Selena Gomez – Revival

November 13, 2015 at 1:12 PM | Posted in Selena Gomez | Leave a comment

Selena Gomez – Revival

1. Revival
2. Kill Em With Kindness
3. Hands To Myself
4. Same Old Love
5. Sober
6. Good For You (feat. A$AP Rocky)
7. Camouflage
8. Me & The Rhythm
9. Survivors
10. Body Heat
11. Rise
12. Me & My Girls
13. Nobody
14. Perfect
15. Outta My Hands (Loco)
16. Cologne

♦ ♦ ♦

Revival is the second solo album by American singer Selena Gomez, released on October 9, 2015. The album topped the charts in the USA, Canada, and Norway, and sold 117,000 units in its first week.

I dive into the future / But I’m blinded by the sun / I’m reborn in every moment / So who knows what I become
Selena speaks these words when opening Revival, the title track and first track on the album. The song has an interesting sound, kind of experimental electro, very soft and yet the percussion is very loud and thumping. Selena delivers a very solid vocal performance, but as an opening track, this is probably a bit too laid back. Amazing track, just in the wrong place.

This is where things really take off. Kill Em With Kindness probably has even a better whistle hook than Adam Lambert’s ‘Ghost Town’, which was already amazing, but in this song it’s even more catchy. The album should’ve been opened by this track, since it instantly got me into the groove. Instead of sticking up her middle finger to how bad the world can be, Selena tells us to ‘kill em with kindness’. Inspirational.

A song that will hopefully become a hit somewhere down the line is Hands To Myself, which is so catchy I cannot get it out of my head (I haven’t been able to do so for the past few days so…). It’s seductive, smooth, and Selena’s vocals are soft and sultry in the verses, while she cries out in the hooks sounding like a mix between Miley Cyrus and Robyn. I’m in love with this one.

I was wondering why Selena sounded a bit different in the chorus of Same Old Love, but Charli XCX delivers the background vocals and they sound great together nonetheless. It’s an interesting midtempo electropop song that is another earworm on this album. I like the snappy beats, jazzy elements and piano tune in the arrangement. Great choice for a single.

Sober reminded me sooo much of Charli XCX’s ‘Boom Clap’, but it’s a good thing because it’s one of those few songs on the album I keep thinking about all day. It’s very catchy, I love that echoed percussion, and Selena’s vocals are again very powerful and solid.

And of course, there is the big summer hit: Good For You (feat. A$AP Rocky). I adore this song and I’m in love with Selena’s breathy and mumbling vocals, the stripped-down, minimalistic sound of the arrangement and the little hiphop elements (strengthened by A$AP Rocky’s catchy and fitting performance). All in all, possibly the strongest song on the entire album, it’s like Selena’s own version of Beyoncé’s ‘Partition’.

I was wondering if Selena would only do catchy and minimalistic songs, but not ballads on this album. Yet, Camouflage is the ballad I’ve been waiting for, and she executed it wonderfully. Her vocals are clear and controlled, attractive to listen to, and the arrangement is simple yet effective with only a piano and strings.

Me & The Rhythm is the next earworm on the album, and it took only one listen for me to love it. That chorus, and the way Selena sings her lyrics, is too catchy and interesting to forget. Nice for a change that it features a deep house beat (which I have come to love), while also incorporating 70s beats and tropical steeldrum sounds every now and then. Very good choice for the third single.

In order to keep things even more interesting, there is Survivors, which is kind of an anthemic song in the best possible way there is. It has a softer approach to electro-pop music, just to slow things down after Me & The Rhythm, but it works so well. That high pitched synth hook is perfection, reminds me a bit of Kygo music.

While explicit content isn’t Selena’s thing, she comes pretty close to discussing it in Body Heat. It’s like a little throwback to her roots because it features some catchy Latin influences, made more unique by brassy instruments and drums. If I didn’t know any better, this could’ve been Carnival music (and I mean that in a good way).

I was instantly attracted to the sound of Rise, somehow similar to Rihanna’s ‘Here I Go Again’ minus the beachy influences. There’s a certain bounce to it that I like and it sounds so airy and celebratory, so different from the approach Revival had, but it’s still like its sister song.

Moving on to the bonus tracks of the deluxe edition, there is Me & My Girls, a complete wake-up call. It’s like Body Heat, but on party drugs. Latin influences, quite feisty vocals by Selena (feistier than on the actual album tracks), and a big dose of female empowerment. If there’s a track that deserves it to be a special bonus track, it’s this spicy one.

Nobody slows it down again, and it’s like the sister song to Good For You, but then more about love than seduction. Still, the music is very seductive and while it’s not necessary, it sticks very well. It’s sweet and tasteful, and the R&B beats and soft piano notes echo around nicely.

From sweet love to bitter and obsessive jealousy in Perfect, which has an interesting and looming harp-smattered arrangement. When Selena sings ‘Maybe I should be more like her‘, I feel it. She brings a certain desperateness to her vocal performance that brings the track to a whole new level, proving that it’s well worth it to have the deluxe version of the album.

There are also two Target bonus tracks (wow, I really got my work cut out for me today). Outta My Hands (Loco) is indeed a bit ‘loco’ with that crazy violin melody opening the song, but it sure grabbed my attention very well. The longer I listen to this, the more I love it, although it’s more like material for her previous albums. Yet, I don’t mind at all!

Last but not least, there is Cologne. Is it just me, or does Selena indeed sound like Miley Cyrus when she belts out? Well, never mind, it’s nice to have her slow things down one last time with this mellow midtempo track. It features beats and synths, but in such a way that it’s soft and sweet, sounding like the love letter that it is. These last two tracks will make that trip to Target worth it.

