Posts Tagged ‘focusGroupEdge’

That’s What I Said… In which I let someone else do the talking.


UPDATE: Now also references a brilliant piece by Eric Henderson of Slant.

Rich Juzwiak is one of my favorite music critics (behind Andy Kellman and occasionally Chet Betz). This is partly because he covers drivel like Christina Aguilera so I don’t have to, but I can always trust his views to be 90% in line with mine.

In his review of “Bionic”, Aguilera’s latest effort at focus-group edge, he suggests that, contrary to its title, this is Aguilera at her most human. Why?

It is desperate for attention (even for the inherently attention-desperate medium of pop music), hopelessly nostalgic (…), cynically provocative… and flawed even when pondering flaws (“I Am” regurgitates the theme of Back to Basics‘ “Save Me From Myself” so much that the I’m-an-asshole-but-love-me-anyway sentiment is now a Christina cliche).

And in half a graf, he perfectly encapsulates what has bothered me about this very gifted vocalist for a decade, now (bold emphasis mine):

 I don’t get the sense that Christina is particularly passionate about any of her disco/house/dubby/adult contemporary/hip-hop dabbling (most of it should be gone next album), but then I wouldn’t get that sense, anyway: I consider her the most fraudulently soulful singer of her time. I’ve yet to buy a word that’s come running out of her mouth. Technically impressive as they may be, her screams of passion just sound like screams to me.

Slow clap. I’ve referred to her brand as “manufactured soul” for the better part of the last decade, but Rich puts it far more articulately.

Still, I can’t say I agree with his track picks. The only cut I found tolerable was “Sex for Breakfast”, which falls short because it’s at best, a poor man’s “Loving Me 4 Me”… and it’s called “Sex for Breakfast”.

But why ruin it for you? Go read it all at FOURFOUR.

Before I go, I’m gonna ask you to contrast this with the review from AMG’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine — the greatest living argument that music critics are a bunch of self-important idiots whose opinions aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. AMG is a web-only publication.

That man is a living bedpan.

UPDATE: And here’s what Eric Henderson of Slant had to say about Bionic:

If analogies fail, boy does she make her bid to grab the gays back from the clutches of Gaga explicit. Considering “I Hate Boys” (except the ones who kiss boys) is closer than I ever thought Christina would ever come to recording a Daphne Aguilera track, it’s ironically also one of many tracks on Bionic that sound tailor-made to accompany the opening credits of Johnny Weir’s forthcoming reality show. None more so, though, than the masquerade ball that is “Glam,” a top-heavy cocktail that mixes one part “Vogue” with two parts “Technologic” and serves with a snap.

Read it all at SLANT


Michael... Gagson? 

As I read the 8000th article published about Lady Gaga the Dancing Costume, I saw the YouTube splash image and I thought:

Urethra! Eureka! Mike really is still alive!!”

There’s a popular theory that her excessive styling began as a way to distract viewers from her… homely visage.

I, personally, am shocked that anyone would make such a hurtful statement.

(I’m so sorry, Mike.)

Hands Tied – Toni Braxton – 2010
I heard this a month or two ago and I wasn’t impressed. Perhaps I was just distracted by the video — a pedestrian offering in which the smokin-hot Braxton (along with her relevance-chasing haircut) tries her hand at a number of female-video staples: the gentleman’s club performer (exemplified by this En Vogue classic), the “Classy Stripper,”  the moving Liebovitz portrait. She looks incredible, but it’s still a ho-hum affair.

So when the album finally got its release this past Tuesday, I figured I’d give it a shot. I recently discovered a soft spot for Toni B. It goes beyond my cliched support for the talented underdog. You see, for me, unless you’re Minnie Riperton or Mariah Carey, your high notes as a female vocalist really don’t impress me.  But if you’re able to go low, and do it right — like Braxton, Anita Baker, and Carey again (Shakira used to be on that list, but her freakish “AutoTune-Unplugged” voice has started grating on my nerves) — you have a special place in my heart.

Toni Braxton has never been someone I looked to for full-album satisfaction, so the fact that Pulse ain’t doin’ shit doesn’t particularly surprise me. Plus, I never got the impression she had full label backing, anyway. Still, no matter how abysmal it is as a cohesive entity, every album she’s put out has had some serious burners — from “Just Be A Man About It” to “Talking in His Sleep” to “Trippin'”

So as I browsed the album for halfway-decent shit worth a download, I realized “Hands Tied” is literally the strongest thing on there. It’s a smoldering, Oak-produced cut with a vocal performance reminiscent of her Babyface-assisted heyday, and a guitar-wail undercurrent that marries her “Trippin'” and Usher’s “You Got it Bad” to brilliant effect.

If the rest of the album had half as much kick, it wouldn’t have flatlined.




Aguilera’s new video premiered this morning. Seconds into it, it was clear: this is her answer to Lady Gaga The Dancing Costume‘s fame. Apparently, fans of both parties have been waging a knock-down, drag-out war for the past 3 years over Aguilera supposedly biting the style of a then-up-and-coming Costume while promoting her forgettable single “Gets No Better”* a while back. I can’t say for sure that she jacked specific elements from Costume for this video, but it’s clear: since the one-two punch that was Rihanna and Gaga, we’ve seen an avalanche of pseudo-edge engulf the music biz. Poor Kelis — she’s been doing it for a decade, but nobody gave a shit.
*(or something like that — I couldn’t be bothered to look that shit up) (more…)