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The British trio StooShe, have great vocals. Let me just get that out of the way. Their first single ‘Love Me’ featuring Travie McCoy generated some buzz in the UK. It was catchy, but the personality was perhaps a bit overdone. But their tight harmonies immediately caught my attention (Check out their acapella version of the song). In any case, their second single ‘Black Heart’, off their album ‘Swings and Roundabouts’ coming June 10th, is a really strong Motown infused ballad. I have a feeling this song will help them win new fans. It’s not overwhelming and shows a different side to the trio – one that is both classy and real. Check out the video for it below.

Carrie Underwood Blown Away

This single took me by surprise (yes I was Blown Away...ha…ha…ha…) , and I’m completely sold. This is a new sound for Carrie Underwood – it’s raw and dark (And much more powerful than a “you cheated on me so I’m going to wreck your car” way). You can hear the spite and vengeance linger as she whispers the story of a young girl with an abusive father. As usual her vocals are strong, and her cries seem to create the image of the swirling storm mentioned in the lyrics. She reveals another tone to her voice that I’ve never heard before in the bridge between verse and chorus, and it’s chilling. I have not listened to the full album yet (I wasn’t crazy about the first single, “Good Girl”), but I will definitely do so now. I’m definitely willing to say that I think this is the best single she’s ever had. You can also check out a free stream of the entire album on iTunes.

 

Oh…The Wanted. I’ve been following them since before they came out due to the buzz being created by their manager (who also created/managed The Saturdays). Their whole concept of being a “cool boyband” is an interesting one and obviously works. As I’ve gotten more into K-Pop and seen the evolution of choreography and amazing singing abilities of modern boybands in Asia, The Wanted (and One Direction) seem a lot more stale to me. However, their music is catchy and fits the Western music market. Their launch in America has been an interesting one. “Glad You Came” kind of came out of nowhere and they were able to generate a following quite quickly through club gigs and building their name slowly. Their US EP, a mixture of their two UK albums, was released today in America and here are my thoughts!

Glad You Came
Awesome. I loved this song when it first came out in the UK last summer and still love it now. It has a great melody and is amazing to dance to at parties. The lyrics are pretty typical of a club track (I have to admit the line “you look well on me” still makes me double-take every time I hear it still) and the boys have a charming accent when they sing that makes the song stand out from the huge drone of pop tracks out now.

Chasing The Sun 
One of the newer tracks on the EP, and the next single. Penned by Example, the song is in the same vein as “Glad You Came” and is a good party track. I don’t think the melody is as good as “Glad You Came” but I really like the backing track and the production. This was definitely a smart choice for the second single and I’m sure it will be another big hit for them on both sides of the Atlantic. I was a little disappointed by their performance on The Voice, but the song is strong and is on par with their previous singles.

All Time Low
I heard this song almost 2 years ago now and my feelings haven’t really changed. It is catchy (and extremely fun to sing at karaoke…especially when trying to imitate their accents) but I’m going to be honest when I say that I really don’t understand why it was such a big hit. It has a good chorus but the melody in general is a bit stale. The build-up with the strings and the beat in the music is different and interesting though.

Satellite
The other newer track. I had high expectations when I heard it was produced by Ryan Tedder. After listening to it a couple times, I actually like this song more than “Chasing The Sun” and I think it could be a cool single. It continues the dance-pop direction they have been going in, but has a different mood from “Glad You Came” and has a catchy melody. I like the intense middle 8 before the final chorus (and epic backing music).

Lightning
I actually quite like “Lightning” despite the boys actually saying it was kind of filler material. Though it’s not as strong as some of their other singles, I think it has a great chorus and the production on the track has a lot of depth. Another fun one to sing along to and different from the past few tracks on the EP so far.

Heart Vacancy
A single off the first album in the UK. I have to admit, I really didn’t like “Heart Vacancy” before and I still don’t really. It’s all a bit cheesy and I don’t think it’s the right key for the boys’ voices. It all sounds a bit strained and not that nice to listen to. The Wanted definitely have their dance tracks down but I definitely think they could do better midtempos and ballads.

Gold Forever
My least favorite off the EP for sure. Another one that I didn’t really like when it had first come out. The chorus is a bit of a letdown and another one that doesn’t really stand out as anything special or interesting. I appreciate the backing track but I definitely think they have some better album tracks that they could have included instead of this song.

Lose My Mind
I love this song. Possibly my favorite song of theirs ever. I can’t believe it’s only a bonus track on the special edition of this EP because this song deserves as much attention as possible. It has a great melody and a fantastic chorus. The boys all sound really good on this song and the melody is easy to get caught in your head.

Warzone
The only real ballad on the album. It has a cool feel to it (very moody and dark) which is different from the rest of the album, but I hope that they get better ballads as they progress. I think they can do better than this song. I like the verses more than the chorus.

Rocket
The only non-single on the EP…and it was a good choice! I do think they have some stronger ones on the first album, but this song isn’t bad. I think this is better than the other mid-tempos (“Warzone,” “Gold Forever,” and “Heart Vacancy”) and it has lyrics that are a bit unique and it’s a solid end to the EP.

OVERALL THOUGHTS: 
The EP runs as a little Greatest Hits package for those that have followed the band since the start, and overall, it is a solid EP. The songs are all catchy and stand out from each other. I’m glad they have been doing well for themselves and hope this has opened the door for other British acts (ahem…The Saturdays) to enter the US market. The personas they’ve decided to portray are interesting to me (kinda douche-y to be honest…but I guess people here like that) and I’m not really totally behind them yet. However, I look forward to what they have planned in the future.

