Wednesday, September 26, 2012

2012 Songs Reviewed! (RoyalKev's On Blast)

2012 is Hot! Exactly how hot? That's what we're here to discuss today.  Some legends, a few vets, as well as some that haven't really been around the block are ready to take over.  Some are hitting hard, some are hitting low, some are coming through like a pro and others not so much. We've come up with a list of what's hot right now and what's there.  See if you agree:

Latest Reviews

#1 Ke$ha - Die Young 

Intoxicating, catchy and so infectious.  Some songs contain a certain magic of it's own that you cannot elude -- no matter how eager you are to discredit the individual singing it.  Ke$ha added an indie-rock feel to this treasure and still kept the party in the song. The end result is so supreme.  One has to now wonder about Ke$ha strategy here. Is she secretly a genius? She's making no attempts to sprint - full speed ahead just to lose steam.  That doesn't work if you want to win the race or remain active in it. She's not often thought of as a front runner or musical act to take too seriously. Avoiding this kind of pressure may work in her favor.  Madonna was rarely on top, matter of fact she often was outdone by diva's that showcased more obvious talent. What she did brilliantly was remain relevant. Ke$ha is clearly adopting this same rule and consistently keeping up with today's sound and making it interesting. A

  #2 Rihanna - Diamonds

Rihanna gives a very laid back and reserved performance on her lead single Diamonds off her forthcoming, untitled album.  There's some pluses here, vocally she sounds more intact and controlled with this mellow delivery in the song. Is this more effective?  Well, it's safe and, in turn, bland. What's really a negative factor here, as odd as it is to mention, is that Rihanna's music may actually be more appealing when she's gunning for the notes she can't reach or just daring to be more dynamic with her ambition.  You at least sense that there's passion.  Diamonds, the song itself, is simply underwhelming on Rihanna.  It's meant for a singer that's understated in more of a peculiar way, than Ms Fenty.  In all honesty the song would go a lot further, artistically, if an artist whose tone had more character was used.  That quality can often be confused for someone that naturally possesses a unique voice (i.e., Rihanna).  Anyone that believes this track is EPIC won't be in agreement with this review, unfortunately it'll boil down to agreeing to disagree on this one. 
Grade C

#3  Leona Lewis - Glassheart 

What a glorious moment for Lewis, she's never come across more alive and present in her music.  The song is perfectly composed, Lewis has great execution and it's an instantly likable hit. Leona's way more fun and interesting on this song than she could ever be in person...  It's no secret that she's a bit dull. That accomplishment in itself is a victory for the song bird and she may want to consider teaming up with the people behind this record regularly. B+

Older Reviews 

#1 Christina Aguilera - 'Your Body' (Demo)

Christina's back!  The girl knock this one way out the ball park! ... and it's just the demo!  It's bold, edgy, lyrically enticing and avoiding everything cliche.  This is a in-your -face slam dunking winner!  Christina's vocals come alive and sound more vibrant that ever. We predict a Hot 100 chart topper.   A+ 

#2 Brandy -  'Put It Down' Featuring Chris Brown

This was an easy song to gravitate toward.  Those wishing to see Brandy Norwood make a strong comeback was probably not disappointed.  It's a modern track that works for Brandy, but stays true to her roots.  It's healthy for her as an artists to try something new - that's what makes it refreshing (aside from how catchy the hook is).  Many may criticize someone for taking chances, but if your going to make an entrance - make a damn entrance! It's just what Brandy needed to let everyone know that she's arrive. A-

#3 Ciara - 'Living It Up' 

It was wise of Ciara not to deliver the same super high speed, robotic sound that she's presented the public with on songs like: 'Sweat' and 'Gimme Dat'.  Instead the Atlanta-based singer favored something that actually allows listeners to hear all the great subtle qualities Ciara does possess vocally that you would not hear on too many of her recent songs.  This track is delightful and fun.  It's bright and overall absolutely contagious.  It's a solid effort and great direction for Ciara. B

Live it Up Cici!

