October 31, 2008

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Darude featuring Blake Lewis - I Ran (So Far Away)

Yes. This is a cover of the A Flock Of Seagulls classic from the 80's. Finnish producer/remixer Darude known for the hits "Sandstorm" and "Feel The Beat" has teamed up with American Idol runner-up Blake Lewis on this cover. Blake Lewis was recently dropped by his label after his album Audio Day Dream failed to connect with the public. Singles "Break Anotha" and "How Many Words" didn't do that well either. It was pretty obvious that Blake would find greater success doing Dance/Electronic music. This is his second such song with Darude. They did this year's Dance4Life song as well. Overall, this cover is fairly well-done. There have been a few remakes over the years, however, none have really measured up to the original. The main single version doesn't pack the punch that the original does, but perhaps some of the upcoming remixes will make up for that. The digital single will be released on November 4.

Grade: B+

October 29, 2008

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The Abbey Compilation Volume One

The Abbey Food And Bar has been a fixture in West Hollywood of L.A. for many years now. And they have just released their first CD compilation featuring some songs that capture the essence of what The Abbey is all about and the feeling it gives people when they are there.

This is the tracklisting:

01. Enrique Iglesias - Somebody's Me (Jody Den Broeder Mix)
02. Debby Holiday - One World (Manny Lehman & Peter Barona Anthem Mix)
03. One Republic - Apologize (Richard Vission Mix)
04. Erin Hamilton - Control Yourself (Manny Lehman Big Room Vocal Mix)
05. Guy B. - Within M (Manny Lehman Tribal Mix)
06. Paris Hilton - Turn It Up (Manny Lehman Re-Turned Mix)
07. Oceana - Just The Way You Like It (Steven Nikolas & Brendon Sibley Mix)
08. Bryan Hawn - More Than Enough (Manny Lehman Spiritual Mix)
09. Shwayze - Buzzin' (Manny Lehman & Peter Barona Progressive Tribal Vocal Mix)
10. Twisted Dee - Drop That Beat (Twisted Dee Mix)
11. Flava - Hands Up To The Sky (Manny Lehman Mix)
12. The Pussycat Dolls - Don't Cha (Ralphi Rosario Mix)

In association with Suretone and Interscope, this CD is continuously mixed by New York circuit DJ/remixer Manny Lehman. The majority of the songs and remixes are new and many are previously unreleased. Some are a couple of years old, particularly Paris Hilton's "Turn It Up" and The Pussycat Dolls breakthrough hit "Don't Cha", however, the former is featured here with a new remix. The latter may have been included as it was a club classic. The new Debby Holiday, Shwayze and Bryan Hawn tracks are just some of the highlights.

Overall, this compilation is well-mixed and the energy doesn't let up for even a second throughout the 77 minute mix.

This is available for purchase as a CD from Suretone and Perfect Beat. It is also available for digital download through iTunes.

Grade: A
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Donna Summer - Fame (The Game)

This is third single off of Crayons which was released earlier this year. "I'm A Fire" and "Stamp Your Feet" were the two earlier singles. It's an uptempo Dance/Rock track. It is an interesting commentary about fame and almost all of the things associated with it. Some of the parts are sung and some parts are sort of rapped/spoken, particularly the verses.

This song really lends itself well to being remixed. Remixes by Dave Aude and Ralphi Rosario are coming soon.

Listen to the song here (YouTube)

Grade: A-
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Pink - Sober

This is the second single off of her fifth album Funhouse which was released yesterday. While "So What" is still hot on radio and digital downloads, this one is about to hit radio stations too. Co-produced by Danja, Tony Kanal (of No Doubt) and Jimmy Harry, this song is a Rock/Pop track. This one isn't as edgy as earlier single "So What", but it is just as catchy. The lyrics are really great, as is the production.

Remixes by Junior Vasquez have already been completed and are slated for a release in the next few weeks. He will be premiering his mix at the Salem event by Saint At Large at Roseland in New York this weekend.

Listen to the song here (YouTube)

Grade: A

October 22, 2008

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Jimmy D. Robinson - A Tiny Shoe

A poet, Jimmy D. Robinson's poem "A Tiny Shoe" form his latest collection Timewarp has been turned into a song. This is not the first poem of his that has been transformed in this fashion. Recordings of the spoken words were given to various remixers and they created productions to match. The first set of mixes by Tracy Young, Josh Harris, and Bruno Linares has already been released. A second set of mixes by DJ Paulo & Todd Dutkevitch, Twisted Dee, and Rafael M will be released soon.

