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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Music reviews: 2009's young songstars

Posted in: Music
By Andrew Grear - 7th December 2009's music reviewer Andrew Grear checks out Adam Lambert's debut disc, reviews Rihanna's new album, and confirms his status as a 'Gleek' by welcoming the first Glee soundtrack.

Adam Lambert - For Your Entertainment

Katy Perry sung a song about kissing a girl and scored a number 1 hit, but Adam Lambert did kiss a boy on stage... and gets complained about. It's a shame really because his debut album is infinitely better than Perry's.

Showing a lot of promise on his first major 'outing', Lambert should hopefully avoid the idol obscurity curse that plagues so many winners and runner-up contestants. It's an album full of glitzy, completely over-the-top, and altogether amazing moments, perfectly suited to Adam's personality and voice.

The Justin Hawkins penned Music Again is the best thing The Darkness never recorded. For Your Entertainment is a psychedelic, pulsing electro-thumper. Strut does just as its name suggests and Soaked apes Matthew Bellamy of Muse fame to good effect. Fever is yet again another perfect example of why Lady Gaga is light years ahead of everyone else when it comes to writing pop masterpieces.

It's not a perfect album and perhaps not as shocking as Adam might want you to think but For Your Entertainment more than lives up to its namesake.

Watch Adam Lambert music and interviews on the video below this article.

Glee the Music (Season One)

Judging by the Facebook status updates I've been reading for the last few weeks, Glee is on the tip of every gays' tongue. It's perfect blend of characters and biting satire is accompanied each episode by a range of incredibly well put together numbers.

The first of what will most likely be a long running series of soundtracks (the second one should be released sometime in the next month) showcases 18 of the numbers from the first half of series one and its addictive! Its blend of show-tunes, contemporary pop and R&B and classic rock numbers hits more often than it misses.

While not everyone in the cast are natural singers (Dianna Agron and Cory Monteith have pleasant, but forgettable voices), those who are really shine. Lea Michele (Rachel) in particular is dynamite, taking the lions share of vocal duties. She has more than shown that she can sing almost anything with Don't Stop Believin' and Take A Bow being real highlights, and Maybe This Time showing she can easily hold her own with Broadway superstar Kristin Chenoweth. Amber Riley (Mercedes) also excels with a real snarl on Bust Your Windows and Hate On Me and Mark Sailing (Puck) is surprisingly good on Sweet Caroline.

The makers of Glee are certainly cashing in with the music from the series (42 songs from the show have been released as singles, not all of them are on the CD either), but when the songs are so well picked and executed, they are worth the money.

Rihanna - Rated R

Rihanna sets out to shock on this album. Originally meant to be titled Such a Fucking Lady, this has been dialled back slightly to Rated R and that's probably quite an apt title.

It took Rihanna several tries to really get her career started. Despite some big hits, her first two albums didn't cause much of a stir. In the end it was possibly the most persistent vocal hook of the decade that launched her to superstardom ('Umbrella-ella-ella') with the resulting album selling 7 million copies. Recently her musical profile has been eclipsed by that Chris Brown incident, which Rihanna alludes to several times on her latest effort.

On Rated R, gone are the sleek pop hooks of her last one, instead replaced by grittier R&B with some grungy undertones. Unfortunately the hooks have mostly gone as well. Russian Roulette is a true grower and the best thing here, it's dark and quite affecting; one of the most interesting singles released this year from anyone. Fire Bomb contrasts some quite upbeat tones with some fairly dark lyrics, but works. Elsewhere though Rihanna spends a little too much time singing about herself. She claims "there's so much power in my name" on Wait Your Turn, "that Rihanna reign just won't let up" on Hard, and tells you to "make sure you get a picture/ I'm rocking my fame" on Rockstar. It's a shame she isn't rocking some better tunes.

Andrew Grear - 7th December 2009

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