Thursday, October 29, 2015

Single Review: Ariana Grande - Focus

After unleashing one of the best singles of 2014 with "Problem," Ariana Grande has returned before the clock runs out on 2015, with Focus. Another saxophone laden "belty" track, "Focus" is irrefutably a Grande sounding work, carrying all the elements one has come to expect of Grande - except for sixth octave falsettos.

The first point of interest: the chorus. The funky "Focus on me / F-f-focus on me" will definitely polarize some, but it's also bound to inspire dorky car rides and terribly orchestrated vines across the globe. It's somewhere between Uptown Funk and Problem's level of energy, bursting through wind instruments and hand claps creating a transcendent aura of entertainment.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Album Review: Demi Lovato - Confident

The past two years for Demi Lovato have been a rollercoaster ride. After the release of her fourth studio album Demi, Lovato preceded to fulfill another season on the short-lived X Factor USA, embarked on two world tours, endured the deaths of her father and dog Buddy, worked her body to a point where she finally felt 'confident' enough to show it off entirely, and worked her voice into the ground before she built it back up better than ever before. There's no doubt about it: vocally, Confident is Lovato's most demanding, spanning four octaves and distancing herself even more from her peers Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez, and perhaps even Ariana Grande.

Running through (overdone) melismas in Mr. Hughes, stretching her voice up to a four second long G#5(!) in Stone Cold, and even experimenting in the whistle register in Wildfire, Lovato has continued to show herself as a talented vocalist. Her stamina in-studio is remarkable, and her phrasing on ballads like the choir-backed Father is light years beyond anyone in her demographic. That being said, her voice does pick up on an annoying nasally and awkwardly placed vocal quality in the middle register - in addition to an often unorthodox vibrato - and she seems even more driven to resolve to the tonic with each of her final-chorus-ad-libs than ever before, which can become polarizing. With Lovato, less is more at this point, as seen in the spectacular and sexy aforementioned "Wildfire."

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Album Review: Selena Gomez - Revival

Selena Gomez's fifth studio album Revival functions as a line break between two phases of Gomez's career: no longer is she a Disney starlet, nor Justin Bieber's on again and off again, she is her own woman, as seen in her boldly stated cover art. However, perhaps she could've waited to make a better album for the occasion.

Revival finds itself up to bat where it is constantly batting either strikes or home runs with few in betweens. Flip flopping between the strikes: the forgettable "Camouflage" and misplaced "Body Heat;" and the home runs: the infectious and delectable "Hands to Myself" and effective "Sober." Unfortunately the home runs find themselves drowned out by a barrage of mid-tempo strikes, leaving Revival in need of resuscitation by track nine (the aforementioned Camouflage).