Archive for the ‘Reviews’ category

My Favorite Albums of 2014

December 31, 2014

I was there for the British Invasion. There for the Motown Sound. There for what became classic rock. There for the icons of 80s. There for grunge, hip-hop and teen pop of the 90s[1]. There to see popular music splinter in a zillion directions in the 00s. And here for the blurring of genres in the 10s.
Big statement but true – I loved more music released in 2014 than released in any other year. No fewer than 21 full-length CDs (and 11 EPs) from this year rocked my world. And that world was international – eight albums came from artists outside the U.S[2].

My previous blog reviewed my 2014 favorite, London singer/songwriter Katy B’s Little Red. Here are the other 20 that made 2014 so noteworthy, beginning with two that finished close to the top.

Banks Goddess Lorde meets Ellie Goulding, i.e. a gothic Stevie Nicks meets folktronica. Haunting vocals over dark minimalist background music. It’s simultaneously eerie and captivating.

Royal Blood Royal Blood – Massive, gut-punching, eardrum-splitting, vomit inducing garage rock. These two guys have to have some DNA connection to Led Zeppelin, both guys in The Black Keys and Jack White. And exactly how do they sound like all three at the same time?

And now the rest in no particular order.

Prince Art Official Age and Plectrumelectrum – Because it’s Prince.

Kitten Kitten – From Rolling Stone: “Chloe Chaidez’s musical prodigiousness was apparent to anyone who saw her band Kitten open for Paramore in 2013 – she wailed, crept around the stage and held her own in the face of a hyper-dynamic headliner.”[3] I was there and I agree. And she made a great debut album, too. Oh, and she just turned 20.

Pvris (“Paris”) White Noise – Alt-rock, electronic rock, synthpop, post-punk, etc., etc. – like Kitten (see above) they are a genre-less band fronted by a young, charismatic female making music that defies easy comparisons.[4]

Mary J. Blige The London Sessions The Queen of Soul, Version 2 went to London, got immersed in their music culture and made her best album in ten years.

U2 Songs of Innocence – Yet another masterpiece that stands up to any of their best work. And iTunes gave it to me for free. Yet another reason to love Apple.

Gary Clark, Jr. Live – The blues spirit of Hendrix lives.

Goapele Strong As Glass – Continuing the line running from Sade to Erykah Badu.

Raydio + O-DOne Drop – “One of the best neo soul/hip hop/soul albums you will hear this year.  O-D has some extra mellow, yet banging, beats that drive the lovely voice of K. Raydio.”[5]

Liv Kristine Vervain – The voice of an angel in goth metal heaven.

Lindsey Stirling Shatter Me – 6 million YouTube subscribers. 190 million views. Plays a little violin. Stradivarius would be proud although I’m not sure how he’d feel about dubstep.

Broods Evergreen – Synth-pop brother-sister duo from New Zealand making elegant, atmospheric and catchy music.

Paloma Faith A Perfect Contradiction – Her eccentric style isn’t for everybody. But it is for me.

Jessie Ware Tough Love – Her throwback quiet storm vocals are as smooth and soulful as it gets. And not having her Devotion on my 2013 Best of List was an egregious and mystifying error.

Brooke Fraser Brutal Romantic – A dark, edgy album that’s a far cry from her poppy, folksy Something’s In the Water days. Somewhere, fellow New Zealander Lorde is smiling.

Sia 1000 Forms of FearChandelier is one of the best songs of the year and Sia’s voice is magical.

Lana Del Rey Ultraviolence­ – This album is as dark as a black hole but her languid vocals, songs of despair and fuzzy, psychedelic production by Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) makes this very compelling listening. You just need to be in the right mood, like morbidly depressed.

Pharrell Williams GIRL – Plenty of Motown/retro-soul to make you plenty happy.

Neon Trees Pop Psychology – A clever and fun pop rock album.


[1] To be fair, I semi-checked out of popular music in the 90s.

[2] U.K (Paloma Faith, Jessie Ware, Royal Blood, U2), Norway (Liv Kristine), New Zealand (Broods and Brooke Fraser), Australia (Sia). And the albums by Mary J. Blige and Banks were heavily influenced by the London music culture.


[4] Having said that, they do sound similar to VersaEmerge (now Versa) probably due to their producer, Blake Harnage, being the principal songwriter of Versa.

