So the Grammy nominations just came out, and guess who is already putting his two cents in about who’s gonna win? This guy is! Yep it is technically ‘way too early’, but who cares? How about some December predictions for what’s gonna go down in January?
The Big Four
Record of the Year
“Radioactive”, Imagine Dragons
“Locked Out of Heaven”, Bruno Mars
“Blurred Lines”, Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell
This is one of the most competitive categories, period. All five of these are worthy records, which isn’t always true. If one feels like it’s out of place, it is Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven”, mostly because it is the ‘oldest’ of the bunch.
Both “Blurred Lines” and “Royals” are deserving of love based on their impact, but just because you ruled the Hot 100 certainly doesn’t equate to a Grammy. If one of these two wins, I’d give the edge to Lorde, who doesn’t have various controversies on her back. Still, rock would get a huge recognition if Imagine Dragons’ mammoth hit “Radioactive” was awarded here. Still, doesn’t Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” seem unavoidable here, particularly if the duo is victorious in the Album of the Year category?
Way Too Early Pick:
Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky”
Album of the Year
Random Access Memories, Daft Punk
Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Kendrick Lamar
The Heist, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Red, Taylor Swift
I’m not even going to curb my biases – I’m rooting for Kendrick Lamar’s rap opus Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. But I won’t even begin to act like it has a shot after hip-hop has been avoided like a plague in this coveted category; its only been a decade since OutKast’s undeniable masterpiece Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was awarded AOTY. But Kendrick also has killer competition within his own genre with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ breakthrough The Heist, which is certainly considered more ‘friendly’ hip-hop. I think both cancel each other out, which leaves Sara Bareilles, Taylor Swift, and Daft Punk. As good as Red is, Taylor Swift has already won for her career-breakthrough, Fearless. Sara Bareilles’ inclusion over bigger pop albums is shocking, but never count out the surprise nominee… sometimes that’s the album that wins. Personally, I think Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories is the frontrunner.
Way Too Early Pick:
Random Access Memories, Daft Punk
Song of the Year
“Locked Out of Heaven” (Bruno Mars)
“Roar” (Katy Perry)
“Same Love” (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert)
Another big-time category, my goodness! All of the nominees here should be jumping for joy that “Get Lucky” wasn’t nominated in this category. Again, I’m going to eliminate “Locked Out Of Heaven”, no matter how good it is; I don’t think it’s Bruno’s year. While I love Pink and approved of “Just Give Me The Reason” (with Nate Ruess of fun.), I’m not sure the no. 1 hit is the best song of the year. If the voters want to go bold (and political), they vote for the fine “Same Love”, courtesy of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert. If they don’t, they’re left with the inspirational breakthrough “Roar” and the ubiquitous “Royals”. If Katy Perry was ever to win a Grammy, “Royals” would be the perfect song. However, that “Royals” is one unique song contrasting its fellow nominees.
Way Too Early Pick
Best New Artist
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Another category where I’m biased to one artist – Kendrick Lamar! Again though, Lamar is up against heavyweights Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Kacey Musgraves unapologetic brand of country is notable from what I heard, but I’m not sure she outpaces the huge hip-hop nominees. Ed Sheeran feels either a year late or a year early, depending on your perspective, but could certainly play spoils. James Blake’s nod is a ‘trap’ for the hip-hop favorites, amplified by his Mercury Prize victory for superb sophomore album Overgrown. I’m truly torn here, so I’ll go with who I think is most deserving, even if it doesn’t come to pass.
Way Too Early Pick
Welcome to the final part of my Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013. Here is where I housed my honorable mentions, which were many. If you missed the previous two posts, here’s how I opened them up respectively, beginning with Favorites and ending with Least Favorites:
“As I look over my 2013 playlist from my iPod, I realize I have listened to numerous albums this year. In fact, the amount of music that my ears have consumed and my pen has analyzed is pretty scary…and I still missed lots of albums! SMH! Some were special, some made me cringe, and some fell somewhere in between the two extremes. As difficult as it was, as of October 7, 2013, I have compiled a list housing my favorites, least favorites, and honorable mentions. I’m almost certain I’ve slighted someone and I’m sure there will be continual revisions, but for now, here’s what you should’ve spun, what you should’ve avoided like the plague, and those that were strongly consideration for favorites. Enjoy!”
“Welcome all who dare to part deux of my Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013 for all who dare to enter the brentmusicreviews zone! Ha… If you missed the first part (Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013, Part 1), you should like totally check out my favorites from 2013, ‘cause there was some awesome albums. If you’re not one for positivity and optimism, maybe you’re just checking this out because some you enjoy skepticism, criticism, and the occasional, um, cynicism.
Onward to the honorable mentions!!!
Travis Garland, Travis Garland
Ariana Grande, Yours Truly
Lorde, Pure Heroine
Conor Maynard, Contrast
There was one dominant pop album in 2013 and it was not by Justin Bieber (yep cheap shot). Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience was sort of ‘the promised land’ of pop. But Justin wasn’t the only album that impressed. John Mayer has been more subtle lately, but Paradise Valley was well conceived. Travis Garland isn’t well established yet, but he should be following EPs and his compilation effort Travis Garland. Ariana Grande sounded angelic, particular with boyfriend Nathan Sykes (The Wanted) on “Almost Is Never Enough”. Lorde’s sorta pop, sorta alternative mix made it a fine listen while Britain’s Justin Bieber Conor Maynard out-swag’d the “swaggy” singer easily with debut Contrast.
