Sunday, July 28, 2013

American Girl | Bonnie McKee

Rating: ★★★★☆

For the first time in almost ten years, singer-songwriter Bonnie McKee is getting away from the writing table and moving to the spotlight with her newest single, "American Girl."

There had been a lot of mentions of McKee on Gaga Daily lately, and one of the first videos I saw from her was an acoustic medley of some of the songs that she helped write for artists like Katy Perry and Britney Spears. 

That video left a bad taste in my mouth because McKee was pretty much screaming into her microphone rather than singing. Everybody on the site seemed to mention this same thing, but complimented her new single, so I took a trip to YouTube to see the music video, and I actually really liked both the song and the video.

"American Girl" is pretty average in terms of production, but its lyrics are so cute and quirky that it's hard not to love the song. Most of the lyrics portray McKee as a horny, misbehaving young American... Seems pretty accurate, eh? Some people have said that the lyrics don't accurately portray Americans to people from other countries, but apparently those people haven't been enrolled in a public high school before.

The video carries the same theme as the song, with plenty of references to the 1990s, especially in terms of fashion. The over-sized and studded varsity jackets, novelty mini-skirts, and big golden chains; they all give me a feeling of nostalgia and make me think about what was 'in' just before the turn of the century.

The song is cute. It may not sound too different from what else is out there today, but its lyrics stand out much more than its production. The video is definitely a plus, because it gives me a feeling of nostalgia, and it's just fun; she's not trying to hard to be deep and meaningful. I usually like more creative songs and videos, but once in a while there's one fun little tune that catches me off guard and I can't help but love it.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wake Me Up | Avicii

Rating: ★★★★★

Every once in a while, something on the radio really catches my ear. Usually I just let the songs pass me by and nothing ever stands out, but recently, Swedish producer Avicii was able to grab my attention with his newest single, "Wake Me Up."

When I had first heard this song on the radio, the first verse had me thinking that this was another one of those obnoxious tracks like Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise" that crossed over from country radio and got a Top 40 face-lift. Aloe Blacc (who lent vocals to the song but was left uncredited) made the song sound like something straight off of a bluegrass and folk record.

I was just about to tune into another station, but then the breakdown of the song kicked in and I was amazed. The bluegrass strings edited into an electronic dance breakdown is a combination that sounds too crazy to even exist, but it works out amazingly. I actually still can't believe I like it as much as I do.

Apparently others have really like it too, as "Wake Me Up" has reached the top ten in almost every country that it charted in, except for the United States, where it has reached the fifty-ninth position on the Billboard Hot 100. Imagine that, the United States once again has neglected to give attention to tracks with substance, opting to continue to listen to any track that features Pharrell Williams.

I haven't dug much deeper into the world of Avicii yet, but if another single comes up soon that is as innovative as "Wake Me Up," I will more than likely take a good listen to his debut album #TRUE, which drops on September 17, 2013.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rock N Roll | Avril Lavigne

Rating: ★★★★☆

After the moderate success of "Here's To Never Growing Up," Avril Lavigne is ready to continue on with the promotion of her upcoming untitled album by releasing a second second single. Earlier this week, she released the entirety of "Rock N Roll" on YouTube and I'm actually pretty impressed.

Like what happened with "Here's To Never Growing Up," Lavigne is once again trying to market herself to the audience she once did with Let Go with her faux-punk lyrics and attitude. However, she's also trying to aim for high positions on the music charts with rather recognizable beats from Max Martin. 

Speaking of Martin, I'm proud that he went outside of his generic pop bubble a bit for this song, sampling beats of Queen's "We Will Rock You" and giving the song the illusion of being a heavier song than it actually is. The production isn't exemplary when compared to some other producers out there, but it's one of Martin's bests attempts in my book.

Although I did like the production of the song, I instantly found a problem with the lyrics: they're censored. I'm praying that an explicit version of the song will be available soon enough. Lavigne tries to make a reference to her previous single "Girlfriend" by once again declaring herself a "motherfucking princess," but in this song, it censored to "motherfreaking princess." Really, Lavigne? Really? If you want the punk-rock attitude, don't be afraid to let the curse words roll on out.