[5] Damon “Jank” Joy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (blog)


Little Red – My Favourite Album of 2014

December 30, 2014

Katy_B_-_Little_RedWhat makes a favourite album of any year? While I may needlessly destroy brain cells wrestling with what is “best”, there are a couple of easy criteria for me to determine a favourite. One criterion for “favourite” is what album’s songs randomly gave me the most earworms. Another is The Lord Have Mercy Test. This test is how many times I find myself saying, “Lord Have Mercy!” while listening to an album. The waving of gospel-hands and making of stank faces during this test add bonus points.

The album that met these criteria most often in 2014 was Little Red by London singer and songwriter Kathleen Anne Brien, better known as Katy B. While this album was born in London’s dance clubs, if Bill Hader’s infamous SNL character Stefon were to review this album, he’d say, “This album has everything – dubstep, R&B, funk, house, dance pop and ballads.”

Little Red is a perfect example of what’s happening in the U.K. music scene where the lines between musical genres no longer exist and the music becomes an amalgamation of styles. On this album, sometimes the shift of genres happens between songs but more often than not, the shifts occur seamlessly within the songs themselves. It’s a remarkable work of production not to mention the vocal chops necessary to keep up.

There are no weak points on this album. From the beginning to the end of the deluxe version’s 17 songs, there is a constant I-don’t-ever-want-this-to-stop groove that is occasionally punctuated by high-intensity moments. And those high moments come in a variety of ways. After the dance party gets started with two of my Lord Have Mercy! favorites 5 AM and Aliyah, along comes my favourite on the album, the emotional, full-body goosebumps ballad Crying for No Reason[1]. And then Katy gets us moving again with I Like You and its classic disco/house beat. Other personal highlights are the dark, dubstep-y All My Lovin’; Emotions; the ballad Still; and the deluxe version’s closers Wicked Love and Sky’s the Limit.

It’s rare that beat-driven music made for the dance clubs can move your emotions as well as your body. With Katy B’s amazing vocals set against a backdrop of the latest beats from London’s dance scene, Little Red does just that. Lord Have Mercy!!

Watch the Crying For No Reason video below (and when it’s finished, move your mouse over the link for the 5 AM video and give it a click):


[1] About which one reviewer called it, “The best ballad we’ve heard in ages . . . a stunning breakstep ballad about having a weepy moment for no particular reason . . . it really is one of the best ballads we’ve heard in quite some time. (Robert Copsey,

My Favourite EPs from 2014

December 30, 2014

EPs, or “extra plays”, are recordings of three to five songs. They are an increasingly popular way for indie artists and record labels to introduce music at a much lower cost/risk than a full album. For the cost of whatever drink people buy at Starbucks, EPs provide me with low-cost access to great music by new artists.

In no particular order, here are my favorite EPs in 2014[1].

Kwabs – He is my favorite current singer not named Adam Lambert. With three fabulous EPs (Pray For Love, Walk, Wrong or Right), he should have just released an album. One reviewer described him thusly:[2] “His earth-shattering baritone knows no equal.” I can’t agree more.

JettaStart a Riot – Wow. Just wow. Is she rock? Is she R&B? Both, I guess? Why does it matter when it’s this good?

Laura Welsh Laura Welsh – She’s an electro-soul singer who is a cross between Jessie Ware and Florence + the Machine. That’s a good cross.

Ella Eyre Deeper – My daughter Cassandra heard her and said, “Amy Winehouse meets Adele.” In other words, she’s d#@n good.

Ferras Ferras – I discovered him from an Adam Lambert tweet[3]. I can hear Adam singing each of the five songs on this EP. No wonder he likes Ferras.

Melanie Martinez DollhouseThe Voice may eventually find their first breakout star in the little girl with the two-toned hair and gapped teeth that the viewers sent home in 6th place in Season 3. She has a major label deal, a lot of industry buzz and increasing attention from radio.

Versa Neon – One of my fave bands that were dropped from their label when their new project took an electropop turn from their pop/rock beginnings. That’s a shame because this three-song sampler of their new sound is really good. Band member Blake Harnage went on to produce the Pvris album that’s on my 2014 favorites list.