Check out the video here, seems the official one isn’t available for US viewers…

The new Sam Sparro single, “I Wish I Never Met You,” is AWESOME. And yes, those caps are necessary. I absolutely loved his 2008 album (featuring “Black and Gold,” one of the best pop songs ever) and am so excited for his new material. “I Wish I Never Met You” is a dance ballad with a melancholic tone. Sam has a really cool tone to his voice and fits this song perfectly. The chorus is extremely catchy and the slow build-up of the instrumental leads to the best part of the song – the middle 8. The video makes the song even better – Sam plays a mobster of some sort and participates in Michael Jackson-esque choreography. “I Wish I Never Met You” is released in the UK on June 4. I hope it gets the attention it deserves! What do you think?

C: Cheryl (Cole?) is back! Although I would have preferred an earlier start to the Girls Aloud reunion instead of Cheryl’s new album, I am excited to hear what she comes up with. “Call My Name,” produced  by Calvin Harris (of “We Found Love” fame), is pretty much what I expected – dancey with a killer chorus. Based on my first few listens, I think “Fight For This Love” and “Promise This” were stronger lead singles, but I’m sure this song will grow on me as the video is released and she performs it. The chorus is perfect – catchy, good lyrics and deep production. However, the verses are slightly disappointing. The melody is kind of weird and a bit of a non-event, and the layering of her vocals is kind of weird. I also think the song is missing a bridge and/or breakdown to help build the song because it’s a little same-y throughout. Overall though, a solid effort from Cheryl and I look forward to see what else she has come up with for the album. I’m sure the video for this track is going to be awesome as well!

D: I think this is a fun track, but I can’t help but feel like it sounds like a Remix of an original track, or a David Guetta-collaboration (I guess the fact that it was produced by Calvin Harris explains it). The beat in the chorus is getting a bit old for me, and it kind of overpowers Cheryl’s vocals. Cheryl has a very unique voice, and it doesn’t always work on every song – in this case it is sent into the background underneath layers of production; I don’t even find myself listening to what the lyrics are saying. It’s as if it should be Calvin Harris feat. Cheryl. However, I will admit that the chorus is catchy and will no doubt be heard in clubs throughout the UK this summer. That being said, I was hoping for something more unique and original – I felt “Promise This” delivered that as did “Fight for this Love”. But I guess the whole Ibiza vibe/Calvin Harris (or David Guetta) beat formula is popular these days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of Cheryl, I just hope the album brings more to the the table than this track.

As B.o.B. prepares to launch his sophomore album “Strange Clouds” on May 1st, I thought I’d give give you my thoughts on B.o.B.’s new collaboration with Taylor Swift. I think it has a bit more weight than “Airplanes” from two years ago, allowing the track to deliver that “It doesn’t matter if you’re an underdog, keep trying” message more effectively. The track blends both artists’ styles well, and even though Taylor Swift’s parts (the chorus) consist of her singing the same two lines over again –  there is great build up; the rap bits makes each successive chorus soar higher. It will probably come up as a single, especially since Taylor Swift is on the track (and what is she not on these days). So check this out below, I don’t think we will be disappointed when the full album comes out in May (can you believe it, that’s only 2 weeks away!)

I actually really liked Aiden when he was on the 7th season of UK X Factor and was excited to hear that he got signed to Sony RCA. He always had a creepy intense thing going on with him when he was on the show, and he brought something interesting to all the songs he chose. I wasn’t really sure what to expect for his debut single, but I am pleasantly surprised. “Is This Love” has a cool beat and deep synths. Aiden has kept the intensity and variety of vocal tones that he displayed on X Factor, which gives the song a lot of levels. Other than a few pitch moments in the song that kind of bother me (guess I’m too used to autotune now?), the song is a good listen and I look forward to his album. “Is This Love” is released on June 3rd. What do you think?

I have to admit I wasn’t too impressed by “Payphone” when I first heard it yesterday. However, after listening to it a couple of times and watching Maroon 5 and Wiz Khalifa perform the song on The Voice last night, I have to admit it has grown on me. It definitely isn’t the best song Maroon 5 have ever done (I much prefer previous lead singles “Makes Me Wonder” or “Misery”) but it has a good melody and it’s different from their past releases. I don’t think Wiz Khalifa’s feature was necessary or that it adds much to the song, but his verse isn’t awful. The lyrics are great and are one of the song’s strong points. In addition, the slow buildup of the instrumental is subtle and powerful at the same time. Though the song is slightly underwhelming, I still look forward to a great new album from the band (Overexposed is out on June 26) and am still a fan. Check out the lyric video below! What do you think of the new single?

 

As an angst-y kid, I liked Linkin Park. And then they kind of did their thing with Transformers, and then Chester appeared in that last Saw movie; I wasn’t too crazy about it all, and they kind of fell off my radar (though I did like their cover of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep – youtube it). But I think everyone needs to check out their new single “Burn It Down” which will appear on their album “Living Things” when it comes out June 26. This is a much fresher sound than their last album – the track has an electro vibe that keeps things relevant. At the same time, it keeps the elements that have contributed to their prior success. The band brings an industrial sound to a track – in these situations there is sometimes a risk of becoming too monotonous and heavy. In this case, it kind of makes you want to go out and run (or at least that’s what I feel). Furthermore, Mike and Chester both sound great, together creating that destructive/futile dynamic the lyrics suggest. I’m impressed, what are your thoughts?

I’ve never really been a huge SISTAR fan, but I am loving their new single, “Alone.” I like that the girls don’t have the extremely cutesy voices that many K-Pop girl groups have, and this song is sultry without crossing the line into slutty territory. The video was filmed in Vegas and features the girls lounging around a club and doing a sexy routine. The backing track has a good beat and a cool feel, and the chorus is catchy as hell. One of my top K-Pop songs of the year for sure!