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Pop Music


David Archuleta “Begin.” –Album Review

Highway Records (2012)

From his early days as a child vocal sensation on Star Search to placing second on American Idol Season 7, David Archuleta has been a pop singer we’ve watched with interest, but perhaps also a bit of disappointment. While his stellar vocals brim with promise, his four studio releases so far have simply fallen into the growing abyss of mediocre pop offerings of recent years. His newest release, Begin., may change […]


Joss Stone “The Soul Sessions, Vol. 2” –Album Review

S-Curve Records (2012)

While Joss Stone’s new release The Soul Sessions, Vol. 2 is primed for a respectable first-week showing on the Billboard 200, one has to go all the way to the beginning of her career to find “Vol. 1.” The original Soul Sessions was Stone’s debut album, a set of cover songs released in 2003 when she was just 16. It instantly established her as a next-generation soul singer, and set […]


Joshua Radin “Underwater”—Album Review

Mom + Pop Records (2012)

After a brief exploration of louder, rockier material in his last album, singer/songwriter Joshua Radin has returned to the softer sounds that first defined his music career with his fourth studio release Underwater. In a day where “loud” seems to equal “good” in pop music, who would have thought that a guy whose singing style sounds more like intense whispering than singing could get very far? And yet, Joshua Radin […]


Pop Rewind: Annie Lennox “Why”

From her years in the 80’s new-wave duo Eurythmics to her long, successful solo career following, Annie Lennox has been without a doubt one of the most influential women in rock. She’s won four Grammys and sold over 80 million records during her career. She’s also been known as a human rights activist in the fight against HIV/AIDS as well as supporting numerous other causes. Lennox’s song “Why”, one of […]


Susanna Hoffs Returns to Her Roots with “Someday”

While most remembered for her work with 80’s girl rockers the Bangles, Susanna Hoffs has always been a child of the 60’s. Not the 60’s of The Doors, Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix, but the 60’s of Simon & Garfunkel, Burt Bacharach and Peter, Paul & Mary. Hoffs’ latest solo effort Someday marks a clear return to her roots. In the years since the Bangles broke up, one could make […]


Missy Higgins “The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle”—Album Review

Vagrant Records (2012)

With The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle, Australian singer/songwriter Missy Higgins joins a long line of musical artists who decided to drop out of music but apparently couldn’t stay away. Speaking for myself—I’m glad she’s back. Actually, the album’s title is a bit of a puzzlement, since it sort of connotes showmanship and “jazz hands,” and Higgins reputation as an artist seems built more upon mellow, subtle understatement—and she continues in that […]


Pop Rewind: Rick Astley

For a couple of years in the late 1980s, two radio singles essentially defined dance-pop for Top-40 radio. Both of them sounded remarkably similar, and both were by Rick Astley, the British singer with the surprisingly deep voice and boyish face. Seriously. “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Together Forever” both from the album Whenever You Need Somebody, sounded like they were pretty much the same song, just with different […]


Marina and the Diamonds “Electra Heart”: Album Review

679 Recordings (2012)

While Marina and the Diamonds (nee, Marina Diamandis) showed great promise of possibly carving an alt-pop niche for herself with her debut record The Family Jewels, her new release Electra Heart takes a huge step in another direction, which turns out to be a definite mis-step. Described by Marina herself as a clear departure from her previous material (Really, girl? Aren’t you just getting started?), the album title is the […]

human league

Pop Rewind: The Human League “Human”

We really can’t think of the British New Wave movement of the 80s without thinking of The Human League—especially when it comes to New Wave’s influence on the pop market. Along with contemporaries like Tears for Fears and Duran Duran, The Human League’s emphasis on lush synths and danceable drum loops helped to define not only the New Wave genre, but the overall sound of 80s pop music in general. […]


Defying the Odds: Why We Love Adele

Like most of America these days (and indeed, the civilized world), I love Adele. But I love her for more than her singing alone; I love her because she defies logic. By all the industry’s current measuring sticks for what makes a musical star, Adele simply shouldn’t be where she is today—but she is. Let’s start with a few reasons why Adele should NOT be a pop superstar: She doesn’t […]


Pop Rewind: Cyndi Lauper “Time After Time”

One of the things I love most about Cyndi Lauper is not that “she’s so unusual” but that she knows how to stay relevant. “Time After Time” is admittedly one of Lauper’s most recognizable hits from the 1980s, appearing on her debut album She’s So Unusual and garnering a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year in 1985. I can still hear just a few notes of this song when […]


Casey Abrams: “Casey Abrams”—Album Review

Conchord Music Group (2012)

After shaking things up with his non-conformist ways on American Idol Season 10, multi-instrumentalist Casey Abrams has finally released his debut, self-titled release. Within the first few bars of the first song, I knew this one was worth the wait. I gotta say for starters, I have admittedly been waiting for this album ever since Abrams showed up on Idol. Even with his various mis-steps and his penchant for growling […]

Maroon 5 Overexposed

Maroon 5 and the “Overexposed” Album

A&M/Octone Records (2012)

Maroon 5’s new release Overexposed is ironically and aptly titled. I’ll unpack that statement momentarily. After the stratospheric success of Maroon 5’s hit “Moves Like Jagger,” there has understandably been a lot of build-up and anticipation for this next album—but that also means the new album had a lot to live up to. I’m gonna be honest—“Moves Like Jagger” pretty much pissed me off. I totally understand why it was […]


Justin Bieber Is Growing Up on “Believe”

Island/Def Jam (2012)

Can you hear that? It’s the sound of the mini-purses of bajillions of ‘tween girls opening all around the world. Justin Bieber’s Believe officially hits physical and virtual store shelves today—only to fly off of said shelves and into the libraries of countless bejeweled iphones and the car stereos of countless soccer moms. All snarky stereotyping aside, Believe is quite possibly the smartest album the Biebs (now 18) could have […]


Hot Chip Lets Us Into Their Heads

Domino (2012)

For over a decade, British electronic synth-pop band Hot Chip has flirted with the edges of big-time success. Part of it, in my opinion, is that while they appear to be genuinely talented, they haven’t been too good at first impressions. Chalk it up to their collective off-beat sense of humor, perhaps, but between their occasional cartoonish mixes and the unfortunate imagery of videos like “I Feel Better,” it’s been […]

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