Cathedrals Cathedrals­ – Imagine The Civil Wars as an electropop group with occasional and unexpected shots of early U2 rock. One writer calls this San Francisco duo’s music “danceable, head bob-able, simultaneously otherworldly and more-human-than-a-lot-of-electronic-music.”[4]

Zarni Honest Company[5] – Bad timing for Zarni that Sara Bareilles got to be Sara Bareilles before Zarni could be. My Girl Zarni doesn’t just write songs. She writes word pictures set to music.

Let me also put on your radar a couple of other U.K. singers that have only released singles:

Ella Henderson Ghost; Yours – U.K. pop/soul singer. Ghost, written by hitmaker Ryan Tedder, is currently #19 and rising on the USA Today Airplay chart. Her album drops in the U.S. on January 13.

Becky Hill – In the U.K., singers often build their careers by singing on other people’s records[6]. While she’s only had a minor hit under her own name (Losing; Caution In the Wind failed to chart but I like it), this Voice U.K. semi-finalist has had two big hits with Wilkinson (Afterglow) and Oliver Hedson (Gecko) and a lesser hit with Rudimental (Powerless).


[1] The first four artists are from London, where I want to live with so much great music coming out of there. Hence, “favourite” EPs.

[2] I always look for an excuse to use the word “thusly”.

[3] It’s a universal truth: when Adam Lambert tweets about somebody, they’re always awesome.

[4] Emma Silvers,

[5] This blogger provided financial support for the creation of this excellent, praiseworthy CD. She put me on the guest list for a show in Seattle. And her mother has plied me with chai tea lattes. Despite my complete lack of objectivity, Zarni is a wonderful singer-songwriter.

[6] Sam Smith is a perfect example with great songs by Disclosure (Latch) and Naughty Boy (La la la).

Adam’s For Your Entertainment Turns 5!!

November 25, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 12.13.39 AM

Wow. Five years ago? I will never forget that day. Dashing to Best Buy to be there when the doors opened at 10:00 a.m. And finding a line of fanatics like me waiting to make a beeline to the CD section with a focused, solitary goal in mind: to get Adam Lambert’s debut album. Like me, most of the fanatics were designated buyers procuring multiple copies for family and friends. I was on orders to buy a copy for each of the three Linder Ladies.

I had already heard the entire album, oh, 4,713 times the week before its release when it was being streamed by AOL Radio.[1] As much as I knew – well, hoping if I’m being honest – it would be a good album based on his amazing Idol performances, I was NOT prepared for what I heard that first time. For Your Entertainment grabbed me like no album had ever grabbed me on the first hearing.

Adam’s force-of-nature voice was certainly on display. But it was the ease with which Adam handled the preposterous diversity of song styles that made this album so different. How many vocalists could take on songs by Justin Hawkins (The Darkness), Pink, Linda Perry, Kara DioGuardi, Matthew Bellamy (Muse), Ryan Tedder (One Republic), Lady Gaga, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Rivers Cuomo (Weezer)? Moreover, the 14 tracks had ten different producers bringing their own unique flavor to the tracks.

The common theme of the critics was that while Adam was certainly a talented singer, the album lacked coherence. As such, it received generally positive but not exceptional reviews.

Sorry, critics. You missed the point. If they had watched Idol each week, they would have seen him excel at a staggering range of songs: a medieval sounding Ring of Fire, a Motown ballad (Tracks of My Tears), rock (Born to Be Wild), Michael Jackson (Black or White) and the 80s (Mad World). For Your Entertainment brings that same eclecticism. The cohering quality isn’t the genre or style of songs. Adam’s voice on any song is the central theme of the album.

Around the world, listeners and buyers agreed. For Your Entertainment charted in 20 different countries and is certified Platinum or Gold in seven countries.

To this day, I love the whole album from beginning to end. But a few songs deserve special mention:

  • Time for Miracles, featured as the ending theme in the film 2012, was Adam’s first song released after Idol. About that song one listener said, “Adam’s voice reaches out with sensitivity, depth, maturity, and awesome range and power that will make jaws drop all around the world.”[2] That wasn’t me. It was Brian May of a little band I like to call Queen. But my jaw dropped when I first heard it, too – and then I called My Mom[3] and said, “You need to hear this.”
  • Radio still plays Whataya Want from Me (written by Pink). It’s a beautiful, plaintive song that stands up five years later and will in another five. It has a timeless sing-it-the-moment-you-hear-it quality.
  • If I Had You is a happy, hopeful, high-energy song that always makes me smile.