#4  Kelly Rowland - 'Ice' Featuring Lil' Wayne

This song showcased Kelly's sensual side once again.  Although she's repeating the same formula she used with that other song, this time, it's perfected.  Her sexiness is much more convincing on this track.  'Ice' is melodic and not as contrived as her platinum signature hit, 'Motivation'.  It's actually superior to that song in every way.  Kelly's voice is soothing here and her delivery puts you in a trance from the very beginning of the song.  It's something pretty low-key about this single, but given the chance it can really take off.  B-

#5 Trey Songz - 'Dive'

Trey's confidence on this one is at 1000!  His vocals are soaring at the tracks start (with an A Capella moment).  This type of song caters to his fan base that ultimately like to go for a sexier side of Trey.  Although this song doesn't stray from his usual provocative advances, his approach this time around feels a little different.  The flow of the song feels more romantic, more romeo-like than the typical Trey Songz song that could easily be considered  to be more crass.  By the bridge in the song your totally lost in it and it feels like you've just had a pleasant daydream. This is a wise single choice, it shows a lot more versatility.  It also takes a detour away from a formula that maybe getting old and becoming stale. B+

#6 Pink - 'Blow me (One Last Kiss)'

Who doesn't like Pink?  Everyone does, so there's nothing to take personal with this critique.  Pink's fun and doesn't ever take herself too seriously.  Still there's a problem here though, like Songz; Pink's work is suffering from being too repetitive. 'Raise Your Glass' sounds a little like 'F@*Kin' Perfect', which now sounds like 'Blow Me(One Last Kiss).  She's a cool, quirky, charming singer/songwriter, but this journey with her is turning into one long song.  If these songs were to stand alone it would appear to be witty, well-written music - but one following the other; frankly, is becoming just one creatively-uninspiring blur.  C-

#7 Alicia Keys - 'New Day' 

This song has a great structure.  The beat is pulsating and the drums are kicking, but it's just missing the magic.  It's one of those moments that you feel all the effort going in to making the song "big", but it's just not. That's why this song isn't memorable and although it makes an impression quickly, it's not lasting.  It's sort of  like tasting a cake and finding that your buds are recognizing each ingredient in it that should make it wonderful, but still not enjoying fully how everything dances on your palate. C+

#8 Keyshia Cole - 'Enough Of No Love' Featuring Lil' Wayne

Keyshia went back to that thing that people identify with most when it comes to her - her realness.  The message is blunt and clear and Keyshia is tough, but slightly vulnerable on this track.  That's exactly what people want from the singer. The song is a hit. B

#9 Brandy - 'Wildest Dreams'

... Speaking of artist that comes across as vulnerable in their music, no one does it better than Brandy.  This follow-up to her lead single may take some by surprise.  Perhaps those that initially expected something similar to her slinky and fluid lead single, 'Put It Down' might have been underwhelmed momentarily.  Instead of keeping up that pace, Brandy went left and her strategy, obviously was to go for something more understated.  This song may not get your attention right away, but when it does - you are completely blown away! The song is just poetic.  Brandy sings with so much sincerity and the sneaky something that happens when you listen really warms your heart. It's great to find such substance and this kind of passion back in RnB!  B+

#10 Nicki Minaj - 'Pound The Alarm' 

Say what you want about Nicki, but she gets done everything that she sets out to do. It's evident that the mission for this single was to create something very radio-friendly.  After one listen to 'Pound The Alarm', it's stuck in your head.  It's contagious and it makes you want to move.  It's actually a step-up from 'Starships'.  The groove is better; you have the tinge of island flavor mixed in with some fun pop lyrics.  It might have that LMFAO/Black Eyed Peas moment thrown in that is a bit overused, but it serves it's purpose. Mission Accomplished here! B-

#11 Mariah Carey - 'Triumphant' featuring Rick Ross and Meek Mill

What started out promising, may have ended in disaster.  You can only beat up on someone with Mariah's status when you have no choice but to be brutally honest.  On the one hand Mariah scored with lyrics that are uplifting on this single.  That was a nice start, but that doesn't do all the work necessary to make a hit, unfortunately.  First, where it all went wrong is with the idea that Mariah's presence should be over-powered by the featured artists on this track that dominate it. Mariah actually seem like a guest to her own party, only singing the hooks and adding far less than what would be desire from a diva of her caliber. Secondly, the song sounds like a theme song for an action hero. It's just not easy to fall in love with the song.  Mariah can afford to have a misstep, let's all be reminded that she's the female artists with the most #1's in the industry.  Still the bottom line is that this doesn't come close to any of the brilliance that is Mariah Carey.  D   

#12 Nelly Furtado - 'Big Hoops (Bigger The Better)'

