ceiling”; “Call Me Crazy”; “nEXT”
- Video: Sevyn Streeter Talks her EP “Call Me Crazy” (getmybuzzup.com)
- [Watch] Sevyn Streeter Tells Whether She is Cool with Rihanna or Karrueche on The Breakfast Club (getmybuzzup.com)
- 7 Sexy pics of singer Sevyn Streeter (rollingout.com)
- New Music To Know: Sevyn Streeter Proves She’s More Than Just a Hit Songwriter on Debut EP (923now.cbslocal.com)
- Review: Sevyn Streeter – “Call Me Crazy, But…” EP (theuptownlounge.com)
One Direction do the predictable – debut at no. 1 and move lots of albums. Midnight Memories managed to sell 546,000 copies, giving the Brit-Irish boy band its largest sales week ever. 2012 sophomore album Take Me Home moved 540,000 copies to give the band a second no. 1 in the US. It was history when their debut effort, Up All Night, debuted in the top spot in early 2012, though its numbers were just a fraction of what the last two studio albums have sold (176,000). As for newbies on the chart, Garth Brooks does some work as Blame It All on My Roots sold 164,000 copies good for a no. 3 bow. That is awesome considering it’s a box set. Box sets tend to be more expensive and generally move less copies. Given it’s release during the Black Friday hubbub and its exclusivity via Walmart, it’s not shocking Brooks had some takers. Besides One Direction and Brooks, the week was all about previously releases efforts.
Eminem once more was forced from the top perch to no. 2, but sold 199,000 more copies of The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (already platinum). Others holding over include The Robertsons’ Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas (no. 4), Katy Perry’s Prism (no. 5), Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red (no. 6), Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP (no. 7) and Luke Bryan’s Crash My Party. What is significant about those albums? They all sold > 100,000 copies. Miley Cyrus also and Now 48 close out the top ten at nos. 9 and 10 respectively, but sold 79,000 and 77,000 copies, breaking the >100,000 copies sold.
Lorde’s Hot 100 reign is officially over with “Royals” – well at least for the time being. It was a nice nine weeks for Lorde, who has no reason to hang her teenage head. Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” climbs it way back to the no. 1 spot. “Wrecking Ball” is the song that just can’t keep people from talking, really! Better yet, it can’t keep people from making their own versions…
Whose Got Next? Britney Spears of course, but the numbers are looking relatively small, with Billboard prognosticating between 115,000 to 120,000 copies sold. Yuck Britney! Why those numbers suck? Well, Britney is usually a lock for no. 1 or at worst no. 2 like Blackout, however, the numbers may not be strong enough to hold back previously released (aka holdovers) from charting ahead of the pop diva. Could Spears be blocked out of the top 3? Possibly. Besides Britney, it’s a pretty boring week for new releases.
- The 2013 Fourth Quarter Music Releases Underwhelm… (brentmusicreviews.com)
- One Direction’s ‘Midnight Memories’ Tops U.S. Album Charts (variety.com)
- On the Charts: One Direction Making ‘Memories’ at Number One (rollingstone.com)
- One Direction land a third US number one album with “Midnight Memories” (thecelebculture.com)
On December 10th, R. Kelly will release what seems to be the return of ‘nasty’ R. Kelly with album Black Panties. Kelly is easily among R&B’s most preeminent artists. Sure, his sales have falling off much like his contemporaries, but no one can deny the salacious singer/songwriter has a long and illustrious career. This particular post won’t discuss Kelly’s earlier successes with tracks like “Bump and Grind” or his Grammy-winning track “I Believe I Can Fly”, but will instead focus on his post- new millennial success. The early part of the millennium was kind to R. Kelly, much like it was to a number of neo-soul artists. But as Nelly Furtado asks on her 2005 album Loose, “why do all good things come to an end?”