But my clear favorite is Sleepwalker by Ryan Tedder whose songwriting I adore. Adam and Ryan is my musical heavenly match. And, yes, there are witnesses who saw me openly weeping while he sang that song in concert. Even worse, one of them saw that on consecutive nights in two different cities.[4] Sleepwalker is a dark and brooding song. I like dark and brooding.

For Your Entertainment launched the recording career of Adam Lambert. Its success fulfilled Simon Cowell’s prediction on the show that the point of the Idol was to find someone who would not only be a star but an international star – and that he believed he had found that in Adam.

His next album, Trespassing, would open at #1 on Billboard and chart in 21 countries. I’ll write the 5-year anniversary blog on that in 2017. 🙂


[1] Does that even exist anymore? I used to listen to EDM on it all the time.


[3] Long-time blog readers know how important My Mom was to this blog and my enjoyment of Idol, in general.

[4] Oh, you think seeing him in consecutive nights in Baltimore and D.C. is obsessive? In D.C. (9:30 Club) we met ladies from Australia who were going to all of his east coast shows! (I wanted to be them.)

His Purple Reign Continues

October 6, 2014

Prince, like most musical geniuses came to us in a single package – an artist working in isolation who comes out and astounds us with his prodigious talents. Yet, the longevity of a musical genius’ career often depends on a partnership with others. Bruce had the E Street Band. Mick had Keith. Bono had The Edge. Eddie Van Halen had David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar. Partnership brings both inspiration and restraint that provide protection from self-indulgence, the hidden iceberg that has wrecked many a genius’ once-promising career.

This creative tension between the dangers of individual brilliance and the synergy of an inspired partnership has likewise defined Prince’s long and legendary career. The artist who has given us Purple Rain, 1999, Kiss, U Got the Look, Adore, I Wanna Be Your Lover, Little Red Corvette, etc., etc. also gave us years of material that even his most devoted fans grappled to appreciate.

And this is the same tension that exists in his two new much-hyped albums, Art Official Age and PlectrumElectrum. The former feels too much like we’ve heard it all before. Its songs are the kinds that Prince can write in his sleep and then be convinced that they make a unique artistic statement. While I admit that I’m slowly warming up to it, I think it’s because Art Official Age has a familiarity to it that I’ve grown attached too as a Prince fan[1].

The pleasant surprise is the other release, PlectrumElectrum. This project is a full partnership – production, arranging, writing and performing – with his new all-girl band 3rdeyegirl. Prince is a better musician than a songwriter. He’s prolific but that isn’t always a good thing. His bands have tended to restrain him in a good way and these girls are his most exciting band yet[2].

PlectrumElectrum is the rock album that he hasn’t made since Purple Rain. And while nothing anybody records will ever be like that, Plectrum sounds like Prince and his new girls put Led Zeppelin and Funkadelic albums in a blender and out came this. It is clearly the most inspired and fresh of the two and by the way, if you listen to PRETZELLOGIC without moving several parts of your body, it’s likely you’re no longer alive.

If you’re a Prince fan, you still need to have both of these albums. They are the maddening two sides of Prince – the solo genius inspired by an exceptional band; and the unrestrained solo artist stuck in pleasant but lackluster familiarity.

PlectrumElectrum B+

Art Official Age B-


[1] That familiarity seems to appeal to his fans. As of this writing, Art Official Age and PlectrumElectrum are #20 and #56 on iTunes, respectively.

[2] But I still love you Wendy and Lisa. We’ll always have Computer Blue – the water’s still warm enough.

Nothing Holding Colton’s Anchor Down

August 24, 2014

AnchorIt’s been a while since I paid attention to Contemporary Christian Music. Great bands broke up (DC Talk and The Benjamin Gate), exciting new singers came and went (Nate Sallie, Charity Von) or failed to catch on (Kevin Max), or good artists kept sounding the same, so eventually I lost interest.

