Category: Music


Paparazzi Cover – from greyson97

So I’ve never done this before, but I had to share this with the blogging world. A 12 year old, named Greyson Michael Chance, posted his cover of Lady GaGa’s Paparazzi on YouTube (greyson97). Now, I hate people that are younger than me who can, single-handedly, trample all over my singing, but I can’t hate this kid. I was in awe of him. Please, please, please listen to this kid, it’s the best cover I have ever heard. YouTube profile link: here.

I wrote this a while back for a competition, and I thought I’d post here to see if I can get any feedback from it. Give it a read and let me know what you think, I’ll post the song underneath for reference, if needed.

Everything is dark apart from one light on a close up of Kelly’s lips, coloured with black lipstick, as she sings “It’s like you’re a drug”. The drum beat changes the shot. It cuts to a shot of Kelly’s “boyfriend” in the video, putting his arm around another girl by a magazine cart. The cart is situated on a quiet street, not too much noise or many people busting about, it’s just those two really on the street with the cart and the seller. They’re smiling and talking as he puts his arm around her. She’s the typical attractive blonde girl. Quite tall, long flowing blonde hair, slim. Wearing a short, colourful dress with purple heels.Kelly’s boyfriend is tall, brown-haired and dark eyes. He’s casually dressed in blue jeans and a white shirt, the top buttons are open as it’s a warm sunny day outside. The camera lingers with the girl and Kelly’s boyfriend before panning round to Kelly’s house down the street. It’s a cottage house as we pan in through the top window into Kelly’s bedroom on the line “And I know”. She begins singing the words (I let you… etc) as she’s gets up out of bed and walks to the window to stare out into the street. She puts her hands down on the window pane and turns her head back round to her empty bed on “The only company I see is misery” and then turns back to stare through the window on “all around”. Kelly’s wearing a black nightdress which goes down to her knees. She has smudged make up and slightly red, teary eyes from evident lack of sleep. Her hair is big from the lack of brushing, typical morning hair.

As the next verse starts, it cuts to later on in the day, with Kelly’s boyfriend and the blonde girl in an ice-cream parlour. They’ve bought a milkshake and some vanilla ice-cream to share. The girl has the ice cream, Kelly’s boyfriend has the milkshake at the moment. He drinks through the straw(on the line ‘sucking the life from me’) looking at the girl, who is staring back at him while she eats the ice-cream in a seductive manner. It then cut backs to Kelly, on the line “And I know..”, downstairs in the kitchen of her house pouring herself a glass of water, already half full, from a clear jug, as she sings along, not blinking, just staring out the window as the glass overflows with water, until the line “..quit you over time.” where she turns her head sharply to look at the clock, cut to the clock on “time” showing you’re the time 6:30 with the second-hand 5 seconds after half six, when her boyfriend should be home. She drops the glass of water, which hits the floor on the drum beat of the word “breathe”, and runs to the door and opens it as the chorus continues. She sees that he’s not home and begins to cry heavily. Her legs give way at the doorway and she falls to her knees in her black nightdress (still not changed the way she’s looked since we saw her in the morning, makeup even more smudged now, bloodshot eyes) with her shaking her head and putting her hands on her head.  We get to the line ‘In my thoughts… In my dreams’ and on “thoughts” and “dreams” it cuts to two different shots, one on each word, of her boyfriend with the girl. One still of his arm around her by the cart, and one still of them staring at each other at the parlour. Cuts back on “taking over me” as she stares up into the sky, with mascara running down her eyes, and then back down as her boyfriend comes walking to the door. She seems him on the first “It’s like I’m not me” and his footsteps walk in time with the piano notes before the second “It’s like I’m not me” where she hugs him and whispers in his ear those words at the end of the chorus.

The next verse begins in the same way as the first, A close up on Kelly’s lips singing “It’s like I’m lost” with nothing else to be seen before cutting to her boyfriend walking down the street helping one of the female neighbours wash her car. The black car is soaped up and the female with long, brown hair, wearing blue denim shorts and a bikini top, is getting rather friendly with Kelly’s boyfriend as she removes his top to ‘make sure he doesn’t get it wet’. Cut’s back to Kelly on “And I know” as she’s washing her hands in the bathroom, scrubbing frantically as she sings, staring into the mirror in front of her, her hands red raw. She looks out the window just to her left and sees her topless boyfriend and the brunette in a bikini. Throwing her nail brush, which she’d be scrubbing herself with, into the bath on the word ‘breathe’ (in time with the drum beat) she storms down the stairs, angry tears pouring down her cheeks, with a close up of her face as she sings “I’m addicted to you”. She gets to the door and opens it on “thoughts” and closes it behind her quietly on “dreams” and on the line “you’ve taken over me” we have a shot from behind Kelly, with her head on the right of the shot, and her view of her boyfriend and the brunette in the rest of the shot. As we get to the second “it’s like I’m not me” she turns her head to the left so we can see the side of her face, as she sings that line.