Tie – 10th
The Best of Both Worlds & Unfinished Business (with Jay-Z)
I was only actually privy to Unfinished Business (2004), which managed to debut at no. 1 on the Billboard Albums chart (215,000 copies) – don’t ask me how. That said, I didn’t hear too many good things about R. Kelly and Jay-Z’s previous collaborative effort The Best of Both Worlds (2002), which landed at no. 2 with 223,000 copies sold itself. I’ll only speak for Unfinished Business to be fair, but I’ll just tell you I thought it was an undercooked affair. Sure there were some bearable moments – emphasis on ‘some’ – but ultimately, the album just felt second-rate for both musicians with such shimmering careers. Balling these two were not…SMH.
Don’t let the inclusion of “Trapped in the Closet” fool you folks – TP.3 Reloaded (2005) found R. Kelly doing what he does best pretty mediocrely. Yeah, I was one of the 491,000 who purchased it when it came out, but looking back, its just not my favorite album by R. “In The Kitchen” adds a freaky bright spot, as do risqué sex-inciters like “Remote Control” or “Put My T-Shirt On”, but otherwise, Kells is a lil’ too freaky for his own good. I mean for a man who seems to be able to make some incredibly outlandish references to S-E-X, TP.3 Reloaded just was so-so.
Write Me Back
You could lump Kelly’s Love Letter and Write Me Back albums as one in many respects. Both are Kelly back in conservative, neo-soul mode as opposed to cutting edge, “let’s get down” mode. Write Me Back isn’t a bad album, but it is pretty conservative. There’s nothing wrong with singles like “Share My Love” or “Feelin’ Single” save for the fact they sound incredibly similar to Kells a la Chocolate Factory (that was 2003). “Clipped Wings” is a nice moment, though Write Me Back could’ve used a few more like that to truly make it a signature R. Kelly showing.
Like the fine Write Me Back, my main issue lies with the conservative nature of Love Letter. It’s not bad, but it may fall a shade short of Kelly’s more balanced albums, specifically Chocolate Factory, which manages to balance the freak and the soul. “When A Woman Loves” is a nice addition to Kelly’s collection, though he milks it for every bit it’s worth. “Love Letter” is smooth as silk while “Radio Message” appeals as well. Still, I believe I speak for many R. Kelly fans in saying we remember his bedroom work more than his more refined, less risqué offerings.
Justin Bieber – “Change Me” – Single – Label: Island – US Release Date: December 2, 2013
“Girl I’m ready if you’re ready now / oh, as I’m ever gonna be / if you’re with it then I’m with it now / to accept all responsibility…I don’t wanna be the same…” Whoa! For his most recent installment of Music Mondays, Justin Bieber delivers a thoughtful, mostly piano-accompanied ballad entitled “Change Me”. Lacking the sensuality of his pivotal “PYD” featuring R. Kelly and the funkiness of last week’s “Rollercoaster”, Bieber is definitely more moody here and heartbroken for sure. The tempo is slow, matching the drag of Bieber’s own emotions.
A definite pro about “Change Me” is that Bieber shows, perhaps for the first time, his willingness to ‘bend’ within the relationship. It appears to be overdue mind you, but at least it seems Bieber has soul-searched and arrived at that point. This is evidenced by the chorus: “Maybe you could change me / maybe you could change me / maybe you could be the light that opens up my eyes / make all my wrongs right / change me, change me.” That newfound ability to listen and grow is further shown on the second verse, with lyrics like “If I’m screaming, talk quieter / understanding and patient…” or “Be like serenity / help reposition my mind / take a chance, make a difference, in my life.” Say what you will about Bieber, but he’s definitely thinking and aiming deeper than before.
“Change Me” may not possess the same swagger of his two previous offerings, but still Bieber sounds mature and much more ‘grown’ than anything he offered on 2012 studio effort Believe. For once, you feel that at least the ‘bad boy’ is backing up his desire to be a man with more masculine, grown music to match. Another possible takeaway is that Bieber is actually trying to get his act and life sorted out. Maybe that’s reading to much, but the Music Mondays lyrics are his journals correct? Overall, I’m on board.