Other than the censored lyrics, I have nothing to complain about on this song, and as strange as it sounds, I actually like where Lavigne's going with this album. If both "Here's To Never Growing Up" and "Rock N Roll" represent the upcoming album appropriately, I can already make a prediction that this album may be my favorite album from Lavigne to date. I know she's had a messy past of trying to find out which group of fans she's trying to cater to, but it is quite evident with "Rock N Roll" that she may have finally hit her sweet spot between Let Go and The Best Damn Thing.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stars Dance | Selena Gomez

Rating: ★★★★☆

After months of anticipating Selena Gomez's first album without her backup band, the wait time has been cut short. A few days ago, Stars Dance leaked online, and all of the songs can now be found streaming on YouTube. Of course, I took a listen right away, and I'm already prepared to make a verdict.

Previously, I went over "Come & Get It" and "Slow Down" on this blog, and I thoroughly enjoyed them both. "Come & Get It" was an amazing choice for the lead single, as it toyed around with different influences that usually aren't heard on Top 40 radio, while "Slow Down" played more on the safe side with a electronic dance beat produced by the Cataracs.

Although not released as one yet, "Like a Champion" would be great single material. While "Come & Get It" nods towards Indian and Bollywood sounds, "Like a Champion" has obvious notes of inspiration from reggae music. The song can get really repetitive, with much of the song being filled with the same two lines of "Walk like a champion, talk like a champion / Ram pa pa pam pam / Ram pa pa pam pam," but it's still a strangely addictive song.

The Internet has exploded over the fact that "Like a Champion" contains the line of lyrics "Shine bright like diamonds in the sky," as Rihanna's "Diamonds" shares the same line. Even professional music journalists have claimed that the song could have been a demo that missed the cut for Rihanna's seventh album, Unapologetic. The coincidence is strange, but I feel like it was a simple nod towards Rihanna, not plagiarism of her work.

From what I've been able to gather, one of the fan-favorites from the album thus far is "B.E.A.T." As noted by many others, the song does bare some resemblance to Far East Movement's "Like a G6," especially the way Gomez's voice is edited during the chorus as she sings "It's a big bad world but I ain't ashamed to like the lights in my hand / And the beat in my face." I like it, but its resemblance to the one hit wonder is uncanny.

Another song that most everybody has taken a liking to is the title track, and I can understand why. "Stars Dance" is a great electronic song with plenty of dubstep elements. It's a really smooth and seductive song that I can't stop listening to. Once in a while, I run across a song that I really love, but I can't describe exactly why I love it so much, and "Stars Dance" is one of those songs.

Despite all of these great songs, there's one rotten apple in the bunch: "Birthday." With a simple and pointless hook of "Tonight's my birthday / Tonight's my birthday / Tonight's my birthday when I party like that" and a dated instrumental, it sounds like a demo from an old Hannah Montana record. I really wish somebody would have told Gomez that the song doesn't belong on the album; it's the one track that I haven't been able to listen to more than once.

And finally, after listening to ten of the eleven tracks of Stars Dance, Gomez delivers what everybody was asking for: a song that explicitly covers her relationship with Justin Bieber. Bringing up the rear of the track listing is "Love Will Remember," which is almost undoubtedly about her realtionship with the Biebs. In fact, the track even commences with a genuine voicemail that the disgusting faux-hood rat Bieber left Gomez, in which he says that Gomez is 'his princess' and that he loves her 'so, so, so, so much.'

The meaning behind "Love Will Remember" really annoys me because it represents such a messy relationship which may or may not still be on; nobody really knows what they're doing. But looking past the meaning, it is a nice and slow closing to Stars Dance.

I had been looking forward to this album for a while, and I can honestly say that it lived up to what I was expecting. I was afraid that Stars Dance would end up like Demi Lovato's DEMI, with superb single choices but an unimpressive overall album. However, "Come & Get It" and "Slow Down" are both on par with what the album is like: a nice dance album. By no stretch of the imagination is the album completely groundbreaking or revolutionary, but it's still a good pop album that will definitely be worth its purchase price when it is released on Tuesday.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Lady Gaga Makes ARTPOP Announcement

Last night, as many people were asleep, may Little Monsters were awake and anticipating an announcement from the one and only Lady Gaga.

