Every Tuesday, hoards of new singles, EPs and LPs appear on iTunes, Amazon and in stores everywhere, and a new sales week begins. I enjoy Tuesday sometimes for no other reason than getting to make my way over to the market for my weekly shopping trip. Sometimes there's a ton of fresh and exciting items on offer, while other times there's little worth carrying on home. I'm going to be trying out a few ideas for regular features here on Vertigo Shtick, and this is one that's been flitting around in my head for a long time in some form.
If you have any opinions, comments, or suggestions about my weekly picks, or care to share what you're buying and why (that means no links without a reason we should care!) by all means let me know in the comments (below each post).
So here's what I picked up on iTunes yesterday for the week starting Tuesday, June 28, 2011.*
Beyoncé – 4 ($11.99)
This one is a no-brainer, at least for someone in my position. Beyoncé is one of pop music’s 800-pound gorillas, so when she roars you’re going to hear it one way or another, so you might as well get in on the ground floor. Status aside, I certainly have a keen interest in hearing the new album, as from what I’ve heard and read about 4 it sounds like the critical and industry darling (sixteen Grammy awards before age 30? No sweat!) has chosen to sit out of pop’s nascent. Dance Dance Revolution altogether, instead settling into down-home (if still mainstream-friendly) R&B. I happen to enjoy R&B, so that is not a problem for me in itself, although I am somewhat more annoyed by the “Run the World (Girls)” fake-out now that I’ve learned just how big a fake-out it was. In short, while I would likely have shelled out for 4 at some point in its early charting period were I not occupationally obligated, it would be disingenuous to pretend this purchase had nothing to do with obligations.
Selena Gomez & the Scene – When the Sun Goes Down ($9.99)
I’ve been watching for Selena Gomez’s next move since I first heard the spellbinding, intriguingly mature “A Year Without Rain,” and the promotional singles that preceded today’s release of her third album, the first since her recent graduation from the prestigious Disney academy (Gomez starred on popular Disney Channel program Wizards of Waverly Place). The Scene is her “band,” with whom she tellingly shares billing, and even at 17 it was clear that Gomez had been gifted with some excellent handlers, even beyond the already stellar Disney faculty whose skill at grooming talented, popular, and durable musical artists dates back to the 1950s. Hearing productions and beats that are usually reserved for the adults of the dance scene behind Gomez’s eager, fresh, but noticeably youthful vocals is somehow thrilling, and being a bit out of her league in terms of the sounds around her manages to mature her rather than exposing or emphasizing her as out-of-place. I’ve been addicted to the dubstep-tinged Rock Mafia production “Love You Like a Love Song” as well as the stellar “Whiplash,” which has gotten some buzz since it was co-written by Britney Spears, who ended up not using it on Femme Fatale. Those along with the solid, La Roux-riffing “Bang Bang Bang” were enough to get me sufficiently excited about buying the whole disk upon its release, Beyoncé or no Beyoncé.
David Guetta feat. Taio Cruz and Ludacris – “Little Bad Girl” ($1.29)
I am usually willing to buy singles from certain artists entirely sight unseen (or sound unheard, as it might be), usually because I like the artist enough to risk the $1.29 with the confidence that I’ll get at least some enjoyment from whatever I’m getting from them. David Guetta, fresh off last weekend’s Electric Daisy Carnival, isn’t my favorite hitmaker by any means, but he’s produced a number of the heavy hitters on my all-time favorites list, and when he hits, he knocks it out of the park. That a hitmaker like Cruz and a reliably entertaining rapper like Ludacris are involved only sweetens the deal, and he delivers with a hectic, energetic verse, a kind of style I don't remember many rappers employing, on pop or dance songs especially, before Nicki Minaj showed up on the scene.
Natalia Kills feat. will.i.am – "Free" ($1.29)
I will be honest – I nearly didn’t purchase this because something about the way “Free” looks next to “$1.29” just doesn’t sit right with me (I'm mostly joking). As long as I’m being honest, I actually never bought Jessie J’s single “Price Tag,” a song I enjoyed quite a bit. I don’t often get into the kind of harrumphing consumer protests many of my friends and (particularly gay) peers do, although I admire those who do in accordance with their beliefs without bullying others about it. I really don’t lose any sleep over shopping at Target or WalMart or eating at Chik Fil-A, but I’m simply unwilling to pay money to hear someone sing about not needing my money. It turns out that that isn’t an issue on this particular single, in which the young Brit sings good-naturedly about the odd joy of managing the dichotomy of princely desires on a pauper’s budget. It’s sort of charming, which makes up for the lifelessness of the music and the production… for about three minutes or so, three and a half, max. Unfortunately at that point there’s still a full minute remaining, and I can’t say I’ve made it to the finish line quite yet on this one. Even so, I do like supporting Natalia Kills as we await her debut album on these shores, so it all comes out well in the end.