As we get to the bridge of the song, “I’m hooked on you…” we have a moving shot, watching the front of Kelly as she walks slowly down the path, almost zombified by what she’s seen. Her footsteps in time with the music as it gets more and more dramatic. She reaches them on the first “get me through this”. Her face, a mess from running and smudged make up, her hair all matted and knotted, her eyes dark from the smudging. She picks up the bucket of water and empties the mucky water quickly on the grass at the word “fix” before throwing the bucket at the brunette on the word “hit”, grabbing her boyfriend by the back of his neck and pulling him in closer to her as she sings “just one more time then that’s it” before pushing him away into her black car, his back hitting the door of it on “through this”.

She walks back as the final chorus begins, her face drenched in tears and black make up. Her boyfriend runs to catch up with her as she tilts her head to the side singing “I’m addicted to you” she gets back to the house, opens the door on “dreams”, pushes him out onto the other side of the door on “you’ve taken over me” and slams the door behind her. She turns her back on the big brown door as you see his face through the tiny window, near the higher end of the door, behind her. On “it’s like I’m not me” she slides down the door to the bottom where she sits down, knees tucked up to her chest, then staring straight into the camera for the final “it’s like I’m not me” with a close up on her face. As soon as that’s said, the camera zooms out to see her, a crying mess, on the floor against the door, with her boyfriend’s head still by the window in the door.

Usually, when you think of 4th place in a talent competition like The X Factor, you think of, generally, nothing. That’s because they didn’t make it to the final three, or the final show, and, therefore, discharged from your memory. But following a lead role in London’s West End, Diana Vickers then put together her debut album, ready to show the world what they missed when they voted her out in the semi-finals. However, if she had won, Diana would not have had the opportunities she has gotten from finishing fourth. She would’ve lost all her uniqueness, and her own quirky personally, which would’ve been filtered out from the winner’s mainstream transformation. After having her debut single go to #1 in the UK Charts, Vickers released her album 2 weeks later on May 3rd 2009.

Her lead single, titled Once, begins the album, and although it sounds more pop than first expected when she releases her first single, it still has the highlights of quirkiness that Diana fans fell in love with on the show. Once has an electronic baseline, merged with the occasional piano added in there. Her chorus is catchy, going from a medium tempo with “I’m only gunna let you kill me once” before continuing the line where she repeats the word “once” where it explodes into life. I really love the chord pattern in the second half of the chorus. Remake Me & You has an intro that reminds me of Alphabeat’s Fascination. It’s a fast paced number that doesn’t really strike me as the Indie root that I thought Diana would go down. It’s another electro-pop song that would belong on radio. Sometimes the backing track overpowers Vickers’ fragile voice, and at other time it’s vice-versa, showing that Diana has power in her too. I love the little “ah'”s she sings along with the bridges. The pace is slowed down slightly with the next track, The Boy Who Murdered Love. The chorus uses a similar repetitive lyric pattern which never fails to be catchy (Cast your minds back to Rihanna’s Umbrella). The vocal style that was heard in X Factor is ever-present here. I really enjoy the chorus, and as the first two songs, it’s a real radio song too. Four Leaf Clover is the first song to really surprise me on the album. It’s a slow ballad, which, even though ballads are inevitable on any album, pleases me extremely. It shows her versatility. Her maturity. And her vulnerability. It’s a beautiful, haunting song filled with so much hurt and passion. Her vocals are soothing and gentle, something completely different from what is usually discovered on reality television. I love the acoustic guitar in the background too. Put It Back Together Again is another slow song. Her wispy voice on top of, what feels like, an atmosphere-building orchestra. Singing “I think we’ll be alright” in her upper register sounds magical, before continuing into her falsetto (“I think we will survive”) which, other than the occasional yodel-like sound (that I love by the way), is something that we’re not treated to that often. You’ll Never Get To Heaven brings the up-tempo songs back on track, and probably becomes one of my favourite songs on the album. It starts off pretty slowly, in energy rather than tempo, but builds up to a banging chorus. The baseline in the background is clearly dance-infused and added to her vocal melody forms a perfect chorus. The slower energy verses create the anticipation for a great chorus, in which it delivers. Me & You, a similarly named song to an earlier song, thankfully, has a completely different sound to it. It’s a slower song with an acoustic feel to it. “It’s me & you, stuck like glue” begins the chorus having the same melody, continuing on to the third line which also has the same melody, but the fourth line is a harmonical delight. The piano, tambourine and light drum beat gives the song an intimate feel to it. My Hip speeds up the pace dramatically, involving an unlikely brass sound in the intro. This song sounds like a summer radio hit. It’s probably one of my favourite’s on ‘…Cherry Tree‘. “Your hand is back where it belongs, on my hip, on my hip” is a catchy lyric and tune which won’t fail to get stuck on your head. I just love the trumpets in this song. N.U.M.B is another slow ballad. Another heartfelt, personal song. Yet, I don’t feel like it’s a repeated song, or feel cheated from the lack of originality. Because that’s exactly what it is. Original. The song is emotional and melodic, but it feels like Vickers is whispering her inner feelings to you, and only you. Like she’s trusting you with her own personal thoughts in song. The huge long note at the end is almost surprising, she can hold her own. Hit has an almost futuristic intro to it. Like you’ve been zapped by a robot! This song is an upbeat change from the previous song, the verses are silky and energetic, the musical bridge is funky and the baseline is dirty and electronic. The “hey, oh”s are also somewhat addictive. Notice switches back to the slow-quick pattern that Diana has going on during her album. When she gets into the end of the verse and start of the bridge, in her upper register, it reminds me of an Avril Lavigne ballad. But better. All of her ballads seem sincere and believable and that’s what really warms me to her slower songs on the album. Jumping Into Rivers was a track that was leaked mid-July last year and Vickers decided to put it on her album. I can’t say I was a huge fan at first, a little disappointed when I first heard it. But after a good long listen to it, I became, gradually, more positive about it. The song has a chilled out feel to it, definitely like it’s a ‘lay on the beach’ song. I love the sound of the acoustic guitar backing up Diana’s vocals. Chasing You finishes off the album. It’s a slower song, once more, but has an electro-pop baseline. I actually love the chorus, and the fact that the last song involves violins. I also enjoy the moment of silence between the verses and choruses.