Harry Connick, Jr. Smokey Mary
Harry Connick, Jr. Every Man Should Know
Michael Bublé delivered my favorite traditional pop album of 2013, but who can deny the musicianship of either Harry Connick, Jr. Or George Benson? Smokey Mary introduced the funky “S’pposed To Be” to my constant rotation playlist while Every Man Should Know added its country-tinged self-titled ballad. As for George Benson? What more is there to say to hear a legend paying tribute to one of his own legends on tracks like “Route 66” or “Unforgettable”?
Kings of Leon, Mechanical Bull
Alice in Chains, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
John Fogerty, Wrote A Song For Everyone
Rock certainly didn’t dominate 2013, but there were definitely some exceptional albums. While Queens of the Stone Age’s …Like Clockwork and David Bowie’s The Next Day took top honors in my eyes, Kings of Leon, Alice in Chains, and John Fogerty definitely ‘did work’ too. Kings of Leon impressed on “Supersoaker” and were humanized on the seemingly autobiographical “Wait For Me”. Alice in Chains reminded us just how good 90s rock/metal was, particularly on title track “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”. As for the legend of this trio, John Fogerty’s collaborations effort Wrote A Song For Everyone was so much better than expected, like really!
Depeche Mode, Delta Machine
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away
The National, Trouble Will Find Me
Let’s just keep this short and sweet. Stacked, stacked, stacked!!! This category of music is always loaded, period. An annual number one seed you might say. Vampire Weekend were definitely the act to beat, but Phoenix, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and The National all rocked too, as evidenced by their spot on my list. “Entertainment” from Phoenix just made me feel happy because of its bright brilliance. For electro-alt vets Depeche Mode, it’s the general darkness of the music that has a hypnotizing effect; they never sound old. Nick Cave’s exceptional songwriting is undeniable, particularly on standouts like the opening “We No Who ‘U ‘R” and the infectious groove of “Finishing Jubilee Street”, which is a follow-up to “Jubilee Street”. The National pleased with “Don’t Swallow The Cap” and “Humiliation” among others.
Bilal, A Love Surreal
Chrisette Michele, Better
Alice Smith, She
Yeah, I know I’ve whined about R&B, but most of the time it wasn’t the quality of the albums but rather the dismal sales. None of the above mentioned albums exactly made a huge chart impact (Fantasia did well contextually speaking), but all four were and are definitely worthy of some spins. “Without Me” was definitely my jam from Side Effects Of You, even if it is more of a women empowerment cut… don’t judge me, it’s sick! “Winning Hand” tickled my fancy from Bilal’s A Love Surreal, while one of Alice Smith’s best moments was actually a cover of Cee Lo’s “Fool For You”. As for CM, “A Couple of Forevers” is among my top cuts of the year regardless of genre. All four albums receive my humble approval.
Teena Marie, Beautiful
Aaron Neville, My True Story
R&B isn’t getting much attention in general, so of course the veterans get the worst of it. Teena Marie’s posthumously released final studio album is one she would’ve been incredibly proud of. As for Aaron Neville, there is literally no one who come close to the versatile soul singer’s vocal timbre. He exceptionally covers old, old school classics on My True Story.
Mac Miller, Watching Movies With The Sound Off
Tyler, The Creator, Wolf
Earl Sweatshirt, Doris
A$AP Rocky, Long. Live. A$AP
A$AP Ferg, Trap Lord
This is one lengthy list right? There are also probably omissions and arguable omissions. To answer the skeptics, yes I purpose excluded Jay-Z’s Magna Carta…Holy Grail off this list – it was not my favorite, least favorite, nor really an honorable mention in my eyes. Kanye West definitely had an argument for a ‘favorite’, but I also had my own reservations with the album itself. Mac Miller showed more maturity on Watching Movies With The Sound Off, but not without his fair share of references to his… Anyways, Odd Future releases are always captivating (Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt), while A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg both impressed with their respective efforts and signature styles. I know I’ve left off others… it was a good year for hip-hop.
I’ll admit, I knew very little about Congo Natty, also known as Rebel MC. After being given the opportunity to review Revolution, however, I was extremely impressed with the album and Congo Natty himself.
Avishai Cohen, Duende
Gerald Clayton, Life Forum
Redtenbacher’s Funkestra, The Cooker
I absolutely adore jazz, period. However, it is easy to ‘sleep’ on a genre which played a huge role in my musical education. Yes, it sounds like I turned my back which seems hypocritical given my jazz piano background. Actually much of the reason is that popular music tend to ‘shock’ and pull in so many major headlines. It’s not fair obviously, as some of today’s greatest talents lie within the jazz realm and definitely don’t receive the attention they deserve. Jazz may often take a backseat on this particular site, but it doesn’t in my heart in the least. I do review it in addition to the ‘pop’ and Avishai Cohen, Gerald Clayton, and Redtenbacher’s Funkestra definitely had killer albums. #MadRespect
- Album Playlist: Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013, Part 1… (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Album Playlist: Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013, Part 2… (brentmusicreviews.com)
2 Chainz Does Dumb Surprisingly Well on B.O.A.T.S. II
2 Chainz⎪ B.O.A.T.S. II: #Me Time⎪Def Jam⎪⎪US Release Date: September 10
Let’s get one thing straight from the get-go… 2 Chainz is crazy! Like totally cray cray. Honestly, B.O.A.T.S. II: #Me Time should be a disaster (add a profanity of choice in front of ‘disaster’). Somehow though, through all of Tauheed Epps’ stupidity, he puts together a dumb, but fun rap album. Yeah, maybe there isn’t one single cut that supplants the brilliantly, naughty “Birthday Song” which I still jam out to on my iPod, but there is plenty of songs that lack substance that give the listener, um, a guilty pleasure. 2 CHAINZ!
