P!nk: Funhouse

October 22, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

P!nk is gearing up for the release of her fifth studio album Funhouse. While I might not have been enthralled with the first single “So What” I have been eagerly waiting to hear more songs from the album.

Based on the kitchy nature of “So What” one would expect P!nk to come with her signature soulful punky-pop style. However, there are quite a few bluesy and even country tinged numbers on Funhouse.

The songs on the LP span the gambit from mellowed out and naked to devilishly infectious. “I Don’t Believe You” and “Mean” are pared down, vulnerable, ballads while “Bad Influence” and “Funhouse” - the title track - are dancably dark party tracks.

Overall, the album is just ok. Nothing really special, but still strong enough to stand on its own.

Funhouse comes out next Tuesday but you can give it a listen in its entirety here. If you really like it, you can pre-order the album on iTunes and get a bonus track for your enthusiasm.

Image via Total Assault

Womanizer Sucks! I Want Old Britney Spears Back

October 21, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

With Britney Spears’ latest single “Womanizer” burning up the charts, I thought it important to note that the song sucks.

That’s right, I said it. I tried to refrain from dissing Spears as she makes her long awaited comeback, but the song she’s chosen to mark this return to pop fame (as opposed to crazy child star infamy), is a complete throwaway.

My regular readers will note that I have been in Brit’s corner; routing for her to make a strong come-back. I did however watch with horror as she took home three awards for quite possibly one of the weakest songs in her collection. And now this; it’s disappointing to say the least.

It’s not that I don’t like Britney Spears. On the contrary, she is one of my favorites of the myriad pop stars borne of the Mickey Mouse Club era. Her voice leaves something to be desired, but few from her club crew could top her when it came to entertainment value. Her music wasn’t spectacular but the delivery and catchiness was infectious.

But now…Well, have you heard “Womanizer”? Just take a second to give it a listen:

Aside from the fact that her voice sounds worse than usual, with uber-slick production to cover it up, the song is so very generic, it could have been made by any mediocre talented pop star wannabe.

Oh and don’t get me started on the chorus - or bridge as it were - during which Brit says the word womanizer 10 times! Unfortunately, she doesn’t even redeem herself with a catchy chorus worth listening to (forget *wanting* to sing along with)…The song in general is a godawful mess wrapped in the Britney Spears brand.

Ultimately, the song is far weaker than “Gimme More” and a lame attempt to create the cheapest and easiest cash flow possible for Britney; the sweetheart of the pop music industry.

Brit, if you’re paying attention, please, please, please come up with something worth listening to, make a video where you’re dancing and please for Christ’s sake, remember what showmanship is all about.

Image via Newscom

Madonna: Divorce Official, Directorial Debut and Lost Tapes

October 20, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

While Madonna’s divorce is “officially” news, most of the folks paying attention have known it was coming for quite some time.

According to TMZ’s Harvey Levin, the divorce has been a done deal since way back in July. In fact, he claims the trickle down of information was carefully orchestrated to coincide with Madges “Sticky & Sweet” tour and directorial debut with Filth and Wisdom, which hit theaters just last week.

Sounds completely feasible to me…

In addition to directing a movie, a compilation of snippets from Madonna’s early recordings interspersed with parts of her Hall of Fame induction speech has made its way to the internet.

The Tape features Madonna discussing her journey from broke dancer to learning to play the guitars and drums in a Queens synagogue. Nostalgically, she tells of how one day she was struggling to make ends meet and the next, she was on her way to stardom.

“Everything happened exactly as it was supposed to happen.”


It’s Official, I Love the Ting Tings

October 13, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

This morning while making the commute to my day job, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the up-and-coming UK indie duo The Ting Tings were visiting my boys on the Kevin & Bean morning show.

I talked previously about how The Ting Tings were growing on me and today’s radio interview sealed the deal for me. Their story of being signed and dropped from their label, starting out with another band, becoming fragmented and then performing in Islington Mill was quite intriguing.

So what was it that won me over? The pair did live studio performances of “Shut Up and Let Me Go” and “That’s Not My Name” and I was impressed with the crystalline quality of vocalist Katie voice. It was absolutely beautiful and sounded even better than on recordings.