I have to say that I’m extremely surprised over the quality of the album. It shows diversity, versatility and maturity beyond her 19 years. This album is currently at #1 on the iTunes album chart and possibly set to go #1 in the UK albums chart. This is far better than Alexandra Burke’s album of fillers (possibly due to the fact that she won and lost all originality) and JLS’ let-down of an album, prominently showcasing an R&B sound (rather than the old-school Soul “Boys II Men” feel I’d hoped for) and I’m not even going to mention the failure that is Eoghan Quigg. 9/10

Carrie Underwood – Play On

Winning American Idol season 4, releasing two multi-platinum albums, winning multiple awards and gaining over 10 #1 singles on various charts, Carrie Underwood has, without a shadow of a doubt, made a name for herself. And with both the previous albums selling over 1 million copies each in the US alone, Play On had a lot to live up to. Her second album, Carnival Ride, went straight to #1 on the US Billboard 200, and Play On, released on November 3rd 2009, did exactly the same. It has also sold over 1 million copies in the US alone, making it the third album to do so for her. If that wasn’t enough, sales from Play On made Carrie Underwood the highest selling American Idol contestant in America, outselling Kelly Clarkson by around 100,000 albums.

The album kicks off in style with Cowboy Casanova, the song having the strings you’d expect a killer country anthem to have, but the verses have a funky guitar riff to accompany Carrie’s vocals, which clearly haven’t packed up and gone anywhere. A perfect song choice to promote her third album, filled with attitude and punch. Quitter begins with a nice little acoustic intro leading into a story-like verse, followed by a melodic bridge/chorus. I really like how she changes up the tempo in the song, keeping it faster during the upbeat story verses, and slowing down during the more heartfelt chorus. Slowing down the pace a bit, Mama’s Song is a lovely little ballad, albeit a little sleepy at some points, the longer notes during the chorus are sublime. I also enjoy the backing singing after the chorus. Continuing the slower songs, Change is another story from Underwood. And even though this is a slower tempo, this one is definitely not ‘sleepy’. “You’re just a fool, just a fool to believe you can change the world” is beautifully sung and really a highlight on the album. Undo It brings a little pace back to Play On, with a funky little banjo intro. Underwood does attitude well in the verses, but the chorus is the real reason why this song is a success for me. The “uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-undo it” is catchy, and the harmonies just round off the pleasurable ear experience. Someday When I Stop Loving You is another ballad which, in all honesty, is probably forgotten when you think back over the album after listened to it. Obviously, you can’t fault Underwood’s vocals, but this song could’ve been so much more than just another boring country ballad. It almost becomes memorable towards the end of the chorus, but just as it starts to escalate, it falls back down flat again. Now the fasted song we’ve heard since Cowboy, Songs Like This rescues the album from almost slipping down in quality. It’s a fast-paced, action song with so much energy and, that thing Carrie does well that I’ve mentioned before, attitude. It sounds like a brilliant choice for radio, including hand claps and strings which are brilliant. Just as we gain some momentum, the pace slows down again, and just as I think ‘Oh great, just what we need..’ Temporary Home hits me with anything but boredom. The song is filled emotion, sadness and heart. The lyrics are beautiful, the melody and harmonies are wonderful, completely doing those lyrics justice. Underwood shows control and power throughout her vocals. This Time quickens up the pace one again, and I can’t say I’m hugely raving about it. It feels all too familiar, like this song has been heard before, not just similar to some of her other album tracks, but other country artists too, which is a real shame. For me, it’s just a filler song. The chorus is a good sing-along though. Look At Me continues the pattern of the slow-fast-slow switch this album has going on. The male backing vocals work really well here, in all honesty they’re probably the best thing about the song. Unapologize is next, and I never tire of hearing Underwood’s voice. The verses are brilliant, the way they’re constructed, the melody, everything is fantastic, leading into a big chorus with killer hooks and harmonies. It also has a minor chord breakdown before going back to the chorus. My favourite song from the album comes near the end, in What Can I Say. A song featuring ‘Sons of Sylvia’, a male country group, consisting of three brothers. It’s a slower song, starting off with just Carrie for the first verse and chorus, before the boys join in wandering all around Carrie’s melody with such ease. Everything about this song is perfection. The harmonies are brilliant, neither Carrie nor the Clark brothers outshine the other, they work together in perfect sync. Definitely worth the wait. Finally Play On, the title track, finishing off the album in style. It’s signature Carrie. Classic country arrangement, classic Carrie vocals, flawless as usual, and a classic soaring chorus.

