I’ll admit that during the month of October I missed out on a couple of albums (Pearl Jam, Scotty McCreery, Korn, Paul McCartney, etc.). Alas, that is the life of a music journalist and music critic – you can’t listen to ‘em all. Despite this, from the albums I did partake of, I’ve assembled a list of ‘gems’ to start out November 2013 just right!
Panic! At the Disco, “Nicotine”
Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die
(Fueled by Ramen)
Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die is filled with standouts. Rather than revolve towards “This Is Gospel”, “Miss Jackson”, or “Girls/ Girls/ Boys”, I selected “Nicotine”. Excerpted from my review of the album, I wrote this of “Nicotine”:
“Nicotine” is nowhere near “f*cking drag” Urie speaks of throughout the song referencing addictive alkaloid […] “Cross my heart and hope to die / burn my lungs and curse my eyes”, Urie poetically sings on the first verse. “I’ve lost control and I don’t want it back / I’m going numb, I’ve been hijacked.” The allusion of love and smoke is flawlessly executed, best evidenced during the refrain: “I taste your lips and I can’t rid of you / so I say damn your kiss and the awful things you do / you’re worse than nicotine.” Ultimately, “Nicotine” proves to be as addictive a listen as it is the “f*cking drag…I need it so bad” which the frontman conveys.
Katy Perry featuring Juicy J, “Dark Horse”
“Dark Horse” provides a spark to Perry’s PRISM once it appears. Juicy J is a perfect fit on this hip-hop oriented pop cut which sports one sick beat. The chorus definitely latches: “So you wanna play with magic? / boy, you should know what you’re falling for / baby, do you dare to do this? / cause I’m coming at you like a dark horse…” Second verse vocal harmonizations make the deal sweeter while Juicy J’s lines such as “Uh, she’s a beast / I call her Karma / she eat your heart out / like Jeffrey Dahmer…” seal the deal. “Dark Horse” ‘roars’ equally if not more so than the ubiquitous “Roar” itself.
Danny Brown, “Dip”
From my Playlist: Bangers That Get It Poppin’ At The Club… (Part 2) I commentated on “Dip”:
“Dip” has so many one-liners that an entire essay could be written examining each and everyone. The premise of the song? Well Danny Brown is pretty to’ up, period. The Forrest Gump reference definitely captures attention early on (“Like Lieutenant Dan, I’m rolling back to back / I keep on smoking…”). My favorite moment involves you guessed it, ‘molly’: “Now all these rappers talking ‘bout that molly / bet a million dollars these n***as ain’t dipping / pure MDMA, put it in a shot we talking ‘bout crystals / been thizzin’ hard up all day, rest in peace to Mac Dre…” Banger? Yes…also seems like Brown is way past the need for rehab… just sayin’
Arcade Fire, “Reflektor”
Excerpted from my Review: Arcade Fire, ‘Reflektor’:
“Reflektor” initiates things shockingly given its percussive, danceable groove. Thankfully, this cut does danceability conservatively and tastefully, eschewing today’s EDM bass drops and pointed synths in favor of something that sounds both neo-disco and Arcade Fire-like simultaneously. The songwriting is accessible, well perhaps save for Régine’ Chassagne’s pre-chorus French, LOL (“Entre la nuit, la nuit et l’aurore / entre le royaume des vivants es des morts”). The chorus is incredibly catchy and simple though: “I thought I found a way to enter / it’s just a reflector…”
Pusha T featuring Kendrick Lamar, “Nosetalgia”
My Name is My Name
On “Nosetalgia”, rap IQ goes off the charts, between Pusha T and guest collaborator Kendrick Lamar. Among Pusha’s best lines is his proclamation that he was the “Black Ferris Bueller, cutting school with his jewels on…what I sell for pain in the hood, I’m a doctor…” while Kendrick Lamar’s slaughtering verse is capped off with “Go figure motherf*cker, every verse is a brick.” Rap musicianship at his best, two of the best in the game rock it out here, no questions asked.
Miley Cyrus featuring Nelly, “4X4”
I still ask myself why do I like the song “4X4” from Bangerz. I was in the same sort of situation back in early October when I penned a review for the album:
“4X4” would normally be the sort of cut I would tar and feather because of its stupidity. And it is really dumb, mind you. But, the country-pop-rap cut is sort of hypnotizing. Maybe it’s because of Pharrell Williams’s odd-ball production or even Nelly’s midwest touting rap, but for whatever reason, it sticks with you. Still, I’m not to keen on Cyrus’s line about “driving so fast ‘bout to piss on myself…” Please girl! Have some dignity!
