Views on pop culture through my eyes

Posts tagged ‘mariah carey’

Spring Reviews Part 1

Welcome back to the blog. It’s time again for my reviews of different entertainment options. What have I been listening to and watching recently? Read on.

CDs

Basia “It’s That Girl Again” Back from her 90’s hey day, comes Basia. The only latin pop contemporary jazz artist to come from Poland that I know of! She doesn’t mess with her formula too much, which is a good thing. It was good hear from an old friend again. Grade: B+

Kenny Chesney “Hemingway’s Whiskey” Kenny is a very consistent performer for me. He’s got his successful formula, and he is good at it. So you get the party songs along with some ballads thrown in and some island references too. Includes his duet with Grace Potter on “You and Tequila.” Grade: B

Miranda Lambert “The Weight of These Wings” This is her first project since her public split from Blake Shelton. It is a double album, that is one of her most personal. It doesn’t really have a good radio single from it, but there is still plenty to like. It gets better with each listen. Grade: A-

Kylie Minogue “The Abbey Road Sessions” Basically it is Kylie unplugged. So you get reworked versions of Kylie’s hits and album cuts with all new arrangements. So yes, there are lots of strings on here. I really like this album. Pop artists like Kylie don’t seem to get the respect they deserve. Definitely worth a listen. You can tell she is a good pop singer when you strip away her production. Not something you can say about a lot of today’s pop stars. Grade: B+

Mary J. Blige “My Life II — The Journey Continues (Act I)” Mary J. Blige brings forth a sequel to her “My Life” album. Beyonce, Drake and Nas help out, but it’s her voice and charisma that shine through. She does a remake of “Ain’t Nobody” by Rufus and Chaka Khan. But my favorite is a song called “25/8.” Where she sings about a love she wants more than 24/7. Another consistently good album from the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. Grade: B

DNCE “Swaay” Another Jonas bother takes flight, this time it’s Joe Jonas. Joe sings lead in this 4-person group. He tried a solo album before, but that never took off. The EP of 4 songs, includes the smash hit single “Cake by the Ocean” as well as the hit “Toothbrush.” Worth a listen. Grade: B

Alex Newell “Power” An alumni of “Glee,” Alex first came to prominence on the “Glee Project” before taking on the role of Unique on the ground-breaking Fox drama. He is channeling 90’s dance divas on his first EP. The songs will get you moving. Grade: B

Bryan Adams “Get Up” The Canadian rocker is back with his latest collection. And it is produced by Jeff Lynne of ELO. You get some rockabilly, some ballads, and a few acoustic versions of some of the new songs. I enjoyed it. Highlights include: “You Belong to Me” and “We Did It All.” Grade: A-

Blake Shelton “Startin’ Fires” One of Blake’s earlier albums. A nice mix of songs including the #1 smash “She Wouldn’t Be Gone.” Also includes a duet with Miranda Lambert before they got married on “Bare Skin Rug” that highlights their chemistry. Grade: B

Tim McGraw “Two Lanes of Freedom” One of country’s most consistent performers, Tim delivers another solid collection. Includes the hit “Highway Don’t Care” with Keith Urban and Taylor Swift. Grade: B

Diana Ross “The Definitive Collection” I decided to pick up this collection after seeing Miss Ross in concert last summer. I was reminded of her incredible song catalog at the show, and this is a great collection of her biggest hits including “Endless Love” and “Upside Down.” Grade: A

Ed Sheeran “Divide” Ed is back with his latest album. And he has gone to number one on the singles chart with “Shape of You” as well as number 1 for the album also. He does his white-boy hip-hop on a few songs; plus brings in some celtic textures, latin rhythms and world music on a few numbers too. It is a nice welcome back from one of today’s hottest talents. Grade: A-

Little Big Town “The Breaker” The country vocal quartet is back in the country lane after a detour into pop with last year’s “Wanderlust.” You have their trademark vocal harmonies on a nice collection of songs including “Better Man” (written for them by Taylor Swift). Other highlights include: “Happy People” and “We Went to the Beach.” Grade: A-