But Idol Season 11’s 7th-place finisher Colton Dixon could be the fresh new poster child in this genre. Forsaking the usual sophomore slump, Colton’s second album Anchor is an aggressive, confident, genre-blending musical statement that’s a positive departure from Christian music business-as-usual.

Co-written primarily with Toby Mac and Matthew West, certainly no strangers to brash, aggressive sounding pop/rock, what makes Anchor interesting is Colton’s creative assimilation of a wide variety of mainstream pop/rock music influences. Just as a good bottle of wine has hints of seemingly unrelated but recognizable flavors, within Anchor I get a taste of Katy Perry here, a shot of Demi Lovato there, or little traces of Coldplay and One Republic. There’s even a gothic-choir-meets-piano moment reminiscent of Evanescence (in the title song Anchor) and a rollicking rocker (Dare to Believe) that would sound at home on a Guns ‘n Roses CD.

However, rather than be an inferior mimic of who’s hot on popular radio, Colton successfully assimilates these into a self-assured and personal vision of himself as an artist. He’s always looked like a rock star and with this album, his music, lyrics and vocals have caught up to be as striking as his appearance. Anchor places Colton among the vanguard of artists for whom genre is a thing of the past. Like the best of today’s music, it draws from many sources without copying them.

Anchor is like a really awesome surprise gift. You generally don’t expect to hear much from Idolists who finished seventh[1]. I’m already excited to hear where his career goes from here. In the meantime, though, I’ll just keep listening to Anchor a lot.

Grade A-

Download The whole album, of course. But I especially liked Our Time Is Now, Anchor, Loud and Clear, Back to Life.


[1] Although that was as head-scratchingly (is that even a word?) a low finish as there ever has been.

Nothing to Say “Amen!” to on Testify

August 18, 2014

testifyIn an otherwise desultory season of Idol, Caleb Johnson was a worthy winner[1]. He consistently delivered strong performances week after week and some of them, like Dazed and Confused, could easily be considered among Idol’s all-time best.

If only his debut album Testify could have lived up to the level of those performances. But what else could have been expected? It was hastily put together in less than two months while Caleb was rehearsing and touring with the other Idolists. This album was dead on arrival.

I get it. Reality singing show winners have become a commodity and there is tremendous pressure to get product in front of the viewers before the viewers move on to the next season of whatever show is in the queue. But Caleb’s conundrum is that he’s a 70s throwback rocker who won on a show whose 50-plus year-old demographic wasn’t exactly going to beat down a path to Best Buy or Target to get his album.[2]

But in this case, there is no reason to buy the album since the material on Testify is inexcusably weak. With almost each song I was reminded of the classic movie This Is Spinal Tap, i.e. a parody of bad 70s rock songs. I had to keep telling myself that somebody actually was serious about this project, as if it was a good idea to package together a group of refried, lukewarm 40-year old rock music.

The shame of it is that Caleb can really sing and his vocal prowess can clearly be heard on the album. I refuse to accept the excuse that Caleb’s just a throwback rock and roller and nothing more. I recently listened to an up-and-coming British singer-songwriter named Jamie N Commons, whose “raspy street-corner voice . . . delivers a kind of modern gothic, 21st century version of the blues[3]. Rock music may not be as popular as it used to be but that’s no excuse to make uninteresting music. A voice as powerful as Caleb’s deserved material far less tepid than what’s on Testify.

Again, I understand the need to rush something to market. But it’s a shame. Testify’s first day sales projected it to be the lowest selling for any American Idol winner’s post-win album. It’s on track to only sell between 9k and 11k copies nationwide in its first week. With time, Caleb could have been given better material suited to the times and his talent. Instead, we got a hurried album that sounds like rejected Foghat B-sides.

Grade D


[1] Said desultory season could have been easily improved by the presence of better singers like My Girl Brandy Neelly. Or anybody else (besides My Girl Jena Irene who would have been a deserving winner, also) who could actually sing.

[2] Unlike when there was actually a line of people at Best Buy (including your friendly neighborhood Idol Muser) asking for Adam Lambert’s post-Idol release For Your Entertainment.

