Inside Music with Melinda Newman
Do she and Timbaland continue their winning ways?
Missy Elliott, who will release her first album in seven years later this year, gave a preview of what to expect last night when she dropped two new tracks, “9th Inning” and “Triple Threat.” Both are produced by her longtime collaborator Timbaland.
“Triple Threat,” the first of the two tracks on the embed below, starts as a much harder rap, but, like “9th Inning,” has a strong musical bed that includes strings. This winding, insinuating rhythm features a tribute to Pimp C as Timbaland plays around with his rap from Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin,” in between rapping about his and Elliott’s dominance — “250 million” sold, he brags.
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Owl City and Justin Bieber add flavors to the mix
No matter what she accomplishes in her career, Carly Rae Jepsen’s defining hit will always be “Call Me Maybe.”
Fans of that charming ditty, which ruled the airwaves this summer, will find plenty to like on Jepsen’s full-length, major-label debut, “Kiss,” out today. Although there is nothing here that surpasses that spiky ear worm, a few songs give the smash a run for its money on the well-crafted, if formulaic, 12-song collection.
Jepsen incorporates parts of other pop dance divas from today and yore, such are Katy Perry, Kylie Minogue, and Robyn, but she recalls no one so much as 80s’ pop sparkler Debbie Gibson with her pleasing, sweet voice and limited range.
She may be 26, but Jepsen keeps all the material on “Kiss” uniformly squeaky clean enough for her pre-teen and tween audience. Most of the lyrics address the delights and disasters between boys and girls. She’s either crushing hard, deliriously in love, jealous, breaking up or heartbroken. It’s the cotton candy version of romance that fills teen diaries and runs its course in 3-minute pop songs. High drama can ensue from a misconstrued glance or misunderstood word. There’s a naive innocence that pervades all of “Kiss” and an undying optimism that after the tears have been shed, another boyfriend —with a dimpled smile and shiny hair — will emerge.
On “This Kiss,” Jepsen can’t stop thinking about a forbidden lip lock. On “Tiny Little Bows,” she longs to “be holding hands/dancing really slow.” About as risque as “This Kiss” gets is on “Tonight I’m Getting Over You,” when she bemoans, “we’re not lovers, but more than friends.”
The temperature of emotions switches throughout, although the tempo uniformly remains the same for virtually every track, set within strict, current Top 40 parameters of a bouncy synthetic dance beat that occasionally breaks into electro-pop.
The exceptions are the guitar-based, swoon-worthy “Beautiful,” a duet with Justin Bieber and the piano-ballad “Your Heart Is A Muscle,” which builds to a mid-tempo plea for her beau to keep working at loving her (and developing his heart muscle).
“Beautiful” continues on the trajectory of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.” “What makes you so beautiful is you don’t know how beautiful you are to me,” Jepsen and Bieber sing together, their voices sweetly wrapping around each other. Her other notable duet partner on “Kiss” is Owl City on their current perky hit, “Good Time.”
Not that she’s necessarily expected to be a spokeswoman for her generation, but there are times when her boy dependence gets to be a bit much. On the irresistibly peppy “Guitar String/Wedding Ring,” her boyfriend leaves and she’s feels like she’s nobody without him. She longs for him to come back “If you cut a piece of guitar string/I would wear it like it’s a wedding ring...When you’re near/I feel the best/I’m somebody/I’m somebody.” Oh Carly....
However, the lyrics are fairly disposal on “Kiss” unless you’re a 13-year old girl, in which case they most likely play out like every after-school conversations with your girlfriends where your current crush’s latest comment is parsed syllable by syllable for hidden meaning. The winners here are the upbeat rhythms on such songs like “Hurt So Good” or “Good Time” that embed themselves in the ears of pop fans of all ages.
Mommyhood hasn't made her soft
A major part of Pink’s appeal over the past decade has been that she is so down to earth. Her considerable pop chops put her up there with Rihanna, Beyonce and Katy Perry, but she is the furthest thing from a pop diva.
When she sings “It’s been a shit day” on “The Truth About Love’s” first single, “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” or prays for the elevator to come a little faster on “Walk of Shame” or admits “Sometimes I hate every single word you say” on “True Love,” there is something imminently relatable about Pink no matter how far up the charts she flies or how many platinum records she hangs on her walls. Even songs that seem joyous often come wrapped in a darkness that the self-proclaimed life-long “misfit” can’t ever quite shake. Unlike other artists who attempt to explain how things are to us, Pink is content to live in the confusing, murky margins along with the rest of us morons.
