Archive for March, 2012

Last night (early morning in the UK), the Saturdays revealed their new single, “30 Days,” bringing them back onto the music scene after their tour and Una’s pregnancy. Judging by the single cover, it seems the girls are rereleasing “On Your Radar,” a fantastic album that sadly bombed on the charts. With the amazingness of last year’s “Notorious” and “All Fired Up,” has “30 Days” met the mark and will it help the group’s awful album sales? Here are both of our opinions on this new track:

D: People who know me well know that I dig ballads, mid-tempo dance ones included. I’m sure the song will soon be playing in clubs in Ibiza. The build-up in the verses works well, leading to a catchy chorus. That being said, the problem I have with the song is that it ends more abruptly than I would have liked. Una takes the bridge and sounds great, but it lasts for approximately 12 second before the song goes into the chorus and… ends. Vanessa does not bring as much power either, leaving the end a bit empty and sparse (like when the club or radio DJ the radio cuts off the song off before it hits the peak).

While I think the hook of the song is infectious, this is not nearly as unique as “All Fired Up” or as catchy as “Higher” from two years ago, so whether this song will win them new fans is debatable. Nor can this song live up to the mid-tempo tracks created by Girls Aloud (think “Call the Shots”). Perhaps these comparisons are unfair – but ultimately I’m still a fan.

C: I love the Saturdays. I tend to stick up for them despite their (and their label’s) faults and failures, and I am rooting for them to become as successful as they can be. However, there’s always just something missing…and I had extremely high hopes that this single would help solidify their position as the UK”s biggest girl group (or at this point…the only  successful girl group). Were my expectations met? Kind of. I do like “30 Days” a lot – it has a great chorus, has the melancholy feeling combined with a thumping beat and the girls sound great. “Faster” was my favorite from the last album and this sounds quite similar – though I like “Faster” better. I also agree that the last chorus should be much more epic and needs some big adlibs – something that Vanessa can sadly no longer handle as well as she used to.

I can definitely see this song growing on me as I continue to play it and see the video/performances – but is this the best song the Saturdays have ever done? No. But is it at the standard they’ve set for their singles? Yes…but I don’t think it’s enough to help them gain more popularity. I hope it helps them sell more albums because they really do have some great album tracks, and it’ll be interesting to see how this fares on radio. I also look forward to the b-sides, “Turn Myself In,” a song the girls performed on the Headlines tour last year, and a version of “The Way You Watch Me” without Travie McCoy.

The single will be released on May 14.

What do you think of the new single? Leave a comment below!


If you have not seen it already, I’m sure most of you will soon to see what the hype surrounding ‘The Hunger Games’ is all about. Even if you have not experienced this global phenomenon in a theater near you, you can experience a part of it with the original soundtrack to the film. The variety of artists is a bit jarring – from Kid Cudi and Arcade Fire to Maroon 5 and Miranda Lambert. But wait! The theme and feel of the movie (or trailer if you have seen it), are very present in each song – bringing you a collection that reads very much like a story in its own way as you follow Katniss (the film’s hero) on the silver screen. As a result, you might find yourself unaware that you’ve switched from a top 40 act to an unknown artist. Now, if you’ve heard the tender and haunting Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars collaboration “Safe & Sound” (The song that had me wildly anticipating the soundtrack), you might have an idea of how the soundtrack plays out. Excellently produced, and definitely unexpected, this is a record that may take a listen or two for it to sink in. However, whether you love or hate folk, are or are not a ‘Hunger Games’ fan, there is something in here for you. So take a listen, you might be surprised.

Here’s my track by track review of the album. Which ones did you like?

1. Arcade Fire – “Abraham’s Daughter” – A haunting march opens the track, which is quite fitting for the film. It is bleak sounding and militaristic, and if you are thinking Old Testament – it’s because the song refers to Abraham from the bible.

2. The Secret Sisters – “Tomorrow Will be Kinder” – A very sad and quiet ballad. If you have not seen the film, you might expect scenes that would call for such a song.

