Last post of 2013 !! ~

December 31, 2013 at 4:32 PM | Posted in !Random! | Leave a comment

First of all, I hope you all had a very nice Christmas!

Another year has come to an end, and boy what a year. To me, 2013 meant a lot of things, but most of all it meant positivity, discovery and happiness. I think I’ll remember this year as one of the best, despite some minor setbacks a couple of months ago but I have learned so much from them. My family and friends were amazing company and support, so I thank them for standing by me!

As for Music Addiction, I still feel lucky every single day that I can do this. Here, I do something I love, and to have you guys supporting me for another year has been amazing. In 2013, Music Addiction had 18,000 views again! It’s about as much as last year, but hey, you still broke the record of daily views with 213 on April 2nd! Imagine this: the concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. If this blog were a concert, you would need 7 sold-out performances for everyone to see it! How cool is that?!

Like I said multiple times, you can count on me in 2014! I’m not planning on giving this up any time soon, so I hope I’ll see you again in the new year. Please take care and enjoy New Year’s Eve (or Night, for some of you on the far eastern hemisphere). Much love!

~ Jade

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Best of 2013: ~Last FM Listening Trends~

December 27, 2013 at 9:00 AM | Posted in !Features! | Leave a comment

Again it appears I have had other musical interests this year, and I have listened to a little less music than usual because of my busy schedule. But still, it’s always a funny idea to look back into this year’s Last FM listening trends. My top 3 has never changed much in the past few years, my #1 will probably be permanent (because Disney just fckng rules 4life) but lower on the list are the newer additions. This list features plays from December 27, 2012 to December 24, 2013, since I prepared this post in advance on the 24th (as you are reading this, I am in London!). Anyway, join me on my trip through my personal ‘2013 in Music’!

1. Disney – 1,270 plays
Last year: #1
This will probably never change since my heart will always beat for Disney, it’s what I live for. I still listen to my 5 CD Disney collection every once in a while, it just lifts my spirit like crazy. This year I had less plays than previous years, but maybe that’ll change next year because I will never stop listening to those lovely, classic Disney songs. If I’m not the only one (sometimes it feels that way), give this post a like!

2. Ayumi Hamasaki – 791 plays
Last year: #3
Ayu went from #2 to #3 and back to #2, mostly due to her amazing album released in February 2013. Her 2012 stuff wasn’t very special, but the 2013 album LOVE again brought back my love for her. I couldn’t stop listening to SAKURA, the best song on the entire album. Meanwhile, I took my time to listen to some of her older albums again, and I found I have a weak spot for her debut album. Her latest single is probably her worst in a long time, but I hope it’ll get better in 2014!

3. Koda Kumi – 499 plays
Last year: #2
Kuu has’t released many new things in 2013, so she dropped to #3 on the list. Last year she blew me away with JAPONESQUE, but this year we had only two singles or so, which isn’t much. Still, Dreaming Now! was a pretty good single and Summer Trip wasn’t bad either. I’m just waiting for her to put her latest three singles on an entirely new album, hopefuly T.B.R. soon!

4. Kalafina – 291 plays
Last year: #8
Kalafina has been my new love, and I’m sure there were more plays this year but somehow they got lost. I adore their album Red Moon, and Consolation, which was released this year, was one of the best albums of 2013. The title track is amazing and all the singles that were released lived up to the expectations. Their folk rock style is one of my guilty pleasures and I hope they’ll release new material soon since they have already released two new singles recently.

5. Christina Aguilera – 277 plays
Last year: #4
The first drop on the list, albeit only 1 spot. All of Christina’s plays are due to her 2012 album Lotus, which is one of the most amazing albums ever made (don’t hate me, I know many people think it was the worst thing that ever existed). I just can’t stop listening to all the catchy songs, which are exactly what I like in music. Because of her job as coach on The Voice she hasn’t been very active in the music business, but her new song with A Great Big World was a bullseye. Love it!

6. P!nk – 206 plays
Last year: n.a.
A newcomer, wow! I have loved P!nk’s music for, like, forever, ever since she debuted back in the early 2000’s, but when she released her album Funhouse in 2008 I really started to pay more attention to her. I have been to her Funhouse Tour with my mom in 2009 and it was an experience that I’ll never forget, this woman can do anything. Her video for the song ‘Try’ demonstrates what an amazing dancer, acrobat and performer she is, so it’s probably one of my favorite P!nk videos ever. If you haven’t please try her album The Truth About Love!

