Is Christina Aguilera channeling Lindsey Wagner with her fourth studio album, “Bionic, out in March? Or maybe she’s just talking about what a woman has to be to juggle a career, marriage and motherhood.
We can’t even pretend to understand it, but we love the video for Jay-Z’s hypnotic new single for “On to the Next One” featuring Swizz Beatz.
Shot in black and white—his preferred color scheme these days—the video is little more than seemingly unrelated images morphed together into a collage. There are visuals that are take-offs (or at least we think they are) of Heath Ledger’s Joker and Marilyn Manson. There’s something about it that’s oddly compelling, even the shots of milk.
Toward the end, Jay Z sings “y’all should be afraid of what I’m gonna do next. “ Guess what, Hova? You’re wrong. We can’t wait. “The Blueprint 3” and its singles have shown a reinvigorated Jay-Z who just grows stronger and stronger.
And in case you're wondering, that insinuating sample you hear running throughout the whole song is Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.”
Listen up party girls for whom throwing up in the closet and waking up on the front lawn are merely signs of a night well spent: We have the perfect role model for you.
But then again, you probably knew that already since more than 2 million of you have downloaded Ke$ha’s first single, “Tik Tok,” or loved her as the female voice on Flo Rida’s remake of “Right Round.”
With her slatternly come-ons and complete array of every tired trope imaginable from the backstabbing girl to the cheating boy, Ke$ha has created the perfect album for community college dropouts in dead-end jobs who live to go clubbing on the weekend and aspire to be Snooki from “Jersey Shore.” Ke$ha calls it electro-pop, but it’s really just mindless pop you can dance to, thanks to some slick production work by Dr. Luke and Max Martin. Most of it is delivered in her tough, Fergie wanna-be, spoken style.
Living for the weekend—and all its excesses—has long been exalted in song, but it’s hard to recall someone who has captured it with the single-minded, totally committed, trashy brio displayed on “Animal.” There’s no subtlety here. There’s none of the cleverness of a Lady GaGa (although Ke$ha rips her off every chance she gets), the adorableness of a Katy Perry or even the insouciant charm of a Britney Spears. Instead there’s hit-you-with-a-sledgehammer, let’s-get- drunk-and-screw-with-the-bad-boys songs where the only thing to look forward to is doing it again the next weekend. On the first few listens, it’s all harmless, PG-13 fun. After the fifth listen, it just seems sad and empty. Not that any of Ke$ha’s fans are likely to give it that much deep thought.
In fact, thinking too much is what gets Ke$ha, who co-wrote the songs here, in trouble. She’s fine wading in the shallow end with bouncy tunes like the literal “Take It Off,” toe-tapping “Backstabber” and even playing the aforementioned puking party girl in “Party at a Rich Dude’s House” (although “Blah, Blah, Blah” with a slumming 3oh!3 is just wretched). It’s when she tries, unconvincingly, to show that although she may like to party, she’s sensitive and vulnerable on tracks like “Hungover” and “Animal” that the album veers wildly off track. Honey, the minute you put a dollar sign in your name, you forfeited the right to any hopes of being taken seriously. Stick with the party anthems and on crafting such fine lyrics as “Want to dance with no pants on? Holla!”
“Animal” is perfect for getting your groove on (and for licensing: the music supervisor for “Sex and the City 2” should grab “Boots & Boys” right now), but like most of the drunken nightclub crawlers at closing time, you don’t really want to bring Ke$ha home with you.
As my colleague, Katie Hasty, and I wrote about a few days ago, there are lots of reasons – at least 25 of them — to be excited about in 2010. One of the albums we highlighted, Ke$ha’s “Animal” drops tomorrow, Jan. 5 along with a small handful of others. The year gets off to a slightly slow start otherwise, but here are the brief highlights.
Twelve years after disbanding, Soundgarden is reuniting The Seattle band, fronted by Chris Cornell, cryptically hinted at the reunion on a new website, www.soundgardenworld.com, which went live Dec.31. Additionally, Cornell tweeted the news as 2009 came to a close as well: “The 12-year break is over & school is back in session. Sign up now. Knights of the Soundtable ride again!”
Let’s hear it for the party girls! They have spoken loud and clear. Ke$ha’s trashy “Tik Tok” set the record this week for most downloads by any female artist since Billboard started tracking digital sales in 2003. It beats the previous record held by Lady GaGa's "Just Dance" by almost 200,000 copies.