[3] Spotify

A Night at the Pavillion: Queen + Adam Lambert

July 22, 2014

queen_lambertThe opening song in Queen’s 135-minute set at Merriweather Post Pavilion Sunday night was Now I’m Here and it was clear from the crowd’s response who they were most glad was there. Before the curtain hiding the stage was dropped, Adam Lambert’s singing silhouette on the large screens evoked a roar from the packed seats and lawn. His actual appearance drew another. And his first rockstar pose drew yet another. When guitarist Brian May asked midway through the show, “How do you like the new guy?” the HUGE response validated what was already clear – the DMV[1] came to hear their boy Adam.

From reviews in other cities – most recently New York City – that wasn’t the case. There and in other shows in the current North American Tour, it’s been reported that the hardcore Queen fans held their collective breath waiting to see if this or any other “new guy” was going to measure up. And by the generally positive to effusive reviews, this new guy has been winning the fans over pretty quickly. But at Merriweather, no wait to be won over was necessary. The crowd came amped for Adam and by the time he and the band got to Another One Bites the Dust and Fat Bottomed Girls in the third and fourth songs, both fans and skeptics were joined in a massive rock and roll dance and sing-a-long party.

IMG_20140720_204216_831This is a classic match made in heaven. For Adam, joining and successfully wooing the audiences of one the all-time great bands finally gives him credibility in the U.S. that extends beyond his zealot Glambert fanbase.

For Queen, Adam gives them new life. Brian May asked the crowd rhetorically, “Who would have imagined that we’d still be here in 2014?” Even with the iconic lead singer Freddie Mercury, they surely would have been relegated to the touring-for-our-aging-fans circuit. But without him – Freddie passed away in 1991 – their career as a band had stagnated. However, the reason they are still here in 2014 playing to huge audiences of old and new fans is because they found the one person who could plausibly step into the matchless shoes of Freddie Mercury. Who other than Adam has Freddie’s over-the-top voice + camp + style + theatrics?

Indeed, the young fan with the “Share the Queenbert Love” was illuminating the synergy of this unique combination. The mixture of Adam’s vocals with the Queen band and their celebrated songbook was a classic case of the whole being far, far greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Rather than repeat what had been done before, Queenbert wisely recreated the songs in ways that suited Adam’s vocal style, which is more Steve Perry with some R&B flourishes than Freddie Mercury’s operatic yet bluesy style. So rather than feel like it wasn’t Queen on well-known classics like Killer Queen, Somebody to Love, and Crazy Little Thing Called Love, all the songs retained their familiarity yet sounded fresh and excitingly new because Adam sang them his way. And you could tell the band was feeding off his youthful energy and being reinvigorated and transformed by it.

And of course we need to talk about Bohemian Rhapsody! Adam sang the first verse and then, much to the crowd’s delight, a video of Freddie in concert took over. Again, for me, the instant comparison was that both singers were different versions of awesome.

The timeless operatic part of the song was “performed” by the original music video. The “live” band took over the breakdown and then “Freddie” and Adam closed out the song. Adam’s sweet and pure “it doesn’t really matter to me” to close the song was absolutely breathtaking.[2]

Another highlight was the performance of an unreleased Freddie Mercury song Love Kills. It was originally a disco song produced by dance music legend Giorgio Moroder[3] but is being performed for the first time on this tour and rearranged as a ballad. Again – and again and again and again – Adam’s voice was beyond words. I’m quite certain there was a note he hit in that song that no singer has been able to sing with that much pathos, power and clarity. It was equal parts Barbra Streisand and Steve Perry. Love Kills was followed by the exquisite ballad Who Wants to Live Forever, which was another Streisand-meets-Perry moment. As much as I loved the big but yet expected moments, those two songs were the parts I would most want to hear again.

The show wasn’t without its downsides. Instrumental solos are obligatory in bands from the 70s and so we were “treated” to bass, drum and guitar solos. I wasn’t a fan of them back in the day and I appreciate that the newer bands don’t indulge themselves this way.

What was obligatory and appreciated, however, was the moving video tribute to Freddie Mercury and Queen’s glory days as drummer Roger Taylor lovingly sang These Are the Days of Our Lives.

The show did end in a big way. After Brian May’s lengthy guitar solo came Tie Your Mother Down, Radio Ga Ga, the aforementioned Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Bohemian Rhapsody; and the encore of We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions.