7. Maroon 5 – 166 plays
Last year: #5
Despite the drop on the list in comparison to last year, I haven’t stopped loving these guys. In fact, I’m still excited to see them perform live in the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam next month! The concert was supposed to be held on July 3, but it was rescheduled so yeah I’m still counting down to January 20, 2014. I have listened to more than 166 plays to be honest, because the Overexposed cd was on repeat in my car throughout the Summer, but Last FM doesn’t make that count ofcourse.

8. Beyoncé – 152 plays
Last year: n.a.
I don’t know how this happened, but this is probably because of her latest cd that dropped unexpectedly this month. Ever since that day, songs like Partition, Yoncé, Jealous and Blue have been on repeat on every possible moment. The album grew on me quickly and although I was disappointed by the change of style at first, I realized this is perfect to give in to my secret love for hiphop music. So… sorry not sorry.

9. Demi Lovato – 137 plays
Last year: n.a.
A lot of newcomers this year, and this girl has the same story that Maroon 5 has. I have played her cd Demi over an over again in my car, so there is more than meets the eye here. I was also addicted to a song on her album Unbroken, which led me to love the entire album with it as well. Her image is so compelling and her songs are very accessible, as if they apply to everyone’s life. So I’ll probably have more plays of this young woman next year!

10. Ellie Goulding – 121 plays
Last year: n.a.
Ellie is probably the star that has risen the most on this list since I hadn’t even heard from her until this March or so and I started listening to her music in November. Her album Bright Lights has been on repeat for several times and all of her singles are instant favorites. Mostly she makes uptempo songs that made me give electropop another chance, but with How Long Will I Love You she really touched me (and even made me cry). Encore!

That’s it for 2013, guys! See you next year!

Best of 2013: ~Albums~

December 24, 2013 at 1:39 PM | Posted in !Features! | Leave a comment

The most exciting ‘best of’ post of all, in my opinion: the best albums of the year 2013! Again there will probably some surprises here, it was so hard for me to put this list together up until the very last moment because I was doubting all the time. But here it is, my recommendations of 2013!

~Top 10: Best albums 2013~

1. Katy Perry – Prism
2. SHINee – Boys Meet U
3. Demi Lovato – Demi
4. Ayumi Hamasaki – LOVE again
5. Ariana Grande – Yours Truly
6. Kalafina – Consolation
7. Girls’ Generation – LOVE&PEACE
8. Girls’ Generation – I Got A Boy
9. Beyoncé – Beyoncé
10. Birdy – Fire Within

~Top 5: Best album-only tracks~

1. Ayumi Hamasaki – SAKURA
2. Katy Perry – By The Grace Of God
3. Kalafina – Consolation
4. Miley Cyrus – #GETITRIGHT
5. Namie Amuro – La La La

Best of 2013: ~Singles~

December 21, 2013 at 2:01 PM | Posted in !Features! | Leave a comment

One of the posts I’ve been waiting sooo long for to finally make, and now it’s here! This list below is, as you probably know, made based on the amount of stars I have given them, their memorability and overall feel. Some new suprises, some expected ones may have been left out, but it is as it is. I give youuu… the best singles of the year 2013 the way I see it!

~Top 10: Best singles 2013~

1. Katy Perry – Roar
2. SHINee – Boys Meet U
3. Kalafina – Kimi no Gin no Niwa
4. SHINee – Fire
5. Koda Kumi – Dreaming Now!
6. Girls’ Generation – LOVE&GIRLS
7. After School – First Love
8. BENI – OUR SKY
9. BoA – Tail of Hope
10. Namie Amuro – Big Boys Cry / Beautiful

~Top 5: Best B-sides~

1. SHINee – Sunny Day Hero
2. Girls’ Generation – Lingua Franca
3. BENI – Home Sweet Home
4. Kalafina – misterioso
5. Koda Kumi – XXX

BENI – COVERS 3

December 21, 2013 at 1:01 PM | Posted in BENI | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
BENI – COVERS 3

1. Konayuki
2. Namida no Kiss
3. Ai Uta
4. Hana
5. Zenryoku Shounen
6. Wine Red no Kokoro
7. Kaede
8. WON’T BE LONG
9. RUN AWAY
10. Shimanchu nu Takara
11. WOW WAR TONIGHT ~ Toki ni wa Okose yo Movement

♦ ♦ ♦

COVERS 3 is the third cover album released by Japanese/American singer BENI on December 18, 2013. The album debuted at #2 on the Oricon Charts.

Konayuki was released as a single last month and I think it’s perfect to start the album with this song, since this made me wonder if the rest of the songs on the album would be as good as this one. The song is a midtempo winter ballad, perfect for this time of year with the little chimes in the background. Still it has a little edge to it with the synths and beats and BENI’s powerful vocals.