Mariah Carey “Me. I Am Mariah. The Elusive Chanteuse” Mariah’s most recent studio album, has a nice mix of ballads and uptempo songs. Plus some special guest appearances including R. Kelly and Mary J. Blige on the deluxe edition. Includes the hit “#Beautiful” with Miguel. Grade: B+

Jason Mraz “Love Is a Four Letter Word” Jason is in love. This is a pleasant album. RB Lite is what I would call it. Includes the hit “I Won’t Give Up.” Grade: B-

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. Please sound off in the comments, if you disagree or agree with my take on things.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

 

Great First Albums

Music is part of my life. It brings me up when I am down, makes me want to dance, and moves my soul. Sometimes artists come on strong, never to make an album as strong again. For others it is just a glimpse of all the greatness to come. Here is my list of the Top Ten Greatest First Albums (in no particular order):

  • The B-52’s — “The B-52’s”
    The band from Athens, GA came on strong with their first album. The music scene didn’t know what to make of them. Were they punk? A comedy group? Were they retro? All I know is this is one fun party album. Classic tracks included: “Rock Lobster,” “Lava” and “Planet Claire.” They would hit the big time finally with “Love Shack.”The B-52's
  • Cyndi Lauper — “She’s So Unusual”
    Benefitting from the early days of MTV, she was a breath of fresh air from the pretty dance queens. This was a girl who definitely marched to the beat of her own drum. Classic tracks included: “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” “Time After Time” and “Money Changes Everything.” She is still a popular artist on the touring circuit, and released a blues album in 2011.
  • Duran Duran — “Duran Duran”
    “Rio” was the band’s breakthrough for sure, but the success of that one brought their first album back in the spotlight when they added “Is There Something I Should Know?” to it and re-released it. Classic tracks included: “Girls on Film,” “Planet Earth” and “Careless Memories.” Another MTV ready band, they also tour regularly and are still going strong.
  • Alicia Keys — “Songs in A Minor”
    The pretty girl who played piano, hit the big time with her debut. In the process, she has inspired plenty of up and coming singers. Classic tracks included: “Fallin,” “How Come You Don’t Call Me” and “A Woman’s Worth.” She has had many more hits in recent years, slowing down to get married and start a family.
  • Culture Club — “Kissing to Be Clever”
    Another great band from MTV’s early days, when they played videos. Boy George may have looked different with his makeup and outfits, but his voice was pure soul. Classic tracks included: “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?,” “Time” and “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya.” (more…)

Artists I Wish Would Tour More

I have gone to a lot of concerts over the years. Some years, I have gone to 20+ shows, others maybe 3. Some artists seem to tour almost every year — others once every five to seven years or so. Other favorites seem to have a lot going on, or they are at a different phase of their career where they don’t want to tour. So here goes, my list of artists I wish would tour more often:Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez
She has a lot on her plate: singer, actress, dancer, American Idol judge (now ex-judge), model, spokeswoman and mom. Plus she has time for a personal life too. Since she has been out, she has only toured twice, once with then husband Marc Anthony and once this year with Enrique Iglesias. I am sure it will be a great show.

Annie Lennox/Eurythmics
So Eurythmics did tour a decent amount in the 80’s. But now, not so much. To me, she has a one of the best live voices you will ever hear. So soulful, and powerful. Between her solo career and the work with the group, she has plenty of material. She has inspired artists such as Pink and Kelly Clarkson among others. It’s about time she reminded everyone why she is so excellent.

Adele
With how huge her 2nd album has been, you think she would want to capitalize on that success and plan a big giant concert tour. Hasn’t happened. First off she was sidetracked with vocal chord problems, and now she just doesn’t seem too interested to do so. I hear she is writing songs for her 3rd album already. But, she is pregnant… so it will be years before we see her on the road again.

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