Monday, October 1, 2012

Dying Young in Diamonds

That's how I plan to go. Cut, color, carat, clarity, and coffin sheen, girls.

Here's my take on two singles from POP's reigning princesses:

Die Young by Ke$ha
I'm severely unimpressed by this song. When Ke$ha indicated that she intended to, essentially, reinvent POP, I expected something amazing. I hoped for some super fresh sounds. Instead, we get Dr. Luke production that sounds like everything from the last Ke$ha album, which is frustrating, because both Dr. Luke and Ke$ha could do so much better. They're incredibly talented. Die Young's one redeeming quality is a contribution by Nate Ruess, fun.'s frontman. You can hear his writing style in the melody, and it gives the song an ounce a freshness. However, this freshness doesn't necessarily work in the song's favor, as the chorus goes up and down so many times that it's difficult to follow and even harder to remember. I had to listen to this song about ten times before it stuck in my head, which was not the case with Tik Tok, Take It Off, or Blow. I think the fault of this song lies in the fact that the track (the music you hear without the singing), was likely crafted before the melody. Thus, the melody was restricted to what Dr. Luke and his proteges, Cirkut and Benny Blanco, had assembled. Nate Ruess is able to create experimental choruses that are far catchier by simply brainstorming melodies in his head, after which a producer will add various accoutrements, as was done by Jeff Bhasker on fun.'s album, Some Nights. Dr. Luke should let go of the reigns a bit by letting the artists write their own music. He might make less dough doing so, as he won't get a writing credit, but at least he'll still be relevant and have some longevity, as will the artists he works with. At this rate, Ke$ha won't be relevant in 5 years (like Avril Lavigne isn't relevant now).


Diamonds by Rihanna
Once again, I had very high hopes for Rihanna's new single. After last year's We Found Love, arguably Rihanna's best song, I was crossing my fingers for something just as incredible. Instead, we have the dance diva doing some mid-tempo balladry that's less emotional than the aforementioned club anthem. Produced by Stargate and Benny Blanco, with a writing contribution from Sia, Diamonds should have been better. This song could be quite good if the beat was faster and the backing synths were more lush. Instead, it sounds cheap. It's clear that Rihanna's team wants her to leave the dance party before everyone takes their last hit (of dance music, that is). However, RiRi is the only one who does dance music really well relative to all of her contemporaries (Katy, Ke$ha, Gaga, Usher, etc.). Girl is familiar with the club - VIP. Madonna made dance music even when it wasn't popular (a la 1990's Vogue and 1998's Ray of Light), and she consistently killed because that was her strong suit (until she started making shitty dance music a la the half-assed, crap album that is MDNA). Rihanna is not very talented, and she is not an artist by any extent of the imagination, but through constant performing, her voice and stage presence have developed to a point where she translates more emotion into her songs than somebody with twice the vocal prowess (...Beyoncé, can you hear me?). She actually feels what she's singing. If paired with the right material, she can unite the balladeer with the club kid, as she did so successfully with We Found Love, and as Robyn (Robyn Robyn, not Robyn Rihanna Fenti) has done time and again with all of her Body Talk singles.

I'm hoping for better from both of these gals with regard to their upcoming albums.



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