The second song is Namida no Kiss, and just as with the rest of the songs on the album I have to admit I’m not familiar with the original. This track is very smooth and slow, with a groovy tempo. I love the bass and guitar here and how they influence the overall sound, but BENI’s vocals are a little too harsh for this ambience. True, she sounds lovely, but her volume was a little too much.

Ai Uta might be the third ballad in a row, but this is the first one with a more emotional touch that really gets to you. BENI’s vocals and input are perfect here, softly singing along with the piano melody. The emotional feeling in the song builds up, leading it into a highlight with more powerful vocals as well.

Hana really got me surprised from BENI’s very first note. There’s more edge to this song than to the previous three, with synths softly building up in the background before unleashing an amazing percussion beat that I adore. The little piano notes in the background make it a little groovier and very catchy, I can see myself loving this song even more in time.

Apparently we headed into a little uptempo section on the album, since Zenryoku Shounen incorporates a lot of synths and beats in its arrangement. The lyrics that BENI wrote probably bring up an entire new subject for the song since it doesn’t talk about a ‘powerful boy’ but more about herself finding a new beginning. Still, it all fits together and this song really kicks ass!

Ah, if I’m not mistaken Koda Kumi also has her version of Wine Red no Kokoro and if I remember it well I didn’t really like it because it was dragging like hell. BENI on the other hand really made this her own again and made it an acoustic guitar influenced ballad that is way more accessable for me. It’s not the best song I’ve ever heard since it’s very simple, but still, BENI wins. Again. *thinks back to Chiisana Koi no Uta*

Kaede is one of the longest songs on the album at a little over six minutes, and although it takes its time to start up it gets really interesting once the chorus comes along. It’s better than Wine Red no Kokoro and it gets even better when the song reaches the bridge. The real highlight kinda stays out, but the arrangement is very enjoyable and close to perfection. It just flows a little too well, if you know what I mean.

ARE YOU SERIOUS??! Omfg. WON’T BE LONG, the song that Koda Kumi made two versions of for her Black Cherry album in 2007 and apparently now it’s BENI’s turn. I can’t take this seriously, but okay, I’ll try. It bears a lot of similarities to Kuu’s version, but BENI’s version is higher and solo for that matter. I must say this version is much better than the Kuu version I have known for years, so this just proves one thing: Kuu can pack her bags, plz don’t make another cover album and just leave it to BENI to slay everything.

When I saw the title, I was afraid this was going to be the RUN AWAY that was also featured on the Satsuki Ame single. I can’t remember why I gave that single five stars, since I don’t think this song was perfect or anything. Okay, it has a lot of sass and edge to it with those swirling synths and fast beats, it’s playful, but there’s just so much missing in the chorus. I don’t like the melodies. Anywayz, not a disaster but still.

Shimanchu nu Takara takes it down a notch with a softer ballad approach. This just screams BENI’s personal style because of the fingersnaps in the beat and soft synths and bass luring in the background. This could have been just another ballad that passes me by without me really noticing it, but I like the melodies in this song and BENI’s soft vocals. Her lyrics are amazing as well, they actually have meaning!

WOW WAR TONIGHT ~ Toki ni wa Okose yo Movement closes the album, and it has a very appealing sound from the start. It has a clear R&B sound with some minor hiphop influences in the beat. Later on, some synths and even better percussion join in to make it perfect. BENI’s vocals show a certain amount of energy throughout the song, really dragging you into it. It’s a song with an interesting pattern, but it’s soooo good. One of my absolute favorites. BUT WTF WAS THAT STRANGE YELL AT THE END O.O

Most of the time, I’m not much into cover albums, especially not if I don’t know any of the songs. Well, I knew three out of eleven (xD), and this is BENI’s best cover album out of the three she has released up until now. It’s a little ballad heavy, but songs like WOW WAR TONIGHT and Zenryoku Shounen tried to balance out the album. I liked her other COVERS albums too, but those songs never really stayed with me, and I think this album definitely has the potential to be more memorable to me personally. I’d like to see BENI release some more original music soon though, since RED wasn’t what I was craving for this past year. If she would release something like this with original compositions, I’m sold.