The Ting Tings are playing the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles tonight after which they’ll continue on to Las Vegas and other US tour destinations. Visit their MySpace page for more tour details.

Image via The Ting Tings MySpace

Flashback Friday: Erykah Badu “Mama’s Gun”

October 10, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

Erykah Badu is known as a neo-soul pioneer and for displaying artistry in a time when such appeared lacking in R&B. The genre seemed to be on its way to becoming an extension of hip hop while simultaneously birthing pop artists and new sub-genres. While Badu has even admitted that she’s not sure what it is, she is probably one of the main artists whose music was instrumental in defining neo-soul.

While some would argue that her debut LP was her best, and still others will laud her vocal display on her live album, many have slept on the overall creativity of Mama’s Gun. With its conceptual and poetic lyrics, thumping grooves and smoothed out melodies, accompanied by the distinct crooning of Badu’s mezzo-soprano timbre, this album is like a shot to the head of listening pleasure in any order or from beginning to end.

Didn’t Cha Know” is heavy with Badu’s exposed vulnerability. Set to slow a pulsating baseline that elicits the feeling of a journey in time, Erykah’s takes us through her ups and downs as she endeavors to find her way through life and love. Sometimes confused, sometimes unsure which way to go, prone to mistakes but willing to take risk, you get a since of her yearning for understanding in this life uncertain when she sings:

Love is life and life is free
Take the road of life with me
Free your mind and find your way
There will be a brighter day.

Not to be taken for granted, Ms. Badu is “Cleva” and that is what makes her special. She may not be the most beautiful, the richest, most educated, the best cook, or have the biggest “Booty,” make no mistake that she is a rare treasure and could still pull your man, but doesn’t want him. With funky arrangements of wind instruments and percussion, she pines for divine love and someone to who will breath love in her air as well as stimulate her mentally in “Kiss Me on My Neck.”

If you want to feel me, better be divine
Bring me water, water for my mind
Give me lovin’, breath love in my air
Don’t abuse me, ’cause these herbs are rare.

From musings about the state of the world and her place in it in songs like “My Life” and “Time’s a’Waistin’”, to messages of empowerment in “Bag Lady” and “Penitentiary Philosophy”, to tales the of falling in and out of love in songs like “Orange Moon” and “Green Eyes”, Mama’s Gun was exhibition of poetic skill, rhythmic experimentation and abstract creativity. It is also one of the best LPs in her entire catalog in terms of really demonstrating Erykah’s depth and uncanny musical cunning.

Image via Newscom.

Aubrey O’Day Booted From Danity Kane?

October 8, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

It’s no secret that Diddy and Aubrey O’Day of the Bad Boy girl group Danity Kane had a contentious relationship. At the beginning of of Making the Band 4, Season 2 Diddy even took Aubrey aside and told her he didn’t want her to cause any problems.

Despite the obvious fact that Aubrey was the only true star of the group, Diddy worked pretty hard to squash that light. According to PopCruch, Diddy decided he had had enough of Aubrey during the last episode of this season’s Making the Band.

Apparently the root of the problems are the issues of trust (or the lack thereof) amongst the girls, during the discussion of which, Aubrey gave Diddy a piece of her mind. As the episode ended, Diddy said:

“I don’t have to communicate shit to you or this group, in fact, I do not want you in this group!”

Back in August however, on the Wendy Williams Show, Aubrey had this to say:

“AO: No, I won’t be getting kicked off, but in regards to the relationship I think like, this season will definitely put all of that to rest. And if I were having a relationship, I definitely wouldn’t have been going through all of that mess with him (in reference to her uncomfortable run-ins with Diddy seen on the show).

WW: What about your future with the group? Are you out, are you in?

AO: I’m definitely in Danity Kane. [source]

So is she in? Is she out? Take the poll on MTV and then find out on next week’s episode of Making the Band.

Image via Danity Kane MySpace.

Up-And-Coming: Kid Sister

October 8, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

I’ll be honest, when I first heard Kid Sister’s debut single, “Pro-Nails,” I wrote it off as part of the stupid club rap music trend. Later I revisited the song and found that Kid Sister was actually quite clever with her rhyme and had a lyrical delivery like a whip.