On “The Truth About Love,” her first album in four years and her first since becoming a mom, the effort Pink puts into making sure she doesn’t come off lost in the mommy afterglow is palpable (and audible). Motherhood has clearly added an important dimension to Pink’s life, but in many ways, she’s still the hot mess she’s always been. Thank goodness for that.
Much of “Love” deals with what the album title suggests: just how hard it is to make love stay. Sometimes she’s comical about it and sometimes Pink's heartbreaking, but she’s always honest. “The truth about love is it comes and it goes,” she sings in the title track and that may be the most that any of us ever really understand about it.
Musically she overtly reaches for more depth than we’ve heard from her before. She’s best known for party anthems or mid-tempo ballads about love gone wrong, but here she stretches into more musical millieus and they fit her just fine. Both the bouncy “True Love” and “The Truth About Love” owe more than a small debt to the hand-clapping songs made famous by the girl groups of yore. She goes for a White Stripes’ bluesy, echo-y vibe and distorted vocals on the verses of “How Come You’re Not Here.” Though she works with a raft of collaborators, including Dan Wilson, Max Martin, Jeff Bhasker, Greg Kurstin, and Billy Mann, there’s a consistency (and a certain recurring beat) that runs through the full album.
She can curdle with her withering lyrics. “I’ll wait right here until you get bored or she gets carded for beer,” she sneers as she simultaneously laments the absence of her cheating lover on “How Come You’re Not Here.” “You’re an asshole, but I love you,” she sings to “the only love I’ve ever known,” on “True Love.” But we all know the truth: under that tough exterior is a soft marshmallow who isn’t beyond bursting into tears the second she’s alone.
One of the highlights is her duet with fun.’s Nate Ruess, who co-wrote “Just Give Me A Reason.” The two play a couple who are looking for some sign to stay together despite the fact their relationship is “collecting dust.” The song has an instantly recognizable “We Are Young” stomp as its musical bed and the two play off each other well.
The same can’t be said for “Here Comes the Weekend,” one of the album’s weaker tracks. There’s an insistent four-on-the four beat that’s meant to “set off your sirens,” but the song feels a little flat until Eminem drops in out of nowhere. He’s a welcome presence, but it sounds as if he’s in a different song. Lily Allen’s sweet-voiced guest verse on “True Love” fares much better. (Allen is credited under her married name, Lily Rose Cooper).
Pink doesn’t receive enough acclaim for her way around a ballad, even though she’s recorded beautiful ones before. She hits a new high on “Beam Me Up,” a poignant, string-laden tale about longing to be with someone who has died. Though never maudlin, the song, and her delivery, will touch anyone who “pick[s] a star to watch it shine” to feel a connection with the departed. On piano ballad, “The Great Escape” she recalls Bonnie Raitt. (Yep, you’re as surprised to read that comparison as I am to make it).
Though Ke$ha has tried to mud wrestle the title of trashy party queen away from Pink, Pink’s not about to give up her right to slur, wobble, and puke publicly without a fight, despite any new-found maturity. On “Slut Like You,” she borrows liberally from Blur’s “Woo Hoo” on the electro-clash rave up. The message may be questionable, but the catchy beat is undeniable. On the hilarious “Walk of Shame,” she just hopes she hasn’t woken up with a tramp stamp as she tries to make a quick getaway from the previous night’s shenanigans.
With “The Truth About Love,” Pink continues on her path as the superstar we’d most like to grab a drink with. As her life experiences grow, so does her happiness, but also her questions and her confusion. Better make that a double.
Does it rev your engine?
Tim McGraw’s new video for his current single, “Truck Yeah,” came out today and let’s start with the positive. First off, the clip could have featured a truckload of scantily-clad country cuties in Daisy Dukes bent salaciously over their men’s trucks and the video does not (I know that is a detriment to some). Instead, the lone female in the video is driving herself, she’s dressed sexily but not tackily, and is in complete control. Yeah, girls drive trucks too...
Secondly, though Chevrolet does get a little more branding than the rest, McGraw displays equal love for Chevy, Ford, and Dodge trucks. We’re sure there’s a commercial tie-in coming down the road, but this isn’t it.
Third, as always, McGraw looks hot.
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Maybe Stonehenge wasn't available
It’s four seasons in one day in the video trailer for “King Animal,” Soundgarden’s first album of new material in 15 years.
The cover art for the set, which comes out Nov. 13, shows a snow-covered field, with trees covered in frost. In the middle is a collection of animal skulls, artfully arranged with horns and bones all perfectly aligned.