Favorite tracks: Konayuki | Ai Uta | Hana | Zenryoku Shounen | WON’T BE LONG | WOW WAR TONIGHT ~ Toki ni wa Okose yo Movement

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarblankstar
4 stars

Ayumi Hamasaki – Feel the love / Merry-go-round

December 21, 2013 at 11:55 AM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – Feel the love / Merry-go-round

1. Feel the love (Original mix)
2. Merry-go-round (Original mix)
3. Feel the love (DJ Hello Kitty remix)
4. Feel the love (Blasterjaxx remix)
5. Feel the love (Original mix -Instrumental-)
6. Merry-go-round (Original mix -Instrumental-)

Feel the love / Merry-go-round is the fifty-first single by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on December 25, 2013. Feel the love was both used as opening theme for the music show “CDTV” for the month of December and in an H.I.S. campaign CM.

Wow, Ayu is throwing some EDM on us. Feel the love (Original mix) starts off softly with a piano melody, but soon it builds into this amazingly fierce dance tune that would be a great club banger. Funny how the entire chorus is in English, and Ayu doesn’t even sound too bad despite her Engrish. Even though I’m not too fond of fierce electrodance music, Ayu’s new song turned out to be extremely catchy. Not my favorite A-side from her, but since the anticipation for this single has been growing for the past three years, I’ll take this one as it is.

So I heard Merry-go-round (Original mix) a while back and I loved how the song started small and then bursted into this highly energetic electrodance track. This track was produced by m-flo, which is pretty amazing, but the thing that I just can’t swallow is that VERBAL’s raps are sooo annoying and out of place here. As for the rest of the song, it has potential but I’m not really loving this to be quite honest.

Apparently, both remixes are for Feel the love, which in my opinion turns out to be the better song of the two A-sides. Feel the love (DJ Hello Kitty remix) reminded me a little too much of the original, but it has a little more edge. The Blasterjaxx remix starts off in a really cool way with a softer instrumental introduction and a more classical approach before it really lets loose with a heavy pulsing beat. Despite this being a little heavy to my ears at some times, this proves to be the better remix of the two. Not too fond of the single as a whole though…

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarblankstarblankstar
3 stars

Best of 2013: ~New Discoveries~

December 18, 2013 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s that time of year again! Wow, how time flies, it’s time for another series of posts that will capture 2013 in a nutshell on Music Addiction. As the tradition goes, the 18th of December features the ‘New Discoveries’ posts to show which artists/groups have captured my attention this year!

Ariana Grande
Love her for: Her Mariah Carey-esque vocals, oldschool R&B style and down to earth attitude
Best tracks: Emotions, Baby I, The Way (feat. Mac Miller), Tattooed Heart, Put Your Hearts Up, Popular Song (feat. MIKA)

Who doesn’t know Ariana as the amazing and hilarious Cat on Victorious! and The Sam & Cat Show? As Cat, Ariana definitely caught my attention. But then she opened her mouth and I couldn’t get her huge vocal range out of my head anymore. Everyone should check out Ariana’s cover of Mariah’s Emotions, I did so and I almost fainted when I heard it. This girl has some serious talent, and she created the perfect debut album this year to emphasize that. Despite her young age, Ariana did good in showing off her mature image without overdoing it. I hope she’ll release more material in 2014, she’s got me excited!

Demi Lovato
Love her for: Being such a badass powerhouse and the symbol of strength
Best tracks: Lightweight, Heart Attack, Made In The USA, Let It Go, La La Land, Who’s That Boy (feat. DEV), Skyscraper, Warrior

Ofcourse I have known Demi’s music (and acting) for quite some time, but somehow I never gave this girl a shot. Then, by chance, I heard the song Lighweight, and since that song pretty much described my life at that moment I just got stuck to it. I kept on replaying her album Unbroken over the summer, with her self-titled album Demi as well. I dove into her earlier releases as well, which were pretty awesome all the same. Next to being very talented, Demi also has overcome many many issues and she is the perfect example for many girls and women around the world. You just can’t hate her, IMO.

Ellie Goulding
Love her for: Her unique vocals and kickass musical style
Best tracks: Lights, The Writer, Your Song, My Blood, How Long Will I Love You, Salt Skin, Burn

Somehow I never noticed her song Lights until earlier this year, I think somewhere in March/April. I heard this 2011 song and I played it on repeat about 23 times in a row, that’s how addicted I was to it. Then, later this year (October I guess), after the release of Burn, I found the courage to download her albums. If you ask me, Lights is one of the most perfect albums made in a long time. Although Ellie has a clear electropop style, she made it more enjoyable for me with her catchy style. When she released How Long Will I Love You, she managed to touch me and move me as well. Mission accomplished.

