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Pop Music


Pop Rewind: Paul Simon “You Can Call Me Al”

When you can put two guys in two white chairs in a sparse, pink room, and use that space to create one of the most memorable music videos of the 1980’s…let’s just say you must be pretty creative. Paul Simon was already a legend before “You Can Call Me Al” (from the album Graceland) hit the airwaves; this was just icing on the proverbial cake. You know something tongue-in-cheek is […]


What the Heck Is Madonna’s Problem?

After winning countless awards (including seven Grammys), selling over 300 million records (making her the top selling female artist of all time), appearing in nearly 20 films, and cementing her public image as an envelope-pushing pop icon, one would think Madonna would finally be comfortable enough in her own skin not to appear threatened by up-and-coming talent. Guess that’s too much to ask. Madonna, now 53, has been all over […]


Sara Bareilles “Once Upon Another Time”: Yeah, She’s Toying With Us

Epic Records/Sony (2012)

Pop singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles is reportedly dropping out of view for most of the rest of this year to write and record her next album. When an artist releases an EP accompanied by such news, you generally expect it to be a “throwaway” record—something just to tide over the fans so they don’t forget said artist while he/she is out of the limelight. You don’t expect it to be a […]


John Mayer’s Confessional? “Born and Raised”-Album Review

Columbia (2012)

Over the years, singer/songwriter John Mayer has dipped his toes into several genres, with his music touching on pop/rock, R&B, blues, and now…1970’s country/folk? Yep. Apparently so. Born and Raised, Mayer’s newest studio album, carries all the hi-fi production value you’d expect from a recording made in 2012, but most of the songs themselves sound like they could have been written 30 years ago.  Furthermore, the arrangements are fairly stripped […]


Pop Rewind: Steve Winwood “Back In the High Life”

Steve Winwood has been performing for nearly five decades, in bands like Traffic (for which he was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), the Spencer Davis Group, and the supergroup Blind Faith (with fellow rocker Eric Clapton). But he’s probably best known for his solo career, which blossomed in the 1980’s. His blue-eyed soul approach to 80’s synth-pop, together with a slight rasp in his voice, made […]


Lisa Marie Presley Grows Up on “Storm and Grace”

Universal Republic (2012)

When it comes to being viewed as a serious musical artist, few people have had the particular obstacles that Lisa Marie Presley has had to face. Fame was never the issue—her daddy’s shadow ensured she would spend her life in public scrutiny, and her own colorful past simply enhanced that aspect. Rather, the challenge has always been to rise above those secondary claims to fame and be seen simply as […]


Adam Lambert Cranks the Glam on “Trespassing”

19 Recordings/RCA (2012)

Any fans who were hoping to hear more of Adam Lambert’s heavier-rock side on his new record Trespassing are likely to be disappointed. Those who prefer the glam-pop side of him, however, will be utterly delighted. While Lambert’s debut album For Your Entertainment was created quickly in the chaotic whirlwind of his newfound American Idol fame, Trespassing was written and recorded as that first wave began to recede, so it’s […]


Carly Rae Jepsen: The Hottest New Artist Whose Music You Can’t Buy (Yet)

You can scarcely go anyplace these days without hearing pop vocalist Carly Rae Jepsen in the background. Her extremely catchy single “Call Me Maybe” has “single”-handedly driven her to international fame, topping of the airplay and sales charts in the U.S., and going triple-platinum in her home country of Canada—and quadruple platinum in Australia. It’s the kind of song that begs us to ask: what else ya got? Good luck […]


Gotye: One-Hit Wonder, or Force to Be Reckoned With?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock lately, you’ve heard Gotye’s hit, “Somebody that I Used to Know”—that sparse-sounding, walking-rhythmic breakup song featuring New Zealand vocalist Kimbra. It’s currently topping radio and download charts, and is becoming a re-mix favorite for DJs everywhere. (Coachella fans reportedly got to hear numerous versions of “Somebody” between sets, in addition to Gotye’s own appearance there.) So who is this Gotye guy, whom no […]


“…Little Broken Hearts”: Norah Jones Reinvented

Blue Note (2012)

That saying about a woman scorned? The one no one quotes correctly? Let’s just say it’s remarkable what it can do to an artist’s persona. …Little Broken Hearts is Norah Jones like you’ve never heard her before. It’s a concept album about a woman processing her venomous feelings after a breakup, recorded (not surprisingly) at the end of a personal relationship. While going to some dark places emotionally, it’s a […]


Rufus Wainwright Goes Pop with “Out of the Game”—Album Review

Singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright has always had a flair for the experimental and theatrical. In his colorful career, he’s channeled Judy Garland, written film soundtracks and an opera, set Shakespeare sonnets to music, and performed live in a 17-foot-long cape. Now, Wainwright is pushing the envelope to the very limits with…a pop album?? That’s right; Out of the Game, Wainwright’s seventh studio release, is targeted directly at a mainstream audience. Produced […]


Greg Laswell Connects with “Landline” (Album Review)

Vanguard Records (2012)

Singer/songwriter/producer Greg Laswell is certainly not the biggest name in music, but he has spent the past decade or so quietly building a successful solo career through hooky, piano-driven melodies and song placements on popular television shows and movies. His fifth studio release Landline (released this week) may be his best offering to date. Self-produced and recorded in a converted church building in Maine, Landline is packed with prime examples […]


The Wanted: “The Wanted” –Album Review

Mercury/Island Def Jam (2012-US)

Help! The boy bands are back! They’re everywhere! Okay, so right now there are basically only two contenders: The Wanted (whose self-titled CD releases this week in the U.S.), and their cheery, more bubble-gummy counterparts One Direction (who beat The Wanted to the punch with their U.S. debut last month). But it just feels like more than two bands. *sigh* Anyhow, The Wanted, the Anglo-Irish five-some from across the pond, […]


Jason Mraz: “Love Is a Four Letter Word”—Album Review

Love Is a Four Letter Word, the fourth studio release by singer/songwriter Jason Mraz, addresses the rather serious themes of lost love with Mraz’s signature unquenchable optimism, leaving the listener to wonder if this is a genuine recovery or simply a case of denial. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t expect Mraz to lapse into deep melancholia just because he’s singing about relationships gone south—and neither should you. That’s just […]


Train “California 37”: Album Review

In 2009, Save Me, San Francisco rescued pop/rock act Train from obscurity, thanks to hits like “Hey, Soul Sister, “Marry Me” and the album’s extremely singable title track. Now, Train is seeking to make the most of its new lease on life, continuing the momentum with its latest release, California 37. When you catch a wave, you ride it; you don’t look for another wave. In effect, that’s exactly what […]

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