The fun starts with “Fork”, in which 2 Chainz “…had a dream that rap wouldn’t work / woke up on the block, had to hit it with the fork / skrrr, skrrr, skrrr, skrrr, skrrr: hit it with the fork… rap don’t work, records ain’t bein’ sold…so much money on me, it won’t even fold….” Yeah something like that. What is he talking about? Good question! Well, sounds like drugs, rap albums not selling, and having more money than he’ll ever need. If that’s not enough, he elaborates on his excesses, maybe best epitomized by a lyric like “I drink red b**ches, I don’t drink Red Bulls…” Alrighty then, heck of a way to start 2 Chainz by hitting it with the fork.
On “36”, the king of dumb educates us listeners on the hook: “36 / that’s how many ounces in a brick / 36, 36, 36, 36…” So if you had no idea about the wait of drug paraphernalia, 2 Chainz has schooled you over the course of one minute and a half. Feel lifted? Then after all the drugs, the “Feds Watching”, featuring and produced by Pharrell Williams. 2 Chainz begins his first verse with bragging about material things (“Dreads hang on designer everything…”), then goes on to the strip club (“This that category 5 when I walk up in the strip club…”), and throws in some drugs for good measure (“Backing soda marketing , I’m getting it ain’t I? Obviously…”). He caps all of his higher level thinking with a simple, summative hook: “I’mma be fresh as hell if the Feds watching….” So basically, even if 2 Chainz gets caught, he’s going to be ‘fresh to death’ I’m assuming? I don’t know about all that, but the track is killer.
“Where U Been” keeps things consistently ‘materialistic’, featuring the assist from Cap.1. Simply, 2 Chainz has been balling “getting money, where the f**k you been?”. Oh and to add a little more oomph to his brashness, he throws in the ‘tasteful’ punch “bought a new crib just to f**k you in.” Seems extreme to me, but he is 2 Chainz. Oh an as for Cap.1’s contributions, perhaps the lyric “My b**ch she’s so pretty that’s my Pocahontas…” takes the cake. Next, my boy brings in Drake and Lil Wayne for the superstar collaboration “I Do It”. Simplicity remains key, particularly given 2 Chainz’s opening ‘salvo’: “Hang up on a b**ch, call it crucified”. Still, he has his moments. Drake may have the best line, when he alludes to Lil Wayne near the end of the second verse: “Man I just hear this sh*t and think about what Tunechi will tell you / he might call up Patricia, she ‘bout to call up Melissa…” Oh and in case you’re wondering, yes Lil Wayne talks about sex on his verse… shocker. The Outro is a nice contrast though.
“Used 2” keeps the absurdity alive and well, evidenced by the ridiculous hook which seems to reference recording the naughty and uploading it to youtube as looking for a baby mama… SMH. Repetition is 2 Chainz’s best friend here, or his worst enemy with the clumsy lines he chooses to repeat. He ‘redeems’ himself on the it’s-so-ridiculously-stupid-it’s-good “Netflix” which pairs him with Fergie… what a combo, phew! Where do you even start? 2 Chainz references weed, sex tapes, the paparazzi, high end fashion, and uninspired rappers all in the matter of his first verse. On her verse, Fergie lifts from “Birthday Song” (“When I die, bury me inside the liquor store…”), as well as dropping the obligatory weed reference, blowing wads of money, and “b**ches copying” her. And then there’s that hook… “I know you had the time of your life…you know I’m gettin’ money, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, Ill be countin’ this sh*t all night…” Geez Louise!
“Extra” is one that annoys me. Yeah, yeah, I know 2 Chainz is no Nas, but 2 Chainz’s pop-rap here is a bit questionable, even for him. The most shameful line from Chainz? “I just had a threesome for three weeks in a row / Last name Chainz, first name Two…” WTF? Rich Homie Quan guests on the third verse. On “U Da Realest”, Chainz states “I’m like a quarterback, hand it off / drop the work in the pot, watch it cannonball / I done seen ‘em ball, I done seen ‘em fall / rest in peace to my n***a, you da realest, dawg…” Somewhere in there there seems to be some substance… well besides what’s in that pot he references. But of course, he ruins a good moment too, like “Rest in my piece to all my n***as, they died while they was servin’ / rest in peace to all the soldiers that died in the service / I died in her…” I. Have. No. Words…that I’m going to publish here…
Then comes “Beautiful Pain”, which features Lloyd and Mase. 2 Chainz doesn’t take himself seriously, but Lloyd refines things on a fine hook (“Oh I feel so fly / came so far, but I still wanna fly…see what this beautiful pain, provide / baby look into my eyes…”) And of course, Mase keeps things classy. Overall, “Beautiful Pain” stands out. T-Pain joins the boatload of collaborators on “So We Can Live”, drenched in autotune as always. 2 Chainz has plenty of ‘interesting’ moments, whether it’s his illegal activities (“Mama don’t work, heater don’t work / Police pulled me over and said he seen weed on my shirt / I pray to the lord and ask for forgiveness / If he popped my trunk I can get a life sentence…”), playing copycat (“Simon says, monkey see money do / I wore the shirt, you wore the same shirt too…”) or being the sh*t (“appetite for destruction, and I don’t need a menu / so far ahead of y’all n***as, I can see you in my rearview…”) . There it is, I suppose.
