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2014/05/23

Blame It On Coldplay: Pop Music Reviews for the Dawning of Summer II


Blame It On Coldplay: Pop Music Reviews for the Dawning of Summer II


Three day weekend!  Three day weekend!  Yay!  What’s not to like?  

Check out the bulk of today’s song reviews.  

It’s not all hopeless.  

There are some bright spots, thanks to the likes of Cole Plante and the much beloved Martha Wash.  

And there are surprises, too.  Like I don’t think I could ever get tired of listening to Audra Mae’s vocal performance on Avicii’s latest.  

But, sadly, that would be about the extent of my enthusiasm. 

Let’s blame it all on Coldplay.

You know… just because.  

Have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day Weekend!

I'm Not Coming Down
Martha Wash
It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from one of the most powerful voices in dance music history.  She’s doing it for the music, she’s doing it for the love… once again.  A voice like no other, she has a history of taking subpar material and turning it into absolutely amazing sonic masterpieces. 

The Tony Moran mix of this one finds her in fine diva form on this relatively relaxed, uplifting ballad.  I’ve long thought that ballads make for the best dance music.  And okay, I must admit: it’s a total cheese-fest, but one that will certainly be finding a home on my Ipod.

Midnight
Coldplay
I don’t know exactly why it’s so easy to rip on Coldplay.  I believe if I heard the same song delivered under the guise of some up and coming band, I would be championing it.  Maybe it’s their incredible success or Chris Martin’s annoying persona – but in any case, I am among those that rather despise this group. 

Let’s take ‘Midnight’ as an example of why.  It’s all atmosphere, a smoke and mirrors affair that takes its sweet time getting absolutely nowhere.  Why this is even in the top 40, I will never know.  But there it is, stinking up the joint like Mr. Martin lurching about, over-emoting on SNL.  Ishtah, Merlin…

A Sky Full Of Stars
Coldplay
Ugh.  It’s an epidemic… like a zombie virus outbreak.  This one finds the group in the Top Ten this week, embracing the current synth / dance bombast which actually brings a little energy to the table.  But the vague, predictable lyrics, consisting pretty much of the very pretty title being repeated, feel like an afterthought. 

Martin’s vocals are rather weak, even a bit under the note on his final throaty yowls.  It’s a strain, to be sure.  However, remixed for the clubs, this one could be a lot of fun.  You know, except for the fact that it’s Coldplay.

Problem
Ariana Grande Featuring Iggy Azalea
This feels like three ideas grafted onto one another and I find it confusing.  Is it the guy that has one less problem, or Ariana?  I guess it could be both… they both have to contend with the grating presence of Ms. Iggy.  Grande’s vocals seem nasally, pitched too high in her range, and processed in such a way that they claw their way into the bone of your skull.  In other words: yeah, not very pleasant at all, which is surprising, because this young vocalist can sound as lush as Toni Braxton if she wants to. 

As for Azalea, her shtick was done better ages ago by Salt ‘N Pepa.  She also can’t seem to get through a damn song without being self-referential, using her first name as filler.  As contributions go, hers is slight.  But, hey… at least it’s not Coldplay.      

Love Runs Out
OneRepublic
Honestly, I would not have pegged this as a OneRepublic song.  But then they seem hell-bent on morphing themselves, digesting and regurgitating every era and genre before serving it all up as shiny Top 40 contenders.  As upbeat, white boy, retro soul goes, this one is harmless if a tad cadged. 

It goes exactly where you expect it to, so the only thing surprising about it is the mouth it’s coming out of.  That said, it sounds great on the airwaves, and the first time I heard it on the radio I thought it was some fresh, one-off, potential one-hit wonder group.  But that’s to be expected, since OneRepublic doesn’t seem to have any interest in producing a unique identity of its own.

Hello Kitty
Avril Lavigne
And speaking of lacking an identity… poor, Avril seems adrift without a clue.  What the hell is this?  I know she is huge in Japan, and this is her way of pandering to that market, tongue firmly planted in cheek, but damn, girl: this is one cold, calculated, bloodless piece of marketing which wears out its welcome thirty seconds in. 

Musically, it is all over the road map, aping dance, hip hop, and rap clichés like there was a fire sale.  When Gwen Stefani did this same crap back in the day, it worked… but this feels like a rather futile exercise, kind of like that rather dull duet she released with her boring Nickleback hubby.   

I Won
Future Featuring Kanye West
Future is the flavor of the moment in the hip hop world, so, of course, Kanye has to mooch his creepy fish face in there somewhere.  After a rather calm opening featuring the crying of seagulls, the whole thing quickly devolves into a rap about women as trophies to be won (hence the title) and how the state of her vaginal cavity is one of Future’s primary concerns.  His treated ‘vocals’ are a tad annoying, as is the every present catch in his throat. 

Best line comes from Kanye: ‘Until I put an angel in your ultra sound’ – you know, because he’s a breeder and he’s now marrying that prostitute he bought – just in case you forgot.   Yeah, they should both be real proud of this one.

Raging Fire
Phillip Phillips
Phillips’ whole Springsteen-light act bores the hell out of me, and clearly I am not alone.

This one failed to catch fire, though it’s been floating around the chart for ages, having peaked just outside the top 40.  It’s pleasant enough, if a tad platitude driven. 

That whole common man thing plays well in the Midwest, I guess, but he’s no Cougar-Mellencamp.  He might surprise us by developing a personality someday, but I’m not holding my breath.  I’m thinking this is just part of the slow fade that is his career.

Addicted To You
Avicii
Already having peaked at number one on the Club Play Chart, this is the fourth single to be released from Avicii’s latest, a CD, a piece of work that has catapulted the DJ to new commercial heights. 

The uncredited vocalist - American folk/rock artist Audra Mae - is the reason this one works.  She wrestles a ton of emotion out of this rather slight, Russian retro sounding song.  Without her, I’m afraid it wouldn’t register as much of anything.  With her?  It definitely pricks up the ears.

Warrior
Havana Brown
Havana Brown can always be counted on to bring something gutsy to the dance floor.  In this case, she’s going to “dance, dance, dance” like a warrior, which is apparently something warriors do. Drum-driven, the song feels rather cheesy with squelching synths filling in as needed.  

It hit number one this week on Billboard’s Club Play Chart… and hopefully that will be the end of this one.   Love Havana Brown.  Dislike this song.

If I Fall
Cole Plante With Myon & Shane 54 Featuring Ruby O'Dell
Oh, dear, I am such a sucker for shit like this.  DJ Cole Plante hits my personal sweet spot with this one.  Wispy, airy female vocals?  Check.  Empowering theme? Check. Build and release?  Check. 

This is a very Zedd-like moment which succeeds on an emotional and musical level.  No, it’s not terribly original, but it is very pleasant, very likeable.  And considering how inarticulate and forced eighty percent of pop is these days, you could do much worse.



















2 comments:

SEAN (The Jeep Guy) said...

I'm loving Adore Delano's DTF. It's such a summer cruising with the top town song. But I need someone to tell me what DTF means.

whkattk said...

I'll second Sean's comment.

I never was much of a Coldplay fan...Hmmm.