The excitement started when DJ White Shadow, one of the producers that Lady Gaga had worked with on Born This Way and has also been speculated to be involved with ARTPOP, tweeted "My beard is tingling. Something strange is about to hAPpen." That tweet was sent out at 8:34 p.m. (eastern standard time), and just over an hour later, he also tweeted "I have to go to dinner. But I have a feeling you will hear all about this particular dinner..." 

Soon after those tweets were sent out, he posted this picture of his place at a long dinner table. Many Little Monsters were quite quick to notice Richard "Richy" Jackson, Lady Gaga's choreography, on the left side of the picture, with only part of his face in the frame. 

Finally, around 1 a.m. today, Dave Russell tweeted the three dates of "8.19," "9.1," and "11.11," and DJ White Shadow was quick to confirm these dates were legitimate. Lady Gaga's website was also updated to include these dates, specifying that the lead single of the album will be release August 19, followed by the album's pre-order date of September 1, and finally the release of ARTPOP will come on November 11, 2013.

By going to, the page is now redirected to a beautiful new photograph of Gaga taken by Inez & Vinoodh, who have photographed Gaga plenty of times in the past with amazing results. Alongside the picture is this description:

"Built by TechHAUS, the technological branch of HAUS OF GAGA, the app itself is a musical and visual engineering system that combines music, art, fashion, and technology with a new interactive worldwide community -- "the auras". Altering the human experience with social media, we bring ARTculture into POP in a reverse Warholian expedition.

Exploring Gaga's existence as a cultural interface, the user will share in the 'adrenaline of fame' as they build and share their own projects, chat with one another, and watch in real-time on a virtual globe as ARTPOP explodes onto the physical and virtual universe at once on November 11, our "BIG BANG!" On this day HAUS OF GAGA venges with forte to bring the music industry into a new age; an age where art drives pop, and the artist once again is in control of the 'icon.'

In turn, the album ARTPOP musically mirrors Gaga's creative process as she passes through the mediums of each artist she collaborates with, scoring a blueprint of her journey. The result, a "rage" of electronic passion and fury, defining each artistic process from beginning to end, ARTPOP could mean anything. But for her, this is a celebration of obsession. And on November 10, she will host an evening of artRave exhibiting Haus of Gaga's projects as well as collaborations with

Inez & Vinoodh     Robert Wilson     Marina Abramovic      Jeff Koons"

After this announcement, I slept about a total of four hours. The rest of the time I spent in my bed last night, I was staring at the ceiling and just thinking about the fact that we are now just a month away from a new Lady Gaga release. ARTPOP is going to be revolutionary; I can feel it. I know all of us Little Monsters are ready, but is the rest of world prepared? I guess we will soon find out.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ellie Goulding Officially Announces 'Halcyon Days'

Last night, I reviewed Ellie Goulding's upcoming single, entitled "Burn," and had speculated a new album from Ellie Goulding. Apparently I spoke a little too soon, because today Goulding announced a repackaged version of Halcyon via Facebook.

The release will be titled Halcyon Days, and will be a deluxe re-release that includes the original album plus seven new songs, including "Burn." According to her Facebook post, the new songs will also include collaborations with Madeon, DJ Fresh, BURNS, and fun. front-man Nate Ruess. 

I'm fine with all of these collaborations except the last one, but mainly because I haven't heard of DJ Fresh or BURNS, so I can't really judge them yet. However, Nate Ruess' voice is absolutely unbearable and I don't want him fogging up a new song from Goulding. He needs to go back to singing "Some Nights" and leave my pop stars alone.