Rita Ora
Love her for: Her musical style and not overdoing her image
Best tracks: Young Single & Sexy, Hot Right Now, How We Do (Party), Roc’ The Life

So there’s not much Rita Ora material to fangirl about yet, but her first album is extremely good! When I was in the USA this past summer, this was the album playing on repeat. The album Ora kinda lives up to its name when you think about it, it’s pure gold with amazingly infectuous R&B songs. I guess I started liking her music because I was growing tired of Rihanna’s image (and music with that), and I was looking for a softer version of her. Rita seemed perfect, so to this day she serves as the soft-Rihanna in my iTunes and I hope she will release more music soon!

Girls’ Generation
Love them for: Their lovely K-pop/J-pop music, diversity and uplifting spirit
Best tracks: Lingua Franca, The Boys I Got A Boy, LOVE&GIRLS, Everyday Love, FLYERS

My greatest vice as a blogger is not noticing SNSD until January this year, right when I Got A Boy came out. I know they’re famous for songs like Hoot, Genie, MR. TAXI, Gee and such, but I haven’t had the time yet to try those songs out and really give them a good listen. So, here’s my first goal for 2014: try some more SNSD. As for what I know about them now, their last two albums were both amazing and very solid, so don’t be surprised if one of the two shows up on the Best Albums list…

Girls’ Generation – LOVE&PEACE

December 15, 2013 at 9:04 PM | Posted in Girls' Generation | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Girls’ Generation – LOVE&PEACE

1. Gossip Girls
2. motorcycle
3. FLYERS
4. GALAXY SUPERNOVA
5. LOVE & GIRLS
6. BEEP BEEP
7. My oh My
8. LIPS
9. DO THE CATWALK
10. Karma Butterfly
11. Lingua Franca
12. Everyday Love

♦ ♦ ♦

LOVE&PEACE is the third Japanese album by South Korean girl group Girls’ Generation, released on December 11, 2013. The album debuted at #1 on the Oricon Charts and has sold 61,073 copies in its first four days.

Gossip Girls is the perfect track to open the album with a lot of fierceness and sass. Electronic pop beats and synths dominate this song and they work perfectly well with the girls’ vocals (which are very well produced to be honest). This track doesn’t put the focus on vocal abilities but more on the danceable melodies, yet there are some good adlibs near the end.

After the expected motorcycle rev we get into the next powerful electropop track with amazingly catchy hooks. This time, the vocals steal the show much more while the song is still heavy on the electronic and digital effects. I agree with fellow reviewers that some lines make you think of Michael Jackson’s ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something’, which makes it very memorable.

FLYERS is amazing! True, its similar to those typical anime theme songs, but the fact that this is a more pop/rock influenced song makes it stand out immediately. Especially because I know these girls for their electropop influences. This track is very strong, catchy and extremely uplifting, and it also features some amazing vocals by the girls. Definitely recommended.

Moving onto one of the singles. GALAXY SUPERNOVA works perfectly after FLYERS because it has a certain amount of energy, but it’s more sustained and toned down. It’s the perfect track to show off the good vocalists in this group, especially the girls doing some of the powerful adlibs. It could’ve been more powerful for a song called GALAXY SUPERNOVA, but there’s nothing to be really negative about here.

LOVE&GIRLS was one of the songs I have loved over the summer, and not only because this song breathes summer energy. It’s uptempo, sassy, experimental and you musn’t take it too serious. The vocals in this track emphasize more cuteness than in the other tracks on the album, but every album needs this track to just go with it and give you a good time. Empty as hell, but soooo catchy.

Okay, I didn’t expect BEEP BEEP on this album, especially since it was just a B-side released on the ‘FLOWER POWER’ single over a year ago. I don’t think anyone expected this, but oh well. It’s a real SNSD pop powerhouse with cute vocals and lyrics, simplicity at its best. It features more of the Ke$ha-ish singsong vocals, but it fits the careless nature of the overall song. Pretty nice.

Tiffany and Taeyon have always been good at singing English lyrics, so the opening to My oh My was very strong! It’s a funkier approach to pop, a combination that is most prominent in K-pop this year. SNSD brought it to J-pop succesfully, not delivering an overly cute performance. Standing O for Taeyon’s adlibs, amazingly catchy track.

LIPS is one of the new songs on the album and the groovy pop sound bring some of Koda Kumi’s vibes on the album. The beats are midtempo and very enjoyable, leaving much room for the synths to build a nice and groovy foundation for the track. I love how the girls infectuously repeat the lines ‘Can’t stop thinking about you // This must be what crazy feels like‘, it’s bound to stay in your head for the rest of the day.

