Monday, January 29, 2007

New Amy and Kelis singles

Right now is an exciting time for two of my favorite artists, Amy Winehouse and Kelis. Their current singles are prime examples of why I consider them amongst my current faves. With Winehouse's second UK single, "You Know I'm No Good", produced by Mark Ronson, we see that Amy's still been a bad girl, but one who never lacks inner reflection. What has always separated Amy from most R&B singers is not only her hazy gin and tonic laced voice, but her content has always been unique and uncompromising. Where "I Heard Love Is Blind" from her debut, Frank, was a delicately crafted, but comical justification of her infidelity, "You Know I'm No Good" covers somewhat similar territory, but is all warning and regret over hard-hitting Golden Age breaks. While this version is great too, the remix with Ghostface is even more stellar, although Amy is only relegated to just the chorus. With the remix being the only time I've heard Amy's voice in small increments on a song, I never realized how classic it sounded before. If I had no idea who she was, you would swear that it was a sample of an old 70's record. It honestly made me appreciate her more, even though she's on the song less. And how can you not love a girl who has the freedom to drop a line like "Hand me your Stella and fly"?

I'm even more excited for Kelis since "Lil' Star" is the first time she's had a third single and video in the U.S., which shows that someone in charge still believes in her. "Lil' Star" is an odd choice for a single, considering that the first two, "Bossy" and "Blindfold Me" were straight bangers and were easily accessible for mainstream ears. Kelis Was Here still dabbled in some club courting, but in an infinitely better fashion than Tasty, but it was also a return to some of Kelis' more vibrant and diverse side, which Tasty also lacked as well. "Lil' Star" is remniscent of the potential that Kelis showed on her earlier albums, but this same adventurous apporach caused her first album to sell poorly and for her second album to not even get a domestic U.S. release, which is why its such an unusual choice for a single, given how difficult it is for songs that think outside the box to become hits in this current climate. But damn the fools who hear this soulful number or see its extraordinarily styled video and fail to fall in love with it. "Lil' Star" has to be one of the best odes to longing for stardom. Even more beautiful is when Cee-Lo appears on the chorus and lends some comforting vocal Kleenex to dry up Kelis' tears and to show some support. You'll want to console her too after the first line, "There is nothing special about me/I am just a lil' star" because you know in your heart it's not true.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Top 145 Singles of 2006

Better late than never, I suppose. I've had the top 100 done since early December, but I was trying to see if I could expand it to 200, like I did last year. No such luck.

1. Nelly Furtado-Maneater
2. Gnarls Barkley-Smiley Faces
3. Janelle Monae-Lettin' Go!
4. The Pipettes-Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me
5. T.I.-What You Know
6. Marit Larsen-Don't Save Me
7. Nelly Furtado F/ Timbaland-Promiscuous
8. Christina Aguilera-Ain't No Other Man
9. The Streets-When You Wasn't Famous
10. Asobi Seksu-Thursday

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Top 100 Albums of 2006

Although 2006 may not have had the substantial amount of powerhouse classic albums that land years like 1967 or 1991 in the pop history books, it was still a good year for those who had ears, just like every other year. Something should be noted before you go on. In today's technologically advanced world, albums that are not yet available for sale in the U.S. can be easily attained and their initial overseas release date is even viewed as global, as seen by the placing of Lily Allen's Alright, Still on many critics' lists. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm not in a hurry to hear an album which I know is slated for a U.S. release. I still don't believe in downloading full albums because I am a sucker for liner notes and album art and all the other stuff that comes with the packaging. Also, something feels artifical and incomplete when I look at a CD labeled with my own handwriting in permanent marker. Moving back to the initial point, I go by whatever the American release date is, which is why you see such stars of last year like Art Brut and Saint Etienne on my 2006 list, and which is also why Lily Allen and K-Os may be on this list next year. The Pipettes are fine because they don't have an American release date that I'm yet aware of. On with the list, no?

1. Van Hunt-On The Jungle Floor
(Experimental soul, funk and rock remniscent of peak-era Prince.)