Is it a big surprise that I love this album very much? I never expected to like Selena’s music because she never really caught my attention, but she surely has with this perfect piece of work. She embraced a completely new image, shaking off her Disney princess one, and she shows she is mature enough while she’s keeping it classy and tasteful. I was expecting a ‘phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes’ all over again, but eventually, that was totally not the case. Could this be the best revival ever?

Favorite tracks: Kill Em With Kindness | Hands To Myself | Same Old Love | Sober | Good For You (feat. A$AP Rocky | Canouflage | Survirors | Me & My Girls | Outta My Hands (Loco)

5 stars

Girls’ Generation – Lion Heart

November 13, 2015 at 11:45 AM | Posted in Girls' Generation | 2 Comments

Girls’ Generation – Lion Heart

1. Lion Heart
2. You Think
4. Eotteon Ohu (One Afternoon)
5. Show Girls
6. Fire Alarm
7. Talk Talk
8. Green Light
9. Paradise
10. Check
11. Sign
12. Yegam (Bump It)

♦ ♦ ♦

Lion Heart is the fifth Korean album by South Korean girl group Girls’ Generation, released on August 18 and 19, 2015. Half of the album’s songs were released on the 18th while the other half were released on the 19th. The title track and song “You Think” were used as the lead tracks.

I really like their vintage pin-up concept for this album, and Lion Heart fits that concept well with its retro sound. I keep thinking where I heard this song before, but I can’t seem to figure it out. It does mean it’s catchy enough to stick, which is absolutely true. Love the sugary pop vibe and cute vocals.

Now it seems that 2 EPs were released, ‘Lion Heart’ and ‘You Think’, but I’ll just stick to the tracklisting I’ve got here. You Think is the other lead track and it’s very different from Lion Heart. Again, it sounds so familiar, but oh well. Maybe my friend M. introduced me to the tracks months ago. This track is the R&B club banger the girls perform so well, and I love how bratty it sounds. Great vocals again.

Of course, I know PARTY. I reviewed it when it was released and that ‘P-A-R-T-Y‘ is something I cannot get out of my head for, like, the rest of the month, thank you very much. It’s generic, it’s autotuned, it’s completely out of place in November with its summery sound, but it’s like a guilty pleasure. So despite that, I still seem to love it. When I’m in the right mood, that is.

SNSD goes Spanish for Eotteon Ohu (One Afternoon), with the arrangement I mean. It’s a sweeter and more mellow songs than the other songs on the album, it features some nice Spanish guitars, but the jazzy piano solo makes it even more interesting. It’s like they mixed two different styles and made a new one that doesn’t sound unattractive. Extra points for originality.

From Spain to a Burlesque club, where the heck are these girls taking me. Show Girls starts off very smooth and mysterious with that typical slow burlesque vibe, I really like it. But then they screw things up by moving into a very bombastic and fast chorus. It’s like two songs mixed into one, and it kinda ruins it for me. Just stick to the slower verse vibe, please, this is just horrifying while it didn’t have to be.

Fire Alarm is what its title suggests (in my opinion): a dance tune with blazing synths and beats, and some more techno sound effects. The arrangement sounds very full for most of the song, which I like, but it could’ve been better, I need some more power now. Praise for the vocals though, which are very smooth.

Apparently, Talk Talk was already on another release, but I can’t seem to figure out which one. Anyway, it’s a midtempo R&B inspired track with a snapping beat, piano melodies in the background, and solid vocals. It’s a bit 90s Destiny’s Child, which is amazing. I really like this one.

Green Light is pure SNSD at its best: catchy hooks and a little bit of repeated lyrics here and there to really make it stick. The chorus is the best part, I like how they repeat ‘Beep Beep‘ between their lines. This should’ve been a single to be honest, could’ve been a hit.

Paradise keeps the smooth ambiance of the album on track, it’s somewhere between a midtempo and uptempo track. Somehow I categorize it as a summer song, probably because of its soft and airy approach to dance music. The verses are the best, but the chorus doesn’t stay to far behind either. It’s relaxing, while it still slays with those synths and beats.

Partnering PARTY, Check is like a mellow take to EDM music, which leaves more room for the SNSD girls with their crooning. I liked it when I reviewed the PARTY single because the songs balanced each other, but on this spot in the tracklisting, it sounds a bit too generic and maybe forgettable. Still, the lower vocals make it stick just enough. Maybe if I listen to it more, things will work out.

Sign brings back a bit more of the power that was needed at this point, with low pitched synths, and even some horns that really spice it up. The little hiphop break in the bridge was nice, kinda had me surprised there. But overall, I think this is the track on the album that is easiest to forget, at least for me. Not bad, but still.

Moving on to the last track already. I was expecting a ballad because of how Yegam (Bump It) starts, with a soft piano tune. Then, the other girls come in with a relatively fast and bouncy beat that’s typical for R&B, but the piano tune in the background makes it more bluesy. You got it, a very interesting arrangement to say the least. That’s what makes me love it so much, this is the track I’ve been waiting for! It’s amazing and definitely a recommendation.

I completely forgot about this album. I mean, HOW COULD I, I checked the Generasia Wiki frequently during the summer because I knew SNSD would release a new album. Well, thankfully, I caught up eventually. I really like this album, there wasn’t a single bad track. Maybe some that were kinda lost between the others because of their particular spot on the tracklist, but many songs have something unique and interesting to offer that I haven’t heard before. SNSD manages to keep things vibrant, and for that, they receive extra points!

Favorite tracks: Lion Heart | You Think | PARTY | Talk Talk | Green Light | Paradise | Yegam (Bump It)

4½ stars

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