Whitney Houston’s birthday is August 9th. Like many others who have passed around me, I take the time to reflect on her death on the day that many millions around her would have celebrated her life. That Whitney was taken from us early is an understatement - her magnetic career was…
Jessie J has had a mammoth first year front-and-center in the pop spotlight. Her debut album “Who You Are” has sparked some pretty massive songs including “Do it Like A Dude”, “Price Tag” and the album’s title track - enough so that the powers-that-be decided to re-release her album in a deluxe form. One of the tracks on the “Who You Are” re-issue is “Laser Light”, a collaboration with french DJ David Guetta, who featured the young British pop-hop artist on his latest album “Nothing But The Beat”. The collaboration that I am featuring on my list of new songs to hear is called “LaserLight”. Artistically, it is arguably a track that is a bit more Guetta than it is, well, J, but nonetheless, Jessie’s criminally good voice rips through this dance record as if she was trying to put the biggest dance diva’s to shame. And, as she calls out to her music partner halfway through the track and the song drops, you realize you are listening to a really cool, killer dance record that is sure to do damage in the clubs. Enjoy this one!
When “The Voice” aired last spring, I had pegged twenty-four year-old Dia Frampton to win the whole competition. With her mesmerizing arrangements of hits by R.E.M, Kanye West, and more, Frampton had perpetually won over the public, including earning top-of-the-chart downloads of some of her strongest number. Now, just six months later, she has released a studio album, Red, just in time for Christmas. Having earned positive reviews, Red has been praised for its combination of Frampton’s signature acoustic-pop, country, and just a hint of dance music to make her one of the most accessible new artists of 2011.
Today’s hot new song to hear is “Billy the Kid”, a co-written number with Mark Foster (of Foster the People) and Isom Innis, and while fans of Dia’s may be surprised to hear this track on her new album, they’re bound to love it. Frampton’s galactic number recounting the tale of a rogue hero is about as entertaining as this album gets - its swooping bell-clad chorus is completely radio-ready, and Frampton’s voice, her trump card, manages to retain its purity despite the lush, layered chorus. While Dia may have lost the Voice title to Javier Colon, her debut album is much more complex, interesting, and ultimately, marketable.
The Overtones are definitely not limited to British success. The UK fivesome originally started their musical careers as singing painters, often crooning old-school hits during their lunch breaks. However, after being discovered by a talent scout literally off the street, the group got signed to a multi-record deal with Warner Bros, and proceeded to do what they did best - create some absolutely masterful harmonic covers of some doo-wop classics.
Behold, a song from the Overtones debut album Good Ol’ Fashioned Love, released earlier this year. The song I am featuring today is “Sh-Boom (Life Could Be A Dream)”, a doo-wop classic commonly covered but never as refreshingly as it has been done by this group. The Overtones are rocking some truly delicious harmonies on their debut, and the proof is no more evident than it is on this track. For fans of the original versions of this track, take a moment to recognize what a lovely revival it has had with a young, fun group that can make it into an Adult Contemporary #1 today if they wanted to.
Later this week, should you follow my AllMusic career at all, you will see that I have covered the One Direction album in full detail, but for now, allow me to entertain you all with a song from this undeniably fun pop album.
One Direction placed in third last year on the UK series of the X-Factor. Though they were unable to beat winner Matt Cardle in terms of votes, in terms of commercial success they have already very much done so, smoking the winner in terms of fans and album sales. Their debut album, Up All Night, is a ridiculously entertaining album. Musically speaking, it falls somewhere between a The Saturdays record and a Kelly Clarkson circa 2009 record. As you can imagine, everything is chorally driven and very bubblegum. Guilty pleasure material at its best.
The track I am featuring here is “Tell Me A Lie”, a track that certain Kelly Clarkson fans might know because she wrote it. She recorded it as a demo that was unfortunately leaked - and, upon hearing so, decided to not release it on her Stronger album and gave it to this British five-some instead, who turned it into a pillow-fight worthy teen pop smash. Listen to it here!
A Christmas treat to get us in the mood!
Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams were two of the season ten finalists on the hit FOX TV show American Idol - He placed sixth, she was the second runner-up. Shortly after the show’s end, Reinhart was picked up by Interscope, the company that signed Idol-10 winner, Scotty McCreery.
Though no original material has surfaced from Reinhart’s album yet - it’s scheduled to start being pushed in January - the creatives at Interscope have smartly decided to allow her to release a Christmas record, to remind fans of the raspy, luscious voice that Reinhart possesses.
For her Christmas release, “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, she enlisted the help of Abrams, who, though currently unsigned, was a fan favorite thanks to his goofy charm and spectacular jazz voice. The result of this duet is a Christmas track that is breezy, sexy, and ultimately, charismatic.
Reinhart and Abrams have sizzling chemistry when they sing. Her too-cool-for-you cooing on this record blends perfectly with Abrams’ singing, and the fact that these two artists had so much chemistry while on the Idol stage only helps them on this record. This is the same song that has won over fans forever, however sung by two early 20-somethings in a truly playful way.
This is a really fun Christmas record, and one totally worth downloading!
You may recall The Anser as being one of Paula Abdul’s top eight group acts on the first season of U.S X-Factor earlier this fall. While the threesome from Utah failed to make it to the live shows, they were unanimously praised up until their point of elimination - which, ultimately, suggests that the band did have something special going for them.
While often bands eliminated from these shows are often ignored, I found myself strangely drawn to this group’s sound, which led me to stumble upon one of two songs that the band has freely distributed to fans directly from their own site. “TimeStopper”, which is the song that is playing as you enter the band’s site page, is a surprisingly professional, polished piece of “organic power pop”, the branded sound of this brand. Credit must be given on the genre classification of this song, since the tune truly is one part club-dance, one part mainstream pop, without sounding too “tweener” - where the track fails to fall into a proper genre. The chorus rocks an unforgettable hook when band member Grey chants out “you’re a timestopper-er-er-er-er-er-er-er-er”, effectively forcing this piece of tune into your head for the remainder of the day. All in all, its proof that even without professional support, talented bands with talented vocalists and creative ideas can produce truly fresh music in any genre, and with any luck, The Anser will be a band that in a short while from now, you’ll hear on the radio and think, “I recognize those voices”.