When I think about some of the most memorable music moments of the decade, I think about Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone’s no-holds-barred performance of “Piece of My Heart” at the 2006 Grammy Awards. It was Etheridge’s first appearance since she’d announced she was battling cancer. She got up on stage, bald as a cue ball from chemotherapy, and sang her heart and soul out. I was backstage in the press room and there wasn’t a dry eye in there. Even if you weren’t a fan of Etheridge’s music, you couldn’t help but fall in love with her that day for her utterly fearless, radiant, joyous, performance.
I recently hung out with Etheridge on the set of her music video for her new single, “Fearless Love. “ The video shoot was at a house in Tarzana, Calif., that time had forgotten. A very sweet elderly lady lived there and had left it virtually unchanged since the Eisenhower era.
As Etheridge and I chatted in her doily-filled dining room, the lady of the house asked Etheridge what kind of music she made. She had a preference for jazz herself. Etheridge politely told her rock and roll and expressed her hope that it wouldn’t be too loud for her as we headed into the performance segment.
The owner interrupted us a second time and Etheridge was as respectful and courteous with her as if she were her own grandmother, even though we were on a very tight time schedule, but that’s how Etheridge is. For a rock star, she’s always been exceptionally grounded—maybe it’s her Midwestern roots. Her bout with cancer left her humbled, but also determined to enjoy every minute and to allow herself, her voice and her fame to be used for causes she supports: whether it be the environment, gay rights or breast cancer awareness.
I’ve interviewed Etheridge a number of times, but on this night, she was more present and vibrant than I’d ever seen her. She’s tremendously excited about her new album, “Fearless Love,” which comes out in early 2010, and heralds it as a return to her rock roots (Her kids had to talk her out of calling it "Fearless," reminding her there's another artist who claimed that album title recently).
“The whole album just rocks and rocks and rocks,” she says. “It doesn’t give up. Every song is very emotional and intense. There’s all kinds of different subjects in it. Most of the songs are about me. There’s a couple where I sing about other people, situations, where I’m the third-person observer. I don’t do that very often. I decided I want to do that more.”
Etheridge can’t wait to get back on the road, or more specifically, back on stage. “It’s an exchange of energy,” she says, between her and her audience. “And there are people who come to listen and have it be a one-way conversation and then there are people who literally talk to me. I don’t always hear them.”
I add that they’re usually shouting out, “Melissa, we love you!”
“Thank you very much is how I usually answer… and it’s a two way conversation.”
“Fearless Love” is her 10th studio album and she feels she finally has enough material for “the perfect set list,” she says. “Oh! This album puts it over the top. I can interchange now.”
For the rest of our interview with Etheridge, click here.
As my colleague Katie Hasty and I -- as well as every other critic in the world -- have been doing over the last few weeks, it’s time to unveil yet another list.
Below are my Top 12 choices for best albums and singles of the 2000s. “Best,” which is clearly a subjective term, means a few things here: not only was the album or song a superior effort, it’s also one that I loved (and continue to love) to play over and over. The latter meant more to me than critical acclaim from fellow writers and whether any of these selections showed up on other lists. I deliberately left out anything that I put on my Best of 2009 tallies, for singles and albums.
What are your favorites of the decade?
Best Albums of the Decade
1) “Magic,” Bruce Springsteen
2) “American Idiot,” Green Day
3) “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends,” Coldplay
4) “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” Justin Timberlake
5) “This is It,” The Strokes
6) “Back to Black,” Amy Winehouse
7) “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,” U2
8) “Taking the Long Way,” Dixie Chicks
9) “Late Registration, “ Kanye West
10) “Kid A,” Radiohead
11) “Evil Urges,” My Morning Jacket
12) “Final Straw,” Snow Patrol
Best Singles of the Decade
1) “Viva La Vida,” Coldplay
2) “Crazy in Love,” Beyonce
3) “All My Life,” Foo Fighters
4) “Crazy,” Gnarls Barkley
5) “Clocks,” Coldplay
6) “Hey Ya,” Outkast
7) “American Idiot,” Green Day
8) “Girls in their Summer Clothes,” Bruce Springsteen
9) “No One Knows,” Queens of the Stone Age
10) “Golddigger” Kanye West
11) “Starlight,” Muse
12) “99 Problems,” Jay- Z