Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Cher Lloyd Sticks + Stones

Cher Lloyd, the 16 year old who blew us away with her first X Factor performance, only to transform herself into a stroppy, angsty, try-hard teenager in front of our very eyes throughout the rest of the competition, has something to say, but that’s nothing new.

Her debut album, Sticks + Stones, is finally here, and whilst those young people I see on twitter, who collectively term themselves “Cher’s Brats” (vom) and constantly TALK IN CAPITALS are wetting themselves with excitement, the music industry however, is experiencing that marmite effect only ex reality TV stars seem able to elicit.

Her cover art sets her up as very much as the edgy teen star, there are bright colours, kisses, stars, she’s even got a hash on her tights for God’s sake! No doubt a reference to the hand Twitter has had in nurturing her fan base. Don’t dismiss this girl; she’s going to mess with the discourse no end, she’s even upside down, against a brick wall!

As for content, unfortunately even the talents of the crème de la crème of producing unprecedented hits, max Martin, Red One, The Runners, aren’t going to be able to silence some of the critics out there who take great offense at Cher.

You thought Lloyd had a chip on her shoulder with Swagger Jagger declaring “You can’t stop looking at me so get off of my face”? Wait until she’s shouting at you about how she’s going to “finish off these MCs like they were my cup of tea” in “Grow Up.” Unfortunately, Nicki Minaj she is not and this track certainly isn’t my cup of tea.

“Playa Boi”, a reboot of the 80s classic Neneh Cherry ‘Buffalo Stance’ is a convincing rework of the original 1988 hit, but coming from the young Cher, seems to do nothing to convince of her musical prowess.

But between the misses there are some strong tracks in there. I’m unashamed in admitting I can’t get enough of “Want U Back”, a good, old fashioned pop song, and the single “With Ur Love”, with a helping hand from Mike Posner, will be a good performer on the charts later today. It is this unadulterated pop where Cher undoubtedly performs best.

Overall the album performs very much like a box of celebrations. You’ve got some Malteasers and Truffles in there yes, but then there are also Bountys. And no one really likes them, or do they?


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Album Review: Mcfly Above the Noise

Yes, Mcfly are back! After a two year hiatus the band are yet again claiming that this album is the “album they’ve always wanted to make” The same thing they said about Motion in the Ocean, (and we all know what a disappointment that was) but this time they reassure us that they really mean it.

A lot’s been happening in those two years, they split with their record label, they went to Australia and wrote a few tracks which were all subsequently scraped, they got back with their record label, they went to gym and/or drunk a hell of a lot of protein shakes (Tickets to the gun show any one?) and it certainly appears as if they’ve hired some sort of stylist who knows that guns equal money in this fickle industry. (Naked photoshoot? Yeah why not)

And now they’re back!

Lots of words have been thrown about in describing this album- Twilight inspired- the video and mini movie for the first single Party Girl definitely had a vampire theme running through it and has set the tone for their artwork. Mcfly/ Mcfly’s record company certainly aren’t stupid; girls are going mental for vampires at the moment, and it’s a clever, if a bit unoriginal, bandwagon to jump on.

Rock-opera is also a phrase which has cropped up a few times, no doubt a result of the opening track End of the World which takes influence from War of the Worlds and throws in elements of theatrical drama which are later confirmed by Nowhere Left to Run.

In terms of the music itself, it’s good. It’s actually very good. But it’s hard to know whether it’s the 21 year old me saying that or the 16 year old me. But with the help of producer Dallas Austin (who has an impressive roster of clients including Madonna, Pink, Michael Jackson) and only a few naff songs, the majority is very listenable.

With I Need A Woman, a country inspired rock ballad and If U C Kate (Yes, when you say it it sounds like a rudey, we’ve seen both the Script and Britney Spears do exactly the same thing) but forget the crass title and for me it’s the standout track of the album, there’s no doubting that these boys are good at what they do.

Will this album turn Mcfly into credible artists, something I get the impression they’ve craved to be from the start, probably not, but will it boost their presence in the teen pop category after an extended gap? Yes, most definitely. A hollow victory, but one I’m certainly enjoying.

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Cheryl Cole, dubbed the nation’s sweetheart and possibly the most desirable female of the 20th century (actually she was voted sexiest woman in the world by FHM) but stunning and as close to being universally liked as you’re going to find, is releasing her sophomore album, Messy Little Raindrops.