When I heard DO THE CATWALK for the first time, I though it was indeed the perfect runway song. It’s funny and catchy with those whistle sounds in the background during certain parts of the song. Although some of the lyrics aren’t all that original, it makes the song memorable. I love their references to fashion capitals like Paris and New York, it gives the song its very own concept and theme.

Karma Butterfly follows a clear Eurodance style, which is highly unusual for a group like SNSD. The constant pulsing beat and deep synths create a midtempo dance climate for the girls to show off some good vocals in the chorus, while keeping it more on the down low for the verses. It’s a very good song, but I’m less in love with this one than I am with certain other songs.

I only had to hear Lingua Franca once to become addicted to it, this is immediately one of the best songs on this entire album. Although it was the B-side for LOVE&GIRLS, it was the perfect laid back counterpart for that song. It follows a very distinguished pop/R&B style with nice acoustic guitar riffs in the background, which makes it a very breezy and uplifting track. I love this one eternally.

 The obligatory ballad closes the album, and although Everyday Love is the only ballad on the album it doesn’t stray too far from the overall sound the other songs had. With its soft pop style it’s the perfect song to follow Lingua Franca, bringing the album to a sweet, simple and soft close. I love how they name the days of the week in the lyrics, it adds so much to the overall infectuousness of the song. Perfect!

This is such a solid album, and it didn’t surprise me very much after the release of ‘I Got A Boy’ earlier this year. That was my first introduction to SNSD’s music, and it didn’t let me down. LOVE&PEACE, their Japanese release of the year, again shows me how great this group is and that I should finally dive into their discography to discover their most famous songs released some time earlier. As for this album, it’s an amazing uptempo collection that shows multiple sides of the group, without failures and bad tracks. I think I can fall in love with this album even more over time, but for now I’m more than pleased!

Favorite tracks: Gossip Girls | motorcycle | FLYERS | LOVE&GIRLS | My oh My | LIPS | DO THE CATWALK | Lingua Franca | Everyday Love

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarhalfstar
4½ stars

Beyoncé – Beyoncé

December 14, 2013 at 7:25 PM | Posted in Beyoncé | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Beyoncé – BEYONCÉ

1. Pretty Hurts
2. Ghost / Haunted
3. Drunk In Love (feat. Jay-Z)
4. Blow
5. No Angel
6. Yoncé / Partition
7. Jealous
8. Rocket
9. Mine (feat. Drake)
10. XO
11. ***Flawless (feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
12. Superpower (feat. Frank Ocean)
13. Heaven
14. Blue (feat. Blue Ivy)

♦ ♦ ♦

BEYONCÉ is the fifth album by American singer Beyoncé, released on December 13, 2013. The album was released unexpectedly to the iTunes Store without any promotion having taken place. The album sold 80,000 copies in its first three hours of availability.

Pretty Hurts is all about the overexaggerated beauty industry, and Beyoncé captures it perfectly. The song starts off with a dialogue during a beauty pageant, after which a smooth and catchy pop/soul song with clear R&B influences. Beyoncé’s vocals in this track are perfect, not oversinging a single note but really delivering a message. Penned by Sia, this song is perfect to show a more vulnerable side of Bey too.

The next track is… interesting. It’s so non-commercial and it lives up to its title. Ghost / Haunted features Beyoncé rapping her lyrics to a soft haunting background beat, before a deeper  beat comes in to give it a heavier hiphop flow. After a minute or three of pure badass stuff, Ghost transitions into Haunted, which has a little more tempo to it. Beyoncé also sings her lyrics here, but everything stays very minimal, which I’m not used to when it comes to her music but it’s pretty amazing.

No single was released prior to the album, but one of the possible options should’ve been Drunk In Love (feat. Jay-Z). This song with a deep slow jam is perfect for the urban contemporary radio stations. Myself, I needed to get used to it for a little bit but I do have a weak spot for hiphop tracks so I can dig this for sure. I don’t even mind Jay-Z, while usually I find him very annoying. Beyoncé’s higher notes in this track are pure perfection.

Let’s pretend Blow is not about oral sex, shall we? It’s catchy nonetheless, since it’s produced by the dream team that worked on JT’s 20/20 Experience. Pharrell’s influence speaks loudly from this popping disco-inspired song, taking me back to the B’Day era with songs like ‘Green Light’ and ‘Kitty Kat’ (in fact, combine those two and you get this song). This brings some retro flavor nicely onto the album.

