REVIEW: Pure Heroine, Bangerz, Prism, Wrapped in Red, Artpop, Britney Jean   Leave a comment

The mainstream pop scene is a very competitive field. In a field one can call as shallow, it’s very important to deliver the music that people will dig in. After all, the next popstar is just waiting to replace the current ones; thus, it is crucial to stand out in this type of competition. Female pop stars, in general, have been more dominant of the past few years, and it is a tougher one out there for them, as they build their own fanbase and rule their spots in this niche. The latter part of 2013 has been a showcase of different efforts from some of the female popstars we have by releasing their albums offering a wide spectrum of music to listen to. Here are six of them:

Lorde

Pure Heroine

The most recent pop female artist to join the force is 16 year old Kiwi singer-songwriter Ella Yelich-O’Conor, more familiarly knows as Lorde. Combining a distinctive tone and that is devoid of autotune, Lorde provides a nice change of pace in terms of her sound and the music that she wants to offer. In Royals, she took a shot at the lifestyles of the rich and the famous, indicating what she thinks of such a fickle and superficial world. What amazes me most while listening to Pure Heroine is that you hear a young girl, full of ideas and observations, and it reflects on her songs. Whether it’s her vivid description of this world or the song’s narrative, Lorde tells a story in a manner that is direct and blunt, one that perfectly works in the context of her album. If you happen to love Royals, then I’m pretty sure you’d like this album as there are lots of other songs in the same vein. I’d even dare say that there are songs even better than it (which is not a knack to the song, but a testament of how much potential this lady has). I don’t know if age is simply just a number for Lorde, but with this success of hers, I’m interested to see the direction she’d tackle after this. I hope she doesn’t turn into an Avril Lavigne though, who was seen as the anti-pop star when she debuted, but settled to the same world in the end.

Rating: 4/5
Favorite tracks: 
Royals, Tennis Court, Team, White Teeth Teens

Miley Cyrus

Bangerz

After years of trying it, Miley Cyrus has finally transitioned into the pop star she has long been waiting for. And while it has been a long time waiting, it’s definitely worth the wait for her, as I think she is the most prominent pop star and definitely carved her name as pop’s it girl for 2013. It wasn’t a smooth start for Miley, but for this era, the jumpstart was to release a single that will elicit buzz. We Can’t Stop, attached with a weird and over the top video, did maneuver this era into what it is. The biggest break however is of course the MTV VMAs performance. I admit that even I find her schitck there such a try hard, but then like Miley, I guess I should have just waited since it will make sense in the end. She then followed it up with Wrecking Ball licking sledgehammers and rocking back and forth a lifesize wrecking ball in her birthday suit, and it makes her more polarizing than she is already. It only takes one listen of her album Bangerz to identify what Miley channels in her persona. It all starts with  the album’s best song Adore You, a slow track ballad that says she offers her whole self to her love, and you’d be quick to realize that beneath all this gimmicks, she opens her most raw self in this effort. And for that, it’s simply hard to deny her. She gave a taste of country with 4×4, and a Pharell track in #GETITRIGHT. Probably my favorite is the transition to Wrecking Ball by using  My Darlin’s as an intro to the ballad. If anything, the Britney collab is one of the weaker songs in it, and if I may add, it just did not mesh well with the rest of the songs. Not everyone might get Miley, but it is hard to deny that she is the most important popstar in the field now, and everything she does will always be the talk of the town.

Rating: 4/5
Favorite tracks: 
Adore You, Wrecking Ball, #GETITRIGHT

Katy Perry

Prism

After such a big era like Teenage Dream, it is interesting to know which direction Katy will next pursue. After all, everything she touches is gold especially if we’re talking about the Billboard Hot 100. She then says that this era will show the other side of Katy, a darker era like we’ve never seen before. I guess I should have known better and not believed her at all since Prism is anything but dark. After all, she started this era with Roar, an anthemic pop song, backed up with a Life of Pi meets Dr. Jones music video, that reminds us that we’re gonna hear her roar. And boy she did. Lots of times. With that said, the rest of the album offers the usual Katy fair: safe bubblegum pop songs that has potential to be #1 on charts. But I’ll admit that most of these songs are okay and catchy especially the first six tracks. I guess Spiritual is one of the darker tracks she’s referring, and it worked for me. However, there are also a lot of songs in it that does not ignite any passion nor reaction at all. It’s just there and existing. I won’t take it against Katy that she’s sticking with this type of format since this is what works for her commercially; after all, like what I say this is a very competitive field and taking risks is indeed… risky. If anything, I find her album too long and she could have cut off three to four songs from it especially since hers is the voice that is not distinct or something that makes you appreciate it.