Overall, Tracy's mix works the best from package 1. The hard, but melodic production is perfect. The spoken words just float over the production in an unusual but effective way.

While this may not be for everyone, this is definitely something different. It's really worth checking out.

Grade: A-

October 12, 2008

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Rihanna - Rehab

This is the 8th single off of Rihanna's 2007 album Good Girl Gone Bad. After having chosen two new singles which made up part of the re-release, a song from the original release has been chosen. Written by Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, this song is about wanting to check into a rehab after a relationship ended as the singer feels that she was addicted to her ex. This has been a fan favorite since the album came out and this has become a single, however, some feel that this should have been a singler sooner. Better late than never. Rihanna's vocal performance on this one is rather good. Although her vocals have been pretty good during the GGGB era, they are especially noteworthy on this one.

Listen to the song here (YouTube). A proper video is reportedly in the works so the visual isn't meant to match the audio.

Grade: A

October 11, 2008

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Pitbull featuring Lil' Jon - Krazy

This is the lead single from the Cuban-American rapper's forthcoming fifth album. This is the latest single of his to contain a sample that is featured almost throughout the track. This time, he samples from "Cream" by Federico Franchi. It's an unusual choice for a sample, but it just works. The lyrics are standard Pitbull and Lil' Jon fare, however, with the sample and everything, this makes for a hot club track.

Watch the video here (YouTube)

Grade: B
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Margaret Cho - I Cho Am A Woman

Korean comedienne Margaret Cho has been entertaining for a number of years, and it's surprising that this is the first song she has released, even if it's for comedic purposes. Produced by Desmond Child, this is supposed to be the lead single off of a possible artist album of hers that is in the works. The lyrics are pretty funny as can be expected. And her vocals are actually pretty good. She doesn't speak the lyrics or talk-sing. She actually sings. There are plenty of spoken parts too. If this is an indicator of future material, a singing career for Ms. Cho looks quite promising.

Listen to the song here (YouTube)

Grade: A-
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Kylie and Dannii Minogue - The Winner Takes It All

For years, fans of the Minogues have been hoping for a proper duet to be released. It is finally happening. They are covering ABBA's "The Winner Takes It All." This is for the soundtrack of the British television program Beautiful People. Although the song was originally a ballad, the Minogues have maintained a similar vibe while turning it into an uptempo. The overall emotion is still there though. Kylie and Dannii's vocals are quite good on this one. While nothing will compare to the original, they have done a fairly good job. Over the years, there have been dozens of covers of this song, however, this one is quite memorable. The soundtrack will be released in the UK on October 20.

Listen to the original ABBA song here (YouTube)

Listen to Kylie & Dannii's version here (YouTube)

Grade: B+

October 10, 2008

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Robbie Williams with Pet Shop Boys - We're The Pet Shop Boys

This tribute to the UK Electronic duo Pet Shop Boys was originally recorded by My Robot Friend back in 2002. The Pet Shop Boys recorded this themselves the following year. The song appeared as a B-side on one of their singles. And then in 2006, former member of Take That, Robbie Williams recorded this with the Pet Shop Boys for his Rudebox album. While this was not a single for the UK release, this one is being released to the clubs in the U.S. So far, "She's Madonna" and "Lovelight" have been released in the same fashion. Ralphi Rosario provides the remixes for this one. Ralphi has remixed two Pet Shop Boys singles in the past. The results are rather good. The production is hard-hitting, but accessible. The vocals float over the production. The sounds and style of the mix do call to mind what Ralphi did on PSB's "Minimal" last year. This one should be a success as well.

Grade: A

October 9, 2008

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Francesca Kimberley - Chasing Cars

Hailing from Scotland, she is just 18 years old. She does have proper classical music training and that is reflected in her vocal performance. Her latest single is a cover of Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars." A few Dance-oriented remixes did surface of the Snow Patrol version. This cover version has mixes by Koishii & Hush and SoulSeekerz. Ms. Kimberley's vocal performance is rather good on this cover. She really makes this song her own. Koishii & Hush give this mix a nice big room, light Trance treatment, with a hint of Electro. The SoulSeekerz mixes are in a similar vein, but milder. Both sets of mixes are very tastefully done.

Here's a video clip of some of the Koishii & Hush mix being played at a club (YouTube)

Clips of both mixes can be heard on her MySpace.