And then night ended pretty much the way it began. As we were leaving, an older[4] couple began a conversation with us about how amazing Adam Lambert was and telling their stories about how they fell in love with him on Idol (she especially loved his version of Ring of Fire), how she recorded his performances for her husband and he became a fan, how great his For Your Entertainment album was, etc., etc.

Overall, it appeared everybody walked away satisfied. Queen fans heard their favorite songs in new, yet with familiar ways. Glamberts (as Adam’s fans are known) got two hours of his spectacular voice. And a legendary band sounded as current as they are classic.

P.S. My, my, my, My Boy can sho’ nuf’ sang.


[1] DC, Maryland, Virginia metropolitan area

[2] About which I said on facebook: “Adam singing at the end of Bohemian Rhapsody. My soul is cleansed. I have been healed of diseases I never had. My life is complete.”

[3] Giorgio was behind Donna Summer’s classic disco hits like Love to Love You Baby and I Feel Love.

[4] i.e. my age.

Phillip Phillips Releases Debut Album

November 19, 2012

Your time has come Phillip Phillips fans. P2′s debut album The World From the Side of the Moon drops today and the TV promotion includes an appearance on David Letterman tonight. My crack research staff has found it on Amazon for $5.99 and says it’s pretty good.

The reviews I’ve seen have been consistent in that the album is a mixed bag. The songs written for him – like his double-platinum hit Home – receive the most praise as they keep him from sounding like a Dave Matthews or Jason Mraz knock-off. The songs P2 wrote are considered much weaker.

My feelings on P2 haven’t changed from liking him at times yet believing that My Girl Jessica was the greater talent overall. I just always felt a sameness in his performances. Evil Eye Jimmy Iovine must have thought so, too, since P2′s coronation single Home was nothing like the style of songs he sang each week. I’m looking forward to hearing the album for myself and seeing how well it does on the charts. Numbers. I love my numbers. 🙂

America Still Loves Its Country Kids

October 13, 2011

Well, with X-Factor displaced last night by the rain-delayed baseball playoffs (would that have happened with Idol?), that gave me a chance to help you crunch some numbers. Yes, I hear your applause and you’re welcome.

Actually, it’s the Scotty fans who are probably applauding. By opening at #1 on Billboard’s Top 200, his album Clear as Day made some music history. He is the first country act to debut at No. 1 with their first studio album, and at 18 years old, he’s the youngest man to open at #1 with his debut release. That’s right – neither Michael Jackson, Donny Osmond nor Michael Bolton accomplished this. And he joins Kelly Clarkson and Ruben Studdard as the only Idol winners to hit numero uno with their first studio effort.

You want more? Lady Antebellum’s We Owned the Night is the only country album to debut with better numbers this year, a year that includes a new album by Blake Shelton and some other country people I never heard of.

So, speaking of numbers, Scotty sold 197,000 exceeding Evil Eye Jimmy I.’s sales guy’s projections of 150,000. That’s a strong number but this country music parade does come with a little rain, if only because it’s my blog. David Cook’s release in 2008 did 280,000. And Adam Lambert’s 2009 For Your Entertainment, sold, ahem 198,000. Still, Scotty sold more albums last week than Lee DeWyze’s album has sold since it came out a year ago. More on Lee in a bit.

The other Country Kid – My Girl Lauren – saw her Wildflower album drop (music biz lingo for “released”) on Tuesday and it went straight to #1 on iTunes (as did Scotty’s last week). It is currently at #4 as I write this and has garnered solid reviews. I listened to the clips on iTunes and it’s quite good. The studio setting appears to have opened her up to her considerable potential in ways that Idol never did. Scotty may have won for now but let’s check back in a few years. My Girl has more range as a singer in terms of adding pop, rock and R&B influences to her country foundation.

Now, the sad but completely predictable saga of (Off-Key) Lee. After the desultory year of sales I reported above, his record label dropped him. No lie, when I told “My Mom” Lee Dewyze was dropped by his label, she said, “Lee who?” Seriously. I guess that about sums that up except to say that the Evil Genius Producers must be thrilled that the Kris Allen/Lee Dewyze debacle is over and, for now, they have managed to deliver winners in the marketplace once again.

Last piece of business – a video of a single by Season 9 My Girl Siobhan. It’s artsy – what did you expect – but the song is surprisingly normal and shows that she can sing. Check it out.