I guess things ain’t changed. I’m still listening to it and Miley still seems about ready to piss on herself. SMH.
Mary J. Blige featuring Barbra Streisand & Chris Botti, “When You Wish Upon A Star”
A Mary Christmas
“When You Wish Upon A Star” finds Mary J. Blige and Barbra Streisand duetting beautifully with Chris Botti accentuating things with his warm, lush trumpet sound. “When You Wish Upon A Star” really isn’t a Christmas song, originally serving as the main theme from Disney’s 1940 animated feature Pinocchio, but it definitely fits the vibe of A Mary Christmas. Additionally, “When You Wish Upon A Star” has been transformed several times; it’s quite a flexible song you might say.
Eminem, “Rap God”
The Marshall Mathers LP 2
An excerpt from my upcoming The Marshall Mathers LP 2:
“Rap God” is freaking epic. The hook varies slightly, but the beginning’s the same: “I’m beginning to feel like a rap god, rap god / all my people from the front to the back nod, back nod…” Across three verses Eminem ‘schools’ us. On verse one he touts his flow (“Made a living and a killing off it / ever since Bill Clinton was still in office / With Monica Lewinsky feeling on his nut-sack / I’m an MC still as honest / but as rude and as indecent as all hell”) while on verse two he talks influences and disses sucky MC’s (“Everybody want the key and the secret to rap immortality like I have got / well, to be truthful the blueprint’s simply rage and youthful exuberance … hit the earth like an asteroid, did nothing but shoot for the moon since”). On verse three, he goes “H*A*M*”, ripping critics, skeptics, and some fans (“Innovative and I’m made of rubber / so that anything you say is ricocheting off of me and it’ll glue to you / I’m devastating, more than ever demonstrating / how to give a motherf**kin’ audience a feeling like it’s levitating)”. Lady Gaga said it best… “Eh, there’s nothing else I can say.”
See my previous post How Eminem Devastates the Competition on “Rap God” for full, in depth analysis. You can literally write a book about this one song!
Arcade Fire, “Porno”
So yeah, I included a second song from the same album… but this one deserves to be here, it’s definitely interesting!
Excerpted from my Review: Arcade Fire, ‘Reflektor’:
“Porno” definitely had my attention given the title. The song itself is no disappointment with it’s dark, sort creepy vibe. The ultimate take away seems to be that young guys are selfish when it comes to sexual desires and how they expect their girlfriends to fulfill their selfishness. “Yeah, something’s wrong / little boys with their porno / and boys they learn / some selfish sh*t / until the girl / won’t put up with it…”
There it is!
Kelly Clarkson, “Every Christmas”
Wrapped in Red
The horn-filled six-eight balladry of “Every Christmas” serves as yet another instance of confirmation of Clarkson’s artistry and prowess on Wrapped in Red. Having organ and a backing gospel choir doesn’t hurt her cause either.
DJ Khaled featuring 2 Chainz, Ace Hood, Big Sean, French Montana, Meek Mill, Rick Ross & Timbaland, “You Don’t Want These Problems”
Suffering from Success
Excerpted from Playlist: Bangers That Get It Poppin’ At The Club… (Part 1)
“You Don’t Want No Problems” is one of the shining moments from DJ Khaled’s recent album, Suffering From Success. On this juggernaut, Khaled is assisted by Big Sean, Rick Ross, French Montana, 2 Chainz, Meek Mill, Ace Hood, and Timbaland. Highlights include memorable lyrical moments from Rick Ross (“On the phone at the light, Kelly Rowland’s a friend / Catfish in the Benz, Manti Teo’s a sucker…”), 2 Chainz (“They slept on me, I stopped sellin’ work and started sellin’ coffee…”), and Ace Hood (“My sanctuary’s that cemetery / my choppa, named it obituary…”). I mean, I kinda enjoy the “problems” personally…
Robert Glasper Experiment featuring Jill Scott, “Calls”
Black Radio 2
“Calls” is nothing short of a stunner. Jill Scott is at her best as is Robert Glasper and company. Lush, sensual, and jazz, “Calls” epitomizes the urban sound at its best. The chorus, though simplistic it is, is a perfect representation of jazz and soul styles: “You always answer my calls / when I call, you come…” The best moment is the bridge, where Jill Scott gets in done in a big way. “Calls” is ‘big time’ for sure.