3. Neko Case – “Nothing to Remember” – This song reminded me of a Sara Bareilles track, with an indie-twist (like something you would hear at the end of an indie film).

4. Taylor Swift ft. The Civil Wars – “Safe & Sound” – I’ve been listening to this song since January and I still love it. It starts and ends in a whisper but between then we get a powerful march that comes and go – a great buildup. Taylor Swift lends delicate vocals, while the Civil Wars provide the foreboding sound to the track. (Unfortunately, I thought the video could have been better to match the incredible feel of the song).

5. Kid Cudi – “The Ruler and the Killer” – Quite a surprising addition, but I can see where this would fit in to the album. Metallic and futuristic – The picture that comes to mind (for me) is Fight Club in a factory with machines and melted iron everywhere.

6. Punch Brothers – “Dark Days” – This is one of my personal favorites. A sweet lullaby – and I love his voice! I believe his vocals, and the fiddle interlude matches the tone of the soundtrack.

7. The Decemberists – “One Engine” – I love the Decemberists and I was looking forward to this track. Unfortunately, it was one of my least favorites. I expected their sound to blend very naturally into the album, but it somehow feels out of place.

8. The Carolina Chocolate Drops – “Daughter’s Lament” – This sounds as though a character in the movie is singing it. Very raw. Not something I would sit down and listen to, but it fits well.

9. The Civil Wars – “Kingdom Come” – They get their own spot on the track after supporting Taylor Swift on “Safe & Sound” and I’m glad they did! This is a great track – their harmonies are on point, and delicately dance around the guitar. One of the highlights of the soundtrack.

10. Glen Hansard – “Take the Heartland” – The soundtrack picks up on this track. I do not know Glen Hansard very well, except for his “Falling Slowly”, which was what I was expecting. This track will wake you up.

11. Maroon 5 ft Rozzi Crane – “Come Away to the Water” – Adam Levine shows off his softer, folksier side. Not entirely sure I like this, but it is nice to see a different side from him after seeing him …. “Move Like Jagger”. More lamb imagery and march percussion sounds.

12. Miranda Lambert ft Pistol Annies – “Run Daddy Run” – The harmonies are on point, and Miranda Lambert’s vocals soar above the great drone-effect from the underlying vocals and guitar.

13. Jayme Dee – “Rules” – Never heard of Jayme Dee before, but her vocals are silky smooth. Not extremely memorable, but holds the album together quite well. But really, I love the jazzy and warm tone of her voice.

14. Taylor Swift – “Eyes Open” – This is a highlight of the track. Definitely more pop-sounding than the rest of the album, I would not be surprised if they made a video for this song too. You could say Taylor plays the Katniss of the soundtrack. This could be a song on her own album.

15. The Low Anthem – “Lover is Childlike” – This song whirls around you. Not something that could stand on its own, but its playful, nostalgic, and dream-like.

16. Birdy – “Just A Game” – Okay so I used to love Birdy before I got tired of her whole piano and ballad act with the sound of wind whirling around her. But this is a great song from her, she shows off, though I’ve noticed that she can sound a bit like she has a stuffy nose. She definitely has a promising future in store for her. But this is that much needed “stream of light in the eye of the storm”, “quiet scene at the end of the battle” feel in the album, and it is only fitting that it ends the album.

SHINee were my introduction to K-Pop. Their song “Lucifer” was too good to not get into, and soon after that I was researching about other groups and getting into the whole industry. I was extremely excited when they finally announced their comeback and knew that it would be amazing. Their RnB-tinged pop is awesome and so catchy, and their dancing and singing skills are just crazy. There is honestly no Western pop band that is as talented as them.

Sherlock (Clue + Note) – 10/10
Brilliant. The song is exactly what I expected from SHINee – a progression from “Lucifer” that has a Michael Jackson-feel and is reminiscent of “Juliette” and “Love Like Oxygen.” The music video is great as well and I love that it was choreographed by Tony Testa (Michael Jackson and Kylie Minogue!!). The chorus is brilliant – really catchy and just enough English for me to sing along! The way the song was put together reminds me of Girls Aloud – where each verse is completely different and has a different feel. Jonghyun sounds awesome (as always) and this is definitely up there as one of SHINee’s best songs. The end is amazing as well – GIVE IT UP FOR SHINEEEEEEEEE!

