Up-and-Coming: X-Factor Winner Alexandra Burke

December 30, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

While I haven’t seen Simon Cowell’s X-Factor - the UK counterpart for American Idol - I do know that so far several very talent folks have gotten their big break from competing on the show. More specifically, pop phenomenon, Leona Lewis and now Alexandra Burke.

Unless you live under a rock you cannot escape the buzz of Burke’s record breaking debut. In fact, the young chanteuses’ first official single, a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” has become the fastest selling single by a female vocalist in Europe, ever.

Hearing her sing, I was immediately enraptured with her brilliant voice and naked delivery. She may be new to the game, but she has already began to dominate the UK pop charts, knocking both Leona Lewis and Beyoné off of their pedestals.

Alexandra Burke is heading out on the X-Factor live tour in February and is set to release her debut LP (now available for pre-order) March 16, 2009. If you haven’t heard the single yet, check out the official video after the jump.

Alexandra Burke Official Video "Hallelujah"

Image: Amazon.uk

Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is Season 2

December 27, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

I’ve never been a big on Keyshia Cole. I always respect when artists work hard to work their way from the bottom up. So despite my thinking her voice sounds like a cat being tortured, I cannot knock Keyshia Cole’s hustle.

Especially after catching several episodes of her BET celeb-reality show The Way It Is, in which we get to take a peek into Keyshia’s family life. Where last season viewers got a look at Cole rise to stardom - from her trouble past, to becoming a critically acclaimed artist - this season goes deeper into Keyshia’s family life, juxtaposing the dynamic of her adoptive family against that of her biological family.

The most entertaining bits are perhaps also the saddest. Drama ensues as Keyshia tries to mend the relationship with her mother, Franky, who was recently released from prison. Take a look at the clip below and tell me Franky ain’t off the chain…

As you can see, this mending is not easy and Keyshia is dealing with some very heavy stuff. From an outside perspective, many will laugh and talk about how crazy Keyshia’s mother is. If we watch with compassion though, and look at Keyshia Cole as a person, our hearts will go out to her as she works to be healthy and whole, and drag her family into that same wholeness.

None of this drama stops Ms. Cole from continuing to do her thing. She recently released her third full length LP entitled A Different Me, which Keysha says pays homage to her current transformation. Check out what she had to say about her new album here.

Keyshia Cole also kicked off her tour in Chicago today and will continue through January 14th. Visit Keyshia Cole MySpace for show dates near you.

Image: Newscom

Kelly Clarkson Announces New Single “My Wold Would Suck Without You”

December 23, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

After nearly two years off the radar, Kelly Clarkson has just announced a new album in the works, tentatively scheduled for release March 17th.

The album is yet untitled, however the single first single “My Life Would Suck Without You” is slated to hit radio on January 19th.

In the meantime, Clarkson took time out during a recent photo shoot to record a video message to her fans. Check it out after the jump

For more information and the latest updates from Kelly Clarkson, visit KellyOfficial.com.

Premature Review: Nico Vega

December 19, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

In a landscape bursting with electro-pop-rock fusions, 80s inspired dance music, and bubble gum pop, sometimes you just want to hear some rock; straight up.

Enter Nico Vega, LA rock trio on the MySpace Record Label, burning up the underground and about to drop their self titled debut LP January 27th.

If you’re looking for a healthy dose of good ole rock n’ roll, the album, Nico Vega, is one of the best servings I’ve heard in a very long time. Incorporating elements of soul, folk and electronic sounds, the album is sure to satiate your hunger for fresh rock music.

The album opener, “Burn Burn,” is cyclonic and dramatic, with vox, Aja Volkman, riding the rapid staccato of guitar, with a throaty cadence. “Million Years” is a funky femme fatal track with Aja channeling an ancient mistress, declaring “I’ve been around for a million years, no matter how hard you try, you can’t f*ck with this!”

While Aja may deny infusing any political messages into their overall vision for the band, songs like the martial “Living Underground,” the almost militant “Beast” and the soulful “Rabbit in the Bag” indicate otherwise. However, there are also, fun funky tracks like “So So Fresh” as well as devilishly sexy songs like “Blood Machine.”

I was also surprised to find a several songs from the EP remixed and included on the full length album. Which brings me to my one criticism; the transitions from the electronic guitar heavy songs to the acoustic, folksy tracks was a bit disjointed. “Gravity” and “Wooden Dolls” are fantastic songs, but they seemed misplaced. It was quite apparent that this album was not intended to have any particular concept, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Overall, Nico Vega is definitely going to make a strong debut. This band reminds me that girl rockers rule and that rock is still alive and well.

For more information on Nico Vega and tour dates, visit Nico Vega MySpace.

