Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Soapbox Review: Randy Jackson’s Music Club

(If I know it is a cover that will be indicated with reference to the original artist but my review is primarily on the listenability of the album, not who actually wrote any of these songs originally. Release date March 11, 2008.)

I do not typically watch American Idol. What I will say however is that I think Randy Jackson does recognize talent and compiled a strong group of musicians, singers & artists for this album. My opinion on it as a whole is: definitely listenable, mostly predictable.

The compilations on this album feel as if they were all recorded in separate studios, including the tracks, because I do not get a togetherness vibe. The solos disappointed me a little because there were no male solos; all four were women. Over production occurs in much of this album comprised of blues, rap, pop, disco, R&B, among other genres. It will be a good disc when I want some mindless music to clean the house by. Each song is individually reviewed below.

Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow – That was Paula Abdul? Where is her unique voice, style? For one of the first songs she has released in years, and the lead off track on the album, I would have expected a lot more from her. This will immediately be turned into a club track so the song could have been sent in that direction with additional voice overlays between verses and thumping bass if we were not supposed to know who was actually singing.

Just Walk On By – Joss Stone flies solo on this song, which is nice since there are so many compilations, but I feel like she is competing with the music to have her voice really come through. We like the throaty, emotional Joss who expresses her feelings through her vocal tone. This song leads me to believe she is a part time singer who loves to dance. She sounds great but overly filtered.

What Am I So Afraid Of – Takes me back to 1986. Very predictable pop almost-ballad; a formulaic 3:24 song with just the right rhythm to the lyrical delivery and enough warbling “oh’s” to bring an R&B flair. Eighth graders everywhere will be slow dancing to this and dedicating the lyrics in each other’s yearbooks 4-eva. Trisha Covington, KeKe Wyatt & Kiley Dean, BFF.

Like A – Why does a rapper need a voice converter? Because it works wonders with the lazy-day-esque back track. Over production is fine on this track but the lyrics are somewhat canned for a rap song, I wished they let Crunk Squad & Ghostface Killah do something more creative to really break out in the sea of rappers. Keep an eye out for these guys though; they might just surprise you, soon.

Who’s Gonna Love You Now – There is no question mark at the end of this song for a reason; it is a statement. Kellie Love has a nice smooth voice which luckily has not been completely drowned out by the background music which includes piano playing as an occasional lovely break from the beat. Another sure to hit big on the charts due to its smooth melody and catchy chorus.

Wang Dang Doodle – Right off I like this song and want to hear more from Sam Moore, Keb’Mo’ & Angie Stone . It is a bold track to put on a compilation with roots in blues, funk, jazz and gospel. This song may never hit pop radio but the feeling is all there for a laid back summer day. Give it a couple listens; turn it up to fully experience it because the harmonica just makes this song. I will crank this song in the car.

Something To Believe In – A three dude compilation (Van Hunt, Jon McLaughlin & Jason Mraz) should not mean we will never hear any individual voices. It bummed me out because I wanted to hear something really unique so I could give mad props to these guys. Instead, think that 3 Musketeers compilation with Sting, Rod Stewart & Bryan Adams. This will possibly get play, a “rent payer”, but not a stand out track to me.

Home – I think Michael Bublé would approve of this song being done with a country twist. This is well sung and cared for as if John Rich & Anthony Hamilton had written it themselves and that is what I love to hear in a cover – that the artist can make it their own song because they felt the lyrics so deeply they could not help but sing it. CMT will play this and it is sure to be a crossover jazz / country hit; fiddle all the way home baby.

My R&B – I could learn all the lyrics in 10 minutes then forget them just as quickly because half of them are other artist’s names. Please release something that actually showcases your beautiful voice Barbi Esco, we will all snatch up the album and never forget your name.

Real Love – A funky disco duet between Katharine McPhee & Elliot Yamin is an interesting choice for this song. I found myself dancing to it but not really listening for any lyrics the first time. That leads me to believe they could be placed over any type of musical track which is great for being memorable, once I notice them over the groove that is. Right now I am looking for my roller skates.

Willing To Try – Surprise, another 3 artist compilation. Predictable rhymes in the lyrics will make it easy to learn this song - shove is to love, fight is to right. This is definitely the power ballad of the bunch that all co-dependant twenty somethings will play on repeat. It is a decent effort between Richie Sambora, Travis Tritt & Lucy Woodward that will likely receive air play but I predict this song will someday be featured in a Trey Parker & Matt Stone film.

I Understand – Kim Burrell, Rance Allen & BeBe Winans perform the longest track on the disc at 7:01 making use of an organ and a jazz feel to the beat for a true gospel anthem. The 1:10 of organ at the beginning of this song is a nice lead in and the rise and fall of the tone works for the timing in the song leading up to the last minute of prayer. Gospel is the new black.


Judi FitzPatrick said...

Great critical writing, you do it so well. Hope you bring it with you next time we get together. Hugs and peace, Mum

Julie said...

Thanks for reviewing the album, Jenn. I was curious about it after reading (ok, skimming) an interview with Randy I saw on Yahoo yesterday.

High Desert Diva said...

sheesh! Do you have a second job as a music critic? You should, if you don't. That was one of the best critiques I've read in a long time!

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Thanks ladies :) The encouragement rocks because this is a way I have been thinking of taking my writing for a while - music review either live or disc.

Let me know who your faves are & perhaps they will get a listen for review :) Love to discover new tunes!

Julie said...

If you can get ahold of Vertical Horizon's "Running on Ice," I recommend it. It's from before [the 15 minutes when] they were big, and it's generally got kind of an easygoing-nostalgic vibe that's usually errs on optimism. "Sunrays & Saturdays" from that album is my favorite non-angry break-up song. It's not a work-out playlist, but it's a nice mellow-out one.

Julie Mc. said...

Hi there! Thanks for commenting on my blog page. Yeah, everything ended up working out okay..and hey! I've got my dryer back! Yeah! Have a good rest of the week! ;) Julie

draagonfly said...

Thanks for the review Jenn! I'm not as worried now that I decided not to spend the money on it. I like a lot of the artists on the CD, but after hearing the samples of the songs, I just couldn't bring myself to buy it.

Besides, there is MUCH better music coming this Tuesday! :D

Verão said...

Hi Jenn! I had the same thoughts about that Paul Abdul track. This song is danceable... kinda catchy- but it really didn't have to be Paula. And have you seen the video? A lot of cuts there... I don't think she can catch up with her usual dancing anymore... which by the way was the bomb back in the 90s! My sister and I even copied her Vibeology dance number in the Grammy's and performed it for our family Christmas reunion back in the day! Can you review Kylie's latest CD? ;)

Andrea said...

I took a listen to the album when it came out and was disappointed to say the least. Almost all the songs (at the risk of sounding like Simon) are forgettable. I usually can tell within the first few seconds whether or not I'll like the tune. And while I did listen to most of the songs in their entirety I knew it wasn't going to be something I'll be adding to my iPod.