This is probably my favourite Carrie album, even if it got a little repetitive at times. The songs have improved, there are less and less filler tracks than before, and Play On even entered the UK album chart at #93, the first time she’s made it onto the chart. Success! 8/10

Lady GaGa – The Fame Monster

After the phenomenal success of The Fame, Lady GaGa was everywhere, her songs heard over every music channel, television adverts, you name it. She had catapulted herself into the spotlight, creating her success almost single-handedly. With record sales over 10 million, The Fame went to #1 in over 7 countries, going multi-platinum worldwide. A lot to live up to. But Lady GaGa wasn’t phased, having many potential hits already written, hiding up her sleeve. In a sense, The Fame Monster is a kind of re-release, but GaGa didn’t want to just cash in by contributing to an addition 2 songs along with the original, she basically wrote and recorded a whole new one on top of the previous one, which also comes as a second disc. The Fame Monster was released November 18th 2009.

The very first song, the lead single from The Fame Monster, begins with a different feel to the whole of The Fame. Bad Romance is still an electro-pop song, but it has a more mature, almost operatic feel to it. Of course, the vocals aren’t that of a soprano, Lady GaGa has her own sound, and that sound appears to have improved. GaGa sticks vaguely to the formula that sprung her previous hits, but opposed to Poker Face, Bad Romance is more melodic and the chorus feels slightly gospel, due to the “oh’s” in the background. Alejandro is something completely different, although the electro baseline can be heard quietly in the background, so can a set of strings instruments. It still has that huge instrumental feel that Bad Romance had, which I greatly enjoy. Alejandro, for me, is one of those songs you miss the quality of, because it’s overshadowed by other songs on the album, but it’s a really decent song when it comes down to it. Monster feels a more dancy song, although there has been an electro-pop song, it has a dancefloor-filler feel to it. The lyrical melodies in the chorus are catchy, the dance baseline makes you want to get up and it’s just a feel-good song, even if you’re singing “he ate my heart”. The first ballad, a power ballad in fact, on the album is Speechless, a song about GaGa’s father, the phone calls she had when he underwent open-heart surgery. Even though GaGa is best writing and performing fast-paced, electro-pop songs, she can actually pull a ballad out of the bag, her vocals have improved incredibly. Dance In The Dark brings back the faster-tempo to the album, during the verses, her lyrics are echoed behind, even though it’s not necessarily distracting from the song, it doesn’t really add anything to the song. The chorus is big and bold, definitely a sing-along one. I have to admit I really enjoy the breakdown towards the end, with a rapped bridge. One of my favourite on the album is Telephone which features Beyoncé Knowles. It’s a match made in heaven, GaGa and Beyoncé bring the song to such a standard it’s incredible. The chorus is catchy, the vocals are fantastic and Beyoncé’s bridge halfway through is filled attitude. They need to collaborate again in the future. Onto probably my favourite on the album, So Happy I Could Die. It’s got all the makings to be a success on the dance floor. There isn’t especially anything I can mention as to why it’s so great. It has one of those “Je ne sais quoi’s” that I can’t describe. It has a fantastic beat to it, the melodies are soft and flowy, and it’s a happy song, as you could guess from the title. The final song on The Fame Monster is Teeth. It has an eerie starting feel to it, with quiet squeals of pain, and the feeling the GaGa’s whispering “Don’t worry, I’ve done this before” in your ear. It has a punch to it, it has attitude, which has kind of been lacking before, not that it’s a bad thing. It just brings a new dimension to the album, showing the various sounds that Lady GaGa can bring to an album. The song is a brilliant way to bring the “little monsters” listening to the end of their auditory pleasure.