Shwayze (feat. The Cataracs and Dev) - "Love Letter" ($1.99 w/ video)
I bought this for the reason I was meant to, and who knows how it will turn out. Dev and the Cataracs have been making some interesting music recently, and Dev especially has been upping her game with each successive appearance leading up to her upcoming debut LP. That’s why I snagged this single, not realizing until later that Shwayze is a rap artist – not necessarily a problem, but not really belonging in the "Pop” listing, in my humble opinion.
Wynter Gordon – “Til Death” ($1.29)
My fellow pop music bloggers tend to feel that Wynter Gordon, last seen atop the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart last year with “Dirty Talk,” is amazing beyond belief and that her EP With the Music I Die is an unquestionable must-have. I was actually underwhelmed by “Dirty Talk,” and while I thought “Til Death” was sort of cute when I heard an early copy, I really did not like “Still Getting Younger” when it was previewed last week, and the iTunes previews of the other two tracks didn’t much interest me either -- certainly not enough to shell out $5.99 for an EP with four tracks, plus a remix of one of the four and an “extended version” of another. I can’t tell you, though, how hard it was to convince myself not to buy the damn thing if I didn't want it, and ultimately I couldn’t get out of there without at least buying one track. It's not that I think this is bad music, it's just not music that worked for me, personally. Peer pressure is a tough bitch.
Finally, I topped off my spending spree with a quartet of performance singles from NBC’s hit singing competition show The Voice, which had its final performance show last night and reveals its winner this evening.
Dia Frampton – "Heartless (The Voice Performance)" ($1.29)
I missed this performance but have heard so much oohing and aah-ing that I decided I’d better check it out.
Frenchie Davis – "I Kissed a Girl (The Voice Performance)" ($1.29)
I LOVE Frenchie Davis. I have loved her since she was shamed off of a certain rival singing competition show that I also (and perhaps, accordingly) happen to despise, and I have been so excited each time I’ve encountered her over the years; Rent, the cast recording of Ain’t Misbehavin’, and then, to my delight, The Voice! I bought this today because I bought her performance of “When Love Takes Over” last week after talking to the song’s writer (stay tuned for more on that), and it’s really fantastic. I wish Frenchie could have stayed for the final, because I would have cared SO much more.
Christina Aguilera & Beverly McClellan - "Beautiful (The Voice Performance)" ($1.29)
What's not to like? I like women singing in harmony. I like Christina Aguilera in all her unabashed diva glory. And I like Beverly McClellan, the 40-year-old, bald rocker who is difficult not to root for…unless you’re most of the people who vote for things like singing competition shows, sadly. Christina made a big deal about how possessive she is of her signature song (with Linda Perry, who wrote it, in the room no less) and how much it meant to share it with Beverly on the show, and I believe her. It wasn’t mind-blowing – nothing on the two live shows I’ve seen has been all that terrific – but it meant something, even if I’m not sure what it meant, nor needed to.
Beverly McClellan - "Lovesick (The Voice Performance)" ($1.29)
I hadn’t planned on buying Beverly’s final performance (it’s one way of voting for a certain singer) because her musical style isn’t really my…music of preference, and there were other ways to vote for her. But when after tearing and prancing around the stage like a kid at camp she launched herself over to the piano to continue rocking out – I’m serious, she absolutely Gaga’d out on the stage and it was exhilarating to watch. She was clearly having a ball and so happy to be there, and the next thing I knew I’d acquired one final tune for my now stuffed iPhone.
Grand Total: $33.00
Yikes! I should point out that my weekly music budget is normally a fraction of what this week has cost me. After this week it's going to have to be whether I want it or not!
*Neither Vertigo Shtick nor its author is in any way affiliated with Apple® or iTunes and no one around here has been asked to endorse or recommend any items mentioned in this or any article on this website nor receives any compensation for doing so.