Monthly Archives: December 2010

“Michael” MJ’s Final Triumph?

The proclaimed last album from Michael Jackson,  Michael released last week.

Being an MJ fan, (the King and Queen of Pop will always be MJ and Madonna for me) I wanted to see if Michael had any of the magic we’ve all come to expect from the King of Pop.

Scandals circulated this album, crying that this wasn’t what Michael would have wanted, to release an album without his approval, and that it wasn’t even his voice. This album would have come out regardless if he would have wanted it or not, and it did. I’m sure Tupac will have new songs coming out in the next few years as well. After death, these icons don’t have a say what will be released. Is this right or wrong? Can’t really say, but I think it’s important to remember from which context this album came out of.

I don’t know if this album will cure the insatiable need of MJ music the public has been digesting since his passing. I think it will please the die-hard fans, and for the rest of the public? I think they will buy it to complete albums and only a few songs will somewhat come close the the collection of classics MJ has accumulated over his 45 year career.

Now, for the songs.

The single released, “Hold My Hand” is your typical slow jam, uplifting song. In that respect, the song is good, tolerable. The title, “Hold my Hand” sounds like an afterthought tribute to the King. Written before he passed, but after his passing, the song has a reminiscent feel, as if MJ wrote it for his fans. It’s a great tribute song that wasn’t originally written to be a tribute song.

As pretty and light as the song is, I’m disappointed to hear Akon all over the song. I know it’s a duet, but I really don’t want to her Akon in one of his typical songs. Akon makes the song forgettable. I rather hear Michael sing the whole song in its entirety.

Next is “Hollywood. “Hollywood” seems to be a theme in the ‘album’ (I don’t even know if these collection of songs were meant to be released together in the same album). The intro is slightly reminiscent of the Dangerous album, “Who is It” (one of my favorite MJ tracks). I’m not too thrilled with this song. It’s ok, the chorus is catchy, but nothing ground breaking here. Also, in the more upbeat songs, for some reason, MJ’s voice is lowered and the production made louder. It just sounds like MJ’s voice is compressed with a reverb to give it a slight retro feel to it. I rather hear MJ’s voice loud and clear. I’m just not sold on the production at all.

With “Keep your Head Up”, “(I Like) The Way You Love Me” and “Best of Joy” these three are the slow songs, we can hear MJ’s voice more clearly, as it should be. These songs will please fans of “You Are Not Alone”, “Childhood” and “The Lost Children”. These songs are for those who are fans of the slower MJ ballads. These songs aren’t classics, but for fans of the genre, it will suffice. “(I Like) The Way You Love Me”, is probably the best out of the slow songs. Uplifting and cute.

“Monster” comes in to shake things up a bit. The album placement is a little weird, between all the slow songs, this should have been after “Breaking News”. Anyways, this is my favorite track on the album. This song reminds me of the Blood on the Dance Floor album with almost an 80s touch to it. After “Thriller” MJ was one of the only artists that I know that wrote about scary themes. MJ explains the scary theme in Blood on the Dance Floor and Invincible albums with songs like “Blood on the Dance Floor”, “Ghost”, “Is it Scary”, “Scream Louder”, “Morphine” and “Threatened”. “Monster” is one of the many sequels to “Thriller”. The verses have enough breathing room and the pre-chorus with the chorus vocals are a very good build-up to the chorus. 50 Cents’ rap, eh, it’s fine. Again, sounds like the Invincible album and “Jam” with raps inserted within the song.

Next comes “Breaking News”, this one when I first heard it, was boring. It’s kind of growing on me. The song doesn’t really pick up until 2 minutes at the chorus. This song follows a theme MJ has been touting since 1989’s “Leave Me Alone”, with other songs with the exact same theme of being tabloid fodder in “Tabloid Junkie”, “Why You Wanna Trip on Me”, “Privacy” and I’m sure I’m missing something else. Michael Jackson, as everyone knows, has had mostly a hate relationship with the media. Although, MJ is one of the only artists that actually addresses how they feel about the media. Even after death, his life is still making news. His life was “on display” as his lyrics explain, and this was definitely something Michael had to battle for the majority of his life.

“(I Can’t Make it) Another Day” with Lenny Kravitz, is when the album finally starts to pick up. This one is catchy, something I can imagine on the radio, and Lenny Kravitz is a great artist for MJ to collaborate with. A little “Dirty Diana” feel to it. Just a little.