I just love The Fame Monster, I really do. She has chosen quality over quantity, which she sort of did on her debut, and it really worked this time. It shows Lady GaGa actually cares about her fans, rather than shoving out a half-hearted re-release as a way to get more money. The album is pure quality, and with an extra 8 tracks in your musical library, Stefani Germanotta is generous. Her vocals are improving dramatically, her lyrics and sound is maturing and she will, I have no doubt, produce a third album that will rival the first two. 9/10

je ne sais quoi

Ke$ha – Animal

I don’t think you could go anywhere without hearing the debut single of this woman at the end of 2009, or even the beginning of 2010. TiK ToK was a massive mainstream success, and because of that, Ke$ha’s debut album was hugely anticipated to see if she could live up to the expectations that had arised from TiK ToK. Previous to her solo career, Ke$ha featured on Flo Rida’s 2009 hit Right Round, co-wrote The Veronicas’ song This Love, sang backing vocals for Britney Spears’ Lace And Leather and appeared in the video for Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl. This all helped in gaining exposure in the run up to her debut. But all the exposure in the world can’t necessarily guarantee a brilliant album, leaving the inevitability of an anti-climatic debut a major factor here. Is Animal worth the hype?

It’s important to start off your album in style, and Your Love Is My Drug sets the tone, that being an electronic-fuelled piece of pop brilliance. A perfect radio song, even if some of the lyrics aren’t what you want your kids singing along to. Nevertheless, when Ke$ha starts singing after her raps, it’s a song you’ll have problems not singing along to. Next, the hugely popular TiK ToK. There isn’t a lot that can be said for this song, you just have to listen to it. It’s a dance floor anthem, period. The chorus is melodic, with the bass line heavily electro-infused. There is no surprise that this song did so well globally. Then, probably my favourite song on the album, Take It Off continues the perfect debut. Yes, it’s also a song you don’t really want sang to you by your 8-year-old daughter, but for young adults in a club, it’s sure to be a floor filler. Kiss N Tell starts with just Ke$ha and a single-tone bass line, before exploding into full electronic goodness. The only problem I have with this song, as I do with many of Ke$ha’s songs, is that it’s heavy auto-tuned. Meaning that we lose the actual vocals are lost behind a robotic mask. If you aren’t worried about vocals, and just fancy a dance-pop song, then this is definitely for you. Stephen is a light and breezy change from the previous songs we’ve heard. Ignoring the slightly whiney bridge during the middle of  it, overall the song is actually pretty decent, with the chorus highlighting the breeziness I mentioned before. After that, Blah, Blah, Blah is another huge electro banger. I have to admit, I wasn’t a fan at first, but after a few listens it caught my attention. It features 3OH!3, although it wouldn’t be a miss if they weren’t there at all. “Stop ta-ta-talking that blah, blah, blah” will definitely be uttered by many people, I’m sure. Hungover is another song I wasn’t really fussed about before, but hearing it a few times, it’s pretty decent. It’s a different side to the album than we’ve had before, it’s the slowest song we’ve had. The chorus took me by surprise, it has an off-beat feel to it that I actually quite like. Party At A Rich Dude’s House is another fast-paced action song. I can’t say it’s my favourite on the record, but there is, however, one high point to this song. The falsetto during the middle of the song is actually pretty decent, showing Ke$ha can sing behind the auto-tune. Backstabber has a monotoned, rap verse before going into a higher register, also basically monotoned but in a different key. The song is okay, it’s not really a highlight, but the chorus is better than the verse. Animal seems to have a love for catchy choruses, because this is also one of those songs. Blind is a song I actually didn’t think I’d hear on Animal. It seems like it’s the most believable, most authentic song on the album. I would almost stretch as far to say that Ke$ha sounds slightly vulnerable on it, I know that’s a strange thing to say on it, considering the previous songs heard. Bringing back the tempo, Dinosaur is a humourous song about an old man seemingly “hitting on” Ke$ha. Some of the lyrics may be a little politically incorrect, but the song is one that’ll definitely leave an impression in your head. Especially the whistling during the chorus. I love when she sings over the whistling. Dancing With Tears In My Eyes doesn’t really hold in my memory when I look back over the album, it’s a good song for when you’re listening to it, but, if you think back, there are plenty of songs that are better. Boots & Boys is another singing-rap song. The chorus is catchy, even if there is no actual melody, or very little of one anyway. But there is no doubt that it’s a song that can be sang along too with ease. Animal starts to bring the album to a decent close, the song has a great chorus and is a definite improvement from the last two songs.  VIP feels very familiar, as it’s like a few of the singing-rap songs Ke$ha features on the album. The backing music is actually kind of entrancing. Finally, a bonus track on the Japanese edition, CUNxTuesday. It’s a slower feel to most of the songs on here, with a chilled out, relaxed feel to it. It probably should’ve replaced a couple of the final songs in all honesty.

All I can say is, it started off so well! The first half of the album is more than worthy of the hype Ke$ha was getting. But Animal, then, started to nosedive, until Blind rescued it briefly. At least, it seems, she doesn’t want to be taken seriously, as almost all of her songs are about alcohol, sex and drugs. Ke$ha is definitely an artist that will either really hit, or really miss. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that inconsistency. 7.5/10

American Idol – Top 9

Okay, so after the results show this week, I felt I had to write something about it. I know I’ve ever so slightly touched on it before, but what is wrong with America? Do they understand the voting process? (Well, the whole George Bush thing didn’t turn out so well, so maybe we’ll just leave it at that.)

