Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Kelly Rowland, Britney Spears and More

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. Each week I post what I’ve bought, sometimes with tacit recommendation and sometimes with the hesitation of an experimenter. If you have any opinions, comments, or suggestions about my weekly picks, or care to share what you're buying and why, please share in the comments

+ Britney Spears - Blackout  
      (Amazon: $7.99, iTunes $9.99)

I'm aware that this doesn't exactly qualify as "new" music, but it's for a good cause (i.e. Britney Spears), which trumps literal interpretation. Because I'm writing more on this topic than J.K. Rowling on teenage angst among magical folk (stay tuned), I'll just copy and paste this helpful blurb from the Facebook page for this noble endeavor.
BLACKOUT is Britney Spears' only studio album that has not reached Platinum status in the United States. At 988,000 units sold, we're only 12,000 away from being certified Platinum! Some consider BLACKOUT to be one of Britney's best albums to date, spawning hits such as "Gimme More," "Piece of Me," "Break The Ice" and fan favorite, "Get Naked (I Got A Plan)". Purchase BLACKOUT the week of July 26-July 31 and let's get this gem of an album certified Platinum! xx♥ blogger BRITannica
(Did you read it in a valley girl voice in your head too? OMGxx♥!!)

But seriously, buy this album right now if you have not yet done so; you probably have the unfinished leak versions if you downloaded it through sublegal means like I once did, and the final cuts are mindblowing by comparison. If you bought Lady Gaga's The Fame but not Blackout, it's like you think Dan Castellaneta created the Genie because you've never seen Aladdin, only The Return of Jafar. If you have purchased it in a manner that's both legal and trackable my Nielsen (i.e. new, from a retailer, or as a legal download), buy it for someone else. Christmas is coming. National Coming Out Week is only two and a half months away. You want to watch your uber-hipster music snob buddy have a total identity crisis upon discovering that even Pitchfork and NPR loved Blackout...and so will they? Here you go. I don't care why, just do it. 

+ Kelly Rowland - Here I Am 
      (Deluxe - Amazon: $9.49  iTunes: $11.99 / Standard - Amazon: $7.99, iTunes: $9.99

Yes, here she is, finally: the unsung chanteuse formerly of Destiny's Child has spent nearly the past decade trying to create the solo career she certainly deserves...and I mean a real go at it, not the shoddily managed calamities with which she's seemed to have been cursed. Last year Kelly Rowland put out a string of solid, top-shelf official or buzz singles, which while laudable is not in itself that notable, except that as many of these new tracks came from the unexpected shores of the dance genre as those more predictably R&B. Her collaborations with David Guetta, notably "Commander" and the Grammy-winning "When Love Takes Over" raised eyebrows, and for a moment it appeared that, after two dud albums off which the best number was a Freemasons remix of "Work,"* a song so dreadful in its original form Heidi Montag might have been unimpressed, Rowland was setting up a radical, unexpected, and in all likelihood fantastic genre switcheroo.

Alas, if Rowland has pioneering up her sleeve, it'll have to wait: after three official singles fizzled despite being various levels of awesome, the famed runner-up finally hit a goldmine with her Lil' Wayne-assisted R&B sizzler "Motivation," whose steamy video certainly didn't hurt its impressive seven-week run in the top spot on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs Chart (the song has also broken into the top twenty on the Hot 100), and when you've waited that long for a green light, you can't fault her for taking it and putting the pedal to the metal. I'm not expecting Here I Am, therefore, to be a masterpiece; hell, we'll be lucky if it's not another Who You Are by Jessie J, but I've heard enough of what's made the track list (not, tragically, the two great 2010 singles "Grown Woman" or "Rose Colored Glasses," although "Commander" made the cut) to feel I haven't wasted my money, or my excitement that Rowland is finally seeing her day.

*(Check out the remix of "Work" here...and why yes, that is my comment right at the top there with 127 thumbs up; as with Kelly, it's my biggest hit to date. *Sigh*)

+ Joss Stone - LP1
      ($3.99 Amazon; $9.99 iTunes)

My familiarity with Joss Stone is quite honestly limited to her cover of the White Stripes' "Fell in Love With a Girl," which she changed to "Boy" because she was quite young, a new face and hadn't even released a full-length album yet, so I suppose no point in confusing everyone from the get-go. I like her rendition, though some White Stripes devotees were unimpressed. However, there are three reasons I nevertheless purchased this album, bringing my total to an unprecedented three LPs for the week:
  1. The White Stripes are gone, and Joss Stone isn't, so there you go
  2. Last time I said "I don't really know anything about this British girl but people seem to dig her so I guess I'll take a look" it was Katy B., and I am now quite interested in the forthcoming Katy B. such-and-such (plus, she made the shortlist for the Mercury Prize last week)
  3. Amazon has it for $3.99 as of this morning, which is a deal however you slice it. 

And that, as they say, is that. See you next week...if anyone bothers to put out something worthwhile.
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