Image via Big Hassle

Singled Out: Lily Allen “The Fear”

December 16, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

A few months back there was a bit of drama surrounding Lily Allen’s sophomore release. Thankfully, everything got sorted pretty quickly and It’s Not Me, It’s You is due for release Feb 10.

To hold us over until then, Allen has graced us with a new single, “The Fear.” True to form, “The Fear” is a bubble gum pop number with decidedly pointed lyrics, which, when teamed with Allen’s lovely, lady like voice, create a sweet and quick-witted juxtaposition.

I want to be rich and I want lots of money
I don’t care about clever I don’t care about funny
I want loads of clothes and f***loads of diamonds
I heard people die while they are trying to find them

I’ll take my clothes off and it will be shameless
‘Cuz everyone knows that’s how you get famous
I’ll look at the sun and I’ll look in the mirror
I’m on the right track yeah I’m on to a winner

Allen keenly examines the trappings of the glam life and the do absolutely anything to get (and stay) famous celebrity culture we live in. The video features Allen surrounded by soft pastels, which, combined with the soft finish cinematography, complete the wink-and-a-smile tone of the song.

Image via Newscom

Singled Out: Britney Spears “Circus”

December 11, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

I know I dissed Brit’s last single. It hurt me to do it, but it was necessary. I’ve been holding my tongue while every top 40 radio station played the crap out of “Womanizer,” (ok so not really) keeping my fingers crossed that the next single would be better.

It is my distinct pleasure to say that Britney Spears is on the right track with “Circus,” an infectiously sultry pop number, absolutely indicative of Brit’s return to the top of the charts. “Womanizer” may have been more upbeat, but “Circus” is far and away a better representation of the Spears brand. Of course, the lyrics are still simple, but at least they are not bitter woman drowning in synthesizer tricks, choke it down and spit it out, simple.

Its good to see Britney going back to basics. Part of her appeal has always been her ability to make a smoking hot video in which she shows off her dance moves and her awesome physique. Where in many of her recent videos, Brit failed to show off her best assets, she is definitely on her game with this one; striking beautiful poses in silhouette and doing that fantastic belly dancer move.

Don’t forget Britney Spears is hitting the road with her “Circus” tour. Check out Britney.com tour dates.

Image and video via Total Assault

Cher Turns Back Clock with 60s Cover Album

December 4, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

Pop icon, Cher, has been bidding us fairwell for more than a decade. Apparently, it has all been for show since she still has a Las Vegas show.

She also seems to have an unquenchable thirst for her hayday. To wit, Cher is putting together an album of covers from the 60s.

“I’m planning an album of all these great songs from the ’60s that I’ve never covered before. It was such a magical time for music - groups like The Beatles, the Hollies, the Zombies, the Kinks, the Stones and singers like Dylan and Otis Redding . . . I want to pay tribute to a time when I used to listen to music on my little transistor radio or on my AM radio in my Ford Mustang.” [source]

It’s all about nostalgia for Cher. For those of you who, like myself, are wondering what the big deal is with the legendary diva, we can be certain that her cult following of cross-dressing showmen(girls?) come out in droves to purchase this release.

Image via Newscom

Singled Out: Beyoncé “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”

December 4, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

There is no doubt that Beyoncé is one the most talented young stars in R&B. She had nearly reached critical mass in terms of publicity following the release of B-Day, now her latest album I Am…Sasha Fierce and its respective singles are burning up the charts.

“Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” is a particular favorite, having jumped from 28 to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week, and has been getting constant spins on the radio.

So much so, that “Single Ladies” could be classified as an earworm. You can’t help humming and even singing “all my single ladies…” for days on end after hearing the song a couple times. It is quite an infectious tune.

At this year’s AMAs, Beyoncé delivered a sexy performance of “Single Ladies,” one of the best of the night. There was actually a moment when she seemed to be channeling Tina Turner via the dance, and damn if that all girl band didn’t rock. Check it out after the jump.

Image via Newscom

Neko Case Announces Release Date for “Middle Cyclone”

December 3, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

After three years, Neko Case has announced a release date for her new album, entitled Middle Cyclone.

Middle Cyclone is a long awaited follow-up to 2006’s Fox Confessor Brings The Flood; Case’s most critically acclaimed album to date.

At Seattle’s Bumbershoot festival, Case was fantastic, her voice riding the breeze like a feather while maintaining its rich tone. According to Spin, Case has one of the best voices in pop music today.

Middle Cyclone is scheduled for official release on March 3, on Anti-Records. There are no singles as of yet, however, you check out the website for more information and the album track list.

Image by Jason Creps, courtesy of Shore Fire Media

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

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