What won me over was the two-minute reprise at the end of the song called “Switchboard.” It’s been a while since there was a woman with such a rapid flow. Combined with the fact that she didn’t rest on her feminine laurels, Kid Sister was added to my list of artists to watch.

Apparently, I’m not the only one keeping my eyes on this young up-and-coming hip hoper from Chitown. Kanye West has taken her under his wing as his protege, and was even featured in the “Pro-Nails” video.

Though she continues to work her day job selling children’s clothing, Kid Sister is gearing up for her sophomore release Dream Date, which hits shelves Nov. 25. Visit the Rolling Stone Breaking Blog to get the free download of the first single “Family Reunion.”

Image via Kid Sister MySpace.

She Plays Music Top 10 Female Rappers

October 6, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

Tonight VH1 hosted the sixth annual Hop Hop Honors, paying respect to hip hop legends, Cypris Hill, Naughty by Nature, Slick Rick, Too Short, and De La Soul.

While they are not honoring any women this year, up-and-comer Estelle will be performing, as will hip hop royal MC Lyte. VH1 may not be giving props to the ladies in the hip hop industry that doesn’t mean we can’t. To wit, I present you with She Plays Music’s Top 10 Female Rappers.

Self professed “Queen B”, Lil Kim has a delivery like a whip and raunchy sex  appeal, the combination of which made her one of the top selling female artists of all time.

One of the first women of hip hop, MC Lyte was known for her gravely voice and socially conscious lyrics. During the course of her multi-decade career, Lyte released 11 studio albums and is considered hip hop royalty.

Yo Yo is yet another royal from hip hop’s early days, most prevalently known for her “Bonnie & Clyde” duet with Ice Cube. She was sexy with a quick-witted delivery and a message of female empowerment that earned her the respect and admiration of both her peers and the hip hop community as a whole. Aside from being one of the best female rappers of our generation,

Lauryn Hill is one of the best battle rappers of all time. In terms of lyrical precision, Hill vastly outshone her Fugees comrades and despite the legal debacle that followed her critically acclaimed Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Hill is still considered one of the most groundbreaking women to ever grace the hip hop genre.

Eve hit the music scene hard during the height of the Ruff Rider’s fame. While definitely one of the best female MCs of all time, it wasn’t the release of her sophomore album that Eve broke out and achieved international success.

Jean Grea was on the verge of true stardom before her album was leaked and shelved by her record label. But for underground hip hop lovers, Grae is a legend for her lacerating battle rap style. After a four year battle with her record label, Jeanious finally made it’s official release on Talib Kweli’s Blacksmith Records, to critical acclaim.

Da Brat was the first and only female rapper to come out of the So So Def camp and while “Funkdified” was her one major hit, there is no doubt that Da Brat was arguably one of the best female rappers to break out in the ’90s. The best part was that she didn’t have to depend on her sexuality like so many other female rappers (*cough Lil Kim, Eve, Foxy Brown cough*) to gain fame.

Rah Digga was Busta Rhymes’ female protege. With a swift flow, deep husky voice and killer good looks, Digga could be one of the one of the most underrated female rappers on the list. While she did release on full length solo LP, she was known for her frequent cameos on Busta Rhymes’ 1997 hit record When Disaster Strikes.

When Foxy Brown broke out, she could have easily been written off as a Lil Kim copycat. Somehow she differentiated herself with her own style of gruff, raunchy female gangsterism and had a number of hits before being shipped off to prison for assault. As with so many other artists, her music career was seriously crippled by having to serve time and her most recent LP Brooklyn’s Don Diva was an unfortunate obscure release.

Missy Elliot spent the early days of her career as a behind the scenes hit-making producer/song writer. Her debut - Suppa Duppa Fly - was an appropriately groundbreaking hit album with quirky lyricism, that launched Elliot into über stardom.

Honorable mentions go to Charlie Baltimore, Queen Latifa - who despite her success is not one of my favorite MCs - and Bahamadia. Did someone not make my list that you thought should have? Tell me about it.

Images via Newscom

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