Grade: A-

October 8, 2008

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Beyonce - If I Were A Boy

This is one of two new songs from Beyoncé's highly anticipated third album. In this Pop/Rock track, she sings about what it would be like to be a boy for a day in order to understand his ways of thinking. It's not as brazen or provocative as the title indicates. This song really shows Beyoncé's versatility as a singer. She has not really done a song like this before. This really showcases her vocals. Sometimes her vocals can be a bit too powerful. Just the right amount of control. This one is perfect for Pop and AC formats.

Grade: A-
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Beyonce - Single Ladies

This is one of two new songs from Beyoncé's highly anticipated third album. This one immediately calls to mind the Andrews Sisters standard "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", which was most recently an inspiration for Christina Aguilera's "Candyman." This one is really simple and fun. However, given the fact that many didn't really take to "Candyman" because of how different it was, it is possible that this song may face the same challenge. But given that this is a new kind of song for Beyoncé, this may do fine. This one really needs an Urban-oriented mix to take some of the edge off.

Grade: B+
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Win Marcinak featuring Gioia Bruno - Kiss And Tell

This is a cover of the Bryan Ferry song. Win Marcinak (going by just Win right now) is a San Francisco-based artist. He has teamed up with Gioia Bruno, who was formerly a member of the Freestyle trio Exposé. She embarked on a successful solo career some years ago. Win and Gioia turn it into a Dance/Pop track that is accessible enough for radio and the clubs, all with the same version, however, many remixes are planned for the club release. The lineup of remixers who worked on this project is really impressive: Warren Rigg, The Perry Twins, Josh Harris, Dena Cucci, Jake Benson, and Mark Picchiotti. One really cute addition to this is the interpolation of The Adventures Of Stevie V's "Dirty Cash (Money Talks)", resung by Gioia. While only a small part of "Money Talks" is heard, it fits very well. Overall, this is a really great cover.

Listen to the original version of "Kiss & Tell" here (YouTube)

Grade: A
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Britney Spears - Womanizer

After a lukewarm return to the music scene after a series of difficult times in her life, Britney Spears is trying to show that she is back and is staying. "Womanizer" is in a similar vein as some of the songs on the last album, which was Blackout. It has a fairly repetitive chorus and immediately calls to mind her song "Ooh Ooh Baby" which borrows liberally from The Turtles classic "Happy Together." The vocals are a bit more over-processed than usual, but that might have been intended for this particular song. A video was recently shot and is supposed to premiere in the next few days. The digital release of the single happened yesterday and this is already number one on iTunes! While this may not be amazing, it does have a little something that could re-invigorate interest and generate some buzz. An extensive remix package for the club release is planned so that may make the song better.

Listen to the song (YouTube)

Grade: C

October 7, 2008

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Haji And Emanuel - The Pressure

This is a remake of the early 90's track originally recorded by Sounds Of Blackness. It had a number of remixes by Frankie Knuckles, CJ Mackintosh, Terry Lewis & Jimmy Jam, Booker T, and Junior Vasqfuez with Razor N' Guido. Seamus Haji and Paul Emanuel have teamed up with singers Beverley Knight and Bryan Chambers to take on this classic. Covering this classic is no easy task as the legendary Ann Nesby provided the lead vocals on the original. Unfortunately, Beverley and Bryan are unable to deliver the power and emotion felt in the original. Their vocals are not bad at all, but they are just not at all on par with the original. Haji and Emanuel's production is pretty good though.

Listen to the original Sounds Of Blackness song.

Listen to the Haju & Emanuel update.

Grade: C+

October 1, 2008

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Sybil - Shining Star

Predominantly active in the 80's and 90's, the Dance/Pop singer has released a few singles here and there during the last few years. She is known mainly for the singles "My Love is Guaranteed", "Walk On By", "The Love I Lost", and "When I’m Good And Ready." Now signed to Ultra Naté's new label Deep Sugar, this is her latest release. It is produced by Thomas Roberts. Him and The Mac Project provide the remixes. Sybil's vocals are just as rich and emotive as they were back in the day. This is one of the stronger Dance-oriented releases of the year. The mixes are available at most digital music stores.

Watch Sybil perform this here.

Grade: A+
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Robyn - Cobrastyle

This is her latest single in the U.S. It is actually a cover of a song originally released by Teddybears back in 2006. It is an electro/pop/reggae track. The lyrics are rather repetitive, but they're fun. This song is being promoted to the clubs with remixes by Adam K & Soha, Mason, Bloody Beetroots and The Touch. It recently charted. While the song may not be overly special, it has a killer bassline and the unusual lyrics are strangely catchy.

Watch her performing it here.

Grade: B+
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