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Is it all a dream?
Frank Ocean isn’t exactly known for his coherent music videos, he’s worn a panda mask in one, for goodness’s sake. Add one more to the WTF pile with the nearly 8-minute clip for “Pyramids,” the newest single from "Channel Orange."
The Nabil-directed video opens with Ocean shooting up a bar (though we never understand why). He then hops on his motorcycle and rides through the rain. Then, just like that, he’s in the desert and it’s the next day and it’s sunny. He’s flashes back to a strip club, The Pyramid, where the girl he has just spent the night with works.
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Psy joins the party
1. Taylor Swift: “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” becomes the longest running country hit at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 32 years. Please explain to me what part of the song is “country” again...
2. "The Voice": As the show’s third season, 3-night premiere dominates over “The X Factor,” “The Voice” becomes THE vocal talent competition to beat. Mark Burnett tries to figure out a way to run three editions a year.
3.Rihanna: You can set a clock to that girl. Though it hasn’t been confirmed, the rumor is she will drop another album in November. She has released one album a year since 2005, except for 2008.
4 Psy: Resistance is futile. Just learn the horse trot and give in to “Gangnam Style.” Join the 150 million who already have. The South Korean artist is now signed to Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun’s label. We smell a duet.
5 . Nikki Minaj: She injects herself into the political conversation with her fake endorsement of Romney and then real endorsement of Obama. We’re really listening to a cartoon character’s political thoughts?
6. Matchbox Twenty: After nearly 20 years, the pop-rock band scores its first No. 1 album. They are definitely “Back 2 Good.”
7. Randy Jackson: This Dawg has nine lives. It would seem rumors of his demise as an “American Idol” judge were greatly exaggerated.
8. Goldenvoice: The folks who bring you Coachella and Stagecoach reveal that they may add up to three more annual music events in Indio, Calif. The neighbors’ heads explode, while everyone else cheers.
9. Bruce Springsteen: After President Obama uses “We Take Care of Our Own” at the close of his speech at the DNC, sales of the song skyrocket 409%. As if Obama didn’t already have The Boss’s vote.
10. Apple: The company finally realizes that Ping was rotten to the core and kills its music-sharing platform. Oh, and did you order your iPhone 5 yet?
Six debuts dominate the Top 10
Dave Matthews Band will score its sixth No. 1 album next week as “Away From The World” is a sure bet to come in at the top of the Billboard 200.
The set, produced by Steve Lillywhite, is on track to sell up to 275,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double.
DMBis far from the only act making a Top 10 debut: As the fall rush begins, the top 5 spots will be occupied by new releases. Country co-ed quartet, Little Big Town, who scored its first No. 1 single with “Pontoon,” will top the country album chart and come in at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with “Tornado.” Bob Dylan’s “Tempest” looks strong for No. 3, though it is fending off a challenge from The Avett Brothers’ “The Carpenter.” Both are targeted to sell between 95,000 and 105,000 copies. Bowing at No. 5 will like be The xx with “Coexist.”
Rounding out the rest of the top 10, this week’s No. 2 title, Imagine Dragons’ “Night Visions” will likely be at No. 6. This week’s No. 1, Matchbox Twenty’s “North” and “Now 43” are in a close race for the No. 7 spot, with both selling between 27,000 and 30,000 copies.
ZZ Top’s “La Futura” will be the Top 10’s sixth new entry at the little old band from Texas’s first album in nine years is, appropriately enough, slated for No. 9 and Christian rapper Lecrae’s “Gravity” drops from No. 3 to No. 10.
Have you got the horse trot move down yet? Your grandma does
Hey sexy lady, do you know how to rock it Gangnam Style yet? All the housewives are doing it... at least they are now after Psy’s appearance this morning on “Today.”
In case you’re not one of the 150 million people who have viewed this very fun video on YouTube, Psy is a South Korean artist whose song “Gangnam Style” has completely taken the world by storm. Plus, the horse trot dance is a lot more fun than the “Macarena.” Britney Spears already has her moves down.
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The band makes beautiful music together
The Avett Bros.’ music is often simple fare. They play into the low-key aspect of their sound with the video for “Live and Die,” from their new album, “The Carpenter.”
The video is composed totally of the quintet playing the song live in a rehearsal room, with Seth and Scott Avett’s harmonies shining through. The performance footage is interspersed with scenes of the band members talking outside, the Avett Brothers working out the song, Scott Avett drawing (he’s a very accomplished artist) and even Scott watering plants outside of a stately mansion.
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