- Justin Bieber Releases New Song “Change Me” – Listen Now (popnewsint.wordpress.com)
- Justin Bieber Releases New Song “Change Me”–Listen Now! (eonline.com)
- Justin Bieber Is Here With a New Song Called ‘Change Me’ (celebuzz.com)
- Music Monday: Justin Bieber Drops Soulful Ballad “Change Me” (popdust.com)
- Justin Bieber Has a “Bad Day” (Music Mondays) (brentmusicreviews.com)
More mature Britney Jean is a mixed blessing of sorts…
Britney Spears⎪ Britney Jean⎪ RCA⎪⎪ US Release Date: December 03, 2013
Let’s just cut right to the chase people! Britney Jean is different from previous Britney Spears albums, period. While Britney Jean still possesses some of the suggestiveness that typically characterizes Britney Spears (“Work B**ch” being a prime candidate), it also seeks a more mature script to convey her deepest emotions. Is Britney Jean always exciting because of this departure? That’s a definite no; it’s no Britney (2001) where we were all shocked and captivated when Ms. Spears presented “I’m A Slave 4 U”. Put into perspective, however, Spears is no longer that spunky teen singing “Oops (I Did It Again)” or even a rebellious, liberated twenty-something. I’m not sure if we’ll see another “Circus”. Sigh, she’s 32 (or will be come December 2). I wouldn’t let mature Britney completely dissuade you – Britney Jean still has it’s moments. It also has its question marks as well.
“Alien” is the first indication that this isn’t quite the same Britney you grew up with – if you were around for the teen-pop invasion of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s that is. The production work is solid (as to be expected), opening with mysterious, building synths and vocal cooing in the background. Eventually, stronger, thudding 808 drums anchor things down. Spears’ lyrical statements are what is more interesting or surprising than the sound itself. “But the stars in the sky / look like home, take me home / and the light in your eyes / lets me know, I’m not alone…,” Spears sings on the refrain. Essentially, Spears deals with loneliness, likening her loneliness to that of being an extraterrestrial, aka “alien” (she’s E.T. perhaps?). However, her loneliness is now a thing of the past because she’s found “her everything”, as Mary J. Blige would put it. Not a bad start.
👍 “Work B**ch” definitely shows more of the risqué, unapologetic Britney Spears… well sort of. Take a closer look at a seemingly ‘shallow’ message from Spears on the chorus: “You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti? / You want a Maserati? You better work b**ch / You want a Lamborghini? Sip martinis? / Look hot in a bikini? / You better work b**ch…now get to work b**ch!” Sure, Spears is using the overt, shock value of today’s generation to her advantage, but she’s also suggesting to attain the things you want in life, specifically the ‘fame’, you’ve gotta work for it. Basically, the double entendre number is all about “work” effort, and no, not the kind on a pole. Additionally, through the adversity, Spears seems to be suggesting to keep working hard (“Hold your head high, fingers to the sky / they gon’ try and try ya, but they can’t deny ya…”). “Work” actually shines brightly due to its superb, danceable production, and a playful, energized Spears.
👍 “Perfume” is a fine contrast to the honest “Work B**ch”, sporting a much less aggressive sound. Even so, Spears is still in serious mode to an extent. She’s struggling with paranoia and jealously throughout the cut, a narrative in which Spears fears her man is cheating (remember on “Alien” he’d eliminated her loneliness). Because of this, Spears sings as follows: “I put on my perfume, yeah I want it all over you / I gotta mark my territory / I’ll never tell, tell on myself, but I hope she smells my perfume…” So basically, she wants to ensure no one gets her man. There it is.