He’s hella clumsy on “Mainstream Ratchet”, but isn’t that understandable? Proceed with caution folks! I mean, anything with the word ratchet in it… “And that’s ratchet huh? Her a$$ so big it look like she trying to walk backwards bruh…” “Black Unicorn” contrasts, opening with an lovely spoken word performance by Sunni Patterson. Chrisette Michele handles the hook as classy and nuanced as always. And as for Chainz, he’s not too shabby himself. Ol’ boy gets himself together on “Outroduction”, presenting himself much more thoughtfully and candidly. There are “two sides to a book” after all.
Classic or total bust? Neither, but B.O.A.T.S. II: #Me Time is actually a much better album than I envisioned it to be. It’s hard to call an effort with so many references to sex, drugs, and irresponsibility a masterpiece, but I’ll give it to 2 Chainz, he certainly has some highlights here. If you’re a fan of more intellectual rap though, this is not your cup of tea. But if you don’t mind going ‘stupid’ like a lot, well then, this album is your new jam.
Favorites: “36”; “Feds Watching”; “I Do It”; “Netflix”; “Beautiful Pain”
- 2 Chainz, Career Revisionist (brentmusicreviews.com)
- An Artist of Narrow Contrast: A Review of 2 Chainz, Me Time (popjones.wordpress.com)
- Writing On The Wall: 2 Chainz Upset With Def Jam Over “B.O.A.T.S II” (djsdoingwork.com)
- For the Haters: 2 Chainz ‘Where U Been’ Video (atlantablackstar.com)
- 2 Chainz Pleads ‘I Don’t Do Anything Illegal’ After Arrest The rapper says he showed police his guns during the Oklahoma snafu, saying ‘I probably let my guard down.’ (teebreezzy.wordpress.com)
- Review of 2 Chainz’s B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time (examiner.com)
- 2 Chainz: I’m Pissed At Def Jam For Undershipping My Album, Appears In New Fabolous Video (allhiphop.com)
- 2 Chainz Publishes Cookbook With Deluxe Edition Of ‘B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time’ (contactmusic.com)
- (MUSIC) 2 Chainz ~ Netflix ft Fergie (muzicupdate.wordpress.com)
- 2 Chainz – “B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time” – ALBUM REVIEW (jakobsalbumreviews.wordpress.com)
Picture this, the music industry, 2013 (Thanks Golden Girls). A world where one genre of music has been placed on the ‘back burner’ if you will , never to ascend back to its glory days again. A music that once easily scored ample number one albums as well as number one singles, with sound prominence throughout the ‘00s. A genre where some of its top artists had some staggering debut weeks, highlighted by a 1.1 million peak in 2004 (Usher, Confessions). Now that same artist is struggling to become gold certified, with an opening week of 1.1 million reduced to 128,000 copies (Usher, Looking 4 Myself). This picture is not a figment of the imagination, this is the portrait of the real ‘post-R&B’ world. R&B is dead my friends, call the coroner, call the funeral home, and bury it.
Yes, I’m going to get hate for making such a proclamation, so let me clarify what I mean. I don’t believe artistically that R&B is completely nor necessarily dead, even if it has its fair share of identity issues and crises. I do think, however, that commercially R&B has stagnated terribly, particularly in 2013. You know it’s sad when one of the top R&B albums of the year managed to bow with on 91,000 copies – Fantasia’s Side Effects of You. But let’s examine the rest of the numbers for a comparison point. Kelly Rowland moved 68,000 copies of Talk A Good Game, The-Dream moved 23,000 copies of IV Play, Chrisette Michele moved a disappointing 27,000 copies of Better. Yuck! See what I mean by the post-R&B world/R&B is dead thing. It’s really an issue people!
So this post is only partially about this neat name I made for summing up the fact R&B sales suck today. One of my personal favorite R&B artists, Maxwell is finally returning to follow-up his 2009 Grammy winning comeback, BLACKsummer’snight. Originally, Maxwell’s comeback entailed three albums, not just one. But, Maxwell doesn’t exactly move quickly you might say. After a longer than expected four-year hiatus, and the ripe age of 40, Maxwell is returning with the second installment. Now here’s where this whole post-R&B world theory comes into play. Can a classy, 40 year old neo-soul singer like Maxwell survive this evil post-R&B world? Sure, four years isn’t lifetime, but also plenty of changes happen over such a period as well. Sigh.
I’m worried about the falsetto-loving crooner and for good reason. R&B’s most sure bets are lucky to squeeze a total NEARING 500,000 copies. I mean, did you ever think that Alicia Keys would struggle to sell an album? That’s rhetorical! Girl on Fire was only a lukewarm seller… it opened with an underwhelming 159,000 copies. What about Mary J. Blige? The same MJB who started with 727,000 copies of The Breakthrough back in 2005 couldn’t come close to such numbers with 2011’s My Life II (no. 5, 156,000 copies). It ended up settling for a gold certification, which was actually an accomplishment. I could continue to cite examples, but I’ll only further depress Maxwell, his team/label, colleagues, myself, and fans who like their music with some sensuality and urban sounds.
My advice to Maxwell about attempting to survive a dangerous and brutal post-R&B world? Hustle, hustle, hustle! And by hustle, I mean P-R-O-M-O-T-I-O-N, PROMOTION. If you merely release BlackSUMMER’Snight without another “Pretty Wings”, it’s gonna be an uphill battle. I’m excited for it, but I can’t fund a gold or platinum album alone. Just sayin’.