Clue – 8/10
So this is where the mini-album gets kinda weird because since “Sherlock” is actually a mash-up of “Clue” and “Note,” they decided to let us hear what those two songs originally sounded like before they were turned into “Sherlock.” I’m not sure this was really necessary as there aren’t enough different parts in the song to make them stand out as an independent song. The whole intro/first verse (over a minute!) is exactly the same as “Sherlock” and is just missing the chorus. The little breakdown near the 2:35 mark by Jonghyun is the only interesting part of having “Clue.”

Note – 8/10
Love the intro and the backing track in “Note.” Again, there’s nothing that interesting about the song since it makes up half of “Sherlock” and just feels like a half-song. But the chorus (that is also used in “Sherlock”) is so awesome that I don’t mind listening to it again. Again, this song is a non-event since the majority of it is used in “Sherlock” anyway.

Alarm Clock – 9/10
I love this song. I love all of SHINee’s slower RnB tracks and this definitely doesn’t disappoint. All the boys have great voices and this song showcases it in a great way. I’m glad that Jonghyun got to write it as well because “Obsession” from their last album was great. This song has a great chorus and a great feel and I’m excited to hear them sing it live. Love Minho’s spoken bit at the end too.

The Reason – 8/10
Another slower track that is on par with SHINee’s past ballads. This song has a good chorus. It’s not really anything special but is a good addition to their catalogue and rounds out the mini-album nicely. The middle 8 is the best part of the song and I love the strings in the backing track.

Stranger – 9/10
I loved “Stranger” when it was on SHINee’s Japanese album, “The First,” so I was actually excited to hear the Korean version. The song has a great feel and has a cool chorus with a good melody. They have been performing it as part of their comeback performances as well which has made me like the song even more. The song is just dramatic enough and is another one that’s fun to listen to.

Honestly – 8/10
Oooh, an acoustic track! Something different for SHINee. This was apparently written by Jonghyun and Minho for the fans. It has a pleasant melody and is a good end to the mini-album. I wish it had some harmonies in there because I know they can pull it off, but other than that, it’s a good simple song.

OVERALL THOUGHTS:  Solid comeback! I wish we got two other tracks instead of “Clue” and “Note,” but with plans of a full album later in the year, this will hold me until then. I am very excited to have them back and will definitely be listening to these songs for awhile. Now everyone watch the dance rehearsal of “Sherlock”!

Anthony Callea is one of the best modern male singers I have ever heard. He got his start through Australian Idol, and his first independent release is the EP, “Last To Go.” Before I review each track, please hear his amazing voice in action during his breakout Idol performance of “The Prayer.”

OK, now on to his EP. Anthony had released his last album, “A New Chapter,” in 2006 and I was really excited that he finally released something new. The EP is available on iTunes worldwide and includes 7 tracks.

Last To Go – 8/10
This song is a decent single – it’s got a good tune and is fun to sing along to. It’s not mindblowingly original, but it’s a simple pop song that is a natural progression from some of Anthony’s more upbeat songs from the last two albums. His voice is still just as great as it used to be and this song definitely showcases his range to the fullest. Though it’s about partying, I like that the beat isn’t just a generic club beat and is more of a song that is perfect to sing along to in the car.

Oh Oh Oh Oh – 6/10
When I first heard this song from Anthony, I was a little thrown off because it was so dance-y compared to all of his previous stuff. It’s a fun song that seems to be written to get the crowd going at a concert. However, I think that Anthony is stronger with rock/pop style songs than songs in the dance genre. The backing track has great production though and it’s interesting hearing Anthony’s versatility. I definitely prefer the acoustic version featured at the end of the EP. Anthony Callea definitely does NOT need autotune.