“Behind the Mask” has a very nice saxophone jazz intro to the song. The synths sound 80s. I think it works. At first it sounds a little old. This song literally sounds like it could have come off of the Bad album. The post chorus has a 70s robot reverb going on. Man, if you like MJ’s 80s songs, this song will fit right in seemlessly.

The album ends with “Much too Soon” This one is a classic. Very fitting and sad.

The best singles off of this album:

Monster, Behind the Mask, Much Too Soon, (I Can’t Make It) Another Day, (I Like) The Way You Love Me.

This album definitely needs time to grow on you. It needs room to breathe and settle in. At first glance, I wasn’t liking it. It’s growing on me, the only classic, would be “Much Too Soon”. “Monster” is my favorite track and over time, I’m interested to hear how this album will be revered by the public.

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Tron Legacy Soundtrack Album Review

I eagerly awaited the Tron Legacy Soundtrack. When I first heard Daft Punk would create the soundtrack, I thought it was one of the most brilliant movie soundtrack moves since pairing Marilyn Manson to Resident Evil.

Well, there has been other great soundtracks in the meantime, but the pairing of a band commonly known for dance music for a movie soundtrack, this I couldn’t wait to hear.

From the first track “Overture” we are introduced to the Tron motif which I believe is best composed during the second track, “The Grid” when the synths take over the orchestration and the listener gets to hear what a video-game soundtrack should sound like. I can’t help but feel giddy hearing the 80s sounding synths. It definitely “sounds” like the 80s, but the accompaniment makes the song modern day.

The album continues with short songs, each one with a synth or a percussion element to carry the song. A forewarning about this soundtrack, it can definitely make you feel on edge and nervous. I was mostly listening to this soundtrack in my car and I felt the tension while driving. “The Game Has Changed” definitely has tension and the percussion sounds like a heavy heartbeat.

For those who aren’t too keen on synths, “Outlands” and “Outlands, Pt. II” comes into the mix with violins adding even more tension and drama. “Adagio for Tron” is the only track that has a lone violin playing a mourning reverence melody.

“End of the Line” blends 80s video game sounds into the track. “Derezzed” the first single off of the soundtrack, is the most upbeat song of the album. The synths blend into each other, and my only complaint is that I wish there were even more upbeat songs like “Derezzed”. I’m waiting for a “Derezzed remix for sure.

But wait! The tension isn’t over! “Fall” brings in even more gripping tension with slow-rising synths to really build up the drama. “Solar Sailor” is the calmest track in the album. Slow and melancholy, it really is a beautiful song.

The “Tron Legacy (End Titles)” is another enjoyable track, with the “Overture” motif making an orchestrated comeback.

This album is great for anyone who loves dramatic movie soundtracks, and those who are fans of Daft Punk and dance/trance music. The mixture of orchestrated music with 80s synths isn’t completely foreign terrain, however, Daft Punk has brought the drama, tension and a unique take on the new sound of Tron Legacy.

I can’t wait to hear it in the movies.

The top 5 songs in my opinion:

The Grid, Derezzed, The Game has Changed, Solar Sailor and Tron Legacy (End Titles)

Honorable Mentions:

Outlands, Pt. II, Fall, The Son of Flynn, Rinzler, Adagio for Tron

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Semi-Music Review of “Burlesque”

Going into the movie theater for Burlesque, I knew what I was in for: cheesy acting, campy lines, and a plot even a 2 year old could predict.

Regardless, I treated the movie as  a fun night out with the girls, to laugh and hear the songs.

The acting right off the bat is horrible. One minute Christina Aguilera is acting like a shy, quiet farm girl from Iowa, and the next second she’s literally stealing the show by bombarding the stage. I just couldn’t help myself from laughing at the acting.

The movie itself was ok. There were only two good songs (maybe three, the ending credits song was actually decent) in the whole movie. The first one was called, “Express”, by Aguilera. 

I gotta add the curly hair is fabulous (and apparently super curly hair is the style again according to Cosmopolitan, but I regress…) and the outfits are cute.

Although Aguilera has utterly perfect pitch, can belt an entire song out, whenever Cher sang, I remembered the “Believe” era back in the 90s with Cher (as I did not grow up in the 70s, my only experience with Cher is the “Believe” album) and felt a nostalgia only Cher could revive.