- Should We Believe Him This Time? Maxwell Says New Album “SUMMERS” Will Be Out By Fall! (madamenoire.com)
- Maxwell Brings His Sweet Falsetto to Essence (theepochtimes.com)
- REVIEW: Brandy, LL Cool J, Jill Scott, And Maxwell Shine At Essence Music Fest (huffingtonpost.com)
- Music Headlines: Maxwell Plans To Release Duet EP With Alicia Keys! (everythinggirlslove.com)
- Big Things Popping: Essence Music Festival Set Off by Jill Scott, LL Cool J and Maxwell (atlantablackstar.com)
What better way to live it up in July than to relive some of the musical highlights that characterized June? Most of these 20 tracks are taken from album releases in June, with the exception of one standout single without an album and a few tracks from May 28th albums. Regardless, if you have nothing going for you in July, partake of some of brentmusicreviews’ recommending spins. These are in no particular order btw.
Queens of the Stone Age, “If I Had A Tail”
Album: …Like Clockwork
“If I Had A Tail” is arguably Queen of the Stone Age’s crowning achievement from …Like Clockwork. Characterized by a killer driving groove, an classic rock-worthy anthemic chorus (“If I Had a tail / I’d own the night / If I had a tail / I’d swat the flies”), and exceptional overall songwriting, “If I Had A Tail” is a head-nodding hit worthy of multiple repeated listens.
Kanye West, “Blood on the Leaves”
Kanye West constructs a juggernaut centered around a brilliant Nina Simone sample (“Strange Fruit”). After the track sets up with West’s emotional pop-rapping (autotune) accompanied by piano, infuriated production, accentuated by biting brass, transforms the cut into an epic ‘tour de force‘ unlike any song from West’s past.
The-Dream featuring Gary Clark, Jr., “Too Early”
Album: IV Play
“Too Early” contrasts everything else that The-Dream has done previously. The unique song has a bluesy, neo-/retro-soul nature about it, mixed with vocal processing and hip-hop swag. Gary Clark, Jr lends his prodigious guitar skills, further sweetening a mediocre album’s crowning achievement.
Sleeping With Sirens, “The Best There Ever Was”
“The Best There Ever Was”, featuring Fronz), opens brashly (“Don’t f**k with us”), proving the ideal soundtrack for any angst-filled teenager or twentysomething. The band seems quite pissed off to say the least: “I’ve got a short fuse / so don’t you go p-p-p-push it man / don’t f**k with me / you better back off while you can…” Scary stuff right there, but one sick track.
Black Sabbath, “God Is Dead?”
“God Is Dead?” is equal parts triumphant and polarizing. Elements of atheism appear prominently throughout the single, perhaps most notably when Osbourne sings “The blood runs free / the rain turns red / give me the wine / you keep the bread / the voices in echo in my head / is God alive or is God dead?”
Kelly Rowland, “Kisses Down Low
Album: Talk A Good Game
“Dirty Laundry” has received plenty of attention, but it’s “Kisses Down Low” that is suggestively, delicious. Rowland ‘tastefully’ alludes to sex as opposed to brashly detailing her desires. “I like my kisses down low / makes me arch my back / when you give it to me slow / Baby just like that that”, she sings catchily on the chorus.
Wale featuring Juicy J & Nicki Minaj, “Clappers”
Album: The Gifted
(MMG / Atlantic)
Wale breaks from the intellectualisms that characterize much of The Gifted on this sick club banger. While lyric “Shawty got a big ole butt” is not Wale at his most profound, the ‘cellulite’ anthem is definitely one to nod your head to. Juicy J and Nicki Minaj provide Wale with some extra ‘stank’.
The Lonely Island, “The Compliments”
Album: The Wack Album
On “The Compliments”, The Lonely Island literally ‘compliment’ each other (“…he ain’t no f**king prince, my man is King charming…”). Too $hort hilariously questions their sexuality: “I’m starting to suspect that these dudes are gay / It’s none of my business, they just born this way / I mean how many times you gon’ mention your homie’s d**k / but still trying to act like this song is for chicks?”
John Fogerty duet w/ Miranda Lambert featuring Tom Morello, “Wrote A Song For Everyone”
Album: Wrote A Song For Everyone
In its duet, country-sensible rebirth, Miranda Lambert serves as a perfect vocal compliment to John Fogerty on “Wrote A Song For Everyone”. Tom Morello incites further excitability on the standout cut from the album of the same name, delivering an exceptional guitar solo to match the vocal chemistry.
J. Cole “Let Nas Down”
Album: Born Sinner
(Roc Nation / Columbia)
Choosing only one cut from Born Sinner was tough because the album is stacked with standouts. “Let Nas Down” is a personal favorite and has received multiple spins on my iPod. Based upon Cole’s idolization of Nas and feeling bad about disappointing his idol, the track turns out to be one of Cole’s most distinct and accomplished. Nas couldn’t possibly be disappointed about this joint – he is featured on a remixed version after all!
Chrisette Michele, “A Couple of Forevers”
“A Couple of Forevers” is Chrisette Michele at her best, exhibiting soulfulness crafted by a thoughtful sample of The O’Jays’ “Stairway to Heaven”. Relaxed, lush production work allows for CM to spoil us with prodigious vocal ‘goodness’. I mean, who wouldn’t want “a couple of forevers” after partaking of a gem like this one?
Goo Goo Dolls, “Rebel Beat”
Even with their most recent effort’s shortcomings (Magnetic is just al’ight), Goo Goo Dolls benefit from a spirited opener/single in “Rebel Beat”. ‘Sunny’ as the beach, the track may not have the star power to reinvigorate the veteran rock band, but it shines radiantly on a middle-of-the-road album.
