Thursday, March 28, 2013

Carly Rose Sonenclar

Before today, I had not considered Carly Rose Sonenclar to be trained enough to present as a good recording artist to check out.

To those of you who haven't kept up with the X Factor USA, Sonenclar is 13, and second place on the second season of the show.

For her audition, Carly stunned the judges (including Simon Cowell) with her powerful rendition of Feelin' Good by Nina Simone. For her interview preparing to go on the show, Carly said
"I want to bring the soul back to pop. My record would be a mix of those two genres because I think that is something that is not really out there right now. I could fill that gap and appeal to a wide range of ages. I think I have the X factor because I have a uniquely mature sound and style for my age."
However, I have not posted about her at all until now. Despite the fact that the voters and judges loved her, like L.A. Reid, I noticed and was bothered by her penchant for oversinging. Her versions of Your Song and Imagine were prime examples of this, while Hallelujah had a perfect Jeff Buckley rendition, it was too much if she aimed for the original, Leonard Cohen version.

Recently, Carly Rose released two covers recorded in a studio - a mashup of After Tonight and I Knew You Were Trouble, naming the combo After Tonight There's Trouble. However, I considered the mashup still too oversung and "try hard" to be deemed a good song. In other words, I wouldn't download it if it were free on iTunes.


Her cover of Bruno Mars's Runaway Baby? Better than the original. What I loved is that I listened to it, and she didn't try to match a very powerful voice to fast music that fits Bruno. Rather, she made it slower and incorporated some soul instruments, and while that alone may not appeal to many, it was clear that she had worked on her skills by not trying to dominate the music. Later, the music speeds up, closer to the original sound, but once again, Sonenclar holds herself back. She's getting far better, and if this is more like the skill she'll demonstrate on her album, I will pay for it.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

News from Natalia and...

We have a Problem. Natalia Kill's new song that goes by that very name, at first listen, is very grungy, scratchy sounding, and sort of weird. But if you listened to her first single from her new upcoming album Trouble called Controversy, then you'll see that it is totally in line with her new style. I'm going to end up buying the album because it's so unique and she isn't making an effort to be unusual - she's being herself. I usually wouldn't rate this song well, but Natalia is just so...irresistible. Imagine her last album...and now add some really weird autotune effects. Oh - and a weirdly catchy chorus, despite being repetitive. The thing about her style is that she uses a beat that can be dancy, and then she adds something weird on topp of it, and somehow it ends up being really great. However does she do it?

With good looks and an angelic voice, Travis Garland shouldn't be able to fail. His song Where to Land ft. III isn't a song that I would normally buy (can't dance to it) but it's very good anyways. It's a nice one just to listen to, and not have to move. Interestingly enough, if I listened to Neighbor without being told who sang, I would thing it was somebody completely different. Not all of his songs are fantastic, but luckily they're up for free download on his site here. Would you buy it if you had to pay?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Skitszo Part 3

Why have I taken so long to review this EP? I have such mixed feelings over it. Unlike the first EP, which I loved, and the second EP, which I most certainly did not love, I can't really split these songs into distinct sections of "good" and "not good". Still - here's what I think!

When it comes to rap music in general, here's what I think - either I know it, like it, and and dance to it, or it sounds like every other rap song in the universe. I'm a pretty strict judge about it too. Colette's first song is rap - it's like she heard my complaints about the pop in Skitszo Part 2, and made a track that IS rap. Can't Touch This is a VERY classic rap track. So classic in fact, that I'm pretty sure that if one of the more well-known male rappers did it, I would consider it generic. It isn't a great song song to dance to, but it is a fun one to listen to. So I do like listening to it, but the reason I do is because it sounds more unique because she is female. It's a hard truth.

Never Gonna Happen (the music video is being released soon) isn't as good. It starts off a bit weirdly, and the chorus, as far as I'm concerned, is weird and just not good. Thank goodness for the rapped lyrics. It isn't that I don't like her voice - when she sings the bridge, I think it's pretty good, but the chorus has a weird background music and she sings in a weird's just a group of things that don't work out. I really did want to like it because it's rapping and singing, which I love, but the chorus tune and lyrics just don't work out for me.

One By One starts off with a fantastic beat, a silly and poser sounding "Yee" and then dives into the rap. And Boom - there you've got a Colette Classic. The chorus is sung, and unlike Never Gonna Happen, it isn't unpleasant or overdone. It's a very simple chorus, and very catchy. This song is fantastic. It's really fun and is definitely more like her old stuff. Definitely one of the better songs that she's released, from beginning to end.

The very beginning of this song is so typical to a rap song, and the rest of The Finest Things has a really great rap beat that isn't too generic or boring, and it is once again woven with Colette's typical lyrics and attitude. I can easily picture her performing this one in a music video or live. I have a never ending contest in my mind as to which one is the best song of the EP - this or One By One. If you don't like plain rap without a pop aspect at all, then this might not be for you. But the electronic beats and great lyrics are worth a listen.

So far, I'm a bit scared that I'm becoming the dreaded old-school fan. That is, that fan who like the artist in "the old days" with their first music, and gets grumpy whenever they go into a new direction. I do like it when Colette doesn't go to far into the rap or pop realm best, but instead sticks to what she's good at. I'm hoping she'll stay the same or go one way or another - bridging and trying to cross the worlds of pop and rap is very difficult, and she'll have to work and decide what she wants for her audience.