Tangled – 8/10
Yay! A ballad! Anthony’s voice is really emotive and always sounds great with slower songs. This song has a pretty melody and a good chorus. This is definitely one of my favorites off the EP. I love that it was inspired by the Disney movie of the same title too! I love the strong drums in the backing track and the subtle build-up throughout the song.

Last Night – 4/10
This is my least favorite off the EP. The music and lyrics are a little too generic and I know that Anthony can do better! This is another dancier track, but not as catchy as “Oh Oh Oh Oh.” This is definitely more of a filler than the other tracks on the album. Even though dance music is the big thing right now, I preferred the sound that “Last To Go” had –  it was still danceable but didn’t take it one step further to using generic club beats.

I Don’t Care What You Say – 7/10
Love this backing track – sounds great with headphones. This is definitely more the direction I think Anthony should pursue – just a good simple pop song. The lyrics have a good message as well and the verses have a great melody. Again, not mindblowing but still a decent song!

Last To Go (Acoustic) – 8/10
I love Anthony’s voice so much. I am so glad that he included acoustic versions of the singles because they really show how great his voice is, which is something I think might be slightly lost throughout the EP. This definitely adds some depth to the song and I love how he uses so many different tones in his voice.

Oh Oh Oh Oh (Acoustic) – 8.5/10
So much better than the actual track in my opinion! It’s got a great groove to it during the verses and there is so much more depth and interesting moments throughout it. Great end to the EP.

OVERALL THOUGHTS: It’s a solid EP and I am so happy to get new music from Anthony. None of the songs are absolutely amazing, but it’s a good comeback after such a huge hiatus and I hope that he has something up his sleeve so he can be more popular both in Australia and in more markets around the world. I hope he keeps his roots as a pop singer and doesn’t transcend too deep into dance music. There’s enough of that now and his voice is too great to be drowned out by generic club beats.

Oh Oh Oh Oh (Acoustic) Live at The Circle

Last To Go – Behind The Scenes


Freshly leaked only a few hours ago, here is my track-by-track review of MDNA by Madonna written as I listen to each track for the first time. I’m not the biggest fan of her, but since this is one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year I thought I would give it a shot!

Girl Gone Wild – 6/10
Much catchier than Give Me All Your Luvin’ but not as good as some of her previous work, the track is a solid effort and single. It’s not really anything special but it has a catchy beat and chorus that will be fun in clubs. The music video was basically everything you can expect from a Madonna video. This song is very typical Top 40 in America – not sure if that’s a good thing or not.

Gang Bang – 7/10
Love the haunting beats and backing track, as well as the breathy vocals. As I listen to the song, I’m hearing some build-up so am hoping for an explosive ending. The chorus is awesome – love the police car noises and the beat getting stronger. And there’s a dub-step breakdown! I can imagine this song having really cool choreography. Not sure if this song needed to be over 5 minutes – the buildup at the beginning took a little too long but the song overall is quite cool. The spoken outro is a little strange/unnecessary in my opinion, but I’m sure tons of people will say it’s the best part of the song.

I’m Addicted – 3/10
1 minute in and there’s nothing that really grabs me about this song just yet. No real tune yet…first impression is that it’s filler material. The backing track is quite cool but the tune is a bit boring. I’m not really feeling this song – there’s nothing about it that would make me want to listen to it again.

Turn Up The Radio – 5/10
This song has a great happy feel to it. Definitely one of those that everyone can jump to during the concert. The chorus is a little underwhelming melody-wise but the backing track is good. Again, the song doesn’t really go anywhere and doesn’t have anything too memorable about it. Another filler track, though I imagine it sounding better with a live band.

Give Me All Your Luvin’ – 6/10
Catchy, but didn’t really meet the high expectations I had for Madonna’s Super Bowl single. The Nicki Minaj and MIA features are only OK. The cheerleader bits are kind of annoying, but the chorus is simple and memorable. The music video is interesting and definitely made me like the song a bit more. It’s ironic that she says something about how all the songs sound the same so we need to step into her world…..based on what I’ve heard so far, all these songs are pretty typical and what I expected from her.