3OH!3, “Two Girlfriends”
“Two Girlfriends” shines on brightly on a ridiculously stupid album, LOL! The hook goes stupid, but a truthful and fun stupid: “I use to have two girlfriends / now I got none / cause my number 2 girl found out about 1…”. Maybe lyric “you hang with d**ks like pubic hair…” could’ve should’ve been eliminated, but hey its 3OH!3, whattaya expect?
Alice in Chains, “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”
Album: The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
(Virgin / Universal)
“The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” epitomizes Alice in Chains at their best. Nearly seven minutes long, it is an epic seven minutes, delivering arguably the valedictory track from its parent album. A notable chorus is a highlighting moment: “The devil put dinosaurs here / Jesus don’t like a queer / the devil put dinosaurs here / no problem with faith just fear…”
George Benson featuring Idina Menzel, “When I Fall In Love”
Album: Inspiration – A Tribute To Nat King Cole
Throughout the entirety of Inspiration – A Tribute to Nat King Cole, George Benson sounds nowhere near 70 years old, commanding each and every vocal nuance nearly (if not) perfectly. His vocal skill shines brightly on the balladry of classic standard “When I Fall In Love”, where be blends magnificently with vocalist duet partner Idina Menzel.
Mac Miller, “Goosebumpz”
Album: Watching Movies With the Sound Off
Watching Movies With the Sound Off is filled ample bright spots. “Goosebumpz” is among ‘em, elevated by Diplo’s quirky, distinctive production work (remember Wale’s “Slight Work” or Usher’s “Climax”). Miller exhibits brashness (and horniness), confidently suggesting “when I die I bet she f**k my hologram…” A bold assertion perhaps, but its both a lyric and track that stays with you.
Mavis Staples, “Every Step”
Album: One True Vine
Man I wish I could still ‘rock it out’ like the legendary Mavis Staples does shy of her 74th birthday. She and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy seem to have a knack for successful collaborations, evidenced by the stellar “Every Step”. “My lord, he knows me / every step of the way”, Staples sings on the memorable, weighty chorus. A mix between southern gospel, Americana, and folk, “Every Step” is an appreciated musical gift.
India. Arie, “Cocoa Butter”
“Cocoa Butter” may not be the year’s most distinct nor decorated R&B single, but it hearkens back to the glory days of neo-soul. Honestly and beautifully penned, Arie remains invested and soulful, giving the urban world another compelling track. “I show you my burns, you show me lessons learned,” she thoughtfully shares on the second verse, providing ‘real talk’ lyrically.
Harry Connick, Jr., “S’pposed To Be”
Album: Every Man Should Know (also appears on Smokey Mary)
“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.
Schoolboy Q featuring Kendrick Lamar, “Collard Greens”
Album: Collard Greens – Single
(Top Dawg / Interscope)
For a stoner anthem, “Collard Greens” is quite distinct. “Oh, oh luxury / chidi-chidi-ching could buy anything, cop that / oh, oh, collard greens / three degrees low, make it hot for me drop that…”, Schoolboy Q raps on an infectious hook. Throughout, Schoolboy Q seems to be on autopilot. His bud Kendrick Lamar captivates on the second verse, providing a little bit of everything, literally.
Here’s the playlist via rdio.com for your enjoyment!
P.S., I’ve reviewed nearly all of the albums mentioned here, so please check out my reviews on the site!
- Where Does Yeezus Rank in Kanye West’s Discography? (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Review: Queens of the Stone Age,’…Like Clockwork’ (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Queens Of The Stone Age- … Like Clockwork (heavybassandbreakdowns.wordpress.com)
- Review: Kanye West’s “Yeezus” (nicholashautman.wordpress.com)
Chart Rewind – June 19, 2013
Black Sabbath claimed their first no. 1 album with 13, which sold an impressive 155,000 copies. They were joined in the top ten by debuts from Big Time Rush (24/Seven, no. 4 with 35,000 copies), Goo Goo Dolls (Magnetic, no. 8 with 29,000 copies), Man of Steel Soundtrack (no. 9 with 29,000), and The Lonely Island (The Wack Album, no. 10 with 28,000 copies). Chrisette Michele had a disappointing week as Better, which found itself outside of the top ten at no. 12, selling 27,000 copies. Jimmy Eat World also didn’t fair so hot, landing at no. 14 with 24,000 copies.
Kanye West Gets It Done at No. 1
Kanye West had a good week – by modern album sales standards. Yeezus debuts atop the charts with 327,000 copies. Now here’s the bad news; it is the slimmest debut for a Kanye West album. Initially, the projections for Yeezus were lofty with 500,000 copies being the possible final tally. Day by day, that half-a-milli total continued to slip from the grasp of the MC, who had to settle for a good week, but not a stellar one by his standards. I have several opinions on why Yeezus didn’t deliver better numbers, but I’ll save them for another post. Congratulations to Weezy on his sixth no. 1 album, following Late Registration (860,000), Graduation (957,000), 808s & Heartbreaks (450,000), My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (496,000), and Watch the Throne with Jay-Z (436,000).
J. Cole Delivers an Impressive No. 2 Bow
One of the most surprising and exciting story lines from the charts came from J. Cole, who put some serious pressure on Kanye West this week. While he ultimately failed to capture the no. 1 spot (he was never expected to come as close as he did to West), his numbers are improved from those of no. 1 bowing Cole World: The Sideline Story (218,000 copies). Born Sinner sold 297,000 copies. Think about it people – he sold only 30,000 copies less than the rap veteran. You think having a hit single helps? Of course it does, and “Power Trip” featuring Miguel is just that.