Her solo “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” had a duality to it. In the story, Cher is talking about finacial disaster and rising above it, but personally, Cher is back singing again, and we definitely haven’t seen the last of Cher. The song left me in chills the whole time. Although she isn’t Aguilera, she holds her own and I feel more emotion when she sings, and the lyrics I feel like most of America, and the world can relate in this recession.

Here is a remix of the song:

One of the last songs, “Show Me How You Burlseque” was your standard show tune. I didn’t really care. When the ending credits were rolling the song, “The Beautiful People” was playing and I would have rather seen that sung in the movie then have it be the rolling credits. I liked the contrast with the rock guitars and then the quick triplets of ” the beautiful, beautiful, beautiful people…”. I can see why it was stuck in the ending credits, but I think it would have been an exciting song to see performed. Oh well.

And there you go, the other songs just didn’t really grab my attention. Aguilera had some cute solos, and “Tough Lover” was entertaining to watch, but in my opinion, the previously mentioned songs are the ones that left an impression with me.

The movie itself, if you know what you’re in for, was fun. I never saw Glitter and most people said Burlesque was a better film. I love musicals, and I had fun laughing at the acting, I liked the drama and for a minute I was thrown off and didn’t know what would happen. But it was entertaining, more entertaining than the notoriously campy Show Girls. Worth a watch if you love musicals, like to laugh at bad acting, and oh yeah, hear some great singing, because it’s definitely worth it to see these two divas singing their hearts out on the big screen.

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Back to Robert Miles, Seriously?

I feel like I must be going through some changes.

As I said in my earlier post, music is a reflection of how you’re feeling. I must be having some different feelings lately.

I think you can find out a hell of a lot from a person just by what music they listen to. If someone is kind of boring, the music they listen to is kind of plain, or the easy “standards” and they don’t deviate to anything “crazy” like trance.

I think trance is some of the most progressive music out there. I like meeting people who listen to trance, because I think they REALLY think outside of the box.

Anyways, back to what I’m listening to now. I sometimes think of the “Ever After” trailer, the Cinderella story back in the 90s w/ Drew Barrymore, I personally feel like I live my own Cinderella story. (Mother dies, being broke, and other stuff I won’t post on the internet) so I think of that movie from time to time and I think that trailer was brilliant in the music choices. I’ve been in some kind of mellow-wanting-to-escape kind of mood, so I’ve been looking up new music on iTunes, came across Oceanlab and back to Robert Miles and “Fable” which was the song on the “Ever After” trailer.

Jeez, to hear a trance song in a movie trailer like that… was really once in a long time kind of thing. I don’t really hear that kind of trance in movie trailer. Maybe some Matrix sounding stuff, but not the melodic, progressive trance.

So, into that kind of music again.

And then I went WAY back, yes, to what I used to listen to in high school, J-Pop and K-Pop. Yes, I liked H.O.T., a korean boy band. I liked the song Outside Castle

I loved the mix of contemporary music meets pop and those guys voices are good.

And I went and bought Ayumi Hamasaki’s (the Queen of J-Pop) remix album “Cyber Trance Presents Ayu Trance” Although, the remix album I had back in high school was WAY better. These DJs weren’t really matching the beats w/ her voice correctly. I think Ferrry Corsten did a good job w/ “A Song for XX” because that was a different take on Ayumi.

This DJ did a good remix on “Fly High” 

I also liked a little Gackt with Oasis (Mars Version).

So, the next albums I’m contemplating on buying are Above & Beyond “Tri-State” and Oceanlab’s “Sirens of the Sea”.

Some music choices I make are hastily or takes me a while to be “bought”. Like, “hm…. do I REALLY want this song?” So, I’m contemplating it.

So, my conclusion. What “am” I feeling lately?

Stress, wanting to relax, anxious for change to come. My life lately has been stagnant and I’m anxious for change. I want change to come faster, I’m tired of waiting. It’s coming… but when? I am also not really sad. Not incredibly happy… so I think that’s where the slow progressive trance fits, the time standing still and melancholy kind of feel. The alt. rock music in my opinion fits closely to that feeling. When I usually listen to rock, I’ll listen to John Mayer, Coldplay, 30 Seconds to Mars, etc. It can be downtempo, but it’s still catchy. Listening to Miike Snow and The Temper Trap is a departure for me. I feel like I should start turning into a Silverlake hipster, as I imagine Silverlake hipsters listen to that kind of music…

Again, music doesn’t lie, people do.

Yeah, I dunno what that means either.

G’nite.

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