Monthly Archives: October 2015

REVIEW: Ariana Grande – Focus

Focus; in which Ariana Grande takes the premise for previous hit, Problem, applies it to the chorus, adds a cow bell as well as some Kelly Rowland Work visuals and presents it as a new song. Same trumpets, another male voice assisting in the chorus that is again designed to be minimalistic so that she can pull off some cute dance moves without affecting her voice too much when performing the song live.

Artistic progression? Not so much. But hey, if it worked once, why not try it again, right? Continue reading

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REVIEW: Carrie Underwood – Renegade Runaway

Self referentiality in music is one of my favourite things in the entire world. Britney Spears singing “my loneliness ain’t killing me no more” on Stronger after having sung “my loneliness is killing me” on …Baby One More Time is up there with my favourite pop culture moments of all time. Carrie Underwood doesn’t do it quite so obviously here with Renegade Runaway (RR), but singing essentially a gender-swapped version of her 2009 hit Cowboy Casanova (CC) (I don’t think the alliteration of the titles is a coincidence) is something we probably should have all seen coming. Continue reading

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REVIEW: Gwen Stefani – Used To Love You.

Sometimes singers (Sam Smith, for example) seem to find it difficult to spill their emotions into a song without attempting to make the song bigger than what they’re feeling. The best ballads are almost always the simplest, the most powerful the weakest. You can say a million times more with a whimper or a muted gasp than you can by screaming into a microphone in an attempt to overwhelm your audience into accepting your pain. Gwen does this to perfection. Continue reading

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REVIEW: Pentatonix – Pentatonix.

Pentatonix is the newly released self-titled album from the a cappella super-star band. This is their first album of entirely original music (with a few cover songs chucked in as bonus tracks in order to continue their extremely successful promotional strategy of drawing listeners in with stunning versions of already popular songs). First single Can’t Sleep Love (my review of that HERE) is being promoted in an attempt to be the band’s first breakthrough mainstream single, but does the rest of the record live up to its expectations?

Na Na Na, the first song on Pentatonix’s brand new self titled album of all original songs, is a perfect introduction to the rest of what is an incredible album not just “for an a cappella group”, but an incredible album full stop. Na Na Na, the shortest song on the album, packs a neat little punch with endless energy and a sound just as full as anything a band backed by guitars, drums etc. could offer, made all the more impressive by the fact that they did it with their voices alone. Continue reading

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REVIEW: DNCE – Cake by the Ocean.

If someone had asked me before hearing this song where I thought Joe Jonas would fit best in the entertainment industry post The Jonas Brothers, my answer probably would have been that he doesn’t. With Nick Jonas out in front taking over the role of the Justin Timberlake/Robbie Williams of the group and Kevin Jonas taking up the reality show side of things, it seemed like Joe was left to pick up the scraps of what the boy band once was.

Perhaps, however, the scraps were all he needed to make something great happen. Mid-way through September 2015 Joe released a single called Cake by the Ocean with his brand new band called DNCE. The band comprises of former The Jonas Brothers drummer Jack Lawless, Semi Precious Weapons bassist Cole Whittle and guitarist JinJoo Lee.

From the glimpse into DNCE that the first single gives us, it appears as if this band is what Maroon 5 could have been doing in 2015 if they hadn’t sold their souls to the devils of generic pop. Joe Jonas in DNCE is Adam Levine, with all the groove and falsetto but with out any of Levine’s out of this world arrogance – and the music is infinitely more enjoyable as a result.

Picking up on the current funk trend that has been rippling through much of the mainstream top 40, DNCE fuses it with dance to create a modern, exciting, catchy and fresh disco sound. The name of the song alone is enough to capture anyone’s attention and apparently came from the Swedish producers of the song Mattman & Robin (along with Semi Precious Weapons’ Justin Tranter) muddling up the name for the cocktail Sex on the Beach.

The band performed the song for the first time on television on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and did a fantastic job. Joe’s vocals were for the most part on point and it’s pretty clear that he was born to be the front man in bands. DNCE is full of energy and Cake by the Ocean is a very strong starting point to launch their career as a big name in top 40 music.




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