Mac Miller Shines at No. 3
Mac Miller fell into the same boat as West; his sales were down from his previous album. That said, the 102,000 copies Watching Movies With The Sound Off moved could’ve easily given Miller a second consecutive no. 1 album during a different week given the sales of 2013. More significant is the fact that three hip-hop albums sell better than 100,000 copies in the same week, something Billboard details within their article (Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’ Leads Four Top 10…).
Kelly Rowland Takes Fourth Place
Kelly Rowland was disadvantaged by choosing such a stacked date to release Talk A Good Game. Even so, its sells are just shy of 2011’s Here I Am, selling 68,000 copies good for a no. 4 debut. Still, if I’m Kelly, I want to ‘move on up’ instead of settling for less. Then on the other hand, compare her numbers to those of The-Dream or Chrisette Michele’s bows and she’s excelling. 68,000 copies is respectable nowadays, but that’s not a very lofty ceiling if you know what I mean.
Those are the sole ‘debuts’. Country upstart Hunter Hayes manages his first top 10 experience as his reissued debut rises to no. 7. Otherwise, everyone else holds over. The unlucky soul to miss the top 10 this week? 3OH!3. To be honest, I didn’t even know they were releasing album Omens until I went to Best Buy on the Tuesday, June 18. Poor promotion will never get it done ladies and gents.
I’ll keep it short, if vague: Robin Thicke continues his success with breakthrough single “Blurred Lines”. Are you surprised? Nope, didn’t think so.
Who’s Got Next?
This week was a much quieter release week, but it is led by Wale (The Gifted). Also, India. Arie (SongVersation) and Skillet (Rise) are among new releases. Wale seems like he has a shot at the top, depending if his numbers are in line with that of 2011’s Ambition (no. 2, 164,000 copies). That said, keep in mind that those are ‘holiday’ sales numbers. Skillet’s previous album debuted at no. 2 with 68,000 copies, so where could it end up charting? As for Arie, her previous album debuted at no. 3 with 76,000 copies. West and Cole should still sell relatively well, but we know urban releases in particular tend to have big second week declines. If the decline of both is minimally 60%, that would still find West and Cole selling 131,000 and 119,000 copies respectively.
- Where Does Yeezus Rank in Kanye West’s Discography? (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Chart Moves, 6-19-13: Black Sabbath, Hip-Hop on Deck (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Kanye West, J. Cole, & Mac Miller Take Top 3 Spots Album Chart (allhiphop.com)
- Has Wale Got Next With ‘The Gifted’? (brentmusicreviews.com)
- First Week Sales for Kanye West, Mac Miller, and J. Cole Are In (complex.com)
I partook of five albums during the week of June 11, 2013. While I am near-finished listening to Black Sabbath’s 13 and haven’t given my homeboy Harry Connick, Jr. The proper ‘love’ yet (Every Man Should Know), I’ve heard enough to share a favorite or minimally a song I’m really ‘high’ on… maybe I should’ve chose better wording. Oh well!
Black Sabbath, “God Is Dead?” (13)
A title like “God is Dead?” is enough to get believers in a tizzy and non-believers overly-excited. Is this song, um, polarizing per se? Yes. But, if you take a deeper listen, it could be argued that Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath contradict themselves or their apparent beliefs… or do they? With lines like “Give me the wine / you keep the bread…” then later “I don’t believe that God is dead” there seems to be several ‘motives’ on the part of Black Sabbath. Regardless, it is my favorite cut from 13. Dark, foreboding, somewhat devilish sounding (I may need to ask forgiveness, I’ve listened to it several times already), it carries weight. Black Sabbath aren’t the first to feature skepticism of Christianity; Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City is filled with what seem to be atheistic views.
Chrisette Michele, “A Couple of Forevers” (Better)
It is difficult not to ‘feel’ the emotion that classy R&B diva Chrisette Michele with sings with on here ‘crowning achievement’ from Better. Soulful, heart-wrenching, and most of all romantic, “A Couple of Forevers” is the perfect slow jam for the bedroom (ooh la la…) or for mere enjoyment. Personally, this is a song I could listen to anytime of the day, everyday. It’s really true – I’ve played it like 45 times on my iPod. If I already wasn’t in love with Chrisette Michele before, this cut solidified it.
Goo Goo Dolls, “Rebel Beat” (Magnetic)
The Goo Goo Doll’s most recent effort Magnetic was okay, but certainly left room for more ‘excitability’ instead of the given ‘predictability’. Yeah, it’s hard to knock a group who performed something as great as “Iris” back in the 90s, but Magnetic wasn’t ‘the second coming’. Even with its improprieties, Magnetic benefits from opener “Rebel Beat”, which is spirited, sounding as ‘sunny’ as the beach. I can’t see the song truly reinvigorating the band or anything (it’s no “Iris” y’all), but it is the best of a ‘middle of the road’ affair you might say. You did your thing on this one Rzeznik.
Harry Connick, Jr., “S’pposed To Be” (Every Man Should Know)
I cheated and so did Harry Connick, Jr. If you were one of the few souls who purchased Smokey Mary, you were treated to the New Orleans gospel/bluesy nature of “S’pposed To Be”. Unsurprisingly, Connick Jr. reprises the cut on his solo album Every Man Should Know, which he seems to have tried to promote better than Smokey Mary. Yeah, I don’t know why he released two albums and sort of nonchalantly released the first (which had some excellent moments mind you), but to each his own. “S’pposed To Be” is just as potent the second time, particularly the pentecostal breakdown section towards the close. Most won’t have heard it anyways until now. Even though I haven’t listened to Every Man Should Know in it’s entirety yet, I have no reservations recommending this reprisal to the utmost – that’s how its
“s’pposed to be.”