Rating: 2.5/5
Favorite tracks: 
Legendary Lovers, Spiritual, This Is How We Do

Kelly Clarkson

Wrapped In Red

Okay this is some sort of cheating since this is not a regular album, but I stan and love this girl much. I think any popstar cannot call herself such if she still doesn’t have a Christmas album yet. I mean Mariah, Christina, and even Britney all have Christmas albums, and even Queen of Pop Madonna is in Christmas mood. So yes, Kelly joins the squad and what I like is she has four original songs written for this plus one Imogen Heap cover. The moment Wrapped In Red begins already gives the festive Christmas spirit. Add the fact that Kelly’s vocals is smooth and lovely to listen to, and you’ll wonder why it took so long for her to release such. The second track, another original, Underneath the Tree gives me some Mariah’s All I Want for Christmas is You homage with the fun upbeat and quick beats. Of course there are also the classics such as Have Yourself a Merry Christmas and Baby It’s Cold Outside which are staples, but she’s lovely to listen to so whatever. Plus points as well for including a Sound of Music song via My Favorite Things! All in all, I can go all day listenign to Kelly sing the phonebook, but this one is a lovely addition to some pre-Christmas feels!

Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite tracks: 
Wrapped in Red, Underneath the Tree, My Favorite Things

Artpop

Artpop

Definitely one of the biggest stars in pop era, Lady Gaga releases her fourth album Artpop. While Born This Way didn’t live up to its initial hype as the album of the decade, it still is a sold album overall. This time, however, Gaga upped the theatrics and the sex by coming up with her most sexually suggestive album to date. What I like about Gaga is you know that she’s knows more than fluff when it comes to her music. She knows her art and how much it has an influence her and it shows in this album. But my main issue with Artpop is I don’t see coherence with the vision she has set on it. It’s like she threw everything she has on the wall and just waited to see which will stick. Thus, while we get gems like Sexxx Dreams and Artpop, we also get duds like the one two punch of Fashion and Donatella. A lot of songs in this album suffer from being too overwrought that they ended up sounding messy and overdone. I’m pretty certain that she is better than this, but part of me thinks that she has nothing left on her sleeves if she keeps on overthinking her efforts. It does not sound organic nor original already. And like Prism, it suffers from being too long and a lot of fillers can be cut from it. Still, there are some great stuff in it like G.U.Y (which Zedd produced) which should have been the opening track instead. Do What U Want, sans the Aguilera type of oversinging, is the best song off the album and one of the few which totally hits the intention she had with it. And of course, a Gaga album will always have that one ballad that shows Gaga at her most vulnerable and for this one, Gypsy was it. I know Gaga will never reach the type of acclaim she had during The Fame Monster era, but she better have some sort of alternative because this type f shtick is one that does not make of a long and successful career.

Rating: 2.5/5
Favorite tracks: 
Do What U Want, Gypsy, G.U.Y

Britney Jean

Britney Jean

And lastly, though still unavailable (but already up for iTunes streaming), Britney’s eighth album comes two years after her last effort Femme Fatale. By now, it is pretty obvious that voice is not Britney’s biggest asset, so she has to rely on the production of the songs she used in this album. I think that’s what makes both Blackout and Femme Fatale as her strongest efforts. While you won’t find anything from them that gives this spectacular singing, the sick production saves the day. I think Britney Jean tackled both. On one hand, her vocals were surprisingly present in the Sia penned track entitled Perfume. I think that will end up as one of my most favorite Britney songs ever. For once, you can really hear her singing. Then on the other hand, the sick production was hit or miss here. I understand her getting into the EDM thing if it gives us something like Work Bitch and Alien with the slick beats, but those songs in the album which were wil.i.am produced were really weak. I also LOL’ed at her collaboration with sister Jamie Lynn Spears in “Chillin with You.” One thing I thought while listening to this is that the album balances itself that for every good song in it, there’s a dud that counters it. However, it’s an album that gets better with repeat listening. I’d admit though that after listening, the only phrase you’d remember is her lines in Tik Tik Boom as she says it like DICK DICK DICK DICK DICK DICK BOOM.

Rating: 3/5
Favorite tracks: 
Work Bitch, Perfume, Alien

There you have it. What are your favorite albums from the group? Did you miss Rihanna’s annual album release? Were you also hooked by Kelly’s Christmas songs? And did you hear it as Dick Dick Boom as well?

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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