Karen Young: Hot Shot (Reheat) *
I find it odd that this 'remix' made it into the top ten on Billboard's Club Play Charts. But it did. I don't find this in the least bit interesting - none of the remixes do anything to elevate the original beyond its mediocre, modest beginnings. So why bother?
Kristine W.: The Boss *****
Kristine hits another one out of the park! Grrrreeeeat vocals - earthy and meaty. Something this song so deserved. The mixes here are great fun - hard to pick a favorite. I have bounced from the the sanchez to the infinity to the goodyear as my fave. The radio edits are nice and precise. But it is ultimately Kristine's incredible vocals that sell this baby - especially her Michael Jackson-like fills. Love it.
Erin Hamilton: The Flame 2008 ***
This was a pleasant surprise. Not the usual Hi-NRG remake - a cut above all that. It actually manages to reinvent the song without simply taking a small slice of the song and repeating it ad nausea. Very ethereal. Erin's vocals don't possess a lot of presence, but it is a real ear-tweaker.
Filo & Peri Featuring Eric Lumiere: Anthem ***
I love this one... even with its vacuous European pretensions. Pleasant male vocals, decent lyric, fun chorus, interesting construction. A tiny bit faceless - and that is my only complaint. Definitely deserves all the radio airplay it has been getting.
Idina Menzel: Gorgeous ***
I keep getting this one confused with 'Defying Gravity'. The reason: Indina's vocal style is so incredibly unique that her mannerisms seem to place a shadow over the songs themselves. That's not a bad thing... I'm just waiting for her to find a song that is her equal. None of the pap from 'Wicked' is going to cut it. This one, simply due to its subject material almost does it. It's fun, but not memorable. I like to segue this in the middle of Taylor Dayne's far superior 'Beautiful' and a remix of Xtina’s ‘Beautiful’. Makes for a nice subject block.
Erika Jayne: Stars ****
Hmmm... is this really the woman behind 'Roller Coaster'? Wow. A sweet chill. Very nice - demonstrating a little variety. Surprising. I love the vocals and song itself. It actually possesses a bit of a hook, something sadly missing from most dance music. Something tells me I need to pay attention to this one - she's a total keeper.
Janet Jackson: Feedback (Ralphi Rosario Radio Edit) *****
Finally! Janet gets a song worthy of our time. I loves me some sexy, sexy, sexy, robot Janet. Percolates like an orgy at Starbucks. Okay, so all that stutter/stop/shift stuff plays like a thick veneer distancing the heart of Ms. Jackson from the public, but it's been ages since she's been this nasty and danceable. It would have been nice if her company would have sprung for a few more remixes to make this a great buy. And, yes, the heavy flow line makes me gag a little. I just bear it and wince. So glad she's back, auto-tuned to death or not. Amen.
Britney Spears: Piece Of Me (Remixes) / Gimme More ***
Timely and entertaining. But not memorable. Nice double-header, though. Britney's in there somewhere and she's the only reason to come to this party. The songs themselves skitter by like a tweaked out circuit boy peering over the edge of an eighth floor balcony. A little short on substance, but fun enough. Everybody loves a little drama - and this plays out like a Greek tragedy on roids. Medea, anyone?
Mary J Blige: Just Fine (Moto Blanco Remix) *
Uh-uh. No. Tired, tired, tired. Mary needs a new pair of shoes. She works way too hard and has too much going to simply float by on dated, bloated flotsam like this. Her i-pod commercial played way better than this stuff. Make me shiver, not shudder! Redefine, Ms. Blige - don't regurgitate. Evah.
Idina Menzel: Defying Gravity *
Fun stuff - very unique vocals. Maybe a tad annoying. One for the circuit queens. The song itself - eh. So canned the Campbell soup twins could have written it - homogenized to the point of sterility - and that flies in the face of the song's message and intent. Defying gravity? This song doesn't aspire to defy, impact, or encroach upon anything - including the listener's ear. Idina, fortunately, has a lot of vocal mannerisms in her bag of tricks, and that almost makes this worthwhile. Almost.
Taylor Dayne: Beautiful *****
A song that fits Ms. Dayne to a ‘t’. Capitalize that ‘T’. A perfect marriage. It’s been a long while. I love her big broad sound and lovely R&B styling. Always have. She hasn’t sounded this engaged since her remake of Barry White’s ‘Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe’. I can’t get enough of this song. It is on permanent repeat in my car CD player and haunts my thoughts as I drift off to sleep. If I have two wishes this spring, one of them will be that this goes to the top of Billboards Club Play Charts and more. And it should. Diva needs a break and Diva has finally done something to deserve that break. Beautiful, indeed.
Robyn: Every Heartbeat **
Big surprise…. big, curious surprise. When this first played on my i-pod I thought it was some long lost Kate Bush song I’d downloaded out of curiosity and in my compulsive need as a completist. Guess again. Nice to hear her, glad she’s back – didn’t expect this. I was thinking some of the old hip-hop/r&b stuff with the big beat would bring her back stateside, but this is such a far cry from those days – dare I say – this is hardly the same artist. Nice chill. The vocals are a bit thin, so while her sound has matured, her vocal style has not. Not a dance hall burner by any means, but a decent listen.
Sia: The Girl You Lost *
Bizarre and lacking substance, considering the subject matter. Vocals are Olsen Twin-thin and a tad annoying. Strikes me as more of an experiment than a fully realized song; like the product of a 14 year old girl who just got her first key board hooked up to Pro Tools. About as convincing as a midi file and just as cringe-inducing. Lose her.
Cascada: What Hurts the Most ****
This song sounds like something Leanne Rimes did about the time of Coyote Ugly. It’s got a very country-friendly vibe going. It’s fun. Great pop. A little too clean for my taste – lacks real character. Cascada is kind of like that – very Ace of Base minus the hint of funkiness. Nothing funky going on here. Acne-free. Kind of like a Mentos Mint ad or those surreal Orbit gum commercials.
Sarah Atereth: It Doesn’t Take Much ****
Pleasant. Not a barn-burner, but a great song. In fact, it is a complete pop song. Its lyrics actually show some depth. Sarah’s voice is pleasant enough, too. It could use a little more character. Not bad, but not a fire, either. The three stars are for the lyrics. They’re of a quality rarely found on a dance track. Of the mixes – Tracy Young is my current pick.
Plumb: In My Arms ****
Great hook, nice meaty vocals. Nice to hear a singer with some bottom to her voice. I love the little catch she gets in her throat – distinctive and not over played. Needs to be careful of the whine thing, though. The song itself is a gem with a couple of infectious hooks, catchy chorus. Like ‘Numb’, their last biggie – this one is a winner.