No Angel features Beyoncé’s more falsetto vocals, especially in the verses. This R&B track has some electropop influences to make it more interesting, but the rest of the song stays on the down low. Her vocals are nice and breathy, altered by vocoders near the end of the song which doesn’t sound too bad either. Besides the quality of the vocals, there’s not much here that impresses me all that much.

As soon as I heard the beat featured in the first part of Yoncé / Partition, I turned my volume way up. And to imagine this deep and heavy semi-rap track Yoncé is just the interlude to the real popping track Partition. It follows perfectly after Yoncé dropped that delicous beat. It’s similar to Blow, with lyrics all about sexual and sensual content. I love the combination of beats and synths in this track, destined to be on repeat in my playlist.

Jealous needs some time to develop, but then this appears to be so much more than just the next deep track with a dark side. True, it’s like saying FU to your ex, but this is like a perfect follow-up to and grown-up version of ‘If I Were A Boy’. The brooding beat sometimes reminds me of Lana Del Rey music, just a little bit, and everything in the entire song keeps building until it almost reaches the highlight part. Then it just stops, right there. Pity, I wanted more of this.

So this album is apparently filled with songs to move it to the bedroom to, if you know what I mean. Rocket is another smooth and slow track with some soulful elements that keep me interested throughout the full six and a half minutes, something I didn’t expect. Musically, it’s not much, but the layered vocals and gospel-like features are very likeable.

Mine (feat. Drake) starts as a piano ballad, which would’ve been very much out of place since Drake is involved. But then the track speeds up with hiphop beats and amazing raps by Drake, before Beyoncé takes over again. Both singers work together very well, taking turns performing their parts in this track that seems like a patchwork of melodies and different parts. It has some very interesting and addictive badass parts though.

After all the raunchy songs and deep hiphop explosions, XO is a very welcome change with a unique pop sound. Obviously Ryan Tedder worked his magic on this, and his collab with Beyoncé’s vocals is perfection. There’s a certain warmth and carelessness coming from this song that many of the other songs didn’t have (or at least had in a very different way). I can see this becoming one of my favorite songs of the album because of the way it sounds so special.

***Flawless (feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) is what eventually became of that crazy track ‘Bow Down/I Been On’ that was released in early 2013. I never really knew what to make of this, but on this album it actually fits in this form. There are a lot of hiphop tracks on this album, so a little bit of trap can’t hurt, right? It features parts of the feminist speech by Adichie, adding something extra to the song that just breathes feminism. It’s good if you can handle it, otherwise just stick to ‘Halo’.

When a track is called Superpower (feat. Frank Ocean), you probably expect it to sound something like ***Flawless does. Actually, it’s a very slow triple time doo-wop song with a very mysterious undertone. Frank Ocean has a good voice, I guess he wasn’t called ‘the new Prince’ by some for nothing. This song just flows by, very much at ease, not forgettable but not all that memorable either.

Heaven is probably the only emotional track on the album, and also the only real piano ballad. With Beyoncé singing “Heaven couldn’t wait for you // So go on, go home“, it talks about the death of a loved one. There are some hints to gospel music, but Beyoncé kept it very small and non-dramatic in the first part. In the second half, she finally let go a little more and she really touched me. I’ve been waiting for a track like this on the album, wow.

Blue (feat. Blue Ivy) closes the album on a very sweet note (so it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the tracks, but w/e). After a minute, a groovy beat drops in and I get the feeling I have heard this song somewhere before. It has its very own uplifting sound, adding more and more instruments like deep synths as it progresses. Little Blue Ivy has some parts in this song at the very end, speaking in her cute baby voice. Aawhh…

So I never saw this album coming, just like everyone else. I wonder what happened since ‘4’, because that album and BEYONCÉ have very different sounds while Beyoncé said ‘4’ was the kind of music she wanted to make. To many negative comments perhaps? This album is all about revealing the gangster in Beyoncé, the one that talks about sex very openly and raps her lyrics instead of letting her powerful vocals carry a more moving message. So yes, I think there’s something missing here; Beyoncé’s genuine style. Still, I love how she tackles the hiphop flow that’s present on most of the tracks. Tracks that I played two or more times in a row include Drunk In Love, Yoncé / Partiti0n and Jealous, and the latter is probably my absolute favorite. This album includes some diamonds in the rough, I’ll give it some time for me to really get used to them.