Nelly Furtado made her return with 'Big Hoops (Bigger The Better)' earlier this year.  The song didn't fare too well at radio and Nelly ultimately didn't make the impact that she was striving for.  Is 'Big Hoops' catchy? Sure.  Is it memorable? ... Not so much! Is is just a bad single? ... Perhaps.  Some songs just do not connect with people. Better promotion could have aided in the single's success, but  that probably doesn't change the fact that you virtually ignore the song after it plays and finish.  Nelly is simply out of sight, out of mind afterwards.  C+

#13 Ciara - 'Sweat' featuring 2Chainz

This song just misses the mark.  Ciara's a talented artist that is simply misdirected at times.  Returning to this same formula: urban hardcore, dance-orientated music that sounds as if it's another song recycled from previous albums, simply don't do enough to evoke much from the audience she's trying to reach. Where is the evolution of Ciara?  We need for her to be more conscious of the one-dimensional version of herself that she's selling the public.  Ciara may not be a power-house vocalist, but her first 3 albums was filled with so much variety. Ciara should probably end her hunt for the next anthem (like 'Sweat') and focus on releasing music that reveals more of her personality and gives us a different tempo occasionally.  It's not that we don't want for her to ever go back to those militant boss records, it's just starting to sound like she has a 1 track mind! Start mixing it up Cici!  #ToughLove     C-

#14 Ne-Yo 'Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)

Who said that Ne-Yo's music is generic when he goes Dance?  'Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)' is exquisite from beginning to end.  This track is vibrant and the lyrics also don't disappoint after you fall in love with the melody.  It's just a song you won't tire from too easily. B+

#15 Justin Bieber - 'As Long As You Love Me' Featuring Big Sean

Justin is showing tremendous growth artistically, lyrically and even vocally.  This is the perfect song to display just that.  It feels like he's leaving the kiddy stage behind and singing material that has more substance.  He actually sounds mature and quite intriguing on this track.  It definitely deserves a thumbs up. B

#16 Kat DeLuna - 'Wanna See You Dance' 

This is a step up for the Latin singer.  Usually Kat's biggest mistake is that she often seems like she's trying too hard.  This was the perfect song for her to finally grab people's attention.  It's a naturally flowing song that allows Kat to be fierce, but still not sound to over zealous.  She's coming into her own and with this song she's no longer sounding like an amateur. She's ready to match anything done by Jlo, Katy Perry or the like. B -

17. Taylor Swift - 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' 

Taylor may not have a voice that commands your attention, her songs may also tend to have a elementary feel to them.  This new single, however, does the most for her in terms of offering something that let's you forget about her shortcomings and enjoy the vibe of the song.  It's fun and you  actually don't mind the sing-along chorus that everyone can relate to.  This is her best stuff yet. B-

18. The Dream - 'Dope Bitch' Featuring Pusha T.

It sucks when you have a great melody, but offensive lyrics.  We understand that Dream's paying women a compliment here with this interesting way of expressing endearment, but the song is just not strong enough to sell the idea.  Dream doesn't get enough credit for his style of arranging songs and the musicality that you find present in them.   Still, it's overshadowed by the lack of courtesy he doesn't gives women that know their worth.  *Plays Alica Keys A Woman's Worth* ... C

19. Miguel - 'Adorn' 

This is pure satisfaction guaranteed.  The song is dreamy and full of the stuff that good quality R&B music is made of.  It's reminiscent of the greats (Prince, Raphael Saadiq).   It's the type of song that ends too fast.  You can't get enough of it!  A

20. Jennifer Lopez - 'I'm Goin' In' Featuring Flo Rida

Jennifer Lopez may not get the credit she deserve. This Latina makes music that makes your body move.  She may not sing any profound lyrics or have the money notes, but this girl never bores you.  'I'm Goin' In' clearly does!  Jlo knows how to fascinate her audience and this song keeps up with some of her best work.  Fresh and exciting! B

21. Usher - 'Dive' 

Usher is superb vocally on 'Dive'.  You can tell the song is meaningful and sung by someone professional and seasoned.  Usher is so polished and superior artistically, but this song as beautiful as it is - is simply a bore! Are you guys playing this song twice? That would feel like torture, wouldn't it?  Again, this is an artist that has many career highlights and can afford a misstep - good thing, because this may indeed be one.  It certainly would have benefited Usher to have dropped almost any other song from his album, it's filled with great material. Why 'Dive'? ... Go figure! D+

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