Michael Lynche, or “Big Mike” as he’s fondly known on the show, in my opinion, was probably one of the favourites to win the show. Now, his performance was alright during the Top 9, not his best, but definitely not the worst. According to America, though, he was one of the three worst performances of the night, along with Aaron Kelly and Andrew Garcia (see blue link above if you don’t know who they are). It was then whittled down to Mike and Andrew, after Aaron was told he was safe, followed by Andrew, leaving Mike with the least votes and facing elimination from the show. He “sung for survival” and the judges decided they would use their “Judge’s Save” on him, and he’d be back in the competition.

This left me with mixed feelings. Should he have been there in the first place? No. Should he have been saved by the judges? I’m not sure. I’m glad he was, because I liked him, but now the save has gone, anyone could go. And there are far more marketable acts left to the mercy of the public, who clearly can’t vote correctly.

Back in the semi-finals, three strong contenders for the title went out before the Top 12, and last week, Didi Benami was voted off, to my utter disgust. This leaves one more point. And that point is Tim Urban. He is like the “Jedward” of X Factor on American Idol. He isn’t extremely talented in the singing area, but girls will vote for him because he’s something to look at (although Jedward were not). He shouldn’t have made the Top 12, and definitely not this far in the competition. How long will he stay in for? I don’t know. And that’s what scares me, as two people are definitely eliminated from next week’s show.

Lady GaGa – The Fame

Lady GaGa, real name Stefani Germanotta, was no stranger to the music scene before she emerged at the beginning of 2009. Before releasing her first record, she was writing songs for the likes of Britney Spears, Fergie, The Pussycat Dolls and New Kids On The Block. She was then heard singing by Akon, as she demonstrated a melody for one his songs, and was signed up to his label. The Fame was released on August 19th 2008, and, to date, has sold over 10 million copies worldwide, going multi platinum in over 10 countries. With albums sales like that, The Fame was certified Diamond, the highest record certification category given to an album or single. I’m looking at the UK edition.

Just Dance, the first single released by Lady Gaga, spawning #1’s in many countries is the perfect way to start an album. Her voice sounds pure and soft in this song, with the electro-pop beats underneath, it serves up the perfect summer anthem. The “Da da doo doo”s in the chorus are perfect for singing along to, and the semi-rapped bridge adds a new dimension to the song. Next, LoveGame, a controversial song, banned in some countries for its use of the lyric “I wanna take a ride on your disco stick”. The dirty electro bass is brilliant, the chorus is another sing-along classic, and you’re only two songs in. Paparazzi, the first slower song in the album, fits in well with the album title. It’s smooth, almost trance-like chorus melodies lure you in and keep you hooked as she transfers to the verses. As soon as the electronic bassline starts, and the “Ma ma ma ma’s” start, you know you’re in for a real treat. Poker Face is a worldwide sensation. A song that was everywhere. The monotoned rap verses, into the melodic choruses, with the deep backing chants mould into a genius, catchy, love-to-hate pop song. I Like It Rough brings a breezy change to the chart-topping Poker Face. It’s a kinky little mellow pop song about the confusion of “liking it rough”. Singing about sexual subjects comes a second nature to GaGa, although she does it with such a casual manner. “Cherry cherry boom boom” introduces you into the next song, Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say). It has a palm-tree, beach, umbrella-drink-in-your-hand feel to it. A continued light airy feel to the album, which is a nice change. Starstruck, which features Space Cowboy and Flo Rida, has a more autotuned sound to it. Unfortunately, with autotune,  you don’t actually get to hear the “real” vocals. And that is a shame, because Lady GaGa actually has an impressive voice. Luckily the autotune didn’t say around for much long, as Beautiful, Dirty, Rich, switches the albums dimension once more. The chorus is decent and catchy, but I can’t say it has the wow-factor that previous songs have had. The Fame has a simple guitar riff as the main chord pattern, which is good. I like the variety in instruments. The title track is another song to add to the long list of “catchy chorus” songs that Lady GaGa seems to throw into her album. Money Honey has another one of those “dirty basslines” that I enjoy on a record. It’s a sound that will be most enjoyed on a dance floor. From the three previous songs, this is definitely a step up, as those 3 were heading downhill. I’m all for variety, just when it’s done right. The next song, Boys, Boys, Boys, was originally a mash-up of Girls Girls Girls by Mötley Crüe and T.N.T. by AC/DC. The song is upbeat and filled with hand claps and choral backing up vocals, making the song a solid entry into the album. A piano intro begins Paper Gangsta, until the bass kicks in. It’s got an urban feel to it, but Lady GaGa doesn’t mess about with her vocals. It’s just solid singing throughout. I do actually like this song quite a lot, more than I used to. I think it’s a “grower”. Brown Eyes brings down the tempo, we’re treated to a piano ballad from Lady GaGa. With the added addition of guitars in the chorus, this ballad is one of the better songs on the album, not including the chart topping hits. Summerboy has a similar sound to Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say). I say that because it feels summery and light. Not just because of the lyrics throughout, but the arrangement feels like it belongs on a sandy beach. Now for the bonus tracks, Disco Heaven. I can’t say this would be missed if it wasn’t included on the album. There isn’t really anything outstanding about the song. It’s kind of just “there”. The final track, Again Again, starts with a little giggle from GaGa, before an acapella, bluesy line, which leads into a piano chord sequence. It’s got a multiple-genre feel to it. It started off bluesy and jazzy, before sounded soul-ey and singer-songwritery. This is a song that is more than a bonus track, it’s a great end to the diverse album.