Favorite tracks: Pretty Hurts | Ghost / Haunted | Drunk In Love (feat. Jay-Z) | Blow | Yoncé / Partition | Jealous | Mine (feat. Drake) | XO | Blue (feat. Blue Ivy)

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

Birdy – Fire Within

December 7, 2013 at 6:22 PM | Posted in Birdy | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Birdy – Fire Within

1. Wings
2. Heart Of Gold
3. Light Me Up
4. Words As A Weapon
5. All You Never Say
6. Strange Birds
7. Maybe
8. No Angel
9. All About You
10. Standing In The Way Of Light
11. Shine

♦ ♦ ♦

Fire Within is the second album by British singer-songwriter Birdy, released on September 16, 2013. It is her first album with all original compositions. The album peaked at #8 on the UK charts.

From the moment I first heard Wings, I fell in love with it and I knew this would become one of the best songs of 2013. It’s not the typical Birdy song with more pop/rock elements and a clear Coldplay / Snow Patrol flavor, but this suits her so well. It’s the standout track on the album, may that be very well clear. I love this to bits ❤

The rest of the album follows a slightly more laid back pattern, but Heart Of Gold shows that it isn’t a problem. This song is perfect for making me realize that Birdy has stronger vocals than I initially thought, vulnerable and yet strong against an arrangement consisting of piano, strings and percussion. It even has some power ballad influences giving it an extra kick.

Light Me Up is just like Wings, the only exception to the overruling ballad style. This song is slightly 80s inspired, but if you should describe it in modern music terms, then it would be Florence + The Machine. I like how Birdy has the right amount of energy for an uplifting song like this one, making it very appealing and catchy.

The music for Words As Weapons reminded me so much of a combination of the Twilight soundtrack and ‘Home’  by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, combining guitar chords, piano notes and strings with an airy and mysterious ambience. The lyrics are beautiful and deep, with Birdy’s vocals really getting into the essence of it all. It’s all very small, but still it’s effective and breathtaking.

All You Never Say keeps it light with just a piano and soft percussion and a much less mysterious undertone than Words As Weapons had. The focus is on the lyrics, with Birdy singing about someone who is obviously not opening up about something. Not everyone can deliver lyrical content well, but Birdy is one of the first to capture me and draw my attention to what she is singing. Lovely!

Opening with a piano melody, Strange Birds later introduces some low strings that make the song already a bit haunting. Then the percussion drops in and some amazing chanting by Birdy, and the song really takes flight (pun intended). I have already listened to this song a couple of times because I can’t seem to get it out of my head. It’s short, but one of the most memorable tracks on the album.

After some laid back and/or mysterious tracks, we enter the second half of the album with a more uplifting guitar song. Maybe could come off as a filler track to some, but if you ask me this perfectly creates a balance between all the other tracks. It’s light and breezy, with Birdy’s vocals layered softly over the guitar chords. I can’t imagine the album without this track.

No Angel is the second single of the album, but it is less popular than Wings obviously. Still this poppy piano ballad has its own charm, putting the focus on the lyrics and Birdy’s voice. The lyrics speak about being broken, and Birdy’s voice is perfect for emphasizing all kinds of emotion in lyrics. I wouldn’t have picked this as the second single if I were her, but on the album it works perfectly.

From a piano-influenced ballad to a midtempo track with guitar chords: next we have All About You. This song was leaked before the album was released and it received mixed reviews, but this simple track is another charming gem on the album. The chanting in the background, echoing softly, makes the song even a little catchier and more memorable. I really liked it!

Standing In The Way Of The Light bears some similarities to Wings, which makes me love it so much. The same mysterious piano melodies are present and Birdy sings in her crisp clear head voice again in the chorus. This song starts off small but then it becomes much bigger, finally bringing in some energy again. The song progresses climactically, something I missed in some other tracks (that were still beautiful in their own way).

Closing the album, Shine is the last piano ballad with some amazing harmonizations when it comes to the vocals. Those same vocals are again the centerpoint of the song, showing off how good Birdy is at using both her head voice and chest voice. In the bridge she belts out her lyrics one more time, closing the album while leaving me stunned.

I was never ver much impressed by Birdy, not by Skinny Love and definitely not by People Help The People. I thought her voice lacked training, but everything changd when Wings came about. I saw the video on MTV and it got me glued to my TV, afterwards I played the song on repeat for an hour long. I decided to download her album and I’m so glad I did, because she proved herself to me for once and for all. Normally an album consisting of mostly ballads are quite boring, but Birdy has some kind of power that still draws me towards her music. Her music has depth, beautiful lyrics and her vocals have improved in the past two years. This girl is only 17 and already she has released one of the best albums of 2013. Cheers to that!

Favorite track: Wings | Heart Of Gold | Light Me Up | Strange Birds | Maybe | Standing In The Way Of The Light | Shine

OVERALL RATING
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5 stars

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