“It Should Be Easy” follows up “Perfume” fairly well, but lacks the same ‘latch’ of the former. will.i.am enters in the picture collaboratively, delivering the chorus: “Baby love / it should be easy / it shouldn’t be complicated / it should be easy / I don’t know how or where else to say it.” Huh? Is this serious will.i.am who usually goes as ‘dumb’ as they come? Yep, yet another ‘thoughtful’ message in regards to how true love feels – ‘easy’ as opposed to ‘labored’. Spears toys with this as she sings “I let you in but don’t you break my heart / don’t you rip me apart” (verse one) and “I’ve got visions boy, I’ve got visions / of me and you happily just livin’ / I know they’re out there, them beautiful men / but you my future baby…” (verse two). Even through Spears’ newfound seriousness, the cut is still futuristic and danceable in the modern pop sensibility.
👍 If “It Should Be Easy” was too tame, “Tik Tik Boom” keeps Queen Britney lively. Hey, there are very few songs that couldn’t be exciting with lyrics like “You got sex drive in your face / let me get up on it, let me get up on it.” Throw in T.I. literally “hitting all the right buttons” on his guest verse (“Right there in my wife beater / she like the way I eat her, beat her, beat her / treat her like an animal somebody call PETA”) as well as a naughty hook from Britney (“better make me tik tik tik tik tik tik boom…”), and it seems Spears is still “A Slave 4 U”. If the ‘ticking time bomb’ wasn’t enough, Britney knows what’s best for you on the equally alluring “Body Ache” (“I know you feel my fire / draw you into my flame / tonight we take it higher / what I got ain’t no game…”). My quibble with “Body Ache” would be that Spears’ thin vocals leave plenty to be desired. Sure, grit is not the expectation, but the performance is a bit too ‘cool’.
The remainder of Britney Jean lacks some of the bite of both the beginning and the standout cuts. “Til It’s Gone” is again prudent, with Spears teaching “You never know what you got ’til it’s gone…” on the chorus. Still, the aforementioned line is the extent of the depth of the chorus. How seriously can you take a song still filled with a bag of production tricks (synths, gimmicky vocals, predictable cues, etc.). On “Passenger”, Britney’s vocals on the verse are emotional in effort, but I don’t feel they show her in her best light per se. Even, so, you can see where Spears was going, considering this cut is all about “losing control” of being the “driver” to become the “passenger”. Basically, Spears is letting go of ‘control’ and letting her man / love lead her. For concept, it gets my blessing, but as a song, I wouldn’t call it the ‘second coming.’
“Chillin’ With You” seems like Spears’s lighthearted approach to contemporary R&B utilizing acoustic guitars and harder drum programming – two unlike things. The end of each chorus has a more hip-hop oriented sound, contrasting the rest of the song itself. True to its title, “Chillin’ With You” is indeed incredibly chill, though I’m not sure how ‘important’ it is to Spears’ musical legacy or even Britney Jean itself. She gets the assist from sister Jamie Lynn Spears here. “Don’t Cry” closes the album, but sorta sits never catching fire. Sure, B is once more emotional touching on the real aspects of life as opposed to youthful sexual endeavors (“This is going to be our last goodbye / our love is gone but I’ll survive / hide my tears and dry my eyes…”), but she’s also a bit less exciting in the process. I would never associate Britney with ballads because I don’t think her voice is best suited for that regardless of the fact she’s had a few that’ve worked in the past. I’m not sold on “Don’t Cry” though.
So Britney Jean, what does Brent think of thee? A mixed blessing of sorts. I appreciate the maturity, and I believe that some of Britney’s fans that progress alongside her will also appreciate this more grown-up Britney who is not ‘young’ anymore (contextually). On the other hand, there is so much truth and maturity, it sometimes causes Britney Jean to lack to the luster of what Britney Spears has been known to be. Sure, she gets in a “Work B**ch” to balance out fun and real life, but the album sags some towards the end, something big given it’s tight 36 minute duration in standard form. Good, not her best; the post-twenty-something album.