Some Girls – 5/10
The backing tracks throughout this album so far have definitely been of really high quality and are very consistent. The song has a simple chorus and is OK….not that memorable.

Superstar – 8/10
Oooh I’m liking this! This song has stuck out the most to me so far….the melody is catchy and I like the feel. “Oooh la la you’re my superstar…” Loving the drums after the first chorus as well. This is definitely one of the highlights for me so far. It’s still not the best song I’ve heard from Madonna, but at least it’s memorable and fun.

I Don’t Give A – 7/10
Loving this musical intro…and the lyrics are pretty good too. The melody of the verses are a little annoying but as a whole the song has a good structure and it has a cool feel. I like the middle 8 a lot and the little breakdown afterwards. Nicki’s rap verse here is better than the one in Give Me All Your Luvin’ and I love her saying BITCH at the end of it. The outro is quite epic…Madonna must have had some anger to let out for this release!

I’m A Sinner – 4/10
Filler. Nothing special – no real melody or build in the song. The verse about Mary/Jesus etc. is interesting and the whole part after that is a bit more unique…but the song as a whole is just kind of “meh.” And it feels waaayy too long.

Love Spent – 6/10
Love the intro and backing track. Interesting lyrics. The whole feel of this song is quite cool. Again, the backing track is better than the melody itself. These banjo bits are the best part of the song.

Masterpiece – 6/10
I was looking forward to a slower song! Has quite a heavy/haunting feel. Not the best moody ballad I’ve heard but it’s decent. The melody of the verses remind me of something but I can’t think what….I like all the harmonies in the song. I wish it had more buildup.

Falling Free – 8/10
Great intro, the strings are a nice addition after so many synths throughout the album. I’m quite liking this so far….simple melody with a building orchestral backing track. Great end to the album!

OVERALL THOUGHTS: The album is pretty much what I expected – nothing was mindblowing. None of the songs made me like Madonna any more than I did before. I definitely appreciate her as a great performer and a distinctive voice…but I don’t think I’ll be rushing to replay this album or paying thousands to see her anytime soon.

Here’s a lesson in asking people what they listen to: having grown tired of my recent “Winter 2012” playlist filled with old summer releases and boring album fillers, I was ready for anything (including ballad-fied covers of rock songs, yes that bad). A friend sent me a link of a song by Johnny Flynn, and its a track that I’ve had on repeat for two days now. A track off their 2010 album “Been Listening”, the waltzy folk tune “The Water” features Laura Marling over a simple guitar. While the lyrics could easily have become overindulgent in river imagery, the simple melody takes the song in a different direction – it adds a complexity to the conflicting thoughts voiced, while creating movement with limited range. It is a great tune, -one that does not ride off the success of Damien Rice or Mumford & Sons – and I think I’ll soon be listening to the entire album.


And on a completely different note, I had to share this:

Tell me you don’t think that’s freaky. It’s like a Japanese Nicki Minaj…except freakier.

To celebrate the last show on the Black Star Tour and the end of the Goodbye Lullaby Era, Avril Lavigne has released a music video for her song “Goodbye”. How fitting. Who’s excited? Can’t say I was, though it is a great track on the album. After Avril’s artistic and pretty, albeit slightly melodramatic “Wish You Were Here” video, I was expecting the same for this farewell ballad.

Seems like I was right. The album is quite artistic, with Avril looking quite great in Retro Glam make-up and hair. But beyond that, the video looks almost home-made (going for a more intimate feel), with mixed black and white segments of Avril in a hotel room. Not much happens, except the end when she starts crying. She’s quite dramatic when it comes to crying, as many astutely noted in her “Wish You Were Here” lonely-fest video.

But ultimately, the video is meant to bring closure to another era of Avril, who has changed considerably over the past few years. While some cite Goodbye Lullaby as being underrated, others missed the upbeat, let’s get drunk, “Girlfriend” Avril. Seen in this light, perhaps the simple “Goodbye” video is indeed a fitting end to this chapter.