Goulding is following plenty of her peers by releasing a repackaged version of her album, which is a concept that has become very popular in the past few years and has been done by artists like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Lana Del Rey. Many fans complain that they have to re-purchase the older album to get the new songs, but is it really that big of an inconvenience? I actually think it's kind of cool to see all of the different releases in my album collection. If you're really that hot and bothered by the extra disc, just buy the new songs digitally.

No other information has been disclosed about Halcyon Days as of yet, except for a release date of August 26, 2013. I'm going to be sure to pre-order the album as soon as I can, and will definitely be reviewing it here for everyone to see.

Burn | Ellie Goulding

Rating: ★★★★☆

As of the past month or so, my love from British singer-songwriter Ellie Goudling has grown immensely. I've always loved the entirety of her debut album Lights, but her sophomore album took a little while to grow on me. Within the past few weeks, the true beauty of Halcyon hit me right in the face; I haven't been able to stop listening to it since then. 

Coincidentally, just as I have upgraded myself to a super-fan status of Goulding, she released details of a future re-release of Halcyon and teased a new single from the release. 

The new single, called "Burn," has all of the electronic dance elements of the songs from Halcyon, but it has a bit more of a radio-friendly sound. The chorus is perfect for radio airplay, with a pounding electronic instrumental track and the constant repetition of "We gonna let it burn, burn, burn, burn / Gonna let it burn, burn, burn, burn." Evidently, the lyrics aren't too deep, nor is the beat too experimental, but that doesn't make it a bad song.

Although some of Goulding's fans aren't thrilled with the final product, the commercialized sound of "Burn" may just be able to throw Goulding back into the public eye in the United States, if it is even released in the country. Here in the States, the only single from Halcyon to even impact the Billboard Hot 100 Chart was "Anything Could Happen," and it peaked at number forty-seven. To put into comparison, "Lights," the only other Ellie Goudling song to chart in the United States, peaked at number two. I'm not too sure that "Burn" will be able to peak at the very top of the Hot 100 (because the number one spot will still be occupied by something like "Blurred Lines" or another terrible Mackelmore song), but it should be able to chart somewhere in the top forty.

Regardless of how commercialized the song sounds or how well it does on the charts, I love it. It's been playing through my headphones on repeat for a while now, and I'm sure it will continue to do so for a while. This song has deepened my love for Goulding even more, and is really hyping me for the new re-release.

A few fan sites have rumored that Goulding's new release will be called Halcyon Days, but nothing has been confirmed by Goulding or her management yet. Meanwhile, "Burn" is slated for an official release on August 18, 2013, but for right now, fans can listen to the full song on Goulding's official SoundCloud

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Ooh La La | Britney Spears

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Even though her last album was released in 2011, Britney Spears has yet to be out of the public eye (and ear) since then. After the Femme Fatale era ran its course, Spears was a judge on the United States version of The X Factor and exploded on the radio once again with a collaboration with on "Scream & Shout." Now, she's back with another single, this time releasing "Ooh La La" for the soundtrack of The Smurfs 2.

Sadly, this song hasn't really met my expectations. For starters, it sounds really recycled and bares resemblance to two of Spears' past songs, "Rock Me In" and "Trip To Your Heart." The only difference between those two songs and "Ooh La La" is that Spears really kicks up the cutesy tone in her voice, making it sound more childish.

Although the overall sound isn't so great, the lyrical content is right on track with a traditional Britney Spears song. The lyrics can be rather innocent when heard from a child's perspective, but adults can easily decode what Spears is really singing about. In the case of "Oh La La," the set of lyrics that could be put in this category is "My heart beats fast ’cause I want it all / So baby come with me and be my ooh la la / Take my hand, we can go all night / And spin me round just the way I like / It feels so good, I don’t wanna stop / So baby come with me and be my ooh la la." 

At first, I thought I should be a bit more lenient on the song; after all, it is a cute little song that was meant to make Spears' two sons happy. Making a song for a children's movie isn't a crowning moment in a person's career, but it was a nice thing for Spears to do for her sons. Then again, I have to be realistic about the true quality of the song. "Ooh La La" is pretty catchy and I know I'll be singing along in the car with the radio whenever it's played, but when critically looking at the song, it's really nothing special.