The Fame sort of speaks for itself. It’s multi-platinum status shows how popular it is, you don’t need me to tell you that. However, for the huge hits they deliver, there are a few misses. Something that can be allowed on a debut album, for sure, but, however popular you are, there is always room for improvement. 7.5/10

The success of Smart Casual propelled Kids In Glass Houses in to new heights, gaining momentum with every tour they went on and single they released. Smart Casual had charted reasonably in at #29 and set the Kids up for a follow-up album that could surpass its predecessor. Dirt was released on March 29th 2010, after two singles were brought out in the run up. In its first week of release, it charted 4 places higher than Smart Casual, at #25 on the UK album chart, although midweek, two days after its release, it was at #15. Dirt features guest vocals on two tracks, one includes New Found Glory, the other, more surprisingly, features Frankie Sandford, from the girl band The Saturdays.

Artbreaker I begins the album, starting with a 40 second guitar intro. When Aled Phillips’ vocals kick in, sounding more grungy and raspy, something I wasn’t really expecting from the get-go. It’s something that, once rid of the initial shock, really sounds new and different, in a good way. I must say, I was a bit sceptical at first, but I really got into the song after a listen or two. Next up, The Best Is Yet To Come, and this sounds like classic Kids In Glass Houses. The harmonies on the choruses and punchy verses are the formula for a great song. However, I can’t say I’m too fond of the chanting in the chorus, “Turn the lights out”, doesn’t really work for me. Probably my favourite song on the album, Sunshine, an epic rock ballad beginning with Phillips’ impressive falsetto, giving his voice a soft feel to it, leading up to the second half with his scratchy, harder sound. And if that wasn’t enough to grab you, the atmospheric chorus filled with raw emotion. “…cos I’ll be fine, without you, without you”, in the second half of the song after the chorus, is full of anger that you can really feel from him. Onto the second single, Matters At All, perfectly fitting for a release. Soft, melodic vocal verses with the backing vocals to match, leading up to a banging sing-along chorus. Definitely one of the better songs on the album. Then the first single, Youngblood (Let It Out), first released back in October 2009. Also great as the new single from a new chapter in the Glass Houses story. With an awesome guitar riff intro to hook you in, then Aled’s vocals, which almost sound like Kings Of Leon at the beginning. The chorus sounds perfect for a live show, the backing cheers of “Hey” would fit perfectly at a gig. Lilli Rose, brings the inevitable slower song to the album, which sort of let them down last album. Thankfully, the song is only soft and slow in the verses, which actually work by the way, before they bring it home in the chorus. My favourite part is nearer the end when the song comes to a pause, before a harmonic backing vocal comes in, and the “Lilli Rose” is sang, followed by a rest by everything, before the song comes back into life. Giving Up, having a “chilled-out” feel, like described in the previous album, actually has presence, something the slower songs didn’t have on Smart Casual. It keeps you hooked in and interested throughout. With an impressive bridge and chorus, this song is a sign that their slower songs are improving. For Better Or Hearse, ironically, is one of the more upbeat and catchy songs, not in keeping with its title. It has a great energy from the beginning, and all the way throughout. “Never gonna see, never gonna see another day” is one of my favourite parts in the song. Also, the brass instruments between the chorus and verses are a surprising, and welcome, addition. Undercover Lover, featuring guest vocals from Frankie Sandford, starts of quiet, almost haunting with just a guitar riff over the vocals. Then Sandford comes in just before the chorus begins, and throughout it also. If you’re a fan of The Saturdays, you probably wouldn’t even recognise one of its members was singing. Her vocals sound great, though. The chorus has a charming feel to it, I’m not sure how to describe it. Maybe Tomorrow continues the guest vocalists, with the guys from New Found Glory dropping in to help out. I can’t say, however, that they really make an impression. They’re involved in the acapella chorus and the chorus that follows, but probably wouldn’t have been missed if they weren’t there. The Morning Afterlife is a slow song, which has a raspy vocal from Phillips, making him sound like a completely different singer. Although it’s a slow song, it’s actually impressive. It’s tender and emotive, completely in a class of its own compared to the slower songs on Smart Casual. Next, Hunt The Haunted, and Phillips brings back the falsetto in the beginning of the verse, the song’s chorus feels a little slow, but during the second half of it, when there’s a long note rising in pitch, it starts sounding better on the ears. It’s a decent song, but one that isn’t below par in keeping with the quality of the rest of the album. Bringing the album to a close, Artbreaker II, carrying on from where they left off in the beginning. Although I do enjoy the sound of the Artbreakers, I’m not really sure of the point of having two songs at each end, rather than just one bigger song. Nevertheless, it finishes the album off in explosive style.