“Work B**ch”; “Perfume”; “Tik Tik Boom”; “Body Ache”
Okay, I’m thankful for plenty in my young life. One thing I’m most thankful for besides those traditional things like God, family, friends, employment, etc. is of course music. Previously, I issued a playlist of “Songs of Thanks” which featured titles that all had the words “Thank” included within them. This ten song playlist is a more ‘personal’ and merely my opinion of some songs I enjoyed. No this is not my top ten and no these are in no particular order. Yes, there are plenty of songs I left off and could’ve easily supplanted in favor of some I chose. Why didn’t I include them all? Well, that would just be incredibly time-consuming. So here’s Ten Random Songs I’m ‘Thankful For’ from 2013. Enjoy!
“This is for the girl that can get down low / the whole club wanna see you go / ay, shake, shake like you’r famous, girl / head back, lay it down like a Vegas girl…” Sigh, it’s truly something when I find myself nodding my head to some young kid’s jam. Sure, I’m not THAT much older than British pop star Conor Maynard, but I’ve got a couple of years on the recently turned 21-year old. Still, I just couldn’t resist “Vegas Girl” given the addictiveness of both the urban-styled groove and Maynard’s swag-tacular approach. Yeah, I know ‘swag-tacular’ is not even a word, but I can still wish. BTW, he’s a bit risqué too, see “Another One” from the same album (“For once I hit the spot real early / quickly spotted this beautiful girlie / she had me going damn oh la la / said she wanna pell my banana-na”).
From No Beginning, No End
If you say the words jazz or R&B, I’m usually there. José James offered the best of both worlds on his underrated, yet exceptional album No Beginning, No End which materialized in January 2013. While the majority of No Beginning, No Ending tickled my fancy, nothing did more so than the hip “Trouble”. Incredibly soulful, James bears his soul, epitomized by the refrain:
“I need someone like you to understand my heart and my soul / it’s on my mind babe, it’s always trouble, trouble, trouble / trouble, trouble, trouble / all my life lately call on me to / struggle, struggle, struggle…” I feel ya homie, I feel ya!
Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite
“We Can’t End This Way”
From Get Up!
I have a soft spot for a mix of blues and gospel music… I’m certainly the eclectic listener. Ben Harper’s collaboration with harp player Charlie Musselwhite Get Up! Was easily one of my favorite albums from 2013 and yet another underrated one. Out of all of the killer joints, the gospel-infused “We Can’t End This Way” was most relatable for me for some reason. Maybe its the gospel backing vocalist or perhaps that churchy, addictive 6/8 groove. It doesn’t hurt that my boy Ben has some serious vocal grit going on. Whatever it is, I’m thankful “We Can’t End This Way” graced my playlist in 2013.
Harry Connick, Jr.
“S’pposed To Be”
From Smokey Mary and Every Man Should Know
Harry Connick, Jr. Knew he had a good thing going with sensational gospel-blues infused number “S’pposed To Be” as he featured it on both his 2013 studio albums (Smokey Mary and Every Man Should Know). I’ll leave you with what I previously wrote about one of my favorite jazzy jams of the year:
“S’pposed To Be” is nothing short of a showstopper. Written in a distinctive southern gospel-jazz style, Connick delivers one of his more distinct cuts of his career, using a gospel choir on the chorus (“…Every road leads back to you / be with you when I’m s’pposed to be…”). Kim Burrell & Tara Alexander and the Frontline Vocal Movement guest, giving the brilliant number even more oomph. #LetTheChurchSayYes
“Strictly Reserved for You”
From Victim of Love
I adore soul music. While I know that soul music in its most pure form is a thing of the past, I also adore the retro-/neo-soul movements. Neo-soul has fallen by the wayside, but there are still some key proponents within the retro-soul movement still doing their thing. What’s more fitting than a 66-year old who’s been grinding for years just to get his chance to be doing what he should’ve been doing in his heyday? No matter though, as Charles Bradley is a true proponent of soul music. “Strictly Reserved For You” was Mr. Bradley’s electrifying promo single from an equally alluring sophomore album, Victim of Love. As you listen, you can hear the undeniable influences of the late great James Brown. Bradley’s grit is something many new-school singers couldn’t even hope to achieve.