The Lonely Island, “The Compliments” (The Wack Album)
I was going to go for a single (“Diaper Money”, “Yolo” or “3-Way (The Golden Rule)”, but “The Compliments” is just as good as anything else on The Wack Album. The Lonely Island give each other ‘compliments’, even though the song/compliments ideally is supposed to be for the girls. The best is Jorma’s compliment towards Andy (“…caramel eyes that are hella disarming / he ain’t no f**king prince, my man is King Charming…”). RapperToo $hort guests, and is quick to question the Lonely Island’s sexuality: “I’m starting to suspect that these dudes are gay / It’s none of my business, they just born this way…” One of the funniest moments that’s not overly dumb, “The Compliments” is NOT ‘wack’.
So there you have it – five songs to add to your June playlist. My favorite of the five? Tough call, but it’s either Black Sabbath’s strong return with “God Is Dead?” or Chrisette Michele’s warm, fuzzy-feeling “A Couple of Forevers”.
Last week, June 5, 2013, Daft Punk continued to ‘rule the roost’ with Random Access Memories adding another 93,000 copies in sales bringing the total to 432,000 copies. Alice in Chains saw their fifth album The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here sell 61,000 copies to bow at no. 2. Still respectable numbers, the band’s previous album (which happened to be a comeback affair) sold better. John Fogerty saw his superstar collaboration covers album Wrote a Song For Everyone debut at no. 3 with 51,000 copies. British X Factor victors Little Mix saw DNA debut well at no. 4 with 50,000 copies. The-Dream was a loser for the week, with IV Play debuting at no. 16 – OUCH. The IV Play didn’t work out to well there… yeah sorry, cheap shot. I reviewed all of these albums, save for Little Mix (sorry girls), which can be found on the site.
Queens of the Stone Age Debut at No. 1
After two weeks ‘getting lucky’ at no. 1 (not really ‘luck’ but, you know), Daft Punk have conceded their throne to surprising recipients - Queens of the Stone Age. No offense as I’m a fan of the band, but I was surprised by the amount of support given to their ‘comeback’ album, …Like Clockwork, which debuts at no. 1 with 91,000 copies. According to billboard.com (Queens of the Stone Age Get First No. 1 Album on Billboard…), this is NOT the band’s best sales week; that was garnered by 2005 album Lullabies to Paralyze, which debuted at no. 5 with 97,000 copies. That said, their previous release, 2007 effort Era Vulgaris didn’t do nearly as hot, bowing in the top 20 with only 52,000 copies sold. Reexamining those 52,000 copies, one has to think that plenty of artists today would’ve been happy selling that much… another cheap shot at The-Dream (man Terius, you disappointed me!). A review of …Like Clockwork from me can be found here.
Don’t feel too bad for Daft Punk. They sold another 62,000 copies, which puts their total sales at 494,000 copies. Gold status… close enough at least.
Other New Entries
Sleeping With Sirens must be ‘kind of a big deal’ to sell 59,000 copies of album Feel, good enough for a no. 3 debut. Megadeth come in at no. 6 with 29,000 copies of Super Collider sold. The final top ten debut comes from Barenaked Ladies, who move 26,000 copies of Grinning Streak at no. 10. They cut that close didn’t they? BTW, years ago, many of these amounts of copies sold wouldn’t equate to such high peak positions. But, these are the music sales numbers of today. Sigh.
Who’s Got Next?
We all know that June 18 is the ‘Promised Land’. Kanye, J. Cole, Mac Miller, and Kelly Rowland. However, the release date of June 11, 2013 was pretty nice with releases from Black Sabbath (13), Chrisette Michele (Better), Goo Goo Dolls (Magnetic), The Lonely Island (The Wack Album), and Harry Connick, Jr. (Every Man Should Know). Judging by Black Sabbath’s charting history, you would think they’d be disadvantaged, but the promotion for 13 seems robust – not to mention sale pricing, special deluxe editions, and lofty perching on digital outlets. It seems like a ‘hit’ to me (yes I will be reviewing it). Chrisette Michele has had a mixed chart history, with 2007′s I Am bowing at no. 29, 2009′s Epiphany at no. 1 (83,000 copies), and 2010′s Let Freedom Ring at no. 25 (during the jam-packed fourth quarter). I say that to say, who knows how well Better will be received. I received it well in my recent review.
Goo Goo Dolls seem out of contention as does Harry Connick, Jr., who doesn’t seem to have his same sales mojo of the past. The Lonely Island should do relatively well, but I wouldn’t expect stellar numbers. Time will tell.
- Queens Of The Stone Age Topple Daft Punk 12k to 9k (noise11.com)
- Queens Of The Stone Age End Week At No 1 In USA (noise11.com)
- Queens Of The Stone Age To Dethrone Daft Punk In USA (noise11.com)
- Chart Moves May, 29, 2013: Daft Punk (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Ozzy Osbourne Shocked By Black Sabbath’s New Album Success (contactmusic.com)
- 10 Great New Albums For The Summer (wxrt.cbslocal.com)
- New Music Tuesday – New Music on 06/11/13 (jagmblog.com)
- Black Sabbath Overwhelmed With Response To Come-Back Album: Could Another One Be In The Pipeline? (contactmusic.com)
- CD Review: Black Sabbath’s ‘Thirteen’ lives up to a legacy of gloom-and-doom (blogs.seattletimes.com)
- Video: Black Sabbath’s “God Is Dead?” (guitarshoptv.com)