In my opinion, it’s a step in the right direction from their debut. They’ve matured, improved and outshined Smart Casual. Impressive ballads and epic rock anthems. 8.5/10

You Me At Six – Hold Me Down

After the success of Take Off Your Colours, charting in at #25 on the UK album chart, which I wasn’t expecting in all honesty, You Me At Six had acquired a huge fan base. With multiple EP’s, festivals and tours, including a main support slot on Paramore‘s UK tour, Josh Franceschi and the boys were letting the world know their names. After signing to a major record label, releasing their debut album and touring the world, You Me At Six must have felt like their dreams had come true, but the ultimate hurdle was coming up fast. Could they create the success, the hype and the quality for their sophomore album? Hold Me Down was released January 11th 2010, and was commercially welcome at a more than respectable #5 on the UK chart.

The Consequence kicks off the album, with a little help from Sean Smith of The Blackout. It was released as a promotional single before the album’s release. Immediately, you can tell that Franceschi’s voice has matured. I’m not sure in what way, but it has a more raspy sound to it, compared to the clean-cut songs from most of the previous album. I welcome the screams towards the end of the song, as I think it improves the song, but I can’t say I’m blown away at the start to the album. Following is a song that I can’t quite make my mind up about. Right now, for me, Underdog is a great song filled with catchy choruses and changes in the arrangement throughout, and considering it’s only two and half minutes long, it does extremely well varying up the different elements in the song. Playing The Blame Game, in my opinion, should have been their second single. It has everything there to make it on the radio. A killer chorus, great elements throughout the verses, including a much better falsetto range compared to the falsetto Franceschi used in The Consequence. Now for my favourite song, Stay With Me. This song’s drum beat makes the sound for me, if you can understand what I mean. It adds an extra something which I can’t quite describe. It starts off relatively slowly, soaring into a 6 word chorus, but keeping you captivated throughout. Josh’s long-held notes are simple but extremely effective. Safer To Hate Her, for me, is a little forgettable. Franceschi’s vocals feel a little strained in the higher notes in the chorus. On the plus side, I really enjoy the guitars throughout. Take Your Breath Away leaves me a little baffled. The chorus is brilliant, everything about it is quality, but the lead guitar riff throughout the verses seem to clash, or overpower the vocals of the song. I don’t really enjoy the riff, so it spoils the verses for me. However, I like that they had a silence before bringing back in the guitar near the end of the song. It builded up an atmosphere. Onto the actual second single, Liquid Confidence, which I’m not sure was a good choice to release. The song itself is a decent song, no doubting that, but the softness in the beginning of a slower chorus, into a louder chorus doesn’t, for my ears, feel right for radio. Franceschi’s vocals are faultless throughout, through. Hard To Swallow doesn’t waste anytime firing out at pace, with a vengeance. The song just explodes into life from the get-go, and doesn’t dip in energy throughout. Definitely a highlight on the album. Contagious Chemistry follows up the quality on the album. I love the guitars in the verses. Such brilliance followed by a slow bridge into an energetic chorus. A song you just can’t fault. And when you thought that all good things come to an end, a third song in a row of pure brilliance, There’s No Such Thing As Accidental Infidelity. With added vocals from Aled Phillips from Kids In Glass Houses, it’s more of a slower song when it gets into the chorus. Similar to Stay With Me, in the fact that the lyrics are simple and effective even though there isn’t too many of them. Phillips kicks in with the harmonies towards the end of the song, which is truly brilliant. Can Trophy Eyes make it four? Well, it doesn’t quite follow-up to the quality of the previous three, BUT, the chorus is epic. It feels like one of those types of choruses, even though they’re not particularly ‘heavy’, it’s one you would be able to headbang to! Fireworks, for me, doesn’t get going until near the end, which is unfortunate. It’s a slow, love song, which will melt all the girls hearts. The chorus isn’t quite what I was expecting in the beginning. It seems unenthusiastic and it doesn’t feel like they actually want this girl back. Having said that, it could all just be build up to the moment when the vocals REALLY kick in. “I don’t know who you are” in the upper register is just one of those moments that kind of gives you goosebumps. It’s that good. Is it worth waiting for throughout the song, probably. But only just. I wish it had this much feeling all throughout. Finally, the bonus track from iTunes, My Head’s A Prison And Nobody Visits. I think they probably got it right, making this a bonus track, in my opinion. The song doesn’t jump out at you and announce its presence. It has some good moments, including a long note, rising in pitch nearer the end. Fireworks, for me, is the real end to the album.

As I said before, I truly was not expecting Hold Me Down to chart so high, and that just goes to show how far these guys have come. And how far they’re going to go. Because I have no doubts that they’ll go on to release another quality album after this. Until then, feast your ears on this while these guys tour the world and rack up the fans and sales to match what they deserve. 8.5/10