My prediction, much like her first solo album 3 Words which went triple platinum and sold more than 900,000 copies, Messy Little Raindrops, will shift. But, again much like 3 Words, that doesn’t mean that it’s a musical masterpiece or even particularly memorable.

Upon first listening nothing really stands out. It’s no secret that Cheryl was never the voice of Girls Aloud, that was Nadine, and unfortunately her lack of vocal range isn’t disguised well enough by her master producer and BFF Will.i.am.

Never the less, there are a few passable singles on there, Let’s Get Down seems like an obvious single release, and her follow up single, the Flood, I’m sure will do well.

Something which irks me about this album though is how moping and glum the general tone is. Indeed we all watched as Cheryl cried her heart out talking to Piers Morgan about her failed marriage, being hounded by paparazzi and her close escape from malaria, but if this album is meant to be a new beginning from all that, it’s a poor attempt.

And indeed, the references to crying come thick and fast. In Happy Tears, Cheryl tells us “she’s never going to cry again unless they’re happy tears”, hardly shutting a door on her troublesome past. Similarly in Amnesia she tells us “things are too good to be true” and the thinly veiled Ashley digs don’t stop there, coming thick and fast from every angle.

I really did want to like this album, I love Cheryl, look at her for God’s sake, she’s got such lovely hair! And ever since she fixed her teeth it’s been a struggle to take your eyes off her, but I’m afraid it’s not enough to make me love what is at best a mediocre album.

If an unknown artist come out with this it wouldn’t have a shot at the top 10, but attach that smile, that hair and that lovely personality and it’s a hit. If you like this album, you’re more than likely to be liking Cheryl the TV personality, or Cheryl the clothes horse, not Cheryl the singer. If you want my opinion, I’d spend my money on the calendar or Cheryl branded eye lashes, not the album.

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Katy Perry Teenage Dream

I got hold of Katy Perry’s latest album, Teenage Dream, recently and it must admit it’s become a guilty pleasure!

Her first single to come from it, California Gurls, was an instant hit due to its feel good, Summer feel and it soon got to the top of the charts, helped by a provocative video,  with sales exceeding 6 million worldwide. And if that’s anything to go by, Teenage Dream will be just as big.

The second single and the title track, Teenage Dream, (officially out tomorrow, 29th August 2010) represents the general sound of the second album and of what we know about Katy, an album which compensates with well crafted tabloid liaisons what it lacks in substance.

Katy Perry never has shied away from promoting her product, her singles and albums, with other below the line tactics which take as much attention as possible off how simple and non-magnificent the product is.

Think back, for example, to Katy’s first venture onto the pop scene. Was it a well crafted piece of musical excellence, set for the music hall of fame? No, it was a title which alluded to lesbianism, I Kissed a Girl, with a gorgeous black-haired, red lipped stunner fluttering her eye lashes and giving long, intense stares down the camera. Add to that a high profile relationship with Russell Brand, an innate sexiness, and never failing to appear in public without a tight dress with a low neck line, and Katy Perry has proved that she most definitely knows how this pop game works.

And if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Songs on her sophomore album are just as full of innuendos paired with unoriginal catchy pop, perhaps the most unsubtle being Peacock in which she sings, and I quote, “Are you brave enough to let me see your peacock?/ What you’re waiting for, it’s time for you to show it off/ Don’t be a shy kinda guy I’ll bet it’s beautiful/ Come on baby let me see/ Whatchu hidin’ underneath”

Katy Perry sits on the same bench as many female pop stars before her, Britney Spears, Beyonce Knowles, Rhianna, all able to perfect the art of remaining accessible to teenagers, producing catchy pop songs and being etched into the imaginations of the older gentlemen.

However, don’t get me wrong, I do like Katy Perry’s album. I like it ALOT. The songs are well produced, very listenable and catchier than Chlamydia. Particular highlights are FireWork, Hummingbird Heartbeat and Last Friday Night, any of which could easily top the charts and add to Perry’s continuing chart success. In fact, it’s hard to find a reason not to like her. She’s got the whole package, and unless you’re one of those people who have a snobby dislike of manufactured pop music, you’ll like it too. And if you are one of those aforementioned snobs, I wouldn’t bother; this album probably isn’t for you.

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